Friday, July 19, 2024

The Nightmare Virus By Nadine Brandes

The Nightmare Virus
by Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Enclave Escape
ISBN: 979-8886051308

First, I thought the cover was amazing, then I thought the idea of the story was fascinating, so when the author had a launch team, I signed up asap! I'm so glad I did! She sent me the ebook for review.

Summary:

Some viruses go after the body. But the Nightmare Virus goes after the mind.

When dream technology goes wrong, a virus spreads across the globe, trapping people in a universal dreamscape. They call it the Nightmare Virus.

Cain Cross is determined to find a cure . . . if he can decipher his brother’s chicken-scratch formula notes. But when he gets infected, he has only 22 days until he’s trapped in the mental prison forever. Now, every time he falls asleep, he must fight in a Nightmare Arena until he earns his freedom to live in the “new world” that exists only in the mind.

Then he finds a way to manipulate the Nightmare—to change it by mere thought.

Forced to navigate a world of nightbeasts, mistblades, and half-truths, Cain turns his focus to survival. When the Emperor offers him a LifeSuPod—and access to a cure—in exchange for a dangerous favor, Cain thinks he’s found a way out. But Cain’s new power threatens to take him on paths that jeopardize his very soul.

Will he continue searching for a cure, or will he swear allegiance to the Nightmare? And the bigger question might be . . . will he even have a choice?

My Review:

Ok, this story was... so original! So cool! So surprising! Yes, I had an idea of what the story was about, but you really can't grasp it all until you dive in. 

We meet Cain who is sucked into this dreamscape that his brother has been in! The nightmare they've been working to find a cure for. The thought of losing awake time day by day for 22 days until you no longer wake was such an interesting concept. With each passing day you lose time to do everything you need AND find a cure!

I really liked the character of Cain. Even at my age he seemed so relatable. I think young adults (who this is geared towards) will really connect with him in his thoughts and emotions. This was also an exercise in seeing how people react to different situations, and I felt like the author really showed that as Cain entered the Nightmare world the first time.

In this dreamscape, things happen so quickly and wildly, it's hard to know what's going on, how to react, and who to trust. It's a good reminder for us to be discerning, especially when we're in unfamiliar circumstances.

We meet so many characters throughout the story. Stranna is one of those characters. I'm not going to say much about her, other than I really liked her. I know, I'm totally vague booking, but if I say anything it'll spoil it for you! HA!

There's 100% parallel between darkness and light. How light shines in the darkness. That there is a great deceiver. And we all have a choice to make! Of course, that leads me to my next point and my favorite one, the author really didn't mince words. Our hope is in Jesus. There's nothing else. Everything else leads to eternal death. You can't do it on your own, but God can equip you. Man, the author just does it so amazingly in this story! Yes, it's sci-fi ya fantasy, etc, but God is still who He is! I loved it!

This is another one of those stories I just want to immediately talk to everyone about where we get to talk about all of the details and bring out all of the spoilers!

About the Author:

Nadine Brandes once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the Carol-Award winning author of Wishtress, Fawkes, Romanov, and the Out of Time Series. Her newest release is The Nightmare Virus and her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine, her Auror husband, and their Halfling children are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Meeting Her Match By Jen Turano

Meeting Her Match
by Jen Turano
Publisher: Bethany House
Series: The Matchmakers
ISBN: 9780764240225

I've been a long-time, die hard Jen Turano fan! Her stories always leave me chuckling and the situations her characters get into will have you doubling over in laughter! Thanks to Jen and Bethany House for allowing me to be on her launch team and for sending me her book!

Summary:

Miss Camilla Pierpont, a renowned matchmaker and influential member of the New York Four Hundred, has vowed never to marry after suffering a devastating heartbreak during her debut years ago. However, when she is nearly abducted along the Hudson River, she finds herself rescued by an annoyingly outspoken, albeit fascinating, gentleman who challenges her in a manner she wasn't expecting.

