Book Review–Rebirth by Amy Brock McNew

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to participate in the cover reveal for my good friend Amy’s book, Rebirth.

Well, it’s that time! The book is now available!

And on that note, I’d love to give you some more information.

Back Cover Copy:
Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return.
Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the God who gave her this curse. Drawn to her abilities, the demon Markus unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.
She’s desperate for a normal life. When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted moves within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.
Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil.And she isn’t sure which side to choose.

Review:

I really love this story.

The action is intense and exciting. Fight scenes that are realistic and make you wonder who will win, non-stop danger and intrigue, and twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The spiritual realm is brought to life in a real and tangible way.

The characters are believable and relatable, and  I could feel the tension and frustration that Liz felt as she made her decisions. Despite being battle-hardened and bitter, Liz has a soft side that makes you want her to have everything she wants in life. Especially Ryland. The tension between Liz and Ryland is palpable, and their relationship is…well, you’ll have to read it to find out how it turns out.

I highly recommend this book. You won’t regret it.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what some others are saying about it:Amy Brock McNew

“An action-packed tale of classic good versus evil from the depths of human despair and heights of God’s grace. Filled with romance, betrayal, love, loss and ultimate triumph.”
—Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Legend of Sheba

“An intriguing debut from a fresh new voice that merges the spiritual and the supernatural, creating an inventive Christian Fantasy in the style of Peretti and Myers. Plus, there’s a bossy angel and a kick-butt heroine with a sword, folks!”
—Rachel A. Marks, author of Darkness Brutal
“Amy Brock McNew’s writing style is engaging, honest, and unique. It feeds the part of me that loves fantastical stories, plus it adds a healthy dose of truth. I’d recommend her stories to anyone who enjoys gritty spec fic.”
—Ben Wolf, award-winning author of Blood for Blood
Buy it here:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Sm5pNZ
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1So45GY
iBooks: http://apple.co/1So4l8S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/213uz67
And to connect with Amy Brock McNew, find her on social media:
Website: http://amybrockmcnew.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyBrockMcNewAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyBrockMcNew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26955721-amy-mcnew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AmyBrockMcNew/

Rebirth Cover Reveal

I have the wonderful opportunity to be part of the launch team for an upcoming book. I really love reading and reviewing books. It’s kind of an excuse to get to read for fun, because I’m doing it for someone else, not just for me, so when I see opportunities, I try to jump on them.

So, when I got asked to be part of the launch team for Amy Brock McNew’s upcoming novel, Rebirth, I was thrilled. I had seen little bits of the story in other contexts and was extremely intrigued by the writing and the concept and where the story was headed, so getting to read the whole book was a bonus.

Today is the day I get to help promote this exciting book by revealing the cover and telling you a little bit about it.

So, without further ado, I give you Amy Brock McNew’s Rebirth:

Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return.
Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the God who gave her this curse. The demon Markus, drawn to her abilities, unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.
She’s desperate for a normal life.
When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted flits within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.
Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil.
And she isn’t sure which side to choose.
Author bio:
Amy Brock McNew doesn’t just write speculative fiction, she lives and breathes it. Exploring the strange, the supernatural, and the wonderfully weird, Amy pours her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. Nothing is off-limits. Her favorite question is “what if?” and she believes fiction can be truer than our sheltered and controlled realities.
Visit AmyBrockMcNew.com to learn more about this intriguing author.
Stay tuned! This book will be available on May 24!

Review of The Healer’s Rune

Every now and then I actually get to sit and read and when I do, I really appreciate it when the story I’m reading is worth the time I spend on it.

Such was the case when I got to read The Healer’s Rune, by Lauricia Matuska.

Back cover blurb:

Three hundred years after a great war shattered the Council of Races, the warriors of Rüddan have all but eradicated their cousins, the faerie Aethel. In so doing, they decimated the Dryht sages and enslaved mortal Humanity. Now a voice rises above the chaos and calls her people to rebel. Young Sabine, one of the Human slaves, must learn to overcome centuries of lies and prejudice to forge an alliance between four enemy races. But what chance does she stand to overthrow the Rüddan with her dangerous secret, a secret that threatens not only her own life but the existence of all the races on the planet?

 

This recently released book is the first in a series that promises to be epic.

I love a good fantasy, especially when I can get sucked into a world and enjoy the plight of the characters, and this book totally delivered. I read it in about three days, because I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that gets in your head and makes you eager to come back to it. Matuska’s writing is clean and compelling, and her characters are layered and interesting.

