Giveaway + Publishing Tips with Jamie Foley (Arbiter Blogtour)

Today I’m excited to be part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of Arbiter by Jamie Foley, the second book in the Sentinel Trilogy!

Book 1

I just read book 1, Sentinel, and fell absolutely in love with it! Unlike anything I’ve read before, Sentinel is a thrilling fantasy adventure in a fantasy world with modern aspects, fantasy mind-powers, and, oh yeah, an apocalypse — plus great humor, awesome characters, a hint of Christian allegory, and all rolled up in a gripping, good clean novel. 🙂 It ended at a surprising point and left me needing book 2!

Book 2

I’m so excited that Arbiter has released now, and can’t wait to dive into reading it soon. 😀

(Read my review for Sentinel — and the prequel novella, ViperHERE on my book blog!)

Jamie Foley is a great author and a lovely person; I got to meet her at a writing workshop where she was speaking on publishing and marketing and other cool authorial things. I absolutely loved all the cool info she had to offer, so I’m excited to share some of her thoughts about the publishing world and other fun things in an interview below. 🙂

Don’t forget to scroll down for links at the end, and enter the giveaway too! (Who wants to enter to win books and gift cards? You know you want to!)

Interview

1. Welcome, Jamie! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Howdy! I’m a workaholic marketing specialist/webmaster/graphic artist/indie publisher/author. Apparently that’s a thing…?

I live in central Texas with my Irish cowboy husband, hyperactive toddler, and snuggle-bunny Australian Shepherd. We’re rabid gamers and unashamed nerds.

2. Which book in the Sentinel trilogy surprised you the most while writing it?

Definitely Book 2: Arbiter. I didn’t expect the villain to come alive and be so… well… loveable over the course of the story. More than one beta reader said they learned to love him despite his nefarious deeds.

And Jet did some things I didn’t have in my outline. I tried to argue, but he’s so thick-headed.

(Oh my, I can just see that of Jet. XD)

3. What’s next in your writing/publishing plans after the final book (Sage) releases?

I’m working on two new series, both of which I hope to traditionally publish. One is called Emberhawk, which happens in the same world as The Sentinel Trilogy, but thousands of years in the past.

In Emberhawk, elementals vie for control of human tribes and empires, sparking wars that shape the nations of Sentinel. I’m planning for Emberhawk to be a series of three novels with a tad more romance than The Sentinel Trilogy, but just as much action and suspense.

The second series is still early in development, but… *looks over shoulder and whispers* It’s set on a totally new world with rune magic!

(Looking forward to both! :))

4. Zoo or museum, and why?

OK, I love zoos, but I definitely have to go with museums. My hubby and I are total nerds, always slurping up random worthless trivia and awesome historical tidbits. I love learning about the past — the more ancient, the better!

5. If you could choose one place to visit, real or fictional, where would you go?

Do I have to choose one?? Well… then it would probably be Narnia. Assuming that I couldn’t go back in time and ancient Earth. Or Rivendell. Or Kashyyyk… sorry.

(I’m totally up for Kashyyyk or any of those! ;))

6. Which aspects of indie publishing have been the most challenging and most rewarding?

It’s challenging to supply your own funds for crafting a professional work all by yourself, but if you know it’s what you want to do as a career and you save up, you’ll find that most all of the pros out there are happy to work with indie authors. Learning the ropes is tough at first, but boy, is it worth it!

One bonus of indie publishing is that you can be a little more… out there… than some publishers might approve of. Yes, you should definitely hire a professional editor or two, but at the end of the day, you get to make the call when your work is ready for the world to see.

Another reward is when the monetary investment returns and you don’t have to pay any middle-men. But if you can land a contract with one of the Big 5 publishers, signing that baby would definitely be worth it!

7. What is the difference between traditional and self-publishing, and what is a hybrid publisher?

There are a bunch of differences, but really it’s a matter of rights. As an independently published author, you’d maintain all of your rights and would take all of the profits from your book sales for yourself. But you’re a one-man show.

