Resist by Emily Ann Putzke Cover Reveal and 25 Days ‘Til Christmas

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Can you believe it? It is already December 1st, and there are 25 days ’til Christmas! I am so unbelievably excited! I know the 25 days will fly by, but I still can’t wait!

Today, for the first bloggish advent calendar day I have a cover reveal for an upcoming novel, Resist, by Emily Ann Putzke.

Drumroll, please…

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Ta-da! Isn’t it fabulous? And now, the synopsis.

Munich, Germany 1942—Hans Scholl never intended to get his younger sister involved in an underground resistance. When Sophie Scholl finds out, she insists on joining Hans and his close friends in writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets entitled, The White Rose. The young university students call out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government. Hans knows the consequences for their actions—execution for committing high treason—but firm in his convictions, he’s prepared to lose his life for a righteous cause. Based on a true story, Hans, Sophie and all the members of The White Rose resistance group will forever inspire and challenge us to do what is right in the midst of overwhelming evil.
Available in paperback and ebook on February 22nd, 2016
I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE historical fiction, and Resist seems like the perfect historical fiction novel for me. Ever since I read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, I have been interested in the resistance during the World Wars. I can’t wait to read Resist, another story of resistance that is sure to please!  Emily’s a wonderful writer and a huge history buff who does awesome historical reenactments, so I know that her love of history is going to bleed right into Resist and make it an even more enjoyable read!
Love the synopsis so much that you want to pre-order this book or mark it as to-read on Goodreads? Look no further!
 
Pre-order the ebook on Amazon
 
Add to Goodreads
 
About The Author:
emilyannputzke
 
Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books at www.authoremilyannputzke.com and www.facebook.com/authoremilyannputzke
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A Special Black Friday Book Sale and a Bloggish Christmas Advent Calendar

*peeks in* Hi! Has it really been almost three months since I last posted? *dusts off blog* Well, I’m back. It’s been an incredibly amazing and yet busy three months. Of course it’s a struggle for me to keep up with all that’s going on, but I’ve had some awesome once-in-a-lifetime experiences this three months that I’m very thankful for. Anyways, this December I will be doing 25 consecutive days of blog posts counting down to Christmas like an bloggish advent calendar. I’m excited and I hope you are excited, too! But first, enjoy this Indie Christian Books Black Friday Book Sale!

ICB_FBAdIt’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you.

From Nov 27 (that’s today!) through Nov 30th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies!

Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.

What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Curious Wren Blog Launch Party Tag

Annie Hawthorne, a wonderful fellow reader, writer and Christian is starting a blog called the Curious Wren, and it’s sure to be a place of whimsy and encouragement. To celebrate, Annie has held a weeklong celebration with interviews on other blogs, a giveaway, and a tag, which I will be doing today. I hope you enjoy my answers, and when you’re done reading, be sure to go check out Annie’s blog.

1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it? Just yesterday I finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and I would definitely recommend it. Jane is a strong heroine and her determination to find her own way in the world really struck me. Besides that, the story has a chilling and mysterious atmosphere and it’s intriguing to see the mystery of Thornfield Hall unfold before you. Oh, and that ending. For a while I thought that the book would end lamely, but the ending was absolutely perfect. I can’t say much for fear of spoiling the book, but it was just such a beautiful ending.

2. Describe the perfect reading spot. I’d say I have several perfect reading spots. One is of course my bedroom. I love to curl up and read on my bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a mess of fluffy pillows and blankets surrounding me. The only thing I have to be careful about is not falling asleep while I read. This, unfortunately, happens a lot. The second perfect reading spot would be at a tiny quiet table in the middle of a huge library in the middle of a huge city. To be surrounded by walls and walls of books in the one silent space in a bustling city sounds so beautiful. And for my third spot, I’d love to read up in a treehouse on a sunny spring day when all the birds are chirping and the air smells sweet and perfume-y. Yes, I’m that weird person that loves both the city and the countryside.