I particularly loved the dynamics between the races and the way that played out, with Sabine’s position as a Healer undermined by her status as a Human. I’m excited to see where the author takes these dynamics in the sequels.

I also loved the relationship between the main character, Sabine, and her sister. It felt very real and relatable, especially toward the end when some of the backstory was explained.

The one thing I thought it could use, and I suspect this will come out more in subsequent novels, is the nature of magic and Sabine’s actual powers. This book primarily covered Sabine’s journey to figure out what’s happening in the world and uncovering the truth, and I’m looking forward to seeing some more depth to the world.

I gave this book 5 stars on Amazon, because I really enjoyed it, and I absolutely recommend it for anyone who enjoys Christian fantasy.

There you have it. You can buy it on Amazon here. Enjoy!

Darkened Hope

One of my favorite things about being a writer is getting to be in community with other writers and seeing their stories and getting to be involved with them along their journeys.

Today, I am thrilled to share with you the cover reveal for J. L. Mbewe’s upcoming novel, Darkened Hope.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]

 

Isn’t it beautiful?

And now, since you have judged this book by its cover and are dying to know more, let me tell you a little bit about it.

It’s the second in the Hidden Dagger Trilogy, by J. L. Mbewe.

Blurb:

Ayianna is a cursed half-elf betrothed to Desmond, but her heart belongs to another. After discovering the cure for the Sorceress’s curse, she and her companions embark on a dangerous quest to retrieve the ingredients.

When dragons descend upon their party, Ayianna realizes the Sorceress is searching not just for the corrupted dagger, but a human sacrifice that will open a portal to the underworld. Battling deadly creatures and natural disasters, Ayianna is forced more and more to confront her insecurities and conflicted heart.

Now she must decide whether to be true to her family or true to herself. As the nations rally for war, betrayal threatens to destroy them all, and it’s a race against time to return before the curse devastates the plains people.

Coming in May 2016

 

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? What brilliant mind devised such a thing?

I’m glad you asked. Let me introduce you to J. L. Mbewe!

Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, you will find her busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and four short stories set in the world of Nälu. Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award, and its sequel, Darkened Hope is coming May 2016.

Stay up-to-date with all things Nälu and her journey as a writer mama at JLMbewe.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest.

 

And guess what!!! FB ad 403x300 SK sale

The first book in the trilogy,  is on sale RIGHT NOW for only $.99!

Hope over to Amazon and get it today!

 

 

APNM freePlus, TODAY ONLY, check out the short story, A Princess No More, FREE! Get it here now!

I’ve already gotten my copy of both.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by to check out this upcoming book! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Blood for Blood

blood for bloodI have another exciting book to share with you, and an interview with the author!

The book is Blood for Blood, written by my amazing boss and dear friend, Ben Wolf. Ben and I first met in 2009 at a writers’ conference. We hit it off immediately and became close friends. Fast forward a couple years, and Ben was telling me this idea he had for a magazine that only published flash fiction. I told him I wanted to be part of his endeavor and help in any way I could. Even then I could see his vision and I knew he’d be successful.

I got to brainstorm with him and throw some ideas around, and a short time later, Splickety was born. I started out as Web Content Editor, and a year later, when Splickety Magazine became Splickety Publishing Group and launched two new imprints, I became editor of Havok Magazine.

I love it. More than you can imagine. I’ve learned so much about writing, editing, the publishing business, working with people–working with Splickety has really improved my abilities, both professionally and personally in more ways than I can count.

And one of the best things about my job is that I have the world’s best boss. Ben Wolf is a visionary and an entrepreneur, but he is also a wise manager. He knows he can’t do everything, so he hires people who can complement him and help him achieve his vision. Best of all, he hires people he trusts to get the job done, and then he lets them do their jobs. He doesn’t micro-manage, and he’s constantly building others up.

There have been so many times when I’ve felt overwhelmed with my job or worried I’d mess it up, and every time, he says, “You’ve got this. I believe in you.” He often tells me how much he appreciates me and what I bring to the company. I cannot imagine working for a better person.

So, naturally, when his first book, Blood for Blood, came out, I was thrilled. I got to be an advanced reader and give some feedback on it, and the final product is fantastic. It’s a suspense-filled ride with relatable characters, high-action, and romance.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Ben Wolf, amazing boss and novelist extraordinaire.

Welcome, Ben! Please tell us a bit about you. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Any hobbies? Are you a coffee or tea person? Do you have any children or pets?