After learning that Camilla Pierpont has enjoyed success with taking wayward young ladies in hand, Mr. Owen Chesterfield travels to the Hudson River Valley determined to convince Camilla to sponsor his sister, who is in desperate need of social rehabilitation.

Knowing her life is in danger, Camilla agrees to Owen's proposition and travels with him to West Virginia, finding herself charmed by the less-than-formal attitude of his small hometown, as well as by Owen himself. But danger waits in the shadows, disrupting what she knows would be the most spectacular match she's ever made--her own.

My Review:

I have loved Camilla in the previous stories and couldn't wait to see who she'd finally be paired with in Meeting Her Match! Owen... whoda thunk it?

Camilla has done well for herself as a matchmaker, but it was time for her to get her own love story, but being a proclaimed spinster makes that rather difficult. Bring in a cast of crazy characters and who's to say what could happen?

It would be hard to say that Camilla and Owen had a meet-cute. More like a meet-oh-my-word-what-is-happening-right-now, but funnier than all get out! Poor Owen didn't know his life was about to be turned upside down! That finding a renowned matchmaker for his sister might be more than he bargained for.

Circumstances bring Camilla to agreeing to head to West Virginia with her entourage of helpers, and watching them descend upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of Owen's little town is more than a little hilarious. You can't help but end up loving Owen's family who certainly have their hillbilly ways, but in a scary yet delightful manner, which is to be expected in the author's stories! You don't know whether to run and hide when certain characters show up or go in for a hug (just no kissing!).

To say that "love is in the air" with this story would be putting it mildly. Let's just say Camilla isn't the only person gifted with helping in the romance department! Owen's meemaw and aunt have their own ways of butting in where they're not invited. Just wait and see. hahahaha

There's a lot of shenanigans throughout the story, people being chased after to add some suspense, and good lessons taught to the well-intentioned people of Wheeling. As always, lots of funny scenes and one liners that will have you giggling throughout the story!

About the Author:

Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by BooklistJen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from RT Book Reviews, and praise from Library Journal. She's been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers' Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado. Readers can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and X, and at JenTurano.com.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Born Of Gilded Mountains By Amanda Dykes

Born of Gilded Mountains
by Amanda Dykes
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764239519

I've never met an Amanda Dykes story I didn't thoroughly get lost in! When I saw her next book was coming out, I couldn't wait to read it. I'm on her launch team and received the book for review.

Summary:

A lost treasure. A riddled quest. The healing power of friendship.

Legends are tucked into every fold of the Colorado mountains surrounding the quaint town of Mercy Peak, where residents are the stuff of tall tales, the peaks are taller still, and a lost treasure has etched mystery into the very terrain.

In 1948, when outsider Mercy Windsor arrives after a scandal shatters her gilded world as Hollywood's beloved leading lady, she is determined to forge a new life in obscurity in this time-forgotten Colorado haven. She purchases Wildwood, an abandoned estate with a haunting history, and begins to restore it to its former glory.

But as she does, her every move tugs at the threads of the mountain's lore, unearthing what became of her long-lost pen pal Rusty Bright, and the whereabouts of the infamous Galloping Goose Railcar No. 8, which vanished years ago--along with the mailbag it carried, whose contents could change the course of countless lives. Not to mention the fabled treasure that--if found--could right so many wrongs.

Among the towering mountains that stand as silent witnesses, the ghosts of the past entangle with the courage of the present to find a place where healing, friendship, and hope can abide amid a world forever changed.

My Review:

Once again, the author has managed to pull me into a world of her imagination and bring every bit of the story to life!

I honestly don't know where to even start to describe everything in this story. I loved the different writing "pieces" in the story (wait until you discover them!). The characters will make you feel ALL of the emotions. It was so fun getting to know the girls through their penpal letters.