3. Favorite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers? Hot chocolate! Hot chocolate! Hot chocolate! I am a huge proponent of hot chocolate. It’s in my bio, for Pete’s sake. Water’s good too, because, you know, survival and all that. Oh, and I do like the occasional cup of black tea with milk and honey or honey and lemon. I’ve basically never had coffee. Tears are a bit too salty for my taste, but hey, if my readers cry over my stories I must be doing something right, so I suppose I don’t mind them.

4. Share favorite quotes from four books.

“The only thing I’m afraid of about this country is that its government will someday become so monstrous that the smallest person in it will be trampled underfoot, and then it wouldn’t be worth living in.” ~ Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” ~ The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

“Incredible. It is just incredible that you can notice something like that when your face is so cold you can’t feel it anymore, and you know perfectly well you are surrounded by death, and the only way to stay alive is to endure the howling wind and hold your course. And still the sky is beautiful.” ~ Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic? Since this is a horribly cruel question, I have decided to break the rules and list more than one favorite for some of these. Sorry, not sorry.

For fantasy, I really love The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

I don’t read much dystopian fiction, but I really enjoyed A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes.

I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary, but there are many MG contemporaries that I love. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo are all exceptionally beautiful.

When it comes to sci-fi, anything written by Ray Bradbury is haunting and beautiful, but I’d say that I really like The Illustrated Man.

I have so many beloved classics so instead I’ll name authors instead of individual books. I love the works of J.R.R. Tokien, C.S. Lewis, Harper Lee, Ray Bradbury, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte…I just love a lot of classics, okay?

6. List three authors you’ve collected the most books from. Well, we have tons of Charles Dickens books at my house, as both my dad and I love his books. I also have a million and one books by Laura Ingalls Wilder because when I was little I obsessed over prairie books of all kinds and especially those written by Wilder. I had a serious problem, but at least it was a good problem! We also have quite a few books by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and I’m not sure which one we have more from.

7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature? I’d rather not read books with magic, but that doesn’t mean that I avoid it entirely. The place where I most tolerate magic is in allegorical fantasy books like those of Tolkien, Lewis and Stengl. In these books, magic is often used only by those evil characters who deal with witchcraft and get their magic from deadly, Satanic sources, are clearly shown as bad. Sometimes, as in the case of Gandalf, magic is used by a good character, but it is clear that the magic came from a creator character and not from an occult source, which I am fine with. Another thing I am fine with is light magical realism or light fairytale magic of the kind that you might find in MG. Too me, things like magic ice cream and magically talking flowers are less about magic and more about the wild imagination of a child, and I appreciate the beauty of that.

8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images. There are way too many book covers that I love to include images, but I love artsy covers with bold colors and equally bold stories encased within.

9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this. The first character that came to mind for me was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Maybe I’m being nostalgic or sentimental of late, but I can’t help but think sweetly back on my elementary school self that loved reading about the prairie so much that she wore a bonnet and played pioneers everyday during recess at school.

10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies? Nope. No one really asks me for my books anyway because most of the books I own are classics and I don’t know a lot of people besides my dad that like to read classics.

Thanks for reading and do be sure to go check out Annie’s blog.

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8 Things You Learn at Running Camp

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Well, hello there! Clearly, I have been on yet another impromptu hiatus. In fact, I am beginning to think that maybe I should just change my blog name to Impromptu Hiatus. And yes, I also have many, many comments that I must reply to. Still, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself about this because it’s summer.

I’ve been doing so much running this summer. At cross country practice we run anywhere from 3-10 miles per day. It’s not always easy, but I can’t think of anything better to do for my morning than go out for a long run or a speed workout that leaves me feeling accomplished at the end. I also attended sleepaway running camp for the first time and it was a fabulous experience. Today I just wanted to share some of the things you end up learning at running camp.

