Category Archives: Book Review

Influence Readers Needed for A WISH MADE OF GLASS

Yep. It’s that time.

Within a week, I’ll have the physical proof of my novella in my hands. If no changes are necessary (*fingers crossed/teeth gritted*) I will be announcing the official release date for A Wish Made of Glass very soon. And when I say soon . . . I mean, this little book will be releasing in the next three weeks or less. Yeah.

Sooo . . . that means I need a handful of people willing to pre-read and review my book! To those of you who are newsletter book reviewssubscribers, you’ll already know about this. Read no further! As for the rest of you, now is your chance to nab a free e-copy of A Wish Made of Glass in exchange for a simple little review!

Here are the details you’ll want to know (read carefully!):

1.) It’s a novella. Just over 25,000 words. So even though it’s a fairly short time, you won’t need to worry about it taking too long to read.

2.) The reviews must be published on both Amazon and Goodreads by the end of August at the latest, although preferably earlier (at least, as early as the Amazon listing is up). This is a big one. If there’s any question of your NOT being able to read/review/post within this time frame, please consider waiting to read the book at a later time!

3.) As you’re probably already aware, A Wish Made of Glass isn’t a light, cheery, close-to-the-original Cinderella retelling. So if that’s what you’re expecting or desiring, you may want to steer clear. Just a friendly warning 🙂

4.) I’ll be choosing between 10-15 influence readers (in addition to those who have responded to my newsletter request). So not everyone who requests to be an influencer will be accepted. I’ll try to respond to everyone who e-mails me, but if you don’t hear from me, you can assume the number of readers has already been reached!

Still interested? Here’s what to do next:

Email me at ashleew(at)zoho(dot)com and tell me 3 things:

1.) Affirm that you’ll be able to post on Amazon and Goodreads sometime before the end of the month.

2.) Give me a brief reason why you’re interested in being an influence reader for A Wish Made of Glass.

3.) Tell me your preferred type of book file: PDF or mobi (Kindle).

I’ll choose the readers within the next 2 or 3 days and get the book e-mailed out immediately after.

Thanks ever, ever so much to those of you who respond and are willing to give your time to help me in this enormous way! I appreciate it with all my heart!

Advertisements

Ice Maidens in Real Life

This is a guest post by E. Kaiser Writers, whose winter fairy tale trilogy, Thaw, has just released. Be sure to check out her books, her site, and other information at the end of this post! Also, enter your name in a great giveaway (link also below) for the ARC of Winter’s Child!!

I’m so excited to read her series, based on the classic fairy tale of the Snow Queen. It looks truly enchanting!

____________

In the newly released Thaw books the princess Ilise is a “winter’s child”, an answer to her barren parents’ long years of prayer for a baby.

When they share a moment of closeness amid their sorrow and build a baby out of snow, they whisper secret plans that can never come true of the daughter they will never have.

“I would name her Ilise.” The king says, “I read it in a book. It is from the southern lands, and it means blessed.”

The queen drops a sweet tear on the snow baby in her arms, and the little snow figure disappears.E. Kaiser promo

Then a soft voice of the Winter Angel tells them that their prayers have been answered, and their Ilise, their blessed one, will be born next winter. “And she will be a special child.”

Overcome with joy, thus starts a fairy-tale that has unexpected results for the royal couple.

Their child is pale, perfect, and lovely. Studious and proper, she is does everything just as she ought and there is no room for improvement on this delightful gift.

But as her parents cuddle and coddle her, just how “special” the Angel meant becomes clearer with the years, and she goes from tracing the frost on the window to making it, from showing off her talents with pony ice sculptures to ice automatons, to the full blown fortress of ice that she eventually immures herself completely inside.

Her story is too long to share here, but she is not the only one who freezes those around her and  shuts herself off from the world.

There are those among us, though born of less fairy-tale means, that have the power to psychologically “freeze” those around us, and we too retreat into our towers and refuse to come out.

Although in the real world this has limited repercussions compared to Ilise’s dramatic problems; it is still not healthy and we need to find ways to release the grip of ice on our hearts and learn “how to thaw”.

I know this because I am/was one of them. A middle child finds it easy to feel forgotten, and a quiet one simply retreats further within.

I was “the smart one”, so while I couldn’t make others feel “put in their place” through my athletic prowess or my charismatic personality, growing up I was often tempted to “put the chill” on someone simply by upstaging their incorrect information/ or pointing out a truer fact that cut their argument off at the knees.

