Thursday, May 31, 2018

Noteworthy Books for your summer reading!

As I gear up for the first reviews of my first professionally-published novel, "Descendants of Avalon" to appear, I thought I'd share some other fun and noteworthy books I've come across of late.  I enjoy reading almost as much as I enjoy discovering new worlds and characters through writing.  So here's a list of recent books I'd recommend!  Until you order my latest book that is!  ;)

These are in no particular order.

(1) The Coffin Maker by Breeann Allison

DISCLOSURE: I received an ARC from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review.

With three books awaiting my attention before the end of June, I told myself I didn't need another book to review. But curiosity got the better of me, and I scrolled through the email with available ARCs from Curiosity Quills. If the title isn't enough to grab your attention, just the first descriptive paragraph will surely reel you in. Earlier caution out the window, I requested an ARC just a few minutes after receiving the email.

I was NOT disappointed. This book is a can't-put-down, original concept, hilarious, haunting tale. 4.5 stars!

Jesse is a coffin maker who lives in Gregor's Hollow, a small town that lives off of tourism with their Poe Pageants, Hitchcock festival, and "ghostly" visitations. Halloween is their biggest season, and the date is fast approaching. Jesse has taken over the coffin making business from his dad who mysteriously disappeared 9 years ago. When Death shows up at Jesse's door to place an order for 8 coffins, things take a sinister turn. With a promise to tell Jesse what happened to his father, Death makes a deal for 8 coffins for the souls he's in town to collect by Halloween. Knowing that these coffins are for people he's grown up with, Jesse does everything in his power to stop Death from taking his friends.

Jesse is hilarious with his self-deprecating humor and sarcastic wit. We meet the people of Gregor's Hollow through his eyes, and the clever descriptions make is easy to get to know this community. Most compelling, though, is the interplay between Death and Jesse.

The only things I had issue with were a few clearly child-of-the-1980s references. First off, Rainbow Brite isn't a cartoon kids watch anymore. So having one of the kids obsessed with the show isn't realistic. I thought maybe this was set in the 1980s, but then Jesse references BB-8, so that wasn't correct. Jesse also mentions picturing "Melanie Griffith perched nude on something posh and marble." Melanie Griffith is 60 years old--not a 20 year old's fantasy. Additionally, I doubt 20-something Jesse knows the word "milquetoast." I like a rich vocabulary, but this word was completely out of the ballpark!

Beyond these minor gripes, I really enjoyed this book. With a twisty-turny plot mixed with great character development all dropped into a rich setting, I couldn't put this down. The plot is deeply layered, so readers may think they're getting an answer to one mystery only to find two more questions lurking in the shadows. I was fascinated and chilled at the same time as the plot drew to a close. Allison has a wonderful lyrical prose she uses to transition time and place. I found the observations and musings of her characters to be so well done. Such delightful prose was the caramel on the apple! I have already started recommending this book to my friends and am excited to see what's on the horizon for Jesse and Gregor's Hollow.

Review also posted via Goodreads HERE.

(2) Searcher of the Dead (A Bess Ellyott Mystery #1) by Nancy Herriman

It’s 1593, and since fleeing Elizabethan London after her husband’s murder, Bess Ellyott has been living in her brother’s house in Wiltshire. One evening, their sister arrives at the door fearing that her husband, who left that morning for business in another town, is in grave danger. The next day, his body is found hanging from a tree. While the coroner and jury pronounce the death a suicide, Bess spots a suspicious mark on her brother-in-law’s body. As Bess begins investigating, she’s quickly reminded of her own husband’s tragic demise. Has a murderer followed her from London? Or is the shadow that edges around the periphery of her investigation a different threat to her family and friends?

Early on, Herriman’s level of historical detail pulled me in and never let go. Gramercy, how the dialogue sets the tone with finesse! I loved how immersed in time and place I felt. From patterns of speech, to details in homes of the poor versus the wealthy, to 16th-century law, the research Herriman has done is marvelous. The pacing is great, and I found myself glued to the pages. To my delight, on top of an intriguing mystery, the historical depth and the well-developed characters make this an extremely satisfying read. Certes, fans of Ariana Franklin will devour this book! I eagerly await more Bess Ellyott mysteries. Highly recommended!

Review originally posted via the Historical Novel Society at:

(3) Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews

In 732 BCE, five-year-old Ishma witnessed her family being murdered by Israel’s soldiers. After the prophet Oded’s words free her and other captives from slavery, she finds her way into the home of Isaiah, God’s prophet, who has fallen out of favor with King Ahaz. In a pagan ceremony, King Ahaz sacrifices his oldest son to the god Molek. The memory of that day leaves Prince Hezekiah tormented, and he suffers daily. When Ishma and Hezekiah meet, the two form a bond of healing and hope. Over the years, this friendship blossoms into love. So that Ishma can be considered for a royal betrothal, Isaiah adopts her and gives her the name Hephzibah, meaning “delight of the Lord.” But Hephzibah and Hezekiah face many challenges to their faith. Can they rely on God during great hardships affecting both their family and their country?

Andrews, known for providing voice to women typically in the margins of biblical stories, paints a beautiful tale with heartfelt characters. While this is jarring at first, readers can easily adapt to the narrative switches from first person (Ishma/Hephzibah’s voice) to third person from chapter to chapter.

Ishma’s point of view hooked me from the get-go, despite her being only five years old. Andrews skillfully develops Ishma from orphaned child to the young queen renamed Hephzibah. I also loved how Andrews dives into how difficult prophecy can be, both to interpret and to give. Isaiah’s inner turmoil, Hezekiah’s difficulties trusting God, and Ishma’s reluctance to accept that she is loved are all sensitively explored issues. Historical details are woven into the narrative flawlessly. I particularly loved Andrews’s choice for metaphors (one example refers to standing a camel’s length away). These details really authenticate the story. This is a very well-researched and deeply felt novel. Recommended!