Running camp isn’t going to make you magically improve or get fit, but it will teach you something about your training. I’ve always had trouble pacing myself. I have a tendency to start out too fast, making the second half of my runs very difficult. When I’m with my team, I know what my skill level is and I feel (unnecessarily) pressured to always be running at the front of the pack. However, within my group I had no idea what the paces of the others were and I felt comfortable with starting runs near the back of the pack at a wiser pace. Saving my energy for the first third or first half of a run allowed me to end my runs strong and fast-just the way I like it!

Running camp will push you and you may end up running faster than you think you could. Being at running camp and around so many other runners was incredibly motivating, and the runners in my group really knew how to push the pace. Being encouraged by other runners around me allowed me to push myself as well and surprise myself. From surprising myself with really fast 1000m repeats (somehow we broke four! minutes on our second to last repeat) to running a ten mile negative split, I was constantly pushing my limits and surprising myself.

Having runners as roommates makes for really interesting downtime. Runners are interesting people. When we sit around and talk, we don’t sit around and talk like normal people. Instead, a third of us are on the floor foam rolling our legs while another third is lying on the floor with their legs elevated up against the wall and another third of us are icing our legs. And at the same time we’re trying to chug chocolate milk and eat fruit and granola bars and popcorn because we’re always hungry. And at the same time we’re talking. We talked about the upcoming season and high school and how dead we feel after that run and how excited we feel for the next run even though we know we’ll feel even more dead after that run. Crazy, I tell you.

A good training plan is one that not only includes running, but also strength training and proper nutrition. As one of the professional post-collegiate runners I met there, said, the problem with high school runners is that we all have extremely weak cores. *cough* Thank you. Thank you very much. *cough* Okay, I jest. That’s probably unfortunately true so strength training is important. We did a few core workouts at camp and our instructor was way too peppy and energetic for the painfulness of the exercises she made us do. We also went to a breakout session about nutrition and especially about how important iron is since many female runners suffer from iron deficiencies, which can really hurt performance. The coaches there encouraged us to eat a lot of red meat to get our iron, and take it with orange juice and not milk since vitamin C enhances iron while calcium tones it down.

Eat before you run. Seriously. After a night of sleep and no food, your body is completely depleted and needs food in the morning, making breakfast is an essential meal. Even if it means getting up an hour before you run so you don’t cramp up, you need to have something in your stomach before you run. I used to be pretty guilty of this. I wouldn’t eat anything before I ran and then come home and have a huge breakfast. Having a big meal after running is fine, but you also need something before. Otherwise, your body will have no choice but to burn muscle while you run. That’s not good. At all. EAT BEFORE YOU RUN.

Cross country is the perfect sport for outdoor adventures, so take advantage of that and explore. One of my favorite things about the camp was running in so many new places. Even though my cross country team incorporates many different trails into our workouts, they can still get repetitive. I loved visiting various trails that made our run so much more fun from a cool reservation run through a forest, a paved path with rolling hills and an amazing view of the water, and a rugged trail run with a nice swim in a nearby lake afterwards. One of my favorite things about cross country is exploring new places while I run, and going to camp definitely satisfied that.

Collegiate runners and professional post-collegiate runners used to be amateur highschool runners, too. One of my favorite presentations at the camp was a panel of collegiate and professional post-collegiate runners that really gave us an inside look at the professional world of running. They were all so down to Earth and made me realize that no, professional runners aren’t some weird species of people. They all started out as average runners, too. I was also really heartened to hear that Ashley Higginson runs professionally and is in grad school at the same time, which is amazing. I take my academics seriously, too, and I was glad to hear that academics don’t have to be sacrificed for running.

It’s impossible to leave running camp without being inspired. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by other runners and hear established runners and coaches speak. Commit to achieving your goals. Be your best and not someone else’s best. Times don’t matter; it’s the effort level and the training pace that matters in a race. Be confident in your pace. If Meb Keflezighi decides to run at 7:30 pace that day and you run 7:30 pace, run with Meb. Always be raising your bar. And so on and so on. I collected so many inspiring messages over the course of the week, and I came back feeling more motivated. I already can’t wait to go to running camp again next year.

