Welcome and Giveaway

Welcome! I’m excited to finally be writing my first “official” blog post on WordPress after planning and working toward this for the last couple of months. Yay!

I wanted to do a big celebration because I’ve had so much fun getting to know so many of y’all during the last four years that I was on Blogger, and I hope to have many more wonderful years on WordPress. Thank you to everyone who has read Noveltea over the years. You have been such a wonderful encouragement and I am incredibly thankful for the friendships I’ve made.

We have ten delightful prizes to giveaway this week (including a $25 Amazon Giftcard!), so yay! By the way, a HUGE thank you goes out to those of you who are helping to sponsor these giveaways. I wanted to include a little bit about each of the sponsors so y’all will hopefully go and check them out for yourself. (Really. You totally should.)

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Free Bible Music 

Y’all. This is the link to my dad’s website for free Bible music. Ever since I can remember my dad has put Bible verses to music to help us learn how to memorize them better. This website has hundreds of Bible verses put to music, including over 250 by my adopted dad, Buddy Davis. I really enjoy listening to these songs and highly recommend y’all check them out. 🙂 Free Bible Music is sponsoring the $25 Amazon Giftcard, so yay for their generosity!

Go Teen Writers 

If you’ve hung out on Noveltea for very long, you’ve probably heard me talking about Go Teen Writers. It’s an amazingly fantastic blog (and writing community) that has helped me immensely with my writing. I am so thankful to Stephanie (the founder of GTW) for being a great mentor and always being willing to help others. Stephanie and Jill’s book is by far the best writing resource I’ve ever found. I’m so excited that they’ve agreed to give one of y’all a copy of the book. 🙂

Amanda Tero Books 

I “met” Amanda via another blogger this summer and have enjoyed corresponding with her since then. A couple months ago I had the privilege of reviewing one of her books and greatly enjoyed it. She has graciously agreed to giveaway two of any of her e-books, so yay! (See her e-books on Amazon by clicking here.)

Elisha Press

Several years ago I “met” the founders of Elisha Press when they asked if I was interested in reviewing some of their books. Over the last year and a half I’ve read and reviewed three titles from Elisha Press. My favorite one was The Sparrow Found a House, so when I was putting together this giveaway I asked Jason (the author) if he would sponsor a giveaway of that particular book, and he agreed.

Buddy Davis 

If any of y’all don’t know, Buddy Davis is my adopted dad, and also an amazing musician. I’m excited to get to share one of his CDs with y’all. He’s really talented and does a fantastic job of using his talents to bring God glory.

Bekah O’Brien 

Bekah is another friend I “met” through blogging. I won a giveaway on her blog years ago, and over time we’ve stayed in contact and become friends. She’s been incredibly encouraging, and I’m thankful to have her in my life.

I’m looking forward to celebrating my move to my very own domain name with y’all! Thank you for hanging out, and please, pass along the excitement! I’m tremendously thankful for y’all. =)

*Physical books and the CD will only be sent to US addresses

A Beauty Refined By Tracie Peterson: Book Review & Giveaway

Hey y’all! I get to be part of another book release blog tour today. How much fun is that? So, without further ado, here we go: 
A Beauty Refined 
By Tracie Peterson 

Find it on: 

Third-Person
4 Points of view (I think)
Fiction
320 Pages


About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Phoebe Von Bergen is excited to accompany her father when he travels from Germany to purchase sapphires in Montana. Little does she know that her father’s plans–for the gemstones and his daughter–are not what they seem.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie–a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything. Phoebe is determined to stay in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger as the deception begins to unravel.

Why I Choose this Book: 

I’ve read a couple of other Historical Fiction books by Tracie Peterson that I enjoyed a lot. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, as long as they aren’t too romantic. Note: After I read this book and didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, I looked back and saw I only gave two stars to the last Tracie Peterson (co-authored) book I read… 

What I Thought About this Book:

