For the Love of Literature

For the Love of Literature

As a bibliophile, my passion for books coalesces with a love of writing, and writing book reviews allows me to share literature with the world.

Review
5 Stars
Waiting for God Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Waiting for God

Author: Xochitl Dixon

Genre: Non-Fiction, Devotional

Release Date: August 7, 2019

Inhale God’s Word. Exhale in prayer. Rest in God’s love.

If your heart is weary and longing for answers—for healing, for provision, for miracles—Waiting for God renews your hope with strong biblical truth and encouraging Scripture-based prayer.

Conquer your fears and frustrations as you inhale God’s Word, exhale in prayer, and rest in God’s love. Live a life of deeper connection and immediate communion with God that can lead to contentment in His constant presence, no matter what your days hold or how long God’s deliberate delays may last.

Xochitl Dixon writes each chapter with heart-touching transparency and vulnerability, as she shares her own story as well as the stories of others who are trusting God through waiting seasons with no apparent end in sight. As a woman who lives with chronic pain, Xochitl understands constant struggle yet chooses to put God on the throne of her life. 
 
 
Click HERE to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Xochitl (So-Cheel) E. Dixon has a heart for loving God and people. She’s passionate about intercessory prayer, nurturing spiritual growth, and the prayerful study and application of Scripture. Through her daily struggles with chronic pain, due to an upper back injury she endured in 1992, she writes with transparency, ministers to the hurting, and inspires hope through worshiping God in all circumstances.
 
She serves as a regular contributor to Our Daily Bread (www.odb.org), a ministry devoted to making “the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all.” Her devotional, Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace (Discovery House Publishers) is available for pre-order and releases August 7, 2019. She is a contributing author for the upcoming Our Daily Bread devotionals: What Really Matters (August 7, 2019), And He Walks with Me (October 2, 2019), and Moments of Peace for Moms (October 2, 2019).
 
Her devotions have also been included in All God’s Creatures (Guideposts, 2019), God Hears Her (Discovery House, 2017), Our Help (Discovery House, 2017), and This Far by Faith: Legacies of the Black Church (Discovery House, 2017). Her nonfiction has been published in My Amazing Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul, 2018), Second-Chance Dogs (Revell, 2018), LIVE Magazine (2019), and Church Health Reader (2019).
 
She followed God from California to Wisconsin and is enjoying Midwest adventures with her best friend and husband of over 25 years, Dr. W. Alan Dixon, Sr. She loves their sons, A.J. and Xavier, spoils her service dog, Callie, and likes serving as a speaker, traveling, photography, reading, singing, sketching, studying Scripture, and nurturing authentic relationships.
 
Xochitl connects with readers and shares encouragement devotions, prayer, and Scripture-based memes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on her blog at www.xedixon.com. You can also follow her Author Page on Amazon’s Author Central.
 

More from Xochitl 

 

"Never pray for patience."

 

My friend’s warning pricked at the back of my mind. Without realizing it, I began lacing my prayers with fear, doubt, and caution. I couldn’t risk being thrust into situations that would force me to develop patience, so I did everything in my power to avoid asking the Lord to help me be patient.

 

But even when I didn’t ask Him to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in me, I always seemed to end up in circumstances that stretched my faith as much as my patience.

 

When my agent challenged me to write the book I had to write, I pitched Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.

 

I thought I’d be sharing tips about how to persevere through trials and endure suffering with grace. But after I signed the contract and received a deadline for my manuscript, my husband received an unexpected job offer.

 

We followed the Lord from California to Wisconsin.

 

Writing became a challenge as I suffered a setback in my healing journey. I endured high levels of pain and fatigue. My husband and I struggled with frustration as we adjusted to life in the Midwest during one of the coldest winters in history.

 

And God changed my perspective on waiting for Him, which has nothing to do with patience.

 

I’ll be sharing my answers to the end-of-chapter questions on my blog (www.xedixon.com). I’m excited to invite you to join the adventure.

 

I look forward to growing with you as we wait for God, inhaling His Word, exhaling in prayer, and resting in His love as we trust daily in His plan and pace.

 

My Review

 

“Hurry up and wait!” With unknown origins but generally attributed to the American military, this phrase encapsulates contemporary culture. Always bustling, stampeding through life at a pace often well above the safe speed limit and bemoaning any red lights we encounter along the way. We want what we want, when we want it. Manifest destiny, right? The American Dream. Have it all, do it all, be it all—on our own timeline, of course. We are not usually patient people; I know I’m not. I try, but far too frequently I fall short and haste reigns. It’s the waiting that trips us up. It’s also the waiting that offers us peace and fortitude.

When I began reading Xochitl Dixon’s “Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace”, I knew that the timing was God-ordained. I just didn’t realize how much so. It dovetailed nicely with my previous read, “Obedience Over Hustle” by Malinda Fuller. Trust is something I’m really focusing on in my faith walk this year. Some days are better than others. This week has fallen into the “others” category. Sometimes the thing we wait for takes us by surprise and turns us upside down, even when we were expecting it. The day after I began “Waiting for God”, one of my very dearest friends and sisters in Christ went home to be with Jesus. We bonded over shared chronic illnesses, and in the short four-and-a-half years that we knew each other, we prayed expectantly for healing. The Lord worked in miraculous ways in her life, bringing her back from the valley of the shadow on multiple occasions. This last crisis was different, though, and in my heart I knew that the time had come for her to meet Jesus face-to-face.

As I slowly read through “Waiting for God”, my mind hazy with a mixture of grief and joy, the devotionals ministered to my heart. I have had my own seemingly long period of waiting, now over seven years into chronic illness life with a body that fails more each year, and waiting is not on my list of favorite pastimes. You know that a book is written through the power of the Holy Spirit when each Scripture cited speaks to you personally and you find yourself continuously highlighting quotations from the book itself. One of my favorites early on was: “When we focus on living for God, like Joseph, we can accept everything that occurs during the wait as an opportunity to grow closer to Him and others.” That’s what it’s all about! Learning to rely upon God completely, and to look beyond the superficial shell of our trials to see the pearls growing within.

Living with multiple chronic illnesses, some days it can be so difficult to see life from the lens of eternity, the way that God does. Our suffering seems to go on forever, and eternal life with the Lord seems so far away. We know that one day all of our suffering will end, yet that one day can seem terribly long in coming. This quotation from the book offers a new insight: “Living by faith one day at a time is of greater value than recounting the number of days we’ve been hurting or trying to figure out how much longer we’ll have to endure our trials.” Indeed, “He promises peace, even when we don’t experience relief from our suffering on this side of eternity.” Our part is to accept it! In order to do so, we must surrender to Him, which is a recurrent theme in “Waiting for God.”

With a devotional format, “Waiting for God” can be read straight through or on a daily basis. Each chapter opens with “Today’s Truth” and a Bible reading, which in the Kindle version is a hyperlink that conveniently takes you to the Scripture online. Each chapter ends with an Inhale, which is a relevant verse from Scripture, and an Exhale in the form of a prayer. There are also 3-4 discussion questions that are relative to what is currently going on in your life and can therefore be re-explored with each read-through. This is a book to be savored, and one that I would recommend for anyone at any point in their life’s journey. Personal stories drive home the point that we all need to be growing in our relationship with the Lord, regardless of what our waiting looks like and whether we are experiencing a mountaintop zenith or a valley nadir.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 2

April Hayman, Author, September 3

Genesis 5020, September 4

A Diva’s Heart, September 4

Through the Lens of Scripture, September 5

AndreaChristenson, September 6

Kelly Harrel, September 7

Mary Hake, September 7

For the Love of Literature, September 8

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 9

Just the Write Escape, September 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 11

Texas Book-aholic, September 12

A Reader’s Brain, September 13

janicesbookreviews, September 13

Inklings and notions, September 14

Cultivating Us, September 15

God is Love, September 15

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Xochitl is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of Waiting for God, and a copy of God Hears Her (Our Daily Bread 365-Day Devotional)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Surf Smugglers Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book: Surf Smugglers

Author: Melody Carlson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: August 15, 2019

In the summer of 1917, US troops join the allied forces in the Great War. Back in Sunset Cove, Oregon, other battles wage. Anna McDowell continues to fight old fashioned stereotypes as she runs a newspaper committed to truth. Despite opposition, she’s determined to expose ongoing rum-running and prohibition lawlessness.