Are you a runner? How has your summer been so far? Have you been to any camps this summer? Running camps? Do you think I should change the name of my blog to Impromptu Hiatus? 

Book Review: Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

About the Book

Title: Veiled Rose

Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Source: Library

Publication Date: July 1st, 2011

Pages: 394

Blurb: Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.

Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Headstrong young Leo startles everyone by befriending Rose Red, and together they begin searching for the monster rumored to be stalking these lands.

But the hunt, which began as a game, holds greater risk than either imagines. Soon both are forced to test their trust in each other as a far more terrifying scourge puts their entire land at risk.

My Review

In the second book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, Anne Elisabeth introduces new characters that readers will fall in love with. Mysteries and secrets abound everywhere, masking timeless allegorical themes.

In Heartless, Anne Elisabeth Stengl introduced a large and varied cast of characters with unique personalities and goals. I didn’t think the cast of characters could get more complex, but it did. Before reading Veiled Rose, Una was my favorite character. However, now that I have been introduced to Rose Red in Veiled Rose, she is now my favorite character.

Rose Red is a girl who lives in the mountains with her nanny goat Beana (another awesome and funny character,r there). She has been shunned by the townspeople and lives with her faces shrouded by a veil. Up until the very end, Stengl prevents us readers from learning what hides behind Rose Red’s veil, creating tension and mystery that only builds throughout the story. I never could have guessed what lay behind her veil.

Then Rose Red meets Leo, who is none other than Lionheart, (highlight to view spoiler):  the jester and troubled Prince of Southlands that we met in HEARTLESS. In HEARTLESS, we learn that Lionheart has a guilty past since he made a deal with the Dragon instead of fighting him.

 However, we didn’t get much of a glimpse of his past, and we finally get to see it in Veiled Rose. I loved how the bits of Leo’s past that I recognized from Heartless seamlessly connected to the events in Veiled Rose. It lends a gorgeous continuity to the series, and helps me understand the world of Goldstone Wood even more.

I also enjoyed seeing the relationship between Rose Red and Leo grow and change. Leo was soon berated for being friends with Rose Red as the townspeople shunned her, and at times, this view of their relationship was pretty painful. This is why I love Rose Red so much. Throughout the book, she goes through so many trials from the townspeople hating her to Death trying to tempt her. However, she braves the Dragon poison and the dangerous paths through death to save the very people who shun her. To me, that is true selflessness, and I loved Rose Red for it.

There were so many other great aspects of the story, including the suspense, the mystery and the amazing allegorical themes of friendship, temptation, and the honest yet painful truth that not everyone will achieve what they want in the end. The world building in this book is thoroughly carried out, and the action was broken up by bits of humor. In short, this book is one that you can’t miss. In fact, the whole series is one that you can’t miss. 

My Rating

fivebutterflies

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Why Books Should Have Content Ratings Just As Movies Do

