Monday, 29 July 2013

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer Blog Tour: "Dragonwitch" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl Review

Submissive to her father’s will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves–Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.

But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta’s tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.

And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice…and for the one person who can wield it.

-image and summary from

About the Author

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, STARFLOWER and DRAGONWITCH. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award. 

Book Review

Dragonwitch is the fifth book in "The Tales of Goldstone Wood", a Christian fantasy series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The events take place some centuries after those of Starflower, and chronicle the rest of Hri Sora's tale.

Buckle your seat belts.

This book is one of my favourites in this series. All of Stengl's books are full of loveable characters, twisting plots, and lovely, lyrical sentences. But Dragonwitch took all the wonderful qualities of the previous books and amped them up a few notches. Stengl has outdone herself with this book.

First of all, the characters. When I first heard of this story and understood a bit of Leta's character, I did not expect to like her that much. Yet she ended up surprising me and by the end of the story, she had made a lasting impact. Her struggle to find her voice while maintaining certain ideals is a struggle I find realistic and with which I empathize. It's so easy to feel that as girls, our voices should remain unheard--we should always be quiet and never speak up. This is exactly what I've been fighting with for the past couple of years, and Leta's fight to find her voice and strength in weakness was beautiful.

Eanrin, the cat-man, and Imraldera, a scribe and librarian, flipped my heart a couple of times through the story--as always.

When I first started reading the novel, I did not like Alistair that much. He seemed whiny and annoying. And then I reach around the middle of the story, and things start happening--and Alistair showed how awesome he was. By the end, I was as in love with him as (-----) one of the other characters. What, thought I was going to let a spoiler slip by? ;)

But what really caught me was Hri Sora and her story. By the end, my emotions had gone through several highs and lows. Hri Sora is one of the best villains I've ever read, because I could empathize with her. I was actually hoping beyond hope that she might reform and be saved. Does she? I won't tell. :) 

Secondly, the writing. Some of the scenes--especially the one with Leta and the star--left me breathless with the sheer beauty of it. I think I was even in tears at one point! And the intensity had me gritting my teeth and gripping the computer screen, unable to tear myself away. One scene--involving goblins--was so well-written I felt as though I were creeping through the castle with the characters, trying to escape the onslaught.  I couldn't stop reading; I had to see what came next. I could see it all in my head like a movie; could hear the epic, eerie music. I think of all the books, I would love to see Dragonwitch as a movie the most. It just struck me as an epic movie in the making.

Thirdly, the locations. This book revisits locations seen in previous books--and how different they are from when we first see them! One thing I love about this series is that it's like learning the history of another world; you get to see the places and people in different forms, just as our world's history would have been. Nothing is as it is without having been different before--people shape their enivronment quite a bit. And you see the consequences of this on one location in particular, the South Lands, where a horde of fire priestesses have taken hold....

Lastly, the feel of this book is very different from the others in the series. Its scope is wide, with daring escapes, journeys, and lasting consequences for the characters and their world. Even at the end, some strings are resolved but the very last page makes it clear that the story is not completely over. And that is completely fine with me, because that means there are many more Goldstone Wood books to come!


I received a review copy from NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for that opportunity!

Tour Giveaway!!!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Tour Schedule

July 29th
Making the Grade – Review & Interview
Tribute Books – Excerpt
The Other World – Review

July 30th
Sassy Book Lover – Review

July 31st
Books Beside My Bed – Review & Guest Post

August 1st
A Book Lover’s Library – Review & Guest Post
MK McClintock Blog - Guest Post
LDS & Lovin’ It – Review

August 2nd

August 3rd
Cuzinlogic – Guest Post
The Secret Writer – Review & Interview
Fire & Ice – Review
Characterized – Review

August 5th
Good Choice Reading – Interview
Peace From Pieces – Interview

August 6th
Hott Books – Interview
Backing Books – Review
Gwynneth White – Review
Taking Time for Mommy – Interview

August 7th
Bunny’s Review – Guest Post
Colorimetry – Tens List
Aimee Lane – Interview

August 8th
Recent Reads – Review
Mythical Books – Interview
All Fantasy Worlds – Review

August 9th
Spellbindings – Review
Literary Sweet – Review
Fall Into Books – Guest Post

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Mini Reviews: "Raising a Lady in Waiting Who Understands the Real Deal on Love and Men"

Raising a Lady in Waiting

Raising Daughters Who Refuse to Settle

In a culture that emphasizes finding the right pair of jeans over waiting for the right man, there is no time to sit back and hope everything just pans out. Mom, you are your daughter’s greatest influence, mentor, and relationship coach. It is time to take action!