We meet Mercy who has left Hollywood under suspicious circumstances. The details unfold throughout the story. She makes it to Mercy Peak where her dearest friend and penpal, Rusty is from. Rusty is from Mercy Peak and through her letters convinces Mercy to come to her town one day.

Neither of the girls have lived easy lives, but through their letters, they encourage one another.

You absolutely get the small town feel through the author's writing. All of the added characters bring it to life. The people we meet on Mercy's journey to unravel the mystery of a lost treasure adds so much richness to the story. You get the sense of them all making her one of their own - in the best way possible.

We also get to know Rusty through the letters she exchanges with Mercy. She's cut from the mountain and tough as they come. She's a straight shooter who tells it like it is. Rusty is exactly the person you want in your corner. Unfortunately, her life took an awful turn, leaving Mercy to go it alone.

When Mercy arrives in town, the residents realize she's the one who now owns Wildwood, the estate of Randolph Gilman who the townsfolk basically despised and sadly, for good reason. He was one of the four boys who make a pact in regard to any future treasure they found. Life doesn't always go the way we plan and that's played out in the lives of these 4 young men as they grow older and tragedy strikes.

There's so much to the heart and meat of this story. Renewed hope, restoration (of SO many things), forgiveness, trust, and belonging. As a reader, we're reminded that the Lord can restore and He has a plan.

This story is so rich, deep, and sometimes poetic, I am honestly not doing the story justice with the review. It took me a while to read the story, longer than usual, because I didn't want to miss a single word. So, I took my time and savored it. I can't recommend it enough!

About the Author:

Amanda Dykes's debut novel, Whose Waves These Are, is the winner of the prestigious 2020 Christy Award Book of the Year, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, and the winner of an INSPY Award. She's also the author of Christy Award-finalists All the Lost Places, Yours Is the Night, and Set the Stars Alight. Find her online at AmandaDykes.com.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Resurgence of Dawn By Brett Armstrong Interview + GIVE AWAY

Resurgence of Dawn JustRead Blog Tour

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Resurgence of Dawn by Brett Armstrong hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Resurgence of Dawn

Title: Resurgence of Dawn
Series:
Quest of Fire #5
Author:
Brett Armstrong
Publisher:
Expanse Books
Release Date:
December 12, 2023
Genre:
Christian, Epic/High Fantasy, Young Adult

Haunted by tragedies and failures, Anargen and Jason each struggle to find their way. Night has fallen in the Lowlands and neither teen has an easy road ahead. In Anargen’s Era, Monarch Ilyron’s powers and influence grow, forcing Anargen and his dwindling list of allies to travel the length of the Lowlands in a desperate attempt to keep the Quest and all they hold dear from falling into ruin. 

Jason meanwhile must find Aria and her grandfather to help unite the Knights of Light from across the Lowlands against his brother, Dorian. But agents of darkness and painful vestiges of his past mix with vindictive new enemies to make the hope of seeing the dawn of the longed-for King’s Day ever so faint. If either teen gives in and surrenders, doom will come swiftly on their world.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | BookBub

More Books in This Series

    Shadows at Nightfall  Quest of Fire: Desperation


Author Interview

1. What do you find is the hardest part of writing a story like this: the setting, the culture, the characters,
etc?

I think for me the most difficult part of writing Quest of Fire books, Resurgence of Dawn included, is
keeping all of the character's reactions to events and developments in the story authentic. Making
sure they don't overlook something that would be startling to them, because I know what's
happening next or I know what it means in the long-term. Allowing them to process emotions,
particularly negative ones in a way that is realistic is also tricky. The characters are facing things that
are truly heartbreaking at times and experience disappointments and doubts and just letting those
things play out without trying to cut them off too early because I care about the characters is difficult
some times. There's a conflict between two characters in Resurgence of Dawn that I desperately
wanted to end or avoid but knew I couldn't. There’s also another character who makes choices that
put him on a path to destruction that I kept trying to find a way out of for him, but altering things in
either situation would've been too intrusive and diminished the story. Portraying every emotion
rightly and accepting them as they need to be for the story and series is definitely the roughest part
for me and what I stress over most.