If you’re lucky enough to land a traditional publishing contract, you’d sell your rights to the publisher and make a much lower royalty percentage. But you’d have a team of experts behind you with a vested interest in making your book awesome and selling as many copies as possible.

A hybrid author has one foot in each camp. They have been traditionally published, but also self-publish some of their works.

8. What are the advantages of being a hybrid author versus just sticking with indie or traditional?

There are lots of advantages! Hybrid authors have the best of both worlds. They have the full force of a publisher’s resources gunning for their success–large traditional publishers help tremendously with marketing and may even hire a publicity firm for a project or two.

And when traditional authors self-publish on the side, they make a killing on the royalties because they’ve already got a large fan base, thanks to their publisher. Because of this, hybrid authors tend to make more money than both independent and traditional authors (on average).

9. Are there any well-known authors who have chosen to hybrid publish their work?

Oh, yeah! I’ve chatted with bestselling authors Ted Dekker and Beth Wiseman about their decisions to self-publish after many years of publishing traditionally with the ‘Big 5’ publishers.

The sad truth is that authors simply don’t make as much moolah as we used to. The market is changing, and a lot of big-time authors are barely hanging on. This is why you see well-known authors turning to self-publishing–even if they’re also continuing to publish traditionally–to make more money on the side.

10. What advice would you share with an aspiring author?

Decide if you want to write for pleasure or for business. It’s OK just to write for pleasure and not publish everything, just like it’s OK to be a hobby artist or musician!

But if you do want to be a career writer, realize that you’re starting a small business—and all small business require a monetary investment and a start-up period of a few years. Be willing to learn, save up, and sacrifice. Surround yourself with professionals—from top editors to bestselling authors to award-winning cover designers to marketing gurus—and I promise your hard work will pay off.

Great advice — thanks so much for joining us, Jamie!

Tour-wide Giveaway

Blogtour Schedule

The Books

This is getting a bit long, so check out the links to the books to read more about them! 🙂

Sentinel (Book 1)

Amazon (Kindle/Paperback)Signed PaperbackGoodreads

Arbiter (Book 2) — just released!

Amazon (Kindle/Paperback)Signed PaperbackGoodreads

Sage (Book 3)

Coming soon!

Viper (Book 0) — prequel novella

Amazon (Kindle/Paperback)Signed PaperbackGoodreads

What do you think, Roadlings? Do the books intrigue you? Is this an awesome giveaway? (Yes.) And did you find any of the publishing info interesting? Drop a comment to let me know what you think, and thanks for reading! 🙂

Epic Modern Irish Warriors + Faeries = An Earthly King Review (Blog Tour)

anearthlykingphoto

I’m super excited to be a part of the blog tour for the release of An Earthly King by Hazel B. West!

You may remember my rave review for book 1, Blood Ties, earlier this year in March… Well, good news! There’s a sequel out now, and if you missed a chance to read book one, Blood Ties is FREE ON KINDLE until November 5th. So get thyself over to Amazon and download Blood Ties ASAP, do you hear?

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, because that’s the last day Blood Ties is free on Amazon!

anearthlykingtourbanner

Anyhow, I’m here today as part of the blog tour for the second book in the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, to review An Earthly King! I’m very excited about this book. ^_^

Head on over HERE to follow the rest of the tour!

And scroll down to the bottom of this post for info on a giveaway of signed paperback copies of both books in this series so far! 🙂

First, a bit about the book and author, and then my review (and even an excerpt)! (All this info AS WELL AS a free ebook and a giveaway for two paperbacks? Yes, I know, I know, all of this is too good to be true. BUT IT IS TRUE, so deal with it and soak up the epicness.)

earthlykingcoverpic2-copy

Title: An Earthly King (The Modern Tales of Na Fianna #2)

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Alternate History

Synopsis

Six months after Ciran defeated King Lorcan and instigated a peace treaty between the High Court of Ireland and the Goblin realm, things have been slowly getting back to normal in the kingdoms. That is, until the council decides that it’s time for High King Eamon to find a queen.

