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All across the country people are heading home for the holidays. Special presents are wrapped beneath the tree, mistletoe is hung, the smell of cookies is in the air, but what if you don’t have someone special to share it all with?
Will the magic of Christmas reach these characters? Or will they end up being a bunch of lonely grinches?
Three up-and-coming young adult authors share their Christmas stories about hope and joy during the holiday season.
Jillian doesn’t seek trouble, but it has a habit of finding her. She’s bold, brave, and not afraid to stand up for her friends, even if that means tackling bullies.
Jillian never knows what each day holds for her. One day has her exploring a creepy old house and the next has her trying to find a home for some sweet little puppies. The important part is the many lessons she learns along the way.
Interview with the Author:
Q: What makes the Devya’s Children series special?
A: At the heart, this series is about family and friendship as well as the ethical questions surrounding genetic engineering. It’s been likened to the Orphan Black TV show. I like to think of it as a more family-friendly take on those themes. The premise is that a brilliant scientist and his team created several genetically altered children who have special Gifts, such as telepathy, healing, and dream shaping.
The journal/letters style is not unique to this series, but I believe ultimately it suits my need to get in these people’s heads. I’ve worked very hard to fill the books with relatable characters. Some of them happen to have superpowers, but as Jillian points out, everybody has gifts, if not Gifts. It’s just a matter of finding out what those gifts are and how they can be applied for the good of the world.
Q: What order should I read them in?
A: I suggest the traditional order of:
– Ashlynn’s Dreams
– Nadia’s Tears
– Malia’s Miracles
– Varick’s Quest
… before jumping into the prequel—The Dark Side of Science—or the Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts.
The prequel and the short stories can certainly be read as standalones, but they may be more enjoyable once the reader’s already familiar with some of the characters.
Q: Where does this book fit in the series? What theme(s) make it special?
A: This is the original collection of short stories that introduced me to Jillian. I fell in love with her voice and attitude. She’s definitely an opinionated kid. Right and wrong have very clear meanings to her, even if they’re not the same meanings most adults would hold.
Although it’s meant to be a light-hearted exploration of some daily life events, it does bring up some heavy-hitting topics some kids are forced to deal with: divorce and bullying.
Q: Why should readers check out this series?
A: Because Devya’s Children will introduce you to a charming cast of characters dealing with some big issues. Right or wrong, the children exist, so now what? If you have the power to change the world, should you? What are the personal cost and consequences of shaping the world? These are all questions explored by the series.
Q: Can the reader get the whole series at once?
A: Readers can grab books 1-3 in a combination. I’ve not bundled in Book 4 yet, but hop on over to my amazon author page or website to get plugged in and keep up with the current promos.
Christmas Promises (a novella)
Lord Vandover regrets his promise to wed by Christmas until he meets lovely Miss Holly Paxton. Holly finds the handsome Marquess so serious she makes a promise, too: to bring joy and laughter into his life. A sparkling prequel to Christmas Bride.
Christmas Bride (a full-length novel)
All of her life, Holly has dreamed of adventure and heroics. Indeed, she would far rather be a spy for the British against Napoleon, like her twin brother, Noel, than make her London debut. That is, until she meets Hunt, the handsome Marquess of Vandover. After a whirlwind courtship, they are married on Christmas Eve—Holly’s (and Noel’s) birthday. Holly is deeply in love, and her new husband’s career in the Foreign Office allows her to rub shoulders with diplomats and ambassadors, feeding her love of adventure. The future seems full of promise until her inept attempts to assist her husband in his career—and become a heroine in her own right—leads her to trust the wrong person. Suddenly Holly is plunged into a terrible conflict of loyalties, where she must choose between saving her nearly-broken marriage–and her beloved brother’s life!
For schoolmarm Rachel Ambry, Christmas Eve means getting through the special program she and her pupils have put together for the townsfolk in Langdon. And even though she has vowed to not set eyes on handsome Calvin Hunsaker, it becomes inevitable when his incorrigible son needs her help. Calvin is the only person who seems to see past her ugly birthmark, yet Rachel senses that he also sees her as the spineless, helpless socialite she used to be.