Hum… This book. It had so much promise. And then it fell rather flat for me. It still (barely) squeaked 3 out of 5 stars for me though (4 out of 10), and so I figured the best thing I could do was write a pros and cons list for you. 
Reasons I liked the book:
* The plot was intriguing 
* I liked the main character (at least to begin with) 
* The writing style felt unique to me. For a while I couldn’t tell if the writing was actually a pro or con, but it drew me in and kept my interest, so I decided it was a pro
* Although I wouldn’t say the main characters were unique as far as characters go, they were easy to distinguish from each other and I never got them confused 
* I liked Kenny and felt as if he was well-written 
* Hearing about the jewels was interesting 
* I liked where it was set and reading about the lifestyle the FMC (female main character) was used to
* As someone who cooks a lot, it was pretty cool to hear all the meal descriptions 
Reasons I didn’t like the book: 
* It felt like the author took a great story and massacred it. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed the story far more if it had just been told from one point of view. As it was, we saw something happen, then heard about it as the next character found out about it, and then again with a third character. It was tedious and made the book feel really slow
* The Romance. Oh help us all… It wasn’t that anything necessarily inappropriate happened between the FMC and MMC (male main character), but wow. I have a huge, huge, huge problem with the romance in most books because it’s like “Oh, look! A good-looking human. I’ve never fallen in love before even though I’m twenty-two years old, but I think I’ll do so at this very moment after seeing him twice in my life.” Please, no. I would consider what they had to be infatuation, or a crush. Not love.
I don’t think the book would have lost anything if it would have taken out the “romance” and it probably would have garnered at least half a star more from me. (I don’t recall the romance being a huge part of the story, it was just glaring.) 
* A lot of the story ended up feeling trite and cliché and made me want to shake my head
* I wish we wouldn’t have had so much of the MMC’s backstory… I found the FMC much more interesting 
Conclusion:

There was a little bit of violence near the end, but not too much detail. There were certainly good points in the book, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, mostly because I didn’t enjoy it. 
Rating:

I’m giving A Beauty Refined 3 stars out of 5, and 4 stars out of 10. 

*I received this book free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review*

Oh! And yay, happiness! There’s a giveaway. (Remember, just cause I don’t like a book doesn’t mean you won’t!) Enter the giveaway here

Where I’ve Blogged During the Last Four Years

Over the last four years my blogging quarters have been changed up a bit, although when I look back through the picture, I’m amazed at how alike they actually all are. I started out blogging at this table which I used as a desk. I lived in a barn at the time which was pretty cool. 
During November of 2012 I took part in National Novel Writing Month and discovered the wonderfulness of writing from an easy chair. I spent the next three years of my life writing almost exclusively from comfortable seats, often with my legs tucked up under me or propped up in front of me. It was delightful. 
This (below) was my writing corner from November 2012 until June of 2014 when my family moved. Hundreds of blog posts came to life in this cozy nook. In fact, if you look closely at the computer you can see I was drafting a post on it. 

 My new office was a bit more spacious, although not in the loft of an old barn. Since I enjoyed my previous office so much, I modeled my new writing corner in almost the same exact way. (Note the stuffed animals in the right corner. Stuffed animals do wonders for the imagination.)

This was my happy, and bright, writing space from June of 2014 until November of 2015 when I took part in my second National Novel Writing Month. There’s a long story I plan on blogging about some time, but let’s just say I found out that I had deplorable writing posture and an easy chair is not the place to spend hours each day working.

Amusingly enough it was back to the foldable table for me (although a different one than before). I shifted my office furnishings around and eventually came up with this winning combination. Now I write with my feet flat on the floor, my back at least somewhat straight, and my computer at eye-level. It’s not quite as comfortable, but my body feels a lot better.  
So there you have it, the four basic places I’ve written my blog posts from. Of course there have been blog posts written in other locations.
I’ve written posts rocking in a hammock in North Carolina, surrounded by friends in Nebraska, in wind-swept Aruba, outside of caves in Tennessee, in the sound booth at the Creation Museum… At a friend’s house in Asia, in vehicles in multiple states, in a cute beach cottage in Hawaii, in an apartment in Frankfurt, Germany, walking down the road, in doctor’s waiting rooms, in an old palace in Vienna, Austria… In hotels in Colorado, in airports all across the world, in a friend’s basement in Georgia, and the list could go on. 

Pretty much Noveltea, and therefore y’all, have been a big part of my life and followed me around the world and through the ups and downs of being a writer for the last four years. Thank you so much for joining on this journey with me.

I’m reposting the giveaway here so y’all can get more entries (you can get a lot of the entries each day, not just once).

Question of the day: Where is the strangest/coolest/most unique place you’ve read a blog post?

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Happy 4th Birthday (Plus BIG Giveaway)

Guess what yesterday was? Noveltea’s fourth birthday! Yay! I’m excited about this week where I get to do some “giving back” to y’all and thank you for being a part of my life. I hope you join in the festivities and bring some friends along to the party.