Adding to Anna’s frustrations, her good friend Dr. Daniel seems to run hot and cold. He loves Oregon, and maybe Anna too, but he’s pulled by his East Coast family responsibilities. Even the lure of a new modern Sunset Cove hospital doesn’t seem enough to keep him in Sunset Cove.

Meanwhile, Anna’s strong-willed daughter Katy continues to develop her dress shop by inviting family friend Sarah Rose to help out. But the woman’s presence tests the small town’s tolerance. And Anna’s concern that her daughter is growing up too fast is confirmed when Katy’s romantic life takes an unexpected turn, which Anna fears is influenced by the pressure of a devastating war that is not only changing the entire world but Sunset Cove as well.

Click HERE to grab your copy.
 

About the Author

 

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.
 

More from Melody

 

My favorite way to learn history is through historical fiction—both by reading and by writing it. And I’ve discovered that World War 1 (previously known as the Great War, since WW2 had yet to happen) is quite fascinating. As well as incredibly sad. But I’m amazed at how science and technology evolved so quickly in this era. Whether it was advancement in automotive, communication, medicine . . . the culture was rapidly changing. And the war pushed it along at an even faster pace.
 
Another factor that makes this era interesting is prohibition. Oregon, my home state and where I set my series, was one of the earliest states to adopt prohibition of alcohol—in 1914. As a result, Oregon became ripe territory for bootlegging and rum-running along the coastline. And because my series involves a small town coastal newspaper that’s run (gasp!) by a woman, it gets even more interesting—and exciting!
 
Speaking of women, the suffrage movement was approved in Oregon in 1912—also well ahead of the rest of the nation (and the main reason that prohibition passed). My theory on why this happened is that the brave women who’d made the arduous journey West (via perilous wagon train or long hard voyages on clipper ships) were strong and opinionated and tough. And many of them were sick and tired of drunken slacker husbands. Also, thanks to Oregon’s amazing land donation act of 1850, many of these women were equal landowners to their husbands—and land equaled power.
 
Of course, what these suffragette-prohibition supporters didn’t realize is that banning alcohol would make matters worse because bootlegging and rum-running suddenly became a very lucrative business. The crime rate soared and the booze continued to flow freely. But all this makes for good newspaper stories, keeping our female editor in chief rather busy. In the first two books of the series, Anna McDowell has her hands full with trying to run her ailing father’s newspaper, restoring family relationships, and staying ahead of the growing crime element in Sunset Cove.
 
By book three, Surf Smugglers, Anna has her feet under her and doing a good job of standing up to the criminal element in their region. But by now the Great War is really heating up and the United States must get involved. Of course, this means that many young men, as well as Anna’s very good friend Dr. Daniel Hollister, are being shipped overseas to serve. Meanwhile, there is plenty of trouble at home. And the rum-runners, who despise the newspaper’s support of prohibition, target Anna’s good friend Sarah Rose because she’s a woman of color who’s sought refuge from the big city . . . and naturally things get dicey.
 
I’m currently finishing up the fourth and final book of the Legacy if Sunset Cove series, and I’m sad to think my ‘history lesson’ in this interesting era is drawing to an end. Not only have I learned a lot, I’ve really come to love the McDowell family . . . and I’m getting worried that not all the men from Sunset Cove will survive the brutal war. Of course, this is fiction . . . but the war was very real and the losses were great. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the war to end all wars like they’d hoped, but I appreciate the sentiment . . . and continue to pray for world peace.
 

My Review

 

Although this is likely not a series that I would necessarily gravitate toward on my own, I am glad that I have had the opportunity to read and review each of the three books thus far. Ordinarily, I prefer action and some mystery or suspense when reading fiction, and while there is arguably a bit of this in the Legacy of Sunset Cove series, the true foundation is built on relationships and people. In the first book, I admittedly had a somewhat difficult time connecting with and truly engaging with the characters. This improved in book two, and “Surf Smugglers” presents a blossoming and maturation of the central figures that is realistic and endearing.

If there is a single word that captures the spirit of “Surf Smugglers”, it is “change.” Melody Carlson draws credible parallels between the United States entering the war in 1917 and the battles that each character, as well as the town of Sunset Cove itself, likewise faces. There is a suspicion of continued rum-running, and with the war coming closer to home due to the draft, shortages of both employees and goods become more common. Even women’s fashion adapts, becoming more austere and less frilly. Developing a local Red Cross chapter and making other amendments to the town further highlight how war influences even more backwater locales.

Most compelling, however, is Carlson’s portrayal of the community. The people reflect the challenges and transformations of the time period, because “history did not change itself overnight.” In “Surf Smugglers”, I appreciated the inclusion of a colored woman as one of the important secondary characters, and the ensuing implications. Similarly, there is a theme of second chances and of not judging or forming an opinion too hastily. I know that I have struggled with this myself, and having it raised as an issue in the novel is a reminder of how we should model the redemption that our Savior has given us. One of the characters who matured the most is Katy. Her approach to life, “Take chances and make changes”, leads her to plenty of new experiences. The spiritual element in the narrative is light, and I think that this series would appeal to any readers who enjoy historical fiction, historical romance, and coming-of-age stories.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

The Avid Reader, August 31

Connect in Fiction, August 31

Among the Reads, September 1

She Lives To Read, September 1

Through the Fire Blogs, September 1

For Him and My Family, September 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 2

Just the Write Escape, September 3

Patiently Waiting, September 3

Blogging With Carol , September 3

CarpeDiem, September 4

Betti Mace, September 4

Christian Bookaholic , September 4

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 5

Wishful Endings, September 5

Remembrancy, September 5

Maureen’s Musings, September 6

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , September 6

Bigreadersite , September 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 7

It’s Story Time With Van Daniker, September 7

Connie’s history classroom , September 8

For the Love of Literature, September 8

Hallie Reads, September 8

Moments, September 9

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9

FOR THE LOVE of Books , September 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 10

Pause for Tales, September 10

To Everything A Season, September 10

Retrospective Spines, September 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 11

Texas Book-aholic, September 11

Older & Smarter?, September 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 12

janicesbookreviews, September 13

A Reader’s Brain, September 13

Inklings and notions , September 13

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize of three of her books: Harbor Secrets, Riptide Rumors, and Surf Smugglers!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Chronic Love by Brooke Bartz: Book Review and GIVEAWAY Link!
Chronic Love: Trusting God While Suffering with A Chronic Illness - Bartz,  Brooke

“Chronic Love” captured my attention because of its subtitle: “Trusting God While Suffering with a Chronic Illness”. For the past seven and a half years, since age 24, I have been battling chronic illness, and one diagnosis follows another in a domino effect as my body continues to fail me. It wasn’t until this year that I truly accepted that despite treatments, beaucoup medications, and natural remedies, my body was not going to get better in the physical sense. The goal is to have the best quality of life possible while acknowledging that I will always be disabled. Having “invisible” disabilities makes life more challenging because people assume you are well and don’t understand why you can’t do things or go places. On the other end of the spectrum are those who blame you for your illness and insist that you are sick because your faith is not strong enough or because God is angry with you. This year I have endeavored to stop waiting for my conditions to improve and really persist in glorifying God more than ever in spite of the pain and symptoms, so this book was a very timely read.

Brooke Bartz specifically addresses chronically ill women in “Chronic Love”, although the Scriptures and writing easily apply to everyone. Those of us with chronic illness are always hoping for a panacea, which the medical field just can’t provide. However, something that we often overlook is that if we belong to the Lord, we already have the cure! “If you are in Christ, you have the healing most people don’t. Living life on this earth healthy but without Christ proves the fatal disease.” Along with that, there are many other gems in this book. Each chapter employs the adjective “chronic” affixed to a Christian concept, upending the negative connotation of the word and demonstrating how Christ’s character and example show us how to live no matter the state of our physical condition. As Bartz reminds us, “[t]o have physical health but no salvation is the most fatal and terminal disease of all.” For those of us who are in Christ, we have the assurance that we will enter His kingdom whole and complete, and that one day He will give us resurrection bodies. Even a human lifetime of suffering cannot compare to a glorious, pain-free eternity with Christ!