Calvin Hunsaker is determined to ignore the feeling of attraction stirring inside him for the beautiful schoolmarm, even though he isn’t doing a very good job. He isn’t ready for another wife, especially one who is ill-suited for the harshness of prairie life. And besides, Rachel is trying to pick up the pieces after her brother and sister-in-law’s untimely deaths and raise their three youngsters, not bedazzle him with the same frivolous charms his first wife possessed. Better to bundle up and head out of the one-room schoolhouse the second the Christmas program ends.
But a heavy winter storm and two mischievous boys have other plans, and Rachel and Calvin’s efforts to avoid each other go awry when Calvin is stranded at Rachel’s house over the Christmas break. Will there be holiday cheer to lighten their hearts or will the winter blues descend on them once again?
Stranded 225 million kilometers from home on Mars Station, cousins Jake O’Brien and Lorina Murphy are drawn into a fledgling effort to help the hundreds of abandoned street children who call the station home. Jake becomes a medical apprentice in an outreach clinic, while Lorina volunteers at a juvenile shelter. They soon discover that their efforts may be in vain because something much more serious than poverty plagues Mars Station.
Also stranded on Mars Station, ship’s captain Danae Shepherd faces the difficult task of hiring replacement crew after an alien virus claims the lives of four in her employ, including her husband. She stumbles upon the same problem that has Jake and Lorina stumped: why are homeless children disappearing without a trace?
What reviewers are saying about The Orphan Ship:
“Authors have the ability to open a reader’s eyes to the situation around them as well as the situations possible in the future. The trick here is captivating the reader to the point that the severity of the situation resonates to the reader. If you don’t care enough about a character to begin with, when the big events happen you kinda just shrug your shoulders and say “eh.” However, this is not the case with The Orphan Ship. The characters are woven so intricately together with the plot that it is impossible not to care about them, especially when they begin to see past their own concerns in order to benefit the lives around them. I will always be the first to tell you that fantasy or science fiction stories aren’t typically my deal. But the humanistic interest in this book made reading worth it. This is a solid read that isn’t just fluff. And for those science-fiction buffs, you are guaranteed an enjoying read.”
– Mari Jensen (Bookrated.com)
“The Orphan Ship is Sterling R. Walker’s first sci-fi book. Spaceships? Check. Humans living on other planets? Check. Advanced technology? Check. In other words, it has all the elements you’d expect in a sci-fi book. However, it also has something that you may not expect: heart.
Walker introduces and develops many wonderful characters that bring this story alive. For example, Danae Shepherd, captain of the spaceship Ishmael, is complex. She struggles between being the rational, take charge captain while at the same time, dealing with a significant loss in her life. And she is only one of several compelling characters in the story.
The book can be enjoyed for the surface level story. There is plenty of action, intrigue, and humor for The Orphan Ship to be satisfying. However, it is the deeper look at poverty, greed and inhumane behaviors which give the book weight–especially when Walker skillfully portrays how children are impacted.
Did I enjoy the book? Yes. Very much so. It was engaging with enough sci-fi gadgets to bring out the inner tech geek in me. But it was the characters and the story than kept me coming back for more.
It’s a clean read with no bad language or sex scenes. There is some violence, but it’s not graphic and it’s needed to fully give the impact this story requires.
While it can be read as a stand-alone book, it leaves the door wide open for one, if not more, books–much to my delight.”
–J. Lloyd Morgan, award-winning author of The Hidden Sun
The Orphan Ship was awarded a 2012 silver medal from Children’s Literary Classics. It’s a great read for ages 12 to adult.
However, he isn’t the same boy she left behind. Reserved and covered in bruises, everyone in River Valley avoids him. Rumors of his activities run rampant.
Despite his cold attitude toward her and her own sadness, Katie can’t keep her thoughts from straying to her childhood friend.
Julian is barely keeping it together. He’s the sole provider for his family after his dad leaves. His dreams to go to college are ruined. Even his relationship with his older brother leaves its mark.
