Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Tour: "The Gladiator and the Guard" by Annie Douglass LIma

I'm excited to announce that Annie Douglass Lima's young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach

First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:


Four years have passed since Bensin bought Ellie’s freedom by winning the cavvarach tournament. Coach Stein adopted Ellie and promises Bensin freedom – as soon as Bensin can win the tournament again. But before the championship match can even begin, Bensin is attacked and then accused of attempted murder, since slaves face the death penalty for injuring a free person, even, apparently, in self-defense. His death sentence is given in the form of execution in a gladiatorial arena. Will Bensin be able to find a way out in time?

Wow. The Gladiator and the Guard was pretty awesome. I don’t remember being this impressed with the previous book, The Collar and the Cavvarach, or any other book in the last several months. It was that good. Not just because of the world-building, the character development, or the descriptive battle scenes. No, it was all of that in addition to the moral and psychological depth of the story. All those things add up to a truly great novel.

The story took place in an alternate present; that is, this setting represents the way America would be if the North hadn’t won the American Civil War and, instead, slavery still existed and the United States was broken up into several warring factions. The technology is relatively the same as it is in the real-world present. It’s a little strange to wrap one’s mind around but it works really well for the story. Which brings me to the specific setting, which mostly takes place in a gladiatorial arena much like the Roman arenas where gladiators fight even to the death. Yikes!

The next part worth mentioning are the battle scenes. The author seems to have put a lot of work into creating a unique form of martial arts and describing how it works in battle. I’m not a martial artist, but I could visualize the fight scenes relatively well especially considering no one has ever actually fought that way.

Now, we get to the part that made me give this book a five star rating. It was a combination of the character development and the moral dilemmas and decisions made by them. Bensin struggled with bitterness and hate as a result of his own and others’ actions. But what got me was how he responded. Bensin chose not to hate because it made him no different than anyone else, give in to the system that wanted him to be that way, and, even, less than human. Instead of responding to violence with violence, he responded with kindness. And he did that without some religious epiphany, either. It struck me as inspiring and awesome.

I highly recommend The Gladiator and the Guard by Annie Douglass Lima to fans of speculative fiction (and Karate Kid).

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

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!

Or find the giveaway at this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ad2fd99a3/?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: "The Sound of Emeralds" by Rachelle Rea


The Sound of Emeralds
Rachelle Rea

Synopsis from Goodreads:

What once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache?

With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders—or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?

Buy Links:


Weddings do not guarantee a happily ever after. Gwyn and Dirk are married but continue to struggle through their relationship. Dirk has hidden things from his bride and Gwyn has much grief to overcome. Hanging over it all is mission to clear Dirk’s name – and the severe consequences of failure. Will Dirk and Gwyn ever find the peace and love they seek?

The Sound of Emeralds is the third and final book in The Steadfast Love Series by Rachelle Rea. It is definitely not a standalone novel but details the continued struggle and romance of the characters from the first two novels in the series. Emeralds is well-written and beautiful, presenting the hope and peace of God even through pain paired with a sweet romance.

The first word that comes to mind when I think back on Emeralds is “frustrating.” A book is sometimes said to be great if it evokes emotion in the reader. This one certainly did – sadness, anger, and frustration. I thought, “The characters have already gone through so much. And now you had to add This!?!” But as frustrating as it was at times, I still consider Emeralds a really good book due to its presentation and ultimately joyous ending.

The characters were deep, defined, and dynamic and the setting was extremely well-researched. Part of the ending seemed a little far-fetched, but it fit with the time-period and setting and was crucial to the happily-ever-after. Perhaps it was the extremely-low odds of success that made the joy of the conclusion all the more joyous.

The Sound of Emeralds was lovely and I would recommend it to those who enjoy a clean, Christian, historical romance.

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

Book Tour: "Happily Ever After Anthology"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Tour: "Frontier Preacher"

Tour Banner
David Millican's debut novel, Frontier Preacher, is now available in eBook and Paperback!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Musings on Fairytales: "King Thrushbeard"

“A king had a daughter who was beautiful beyond measure but so proud and haughty that no suitor was good enough for her.” 

So begins my favorite fairytale – “King Thrusbeard” by the Brothers Grimm. I enjoy it so much that several years ago, I memorized my own abridged version of it for a speech meet in the category “dramatic interpretation.” I have also read several different variations of the story which I now combine when telling the tale to the kids at daycare.

The story of “King Thrushbeard” begins with a haughty, yet beautiful, young princess. She ridicules her suitors so much that her father marries her to a beggar instead of a king. The princess spends the following months learning what it is to be poor, learning humility. Everything climaxes when she discovers that the beggar she married was actually a king in disguise – the prince she had nicknamed King Thrushbeard. He loved her despite her faults and had manipulated the situation in order to humble her so that she would become a better person.

At first glance, this so-called “King Thrusbeard” doesn’t appear to be too great of a person. I mean, he did all those things to humble the princess, but they were cruel however necessary. If he truly loved her, would he really deceive her about his identity for so long? How chivalrous is it of him to allow her to be forced into a marriage with a man she does not love? And, furthermore, isn’t it God’s job to humble and judge the proud, not this king’s?

