Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: "The Cautious Maiden" by Dawn Crandall

Reading a romance set in the Victorian era is delicious, isn't it? You have the propriety and decorum, the watchful, well-meaning eyes, and the desire that heats up despite so many ingrained societal precautions. It's a delight to watch love blossom in such stuffy surroundings.

Dawn Crandall's "The Cautious Maiden" is set in Victorian New England; first, uniquely, in the state of Maine, then in the more familiar streets of late 19th century Boston. Her heroine, Violet, also unique, begins the story as a single working woman, refreshingly uninterested in marriage.

The action begins on page one, when Violet's dastardly brother upends her life by destroying her reputation and putting her at risk. The rakish and complicated hero, Vance, comes to her rescue by offering to become engaged to her. A generous offer in one sense, since reputation mattered so much in this culture. But there is a cost. He was a rogue in his past, and Violet is as pure as they come. She sees the change in him since his conversion (the theology in this section is excellent) and is agreeable to the arrangement. What unsettles her is not knowing if he actually loves her. This is the tension that carries the reader through the narrative until the pace picks up again with the appearance of the villain--and just when you thought things would be tied up nicely.

Vance is a romance reader's dream love interest. At times seeming too good to be true, he takes hold of the reader and doesn't let go until he makes a mistake near the end of the plot. Though Violet has spent weeks assuring him she forgives his past, now she must forgive his present.

He is believably amorous, given his past, but his burgeoning faith demands he protect her chastity and her dignity. One characterization I appreciated was Violet's over-confidence in her own self-control. For the reader who has learned that lesson the hard way, it was good to watch her stumble and right herself in this matter.

Though these two characters clearly desire one another almost from the beginning, Crandall skillfully walks the line between love and lust. Violet's wanderings and doubts about Vance's feelings grow tiresome at times, but young readers especially need a heroine who knows the difference between love and lust, and that one does not equate with the other. Crandall offers an excellent analogy, comparing courtship to riding. "Let him gain your trust," Vance tells Violet when she's on a horse for the first time, "and you'll need to trust him at the same time."

Trust turns out to be a challenge for them both. "Sinner" and "saint" alike find themselves wounded and needing to apologize to regain the other's trust.

Regular readers of Christian fiction should enjoy this 4th book in the series (but fully capable of being a stand-alone book!).

Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC. All thoughts in this review are my own.

Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden which released October 4th, 2016.
Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. 
She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Be sure to visit Dawn on her websiteFacebook page, or Twitter
Don't forget to click here to enter Dawn's amazing Rafflecoptor giveaway!
She has two prize packs (aren't they gorgeous!!), and the deadline to enter is November 4.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Author of Scarlet Moon on our blog today!

Today we welcome Sarah Grimm to our blog. 
Her novel Scarlet Moon just released with Enclave Publishing this month. We are so excited for her!!

Sarah, I want to thank you for taking the time to do an interview with us on our blog today.

Also, I personally have to give you a quick shout out. This wonderful gal, who I met at Realm Makers 2016 Conference, helped me with directions when I was totally scared and lost. The college campus was huge and intimidating for me and my direction-challenged self. When Sarah was travelling back to the dorms, she saw I was in distress and helped walk back with me, retracing the steps she had just taken. She didn't have to do that, and for her kindness I will be ever thankful. 

Now onto the interview with the amazing author of SCARLET MOON.

What's your writing ritual like? 

I try to write a thousand words a day unless I’m deep in planning a new story or editing for a deadline. 

What's something we wouldn't know about you just by looking? 

Well, I do like Brazilain jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fencing, and shooting. Archery is next. 

Do you listen to music while you write? 

YES! But not while I edit. I need to hear the cadence of the sentences when I edit. 

Where is your office? 

Technically, it’s in my home. The basement. I call it the dungeon when it’s deadline time. But it’s a nice little area surrounded by bookshelves and exercise equipment. And I don’t always work there. Have laptop. Will travel. 
Laptops are my favorite.

If you were a superhero, what would be your super power? 

Invisibility. But that’s not the superpower I’d want. I’d want to be telepathic.

Favorite season? 

Autumn! I love the colors, that I can wear jeans, that the weather is awesome, and I adore bonfires, pumpkins, and leather jackets!

What's your favorite chore? 