My family is rife with choleric personalities, so for someone who hates conflict (which I truly do) I found myself in that kind of hot seat quite a lot over the years. Since I didn’t have the roaring fire of a powerful personality on my side, I had to reach for other ammunition, and since logic and facts were respected in my house, my intellect became my archery squad.

Many of the fights never should have happened, but like most families, our parents were elsewhere and childish tempers raged… even well into the teens. (Actually, cross that out, because they still do from time to time.)

Anyway, my point is that where some of my siblings grew fire, I became an expert on ice. I would shut down, tune out, and my words were my whip as I responded to my perceived attackers. I never let them see they’d hurt me, because that would give them the victory. What I don’t know is if I ever hurt them. One of those things we’ll never know, the “might have been”.

(To my credit I was always the “peacemaker” of the family, so I didn’t let my strengths carry me away as drastically as I could have, since I was always in the back of my mind calculating how hard to recover from each barbed word would be.

The ones with lethal hit points I generally choked back and kept in the arsenal.)

I always thought of myself as the “good guy”. After all, it wasn’t me raising my voice and getting red in the face. My pulse would race, but my lid never flipped.

It wasn’t till I was in my late teens that I began to see just how damaging the “cool cucumber” bazooka could actually be; not so much to others… but myself.

The more instances I saw of my kind, the more I noticed it could get very out of hand; so distanced from the world that some of us had quit feeling anything. Or had at least convinced themselves so hard that we believed it.

As I assessed other people I met, and it became evident that whatever reason we had originally started to “shut down and tune out” as a defense mechanism was generally long gone, but the response was still there, shutting us down.

E. Kaiser promo2Sometimes we were snippy and trigger-happy, jerking off shots at anyone below us within reach of our “freeze”. We were showing the world that we were better than it. We were untouchable. We didn’t need friends and we didn’t care if you knew it.

Even with a general desire to be liked and accepted, our “ice veins” couldn’t be thawed, and our habits were chilling everyone around us.

Others of our ilk had turned inward to the point that we stopped interacting at all, maintaining a stony-cold silence throughout any event; distanced by a gulf so wide that mountains might as well have towered in it.

As an outsider I could see that what while we were cutting ourselves off from present joys, those past hurts were trapped inside our ice towers with us, as stinging today as they were the first time we faced them.

As many different reasons we all had, almost all of them were in our far past. Whether the insults were real or imagined, from a wrong turn in a basically normal childhood or from real abuse in various forms, we were all now trapped by the very thing we believed was protecting us.

And we had no clue how to melt it and step out of that cold prison.

I didn’t. I remember wishing I could react in a different way, even picturing the whole thing, but in the end I didn’t have the courage or the strength to even try.

As I studied our collective problem more and more I finally came down to a base, fundamental truth.

It was a form of pride that made us unable to release our cages.

And all pride is selfishness… and so the first step was fighting myself, the worse parts of me that whispered “They hate you anyway, don’t give them a chance to hurt you.”

“Nobody likes you, and why would they? Show them you don’t need to like them, either!”

The path to a better self is always strewn with ugly battles… and those various monsters seem to rear up again and again long after you think they’re dead. But in the end they do get dead-er, and the inner warrior grows strong enough to withstand their weakened darts of doubt and shame.

We “ice maidens” and “ice men”; we have so many things going for us. Invariably, we are strong, determined people with intelligent minds and an ability to focus that can be a massive benefit. But when our strengths are used against us, we flounder and freeze into a pillar that is stuck in the middle as life blossoms all around us.

It still hurts when my attempts to be friendly are shot down, or when someone I love says something that stings. But I’ve learned how to thaw, and that’s allowed me to be open to new warmth as it shows up, as well as the old hearth-fires that bond family members in palpable affection.

I don’t know how many others out there share my strengths, and my weaknesses, but I’d love to be able to touch their hearts and inspire them to melt, too.

The universal laws apply to this as with any strangle-hold selfishness may be exhibiting itself through; and so the same rules can kill it back:

Sincerely apologize as soon as possible after you realize selfishness scored a point.

A true, authentic apology is so hard to do, but think of it as kicking selfishness in the teeth. I tell you what, that little monster takes a major hit every time you go the distance to genuinely apologize and then make it right with a honest heart, and the next time the scenario rolls around it hasn’t got nearly as much power over you, by a long shot.

Ask those you know can help, when you need it.