On top of that, there seem to be stirrings of rebellion in the Faelands, as not all the Fair Folk like the High Court’s treaty with the Goblins. So it’s up to Ciran Mac Cool and his company to stop the rebellion before it goes too far, while also trying to keep Eamon safe from potential assassins. And with all the prospective brides rubbing elbows with the High King, that’s easier said than done.

With the help of their friends and a spunky agent from the Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk, Ciran’s Company attempts to stop the Faery plots before Ireland is thrown into all out war. Again.

An Earthly King is another action packed book in this Celtic urban fantasy series with lots of friendship, humor, angst, and even traces of the Ballad of Tam Lin.

Find An Earthly King online:

Createspace Paperback | Amazon | Smashwords | Add it on Goodreads

About the Author

Hazel West lives in Purgatory, er, Florida, with her books and her hedgehog Horatio. When she’s not writing, she’s reading other people’s books, studying folklore, or binge-watching something on Netflix—drinking coffee is also a given.

You can find her online in these places:

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Writing blog: http://talesfromamodernbard.blogspot.com

Twitter GoodreadsYoutube | Pinterest

My Review

earthlykingcoverpic2-copyAn Earthly King

(Modern Tales of Na Fianna, #2)

by Hazel B. West

YA / Fantasy / Contemporary / Alternate History / Retelling / Tam Lin / Celtic / Ireland

I received a complimentary e-ARC copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.

5starrating

There are so many awesome things about this book, I don’t even know where to begin. I loved it even more than book one (Blood Ties) if that’s even possible. These were definitely among my top favorite reads this year — instant classics for me!

This book has everything: Swashbuckling action, suspense (I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe a few times), mystery, deceit, evil faeries (and less-than-evil ones), cars and leather jackets and swords, kings and warriors, true love, comradely brotherly relationships, characters I adore so so much, witty banter, humor and dry narrative which had me laughing more than once, awesome Celtic/Irish/Fae folklore, even a touch of retelling in the form of the ballad of Tam Lin — all wrapped up in a thoroughly FUN story which was simply a joy to read. When I say everything, I mean everything!

Have I convinced you yet?? Because really, I don’t know what more I need to add to this. (Except I will totally keep talking about it because obviously this is an excuse to babble about one of my favorites books, I never turn that down.)

I thought it would be different than it was (just like the first one was different than I thought it would be). I vaguely expected it to continue mainly with Ciran and his gang, and while his gang was in it, they were more side characters, since it was mostly about Eamon (I was very very excited to get a story from his point of view!) and others who are spoilery. Which isn’t a complaint; I just thought there would be more of the same group dynamics as there were in book 1. I expected something different, but I do love how it turned out. This one is also actually very different than the first book: while much of Blood Ties was out in the Faelands, An Earthly King is centered mostly around the castle and such, by its very nature, because it is largely about High King Eamon.

I say largely, because although it’s primarily Eamon’s story, it’s not entirely. There are also chapters from the point of view of Ciran, hero of Blood Ties, which made me SO happy, because I love Ciran. He has a lot going on, especially in the aftermath of certain — ahem — events in book 1. So it was great to continue with him. There’s also a new point-of-view character: Bree, who is awesome and I love her to bits.

So yes, this book is told in three alternating first-person points of view… and I don’t even mind. It may sound like it wouldn’t work, but trust me, the author pulls this off masterfully. It’s always a pleasure to be in each of their minds, and I was never mixed up who I was reading about (it may help that their names are at each chapter heading). It was BRILLIANT how the story weaved through their different points of view without repeating anything, but always showing exactly what needed to be seen. Now, I’m a writer, and all I can say is, that’s #writergoals right there. This book blew me away in so many ways.