The most important decision of your daughter’s life is who will be her Master; the second is who will be her "mister." You play a vital role in preparing her to make this choice. Bestselling author, Jackie Kendall, opens her heart and candidly shares four decades’ worth of experience with mothers who are raising daughters to navigate the challenges of relationships.

These principles help you effectively guide your daughter to: Maintain high relationship standards, guard her mind from false relationship images, and teach her the value of waiting for God’s best. 

Kids are passing school while flunking in relationships. Raising a Lady in Waiting  provides you with the keys necessary to safeguard your daughter from pursuing "Bozos" and prepares her for the "Boaz" God has waiting.

-summary and image from

So I requested this book from Netgalley out of curiosity more than anything else. Whenever I see books like this out there, I'm always wondering what sort of advice is being offered. While I am happily single and not looking for a relationship, and while I'm not a mother searching for advice about how to raise my daughter, this book still touched me. Even singles can be tempted in this world to stray from the path they--and hopefully God--has chosen for them. So whether you're praying for God to bring you your knight or praying God will protect you from them, this book is full of helpful tips on how to become the best daughter of God you can be--or, if you're a mom, how to raise your daughter to become that woman.

Four stars!

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Destiny Image in exchange for an honest review.

The Real Deal on Love and Men

Bestselling author Michelle McKinney Hammond (1.5 million relationship books sold) fields women’s questions on love, men, dating, and marriage. With her unique “tell it like it is” style and compassionate understanding, Michelle helps readers navigate the male/female maze, including:
“Get a Life”—Finding and creating opportunities to meet godly men “The Man/Woman Thing”—Understanding and appreciating gender differences “Closing the Deal”—Identifying deal breakers and deal makers while dating “Cheating, Lying, and Other Love Traps”—When to stay and when to leave “New Beginnings”—Gleaning wisdom from setbacks and then moving on “Marriage”—Exploring expectations and establishing traditions

Everyone wants a love relationship, so why is it so hard to find and keep? Michelle answers the question and explores the ins and outs of love. “It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and find out what makes love happen…It’s time to engage our brains while following our hearts.

-summary and image from

Again, I requested this book from NetGalley out of my own insatiable curiosity. But boy, was it fun to read. At school I'm surrounded by friends who want to get married (and I say, as long as I'm in the wedding party!), and I think this book would be perfect for them to read! I'm actually considering, whenever I have money (ha!) to buy a few of my gal-pals copies as gifts. This book was bright, engaging, and a fast read. But it had a lot of wisdom to offer, wisdom that is best not to dismiss because of the sparkly decor. This book delves right into the hard stuff--my eyes were certainly opened about certain things. While, again, I'm certainly not the target audience for this type of thing, I still found myself learning a lot to take away for the future. As well, it's good to learn wisdom so you can impart it to others. When any of my friends face challenges in their love lives, I hope to use what I've read from this book to help them through it, and be the best friend to them I can be in doing so.

I recommend this book to everyone who's old enough to dabble in romantic relationships, whether they prefer to be single or not. This book has something to give everyone so they can make the best decisions in their lives and live with no regrets!

Five stars!

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Harvest House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

King Blog Tour Guest Post: "Beginnings"

On Tour with Prism Book Tours...

King (Books of the Infinite, # 3)by RJ Larson
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 1, 2013 by Bethany House

Akabe of Siphra is certain his people are insane. 

Why have they made him a king? 
What, in the name of peacetime boredom do kings do?

Frustrated by a lengthy silence from his Creator, the Infinite, Akabe decides to prove himself as king by undertaking a monumental task, his own lifelong dream: Rebuild the Infinite’s temple in Siphra. 

But Akabe’s impulsive decision sweeps him into a storm of controversy. The Infinite’s enemies join forces in Siphra, and beyond, conspiring to destroy the emerging temple—and to kill their king and his mysterious new queen.

R.J. Larson

R.J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as Women's Devotional Bible and Seasons of a Woman's Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre.


Readers who have picked up King for the first time often ask, “Where did you get the idea for King?” 

King’s main character, Akabe of Siphra, first appeared in book one, Prophet, as an honorable rebel-hunter roaming wild in the mountains east of Parne. 