Two of the main points that “Chronic Love” makes are that suffering makes us like Christ and also increases our dependence on God. Something that struck me while reading was that when we bemoan our condition we are actually hurting God because we are going against His will for us; we know that He uses all things for our good and for His glory if we are His children (Romans 8:28). Like Job, we may never know why we have chronic illnesses, but we can trust that our Savior knows and that He helps us to endure. He may choose to bring us healing, or He may not, and either way, we need to trust Him and rely on Him alone.

This is a book that is suitable for either personal or group study. At the end of each chapter are detail and main idea questions about the chapter’s contents as well as a prayer. “Chronic Love” overflows with Scripture verses and an abundance of encouragement and affirmation for women in all stages of illness. While this is written in a conversational language that is easy to read, it took me several days to finish it because I found myself wanting to savor and ponder the Bible verses and the author’s perspective. My only complaint is that the author tends to state the same phrase of a Bible verse followed immediately by the Bible verse itself in the same terms, which becomes very repetitious, instead of paraphrasing first. If you or a loved one suffer from chronic illness or are a caregiver for someone who does, “Chronic Love” will minister to your heart and soul and give you strength for the journey.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through JustRead Publicity Tours and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Purchase your copy HERE.

 

Chronic Love is on tour with Just Read Publicity Tours from September 3-7, 2019. Visit the LAUNCH PAGE to see the full list of stops!

 

GIVEAWAY!

 

 

One winner will receive a print copy of Chronic Love, a Chronic Love T-shirt, a Chronic Love coffee mug, a copy of Trusting God Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges and the workbook Trusting God Even When Life Hurts

 

 

 

Giveaway begins at midnight on September 3, 2019 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on September 10, 2019. Winners will be notified within two weeks of the close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of the prize. Due to shipping cost, only US mailing addresses are valid. For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

Review
4 Stars
Over the Hills and Far Away: Book Review of Janalyn Voigt's "Hills of Nevermore"
Hills of Nevermore (Montana Gold #1) - Janalyn Voigt

Opening with a wagon train journey, Janalyn Voigt’s “Hills of Nevermore” offers plenty of action along with romance and faith. I have always loved tales set in the nineteenth century, but I have not read many from the Western genre, a dearth that I am trying to remedy. The tropes that I have seen thus far are fairly universal, focusing on the well-known “Wild West” moniker and the telltale lawlessness of the western territories. This provides a prime opportunity for Christian fiction set during this time period. Indeed, as a Christian historical romance, this first book in the Montana Gold series follows a familiar formula while simultaneously infusing fresh elements.

In the vein of such authors as Miralee Ferrell and Janette Oke, Janalyn Voigt crafts a compelling novel that challenges not only her characters but also her readers. One issue “Hills of Nevermore” raises is the conflict between the settlers and the Indians (Native Americans). I would have enjoyed seeing this explored further, particularly after the opening scene, but I appreciated that it was brought up, and America’s experience with it. While the vulnerability of women is not a new topic, Voigt approaches it in a distinctive manner through America and Addie, two young widows now traveling together. Addie’s situation is interesting for 1863 because she does not want to forfeit her independence and wants to buy her own business accommodations with wages she has earned herself. The plight of women, particularly single women in the mining towns, speaks to the immorality and the Sodom and Gomorrah existence characteristic of so many of the early Western settlements. This sets the stage for the Gospel message, and this is the best part of Voigt’s novel.

“The greater the sin, the more love is needed to cover it, and God is love.” This beautiful Biblical truth encapsulates the message of “Hills of Nevermore”. Each of the characters struggles with letting go of the past and moving forward, striving to overcome traumas, loss, and shame. Especially through Shane, the circuit riding preacher, sharing one’s faith is a prominent theme. The difficulty of doing so in a very hostile environment seems insurmountable until the bishop tells Shane that “No one can do the Almighty’s work for Him. All God expects you to do is speak for Him when you should, bend your knees as often as possible, and move out of the way when necessary.” Such sage advice remains pertinent today, reminding us that only God Himself saves people; we are called to obey and plant the seed of God’s Word in people’s hearts.

A sweet yet action-filled story, I would recommend “Hills of Nevermore” to readers who enjoy Christian fiction, historical romance, and Westerns. There are discussion questions at the end for further study. I did have a few criticisms. The shifting viewpoint between several of the characters was disconcerting at times, particularly between America and Addie. Also, I valued the connection between the title and America’s Gramma and wish that it had been directly linked to heaven in America’s mind instead of inferred. As a character, America fell a bit flat for me. Did she truly grow spiritually throughout the novel? I had hoped for more in this regard and felt disappointed in her character overall. Nevertheless, I did enjoy this story and plan to read the sequel.

 

Purchase Link: Hills of Nevermore

 

Review
5 Stars
Trust and Obey
Obedience Over Hustle: The Surrender of the Striving Heart - Malinda Fuller

Back in first grade, we had to design a T-shirt about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wanted to be a writer. That dream got sidetracked for a few years during and after high school, and although I thought I was working toward my career goals, God had other plans. Less than a year after graduating from college I started having health issues, and before long I became chronically ill with a laundry list of conditions that grows with each passing year. I kept stubbornly waiting for healing, and it wasn’t really until this year that I accepted that I am likely not going to get better, although of course nothing is impossible with God! In the meantime, I had started writing book reviews, as I have always been an avid reader, and several doors opened. I don’t get paid, but I do get free books, which is a bibliophile’s dream! As I commit to reviewing more and more books, of which the vast majority are specifically Christian, I realize that out of pain and loss God has brought me back to the dream that He planted in my heart as a young child, allowing me to glorify Him through reading and writing. I do not have a big following on social media, but I do have the contentment of knowing that I am doing what the Lord created me to do, and that I am hopefully planting seeds that He will water and grow.

This encapsulates much of the message of Malinda Fuller’s “Obedience Over Hustle” and is partly why this book resonated with me so strongly. The book is divided into two segments: “Confronting the Hustle” and “Choosing Obedience.” As Fuller points out, our culture builds itself around doing more, being more, beating out the competition and being at the top. While I’ve never been very competitive, I am a perfectionist, so I am always striving. Being chronically ill has added another layer to this, as there are many things that I can no longer do, so I push myself harder in those things that I can do. Reading this book, I realized that this is hustling, and that while society promotes it, God doesn’t. “Hustling is chasing after a goal at any cost. It’s the pushing that comes from a heart focused on what others have and what others are doing, rather than choosing contentment and listening for the voice of God.” That’s the crux of the issue: hustling is about what “I” can do, rather than about working with God and relying on Him.

On the other side of the coin is obedience. In order to be obedient, we have to acknowledge that God is in control, and often it isn’t easy to hand over the reins to our lives. We want things to happen in our way and according to our schedule, but submitting to God “means that we surrender not only to His plan but also to His timeline”. We have to acknowledge that His ways are always best and that He is sovereign. If we are walking with Him, we can expect Him to ask us to do things that are outside of our comfort zone and that seem to fly in the face of reason. Think of Joseph, Noah, and Moses, and so many others from the Bible. Obedience is “living with the knowledge that His opinion is the only one that matters and that seeking Him first is a command worth following.” What He calls us to do won’t be in accordance with popular opinion and what the world tells us, but what blessings flow forth when we obey!

“Obedience Over Hustle” has an interactive framework. Most chapters open with an account of a Biblical character demonstrating either hustling or obedience, with contemporary examples of obedient women throughout the chapters. At the end of both segments, divided into and corresponding to the chapters, are questions to discuss, journal about, or ponder, as well as Scripture verses to look up. This is therefore ideal for both group and individual study, and while it is geared toward women, I think that it would be appropriate for men as well. We all need to learn how to slow down and obey God more fully!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
The Yellow Lantern Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Yellow Lantern

Author: Angie Dicken

Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense

Release Date: August, 2019

Josephine Is Forced to Spy for Grave Robbers
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

In Massachusetts in 1824, Josephine Clayton awakes on the table of the doctor she’s assisted all these months. She was presumed dead by all and has become the doctor’s next corpse for his medical research. Frightened, the doctor tries to kill her, but Josephine begs to be spared. A deal is struck—Josie will leave her village and work at a distant cotton mill. All the while, she’ll await her true mission—posing as a mourner to help his body snatcher procure her replacement. At the mill though, Josie is praised for her medical remedies among the mill girls, gaining attention from the handsome factory manager Braham Taylor. Yet, when Braham’s own loved one becomes the prey for the next grave robbing, Josie must make a choice that could put her dark past behind her or steal away the promise of any future at all.
 