Setting: A+ in my book. An awesome, modern/medieval mashup of Ireland, with some Faerie stuff thrown in for good measure. Medieval stuff mixed with a little Faerie magic in a modern setting — how cool is that? I’m just saying that when an evil fairy calls your cellphone and tells you to come to an address they’ll text you and to come alone… this is just mind-blowingly awesome storytelling. I’m a fan. Can I just live here? This world is fabulous and (aside from the fact that I’d probably be dead within five minutes) I just want to move to this alternate modern-day Ireland please and thank you.

Speaking of which, I felt so at home reading this book! Something about reading the new twists on various Celtic lore, Faerie lore, Ireland, even Tam Lin bits, was just so… FAMILIAR. Which made me incredibly happy. I felt like I knew these things… things about Irish and Fae and such; they were familiar, the way your neighborhood walks or a fairytale you’ve heard a hundred times is familiar. I read along happily, going “oh, she used that little thing I knew about!” or “oh, what a neat extra tidbit I didn’t know about, but it still feels familiar!” It was fabulous. ❤ My Celtic roots and love of Faerie things coming out, I suppose. (Even if you’re not a Celtic, Faerie nut as I am, you’ll still enjoy it, though!)

AND THEN THE CHARACTERS. I love them so much. *group hug* Their interactions, relationships, and dialog are simply PRICELESS, and the characters themselves are so real, lovable and… just the best.

  • Eamon, High King of Ireland, an excellent king but also a down-to-earth, nice, willing-to-joke-around, comradely and good-hearted sort of fellow, a little overwhelmed with plots and suspicious Fae things, not to mention being expected to marry (especially when all the prospects are so dismal; these women, though. o.o). He was so fun to read about (especially paired with Killian) and I so enjoyed getting to read his story and see things through his eyes!
  • Ciran, hero of book 1, and co-hero of this one, is just AWESOME. I love him muchly. He’s trying to deal with problems in his family and protect his king and he’s just wonderful; not to mention still really fun to read his thoughts. 😀
  • Bree is an introverted but down-to-business agent who is here to investigate fishy Fae stuff, and I absolutely loved her! She’s redheaded and wears red boots and has freckles (oh, the freckles. XD) and she loves books and gets insecure and eats chocolate when she’s nervous, and is kind of shy about people (I relate!), but she’s also really capable and knows her stuff, and she and a certain other person in the book are positively ADORABLE together, oh my word. <3333 She’s the main new addition to the cast, and I just loved her! ^_^
  • Killian… Oh my goodness, this guy. 😄 Eamon’s best friend/captain of the guard, he positively defies description because his relationship with Eamon is hilarious. They have such a brotherly, teasing relationship, and Killian acts all bossy and snarky, always ordering his king around or calling him names and Eamon doesn’t mind and it’s just glorious. I CAN’T WITH THESE TWO. ❤ One of the absolute best parts of the book. 😀 (The snark, though.)
  • A certain Ciran brother who I can’t say much about, but THIS PRECIOUS PERSON. D: Waaah. He and Ciran are great. ❤
  • Daegal is Ciran’s little brother, who has the Second Sight. He’s really beginning to develop as an awesome character in his own right — one of those enigmatic young fellows with more to them than meets the eye. He’s one of my new favorites, actually.
  • Caitlin: Kinda-sorta “Ciran’s girl” (and Killian’s sister… which I always forget, for some reason? o.o) is also awesome. No-nonsense but perfectly warm, friendly, and capable too. Just. All of these characters!! ❤
  • Oberon is… interesting. I will say no more. *zips lips*
  • And then of course (one and all awesome) are the other members of Ciran’s Company (who now have a ballad in their honor about their quest in Book 1 — sung by the rock band Swords and Shamrocks — which is a top hit on the radio. …I just love this story.).

