Saturday, November 28, 2015

Holiday eBook DEALS under $5 you can't miss!

It's no secret that I'm CRAZY about Christmas. Christmas lights, Christmas music, Christmas cookies, Christmas decorations...well you get the point. SO it only makes sense that I would be crazy about Christmas books too. I've compiled a list of some amazing eBooks under $5* that are perfect for this holiday season. Treat yourself to a few and get in the Christmas spirit!

*The price was under $5 at the time I made this list ;-)

eBook Deals under $5

*Just a side note: I have not read all of these books so I'm not vouching for them being "good" necessarily. I did try to choose books from authors I know and have read other things from.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson | RE:View

A fresh look at the story of Rapunzel that combines action, adventure, and sweet romance.

The Golden Braid is the first book I've read by Melanie Dickerson. I heard a lot about The Huntress of Thronbeck Forest (though I haven't read it yet) and was definitely looking forward to see what Melanie did with this fun (and popular, thanks to Tangled) fairy tale.

Rapunzel is a bright and inquisitive young woman who paints, sings, throws knives, and has an innate fear of men handed down from her adopted mother. She's at once sweet and innocent as she is stubborn and brave which creates a fun character.

Sir Gerek, a handsome knight who puts off a slightly arrogant air, rescues Rapunzel and so begins their journey of friendship and a mystery that leaves Rapunzel searching for the truth of her identity among other things.

The story world is vibrant and the touches of information about the time period, customs, and German setting add a level of depth that anchors the fairy tale aspect in reality. Unfortunately, I wasn't as enchanted by the book as I'd initially expected. I understand that this is YA literature (I love reading YA) but I felt as if the writing was too simplistic. There was a lot of repetition of the same woes, thoughts, and fears, and not a lot of depth to either character. The love story was sweet and the mystery did leave me wondering what was going to happen, but that was the anchor, not the writing.

I would still recommend it to other fans of Mealine's work and this won't stop me from getting my hands on a copy of The Huntress of Thornbeck, but this book wasn't my favorite. I think it would definitely be appropriate for YA readers though there are some aspects of the story that could require some parental discussion with younger readers (some violence, unwed pregnancy, and decisions Rapunzel makes later in the book). I don't see these issues as reasons not to read the book, but as reasons for parents to be involved in what their kids are reading. They are great opportunities to teach, learn, and discuss. If you're looking for a sweet tale combined with intrigue, you've found it.

Rating: 3.8*
(rated at 4* for the sake of Amazon & Goodreads etc.)
Purchase: The Golden Braid

Book Description
(from Amazon)
The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ralene Burke {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Ralene...

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She spins fantastical tales to encourage people to SHINE BEYOND. She has worked for a variety of groups/companies, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients.

Her first novel, Bellanok, is being published as a 5-part serial, started in October 2015!

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

Connect with Ralene...

--> Website:  
Purchase: Bellanok

Author Interview | Ralene Burke

--> You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Hi, my name is Ralene Burke, and I’m an author. (Hi, Ralene.) :)

...I’ve always been a storyteller, just ask my dear mother who had to sit and listen for hours about the recap of a darling little girl’s day. I didn’t start taking writing seriously until after I had my first kid and found myself home by myself for hours a day. Finally, I actually had TIME to write—well, when I was awake anyway.

...I keep writing because, well, I have to. I have these stories and characters inside, begging to be heard. If I don’t sit down and write, I think I slowly start to go insane. Ask my family, they actually notice a difference.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...I think my favorite novel so far is Aletheia, the first in my fantasy trilogy. It is the first book that I think I really found my voice and my message. The characters inspire me and really seem to be a piece of me.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I am self-publishing a fantasy serial entitled, Bellanok. The first part, The Reluctant Savior, is already out; part 2 should be out by the end of November.

...The hardest part about self-publishing is that there is no one to push you. There’s not an editor breathing down your neck for edits, or a publisher pushing you to do more marketing, no one to care if you don’t get it all done. So, you have to set goals and schedules and use your own willpower (with God’s grace) to get it all done.

...The easiest is having total control over every aspect of your novel, from editing to production.

--> Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why are you/did you write it?
...Bellanok is a haven for myths and legends . . . until a demon finds a way in. Now the fairy queen must find a savior, and, together, they must save the last measure of innocence in the world.

...The story came to me during a prayer time. I don’t remember what the prayer time was for, but I know it wasn’t for writing. In fact, I was working on a completely different story at the time. But, with the idea came the entire original first chapter . . .

...Bellanok is a story about two people finding their place in the world and accepting their calling—two things that many new adults struggle with.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Oh, they are each my favorites in their own way. The most fun to write, though, is Roman. He doesn’t talk a lot, but, when he does, he’s sarcastic and witty.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...God can take anything that may seem ordinary, including us, and use it to do the extraordinary. It’s amazing what can happen in our lives, what we can accomplish, when we let God take the wheel.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...For a writer, inspiration comes from everywhere! Every experience, every relationship—the good, the bad—every bit of our lives feed story and character for us. None of my stories so far have much “real life” in them, though, certainly many of the emotions and struggles are the same.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I write to both encourage and inspire people. I want them to go further, delve deeper, and become who God created them to be, no matter how out-of-the-box (or even within the box) that may feel.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Read and write, then write and read. Do both extensively—inside your genre and out, nonfiction and fiction, good and bad. We learn and absorb the more we see and do.