But Katie’s back in town and is stirring feelings in him he thought were lost forever.
Can they find hope and love in each other, or will the struggle to survive their desperate situations prove too much?
All The Things We Lost is a young adult contemporary romance perfect for both teens and adults. It is the first in a series of books, each revolving around a different couple living in the same, small town.
Caelin is a survivor. It’s been eleven years since a nuclear disaster drove much of the population underground. Caelin and her young sister Mardy were left topside, where Caelin uses salvage to trade for shelter. Until she gets stabbed, and a handsome stranger named Jate saves her life.
Jate brings the sisters to rebel turf where plans are being hatched to conquer the Undercity. The rebels preach good life for the masses, and both Caelin and Mardy are hooked on the dream. But as Caelin is drawn deeper into the rebel’s inner circle, passion ignites between Caelin and Jate, and he suddenly seems determined to push her away.
Then she discovers the harsh price of loyalty. The rebel’s dream becomes a nightmare that puts her sister on a dangerous mission to the Undercity. Caelin must determine who to trust before Mardy and the population of the Undercity are wiped out.
She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos.
As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.
When they meet—man, the sparks fly. They enjoy a wonderful courtship, while juggling two confusing mysteries; until Vivian catches Gene doing the very thing that he swore he would never do.
If you love stories set in the 1940’s or about WWII that read like you’re watching a Turner Classic movie, then Her Blue-Eyed Sergeant is for you!
This is a clean romance with no profanity or illicit sex, just plenty of amorous kissing and breathtaking romance!
Fresh out of rehab, Rayne McQuaid wants a stress-free Christmas. So when she learns her father is dying, her first inclination is to leave the old curmudgeon on his own. Only adding to her stress are the unexplainable feelings of attraction she’s suddenly having for her best friend, actor Dixon Nash. Can a Christmas kitten named Star point the way to the Answer she so desperately needs?
Finding Christmas and You, by Jan Cline
Not only is Jolene Miller struggling to regain her memory after an injury, she’s drawn to two men with opposite personalities. As the mystery of her past unfolds in the weeks before Christmas, Jolene discovers the truth about one of them just in time to give her a Christmas miracle.
Once upon a Christmas Star, by Kathleen Freeman
When Misty discovers Papa wanted to be an astronomy professor and gave it up to raise her, she signs him up for grad school and donates her savings to the cause. Unbeknownst to her, Papa has sold his telescope equipment so Misty can quit her ferry job and go to medical school. A handsome med student only confuses the situation. This Gift of the Magi retelling could lead to disaster, unless wishes and prayers really do come true.
A Christmas Hallelujah, by Dori Harrell
Romance is the last thing on their minds–who’d take on their drama anyway? Piper is dealing with her troubled teen sister. Alex’s young son is glued to his side 24/7. And each thinks the other lives on the wrong side of the Cascade Mountains. But as a surprising and heartwarming friendship unfolds before their eyes, will Piper and Alex orchestrate a Christmas hallelujah out of the beautiful messes that are their lives?
The Second Noel, by Chautona Havig
When Breanne Homstad learns that a local family got scammed out of thousands for a Diabetic Alert Dog for their little boy and must find the money for another one ASAP, she embarks on the seemingly impossible task of raising $25,000 dollars…now!
Breanne, friends, and a local fireman she still hasn’t forgiven for a “date and dash,” work to fulfill one little boy’s Christmas wish–and maybe a second chance at romance.
Home for the Holidays, by Lesley Ann McDaniel
When a handsome stranger fails to respond to Victoria’s flirting the way men usually do, she’s perplexed. She discovers that he runs an organization that builds affordable housing, and decides to volunteer. So what if it’s a faith-based ministry. She can pretend to be a “church person,” right?
Montana Skye, by Sylvia Stewart
Skye hadn’t envisioned serving the supper crowd in plans for her future. So when Shell, a handsome, flirty cowboy, comes into the Starlight Café, she puts him in his place along with his supper, coffee, and pie. She doesn’t need him reminding her of all she’s lost back home. But will Shell prove more than she bargained for?