And and and… I COULD GO ON. I loved the idea of BPAFF (The Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk, an agency who investigate problems with Fae); I loved the sideplot of romance which was adorable but didn’t take the story over and felt totally natural; the BANTER that I just adored so much; there was even some deeper stuff going on with families and relationships and problems to solve; all the relationships and brotherliness; and just… I loved how extremely FUN it was, and I enjoyed myself immensely positively the entire time I was reading. I’m seriously tempted to go back and read both books already… (If only it wasn’t NaNo! *cough*)

Okay, so remember how I said this book has everything? Well I may have been a little economical with the truth there. There’s one thing it doesn’t have, and that is… anything I didn’t like. Did I have any complaints? NOPE, literally none that I can think of right now. (This is rare, okay?)

The author is a genius and I love these books so much. ❤ (Now where’s book 3?? I NEED MORE OF THIS SERIES/WORLD/CHARACTERS IN MY LIFE. And so do you. Go hither and read them at once, do you hear? SHOO.)

Bottom line: An Earthly King is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. ❤

Excerpt From An Earthly King

“Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think it will.”

I appreciated my younger brother’s optimism, but didn’t have the heart to tell him that he was far off the mark. I knew without turning to a pessimist’s standpoint that this was going to be every bit as bad as I thought. I had seen Colin O’Rourke shake his head sadly only half an hour before in anticipation of the moment, and when even the cheery redhead could see no silver lining to being surrounded by unmarried women for two weeks, there was something to be very afraid of.

I had been sent to “prepare myself” for the ladies as Killian had put it. It sounded vaguely ominous. I was supposed to be in full kingly attire for guess who else would be arriving with the girls? Their esteemed guardians, the other kings and queen, and many more higher Irish families. The ones who served on my council. Everyone had pitched in with some female relation to offer up to be my bride like they were vestal virgins and I some ancient god demanding sacrifice. I was flattered—almost. The problem was that I knew the reputations of most of these girls and didn’t have a care for any of them—my opinion hadn’t changed since we were forced to meet in our ‘comings out’ when we were twelve or so. And the ones I didn’t know, I didn’t suppose had much more promise. Killian would probably say I was ‘disenchanted’. I just wondered how out of all those girls, there couldn’t be any normal ones.

I cast a sad glance over at my worn leather jacket and jeans tossed into a chair at one side of my room. I wanted nothing more than to don normal clothes and go out to the lists, practice archery or take on the Guard for my own amusement. But that was later this week, as Killian informed me, and it would still be in front of my ‘admirers’.

“If you stay in here too much longer, everyone will just think Airdrígh Eamon is afraid of a bunch of women,” Oran teased with a laugh.

“Then why are you still hiding here yourself?” I asked, grabbing him playfully in a headlock and mussing his hair.

The door opened and Killian came in, casting a longsuffering glance over the proceedings. “You still aren’t dressed? Get your armor on, Eamon! They will be arriving in less than half an hour! Aeden and Ciran just pulled up.”

I released Oran with a pinch to the side as he protested loudly. I took my copper breastplate from its stand and allowed Killian to secure it before he grabbed my long dark green cloak and put that around my shoulders as well, securing it to the breastplate. He then came around to my front, straightening my circlet, and made sure at least part of it was visible in my untamable mass of hair. He scowled at it as he finally yanked my twin braids straight to make sure they showed.

“Don’t ask me what the girls will see in you, because I really don’t know. You look more like a vagabond than a king.”

“I have the black curls and sparkly eyes, what more do I need?”

Killian rolled his eyes. “You’ve got to have a nice set of cheekbones to please the girls these days.”

“But I have dimples!”

“Missed the boat.”

Oran handed me my sword and I buckled it around my hips, checking myself in the mirror. I looked more presentable than was to be expected from Killian’s grousing, and was overall pleased enough that I would at least make a good impression. As much as I didn’t want to do this, I also didn’t want to give the kings any more reason to hate me.

An Earthly King by Hazel B. West

Giveaway

Hazel is giving away signed paperback copies of both books on her blog, so head on over to THIS POST to enter the giveaway! You don’t want to miss this one! 🙂

(An Earthly King is Book 2.) Find Book 1, Blood Ties, here:

bloodtiescoverfront copyCreatespace Paperback

Amazon (free Nov. 1 – 5!)

