Firstborn Swag Offer

Hey all!

Just wanted to post a quick update on the book I reviewed a few weeks ago: Firstborn by Tosca Lee.

The amazing Tosca Lee is offering a pile of swag to all those who pre-order Firstborn and send a copy of their receipt to her “Asylum Warden” Cindy (cindy@toscalee.com) by May 9th.

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Check out even more about this fabulous offer (plus tons of super cool extras if you happen to preorder multiple copies!!) on Tosca’s website by clicking here.

Happy reading!

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Firstborn by Tosca Lee

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From the publisher: “From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes the much-anticipated, fast-paced sequel to The Progeny about the powerful descendants of the most notorious female serial killer of all time.

“All at once, she remembers. The memories Audra had erased have returned. And now she knows why she did it.

“Now she must find her archenemy, the Historian, and put an end to the centuries old Progeny/Scion war once and for all. But first she has to rescue Luka, who is being held prisoner by the Scions, all while on the run from the law and struggling with her growing powers and their painful side effects.

“But when a bitter betrayal stalls her plans, Audra doesn’t know who to trust. With the help of a heretic monk, her Progeny friends, and the hacker, Jester, Audra fights to defeat the Scions and find a way to save other Progeny in the process. The final confrontation with her surprising nemesis will put her powers to the ultimate test.”

Seriously, I have been waiting (rather impatiently, I might add) more than a year for this sequel to Tosca Lee’s first book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series (The Progeny, which I reviewed last year). And I actually had to force myself to put the book down and go out into the real world (although the whole time, my mind was flashing back to the story, wondering how it would all work out in the end)!

For me, the final book in a series is often a bit of a downer — it means that I don’t get to live with those characters anymore and, honestly, it hardly ever turns out the way I wanted it to. Not so with Firstborn. While I’m sad that I won’t get to experience life on the run with Audra for the first time ever again, I was totally satisfied with the conclusion of her story. The fast-paced plot twisted and flipped just as much as the first book in the series keeping my attention riveted (especially when I should have been paying attention to other things…). And even though I managed to kind of figure out some of the surprises beforehand, Tosca Lee wrote them in such a marvelous way that I still found myself gasping and smiling as I read.

Do yourself a favor — pick up a copy of Firstborn (and The Progeny, if you have not read it yet. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for??). Firstborn is available for pre-order now and releases May 2.

Many thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for the copy of this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!! 🙂

The Progeny by Tosca Lee

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Set to be released May 24, 2016. Available for pre-order now!

Emily wakes in Maine with no memory – by design. She’s recently undergone an experimental procedure to have her memory erased. Yet, she quickly finds that erasing her memory can’t erase her past or keep her safe. She must set off on a quest – from the quiet woods of Maine to the pulse-pounding underground of eastern Europe – to discover who she is and what she’s hiding from, or she and those she loves will never be safe again.

If you’ve read Tosca Lee before, know that this isn’t like what she’s written in the past. But that is in no way a bad thing! The intricacy and attention to detail with which she wrote books like Havah, Iscariot, and The Legend of Sheba are still found in The Progeny, but with a whopping dose of thrill and mystery. Intense was the first word that came to mind. I felt like I was driving over Red Mountain Pass going too fast in the dark – crazy twists with no idea what might happen next, just gripping tight and keeping my eyes peeled for the next surprise.

Tosca Lee has found a new niche, and I’m so excited to see what she places in there next. Can’t wait for the next book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series!

Many thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee

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In The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, Tosca Lee brings this enigmatic woman to extraordinary life. From her losses to her triumphs, Lee takes her readers through the roller-coaster ride which was the Queen of Sheba’s life. The writing makes you feel as if you are right there alongside the Queen of Sheba, smelling the frankincense and myrrh, hearing the groaning camels of the caravans, trekking through the steaming sands of the ancient world.

Deftly wrought, intricately sculpted, magnificently crafted…there are simply not enough words to describe the beauty and the detail with which Tosca Lee writes. This book is definitely not to be missed.

Unfortunately, you have to wait…it won’t be released until September 9th. But, trust me, it’s worth the wait!

 

About Tosca Lee

“One of the most gifted novelists writing today.”—Steven James, best-selling author.

e1f5dcaab2760ad8986c41_L__V356516092_SY470_Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Iscariot; Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times best-seller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal and Sovereign). Her highly anticipated seventh novel, The Legend of Sheba, releases September 9, 2014.

Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with studies at Oxford University. She is a lifelong world adventure traveler and makes her home in the Midwest. To learn more about Tosca, visit www.toscalee.com.

 

On The Legend of Sheba:

 

  • You are known for your meticulous research. How did researching Legend of Sheba differ from your other books?

 

After a year and a half of hard research for Iscariot, I thought research for Sheba would be much easier. Not so! It is much harder to fill in the historical record of 1000 years earlier than the time of Christ due to the dearth of archaeological progress in history-rich and troubled Yemen, natural phenomena such as the encroaching sands of the desert, and a lack of historical records recording any queen in the Southern Arabian region.

 

  • What do we actually know about the Queen of Sheba?

 

We know something about the Sabaean (the Israelite Sheba = ancient Arabian Saba) people: that they had a capital in Marib, a sovereign “federator” who united the kingdoms of Saba, an elegant and evolving script, a sophisticated dam near the capital that turned Marib’s dusty fields into oases, and that there is great evidence of Sabaean settlement in the area of Ethiopia near what would become Aksum. We know the Sabaeans of the 10th Century BC worshipped the moon god, Almaqah, though experts do not agree whether this was a male or female deity. We know that in terms of the ancient world, they were quite rich due in large part to their cultivation of frankincense in the southeastern region, and that they had an extensive and evolving trade network that extended as far north as Damascus, as far east as India, and as far west across the Red Sea as Ethiopia and the continent beyond.

 

  • What do we actually know about King Solomon—I understand that the academic opinion varies quite a lot from the biblical account.

 

Again, we know more about the region, people, language, culture and ethnic history of the Israelites than anything, archaeologically-speaking, of the king himself. It would be such a help if something were unearthed from the City of David or the Temple Mount that could be linked to Solomon’s temple or directly to Solomon himself! There was an item—a small ivory pomegranate that was once thought to top the scepter of a priest of this time period, with an inscription indicating so… but this was later ruled to be a forgery, though the carved pomegranate did date to the correct (early to mid-900s BC) time period. I say more about this question in the Author’s Notes of Legend of Sheba.

 

  • The queen is a very minor character in the scope of the biblical narrative, but you assert that her famous visit to King Solomon is vitally important in the scope of Old Testament history. Why?

 

For two reasons. If the story of the United Monarchy (the kingdom of David and his son/successor, Solomon) is not true, then the bedrock of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) collapses into fiction, and the claim of Jews to the land of Israel with it. Perhaps the authors of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles knew that, because they took the opportunity to basically say, “Hey, this queen from the ends of the earth, that famous Queen of Sheba, came and brought tribute to our king, and blessed him and our god and said ‘All that I heard was true, and I never even heard the half of it!’” This is fascinating. It begs the question: what was it that was so great about this female sovereign—in a time when the world was ruled by men—and a pagan, no less… what was it about her that was so outstanding that her endorsement of Solomon, his riches, wisdom, and god, held so much weight as to be included in the Old Testament narrative? Who was this woman who matched wits with the wisest man in the world—whose throne was so secure that she could leave it and make the 1400 mile journey of half a year to visit this king… before making the long trek back? Well, this must be a woman worth knowing something about.

 

  • I understand you created a special bonus for your readers with Legend of Sheba. Can you tell us more about that?

 

 

Ismeni—a free eBook short story prequel to The Legend of Sheba—will be available August 26. This is the story of Sheba’s mother, and sheds some light on the man who would become the queen of Sheba’s right-hand councilor. It’s about 34 pages long, and also includes a preview of the Prologue and first chapter of The Legend of Sheba.

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Links to Download FREE:

 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/IsmeniPrelude

Simon & Schuster: http://bit.ly/LegendofShebaPrequel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On writing:

 

  • You recently won the 2014 Gold Medallion for fiction—what people may not know is this is the only award given each year by the ECPA for Christian fiction across all genres. And yet you’re known for your controversial points of view and pushing limits of the category. What is it about your books that you believe resonates so much with Christian readers?

 

I think it’s that I’m willing to go there and get gritty. To admit that halfway through the writing of Iscariot, I realized I was no longer writing his story… but my own. Havah is also my story. They all are. And we’re not that different, you and I. I like writing about these maligned characters because even though we may not want to, we can often identify with them far more readily than the good guys, who seem so untouchable. We all feel let down at some point by the way God fails to adhere to our agendas for Him. We all have moments when we think, “if you knew me—really knew me—you would not love me.” We all fail with the best of intentions, and we all want to be embraced exactly as we are. We are all as capable of darkness as we are of light—and often the darkness is far more tangible. The stuff in the Bible isn’t sterile—far from it. It’s gory, violent, sexual, and messy. But so is life. I want to be honest about fear and compromise as I am about hope, beauty and redemption.