What price will Josie pay for love when her secrets begin to unravel?


Click HERE to grab your copy.

About the Author

 


Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in England. Now living in the U.S. heartland, she’s a member of ACFW, sharing about author life with her fellow Alley Cats on The Writer’s Alley blog and Facebook page. Besides writing, she is a busy mom of four and works in Adult Ministry. Angie enjoys eclectic new restaurants, authentic conversation with friends, and date nights with her Texas Aggie husband. Connect with her online at www.angiedicken.com.

More from Angie

 

Barbour’s True Colors Crime concept intrigued me from the very beginning. Being the daughter of a doctor and discovering the ties of grave robbing to the early medical profession, I was excited to dive deep into 19th century Massachusetts. Grave robbing around Boston and New York was often employed by doctors desperate for medical advancement. Men and women were both involved in the procuring of bodies for doctors. Finding these accounts led me to take took a look at the current medical remedies of the time—tinctures, elixirs, and herbal concoctions. My heroine was created in the tension of a desire to heal and the desperation of medical pursuits.
 
Amidst these medical ties to the historical moment of 1824, something was also shifting among women in rural areas of New England. Many women were employed by newly built cotton mills (Lowell Mill was my inspiration for the fictional Gloughton Mill in The Yellow Lantern). These working opportunities for women offered an escape from their home-bound lives and the rare chance for independence. Of course, with such industrial environments, injuries, and sometimes death, would occur. Noting the accounts of these kind of fatalities in historical articles, my research came full circle.
 
I found three strong threads to weave into my grave-robbing story—desperate doctors in need of research, a doctor’s assistant needing an escape from her village, and a mill, not only offering that escape, but the chance at bodies for the desperate medical community.
 
My heroine, Josie Clay, found life in the tangle of these threads of mills, medicine, and grave robbing—all playing out within the pages of The Yellow Lantern.
 

My Review

 

When Barbour introduced the True Colors series, I was immediately intrigued. True crime is an interesting genre, and one that I have both read about and watched documentaries about over the years. Having a basis of factual information, this subject tends toward more neutral ground with regard to narrative voice and presentation, and part of what makes True Colors so unique is the Christian aspect. The characters and precise situations are fictional, but the crimes themselves actually happened, and the merging of sordid history and Christian perspective offers a different angle and a novel approach. This has become my favorite Barbour series, with Daughters of the Mayflower a close second.

“Heaven stank of tallow and shone a honey glow.” From that inimitable first line, Angie Dicken’s “The Yellow Lantern” shoots out of the gate and doesn’t relent until the final page. There is no easing into the plot; rather, readers find themselves thrust headlong into a nightmare situation straight from the nineteenth century. Being buried alive was a legitimate concern in the years before modern technology and an increasing understanding of the human body, and in this age of nascent medical knowledge, doctors needed fresh bodies to advance their studies—bodies supplied to them by aptly-named body snatchers. In 1824 Massachusetts, Josephine Clayton unwittingly finds herself a part of this practice after being quite literally taken for dead and buried and ending up on the table of her employer, Dr. Chadwick. In order to save her own life, she must agree to go to work at a factory mill and pose as a mourner to signal a body snatcher to obtain her replacement. However, her circumstances become more convoluted as she finds herself drawn more deeply into a web of deception.

“The Yellow Lantern” sets forth a plausible scenario in which Christian, good-hearted people may become ensnared in conspiracies and duplicitous dealings. Josie experiences remorse and a stinging conscience as events escalate: “No matter if she played the part of a mill girl, she could not ignore the tangled thread of deceit that wrapped around her soul as tightly as the cotton on the bobbins”. Her proficiency as an herbal healer conflicts with the job she is to perform, as does a budding romance. The description of the cotton mill, with motes and dust thick in the air and obscuring the windows, is eye-opening, as is the lack of recourse for those without positions of authority and prestige in society. Not knowing whom to trust adds to the suspense, creating a sinister, murky atmosphere and making this a very difficult book to put down. Fans of true crime, factory life, nineteenth century customs, and romance will not want to miss out on this illuminating book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.


Blog Stops

 

Genesis 5020, August 15

Seasons of Opportunities, August 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, August 15

Bigreadersite, August 16

Emily Yager, August 16

Inspired by fiction, August 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, August 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 17

Daysong Reflections, August 17

Retrospective Spines, August 18

Spoken from the Heart, August 18

Kathleen Denly, August 19

Through the Fire Blogs, August 19

Christian Bookaholic, August 19

Maureen’s Musings, August 20

For the Love of Literature, August 20

Simple Harvest Reads, August 21 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Godly Book Reviews, August 21

A Reader’s Brain, August 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 22

Betti Mace, August 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 22

Hallie Reads, August 23

Mary Hake, August 23

Inklings and notions, August 23

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 24

For Him and My Family, August 24

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, August 24

Connie’s History Classroom, August 25

Pause for Tales, August 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 26

amandainpa, August 26

Blossoms and Blessings, August 27

Texas Book-aholic, August 27

janicesbookreviews, August 27

Back Porch Reads, August 28

Just the Write Escape, August 28

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of each of the books in the series!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Daughters of Northern Shores Book Review
 

About the Book


Book: Daughters of Northern Shores

Author: Joanne Bischof

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.

Having fled the Norgaard orchard after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade, where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s—which is already imperiled due to a grave illness brought to him at the first prick of warfare.

Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.


Click HERE to grab your copy!
 

About the Author

 

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at JoanneBischof.com; Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof; Instagram: @JoanneBischof.
 

More from Joanne

 

One of the questions I receive most often is “How do you get it all done?” As a single, homeschooling mom, I’ve long-since learned that there would be easier ways to have a day job than being an author, but God has been gracious in providing abundantly in so many areas. Here are four that I am most thankful for as I look back over the last few years, including this season of writing Sons of Blackbird Mountain and Daughters of Northern Shores.  
 
Togetherness
 
Now, most authors would agree that “togetherness” isn’t exactly conducive to quality writing time – especially when kids are involved! And while I do need quiet focus to be able to work through a scene or chapter, what I’ve been thankful for is the chance to share story and research discoveries with my children. It’s created more unity around the stories. Instead of needing to usher the kids away, isolating them from the novels I’m writing, I’m able to invite them into them. For the Blackbird Mountain series, I walked them through the Pinterest boards, showing them the different characters. Then we did a history unit on Vikings since that’s the Norgaard Family’s background. We had a blast and it helped make “the story that Mom was working on”, something that they were more aware of and interested in. For my current work-in-progress, we just recently finished an all new history unit including visits to a few local museums and stories that the kids wrote on their own!  
 
Patience
 
I used to want to write, write, write all the time. And often, that’s what I did! Well, I still would love to write as often as I can, but God has been teaching me something oh-so-important: patience. As part of this, I set aside certain parts of the week for writing office hours. These slots of writing time typically occur on Tuesday evenings, and include a few additional 1 ½ hours slots during the week, once homeschooling is done. In this manner, I am able to carve out some quiet writing time while still making sure the kids are having a great and productive day. But for any writer or working mom, we can agree . . . that’s not a lot of time when added up! In God’s wonderful provision, though, He seems to extend much richness to those little snatches of time. They might not be many, but they are mighty! It’s been a prayer of mine for several years now, that by keeping my writing below these other priorities, that God would help me fill in the cracks of time and energy—and He has been so faithful to supply. I still have my moments when I feel frazzled,  especially when deadlines are near, and that’s why I am thankful for this next lesson that God has been teaching me . . .  
 