...That and find a support system in the publishing world, fellow writers who will understand your plight.


What will you do for Thanksgiving?
Ralene and I at ACFW Conference
...We have family coming in from out of town. On Friday, we’ll be having Thanksgiving dinner followed by a mini-Christmas present exchange with the out-of-town family. I’m excited. I love Thanksgiving food!

What is your favorite food of the Thanksgiving dinner?
...Oh goodness. Well, if there’s fried turkey, then that is definitely it. Otherwise, it’s pumpkin pie!

What are three things you’re thankful for?
...I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; my family and friends, and this voice God gave me to tell stories.
I'm so glad I got to have Ralene on the blog again. She's seriously the sweetest person you'll ever meet! See - I just smile every time I'm with her. I also had the opportunity to take her headshots and to hang out with her at Realm Makers. The more Ralene I can get in one year, the better!

It's also awesome to celebrate the release of her first book! It's a steal right now for $0.99 so you should probably go grab it. Just sayin' :D



I had Darlene Franklin on the blog last week and she graciously offered a copy of Tobagganing for Two! I've got our winner...

Melanie Backus

Congrats Melanie! I'm sure you'll enjoy this :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Adventures in Odyssey Christmas Specials!


What’s on your children’s Christmas wish list? As excited as they might be about that new toy, as every parent knows, the thrill of the gift will eventually wear off. Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey have created the perfect gift for those who want to give their children or grandchildren a present that will provide year-round fun with eternal impact.

The Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) offers families 24/7 access to 25 years’ worth of Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) episodes in a safe online environment where children can explore and learn. Christmas really is the perfect time to tap into your children’s imagination while infusing faith and fun into their day . . . and every day of the year.

To celebrate the holidays this year, the OAC is offering free content for everyone, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:
  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
In keeping with AIO’s rich heritage of teaching children about biblical principles — such as the importance of giving — a portion of each OAC membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations. Here are a couple of examples of what has been accomplished through Odyssey Adventure Club members:
The Odyssey Adventure Club wants to reach beyond fleeting entertainment this Christmas, partnering with parents in helping their kids grow deep in faith and find their place in God’s story.


Speaking of the holidays, you can prepare for Christmas with Thriving Family's 2015 Advent Activity Calendar — Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season. Assemble a beautifully designed Advent poster to help your kids focus on Christ this Christmas. Then read Scripture passages and stories that relate to individual flaps on the poster. You can also create easy-to-fold booklets for each story. Get more information about this year's free Advent calendar at, or sign up to download it.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Perchance to Dream by JoAnn Durgin | New Novel News + GIVEAWAY

Perchance to Dream
by JoAnn Durgin

October 18, 2015
Independently Released
Purchase: Perchance to Dream
*This book will be on SALE Nov. 24-Nov. 30 for only $0.99! Make sure you take advantage of this great deal.

Ellie Franklin has known Ryan Sullivan her entire life. As their Christmas wedding approaches, Ryan is expected home from his second deployment to Afghanistan. Excitement is in the air as Ellie prepares for his homecoming, and the citizens of Cade’s Corner, Ohio, anxiously await the wedding of their hometown sweethearts.

When an unforeseen event occurs, will Ellie’s plans be postponed or will they come to a screeching halt? With her faith and family to sustain her, as well as the support of an entire town, will this bride’s prayers for a holiday miracle be answered?

A heartwarming novel of unfailing love, family, never giving up hope, and claiming the precious promises of God. And, through it all, discovering a true Christmas miracle.

Get to know JoAnn...

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Do you know how much I’d dearly love to be able to crank out books on only a few hours of sleep a night? Sometimes I feel like that’s what I do, anyway, but I’m human and require rest or I couldn’t function properly. I must qualify that by saying I never want to sacrifice quality for quantity. The good Lord gives me just what I need when I need it (in all areas of my life), so let it be known: I am content. :)

Share one pet peeve you have.
I brush my teeth a lot and always carry my toothbrush in my purse. I’m almost fanatical about brushing my teeth after every meal and, call me weird, sometimes before meals. I brush in restaurants, stores, airports, you name it. Have toothbrush, will travel! is a personal motto. However, motion-activated sensors drive me nuts because I feel foolish waving the toothbrush around in front of the sink to get the water to come on. I’m also not fond of brushing with warm or hot water. But brush I do! I’m blessed with good strong teeth as a result.

