Friday, September 19, 2014

Giveaway!!! Serena Celebrates INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY with a riddle, some gift cards, and more!

It's a holiday, of sorts! 
Raise the anchor and loose the sails for my favorite day of the year!

That's right, me hearties. It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day 

In honor of this most auspicious event, there are several goings-ons of which you should be aware:

Click on the title below to find
The Seahorse Legacy by Serena Chase at Amazon

1. The Seahorse Legacy is on sale for just 99cents! (click the title for a link!) 

Tell your friends! Sale ends Sunday evening.


I've a bit o' treasure to parcel out to me pirate crew 
(and if you are reading this post, that could be you!) 
To enter to win your share of this vast collection of shiny baubles*--er, also known as a $10 Amazon gift card, 3 ebooks by moi, 2 seahorse charm necklaces, & 5 autographed book posters--answer this incredibly barmy riddle in the comments below:

My coils are artistry, my strength comes in cords
I'll help hoist up yer sails and I'll play tugs of wars.
What am I?

(p.s.  you can also enter via the Rafflecopter form, which is easier, especially if you don't have the patience for riddles.) ;) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Due to the volume of prizes to be given, this giveaway is only open to residents of the United States. 11 prizes total, 1 prize per winner. Thanks for understanding!
Read up, me hearties, yo ho! 

Image credit: <a href=''>saranai / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Serena Recommends ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE & CUPCAKES by Betsy St. Amant

Click on the title below to find
All's Fair in Love & Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant at Amazon
What it's about (from publisher Zondervan):
Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.
Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie's bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.
But when Lucas Brannen, Kat's best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary ... and a job at a famous bakery in New York.
As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself — her — is suddenly in danger of slipping away.
The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat's senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams ... or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.
Why you should read it: In many contemporary romances and romantic comedies there is a sense of one character chasing the other toward romance, but Betsy St. Amant differentiates this sweet story from many of its shelf-mates by showing the love, loyalty, hope and fear both Kat and Lucas feel about the possibility of adding romance to the comfortable flavor of their longtime friendship.
Kat and Lucas are both afraid of rejection and neither can imagine a future without the other, but they are hindered by knowing that if a romance is tried and fails, they can never go back to the way things were before. Using a passage from Song of Solomon as an anchoring theme, St. Amant pours sweet hints of romance into the friendship with long looks, an acceptable (and endearing) bit of co-dependence, gentle comfort, several near-kisses and a couple of accidental — but all-encompassing! — kisses, too.
In Lucas and Kat, Betsy St. Amant has created two very human, likable and empathetic characters, taking what could have been a cutesy, reality-TV rom-com and giving it the depth and heart needed to make readers reserve a spot for this sweet story on their keeper shelf. A tender romance frosted with fun, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes is quite pleasing to the romance lover's palate.
(originally appeared at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog)
STORY: 4 stars
CONTENT: barely Edgy(ish) but only for a heated, tempting kiss or two. This story is sweet without hurting your teeth--and I enjoyed it immensely!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Post + Giveaway! Amy Matayo On Being Real and the NA Genre PLUS a chance to win a signed copy of her hot-off-the-presses NA romance, SWAY

 Amy Matayo, author of SWAY
(and this post.) ;)
by Amy Matayo

For the past five years, I’ve written books. Young Adult books. Contemporary Romance books. Humorous books. All kinds of books. Only two of these have been published so far (because, if I’m being honest here, only two have been worth publishing)—both under the Contemporary Romance genre. But being the totally decisive person I am, I’m changing things yet again. Some people prefer to be focused in their careers; I prefer to be a bit schizophrenic in mine. It works. Sorta.

My newest novel, SWAY, releases today. Unlike The Wedding Game and Love Gone Wild before it, this book is classified as New Adult. How do I know this? Because I Googled it, of course. And here’s what I found:

New Adult fiction encompasses the 18-25 age group, meaning the male/female protagonists fall in that age range. On top of that, New Adult fiction tends to focus on the characters leaving home, exploring sexuality, and navigating through higher education and career choices. Which, coincidentally, is what my characters in this novel are going through.        
Click the title below to find
SWAY by Amy Matayo at Amazon

Now, just to be clear, SWAY is a fairly clean read—though there might be a few references to things and situations one might not normally find in an inspirational book. But going into it, that was my plan. 

My biggest desire in life is to be real with people—at home, at the grocery store, at my kid’s school, at ballgames. Case in point: my Facebook and Twitter posts normally feature my latest mess-ups. Like the time I let my daughter give me a make-over and then drove to the grocery store for a gallon of milk shortly after. I was out of the car and walking inside when I got a glimpse of myself in one of those claw-game mirrors. My eyes were blue from eyelash to eyebrow and beyond. My cheeks were a weird shade of red and brown because I think my daughter mixed a little eyeliner in with the blush to make things interesting. Interesting. That’s a word for it.

Mortified, I turned on my heel and practically ran back to my car. Thank God it was dark outside.
Then there was the time I made homemade salsa and then promptly broke half the jars because I forgot about the concept of not putting hot jars into something cold. Or the time I climbed on a treadmill at Sears only to hear my sister say, “You have toilet paper hanging out of your pants.” And that’s when I realized the workers who’d been laughing hysterically behind me for a couple of minutes were actually laughing at me.