Smashwords

Goodreads

My Review of Blood Ties

Does this book sound awesome, or does it sound awesome? Do you like the idea of an alternate-history modern/medieval/fantasy blend? And how do you like Ireland and retellings? Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! 🙂

Yorien’s Hand Review

I’ve been looking forward to reading another book by Jenelle Schmidt ever since reading her gorgeous Beauty and the Beast retelling, Stone Curse, in the Five Enchanted Roses collection. So what a delight to be able to say that a book of hers is releasing today!

I’m joining in a blog tour for the launch of Yorien’s Hand — the blog tour will be continuing this week and includes a delightful giveaway which you will not want to miss!

Dragon Sapphire Pendant Hand and a Half Training Sword

Check out Jenelle’s awesome website for all the info! 🙂

And now, my review . . . (Drumroll, please…)

*drumroll*

(Thank you…)


Yoriens Hand - Cover Reveal MediumYorien’s Hand (The Minstrel’s Song, #3)

by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Amazon-Buy-Button GoodreadsButton

5 stars

Christian Fantasy

I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the author in return for my honest review. These opinions are my own.


My Review

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. I enjoyed it well enough as I read along, completely unsuspecting, until I suddenly realized that somewhere along the way, without noticing the exact moment, I had fallen in love with it. I had been entirely pulled into a rich fantasy adventure in an increasingly wondrous world filled with characters who wrapped themselves around my heart. Let me just say, Yorien’s Hand was a fantastic read!

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a true High Fantasy novel, and I had no idea I missed the genre so much until reading this excellent specimen. It was coming home! Aom-igh, Llycaelon, and the rest of Tellurae Aquaous . . . what a wonderful land! With heroic warriors, majestic dragons (oh, how I loved the dragons!) and the occasional unicorn or gryphon . . . fantastic creatures, beautiful magic, a thread of Christian allegory drawn through (loved that!), and of course a darkness to be defeated . . .

The adventure was thrilling and exciting, filled with danger; I was constantly worried for my favorite characters, especially nearing the end there . . . I was on the edge of my seat! Aaah! That climactic ending! I could hardly breathe and was so invested. (I’d say I was flipping pages, but it was an ebook, so I’ll say that I couldn’t click the ”next” button fast enough.) It was SO intense and awesome! And then a certain fabulous twist . . . which I LOVED (and sort of guessed at . . . sort of . . . which made it almost better) and just YES. YES YES. I’m torn between feeling satisfied with the ending but also desperate for the next book! (That epilogue!) Minstrel’s Call had better come out soon! *flails around a little*

Can we talk about the characters now? Oh my! So many have become favorites of mine! Oraeyn the hero, Princess Kamarie, young King Jemson, brave fighter Devrin, sturdy yet sweet Dylanna, Yole and the awesome dragons, and of course my very favorites, Brant the majestic warrior, and that ever-mysterious minstrel, Kiernan Kane! Though Brant MAY be my favorite (he’s just so… awesome! And… strong? I don’t even have words for him!), Kiernan Kane intrigues me the most! I’m very curious to learn more about him! Gaah! I just love these characters a lot, okay? ^_^ (Also, I will not give anything away, but a scene in the final chapter involving two certain characters had me laughing out loud and beaming and let’s just say I’m basically very very happy right now. *glows*)

The FEEL of this story reminds me of some of my favorite fantasy tales, like those of Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander, while at the same time the story itself feels entirely new and unique. It was told with at times lyrical writing, as Jenelle Leanne Schmidt seems to excel at — with lines that sometimes blew me away or caught at my heart — alternating between beautiful, epic, heartstoppingly perilous, and then sometimes I found myself laughing aloud.

Downsides? I’m trying to think of any, in the interests of being balanced, but really I only have a couple little quibbles — it was mostly so awesome! I did wish that Devrin had gotten more focus, since he seemed to fade away after awhile, while others took more prominence, which made me sad. (But hopefully he’ll be in the next one!) Along that line, there was a lot of hopping about between points of view (which I LOVED!) but occasionally, since there were so many, it spent more time with ones I didn’t care as much about. And a few times I was confused for a bit, but I usually sorted it out eventually; I think those problems were only because I hadn’t read the first books.

