Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A clever, magical children's story!

The Book Dragon has read Lia London's clever Marked by Magic and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for a clever, magical story that children ages 6 and up will enjoy. This is the kind of story that will fire a child's imagination, and if an adult is reading it aloud to them, will bring back fond memories of their own imaginings, for 12-year-old Lon and his sister, Livi find a real fairy mushroom ring in their backyard! Who would have thought being shrunk to six inches tall could be so dangerous? Follow Lon and Livi on the quest the fairy king and queen have given them so they can be restored to normal size. My only quibble is that Livi's speech makes her sound much older than seven. Next time I see a white moth, I'm going to check her feet, just in case it's really a fairy...."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Beautiful Tolkien bio picture book

The Book Dragon has excitedly read John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien written by Caroline McAlister and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler and gives it 5 claws!

My 5 star review: "Beautiful storytelling about one of my favorite authors, and the illustrations are perfect! I recommend this to all Tolkien fans. Don't let the "picture book" format discourage you from missing out on this great book! Great way to share Tolkien's life with younger readers, too."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Time Travel Historical Fiction

The Book Dragon has read Loretta Livingstone's A Promise to Keep and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 for this wonderful sequel to Out of Time. Twelfth century England comes alive with vivid details, and Ms. Livingstone's characters are living, breathing people, those in the 12th century as well as those from the 21st century. Abbess Hildegarde is an even greater delight in this story, and the growing love between Sir Giles and Lady Isabella is a sigh-worthy secondary plot. But it's modern Shannon who's the heart of this tale, as she travels to the past to find a distraction from a broken heart and discovers much more, good and bad. I thought the ending dragged on just a bit, but the scenes with Father Dominic are too fun to miss, and then the final scene ties everything together in a brilliant way. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and time travel with more than a splash of romance."

A Promise to Keep is the sequel to Livingstone's excellent Out of Time, which I reviewed before Book Dragon started giving out claws. Here's my review of Out of Time, for I highly recommend you read both of these books:

"4.5 stars for this compelling time-travel story. Marion from 2006 is sent by a magical tree to the year 1191 to save an important historical figure's life. The peril this causes, both to Marion and Sir Giles, makes this book difficult to put down. Both major and minor characters of both times are well-drawn, and the ending is thought-provoking and resonates with this reader's heartstrings. The occasional head-hopping was a bit distracting, but the pace moved steadily, neither too slow nor too fast. Recommended for anyone who is intrigued by time travel and/or 12th century England."

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Imaginative fantasy that evokes Narnia!

The Book Dragon has reviewed The Tethered World by Heather L. L. FitzGerald and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for this imaginative, witty adventure reminiscent of Narnia. I love that the story features a homeschooling family (since we were one) with an autistic child who has a special destiny. There are Trolls and Ogres and other scary creatures in this subterranean magical world along with Gnomes, Dwarfs, Elves, Fairies, and Nephilim. It's fun to experience this story through the eyes of the MC, the oldest child in the family though the climactic battle was over too quickly and too easily. Otherwise well-written with a steady, unfolding pace. I'm glad there are more books because this world and the characters can easily support a larger story."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Epic Heroes Giveaway!

Calling all heroes!

Unwilling or epic, tragic or super, heroes are the heart of every story, especially fantasies! Enter our Hall of Heroes giveaway for a chance to add both ebooks and paperbacks to your fantasy library, authored by eighteen members of the Fellowship of Fantasy.

Central to our giveaway is a paperback of HALL OF HEROES, our newest anthology. You don't have to wait to see if you win, though. The ebook is permanently free!

There's also a bonus prize of a custom journal set!

Don't delay! Enter to win at the Rafflecopter below!
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Fast-paced, gritty historical fiction

The Book Dragon has read Susan Peek's Saint Magnus: The Last Viking and gives it four claws!
Here's my review: "This was an interesting slice of history from the Dark Ages about a saint I had not previously known about. Teen boys will like the fast pace and action. The title character is portrayed sympathetically, and many of the other characters are shown in three dimensions. The frequent use of modern terms and slang, especially in the characters' speech, was a distraction to this otherwise well-written story."

