Book Release: Crannig Castle Review

tc-blog-tour

Happy Thursday, friends. Today, we have a book review for my sweet friend Morgan Elizabeth Huneke’s newest book, Crannig Castle.

Some of you may recognize her name from my partciation in the virtual book tours of hers, from cover reveals to reviews to interviews, and also as a somewhat frequent commenter here on this blog. Morgan’s awesome.

Without further adeiu, here’s the description, then stay tuned for my review following.

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When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

Let’s face it: sometimes, fictional worlds just seem better than reality. Books, movies, TV shows – they’re usually crafted from stories created by writers.

 

I love all kinds of fiction, whether I’m absorbing an action-drama TV show or a riveting fantasy novel. In all honesty, they’re pretty great. We all love the well-developed characters – those people we can’t imagine not being real – the witty dialogue – the relationships between our “screen friends” – the realness of it all – the fact that we relate to it – the mood and setting – the music and filmography – the expressions – it’s the magic of everything working together that captivates us.

 

Maybe we like fiction because it’s an escape from reality. But at the same time, we want it to be realistic.

 

How on earth could this make any sense?

 

I believe we want reality in a neat little box. We want decisions to be simple, pain to be controlled, good to always win, and to be involved in something incredible. We want heroism. We want victory. We want to experience something powerful and bigger than ourselves.

 

But in our lives, neatness is not usually the case. Decisions are rarely black and white, with one choice as good and another evil. Morality isn’t always clear.

 

Pain happens. Hearts break. Happy endings don’t always come together. And for crying out loud, folks, our lives often seem so boring. We’re not chasing bad guys or riding dragons or being heroes or going on adventures through space and time.

 

So we read about it, and we entertain ourselves with fantasies of what’s not quite possible for us in this world.

 

And honestly, fiction is FANTASTIC. We can be intimately involved in the lives of our favorite characters and live vicariously through them. I love that aspect of it so much.

 

What I don’t like is that when I’m so involved in a world of writing, acting, and fangirly feels, my longing for the Bible tends to decrease. But why is this? As a girl who desperately wants to wholeheartedly desire the Word of God, I find myself frustrated when I feel like the Bible has become a chore.

 

I want to make sure it’s clear that I’m not trying to preach at anyone here, or demean fiction, or make it sound like I’m super-spiritual or something. I deal with the same things you do. I sometimes struggle to find motivation to read the Bible, as opposed to the novel beside my bed. I’m not perfect whatsoever, and I’m pulled between reading a devotion and watching my favorite show.

 

I don’t judge those who struggle to desire to read the Bible, because I think we’ll all encounter that sometime in our lives.

 

But what about when fictional realities seem more attractive than real life?

 

What do we enjoy about fantasy that makes us want to stay there, and what is it about the Bible that we treat it like work or obligation?

 

When did we forget that the Bible, salvation, and our very faith affects the whole universe, and those things are significantly larger than ourselves? When did we let our views of God’s amazing love and grace become dulled?

 

I’m addressing questions just like this in the book I’m writing right now. I don’t have every answer, but I’m really enjoying sharing my heart on such issues and further solidifying what I believe. I finished up Camp NaNoWriMo with 17,131 words, and while I’m still technically on the third (very very long) chapter, I’m getting so far.

 

Instead of trying to answer all the questions a lot of us have, I’m just going to ask us to think:

 

What’s so cool about fiction that it often seems cooler than Jesus?

Why does faith sometimes take the back burner when it comes to entertainment?

What can we do to grow in our hearts the desire of knowing Jesus better?

 

I’ll leave you with that for the night, because it’s extremely late and I’m losing coherence. For more posts on Bible reading, see these:

 

// The Bible Is Not A Burden: 3 Truths About God’s Word

 

// How to Read the Bible {effectively spending time with our Heavenly Father}

 

// Why Should I Read the Bible?

 

*aj

Cover Reveal: Espionage by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Espionage Blog Tour

 

Happy Monday, everyone!

 

Today I have a cover reveal for a dear friend of mine’s newest book. Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a splendid author and a fantastic friend, and I’m thrilled to share the cover of Espionage with you all. Let’s start with what the book is about.

 

About the Book

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

 

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”

 

As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

 

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

 

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?

 

Add to Goodreads

 

I was one of the lucky people who got to beta read and edit Espionage, and it’s my favorite of her books so far. I can’t wait for the release!

 

Release Date

Espionage, A Companion to Time Captives, will be released on May 16th, 2016. Stay tuned on Morgan’s blog and Facebook page for more information and sneak peeks.

Preorder on Kindle now!

 

Now,  let’s read a bit about Miss Huneke herself.

 About the Author

Morgan Huneke Profile Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

 

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Ready for the cover, y’all?

 

Espionage Cover

 

Yay! Be sure to buy the book and support Morgan when it comes out. It’s a great book, and while it is a companion to the Time Captives trilogy, it could be read as a standalone book too (with a little background information). I hope you all enjoy it!

See other participating blogs here.

*aj

Water Princess, Fire Prince Blog Tour – BOOK REVIEW!

WATER PRINCESS, FIRE PRINCE IS FINALLY HERE!!!!

Water and Fire

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.