Having a blog is literally a dream come true. I’d heard for years about how good of a platform it would be for writing, but I had no clue how rewarding it could be until I experienced for myself. Although blogging hasn’t always been easy, looking back over the last four years I’m incredibly grateful for the journey I’ve been on. 
Yesterday I made some delicious coffee cake, gingersnaps, and birthday cake (free of grains, dairy, and refrained-sugars). It was a fun way to celebrate Noveltea’s forth birthday and the fact that we just crossed the 1,000th post mark. Exciting, right? 
Since I can’t ship y’all cake (I wish I could!) I decided to have a giveaway to thank you for being a part of my life and spread the word about Noveltea. I hope we’ll have lots of fun together this week and get some conversations going in the comment section. I’m giving away four prizes since this is Noveltea’s forth birthday. I choose one of my favorite books, one of my favorite CDs, one of my favorite DVDs and an Amazon gift card (cause how can you go wrong there?). 
Please make sure you enter the giveaway, spread the word, leave a comment, and take a moment to fill in the poll on the sidebar, if you feel so inclined. Thank you for being a part of my life and thank you for celebrating with me and passing the word along! 

(Please note: I can only ship the giveaway prizes – not including the gift card – to USA addresses.)
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It’s that time again where we get to choose where Annie goes for this week in our Friday Series, Around the World in Fifty-Two WeeksAnd the destination is: South Korea! 

Book Review Thoughts & Giveaway

Book reviews. They’re amazing little things. I’ve read thousands and thousands of them and will probably read thousands more. I can literally read them for hours on end and lose all track of time. I’ve also written a few reviews, although my total reaches to dozens, not thousands. I hope that changes one day…

Have you ever realized that our brains work differently from each other? Take for instance when I read, I’m focusing on certain elements such as character development, word pictures, and the way the author draws my emotions in. The plot needs to be realistic, but generally that isn’t my main focus.

Through reviews I’ve discovered there’s a wide range of what other people like and don’t like. Some reviewers discount books as being unrealistic if they don’t mention food, because, Hey! You have to eat. Others shake their heads sadly and declare the book a loss because the main character was unlikeable to them. Others squeal about a book being trite. Or cliché. Or boring. Or aggravating. Or having gigantic plot holes.

Even if I’ve never read the book, I can generally get a good grasp on what causes those reactions if I need enough reviews. Then I file it away in my memory bank and when one of those “issues” pop up in my book I’m able to whack it over the head and deal with it right away so my readers don’t have to.

Book reviews also help inspire me. When I see how many reviews are out there being read, I’m reminded that one day, I too, should have a passel of reviews for readers to dig into. Plus, the diversity in people’s imaginations makes me feel as if I have wings to fly on, because I have an imagination, too and that’s a glorious thought.

There are some elements about reviewing books that bother me: The main one being that the system we have only uses five stars. I’m fairly certain the world of reviews would feel like a more fair place if we had ten stars to choose from.

Most of the books I read are three-star reads. It takes a good amount of liking for me to push a book up to the four star range, and it’s almost impossible for a fiction book to reach five-stars. By the same token, though, it’s quite difficult for me to regulate a book to two-stars. It just feels wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever written a one-star review, most likely because I don’t finish books that would garner just one-star.

But this leaves me with all those three-star books, which in reality have hit many different places in my like-the-book-meter. On a scale of one to ten I might inwardly rate Book A at 4 and book Book B at a 7, yet in the star-charting reviewing world, they come out looking the same. It makes my reviewing, and writing, heart sad.

Still, five stars are better than three stars, so I’ll remain a happy little book reviewer.

Today I’m celebrating my book being released in Spanish by hosting a giveaway. You can win either a copy of the book or an Amazon gift card. Enjoy!

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Do you think we should have a better book reviewing system? What star-count do the majority of the books you read receive? 