Find more about this author's books at Catholic Teen Books!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A fast-paced magical adventure

In the middle of a stressful move to a big city, the Book Dragon has read H. L. Burke's Spellsmith & Carver: Magicians' Rivalry and gives it 5 claws!
Here's my review: "4.5 stars for a fast-paced, fascinating story of rivalry and loyalty with several interesting plot twists. The main characters are thoughtfully rendered and wonderfully human (or not quite human). I liked the way magic spells were done in this universe as well as the concept of rifts between worlds, and the growth of the main characters is believable and fun to watch. The pivotal scene near the end is brilliant. Recommended for fans of magical fantasy with a dash of romance."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: YA contemporary novel with a perfect voice!

The Book Dragon has read A Single Bead by Stephanie Engelman and gives it 5 claws!
My 5 star review: "I'm often leery of contemporary YA fiction in present tense with a first person POV. I have been unable to finish several because the MC came off as whiny. But Engelman's voice is perfect for the story, and her 16 year old MC Katelyn is so believable and likeable, I wondered if the author had based her on a real person. Her family's situation is real and heart-breaking, but hope is woven into this story on every page. While dealing honestly with the real problem of depression, A Single Bead is a celebration of family and love and the power of prayer."

A Single Bead is featured on the website Catholic Teen Books. Check out the other reads!  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A beautiful love story

The Book Dragon has read Melanie D. Snitker's Finding Joy (#5 in the Love's Compass series) and gives it 5 claws!
My 5 star review: "What a beautiful story of second chances and finding oneself after life-altering events! I loved the two main characters, and my heart ached for them while each worked through a painful past. I love the depth of Ms. Snitker's characters and how she makes their faith a part of who they are. It was great to spend more time with some of my other favorite characters from the other books in this series. Happy the beagle was a sweet addition, too. I highly recommend this book and this entire series to every fan of sweet Christian romance."

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Compelling historical fiction about an unforgettable young king!

The Book Dragon has read Susan Peek's Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades and gives it five claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for a compelling story about an inspiring young king during a turbulent time and place in history. Made king at age 13, surrounded by enemies without as well as within his kingdom, and dealing with the unimaginable effects of leprosy, this young man's steadfast faith in God and his inspirational courage have left an indelible mark on my heart. King Baldwin's best friend, Theodore, and the Templar Sir Geoffrey were also well done, so well done, in fact, that two final scenes brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't unreservedly give this book 5 stars, though, because a few instances of slang and modern words pulled me out of the 12th century with a bit of a jar. Young readers will find this book fascinating, fast-paced, and unforgettable."

Crusader King is featured on the new Catholic Teen Books site.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A Fantasy of Friendship and More!

The Book Dragon has read H. L. Burke's Beggar Magic and gives it 5 claws!
My review: "4.5 stars for an imaginative tale of friendship in an interesting world where people are separated into Highmost and Common, and the mysterious Strains are more than just ethereal background sounds. Common Leilani and Highmost Zebedy form an unusual friendship and find more than either expected when Zebedy receives her assignment to Research Manor and asks Leilani to be her aide, including heart-pounding danger. Recommended!"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spirit Filled eBooks is giving away a

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Superbly written fantasy set in Ethiopia

The Book Dragon has read The Enchanted Castle, book one in the Shioni of Sheba series by Marc Secchia and gives it 5 claws!

My review: "What a fantastically rendered story with the weight of legend behind it! I loved the character of Shioni and empathized with her struggles and cheered her bravery. I've been fascinated with African legends for many years but now I'm eager to learn more about Ethiopia and very anxious to read the rest of Shioni's adventures! Each character in this book is living and breathing, the setting realistically drawn with all 5 senses, and the suspense and danger is enough to stop your breath and make your heart beat faster without being too scary for younger readers. Bravo, Mr. Secchia!"