 

  • You’ve also co-authored the Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker. Aside from the obvious, how does co-writing differ from writing solo?

 

It takes twice as much time. You have to spend a lot of time talking, planning, plotting, and going over what you’ve done. When you write solo, there is no need for consensus, and for making sure you are sharing the same vision of character, plot, and resolution. But writing solo is also scarier; you don’t have the safety net of a partner to catch your writing foibles, pick up the slack where you are not as strong, and to get you out of bed and into the chair each day. They both have their pros and cons.

 

  • You get approached by a lot of writers early in the process of trying to get published. What is your best advice for writers and for those hoping to pursue a career in writing?

 

Finish the work first. Far too many people write to me asking how to get an agent/editor/publishing deal and they haven’t even finished a novel or built up a body of work to sell. Finish the novel, and start another. And another, even after you approach agents or start to self-publish. Agents, in particular, want to know what else you have to offer and if you can produce on schedule. If you haven’t completed at least one sellable book, you are not ready to approach the industry. Finish the work. And please don’t send files to an author you don’t know personally to ask for his/her opinion of your writing. Many authors teach, edit or offer critiques as a business to support themselves. Sending them something out of the blue for their opinion presumptuously asks them to work for free.

 

 

On life:

 

  • It’s probably no surprise that you used to be a freelance writer. But you’ve also been an online gamer, a pageant queen—were first-runner up to Mrs. United States—a model and a leadership consultant to Fortune 500 Companies with the Gallup Organization. How have each of these seeming disparate experiences informed your experience as a best-selling author?

 

Online gaming, when I was doing it—before avatars and the time of EverQuest, even—was solely text-based. We’re talking about the early 90s, during the time of dial-up modems when online gaming boiled down to collaborative story-telling. I spent nine years writing about imaginary characters online. I don’t know how many words or pages that amounted to (hundreds and hundreds), but I assert often that everything I learned about characterization happened from role-playing in text and writing online—from slipping into the skin of characters I could only portray with words. The pageant thing, the modeling thing, gave me invaluable training in media. The year I was Mrs. Nebraska (1996) was when I started public speaking. Suddenly, I had a platform, and people assumed I had something to say. Well, I did, and that led to me going to work for Gallup. Working as a consultant, my primary job was as a speaker and teacher. This, too, has proved invaluable when it comes to speaking on writing and to the media. I’m very comfortable in front of an audience of 20 or 1000.

 

  • Where can readers meet you in person?

 

I have several events coming up—my schedule is posted and always being updated at toscalee.com.

 

  • What do you do when you’re not writing?

 

I spend time with my family, hang out with friends I neglected on deadline, travel, go out to eat, and clean out my closets.

 

  • What are one or two things that your readers don’t know about you?

 

I danced semi-professionally as a classical ballerina in my teens. I also used to be a concert pianist. I have the greatest fans in the world, am terrible at math, can’t work if my house is messy, and am a crack shot with a deer rifle.

 

  • What are you working on next?

 

I’m taking a break from biblical historicals. My next two books will be something different. And then I’ll delve back into the biblical world again.

 

Links:

 

Website: http://www.toscalee.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ToscaLee

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/427839.Tosca_Lee

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/toscalee/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/toscalee

 

Links to buy:

 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/LegendofSheba

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/RiseofaQueen

CBD: http://bit.ly/1oRPae6

 

Big thanks to Tosca Lee and her “asylum warden” Cindy for letting me read and review Sheba. And thank you to Simon & Schuster for the Advanced Reader’s Copy.

Iscariot & Tosca

735073_10151205714760905_1560215538_nI have been waiting, waiting for this book. Waiting with baited breath (well, I have brushed my teeth, so I hope it doesn’t smell like bait, but you get what I mean, right?!) Iscariot. The most reviled man in biblical history? That is how I’ve (and, I’m fairly certain, most anyone who has ever heard of Judas Iscariot) thought of him. How could he? Turn against the man he had followed, eaten with, sheltered with, seen miracles performed by, learned from? Why?