Cooking. Shhhh. Don’t tell. 
Don't worry, we won't. ;)

Who is your favorite fictional character? 

This changes all the time, and I can never pick just one. I love Captain America, Kenshin Hirmura (anime), Tadashi from Big Hero 6, and Bigwig aka Thlayli. 

What are the names of your pets? If you don't have any, what would you name your pets? 

Current and past: Sylvester, Elkie, Wellington (Willie), Cozette (Cozy), Indiana Bones, Sydney, Nemo, Rodeo, and Falkor (Kory).

Favorite place you’ve traveled to? 

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

What’s your favorite book? 

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

What are you reading right now? 

Cool. I've been reading Outlander for the last year. For some reason I haven't been able to get into it. I keep picking it up, and I AM enjoying it, but there's months in between where I'm not reading it. I just bought the sequel to it, so I better finish eventually. Hope you can get through it faster than me. :)

Thank you again, Sarah for being on our blog today!

We eagerly anticipate buying a copy of SCARLET MOON and diving into it soon! 

Buy Scarlet Moon now!

If you can't wait to plunge into Scarlet Moon either, leave us a comment below!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Interview with a vampire. Well...not really. But Janeen and Julia are pretty close.

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

Blood Mercy Official Website:
Uncommon Universes Press Website:

We were blessed (or cursed maybe?) today to be able to interview both the author and illustrator of the up and coming novel Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water. 

Welcome to our blog, Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko! We are so incredibly pumped to have you on our blog today.
Commencing interview now.

What is your favorite vampire folklore and/or legend?

JB: I’d have to say the true story of America’s first vampire, Mercy Brown. Although she died of tuberculosis, the community feared that one of the deceased Browns was a vampire. After checking the graves of her (sufficiently decomposed) family members, they checked Mercy’s grave. Because of how well preserved she was (she wasn’t dead nearly as long as her family members), they exhumed her completely, destroyed her body, burned her, and fed her remains to her living brother in the form of a tonic. You know, clearly the sane thing to do.

JI: For me, it isn’t so much the major folklore as the interesting little details. One of my favorites is the idea that to stop a vampire, you should pour rice on the ground because they will be compelled to count all the grains. I find the image of a big, scary vampire on their hands and knees counting rice to be both hilarious and really sad. This concept actually inspired some of the issues characters in the book suffer from.

Did you watch vampire movies or read vampire books to get in the mood to write this story?

JB: To be honest, horror movies are my favorite, so I didn’t really have to change anything about my entertainment habits. But if you’re interested, there are some great movies out there, from the more romantic Anne Rice adaptation Interview with the Vampire to the more fun and comedic Buffy. But to be honest, The Little Vampire has a very special place in my heart.

JI: I’m with Julia. I was into vampires before I started writing this. Our mutual interest in vampire lore (among other mythologies, histories, and folklore) was part of what drew us together as friends. I tend to go more bookish, so I’m a fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Debbie Viguie’s Kiss trilogy, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, etc. And yes, I’ve read all the Twilight books (on a dare). I’ve also watched a lot more vampire TV shows and movies since my reading time has shrunk. Some favorites are Moonlight and Underworld.

JB: If you want an amazingly fun and trippy movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a must-watch! I love that movie!

JI: But the book was better. ;-)

JB: Yeah, but then you have to read.

JI: Says the illustrator.

JB: Hahaha, I like pictures, what can I say?

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind of vampire-y music did you listen to?

We each actually have a playlist! Janeen’s is a very feels-based mix. She’d listen to certain songs on endless repeat while writing certain scenes. Julia’s is more for general inspiration of emotions as she illustrated.

Is your book considered horror? If not, what genre would you categorize it in?

JI: I’d put it in the category of supernatural suspense, as would our early test readers. It explores some horrific ideas through the lens of vampirism and illness, and it will keep you turning pages, but it doesn’t hit all the grotesque horror buttons. There’s also humor, a hint of romance between married couples, and onion rings. Because I like food, and I tend to mention it in anything I write.

JB: I’d also shy away from putting it in the horror category. There are some horror tropes we play with, but they’re not the main focus.

Is it going to be too scary for those of us who scare easily?

JB: I don’t think so? There are some surprising turns in the book, but they’re balanced by some funny scenes.