Photo By Alejandro Escamilla I’m sure that we have all gradually moved through the ranks of content ratings when it comes to movies. Most of us started out with G movies, our movie times filled with sweet and innocent Disney fairytales. And then we moved on to PG movies, sometimes involving more action or maybe mildly crude humor (Ooooooh, they said the word “stupid”. SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE). And then we finally made it to the point where we could watch PG 13 movies. Oh yes. Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, here we come. And then for some of us, we’ve made it to the point where we watch the occasional R rated movie. Personally, I’m not allowed to see R rated movies, and I am not complaining about that. I know that a lot of teens aren’t a fan of the rating system, but I am so grateful for it because it ensures that I can pick up a movie and know that it will be clean enough for my liking. Unfortunately, that’s not how it is for books, which doesn’t make sense to me. Books should have content ratings just as movies and TV shows do. I am very careful with the books I read because the last thing I want to do is pick up a book that isn’t clean and will force me to skim a large portion of it or just flat out return it to the library. I peruse content rating sites like Common Sense Media, and I scour book reviews from other bloggers to learn about the content of a book. For the longest time, I even avoided the YA section of my library entirely because I knew that picking up an MG book was much safer, and there was less uncertainty in the process. However, even then, there are some books that slip right past my radar, and I hate it when that happens. If books had content ratings just like movies do, I wouldn’t have to worry so much over picking out books to read. Let’s look at why movies have content ratings. The main reason is that various forms of media can have a significant influence on people. Media is a part of our everyday lives, and by controlling the media that one takes in, a person can control how he/she is influenced by media. Movies are just one way people can be influenced by media. But you know what? Books can have a huge influence on people as well. I’ve heard people say that a book changed their lives many times, but I have never heard a person say that a movie changed their life. It seems to me that the intricate characters and the depth of thought in books can have an even larger impact on a person than a movie can. I know that’s how it works for me. And yet, books are the ones that lack the content ratings. I can’t follow the logic here. If books have just as much power, and possibly even more power, than movies to change the way a person looks at the world, than they should also be put out into bookstores and libraries with content ratings. I want to know what content is included in a book and to what extent, just like the information that movie content ratings provide. That way, I can find out how a book will affect me and make my reading decisions based off of that. I don’t need to fill my mind with mature content that hardly impacts a story. I know that there are many objections people can raise to this argument. One such objection is that the mature content often included in YA books is realistic. To that I say: Um, yeah. I  go to a public high school. I’m not blind to what goes on. There are teens that do drugs, smoke, drink and go wild at parties that end up in a visit from the police, among other things. However, just because something is “realistic” doesn’t mean I want to read about it. I know many teens that don’t do that stuff, so how about portraying those teens as well? Also, the same argument could be transferred over to movies and TV shows. No matter how “realistic” the content is, movies and TV shows still have content ratings. Why shouldn’t books have them, too? Another objection is that putting content ratings on a book is a form of censorship. First of all, censorship is telling someone not to put certain content in books. I’m not trying to say that all mature content should be taken out of books because I can’t control what people write. What I am saying is that books should still come with ratings and warnings if applicable so that kids and their parents can find appropriate books. And that is not censorship. I get that some writers aren’t going to want those ratings on their books because writing is a form of art and they don’t want their art to be monitored. At the same time, movies are a form of art as well, and they are monitored, so books should be too. In short, I don’t understand why movies have content ratings but books don’t. I want to be able to pick out books with peace of mind because I know that I won’t come across unwanted mature content that will have absolutely no benefit to me, and I’m saddened that I can not do that. I feel like there is so much to be said about this topic, and I’ve only scratched the surface, so I want to know what you think! Should books have content ratings? Do you think it’s a form of censorship? Please do share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Update: Heather wrote a very well written and researched response to this post, so I highly encourage you to check it out!

Book Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

About the Book

Title: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Author: Anne Blankman

Source: Library

Publication Date: April 21st 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Pages: 406

Blurb: The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

My Review

When I read Prisoner of Night and Fog last year I thoroughly enjoyed it and began to look forward to the time when I would be able to read the sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. However, as the reviews of the book started to come out, I grew apprehensive because some reviewers were saying that the sequel fell short of the prequel. And yet, as I flipped through the pages of the book, I realized that there was no need for my fear. I was absolutely astounded by Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, and in my opinion, it topped Prisoner of Night and Fog.

One aspect of this book that stood out to me, and that is indeed a mark of Anne Blankman’s work, was the stunning worldbuilding. It is clear that Anne Blankman has done her research as the depth of the historical details included truly adds to the story. I was captivated by the accuracy with which Anne Blankman described the setting and I even learned more about Germany during the World Wars. For example, the Ringverein played a huge part in the story. I had not heard of the Ringverein before, but these men who committed petty crimes for the sake of their survival and yet held a strict code of conduct with an emphasis on loyalty and were against the Nazis, struck my interest while still adding to the story.