Thanks so much for having me. I’m a bit nuts, but in a good way. I love watching action/adventure movies and TV shows, and I also take MMA classes at a local gym. I enjoy playing volleyball, sword-fighting, shooting friends with Nerf guns, and hearing myself talk, especially in front of large groups.

I prefer tea to coffee (I don’t like coffee at all), but I don’t drink tea very often either. I’m caffeine-free these days since I get too many withdrawal headaches when I do drink the caffeine and then don’t follow up with more caffeine soon enough.

I’ve got two adorable kids, Liam and Violet. They’re amazing. I also have a furry child named Marco.

What are some of your favorite books?

I’m a fan of basically everything that Robert Liparulo and Frank Peretti have written. I’ve read pretty much every book by both of them that I could get my hands on. I’m a huge fan of Peretti’s The Oath, especially. That’s probably my all-time favorite book. Germ, by Robert Liparulo, is probably number two on that list.

In one sentence, tell us about Blood for Blood.

Blood for Blood is the story of what might happen if a vampire got saved and tried to start living his life for God.

What was the inspiration behind the story?

I’ve always been a fan of vampires and their lore. A friend of mine at a 2009 writers conference was drawing a variety of compelling comparisons between vampirism and Christianity. I loved the idea of a vampire becoming a Christian and being asked to help set up for a big tent revival–and then being handed a mallet and a wooden stake to help secure the tent.

The juxtaposition of the two worldviews (vampirism and Christianity) sharpened for me in that moment, and the idea for Blood for Blood blossomed in my mind like a dark flower. I wrote it a couple of years later, published it a couple years after that, and it just won the 2015 Cascade Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel.

That’s awesome! I think the thing I love best about this book is that the characters don’t behave like characters in books–they behave much more like real people. They screw up. They make bad choices. Tell us a little bit about your main character, Raven. How do you think people can relate to him? How do YOU relate to him?

I think people will relate to him in his uncertainty. I know I certainly do. Raven is uncertain about his new faith from the very beginning and throughout the entire book until almost the end. The moment he finally decides to really go for broke and surrender EVERYTHING to God is the key moment in his faith development.

I’m like that, only it’s a daily struggle. I am constantly fighting against surrendering to God, even though I should do it and need do it. I think a lot of American Christians are like that as well. We tend to think that we’ve got it under control, and we’ll just call on God when we get into a bind. But that’s not what God wants. He wants an ongoing relationship, not one of convenience. I struggle with this personally, and I definitely can learn from Raven’s story and character in this way.

If you could spend the day with one of the B4B characters, which would it be?

Oooh, tough one. I think I’d benefit the most from hanging out with Luco. My hope would be that he’d rub off on me in a  good way. He could mentor me a bit in my faith.

I liked Luco. I love the depth of his character and what we find out about him. Okay, to wrap up, What are you working on now? What’s next for you?

I’m developing a sci-fi horror novel as we speak. I’ve got most of the basic outline done, and I’m set  to begin working on it in November for NaNoWriMo. I have purposely given myself permission to write during that month, despite a busy freelance editing schedule. I’m hopeful that I can knock out a big chunk of the book, if not finish the first draft entirely.

And finally, because it’s important and the world needs to know, what is your Halloween costume?

It’s highly likely that I’ll be going as Wolverine for Halloween this year. Gotta get some more mileage out of those claws.

Excellent. Thank you so much for being here, Ben!

Now, you have the chance to get Blood for Blood on sale, today only, for $.99 on Kindle! Although it’s well worth full price, I encourage you to save money while you can. Click Here to order now!

 

 

The Hive

The-Hive-Official-Cover

I received a free ebook, The Hive, from the amazing John Otte, author of the Failstate series, in order to review it. I was not disappointed. This book was excellent.

I first met John at a writers’ conference in 2009, and we’ve traveled in many of the same circles since then, so when I got a chance to pre-read his newest novel, I jumped.

Not literally, because let’s be realistic, but I was excited. So, let me tell you a little about The Hive and my thoughts on it.

A pregnant cyborg and a teenage boy fight against intergalactic governments to protect the unborn in this novel from a Christy Award-nominated author. Why is Zain pregnant? She belongs to the Hive, a collective of cyborgs who choose to live apart from the rest of human society. At times, the Hive rent out some of their females to produce tailor-made children for paying couples. But Zain is an engineer, not a breeder. When she finds herself separated from the Hive, she decides to find the person who she thinks ordered the baby. Surely they’ll help her find her way home.