That being said, although it’s the third book in The Minstrel’s Song series, I found Yorien’s Hand stood alone fairly well. Of course, now I’m looking forward to reading the book before this one (King’s Warrior) as well as the prequel to both (Second Son). I’m intrigued by many of the references to the characters’ pasts! Hopefully they will tide me over until the next book (Minstrel’s Call) releases!

If you love good clean adventurous fantasy tales with lovable characters, a touch of faith and mysteriousness, a large dose of epicness, and of course majestic dragons, I encourage you to pick up Yorien’s Hand! Hopefully it will twine itself around your heart as it did mine. 🙂

Not to mention, you need Brant and Kiernan Kane in your life. YOU JUST DO! ❤

About Yorien’s Hand

The years of Oraeyn’s short rule have been peaceful, but now ominous nightmares plague his sleep and cling to him during his waking hours. When two of his most trusted advisors disappear without a trace and not even the power of dragons can locate them, the fell promise of the king’s nightmares becomes reality.

From the furthest reaches of the world, an ancient enemy stirs. Stretching beyond his crumbling prison walls, this foe seeks to bring life to the darkest of shadows. His army marches towards Aom-igh with deadly intent, threatening all Oraeyn holds dear.

Aided by dragons, and with the warrior Brant and Princess Kamarie at his side, Oraeyn must journey into the wilds of a forgotten realm. Trusting in the wisdom and skill of the enigmatic minstrel, Kiernan Kane, the companions race against time in search of Yorien’s Hand, a relic that may hold the power to save them all.

Buy Yorien’s Hand on Amazon | Add Yorien’s Hand on Goodreads

Find the other books in the series:

kingswarriorsecondsonKing’s Warrior (The Minstrel’s Song, #1)

Amazon | Goodreads

Second Son (The Minstrel’s Song, #2)

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

JS Author Photo ColorJenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-Midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in the wilds of Wisconsin. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family story-times when her father would read out loud to her and her siblings each night before bed. Her imagination was captured by authors such as Madeleine L’Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander. It wasn’t long before she began making up her own stories and sharing them with her family. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

Connect with Jenelle on:

Her Blog | Twitter | Facebook

***

What do you think, O blog readers of mine?

Sound interesting?

And please reassure me that you love dragons. 😀

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour and giveaway!

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

TopReads2015icon

As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. 😄 I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

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You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. 😄 Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Books!

HI EVERYONE. NANO IS OVER AND I SURVIVED. More on that in a later post but right now BOOKS!

See, I know I just posted yesterday already. And I know I’ve been posting constantly for absolutely no reason except that I accidentally became one of “those” people who blogs all the time because apparently I’m addicted?

But ANYWAY that is neither here nor there and the point is that I’ve decided to hop on the Top Ten Tuesdays (by The Broke and the Bookish) bandwagon this week, because BOOKS and LISTS and because this week’s prompt was too good to pass up.

And mostly because NaNo is over so I can think about books and reading again AND I’M JUST SO EXCITED AAAHH LET ME FLAIL AND HUG ALL OF THE BOOKS!

I’ve never done Top Ten Tuesday before but I’ve wanted to ever since I learned about it. IT LOOKS FUN. This week’s prompt is Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We’re Looking Forward To.

I’m not doing debuts, just books I’m excited about, and I’m doing 12 because that’s how many I know about coming out next year that I want to read, and I’m very much a rebel at this moment… But hey, a couple extra is cool, right?

Heeeere are the 2016-releases lovelies I’m looking forward to, roughly in order of publication date . . .

Yorien’s Hand – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (January 11, 2016)

Ever since reading Five Enchanted Roses, I’ve wanted more by this author, and I have an ARC for this one and there are dragons and am so excited to read it LET ME FLAIL.