2. What's your process of including a thread of faith into your stories? Do you pull from Scripture or do
you decide on a faith topic and let it work its way into your story?

There have been a few times where I started with a passage of Scripture and wrote a story from there,
my first published novel Destitutio Quod Remissio is 100% a meditation on Colossians 3:12-13. Almost
all of the others have been more along the lines of getting a general idea of the plot and then
following the path from point to point I see certain themes naturally weave in. Characters experience
things that lend themselves to introducing a particular scriptural truth. Though overall, the entire
Quest of Fire series features a consistent exhortation to keep true to what the Apostle Paul said: “I
have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up
for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day,
and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”*
Seeing the Lord Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords is so key too. And “For the word of God is
living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of
joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”**

Not to mention, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus
let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”***
* 2 Timothy 4:7-9, ESV
** Hebrews 4:12, ESV
*** Hebrews 12:28, ESV

3. Do you read your story to your wife before it's published or do you let her read it during the process?

Early in my publishing career she read my manuscripts before they were published, but I tend to write
in genres that aren't my wife's favorites (or even on the same map as her favorites). She doesn’t tend to read them anymore. Though somewhat recently she did read and enjoy my novella in The Near Distant collection. More often when something is particularly tricky, I'll pass the premise of a scene or story by her to get her feelings on it. She's also a big help with reviewing cover art and I basically can't
do my social media without her. But until I finish the contemporary romance I have squirreled away in
my story folders, I don't know that I'm going to pique her interest.

4. Where do you find the names for your characters such as Monarch and Anargen? Is there a book with
made up fantasy names?

I get ideas for names from a pretty diverse array of sources. Anargen is one I made up (heavily
influenced by the name Aragorn from Lord of the Rings). There are a few names out there that come
from the phonetic sounds evoking a particular feel that I want based on who the character is as well.
Others are real-world names that carry some significance to the respective character like Cinaed and
Seren. Some are composites of words in other languages that carry a particular meaning, like Monarch
Maldes Ilyron. Though he's a special case, because I actually put his name out to a vote for readers to
pick from a list of options the best name for the Middle Era villain. Among my favorites are some I've
gotten from my son while we're playing together like Professor Goulder and in place names the town
of Cattingsford. Anytime I'm picking names for people and places in stories it's a really personal
experience, because that name becomes a part of who the character is and starts to shape how they
fit in the story world.

5. When you begin a series, do you typically know how many books will be in it or do you let it play out
naturally and you allow it to be as long as needed?

Most of the time I have an idea at the start and then revise my expectations as I go. For Quest of Fire, I
started very early on thinking it would be three books and then four. Then I got the idea to intersperse
the more personal and smaller scale supporting stories in the three novellas/short novels. That way I
could add more depth to the cultures and some of the characters that I couldn't put into the main arc
novels because of word count and pacing concerns. Quest of Fire has been a seven-book series in my
mind (and with my publisher) since at least 2018 and I've had the names for every release and a
general arc (including the final chapter of the series) since 2019. I’m currently writing the final book in
the series and seeing what I’ve been imagining for years coming to its conclusion is so surreal.

6. Do you find inspiration for your stories in your day-to-day life? If you have a conversation with
someone or see a situation, do you ever think, "Oh, that would fit great into my story"

Oh, definitely. It was more so for my Tomorrow's Edge series than Quest of Fire. In Quest of Fire I try
to capture some normal moments or a facsimile of them in the stories to ground them some. The
more fantastical a setting and plot is the more the reader needs some moments that remind us of the
real world and day-to-day life. So, there;s a dinner date scene of sorts in Resurgence of Dawn and a
scene where a character goes through a marketplace low key looking for a gift for another character.
In Tomorrow's Edge, which is a near future dystopian story, everything was fair game in that series,
from mall trips to ordering fast food to a hospital stay. All with a slight futuristic twist. The first book
in that series is probably the best example of me pulling real life into fiction, because the opening
scene and the entire premise for the series came from me standing alone on the steps to the English
hall at my undergrad university and looking across the campus in the rain at the library in the
distance. That moment and the motifs it inspired and questions of what would happen to that library
if all the books were digital only all came together to launch that series for me.