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was reading about the main character, Gretchen-even if she was a bit whiny in the beginning of the story. Gretchen is a strong female heroine and her most prominent trait is her bravery. Throughout the story, she was completely devoted to her cause, which was fighting against the power of the Nazis, and proving her Daniel innocent of murder. She let nothing stop her from taking action and throwing herself into terrifying situations in order to gather the clues that would allow her to help Daniel prove himself innocent. Besides that, she is an intelligent heroine whose intellect allowed her to muddle out the sparse clues she was able to collect. I particularly loved seeing her ability to take the psychological tricks that Hitler taught her and use them against him. Finally, Gretchen is absolutely loyal to Daniel and with her exceptional bravery, will always sacrifice herself for him, just as he would do for her.

Speaking of Daniel, yes, romance is actually a huge part of this book. I wasn’t expecting that, but it really didn’t bother me that much like romance often does. I felt that there was a reason for the romance to be included as it explained many of the dire choices that both Daniel and Gretchen made to sacrifice themselves for the other. It was pretty clean, too, with the exception of some kisses. However, what really rubbed me the wrong way with this romance subplot was the way Gretchen kept on thinking about how they were drifting apart in the middle of the story. First of all, the drifting apart didn’t make very much sense to me. The trouble in their relationship sprang up and disappeared too…abruptly. Second of all, when Daniel drifted apart from her, Gretchen kept on repeating her thoughts about the new distance between them, using almost the exact same wording every time. It drove me just a teensy bit crazy. Still, the rest of the book was fabulous.

Possibly my favorite part of this book was the actual murder mystery. I did not expect that it would take up such a large part of the book, but it did, and it was a fabulous decision on the part of Anne Blankman. Near the beginning of this book, Daniel, a reporter hated by the Nazis, is accused of a murder he did not commit. Together, Gretchen and Daniel must journey throughout Germany to find clues that will help Daniel figure out who really killed Fraulein Junge so that he can clear his name. However, they are opposed by the National Socialists, who are racing against them to make sure that they don’t find out the truth behind the murder. I was constantly on edge throughout the story because I knew that at any moment, while Gretchen and Daniel were in a dangerous place searching for clues, the National Socialists could spring on them. Additionally, the murder mystery collides with an arson mystery at the Reichstag, creating even more tension. While the plot dragged at first, after a few chapters, my heart rate literally sped up, and I was pretty much in fear throughout the whole rest of the book. I also posted a ton of caps lock status updates on Goodreads because I was so nervous about how everything would play out. Gosh, it was one heck of a (fabulous) whirlwind.

Finally, the ending was bittersweet. It left me both with sadness and with hope for a better future for the two characters. My only question is “Will there be a third book?”. Because I kind of need it right now.

My Rating

4point5butterflies

Have you read Prisoner of Night and Fog or Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke? What did you think of them? What books have you read that have lots of great worldbuilding? What’s the most suspenseful book you’ve ever read?

Cover Reveal for Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra E. Ardnek

Today,  readers, I bring to you a cover reveal for Water Princess, Fire Prince, an epic new book from Kendra E. Ardnek. Kendra is a fabulous blogger and writer who already has quite a few books under her belt. However, I would venture to say that this book has her most beautiful cover yet. May I also mention that the cover designer, Benjamin Ingalls, is related to Laura Ingalls Wilder? How cool is that? Anyways, Kendra has graciously allowed me to interview her today, and I love how thoughtful her answers are. Enjoy, and don’t forget to scroll down to see the gorgeous cover of Water Princess, Fire Prince and some information about the book.

When it comes to fantasy, how do you make sure that what you write is still God honoring?

Do you know that the fantasy genre was invented by Christians? George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were the founders of the genre, all strong Christians to some degree or another. “God-honoring” and “fantasy” are not exclusive terms, though there is a difficult line to walk, especially when you choose to include magic of some variety.
 
In fantasy, I can take spiritual truths and themes and play them against a larger backdrop than pretty much any other genre. I can show the invisible warfare of Good vrs. Evil as visible battles, and they not loose very much of their importance. Christians can, even should write fantasy – but they do have to be careful.
 