Susanna Don’t You Cry Book Review and Giveaway

Susanna Don’t You Cry
by Zachary McIntire 
Find it on: 

Third person; Omnipresent
Fiction
180 Pages


About the Book 
Back cover Blurb
“I’ll never forgive him – never!”
Chuck Kincaid made a vow of hate the day his father walked out, and he still keeps it ten years later. His sister’s bad choices, his mother’s drug addiction – he knows who to blame for all of it.
But when Susanna and Kelly get their lives turned around by Jesus, Chuck doesn’t know what to think. And why is the rich stranger with the scarred face so interested in being his benefactor?
Failure and restoration. Hate and forgiveness. What is broken can be put back together, one small piece at a time.
Why I Choose this Book
A year and a half ago I had the privilege of hosting an Elisha Press author on Noveltea to celebrate the release of his first book, and I’ve also reviewed a couple of their books in the past six months. So when Elisha Press contacted me in December to see if I wanted to be part of the fun and festivities of the release of their newest book I jumped sat the chance. (Book releases are so special, and I always feel honored to be a part of one.) 
What I Thought about this Book 
What I Liked: 
1. How the brother and sister interact when they are younger. I grew up being really close to my next-older brother, so books with that element in it make me happy. 
2. The book contains good foreshadowing. One of my big pet peeves in books is when something happens very conveniently, yet not very realistically. This book was delightfully void of those occurrences to the best of my memory. 
3. Not only is there good foreshadowing, but there is also good set-up for why the choices that were made, were chosen.
4. There were a couple of times that I was like, “Oh, such and such a thing is about to happen” and then it did. It was nice getting to “know” the characters enough to predict their actions a little.
5. The author doesn’t go into needless details about the “issues” the book deals with (divorce, drugs, etc…), yet they weren’t glossed over either, I thought he hit a good balance.
6. There was good character development. All of the main characters ended the book very different from how they were in the beginning, and that is something that can be hard for an author to succeed with.
What I Didn’t Particularly Like:
1. There was a relationship that did not feel “right” to me; not that there was anything morally wrong with it, because there wasn’t, but it lacked depth and therefore believability.
2. Throughout the book I felt like the subject of money, success, and drive were not handled well (or, I at least didn’t agree with the conclusions). I ended up emailing with the author about the book as a whole and when we talked about the problems I had with these parts, I realized we saw more eye-to eye on this matter than I had thought. So that means I probably just misinterpreted what he was trying to say, but it still raised a red flag for me.   

Rating 
I’m giving Susanna Don’t You Cry Three Stars.
Conclusion 
Susanna Don’t You Cry wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, although I did find it interesting and an easy and enjoyable read. Elisha Press recommends the book for ages 12 and up due to themes such as divorce and drug addiction. 
Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

I’m happy to announce that as part of the celebration of a new book coming out Elisha Press is hosting a giveaway that will run for the whole month of February. Enter it for your chance to win one of the three copies of Susanna Don’t You Cry that they are giving away.
About the Author 
Zachary McIntire is a homeschool graduate, entrepreneur, and history lover. He lives in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in between business and ministry activities, he occasionally finds time to write.

                               * * * 
Congratulations,  Zachary! I’m excited for you and your new book today. *cue happy smile*
Noveltea readers, good news for us! Zachary has kindly agreed to take part in the first Author Interview of 2016 (yay!), so keep an eye out for that. 
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This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions were my own.

A Quick Survey and Amazon Giftcard Giveaway

It’s that time of year again: 2015 is almost over and I’ve begun working on organizing my goals and dreams for 2016. And I need y’all to help me. I have a short survey that I would be absolutely delighted if you would take ninety seconds and fill it out for me. Simple, right? 
Blogging is one of my favorite things to do and I’m so thankful that I have people who read my blog, because, come on, how much fun is a blog if no one is there to read it? To make Noveltea the best that it can be, and to make it more personal to y’all, I wanted to give you a chance to “Let your voice be heard” so to speak. This survey is anonymous so please be honest and help me make Noveltea better. 
Also! *Deep Breath* From here on out I am going to be working on answering all the comments that come into Noveltea and in a timely manner. So, that means that if you comment on a post, I’ll actually reply now (I know, gasp!). That means if you feel so inclined to test it out, go ahead and comment and see how long it takes me to get back with you. (And, when I say timely manner I mean within a day or two, not an hour or two.) 
I didn’t know how to add this to the survey, but I thought it would be fun to do a Question and Answer type of post, so if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please leave them in the comments. When I get enough for a Q and A post then I’ll answer them and we’ll have fun with that. Go ahead and be as random or serious as you desire. 🙂 Note: Please leave the comments on the blog instead of the giveaway widget. 
One last thing: To thank you for your time filling out the survey I decided to do a giveaway. Just fill out the survey and leave a comment with any questions you have for your chance to win a $5 Amazon Giftcard. (Of course you have to enter the giveaway too, so we can keep track.) 
Thank you! I greatly look forward to seeing what y’all have to say and then making Noveltea better. Have a wonderful day! 

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