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A powerful YA about spiritual warfare

The Book Dragon has read A. J. Cattapan's Angelhood, a powerful YA about the spiritual warfare going on all around us, and gives it 5 claws.
Here's my review: "When I first began this book, I didn't think I'd be able to finish it, but I kept reading, and I'm glad I did. It's difficult for this Mom to read about teen suicide, but I know it happens, and hopefully this story will reach troubled souls who might wonder whether or not ending their life would be best for themselves and others. This is a powerful story and a vivid reminder of the spiritual battle going on all around us, and I felt so uplifted by the ending. Highly recommended."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Publication Story

In 1986 my husband and I became foster parents while living in Waco, Texas. We not only had our three year old son, but a five year old foster daughter. Later a four month old baby boy with a heart monitor temporarily joined our family, and I was pulling out my hair. My husband suggested I find something "adult" to do one evening a week while he kept the children. Since I'd always liked writing stories, I took a creative writing course at Baylor University.

I enjoyed that class so much I started pumping out short stories, dozens and dozens of them. I had always loved science and thought it would be easy for me to write science fiction. My excitement outpaced my ability, and I started submitting my stories to magazines in 1987. My first rejection was handwritten on a sticky note. It basically said, "Not for us; try again" so I did. Over the next five years I collected over 600 rejections before I sold my first story, a clean fantasy to an anthology compiled by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
My first rejection in 1987
We gave up being foster parents after two years, but I continued to write, even while homeschooling our son and later his younger brother. I found success with magazines, writing nonfiction articles on spec and short stories for children. As Catherine Jones, I published in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Cobblestone, Jack and Jill, Hopscotch, Boy's Quest, and dozens of other less-well-known magazines. I sold two easy readers and had a nonfiction book for older children published about the Navajo Code Talkers, which brought me "fifteen minutes of fame," since I did go on television and radio. I also learned public speaking the hard way, and developed a multi-media presentation which I gave to thousands of people over several years. Even after almost 20 years I still get requests for that presentation.

Then cancer struck in 2005, and it took nuclear-bomb strength chemo to put it in remission. My brain was so scrambled I couldn't get back in the groove of writing for magazines. I did publish my first novel in 2012, a MG fantasy allegory of the cancer journey called Leandra's Enchanted Flute, and the editor wanted to know if there was a sequel, so I wrote Return to Finian Jahndra, which Cool Well Press published in February 2013, one month before they went out of business. I got my rights back for both books, but I was crushed.
Return to Finian Jahndra 1st and only printing from Cool Well Press
I didn't want those stories to die, so after discovering the online group Clean Indie Reads, I was motivated to self-publish the two books. Since our homeschool was Quinlan Creek Academy, I used the name Quinlan Creek Press. I had no idea how to market the books, but at least they were available.

After almost 25 years and 22 rejections, I finally sold a YA historical fiction near and dear to my heart to Pauline Books & Media in 2014: the story of "Good King Wenceslas" from the point of view of his servant, which was released in January 2016. I also sold another easy reader the same year. Persistence is so important in this crazy publishing business!

Meanwhile, my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011, and to distract myself while I helped my mother care for him during his last eleven months, I gave myself a writing exercise. In 1988 I'd tried to write a fantasy novel, which didn't "work" even after three complete rewrites. So I threw away everything but the opening scene and asked the characters to tell me their story, not for publication but as an outlet for my grief. Chapter after chapter literally poured out. It was like watching a movie and trying to write it down as fast as I could.

By the time I reached chapter 80, I realized this was more than one book, and ended book one at chapter 43. I paid a content editor and a proofreader and was sending out queries to agents and publishers when suddenly and unexpectedly my cancer came back in early June 2015, with such excruciating pain my husband and I thought the doctor would tell us it was stage 4 and nothing to be done but pain control. So I found a pre-made cover, asked the designer to change a few things, and self-published Mercy's Prince (book one, which could stand alone) as my "good-bye" to family and friends.
Thankfully a different chemo put the Beast back in remission, but again chemo brain made it difficult to concentrate. Eighteen months later it's still a problem, but I've managed to publish books 2 and 3, have finished book 4, and am working on book 5 (the last in this YA Christian fantasy series).

Even though I never intended to self-publish, I can now say I am a hybrid author. I still struggle with marketing, but I give thanks to God daily for His mercy. My goal is simply to write stories my grandchildren can read after I'm gone. I used to think I wanted to be a best-selling children's author and win a Newbery Medal, but now I just write for the love of writing, and if someone reads and likes my books, that's just icing on this God-blessed cancer survivor cake.
My three greatest blessings--my grandchildren