Basically “call nothing clean that God doesn’t” (to paraphrase the Bible). This goes for violence, romantic situations, and witchcraft. Personally, I take a looser translation of “magic” in my fantasy – basically, anything that isn’t easily explained. This can include actual witchcraft, and I never portray that well, but it also includes the Supernatural – say, “Deeper magic from before the dawn of time” in Narnia, and even sciency things and sleight of hand.

How do you develop your characters?
 
I start with a few defining facts, some backstory, some personality quirks, and then I turn them loose in the story and let them surprise me. 

What is your revision process like?

 
I throw it against the wall and if it sticks, it’s done … wait, no, that’s Spaghetti.
 
With the exception of my first book Sew, It’s a Quest, (because I was young and foolish at the time, and thought I knew what I was doing) I never edit a first draft. They’re just too messy (legible, yes, and I love ’em, but plotwise, characterwise, they’re a mess). Instead, when I finish a book, I let it sit on my shelf for a month, while I let the characters and story fade from my mind while I focus on a different book, and then I’ll pull it back down and reread it and see where the gold is.
 
completely rewrite the book. It’s painful, very painful business at first, but I quickly find my rhythm and fly through the book. Then I set the book aside again and work on a different project for a month or three.
 
Then and only then do I begin actual edits. I email the book to my kindle, give it a thorough read-through, making comments with the notes feature where ever I find a mistake. Then I take all those comments and apply them to the book, and send out a cry for beta readers. I’m swamped with volunteers, and depending on the book, I send it out to all or a few of them.
 
They send me back their feedback, I weight it against each other, and then apply it to the book. Then I do another readthrough and declare it good and hit publish.
 
Thanks so much for the interview, Kendra! And now the cover you’ve all been waiting for…
Water and Fire
See? Epic and gorgeous and just…wow!

Book Description:

When the Lady Dragon does come,

Hold fast, do not fear, do not run
Your Water Princess will fight,

Fire Prince will set all to right
Each shall come from a Fall,

Their union will save you all.
Despite the fact that she’s on track for competing in the Olympics, and he’s practically raised his younger brothers since they lost their mom in a car accident, Clara Mandras and Andrew Stevenson are pretty much normal teens. They have normal hopes, normal dreams, and they live in a normal world.

All this is torn away from them when they are thrust into another world and declared Water Princess and Fire Prince. With no experience ruling a country, meeting each other for the first time, and being expected to fight the Lady Dragon – an evil sorceress plaguing the world of Rizkaland – Clara and Andrew are underprepared and inexperienced. Unless they learn to work together despite their standing opposition, Rizkaland’s hope will be lost.

What is to come will change their lives forever.

Kendra E. Ardnek

Author Bio:

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She’s been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, “Finish your story, Kendra”, is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that also glorify God and His Word. You can read more about her on her blog, knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com.

Available for Kindle preorder: http://www.amazon.com/Water-Princess-Prince-Rizkaland-Legends-ebook/dp/B00YTQBTDI/  $2.99 the 19th and 20th ONLY (at which point I’ll put it up to its official price of 3.99)

Add it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24022364-water-princess-fire-prince

Part 1’s first chapter: http://knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com/2014/12/water-princess-chapter-1.html

Part 2’s first chapter: http://knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com/2014/12/fire-prince-chapter-1.html

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Book Lovers: We’re Different, But We’re All Fabulous  (ALSO, I’M LAUNCHING A NEW FEATURE)

Note: Keep reading for a new feature idea at the end of this post!

If you’ve been around the blogosphere or booktube for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of the arguments that surround booktubing vs. book blogging. Recently, that discussion blew up into an argument because of a few tweets. And now those tweeters are getting hate mail. I think the saddest thing about this is that it completely tears down the feeling of freedom of speech. A couple of bloggers (I know one of them and she is so sweet) were discussing their opinions and then were suddenly being torn down for doing so. Opinions are okay, but directing hate at a specific person because of their opinions is not okay. Their blogs and the other mediums connected to their blogs are supposed to be a safe place where they can express their opinons as book lovers, and now it’s no longer a safe place.