JI: Agreed, although it really depends on what scares you personally. Because this is a tightly-written novella, things are intense, but they don’t linger on in agonizing detail. I’ve had vampire fans enjoy these books, and I’ve also had people enjoy them who said they would never touch a vampire book.

What is your favorite aspect about this story?

JB: Goodness, this is hard to answer! Hmmm… I’d have to say it’s that the antagonists aren’t scary-looking, cape-wearing, cliche-wielding vampires. I find them much scarier, because they could easily be you or me: regular people who possess sinful hearts. And it’s illustrated. I like pictures.

JI: Although we need to stick some poser in a future book who wears a cape.
JB: Yes! Who’s all, “Rah rah! I’m gonna become a vampire!” I can already see the annoyance on Melrose’s face.

JI: Annoying Melrose is the best.

When you sleep at night, are you ever concerned about vampire attacks?

JB: Not really. There’s an ongoing joke that I’m buddies with the Grim Reaper, so my guess is if vampires come to attack, he’d give them a lecture about being nice to his friends. Or I’d be saved by a unicorn. One or the other. Maybe both. Both would be fun. Ooohh, the Grim Reaper riding a unicorn…

JI: Nah. Although I have woken up my husband to make sure he wasn’t a zombie. After that, he decided I needed to watch fewer zombie shows with him. Spoilsport. Speaking of which, we like zombies too.

JB: Keep an eye on where we end up. W’re all over the place with cool monsters!

JI: And we love spinoffs.

Awesome interview gals! We appreciate being a part of your blog tour. I think we started out strong with this highly amusing interview. :)

Please follow the rest of the blog tour to come. The schedule is below:

Monday, October 17th - Deanna Fugett - Interview on Quills and Inkblotts 

Tuesday, October 18th - Amy Brock McNew - Character Interview (

Tuesday, October 18th - Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water on The Write Stuff with Parker J. Cole

Thursday, October 20th - Tina Yeager - Blood Kind and Mental/Physical Disorders (

Monday, October 24th - Laura Vanarendonk Baugh - Dracula, Tropes, other Inspirations (

Wednesday, October 26th - Bethany Jennings - Character MBTI Personalities (

Friday, October 28th - Ashley Townsend - Special Interview (

Saturday, October 29th - Launch Party on Facebook! 8 pm-10pm (EST) 

Monday, October 31st - GEKE's Article on New Author's Fellowship (

Wednesday, November 2 - Ashley Townsend - Behind-the-Scenes Feature (

Friday, November 4 - H.A. Titus - Special Interview (

ALSO, don't miss out of the awesome FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY coming up here soon!

Janeen Ippolito

Author Bio: Janeen Ippolito is an idea-charged teacher, reader, writer, book reviewer, and the Fearless Leader of Uncommon Universes Press. She writes nonfiction writing help and speculative fiction laced with horror, humor, and cultural tension. Her co-written illustrated novella, Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water, releases on October 29th.  In her nonexistent spare time she reads, cooks, and sword-fights. Two of her dreams are to eat a fried tarantula and to travel to Antarctica. Go to for world-building resources and off-the-wall insights from this sleep-deprived author.

Social Media Links
Twitter: @TheQuietPen
Instagam: janeen_ippolito
Pinterest: Janeen Ippolito


Julia Busko

Author Bio: Julia Busko (like “bus” and “co.”) is an illustrator, designer, writer, and the Elusive Unicorn (art director) of Uncommon Universes Press.  In addition to co-writing with Janeen Ippolito, Julia has created book covers, made logos and t-shirt designs, and is planning a series of steampunk fairy tale picture books. In her spare time she dances with a local company and watches documentaries and horror movies. She strives for art filled with creative wonder and the beauty inherent in tragedy. Go to to dive into a world of remarkable visions and artistic musings.

Social Media Links


Instagram: juliabuskoillustration
Pinterest: Julia Busko


Publisher: Uncommon Universes Press


Twitter: @uncommonunivers

Instagram: uncommonuniversespress

Pinterest: Uncommon Universes Press


Check it out folks. I already read the first chapter and it's amazing!!! Don't miss out on this book, get your copy now!
If you're as excited as me to dive into this book, don't forget to leave a comment in the comment section below!