Communication
 
The thing about living with a writer, is that you often find them staring at a computer screen. That doesn’t look all that productive, does it? But what we’re doing on the other side of that screen is weaving a story-world of plot, characters, purpose, and heart. Typing words onto the page that we hope will touch lives, digging through old articles for research, or jotting down messy plotting notes that we pray will somehow amount to a story one day. By communicating with my kids (like sharing with them about the story and characters) I’m able to help them see what I’m doing and why. And since kids can be rambunctious and full of life (and questions, and needs for snacking, and ideas, and messes . . . *wink*) and since this writer works well with quiet, I have a little chalkboard that I hang on my doorknob when it’s one of my “office hour” slots. I jot down my start time and end time for that 1 ½ hour block, add a heart or smiley face, and often make note of what our next task will be like preparing a meal or doing an activity together. Then I shut my door and the little sign dangling from the knob outside helps the kids remember what I’m up to. It reminds them that I won’t be tucked away for long, but that I do need to focus for a little while. They’re always allowed to come knocking if a need arises, but for the most part, they’re happy on these afternoons with their own projects. When the hour or so is up, we reconvene and go back about our day, usually slipping into something fun that we do together. By having these slots of time in the week, and by communicating carefully with them in a way they can understand, it helps to bring us all what we need.
 
Grace
 
There are days when I blow it, and days when I need a lot of grace. Maybe I’ve spilled iced tea on one of the research books (don’t worry, this is a hypothetical example) or maybe I didn’t save a scene properly, or just feel stuck and exhausted with a plot thread. These days can certainly tamper with the harmony, which begins with my heart and the need to remember the reason for why I write these stories: for God’s glory. When I begin to lose my calm, or grow frustrated or weary with the challenges afoot, I know it’s time to circle back to what it’s all for. It’s for the readers, it’s for my children, it’s for my joy, and most of all, it’s for God’s glory. By me being harried or stressed, very little of this is being accomplished! God has used the writing process to speak to my heart in ways that have reminded me of what I can surrender, and more and more of the ways that I can look to HIM for guidance. The lessons aren’t always easy, but through each season, and through each book, I have come to see more and more all the ways to be thankful.
 

My Review

 

As excited as I was to read “Daughters of Northern Shores”, I had truly hoped to read its predecessor, “Sons of Blackbird Mountain”, first. However, review time came and I just hadn’t had a chance, so with some skepticism over whether I would be able to fully understand this sequel, I began reading. It turns out that I need not have worried. While the first book doubtless provides background on the characters and the plot, much of this is skillfully rehashed as “Daughters of Northern Shores” unfolds, and I had no trouble at all following along. In fact, I was utterly embroiled in the story from the prologue, and this has easily become one of my favorite books of the year.

With “Daughters of Northern Shores”, Joanne Bischof forges a tale as bold as the Viking ancestors of the Norgaard men. A family saga, this story originates deep within the heart of the rugged hills of both rural Appalachia and Norway, and it comes full circle as families are reunited. This is not a suspense novel, yet I was glued to the pages and could not turn them quickly enough. No incident is insignificant, and I enjoyed making note of little seeds of details that later blossomed into fruit. At its bare bones, this is a simple story, but Bischof has a way of crafting each element into a poignant tapestry, placing the reader alongside the characters, first at sea with Haakon and then on Blackbird Mountain. Haakon Norgaard, the youngest brother, is a prodigal whose poor life choices and immorality shipwrecked his own life as well as that of Thor’s wife Aven in book one. Here we witness Haakon’s watershed experience, which throws into question not only his own loyalties but that of others on the Mountain.

Family being a leading theme, the connections between them offer a cross-section of life thirty years after the end of the Civil War. Race relations contributed to the ongoing feud with the men of the neighboring clan, and the acceptance demonstrated by the Norgaards is uplifting. Their circle includes wives from European countries, former slaves who are friends and companions, and even a former Klansman. Thor and Aven Norgaard are among the major characters whose stories play out in these pages, and Thor’s deafness adds a further dimension to the narrative. I enjoyed how Bischof incorporated American Sign Language into the text, and how she offers Thor’s perspective and its impact on his personality and actions. Challenges abound, all while driving home the point that there are “[s]o many courageous hearts that had forged out families, carved together a living, and built a home where the spirit and heart were at peace.” Faith gently but firmly permeates the novel, shedding light on such relevant issues as addiction, vengeance, and forgiveness. Redemption is available for those who seek it, but it does not erase the consequences of past actions, the reverberations of which form the foundation of this novel. With its life lessons and sometimes heartrending prose, “Daughters of Northern Shores” is a book that I highly recommend, and the thoughtful discussion questions included make for excellent conversation starters about topics that continue to impact society.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own


Blog Stops

 

Retrospective Spines, August 6

Just the Write Escape, August 6

KarenSueHadley , August 7

Batya’s Bits, August 7

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 8

By The Book, August 8

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 9

Adventures of a travelers wife, August 9

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, August 10

Betti Mace, August 10

Connie’s History Classroom, August 11

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, August 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 12

Moments, August 12

Simple Harvest Reads, August 13

Connect in Fiction , August 13

For the Love of Literature, August 13

Aryn the Libraryan, August 14

Through the Fire Blogs, August 14

Bigreadersite , August 15

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, August 15

Daysong Reflections, August 16

Living Life Free In christ, August 16

A Reader’s Brain, August 17

Texas Book-aholic, August 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 17

Inklings and notions , August 18

janicesbookreviews, August 18

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 19

LifeofLiterature, August 19

As He Leads is Joy, August 19

Review
5 Stars
A Lamp Unto My Feet
The Yellow Lantern - Dicken,  Angie

When Barbour introduced the True Colors series, I was immediately intrigued. True crime is an interesting genre, and one that I have both read about and watched documentaries about over the years. Having a basis of factual information, this subject tends toward more neutral ground with regard to narrative voice and presentation, and part of what makes True Colors so unique is the Christian aspect. The characters and precise situations are fictional, but the crimes themselves actually happened, and the merging of sordid history and Christian perspective offers a different angle and a novel approach. This has become my favorite Barbour series, with Daughters of the Mayflower a close second.

“Heaven stank of tallow and shone a honey glow.” From that inimitable first line, Angie Dicken’s “The Yellow Lantern” shoots out of the gate and doesn’t relent until the final page. There is no easing into the plot; rather, readers find themselves thrust headlong into a nightmare situation straight from the nineteenth century. Being buried alive was a legitimate concern in the years before modern technology and an increasing understanding of the human body, and in this age of nascent medical knowledge, doctors needed fresh bodies to advance their studies—bodies supplied to them by aptly-named body snatchers. In 1824 Massachusetts, Josephine Clayton unwittingly finds herself a part of this practice after being quite literally taken for dead and buried and ending up on the table of her employer, Dr. Chadwick. In order to save her own life, she must agree to go to work at a factory mill and pose as a mourner to signal a body snatcher to obtain her replacement. However, her circumstances become more convoluted as she finds herself drawn more deeply into a web of deception.

“The Yellow Lantern” sets forth a plausible scenario in which Christian, good-hearted people may become ensnared in conspiracies and duplicitous dealings. Josie experiences remorse and a stinging conscience as events escalate: “No matter if she played the part of a mill girl, she could not ignore the tangled thread of deceit that wrapped around her soul as tightly as the cotton on the bobbins”. Her proficiency as an herbal healer conflicts with the job she is to perform, as does a budding romance. The description of the cotton mill, with motes and dust thick in the air and obscuring the windows, is eye-opening, as is the lack of recourse for those without positions of authority and prestige in society. Not knowing whom to trust adds to the suspense, creating a sinister, murky atmosphere and making this a very difficult book to put down. Fans of true crime, factory life, nineteenth century customs, and romance will not want to miss out on this illuminating book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
Lessons of Love and Healing
The HealingJar - Wanda E Brunstetter

A conclusion to The Prayer Jars trilogy, Wanda Brunstetter’s “The Healing Jar” neatly weaves together the characters and outcomes of the first two books while continuing and ultimately ending the saga. As such, it is best to read this series in order for a full understanding of the background and a richer reading experience. This is a good series for those who may be new to the Amish fiction genre because the Pennsylvania Dutch words are defined and described in context, but in such a way that it does not detract from the story. Amish customs are also explored. For instance, this book describes Amish funeral practices. Another interesting aspect of The Prayer Jars series is how it examines the relationships between Amish and English people who are from the same family and how they interact with one another.