Book one opens in Parne and presents a new beginning in this distant realm. Parne is the city-state where the Creator, the Infinite, has ended a Divine silence that spanned more than a generation. 

Each of the main characters from the Books of the Infinite series, Ela, Kien, Akabe, and (some might add) a certain monster-warhorse named “Pet”, face times of testing in Parne.

For their sakes and His, the Infinite is determined to reach all mortals, whom He loves. 



July 22 - August 16
Print copy of Prophet, Judge & King.  USA, Canada, UK only.

Map Puzzle Tour...
22 - Launch!
Kien (Judge cover) is the original owner of the map... the scrolling mimics his sword...
Follow the tour to reveal the entire map!
23 – ADDLibrarian - Review
- Rose & Beps Blog "Compass"
25 – The Other World "Beginnings"
26 – Pieces of Whimsy - Review
9 – Grand Finale

Monday, 22 July 2013

Songstone Blog Tour: Interview, Review, & Giveaway!!!

Welcome to the first day of the Songstone tour! It's bound to be a blast. At any time, you can check out the Tour HQ. Enjoy the tour!

About the Book

Kita can meld song into stone. In a world with no written word, storytelling—the ability to meld (or magically impress) song into stone—is greatly honored. The village honors her master as their medicine man, but Kita knows he's secretly a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it from him. Each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope. His spells blind the villagers, so they can’t see him for what he really is.

Not that anyone would want to help her. She was found in the forest as a baby and would have died if a village girl hadn't brought her home. But the villagers saw Kita's unusual coloring and decided she belonged to the mysterious tribe who lives in the forests of the volcano, a people feared for their mystical powers. So they fear her too. Now seventeen, she can barely admit her deepest longing: to know who she really is and where she belongs. 

Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He's come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village—a storyteller who'll be chosen at the great assembly. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom and she'll risk her life to take it. 

A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people.

You can find Songstone on:

Amazon (Kindle) 
Barnes & Noble (Nook)

About the Author

Lena lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. She writes fiction for young adults, mostly light fantasy with a healthy dose of "sigh-worthy" romance. You can visit her online at

Author Interview

1. Why did you decide to focus on the legends of the Māori? That's an original, refreshing idea!

Thanks, Rebeka, and thanks for having me here! I didn't set out saying, "I think I'll write a story based on the legends of the Māori!" I didn't gather books on their myths & folklore, which would have been the logical place to begin if that had been my intention from the start.

The original spark of an idea came to me when I was on vacation several years ago. We'd rented a cottage on an island on Lake Winnipesaukee (New Hampshire). The island has boat-only access, which seemed liked an exciting idea. It was actually a bit terrifying for me, because I hadn't had much experience with boats (ironically despite the fact that was my father was in the Navy! ;)). So I was way out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, as a writer, being out of my comfort zone is a pressure cooker for new ideas.

I started daydreaming about this girl who needed to cross a very dangerous lake, and I knew somehow her quest was imperative. She had to go, but she needed the help of a journeyman to get across. (Perhaps my husband, the experienced boater, unwittingly inspired the role of "hero to the rescue"? LOL)

How I got from that initial spark of an idea to New Zealand was a roundabout trip. My research often leads me down a convoluted trail. I'm not methodical in the beginning days of a new project. I'm scouting for anything that catches my eye and fires my fascination. (On the premise: If it's not fun and interesting for me, why would it be fun or interesting for a reader?) I combed the internet for images of possible settings. I went to local libraries and flipped through table-sized (ok, practically!) photo books on geography.

I saw it as a gorgeous place that could kill you. (Perfect! ;))

So my search for a setting drove me to New Zealand (and other Pacific islands). A lot of what fascinated me about New Zealand was the incredibly gorgeous landscape. It's a stunning place, but it's also filled with all sorts of dangers. It's an island with steaming sulfurous lakes and active volcanoes. From there, my scouting brought me to Māori myths and the legends of the pakepakehā.

"In Māori tradition patupaiarehe, also known as tūrehu and pakepakehā, were fairy-like creatures of the forests and mountain tops. Although they had some human attributes, patupaiarehe were regarded not as people but as supernatural beings (he iwi atua)." From<>.