The amazing Tosca Lee has done an incomparable job attempting to answer these questions that have plagued us. From the first page, she brings us into the world of Judas Iscariot, stripping away our preconceptions, humanizing him. We follow along with Judas, feeling his pain, soaring alongside him in his joy, finally understanding the grief of being torn between following his head or his heart.

Until I read this beautifully written, intensely researched novel, I had managed to distance myself from Judas Iscariot, managed to always see myself as separate from him, and yes, better than him. No way, I thought, could I have turned Jesus over to His enemies. Yet, this breath-taking book has seeded in me an empathy I never thought to find and a question I certainly never imagined I’d ask – what would I have done?

Not-to-be-missed doesn’t quite sum up this book. Thank you, Tosca.

And now…an interview with the author herself 🙂

L: To begin, thank you so much for being so willing to answer questions from your madding crowd, who so appreciates you and all you do! So, please appease us – what drew you to Judas’ story?

Tosca: Editor friend Jeff Gerke (who published Demon and Havah) suggested it. And I ran in the other direction for about a year. What finally got me was the encouragement of friends–most notably Robert Liparulo–and the fact that I finally admitted I was obsessed with the story.tosca

L: Did you ever picture yourself writing his story?

Tosca: No.

L: What was the hardest part of the creation of Iscariot?

Tosca: The hardest part of the creation of Iscariot: The first hardest part was deciding to do it, because my initial reaction to Jeff Gerke was “NO WAY.” The second hardest was doing all the research. I had a lot to learn. It took a year and a half. It was ginormous. And then writing it. And then editing it. The entire project was a long labor.

L: Did you learn anything unexpected while writing it?

Tosca: I learned more unexpected things than I have room for here, from the context of the stories we know so well to nuances of the parables formerly lost on me. But the over-arching thing was the context of oppression under Rome. The fact that other would-be Messiahs had risen up in the past, only to be violently put down. You could not safely make a bid at Messiah-ship without risking life and limb, and the freedoms (including religious freedom) Israel already had under Rome. In Jesus’ case, it became far safer to silence him than to risk retaliation.

L: How have people in your church (assuming you have a home church. If not, we’ll say people of your faith) reacted to you penning this book?

Tosca: With wide-eyed looks, questions of “why?” and “Wow. That sounds fascinating.” Not everyone wants to see a humanized Judas. But for me, I found looking at Jesus through Judas’ eyes–and the eyes of the first Century Jewish Everyman–a way to understand Jesus far better. And the story is ultimately about Jesus.

L: In Matthew 26:50, Jesus tells Judas, “Do what you came for, friend.” What do you think of Jesus’ response to his near betrayal?

Tosca: That he knew it was coming. That perhaps, he even had compassion for Judas, knowing that a day would come when he had wished he had never been born.

L: How do you see yourself in Judas?

Tosca: This story is largely about love vs. the law and about the agendas we have for God. Things that I’ve gone round and round about most my life. Ultimately, though, this story is really about the inexplicable and uncontainable person of Jesus.

L: How did your opinion of Judas change after writing the novel?

Tosca: Through the writing of the novel, Judas went from being an intriguing infamous character to a lens on the first Century Jewish Everyman… to an Everyman I identified with closely. I was writing my story, ultimately–a story about the tension between love and grace, and our expectations of a God that cannot be controlled. And so the central question became for me: would I have done the same? And the answer
is I can’t say that, in the situation, I wouldn’t have.

L: How can you relate our experience as disciples to Judas’ experience?

Tosca: I think it was Barth who said that all the disciples failed, really. Judas’ was just the most spectacular failure. I don’t think we always understand or expect what God means for us or what God is doing at the time, and we forget that it’s usually something bigger than we could imagine.

L: What, if anything, do you want your readers to take away from Judas’ story?

Tosca: Of course I want them to ask the question if they would have done the same, but what I really want is for them to slip into the skin of someone close to Jesus and experience him, as I did.bacon

L: And finally, the most important question 😉 What’s your favorite way to eat bacon? (Straight up? In ice cream? Dipped in maple syrup? On a burger?…) It’s a pressing question that this inquiring (or just weird) mind wants to know. 🙂

Tosca: Lol, Laurin! Cooked in a light dusting of brown sugar or a little maple syrup! Mmmm. Nom nom.

L: Oh…my…goodness! That sounds heavenly! Must try…….. 😉 Thanks again and again and God bless!

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Okay, so this picture was actually taken last June when I went to a signing for Mortal. But I couldn’t make it to her signing last weekend, so this will have to do!