Of the three books, this one was my favorite. Marketed as a romance, family drama also plays a leading role in “The Healing Jar.” This book is the most action-packed and emotional one in the series. Lenore Lapp is the main character, but Sara and Michelle also figure prominently. Brunstetter does a nice job of following each young woman’s life as the tale unfolds, intertwining them without disrupting the flow of the novel. The topic of marriage is a main focal point, and I appreciated that challenges and conflict are addressed rather than painting a rose-colored picture and leaving it at “happily ever after” because this made the story more true-to-life. This book has several surprises, and the suspense of how things would turn out continues to the last page. All three storylines conclude, and although I will miss the characters, I am glad that mysteries have been solved and secrets revealed. Following the story is a recipe for Philly pie and a set of discussion questions which are suitable for groups or individuals.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
Fragments of Fear Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 

Book: Fragments of Fear

Author: Carrie Stuart Parks

Genre: Suspense

Release date: July 23, 2019

From award-winning author Carrie Stuart Parks comes a new novel with danger that reaches from a New Mexico Anasazi archaeological dig to micro- and nano-chip technology.

Evelyn Yvonne McTavish-Tavish to her friends-had her almost perfect world in Albuquerque, New Mexico, come to a crashing end with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she’s given the news that her dog is about to be destroyed at the dog pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. The shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine-with her name and address-makes it hers.
 
Tavish recognizes the dog as one owned by an archaeologist named Pat Caron because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them months earlier. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner, but she arrives only to discover Caron’s murdered body.
 
After meeting undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price the mystery deepens as more people start disappearing and Tavish becomes a target as well. Her only solution is to find the links between microchip technology, an Anasazi site in the desert, her fiancé’s death, a late-night radio show, and the dog. And the clock is ticking.

Click HERE to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author

 

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol Award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.
 

More from Carrie

 

Using Art to Solve Crime: Techniques Used by Forensic Artists  
 
Since 1981, I’ve been a forensic artist—an amazing feat since I’m only . . .um. . . well, younger than that. In those years, I’ve seen some shifts and trends, but some things have never changed. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of computers in almost every other field, they have never been able to replace a trained forensic artist. Artists have an amazing toolbox of techniques we use to gather the information we need to help solve crime.

  1. The pencil. Any forensic artist worth her weight in graphite knows the power of the lowly pencil and a sketchpad. Law enforcement would love a photographic image of the suspect, but all we have to work with is memory…and memory is faulty. The more the image looks perfect, the more imperfect it is for helping to identify a suspect. We want the drawing to just suggest a likeness and eliminate those not similar.
  2. Now that we brought up the subject of memory, a forensic artist needs to understand how memory works. The average witness will remember between four and five facial features. When they describe the person they saw, they will do so from their strongest memory to their weakest memory, from most important to least important. We listen carefully to the order of facial features.
  3. Whole vs Parts. We don’t look at faces as individual parts, although a particularly outstanding nose or Marty Feldman eyes might catch our attention. We will remember the face as a whole, with the proportions of the face an unacknowledged part of that. Forensic artist prefer to use reference photographs where the whole face is viewed.
 
Want more? Check out the rest of my article at THE STRAND MAGAZINE
 

My Review

 

Despite having gravitated away from them for a while now due to other reading commitments, thrillers remain among my favorite genres. Finding ones that are clean (and Christian), however, can be a challenging task, so when given the opportunity to read and review “Fragments of Fear”, I jumped at the chance. The cover certainly seemed perfect for summer, with a desert landscape in smoldering shades of orange and yellow and a woman in the foreground running and looking over her shoulder. Fittingly, we were experiencing a heat wave when I began reading it.

With “Fragments of Fear”, Carrie Stuart Parks creates a twisty mystery with some unique characters. Evelyn McTavish, who goes by Tavish, is not your typical heroine. Wealthy? Yes. Glamorous? Not so much. Since her beloved grandmother’s death, Tavish seems to have lost herself, and this feeling is only compounded by her fiancé’s suicide. She doesn’t share her grandmother’s faith, instead dabbling in a mixture of New Age customs, and yet Proverbs 3:5 seems to speak to her from her grandmother’s epitaph. When she gets a call from an animal shelter to come and pick up her dog, which is microchipped with her information even though she has never owned a dog, she is thrust headlong into a situation that becomes more convoluted and perilous by the minute.  

Parks leads readers down a series of trails, some of which turn out to be dead ends, keeping the plot moving forward at a constant pace and making this a difficult book to put down. No one is trustworthy, and the possibilities of what is transpiring and whether events are connected or not feed the uncertainty. The inclusion of the archaeology and especially the art elements enhances and adds dimension to the narrative. An aspect that I found particularly interesting was the fine art concept of negative space and how it can be applied to circumstances in daily life. Although I thought that the faith and spiritual components of this novel could have been more fully developed, Tavish’s religious journey was still nice to witness. This is a book that will appeal to both Christian and secular readers, with its combination of mystery, intrigue, light romance, and finding who you were meant to be.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 23

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 23

Blogging With Carol, July 23

A Reader’s Brain, July 23

A Baker’s Perspective, July 24

The Avid Reader, July 24

CarpeDiem, July 24

Fiction Aficionado, July 25

Christian Bookaholic, July 25

Godly Book Reviews, July 25

Through the Fire Blogs, July 26

Livin’ Lit, July 26

The Becca Files, July 26

Inklings and notions , July 26

Real World Bible Study, July 27

Cathe Swanson, July 27

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 27

For Him and My Family, July 28

Lights in a Dark World, July 28

Retrospective Spines, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 29

Simple Harvest Reads, July 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, July 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Acdemy, July 30

Blossoms and Blessings, July 30

EmpowerMoms, July 30

Aryn The Libraryan, July 31

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, July 31

For the Love of Literature, July 31

Inspired by fiction, August 1

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 1

By The Book, August 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 2

Remembrancy, August 2

amandainpa, August 2

Pause for Tales, August 3

For the Love of Books, August 3

Just Your Average reviews, August 3

Hallie Reads, August 4

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, August 4

Daysong Reflections, August 4

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, August 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 5

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

janicesbookreviews, August 5

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Carrie is giving away a grand prize of her book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Growing with Grace Through Faith: A Book Review of "Grace The Early Years"

 

 

About the Book

 

Format: Audio Book CD

 

Stories Written By: Cindy Smith

 

Produced and Created By: Lisa L. Bennett

 

Copyright 2017 Victory Television Network

 

Purchase at http://gracethefilm.com/

 

 

Book Description

 

"Grace the Early Years" audio book CD introduces you to "Grace", the main character of our faith-based western film series. Nancy Stafford ("Matlock", Hallmark favorites "Christmas for a Dollar" and "Christmas With a Capital C", recently released "Heaven Bound", http://nancystafford.com/) will star in the film playing the character of Grace and narrates the birth of her character on this CD in Chapter 1 "The Beginning". In addition, we have the amazingly talented Kathy Garver ("Family Affair", "Princess Diaries 2", "The Ten Commandments", http://www.kathygarver.com/), Tony Senzamici ("NCIS: New Orleans", "Treme", "Dry Creek", http://www.tonysenzamici.com/), Tanya Christiansen ("Dry Creek", "Wild Bill Hickok: Swift Justice", HSN, http://www.imdb.me/tanyachristiansen/), Jim Damron ("Forrest Gump", PBS, http://www.jimdamron.net/) and introducing James Woody (http://jamesrwoody.com/) narrating the character of our Cowboy Guide.

Proceeds help missions in the coal mining town of War, WV and to fund the Grace film series. 

 

About the Grace Project

 

"Grace" is a faith-based western film series set in the 1800's currently in development by VictoryNOW Films & TV. It's starring and being directed by Nancy Stafford ("Matlock", Hallmark favorites "Christmas for A Dollar", "Christmas With A Capital C", recently released "Heaven Bound"). The project is also starring Kathy Garver ("Family Affair", "Princess Diaries 2", Voice of Firestar in Spiderman and His Amazing Friends", "The 10 Commandments"), Jim Damron ("Forrest Gump", "Nashville"), Tony Senzamici ("NCIS: New Orleans", "Treme"), Tanya Christiansen ("Dry Creek", Co-host Home Shopping Network), Johnny Ray Gibbs and Ashley Rain. The story is created by its Executive Producer Lisa L. Bennett and being made possible through tax-deductible donations.