Note (aka author disclaimer): Though Songstone was greatly inspired by Māori legends, I don't claim that it's a faithful representation of Māori myth. I have a great respect for their culture. I'm also aware that the world of Songstone is very much colored by my own imagination, personality, and worldview. (For instance, in early drafts I kept thinking of comparisons to snakes, but there are no native New Zealand snakes. The deadliest creatures on their island--back then anyway, pre-European contact--were great lizards and sea creature, like sharks, so I had to pluck out my snake references. :))

2. Where did your main character spring from? How did you build her?

The image of a girl on a dangerous quest was the first thing that came to me. Her physical characteristics were later inspired by the legends of the patupaiarehe: her red hair, very white skin, and green eyes (the patupaiarehe were said to have blue or light colored eyes, and green suited Kita). I also imagined she'd go through a life-altering transformation on her journey.

The idea of her being adopted came from my own experiences as an adoptive mom. Kita is a fish out of water. She was found as a baby lost in the forest and adopted by a family from a local village. Writing this story in a fantasy setting, far removed from life here at our house, was a way for me to more freely explore the more painful issues associated with adoption. An adopted child has suffered a tremendous loss that shapes his/her world. For some kids it's more painful than for others. For Kita, I amped the stakes as high as possible. She's not only a foreigner to her adoptive family, she has the appearance of a mysterious people feared for their mystical powers, so she's ostracized. In many ways, she doesn't belong to either world. Her quest initially is to escape from her evil master, Matiko, but as the story unfolds it's also a quest to discover who she is and where she does belong. It's a quest to discover her real family, which means many different things.

As a teen/young adult, she's also discovering who she is and what she's capable of. Those years are often about leaving home behind for the first time and discovering self. That journey often leads right back to home, when we discover the people in our lives are what really matters most. :)

3. Without spoilers, what is your favourite scene in the book?

Oh, wow, that's hard! I love a bunch of the scenes, all for different reasons, some for the action, some for revelations, or, mostly, the romantic moments.... I'm a real romantic at heart. ;) But I'd have to say either the scene when Pono gives Kita a small-but-meaningful token and then does something rather extraordinary on her behalf. There's something in particular that's tormenting her, and his action on her behalf is, to me, amazing and perfect. (I'm trying to not give away too much!) It actually came about as a surprise to me. I didn't know going into that scene what he was going to do, and yet as it unfolded it seemed like it was meant to be from the first page. Writing is at times a very mysterious process. There are moments of discovery which come as if someone else knows the grand plan, but only gives me little bits and pieces at a time. LOL I also love the Epilogue. Without saying too much, it makes me happy. :)

Having read this book, I know what scene you're referring to, and it made me fall in love with Pono even more! He's such a prince charming, without even being a prince! ;)


Songstone was a novel full of lush locales, dynamic characters, and VERY evil villains. It took me to a place I'd never been, an island I assume is based off New Zealand. I adored the jungle setting and felt transported to a whole new world. Kita and Pono's slow-to-burn romance was sweet and steady, and Pono was a male character I couldn't help but cheer on! He was kind and very much a gentleman, who also had vulnerabilities. It was awesome to see this kind of character as the romantic hero in a Young Adult tale, rather than the brooding, masochistic type.

The one detail that gave me the creeps a wee bit was the magic. The villain in this story is a sorcerer, and the power he had over the villagers was absolutely terrible. I wish there had been a bit more of a line between what the normal villagers did and what the villain did--they both used magic, but the story never delved into whether or not the villagers' magic could twist their souls. I think exploring further their religious mythos as well would have added another layer of depth.

I did like how Kita struggled with her own thirst for power and recognized that it was a bad thing. She was a very well-rounded character, not always acting as she should but altogether very human and very relatable. I loved her various revelations and her slow journey to becoming more open with other people. 

There were a few storylines that weren't completely wrapped up at the end, leaving it open for perhaps further adventures. I would love to see where Kita and Pono go next. I think--and hope--they have a lot of adventuring left to do!


Lena is generously offering a bunch of cool prizes to one lucky winner!

We’re doing a sweet summer giveaway in conjunction with the blog tour! The giveaway is open internationally, and one winner (randomly drawn) will receive:

· A signed copy of Songstone (Paperback)

· A sea glass necklace with turtle charm (Picture will be included on the blog tour home page and in the introduction post)

(designed by The Studio of Glass)

· A $10 Dairy Queen gift card (U.S.) or a $10 gift card (international)
a Rafflecopter giveaway


I am hosting an EXTRA GIVEAWAY for an e-copy of one of Lena's books; the winner's choice of Aire, The Language of Souls, and Songstone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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