I’ve learned how to ask for affection when I’m feeling distanced and like no one likes me, instead of allowing selfishness to say “If they loved me, they’d know.” Even though we may pride ourselves on reading others ( a trait “cool cucumbers” major in) a ton of people aren’t that observant. (Besides, give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you don’t know all the time, as much as you think you know.)

And finally, be open to the idea of rejection/pain.

Westley says “Life is pain, Highness. Anybody who tells you different is selling something.” E. Kaiser promo3

While that may be true, life isn’t all pain, and if we run into hurtful spots, a better way to deal with it instead of clamming up and scrambling back into our tower is to say “I can weather a bit of pain. This isn’t going to kill me, I am stronger than this.”

Growing up rural, in the mountains and plains, on farms and ranches, we kids got used to pulling splinters our of our hands, skidding our knees across gravel, falling off of horses and getting our toes stepped on by hoofs large and small. The first time shocked us, but we soon adapted and would be more concerned about getting on with our plans or bragging rights than how much it hurt.

Why can’t we be that way with emotional hurt?

In the end, we should be in such a hurry to do our next thing the “slights and stings of fate” should be no more than a temporary knock.

And finally, we should always look to our Great King as our source of importance, not whether the world likes us or not, approves of us or not, or even loves us or not. The more we battle selfishness down into its hole and put a lid on it, the clearer we are able to see that our Maker is the only One who matters… and our relationship with Him is our best and greatest alley.

And with Him we can never be alone.

(P.S. Disclaimer: those out there that are “Fire hearts” have their own problems, and they need to take care of that. Don’t let their behavior tilt your boat… we are responsible for our own vessel sailing straight, so just do our best with “fire ships” that could temporarily sink us. Charting a course for clear water is not the same as freezing over and sitting completely still. Please don’t confuse the two! )

____________

So what do you think? Elizabeth shares some great honesty and wisdom with us, doesn’t she? It’s difficult to find that fine balance between hot and cold – I think we all struggle with that! The very things we use to protect ourselves can, in the end, damage us. But with God’s help we can see past those things to His true purpose for our lives.

____________

E. Kaiser author picE. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress!

Connect with her here:

Blog    Author Site    Facebook    Twitter    Pinterest

Find her books here:

Winter’s Child    Winter Queen

Info about her other books

____________

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY BY CLICKING THIS LINK!!

And the Winners Are ….

So, my wonderful reviewers, the time has come to pull the names from the hat – literally 🙂 (Does it make it more fun if I tell you it was a pirate hat?!)

My little Bug helped me out in drawing the names, and here’s what they are!!

The winner of the Amazon gift card is …..

Reviewer Winner1

And the winner of the memory authors game is …..

Reviewer Winner2

Congrats, you two!  If both of you would e-mail me, that would be great. For the winner of the game, I will need a physical address to send it to. Winner of the gift card, I will try my best to get it sent to you as soon as I can. I warn you, I’ve never bought an e-gift card before (I’ve led a very sheltered life …), so here’s hoping I can do it right and get it to you without any hitches!

ashleew(at)zoho(dot)com

As for the rest of you, I was tempted to spend my vacation savings and buy every one of you a gift, because I’m so thankful for you! But for now you’ll have to accept no more than my heartfelt thanks, and of course an Internet hug or two … *hug!!*

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Fun News for Reviewers of The Word Changers!

reading3

Most of you probably know the importance of getting reviews for your own book, or leaving reviews for others’ books. They help potential buyers find a book to begin with, and then help them to decide whether or not it’s the book for them. Real, honest opinions from real, honest readers – for me, at least – count far more than even the book’s blurb or cover.

The Word Changers now has 55 reviews on Amazon (thanks to 55 very awesome readers!). When it reaches 60 I am going to be doing a giveaway. For what, you ask? Well, there will be an Amazon gift card involved, and something bookish and creative which I haven’t yet made a final decision on. But trust me, it will be lovely, and you will want it 😉

So my request for you is this:  If you have read The Word Changers but haven’t yet left an Amazon review, hop over to their site and write one! Reading4And if you’ve been wanting to read The Word Changers but haven’t got around to it yet, get your own copy over at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords (see sidebar for links), and then leave a review. It’s just $2.99 right now in eBook (rather than its original $3.99).

If you know a friend who may like to read it, lend her your e-copy, or buy her a copy as an early Christmas present … and then ask her to leave a review as well! The more the merrier!

This opportunity will be for Amazon reviewers ONLY … and we only need 5 more reviews for me to start the giveaway!  Yay! So get your review in so you can enter your name when the giveaway begins.