Review originally posted at the Historical Novel Society:

I hope you found a novel or two to add to your TBR lists!  Feel free to throw a book or two at me via Goodreads.  Enjoy the summer months and happy reading!

Friday, February 16, 2018


A New Quest Is About To Begin!


My latest novel, "Descendants of Avalon," is a middle grade/YA book about four modern-day girls from small-town MN who are swept into the magical land of Avalon after a powerful wish tips the balance of power. An evil magician is doing everything he can to break the veil between worlds and ends up kidnapping one of the teenagers. With the help of some knights, the Lady of the Lake, and Morgan le Fay, the remaining three teens will set out on a quest to rescue their friend and save two worlds in the process. 
If you're interested, please email me at with your name and preferred email address.  My editor will then email you with the specifics, particularly as we get closer to the book's release date. 
Will you take this journey with me?
I hope to hear from you soon!

Find me online at these links:
Website Facebook Twitter Google Instagram

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Top 10 Reads of 2017

Top 10s are fun, aren't they?  I started writing this list last month, eagerly awaiting the New Year so I could share a few of my favorite things.  Surprisingly, the New Year has been busier than expected.  So after a slight delay, I am finally able to post for you my top 10 list of 2017 reads.

Oddly, I noticed that a majority of this list were books read in September!  Besides being my birthday month, I see its also a time when I have impeccable reading tastes.

Note: These are not limited to books released in 2017, like top 10 movie lists center on, they're simply the books I chose to pick up this year.

So without further ado!...

10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
Finished reading: January 4

This book is about the characters and how the Rebellion has affected them, a completely new layer in the franchise, which serves to grey the line between the Rebellion versus Empire. The best novelizations contribute to their films rather than just being a shallow money-grabbing tie-in, and this satisfyingly fleshes out and clarifies character motivations & intentions.

9. Raelia (The Medoran Chronicles #2) by Lynette Noni
Finished reading: May 16

Noni builds so much intrigue between the different factions that its hard to put the book down. Her characters are inspired and amusing. They have great chemistry and are a delight to read. The world is expanded in mystical ways, and I can't wait to explore more of in book 3 because that ending was just…holy crap…what a twist.

8. The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Finished reading: September 27

Our main character, Fallon, is what Maas's main character in "Throne of Glass" should have been but wasn't.  Fantastic themes of sisterhood, loyalty, and sacrifice. The plot twists are fairly predictable, but the overall arch of the story line keeps you entertained from beginning to end.

7. Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane
Finished reading: January 22

Fishbane’s historical research is thorough and comes out beautifully in the narrative. Additionally, the spirit of Montgomery’s writing breathes subtly within the pages. It’s a very well-written story about a girl discovering what she wants out of life and love. 

6. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Finished reading: December 14

Carson pulls together great historical elements, spunky and enduring characters, emotional weight and mixes in a captivating adventure.  The historical elements are rich, and I found myself not ready to say goodbye to the cast of characters when the book ended!

5. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Finished reading: May 22

Meyer's Queen of Hearts origin story is stunning. The plot is surprising yet comfortably familiar with its Wonderlandish charm. The characters were uniquely captured and multifaceted. Meyer's carefully crafted story is able to captivate readers enough so that the well-known end result doesn't loom over the pages.

4. The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere #1) by Jacqueline West
Finished reading: September 29

A delightful middle-grade novel with an original concept and fun characters. It’s quirky, spooky, and has an unpredictable mystery to unravel.  The pace is great with many surprises to discover.

3. Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
Finished reading: September 5

This book beautifully explores the struggles Leia and her family faced as the Rebellion took flight. Claudia Gray digs deep into the heart of emotions and explores the many consequences that could arise from even the most noble of actions.  This story does the original characters credit and is strong in the Force.

2. For the Most Beautiful: A Novel of the Trojan War (Golden Apple Trilogy #1) by Emily Hauser
Finished reading: September 14

What I love about this story is how it illustrates that historical women were able to accomplish great things despite constraints of time and place.  A stirring book with great characters moving within a fast-paced narrative and a beautiful setting.

1. The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green
Finished reading: February 24

Themes of judgment and grace are contrasted thoughtfully and beautifully throughout Green’s narrative.  The real-life situations these colonists once lived through are harrowing, but skillfully and tastefully told through Green’s deft storytelling.  Brimming with impressive historical details, complex characters, and an alluring plotline rich with unpredictable twists and turns, this is a touching novel that I loved.

In this new year, allow me to wish you happy reading in 2018!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Freebies and Festivals!

A Walk Through Time!

16 FREE historical fiction books, but only for a limited time!
Just click
Plus, a $25 gift card.  You don't want to miss this!

Upcoming event:

A day-long celebration of BOOKS!

Per the book festival site: The Twin Cities Book Festival—brought to you by Rain Taxi—is not only the largest and most important literary gathering in the Upper Midwest, it is the annual get-together for the Twin Cities’ devoted literary community. This FREE, day-long festival brings people together to celebrate our vibrant literary culture. The festival welcomes ‘rock star’ authors, local literary heroes, publishers, magazines, booksellers—all of whom connect over great books and conversations.
My group, the Rochester Fantastical Women will be there!  So if you're close by, I'd highly recommend stopping by.  Here are a list of exhibitors I'll be rubbing elbows with on Saturday, October 14: Exhibitor List.