Would you rather go to the future or go to the past?
Definitely the past. A long time ago, there was a TV show called The Time Tunnel about two guys (I’m sure they were scientists) who traveled back in time. In the first episode, they were passengers on the Titanic, and I also remember an episode about Pearl Harbor on the day it was bombed. They were always in a place of impending disaster…and then they were whisked to another time period just in time to save them. I loved that show; it was educational and it even had romance (star-crossed, but I still remember it)!


Congratulations to...

Merry Z

Congratulations to...

Melody Durant

Congratulations to...

Just Commonly

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Giveaway

The smell of fire smoke and the rich colors of orange, yellow, and red surround me. It makes me happy, more than I can describe in words. I don't mind the cooler weather and the often-cloudy skies, and I always look forward to the early Christmas lights that go up around this time.

I hear you out there gasping in shock that I have already started to listen to Christmas music, but one month is simply not enough for me.

This time of year gets me thinking about giving--giving gifts, giving of my time, and giving back. Part of that you'll see here in December (if you don't know what I'm talking about you can sign up for my newsletter to find out early). But also, I thought I'd do one more giveaway here on the blog for fall. A little "Thanksgiving Giveaway" if you will.

First off are these lovely towels and fun canvas print. Aren't they beautiful?

Secondly, I've got a fun notepad, pen, pencils, and some of the best smelling wax (Apple Pumpkin goodness).

To enter, use the Rafflecopter entry form below! And thank you all for being such great readers here at the blog. Just as a reminder, I sent out my November Newsletter today (and there may or may not have been a giveaway included...just sayin'). If you haven't signed up yet, you can follow THIS LINK and I'll send it out to you. Check back here on the blog December 1st for an announcement of the winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Darlene Franklin {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Darlene...

Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont.
How to connect with Darlene...

Twitter: @darlenefranklin
Amazon author page:
Tobagganing for Two
An Advent Journey through Matthew

Author Re:Interview | Darlene Franklin

You and Writing

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
...I had a surprising, neon-writing in the sky, experience last month. I was ready to give up writing—it had become terribly hard and didn’t seem worth the effort.

...Then on one day, for the first and probably only time in my career, I had three books at #1 in different categories. I was in the top 50 authors in ebooks on Amazon, and in the top 100 authors in two different categories in print books.

...I got the message--and went back to work with renewed enthusiasm.

How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions?
...In a nursing home, I have no control over my time. And while it’s fine for me to wait up to an hour for help, aides don’t want to wait two minutes for me to finish something (they dash away to help someone else).

...I say that not to complain, but to say, I know what it’s like to have to fit writing around unpredictable events. One thing I do is to choose which home activities I participate in. I go to church and group exercise. I usually go to one activity an afternoon, mostly because I tend to isolate myself. I’ve chosen to eat in my room, because that takes half an hour instead of the hour and a half in the dining room.

...God has also recently challenged me to pray when I’m left waiting in the bathroom and to exercise while I’m in the shower!

How do I write? 
...I write in short spurts (15-30 minutes). If I wait for a lengthy period of time, I’ll never get any writing done. I write even when I’m expecting something to take place, but they rarely happen on time. I set daily goals, which I try to complete before TV starts for the evening.

...I’m persistent and consistent—I write six days a week. That’s my best suggestion.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book.
...Laura Evans moves to Plymouth, Nebraska, to take care of her aunt and her paralyzed sister. Dr. Jay Andrews has come to Plymouth to escape his work among those wounded during the Civil War—only to be faced with a paralyzed patient. Laura and Jay clash as they face fears from their past. Will a midnight toboggan ride bring them together, or push them further apart?

What was one trial you faced when writing it? One success?
...In the middle of writing the story, I didn’t feel very well. No matter how hard I tried, my writing slowed down to a trickle. I told my editor that I would write for one hour a day, whether I wrote 10 words or a thousand, and stop worrying about the deadline. I did finish the book about two weeks past my original deadline, but my copy editor put a rush on it and I was able to turn it in on time.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...I identify a lot with Laura, the heroine. She’s one of the more autobiographical characters I’ve created, complete with a few less-than-desirous traits.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...God will help us heal from any emotional wounds.


Favorite writing snack?
...Anything chocolate!

Book you’re reading right now?
...As usual, I’m reading several books. I just finished Daily Reflections on the Names of God by Ava Pennington—a year-long devotional which has been life-changing. Now I’ve started The One Year Walk With God Devotional about wisdom. I’m also studying Be Strong by Warren Wiersbe. For pure fun, I just finished Even Now by Karen Kingsbury. Now, there is an amazing writer! I’m starting a 600+ page book on Extraordinary Patriots. If the brief biographies don’t captivate me, I’ll probably drop it for something shorter. 


Thanks so much for being my guest Darlene! I'm happy to have you here. Your suggestions about writing whenever possible are so true! I often want to wait until I have a chunk of time but then I could find myself waiting for a very long time... I also admire you for your persistence in patience while waiting on things you can't control. I'm with you on the chocolate as well! I made pumpkin bread this week and had to add chocolate chips to it. I's a must! Thanks again Darlene and readers make sure you leave a comment for her to enter a chance to win Tobagganing for Two.