Ironically, it was one of those odd versions of the fairytale, one that did not even claim the name, that really made the story make sense to me. It changed King Thrushbeard, so-called because of his bird’s-nest-like beard, into a flawless, perfect King. In that version, the princess could not find a single fault in the man, which angered her.

The point is, the only human who could possibly be perfect is Jesus Christ. Placing King Thrushbeard as an allegorical Christ-figure completely changes the dynamics of the story. He has every right to humble the woman’s pride. And through everything, despite her ridicule of him, he continued to draw her closer to him out of his love for her. The princess ultimately regrets her choices, sees reason, and apologizes to him, all because of his actions on her behalf. Then he forgives her and welcomes her into his true home – the palace, not the rundown shack.

The picture of Christ in this tale is not perfect, but is it not a lovely portrayal of His love for us, despite our pride, ridicule, and selfishness? 

I challenge you to read the original and tell me what you think.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Tour: "Where Light May Lead"

Available Now for FREE

Six authors, six genres, six bite-sized stories of women living out their faith in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. When the heart is willing to follow, where does the light lead?
Sample Old West justice. Watch a romance unfold over light years. Laugh as an introvert finagles her way out of a bridal shower. Agonize with an FBI agent as she negotiates for a child’s life. Imagine a shape-shifting cat who tracks down a kidnapper. And peek behind the scenes as a guardian angel argues with a double-talking auto mechanic. Learn again that the light of faith can lead you anywhere.
That’s How She Rolls by C.L. Wells
Tessa, a self-conscious introvert, attempts to avoid a party and everything goes wrong. When a handsome stranger offers to lend a helping hand, she isn’t sure things will ever be right again.
Leopard’s Find by Kimberly A. Rogers
Ever wonder what your favorite characters were doing before you read about them for the first time? Sparks fly whenever Raina and Baran from The Therian Way are together. But what exactly was she doing before she met him?
Whatever Raina’s up to, it’s never boring.
Upsie-Daisy by Jane Lebak
Did you know guardian angels have a sharp sense of humor? It’s a requirement for the job, otherwise they’d run screaming instead of dealing with us. If you’re new to the Lee and Bucky stories, welcome to the world of sarcastic mechanics and pun-slinging angels. This story takes place about four months before any of the full-length novels, that way you can dive right in.
Circular Horizon by Bokerah Brumley
As a speculative fiction writer, I’m forever intrigued with the ‘what if.’ For instance, what if there was real-world science fiction featuring a God-fearing astronaut? This brain-wandering led to a story, and I briefly explore this idea with Mae McNair and Abel Onizuka in Circular Horizon.
‘Tis So Sweet by Faith Blum
Eleanor Miller has always loved her younger brother, even through all the bad things he has done. But when he almost kills a man, she needs to let him go and trust God to draw him to Himself. Will she find out how sweet it is to trust Jesus in everything, no matter what happens?
The Quinn Case by Julie C. Gilbert
Law enforcement’s a tough career to make it in both physically and emotionally. The Quinn Case takes place several years before the events in Heartfelt Cases Book 1: The Collins Case. Herein, you’ll meet a young FBI Special Agent named Ann Davidson who must find a missing child even as she struggles to put another case behind her.
Immerse yourself in six clean, sweet, Christian novelettes in this awesome multi-author anthology fiction box set….and maybe encounter your next favorite author!

You're invited to our Facebook party!
The Light Leads to Peace (and Prizes)
6:30 - 8:30 PM CST on Saturday, May 14, 2016.

About Our Authors

C.L. Wells CL-Wells-Head-Shot

C.L. Wells is a JANE-OF-ALL-TRADES, with a passion for writing and animals. She lives in Kansas with her family, which includes a fat doggie who is not named Toto and a cat who moonlights as an escape artist. Feel free to ask her about the ‘escape artist.’ She plans to write about it someday. She would love hearing from you.

Kimberly A. Rogers

Kimberly A. Rogers writes urban fantasy with a Christian twist. She lives in Virginia where the Blue Ridge Mountains add inspiration to an overactive imagination originally fueled by fantasy classics such as the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Jane Lebak

Jane Lebak has been publishing since 1994, with several novels in print as well as over seventy-five shorter pieces in magazines, newspapers, and journals. She is one of the bloggers for QueryTracker.net, a resource for writers seeking agents. She lives in The Swamp, reading books and knitting socks with her husband, children, cats, and fishtanks.

Bokerah Brumley

IMG_3935a (2)
Bokerah Brumley is a speculative fiction writer making stuff up on a trampoline in West Texas. She lives on ten acres with five home-educated children, four peacocks, three dogs, two cats, and one husband. In her imaginary spare time, she also serves as the blue-haired Publicity Officer for the Cisco Writers Club.

Faith Blum

Author Picture 2015-2016 cropped
Faith Blum is a historical fiction author who also loves to do pretty much any right-brained activity, especially if it involves crafting. She lives with her family on a small family farm in Wisconsin.

Julie C. Gilbert 

Julie Gilbert 2013 (5 of 25)
Julie C. Gilbert writes in several genres including Christian Mystery, YA Science Fiction, and Mystery/Thriller. Regardless of category, she writes about people who face hardship and right wrongs because they have an innate need to do so. In other news, she is obsessed with Star WArs and has a day job teaching high school Chemistry in New Jersey.