About the Author

Brett Armstrong

Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers haunting, deep historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Tomorrow's Edge), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire). Every story is a journey of discovery and an attempt to be a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope. Always busy with a new story, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and spending time with his wife and son.

Connect with Brett at brettarmstrong.net to follow him on social media and sign up for email updates.


Tour Giveaway

(2) winners will each win a $25 Amazon gift card, a print copy of Resurgence of Dawn, and a digital poster of the Lowlands!

Resurgence of Dawn JustRead Tours blog giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight June 24, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on July 1, 2024. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Monday, June 17, 2024

Coal Black Lies By Cindy K. Sproles + GIVE AWAY

Coal Black Lies JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Coal Black Lies by Cindy K. Sproles, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! Cindy has become one of my favorite authors in the past couple of years. I feel like she's one of those authors more of us need to be talking about. Check out the excerpt from the story below and enter the giveaway!

About the Book

Coal Black Lies

Title: Coal Black Lies
Author:
Cindy K. Sproles
Publisher:
Kregel Publications
Release Date:
June 18, 2024
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Believing the bitter lies you tell yourself leaves little room for the sweetness of truth 

Coal miner Joshua Morgan managed to do the impossible--he broke away from the stranglehold of the iron-fisted Barton family and the Company Store, to whom all the miners in the Appalachian Mountains are indebted. But it cost him the life of his young daughter, who was run down by a posse led by Thomas Barton while coming to collect Joshua's payment to the store. 

Five years later, a sweet but slow-witted young girl lands on his doorstep, and Joshua's desire to protect her from the clutches of the Bartons increases his thirst for vengeance. Joshua sets out to discover where the girl came from in order to take down the Barton family once and for all. 

His journey leads him to the truth about the day his daughter died, a reality he finds hard to accept. But when confronted by Thomas Barton himself, Joshua is forced to rethink the dark lies brewing in his heart. If he broke away, could Thomas have also? Despite his misgivings, can Joshua join forces with a man he once despised to free the miners from the tyrannical Barton family and forge a future of peace for both the young girl and himself?

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Bookshop

Also Available

 


Book Excerpt

The music left Raney’s soul when Anna died, and her mouth grew parched and tight. She rarely spoke unless she had to, and she’d smile from time to time. But when she turned away, the smile left and her face returned to pinched and painful. Raney never recovered, and I could never give her another child—the one thing she lived to have. 

I wanted my life back. I wanted my wife back, and I wanted my daughter. If a body could have a wish, I’d wish that day away. 

All me and Raney had done was bury the pain. Instead of us grieving together, we hid the pain deep to protect each other. It was senseless because we still wallowed in the sadness—only alone. When you suffer alone, things fall apart. You draw away from one another, and that’s what we’d done. We’d grown apart instead of looking to each other for comfort. 

I slid the coin between my fingers. The longer I held it in my hand, the more determined I was to make a change. 

“It ends today, Anna. I’m gonna do my best to let this guilt go.”

About the Author

Cindy Sproles

Cindy K. Sproles is the author of devotions published in newspapers across the country and a teacher at Christian writers conferences. She spent her formative years showing off her beloved Appalachian Mountains to others, and she and her family still live in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Connect with Cindy at cindysproles.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win a print copy of Coal Black Lies plus book-related swag!

Coal Black Lies JustRead Tours blog giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight June 17, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on June 24, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

Enter Giveaway


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

 
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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.