Ok, my shameless requests for you to read and review my book are over. But I will have you know they are just a front for what I truly want to do:  THROW A GIVEAWAY!  😀

Have a great weekend, a fun Halloween … and happy reading!

Dystopian Book Review and Giveaway

It’s release day for Nadine Brande’s dystopian debut novel, A Time to Die!!  The eBook is available here, and the paperback version is available now, here, for pre-order (releases officially October 1st). Nadine is hosting a Facebook launch party tonight from 4-6 (Pacific Time). She’ll be posting some fun things every 10 minutes, and answering questions and comments throughout. You should definitely join us!!

Also in honor of this exciting new book, I’m giving away a clock notebook, which is pictured at the bottom of this post … so be sure to enter your name if you’d like a chance to win it! Click here to enter, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the picture of the notebook; there’s a link for the giveaway, too 🙂

Here’s my review!

_________

“Eighteen dead years. Why didn’t I see them dying? Why didn’t I feel my time wilting? I spent so much of my time lounging in regrets and sipping bitterness that I abandoned any thought of creating happy memories; instead, I wasted. Just wasted.” (Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die)

Many times while reading A Time to Die I felt as if someone had taken me by the shoulders and shaken me until my teeth rattled, until my eyes focused in a different way and I was seeing not only the story I was reading, but the entire world around me, in a completely new way.

This Christian dystopian book is honestly, blatantly yet gently infiltrated with Bible verses, Parvin’s (the main character) growing relationship to God, and even God’s Voice as He speaks to her through the Holy Spirit. Parvin’s search for God’s will in her life as she lives out what she knows to be her last year is both desperately painful and wonderfully rewarding. Gutting, in other words.

The concept of the story itself is just utterly amazing. Everyone knows the exact moment they will die because they each have a clock from the moment they are born which tells them how long they’ve got to live. Science has delved into an area of knowledge meant only for God and – as when anything strays from God’s plan – things go horribly wrong. It was this concept that drew me to the book in the first place … as a writer myself I saw the tremendous potential of such a theme – knowing the exact moment you would die?! – and I wondered where Nadine would take it. I definitely wasn’t disappointed!

clocks2

The worldbuilding in this book is exceptionally well-developed and impressive. The landscapes are richly-detailed and varied, from forests to rivers to cities to primitive settlements. There are some truly creative fictional inventions in the book as well … my favorite of which is the emotigraph. The emotigraph is a device that takes a “picture” of the emotion you are having at a particular moment, and then you are free to go back and revisit – actually feel again – that emotion at a later time at the push of a button. Didn’t I say creative?!

There is a huge amount of adventure and action in this story, sometimes thrilling, sometimes terrifying. Without including spoilers, I will just say that Parvin must endure some terrible hardships before she gets to her journey’s end. And the book is written so starkly and so well that it’s hard not to feel as if her hardships are not your own … which leads me to another great thing about this book: the writing.

ATimetoDieCoverNadine’s style of writing is refreshing, descriptive, clean and polished. She has a way of making her words carry you in waves of emotion, drama and pain. More than once I found myself gasping aloud, or holding my breath with anticipation, ord wiping tears away. I normally read like a writer … critical, questioning, attentive to details and wording and structure. But Nadine’s storytelling caused me to throw most of that out the window. These days there’s not many books that grab me hard enough to do that – just FORCE me to read like a reader, and push aside that pesky writer-self. A Time to Die did.

Best about this book is Parvin’s journey toward God. She begins the book both physically and spiritually weak, unprepared for the hardships ahead. But she grows in a wonderfully realistic way, ever closer to God. And though the book ends with sadness and confusion and turmoil, hope is still shining, and it’s obvious that God’s will still reigns supreme. And as there are two more books in this series, I’m already anticipating where the rest of the story will go …

I dare you to read this book and not feel an invisible tug – a tug on your eyes to open wider, a tug on your sense of adventure, a tug on your heart to push past the world’s limits and live the life God meant for you alone.

“It’s time to take a step. God destined me for greatness.” (Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die)

____________

FIND THE BOOK HERE:

Amazon     Goodreads

AND THE AUTHOR HERE:

Blog     Facebook     Twitter     Newsletter

 ____________

CLICK HERE to help us spread the word about Nadine’s book, and for a chance to win this CLOCK JOURNAL (Open to US residents only … sorry!)

clock journal

Little notebook – just the right size to carry in your pocket for those moments of random inspiration!

Last Chance for Reviewers of Christian Fantasy

bookreviews

At the behest of my publisher, I will be looking for more reviewers of my book, The Word Changers, up until the time of its release in just a few days (June 23).