I don’t know what these bloggers said exactly, but what I do know is that sometimes, when people express their opinion and say they don’t like something, it does not mean that they are trying to tear down the people that do like that something. And that’s when expressing an opinion can turn nasty. It’s also what this whole post is about.

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In a nutshell, I prefer book blogging over booktubing, but that doesn’t mean that I think book bloggers are better than booktubers. I admire booktubers because they are able to put their faces out there and basically talk into space (which must be kind of awkward if someone walks in while filming is under way) so that they can upload a video to Youtube and share their love of books with others. I love the energy they bring to books, and they definitely make books seem so exciting. That said, I don’t think I could ever be a booktuber, because there are things about it that do not appeal to me. That’s it. A personal preference. Booktubing is great for some people, and I’m happy for them because they’ve found a way to express themselves. Maybe blogging isn’t for them. And guess what? Once again, that’s a personal preference. It’s pretty simple.

In my point of view, the discussion has turned to the difference between the two communities. As much as we all love books, book blogging and booktubing are two very different things. Is one better than the other? No. Let’s look at it this way since we’re talking about books anyway. If I say that I love historical fiction books better than contemporary books, does that mean I think contemporary authors are bad authors? No. It’s just my personal preference that I enjoy historical fiction more than contemporary. The same thing goes for book blogging vs. booktubing.  Just like you can’t deny that there are differences between contemporary and  historical fiction, you can’t deny there are differences between book blogging and booktubing.

For me, there are two main differences between book blogging and booktubing. However, differences don’t make one better than the other.

First, the obvious one. Booktubers communicate through talking and facial expressions and book bloggers communicate through words. Both mediums are very different, both in the way one consumes them and in the way one creates them. However, both have the power to express feelings, and neither is better than the other. Personally, I feel more comfortable expressing myself through words, and I don’t think I would be able to talk about  books as well via video. Booktubers and book bloggers do what’s best for them, but neither is harder or easier than the the other.

Second, the audience of book blogging is different from the audience of booktubing.  Let’s face it. Youtube is a much more popular platform than WordPress or Blogger or Weebly. It’s probably more popular than all of those combined. Therefore, it has a larger audience, which makes for a very different audience and community. This changes so much of the interaction between creators and content and consumers. For example, booktubers often get more comments from nonbooktubers because just about everyone is on Youtube while bloggers get very litte comments from nonbloggers. I’ve also noticed that a lot of times, blogger comments are longer than Youtube comments(although Youtube tends to get more comments in general. Of course, there are exceptions but that’s what I’ve noticed most often. There is a very different culture surrounding each medium even though we are all book lovers. Personally, I prefer the dynamics of the blogosphere. I somehow feel more invested in blogposts and I’d rather read and comment on blogposts than watch and comment on videos. That does not mean that I am saying that one is lesser the the other. Once again, this is all about personal preference. That’s it.

So obviously, there are differences just like there are differences between the types of readers. Can you assume tht someone hates contemporary readers and authors because that person says they don’t like contemporary and like historical fiction better? No. Are historical fiction readers better thn contemporary readers? No.We all have different preferences and that’s okay. That’s what makes us unique and sets us apart. In the end, though, we all love books, and that binds us together when the rest of the world doesn’t seem to understand why books are so awesome. Let’s enjoy each others’ content while retaining our individuality, and not tearing down others for their opinions.

And now for a feature I’m starting. Or hopefully starting depending on the feedback I get. My idea is called the Open Letter-A-Thon. I’ve had this idea for a while now, but the announcement post has always been stuck in my drafts. Basically, what it involves is book lovers writing positive words of encouragement in open letters to people in the book world such as authors, bloggers, publicists/publishing companies, aspiring witters, agents, and book tubers. I’m not sure if it would be a one week thing like read-a-thons, or a regular monthly feature with certain themes each month. Be sure to let me know what you think!

What’s your favorite thing about the bookish community? Feel like giving any shoutouts to favorite booktubers or book bloggers of yours? What do you think of my feature idea?