 

  

"Grace" originated from a story told to Lisa by her beloved grandmother, a missionary, and part of the film's proceeds will be used to help in the town of War, West Virginia, where Lisa's parents are missionaries. War is a coal mining town of approximately 900 people. It's located in McDowell County which has the highest suicide rate in the country from drug overdoses. When the coal mines began shutting down, the lack of jobs took a toll on families . Our goal is to help through furthering education so many can learn a new skill set, if desired, so they don't have to depend on the coal industry or government to provide for their families. 

With Grace being a film series, we have plans to shoot more than one Grace film. It's an opportunity for us to produce content to provide hope, encouragement and inspiration to touch people's hearts which is very important, especially in this current time.

Filming will take place in Villa Rica, Bremen, and Rockmart, Georgia.

 

"Grace" on IMDb

 

Grace the Film on Facebook

 

Grace the Film Series on Twitter

 

Grace the Film Series Project Promotional Video on YouTube 

 

*All graphics used in this post are taken from the Grace the Film Facebook page.* 

 

Funding

 

How can you help the Grace Project with the rest of the funding needed to proceed with filming and production? You can donate money via PAYPAL or send your donation to:

 

Grace Project
P.O. Box 352551
Palm Coast, FL 32135

 

My Review

 

As a lifelong historical fiction aficionada with a particular affinity for the nineteenth century, the film series “Grace” captured my attention the moment I first came across it. There is a quaintness about America’s earlier years that resonates through the centuries, drawing us back to an era of faith and grit, when God and family meant everything. Such a world seems, in many ways, utterly foreign in today’s society, with values that challenge the mainstream. And that is why productions like “Grace” are so important. In a self-glorifying culture, undertakings such as the Grace Project instill values of loving and helping others and serving where there is a need, all in a family-friendly environment.

An introduction to the story of Grace and her missionary journey, Grace The Early Years is a 50-minute audio book CD. Comprised of five chapters, each of which is uniquely narrated, this audio book chronicles Grace’s birth and adolescence through a series of heartwarming vignettes. These sketches each feature a different celebrity narrator, hearkening back to the oral tradition as Nancy Stafford, Kathy Garver, Tony Senzamici, Tanya Christiansen, and Jim Damron relate segments of Grace’s early life. Enhancing the authentic ambiance is Cowboy Guide narrator James Woody. The various voice inflections and poetic descriptive language infuse the narrative with joie de vivre and call to mind a gathering of townsfolk recounting the tale of a well-loved young lady.

 



Throughout the story, the themes of family and faith are predominant. One of the most compelling elements is the interweaving of Scripture and daily life. Many Bible verses are quoted, with practical applications by the characters that underscore their message. Although the last chapter has a time leap that is somewhat disconcerting at first, it ties together the previous events, demonstrating how each aspect of Grace’s life has led up to this climax and setting the scene for the film.    

True to its mission, the Grace Project seeks to inspire and encourage with its message of hope, faith, and love. Part of the film’s proceeds will be used to help those in the coal mining town of War, West Virginia to overcome the difficulties and challenges of losing their livelihoods when the coal mines closed. Funding is still needed in order to continue with production of the film, and donations are tax-deductible. Proceeds from items sold through the website’s store, where along with other items you can purchase this audio book CD as well as the book Journey to Grace, provide funding for the film series and also support missions in War, West Virginia. For more information and to donate and check out the store, please visit http://gracethefilm.com/.

Review
5 Stars
Midnight on the River Grey Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 


Book: Midnight on the River Grey

Author: Abigail Wilson

Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery

Release date: July 2, 2019

Abigail Wilson returns to Regency England with another tale of murder, mystery, and romance.

After her elder brother’s mysterious death, Rebecca Hunter vows to expose the man she believes responsible-Mr. Lewis Browning-known by the locals as the Midnight Devil and by Rebecca as her new guardian. He alone was on the bridge that fateful night and openly admits striking her brother with his horse, but he claims he remembers little else.
 
Summoned to his reclusive country estate to await her London season, Rebecca plans her own secret investigation. Yet, Lewis Browning is not as she once imagined, and his motivation is horribly unclear. Recurrent nightmares and Rebecca’s restless feelings are further complicated by the shadow of her mother’s prior descent into madness and whether she too will follow the same heartbreaking path.
 
Even as midnight rides, strange injuries, and further murders lead back to Lewis, Rebecca can’t ignore the subtle turn of her heart. Has she developed feelings for the man she swore to see hanged? And moreover, can she trust him with her uncertain future?

Click HERE to grab your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children. Connect with Abigail at www.acwilsonbooks.com; Instagram: acwilsonbooks; Facebook: ACWilsonbooks; Twitter: @acwilsonbooks.
       

An excerpt from Midnight on the River Grey

 

My heartbeat turned sluggish as an ache swelled in the back of my throat.
 
This man—the person responsible for my brother’s death—expected me to live with him? In his house? Madness.
 
“And if we refuse?”
 
“I’m afraid there is little choice in the matter at this point. The arrangements are already complete.”
 
Mr. Browning narrowed his blue eyes, scrutinizing me, no doubt, as the numbing shock of his declaration faded to resignation across my face. He sighed. “I do realize Greybourne Hall might hold unfortunate associations for you—”  
 
“Unfortunate?” My voice came out a bit louder than I’d expected. “Is that what you choose to call it?”
 
He gave a sideways glance at Aunt Jo then returned to me, a pained look hovering about his eyes. His voice, however, remained firm. “Forgive me if I startled you. I hadn’t expected such a violent reaction to what I assumed was the logical next step. Perhaps I should make myself a bit clearer.” He gave a curt sigh. “I only intend for you to stay at Greybourne Hall till some place more suitable can be arranged. Unfortunately, there are few options at present.”
 
Ice enveloped my heart. I had no wish to travel to, let alone live at that dreadful house, not even for a single night. In his letters, Jacob had described the rambling structure as a gray pile of stones fit for vampires, or worse. I could only image Mr. Browning, this dark-headed devil before me, at home in such a place.
 

My Review

 

“Two murders. One bridge. And the truth as elusive as the fog.”

Such is the crux of the adventure and intrigue of Abigail Wilson’s “Midnight on the River Grey”. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but it also perfectly reflects the sinister ambiance that characterizes the novel. Atmospheric and foreboding, this book ushers in a sense of unease that lingers throughout the story. The setting further highlights this, with stunning descriptions that seem to make Greybourne Hall rise up out of the fog, right before readers’ eyes.  With contemporaneous language, Wilson brings Regency England to life, infusing the narrative with gothic elements that serve to enhance the suspense.

From the secluded estate to the prototypical characters, “Midnight on the River Grey” has a decidedly cinematic quality to it. All is not as it seems at first blush, and there is no certainty in determining who is trustworthy. Murders, madness, conspiracy, and romance coalesce into this gently ominous novel, with a building crescendo that reverberates through the denouement. The characters are foils for each other, in both humorous and ominous ways. Rebecca Hunter relates the story from her first-person viewpoint as she works toward discovering the true story behind her brother’s death. Headstrong and impulsive, Rebecca is a daring figure, particularly during a time period when women were expected to be simpering and submissive. Lewis Browning is something of an enigma, his role as protector or villain hazy. Including the King Charles spaniel, Sophie, adds some lightheartedness while also furthering the mystery.

“Midnight on the River Grey” contains all of the essential qualities of an eerie mystery and is a clean read, albeit with only a few passing mentions of Christianity (my only complaint). I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys light suspense, Regency-era fiction, and historical romance.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Fiction Aficionado, July 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 11

The Power of Words, July 11

Emily Yager, July 12

Blogging With Carol , July 12

Stories By Gina, July 12

Just the Write Escape, July 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 13

Simple Harvest Reads, July 14 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

For Him and My Family, July 14

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 15

Wishful Endings, July 15

Godly Book Reviews, July 15

Texas Book-aholic, July 16

Retrospective Spines, July 16

Seasons of Opportunities, July 17

For the Love of Literature, July 17

Mary Hake, July 17

Genesis 5020, July 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 18

Bigreadersite, July 18

Blessed & Bookish, July 19

Through the Fire Blogs, July 19

Blossoms and Blessings, July 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, July 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 20

Remembrancy, July 20

Inspiration Clothesline, July 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 21

Pause for Tales, July 21

A Reader’s Brain, July 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 22

Inklings and notions, July 22

Hallie Reads, July 23

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 23

janicesbookreviews, July 23

A Baker’s Perspective, July 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, July 24

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Abigail is giving away a grand prize of a copy of her book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Hadassah Book Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Hadassah
 
Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
 
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: July 2, 2019

One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.