The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice – Andrew S. Chilton (January 19, 2016)

I don’t even know why I want to read this but I saw a review and it sounds fun and I don’t even know but basically sign me up. Plus, that title? Total win.

spysdvtn

A Spy’s Devotion – Melanie Dickerson (February 9, 2016)

I. Am. So. Stupendously. Excited. About. This. Book. AD;LFKHALFKHSKDFH MY JOY AND INCOHERENCY KNOWS NO BOUNDS! Basically, it’s Melanie Dickerson, who I always enjoy reading. And it’s a regency romance, which I can enjoy occasionally–I may not be the biggest fan, but I do enjoy a Jane Austen here or a Georgette Heyer there… BUT GET THIS, IT’S AN ADVENTURESOME REGENCY WITH SPIES AND PLOTS AND THINGS AND BASICALLY I’M INSANELY EXCITED AND NEEEEED IT! ❤ Ahem. I . . . am kind of looking forward to this one if you can’t tell . . . I also hear rumors of a cover coming soon and can’t wait. 😀

Fridays with the Wizards – Jessica Day George (February 11, 2016)

I know, I haven’t even read the first few in this series, but my sources say they are good so I want to, and look at that cover — doesn’t it look fuuun?? GRIFFINS YAY.

dfshdws

Defying Shadows – Ashley Townsend (early 2016)

It’s the sequel to Chasing Shadows which I reviewed, and I may have mentioned this one before but the release date got pushed back and anyway I’M SO EXCITED BECAUSE SEQUEL AND WILL.

Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton (March 8, 2016)

No idea. Totally blame Cait for this one. She mentioned it in her Top Ten Thirty-Four post today and it looked yummy because epic fantasy+Persian+gunpowder=yes please.

The Story of Kullervo – J. R. R. Tolkien (April 5, 2016)

Um. They’re always “finding” old previous-version writings of Tolkien’s and by now it feels slightly odd BUT HEY WHO CARES IT’S BY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR SIGN ME UP. It’s supposed to be some earlier version of the story of Túrin, and also will have some of Tolkien’s notes on The Kalevala so that sounds interesting…

King’s Folly – Jill Williamson (April 2016)

Because Jill Williamson is writing fantasy again which makes me enormously pleased, plus the Blood of Kings Trilogy was stupendous and a prequel series sounds cool. (And it will give me a marvelous excuse to reread aaall the Achan books! Yay!)


The Beautiful Pretender – Melanie Dickerson (May 17, 2016)

Sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, I’m gargantuanly excited about this one BECAUSE IT’S THE MARGRAVE’S STORY AND HE WAS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE FIRST ONE AND HE GETS A STORY NOW AND ALSDJFLDKJ I CAN’T WAIT!!

untitledJDG

Untitled (Stolen Crowns, #1) – Jessica Day George (2016)

I should probably actually read some more books by this author before I get excited about any more of them buuuut this one sounds yummy because it’s about fairytale princesses who are grown up and living their Happily-Ever-Afters disappearing, so their kids have to save them, so BASICALLY YES.

bonequeen

The Bone Queen – Alison Croggon (2016)

This one is sliiightly cheating again, as it’s a prequel to the Books of Pellinor series which has four books of which I’ve only read the first (so far), but this is a prequel about Cadvan WHO IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS OF EVER AND THIS IS A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT HIM?? So I obviously have to be insanely excited about this. Yes.

Five Magic Spindles (Summer 2016)

Which we don’t even know who the stories will be by or what they will be about (except, in some vague sense, Sleeping Beauty…) but it’s clear that I’m dying to read this already despite all of that. Go figure.

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There’s my list! 🙂

What books are you excited about coming out next year? Any of these? Are any new to you?

Also I will be back again as soon as my brain becomes less scattered, with tales of my (possibly) most insane NaNo yet and all of that good stuff.

HAPPY DECEMBER! *frolics happily in the snow on my blog because that’s probably the only snow I’ll see this winter*