This sort of thing happens often. I could go on and on with stories, but I’m pretty sure I would bore you to death. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Whichever, there’s only so much humiliation I can take.

Anyway, my goal in life is to be real. To be honest. Because we all do things we shouldn’t do, we all have thoughts we shouldn’t have, we all say things we shouldn’t say, we all feel things we shouldn’t feel. And my hope is that my characters reflect that. And really, when it comes down to it, God’s grace is in the middle of all our screw-ups. And mine are frequent. And my characters’ are frequent. And if you’re like me or them, yours are frequent too.

Bottom line: my next few books—like SWAY—will fall in the New Adult genre. I hope you’ll read them. I hope you’ll like them. I hope you’ll identify with them. Either way, I appreciate the chance to share the stories with you. 

Happy reading!

Amy Matayo is an Amazon bestselling author and has a degree in Journalism from John Brown University. She worked for seven years as Senior Writer and Editor at DaySpring Cards until the birth of her first child. Amy was a freelance writer for David C. Cook before pursuing novel writing full-time—focusing on edgy, romantic books for older teens and women. She lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. Please visit her online at

Amy Matayo is giving a signed copy of SWAY to one lucky reader! Just comment below to enter!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Serena Gives 5 Stars to THE STORY KEEPER by Lisa Wingate

Click the title below to find
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate at Amazon
What it's about (from publisher Tyndale House):
Successful New York editor Jen Gibbs is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing — until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia. A risky hunch may lead to The Story Keeper's hidden origins and its unknown author, but when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she'd left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she's willing to pay.
Why you should read it: If you've never read one of Lisa Wingate's novels, you are missing out on rich storytelling, layered tales-within-tales, and subtly told romances that are full of hope. And if you are a fan of Ms. Wingate's books, The Story Keeper will be a fantastic addition to your collection.
As Jen chases after the man she believes to be the author of the mysterious manuscript, she becomes almost obsessed with learning the end of the tale, never expecting to find herself drawn to the man who wrote it — or back into the tumultuous and abusive backwoods family she worked so hard to extricate herself from. As family dynamics battle against the life and identity she has created for herself, readers will easily empathize with her vacillations between hope, despair and acceptance.
To call this novel a 2-for-1 romance seems to cheapen its beauty, but beauty — and two romances in one — is exactly what you get. In The Story Keeper, two separate love stories intersect and overlap with such tender elegance that the reader becomes invested in both outcomes. Fans of contemporary and historical romance, women's fiction and light literary romance will find plenty with which to fall in love in The Story Keeper.
(this review originally appeared at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog)
CONTENT: EDGIER (for Christian fiction) due to violence and some subject matter, specifically violence threatened against a teen girl
STORY: 5 stars

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Karen Reviews YA: Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, book 1) by Chuck Black

Click the title to find
Cloak of Light by Chuck Black at Amazon
About the Book (from publisher WaterBrook Multnomah):
Drew is caught in a world of light - just inches away from the dark

What if...there was a world beyond our vision, a world just fingertips beyond our reach? What if...our world wasn’t beyond their influence?

Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn, but college offers Drew a chance to start over—until an accident during a physics experiment leaves him blind and his genius friend, Benjamin Berg, missing.

As his sight miraculously returns, Drew discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to observe fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist?

With help from Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl who offers encouragement through her faith, Drew searches for his missing friend, Ben, who seems to hold the key to unlocking this mystery. As the dark invaders close in, will he find the truth in time?

Karen’s Thoughts:
Let me start by saying that this book is quite different from most of what I’ve read recently, but I appreciate variety in my reading, and this one totally hooked me.  I hadn’t even finished reading it when I started searching online to find out how long I’d have to wait for Book 2 (Rise of the Fallen) to come out.  The answer is February, for those wondering, which seems eons away at the moment.

Technically classified as Christian Young Adult fiction, I think this is one of those books that adults will find just as compelling as the teens it’s being marketed to.  And in fact, based on the age of the main character, one could argue it might fit even better in the emerging New Adult category.  But whatever age range you assign it, the content is also Speculative Fiction, since it’s… speculating about spiritual warfare. 

As an aside, I appreciated the chapter by chapter notes at the end that discuss the Biblical basis for a variety of elements within the book, making it easy for the reader to see just how much is scripturally founded and how much is guesswork on details the Bible doesn’t specifically address.

For romance readers – this review is being posted on Edgy Inspirational Romance, after all – there is a romantic thread in this book that I enjoyed and that I hope to see further developed in future books in the series.  But, just so you know, the emphasis (in this book at least) seems more on the action, adventure, and good vs evil. 

So, if you’re looking to change things up with something a little more action oriented or you’re a fan of Frank Peretti’s books, Cloak of the Light could be just the thing.  And if you know any teen boys or formerly teen boys (like my husband) who are into the whole superhero concept, point them this way, because I’ve got a suspicion they’re gonna love this book.

Personally, I can’t wait to read Book 2 and see where the series is going from here, and I’d love to see these made into a movie… tons of potential for great special effects and action sequences.  Oh, and as long as we’re talking visuals, you’ll want to check out the Book Trailer and other bonus content available on the publisher’s Web site.

Thank you to publisher WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a copy of Cloak of the Light for review purposes.

STORY: 4.5 stars
CONTENT: EDGY for violence and speculative elements

For more from guest-reviewer and aspiring author, Karen Collier, check out her Web site at


Related Posts with Thumbnails