If you know anything about me in real life, you’ll know how much I don’t like picking up a new book.

“What if I hate it and decide never to read another book again? What if I’ve lost faith in all books because this one is horrendous?”

It’s pathetic, and I should really try to kick that preconceived notion. But I haven’t yet.

I almost always start a book extremely skeptical. I didn’t like fantasy before March of this year, mind you.

I hadn’t read much Young Adult fiction until I started at fourteen last November. I expected all Christian fiction to be preachy and shallow.

I’ve always loved books…but indie books made me skeptical. If everyone thinks themselves an author, of course those books won’t be good. Right?

(No. Just…No. Sorry, Clara, but indies can be great too.)

Anyway, in March, Kendra invited me to participate in the cover reveal for her book. I was like, “Sure, why not? Kendra is sweet and she probably writes well by all the good reviews I’ve read on Goodreads.”

On her website, I signed up for the reveal, but I also signed up to beta read.

I read the then-description, and decided it intrigued me a little. (This was when the placeholder description was the only description, so I didn’t know what exactly to expect.)

I’d never done anything ever remotely close to beta-ing before.

So this was new for me, and I’m not sure how helpful I actually was. But I did it.

I picked up the book with low expectations…and I was blown away.

My jaw is sore from it smacking the floor so many times.

I fell in love.

My Review: FIVE HUMONGOUS STARS

A lot of times, I mistakenly write a review on a book and end up using it as an outlet for fangirling. The problem with this is, that 95% of my blog readers have either never read the book, never heard of the book, or aren’t interested in it.

So let me try to explain before I freak out and make it known that I’ve been waiting for this release for months and gushing every chance I get, parading around my sapphire ring, spiced pomella cider, shortness, and gymnastics skillz.

Water Princess, Fire Prince centers around two teenagers, Clara Mandras and Andrew Stevenson. In a whirlwind of events, those two end up in another world called Rizkaland, in the country of Klarand. A prophecy is thrown upon them stating firstly that Clara and Andrew will fight the Lady Dragon, for she has been tormenting the people of Klarand, turning them to ice, and melting them. An unescapable fate. And the second part of the prophecy? Their union will be the key to the country’s salvation. Did I mention that Andrew is declared the Fire Prince and Clara the Water Princess?

Problem is, Andrew and Clara are meeting for the first time, and they don’t want to be united. Not at sixteen. And Andrew can’t exactly fight. He could probably whack someone in the head with a frying pan, but that’s about it. Clara’s attitude is highly uncooperative, and that’s putting it kindly.

How in Rizkaland is it all going to work out?

Water Princess, Fire Prince tugged ever so strongly at the strings of my heart. The message is clear, strong, and inspiring, and I related to it so much. I identified with Clara. (I’ve heard that most people did not. However, she’s a lot like me when it comes to interests, looks, and personality.) I became her, and I fell in love with Andrew. (Is that a problem?) I laughed, I cried, I squealed, and I glared right back at Clara in her glaring moments.

The dialogue is witty, hilarious, deep, and I felt at some points as though I would say the exact same things. I felt everything along with Clara and Andrew, and even Amber at some points. Because you’re inside Clara and Andrew’s heads (at different times) throughout the book, you see the rationalization of actions and motives behind choices. It’s so wonderful because it’s so real. IT IS JUST SO REAL.

The worldbuilding was magical. Literally magical. It was like a whole new Narnia, and absolutely amazing. DID I MENTION THE PART ABOUT IT BEING SO REAL?

Every part melted my heart. The faith aspect is so deep, and theologically accurate, but never preachy.

It’s so amazing, and I can’t say enough good things about it.

The romance aspect was done ever so well, and very tastefully. No insta-love here. (That’s one of my top pet peeves in today’s mainstream novels.) Water Princess, Fire Prince demonstrated that love is something to fight for, and not something that is anything even remotely close to easy. It’s one of the sweetest love stories I’ve ever read. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s heartbreaking and tear-jerking, and also something you’re cheering for and fangirling over the entire time.

The dynamics of the entire story are absolutely perfect. I can’t talk enough about it.

I’ve been squealing to my family and friends about it since April when I read it. I wasn’t a prior Kendra E. Ardnek fan, but I did know her a little bit from Goodreads and other online author-y book-y read-y things. So I went into it somewhat unbiased and definitely skeptical. I didn’t expect to dislike it per se, I just had no idea how much I’d fall in love with it.

But I did.

And I’m speechless.

If you like Young Adult fiction, read it.

If you like fantasy, read it.

If you like plain ol’ fiction, read it.

If you like to read any kind of literature at all, read it.

If you don’t even like to read, read it anyway.

Go ahead and buy it.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want it in the paperback format to read, and hug, and sniff, and cry tears onto, and caress the pages of.

Yes, it’s that good, and every person I have talked to has gushed over it.

Trust me, you’ll want to read it.

I received an e-ARC and beta copy from the author for review, and all opinions are mine. Like, seriously, I loved this book so much. Thanks, Kendra. I’m going to go PURCHASE the paperback now. 

Author Bio:

Kendra E. ArdnekKendra 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.

Want to see the list of other blogs participating in the tour this week? Check it out here.

Also, come back on Thursday for an awesome interview I got to do with Clara.

*aj