The Requirements

1.) Your review will need to be posted on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes and Noble (if you are a part of any other book review sites or if you have a blog, feel free to post it there as well!)

2.) The time frame to post your review should be within a few weeks – July would be great, but August works, too!

What You Should Know

You are not required to write a positive review! But it may help for you to know a few things about The Word Changers before you agree to review it. It will just make it more enjoyable for everyone involved 😉

1.) It is a Christian/allegorical fantasy.

2.) It does contain a bit of magic, although all magic is performed by the antagonistic characters.

3.) There is romance, including a couple of kisses – no more.

If you are not opposed to these things, and if you’ve got time in your reading schedule this summer, you may be just who I’m looking for 🙂

Contact Me

The book will be in electronic form. When you download it (at a link I will provide after you contact me), it will give you an option based on what type of e-format you prefer.

Email me at ashleew@zoho.com if you are interested! In your email, please let me know why you are interested in reading/reviewing The Word Changers, and the approximate time frame you think you’d be able to review it by. I look forward to hearing from you!!

 

The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in the Lord of the Rings

the grip of graceAs a Christian who has both read and watched Lord of the Rings for years, I thought there was not much of its deeper meaning left for me to discover. How wrong I was! Brent King takes a classic we all know well and revisits it, bit by bit, uncovering things of value and eternal worth. Tolkien himself may not have had the purpose of “Christian” meaning in mind when he wrote his trilogy, but it is clear at the same time that he wished at least to represent the battle between darkness and light. The author of The Grip of Grace takes those representations and shows us how to apply them to our Christian lives and our walks with God.

I love how the book is split into short 2-3 page sections – so easy to devour several of them in a setting! Each section begins with the author’s (slightly paraphrased) version of a scene from the trilogy (chronologically organized). The section then goes into the application of the scene – how we might use or apply it in life. Something simple, or perhaps something epic, can turn into something so real that I can see it clearly in my own life. It reads almost like a devotional, and I can completely see a group of Christian Tolkien fans using this book for a Bible study! Wish I had just such a group of friends …!

The author weaves and reveals the Christian meaning from Lord of the Rings in such a natural way that it’s difficult for me to believe Tolkien did not intend it to be meant that way from the very beginning. I got great good out of this book – new perspectives, inspirations and blessings from the world of Middle Earth that I never dreamed of.

Are you a Christian? Are you a Tolkien fan? Read this book!!

 

Visit Brent King at his site and find articles on God, fantasy, writing, and more. Also find him on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Purchase The Grip of Grace on Amazon.

King’s newest book, Tempting Jesus, released last month as well!

The Moon Master’s Ball: A Charming Cinderella Retelling

The Moon Master’s Ball, by Clara Diane Thompson, is one of five short stories in the awesome new fairy tale collection, Five Glass Slippers. Each story is a unique retelling of the classic Cinderella tale … here’s what I thought of Miss Thompson’s story!

scroll design1

Oh, my … what can I say about this story? It was full of whimsy, mystery, adventure, danger, fantasy, and just a touch of romance. The Moon Master's BallIs there anything more you could possibly want in a fairy tale or a fairy tale retelling?

The author has a lovely, sweetly simple voice and style, and a perfect sense of timing. There were enough things going on in the beginning half of the story that it kept me just confused enough to wonder … how could these things possibly fit together? I don’t know about you, but I love stories like that! Seeing how each piece eventually falls into place (and they do!) is such a satisfying feeling!

The main character, Tilly, was well-drawn and believable, with human-type fears and heroine-type bravery which made her an utterly charming “Cinderella” replacement. The setting was completely fresh and original, while at the same time keeping some of the essential elements of the classic story we all know so well. Just wait until you see how the glass slipper is used … quite unlikely and just a tad big shocking! And the Moon Master himself … how could I not love him?! Mysterious, tall, dark, and not-exactly-handsome-but-oh-so-charming …? Yes, please 😉

The Moon Master’s Ball is absolutely delightful  in every way, and there’s no chance you’ll keep me away from the next work published by this talented young authoress!

BlogBannerGlassSlippers

And this is just one of the five stories in this collection! I have every intention of reading the other four, but I think I may wait until my physical copy arrives in the mail soon after the book’s release on June 14.

Don’t wait until then, though … Five Glass Slippers is available for pre-order right now! I’m foreseeing it becoming a classic that I’ll want to pass around to all my fairy-tale-loving friends.

 

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.