Matthew “Scorn” Nelson has spent the better part of his teenage years cracking computer systems, causing mischief and havoc wherever he can. But the night of his greatest triumph turned into a painful memory, one he wants to erase. But that night was also his first step on a road to faith. When Zain arrives on his doorstep, Scorn is horrified. What’s he supposed to do with a pregnant teenage cyborg?

Unfortunately, he’ll have to answer that question on the run. Zain’s people want to reclaim her and terminate her pregnancy. And both the Ministrix and the Praesidium, two intergalactic governments in a constant state of cold war, want Zain’s baby for their own reasons. Will their enemies run them down? Or will Zain find a new Hive for both her and her child?

Now, I’m not really a hardcore Sci-Fi person. Of course, I love all things spec-fic, but I lean more towards Fantasy than Sci-Fi, so I started reading not really knowing how it would play out.

It was fantastic. The world is complex and intriguing, from the warring governments to the way data and computer systems work to the characters, everything was extremely well-ordered and consistent. There was enough explanation to get the picture of how things worked, but it was never boring.

The characters were also excellent, and their struggle was believable. They got into my head and wandered through my unconscious, making guest appearances in my dreams and beckoning me back when I was doing things other than reading.

The one thing I would’ve liked to see more of character-wise was emotion from Zain, specifically when she decides that her baby is worth keeping and she decides to run rather than submit to the Hive. This is kind of a pivotal moment in the story, and it felt glossed over.

The spiritual element is pretty overt. Personally, I thought some of the spiritual and Christianity aspects were a little preachy, which I’m not a huge fan of, and a couple of the conclusions felt like a bit of a leap based on what the characters had actually said and done, but it was not over-the-top at all. It’s handled well within the story and it’s in no way awkward.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed it. It was a great story with great characters in a great world. I would absolutely recommend it.

In fact, I DO recommend it! Buy it! Buy it now! Buy it here!

No, seriously. Go buy it. It’s awesome.

What if Books were Rated like TV and Movies?

I read an interesting article awhile back about the impact 50 Shades of Grey had upon the erotica genre as a whole. Now, I don’t write erotica, but I thought the author made some good points. One of the things she mentioned was that erotica, as a genre, gets really scoffed at by the literary world, and many really talented authors are lost in erotica because erotica caters to a very specific type of readership, and oftentimes, those readers are just as happy with something poorly written, (like 50 Shades) and don’t care about the actual quality of the writing, because that’s not why they’re reading it.

Her suggestion was that since sex is a strong motivator and a regular part of most people’s lives, it should be incorporated into literature as such.

Now, I’m not defending erotica or suggesting sex scenes should be part of every book. But I think her suggestion had merit. One problem, though, is that we as consumers would need some way of knowing what’s what.

The author on the article pointed out that erotica is labeled with a big red X (or an Adult Content warning) and so it’s an automatic turn-off for some people, yet millions of people read Game of Thrones, which contains plenty of sex and violence, yet is not considered erotica.

I’ve been reading an ARC of Steven R. Fairchild’s book, Living Ashes, Parts One and Two. I’m enjoying it. It’s a great concept and the it’s very gritty and real. But I wouldn’t want my kids reading it. There’s a mature content warning at the front, which I think is a good idea. It lets readers know what they’re in for, and then readers can’t say they weren’t warned if they’re offended by what they read.

Then I thought about how this works on TV. With Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime and all the other online viewing options, finding shows with mature content is easy. It’s accessible. We have a “kids” setting on our Netflix account that won’t allow anything above a certain rating on the kids account. (Granted, it’s easy to get around–they can just log in on the parent account–but for they’re pretty obedient and trustworthy, and we keep a close eye on what they’re watching.)

TV shows have different ratings (you can click here for a breakdown of what they are), and you can determine whether a particular show has content you don’t want to see based on the rating and the qualifiers for why it’s rated that way.

We need that for books.

50 Shades of Grey would be AO, Adults Only. Game of Thrones would be MA, Mature. Harry Potter would be T, Teen.

This way, you could have a really good, classic sci-fi, but rate it G for General Audiences, if it was clean but not a children’s story, or you could have some New Adult content that is a little more edgy, but still not inappropriate, and rate it T or R, for Teen or Restricted, and so on. It would make finding books that fit what you’re looking for much, much easier.

What do you think? Should books have ratings like TV and movies?

If books had ratings, what would yours be rated?