She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request.
 
Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen.
 
Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing.
 
Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia imagines what life was like for the woman who saved her people—and perhaps found love in the process.

Click HERE to grab your copy!

About the Author

 


Diana Wallis Taylor was first published at the age of twelve, when she sold a poem to a church newsletter. After receiving her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University, she was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. Diana has also sold real estate, opened two coffeehouse/used book stores, and was a conference director for a private Christian college.
 
She has an extensive portfolio of published works, including a collection of poetry; an Easter cantata, written with a musical collaborator; contributions to various magazines and compilations; and several books, including Lydia, Woman of Philippi; Mary, Chosen of God; Ruth, Mother of Kings; and Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business? Learn more at www.dianawallistaylor.com.

Read an Excerpt

 

Besides the usual vendors, there were strange, sweaty men with beady eyes who were looking to get rich from the additional population.
 
In the wee hours of the morning, while Mordecai sat with his head in his hands, silently praying, Jerusha stopped breathing, slipping away so quietly that Hadassah thought she was still sleeping.
 
One day, to the people’s relief, the news was spread that the unwelcome banquet guests had been ordered back to their provinces—to prepare for war.
 
Instead of bowing, Hadassah smiled unabashedly and gazed directly at the king, who at that moment had turned his head.
 
“Do not give your name as Hadassah, but tell them it is Esther, which is a Persian name. I would have you hide your Jewish heritage for now.”
 
She felt their eyes silently appraising her; some with open interest, some with sympathy, and others with calculating shrewdness.
 
Esther asked each maid gentle, innocuous questions about her homeland, favorite foods, culture, and the like, listening attentively to their answers and making sure to speak to them by name both to let them know they were important to her and also to help her remember who was who.
 
“If you maidens help me to be my very best when I am called to the king’s chambers, if he honors me by selecting me as his queen, I will not forget you, who helped to put the crown on my head.”
 
Esther had seen some of the women pass her quarters so laden with jewelry they could hardly walk. She wanted to laugh out loud, but suppressed even a smile.
 
Recognition came. “Ah, the maiden in the crowd. I thought about you many times.” He moved closer. “I remember your hair, like a cloud around your face.”
 

My Review

 

“She must trust Adonai for strength to face her future.”

Although God is not directly mentioned by name in the Biblical book of Esther, His presence and the manifestation of His power are clearly demonstrated. With any work of Biblical fiction, some liberties are taken in order to offer more details and flesh out characters and their backstories. When done well, Biblical fiction points readers to the original story, encouraging careful study of the people and cultures therein. Diana Wallis Taylor’s “Hadassah, Queen Esther of Persia” does just that. Drawing upon the details in Scripture and various historical accounts, Taylor pieces together a stirring account of the unassuming Jewish girl, Hadassah, who would become queen.

 Hadassah’s story begins at age eight with the death of her mother, leaving her an orphan. Her older cousin Mordecai and his wife, Jerusha, adopt her and treat her as the daughter they never had. Years later, Hadassah finds herself in King Xerxes’ palace under an edict commanding that all virgins in Persia be taken there to be considered as a potential queen or otherwise consigned to a lifetime in the harem. Hadassah follows Mordecai’s advice to take the name Esther and conceal her Jewish heritage, and Adonai’s plans for her play out as she becomes Queen of Persia.

Seeing Esther’s story come to life in the pages of this novel gives the reader an idea of Persian life from the perspective of both the subordinate Jewish population and the royal family. The uncertain existence and safety of the Jewish people emphasizes Esther’s position both before and especially after becoming queen. In this story, Esther and King Xerxes’ marriage is one of love, adding in some gentle romance and lightheartedness. Intrigue is incredibly rife within the palace, demonstrating the continuing precariousness of Esther’s life despite her position of power. Throughout her life, Esther relies on Adonai’s guidance and provision for her and maintains a wise and compassionate demeanor despite being married to a pagan king and thrust into a world she knows little about.

All of the characters have depth, both the benevolent and the wicked. Esther and later Mordecai seem to have a stabilizing influence on the often capricious King Xerxex. Atossa, the queen mother, is one of my favorite characters. Haman is the character whom everyone loves to hate, but he is not the only villain lurking in the wings. Also, I enjoyed some of the little details that the author included to make the narrative more well-rounded, such as the scene with Esther and the children. My criticisms are trivial; there were editorial errors throughout the book, although I did receive a copy prior to the release date and though it was not marked as an advanced reader’s copy, it may have been, so I am not deducting stars for that. Also, there seemed to me to be a discontinuity in the passage of time. There were time lapses throughout and it seemed as though more time had passed than actually had, particularly once Esther entered the palace. However, this could just be my reading of the story.

“Hadassah” is an inspirational story of what the Biblical Esther’s life may have been like. Trusting in God and following His guidance is paramount, just as it is today. For anyone interested in Biblical fiction, the story of Esther, Christian historical fiction, or women’s historical fiction, this book is a must-read.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Back Porch Reads, July 4

Retrospective Spines, July 4

Hallie Reads, July 4

My Devotional Thoughts, July 5

Through the Lens of Scripture, July 5

For The Love of Books, July 5

Fiction Aficionado, July 6

The Becca Files, July 6

For Him and My Family, July 6

EmpowerMoms, July 7

Madeline Hope, July 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7

A Baker’s Perspective, July 8

Godly Book Reviews, July 8

Moments, July 8

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 9

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 9

Emily Yager, July 9

Aryn the Libraryan, July 10

Purposeful Learning, July 10

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 10

Through the Fire Blogs, July 10

Lights in a Dark World, July 11

Mary Hake, July 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 11

Splashes of Joy, July 12

Simple Harvest Reads, July 12 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 12

Bigreadersite, July 13

Pause for Tales, July 13

Texas Book-aholic, July 13

Creating Romance, July 14

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 14

janicesbookreviews, July 14

Older & Smarter?, July 15

She Lives To Read, July 15

A Reader’s Brain, July 15

For the Love of Literature, July 16

Just the Write Escape, July 16

Inklings and notions, July 16

Henry Happens, July 17

Hebrews 12 Endurance, July 17

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 17

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks card and a surprise book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 
https://promosimple.com/ps/e5a0/hadassah-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
The Prodigal and the Scorned: A Book Review of Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

 

About the Book

 
Book: Until the Mountains Fall

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Biblical Fiction

Release date: July 2, 2019
 
Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband's brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh's head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother's death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah's father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?
 
Buy on Amazon
 
 

About the Author

 

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out from Egypt and Cities of Refuge series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award, INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing's Best Award. She lives with her husband of twenty-one years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

 

My Review


As a genre, Biblical fiction is one of the most difficult to write. The author must be well-versed not only in the ancient historical setting, but also of course in the Bible itself. To break it down further, crafting stories that occur during the time of the Old Testament adds to the challenge because the mindset is different. There is a shift from being under the law in the Old Testament to faith and forgiveness in Christ after the Resurrection, as exemplified in Galatians 3:24-25: “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” This change in the way of life distinguishes the Old and New Testaments and as such establishes a requisite precedent for any writing in the genre.

Connilyn Cossette fulfills these standards with aplomb in book three of the Cities of Refuge series, “Until the Mountains Fall.” Opening in the serene refuge city of Kedesh in 1380 BC, this story employs fictional main characters to transport the reader to ancient Israel, bringing the Old Testament vividly to life and foreshadowing the coming of Christ. Despite the differences of living in a post-Resurrection world today, many themes remain the same, now embodied with even more hope in the realization of the Savior. As a result, this story resonates in a deeply intimate way, whether readers are familiar with the Bible or not.
 


Told in a dual first-person narrative, “Until the Mountains Fall” follows Rivkah and Malakhi along a twisting path to discovering the unrelenting grace of Yahweh (God). Following the death of her new husband, Rivkah is subject by the Torah law to a levirate marriage, in which she will marry her husband’s brother, Malakhi. My heart ached for Rivkah from the outset. She is very independent and intelligent and has an arrogance about her that leads her to rebel against how trapped she feels. Still, rather than disliking her character, I felt empathy and pity for her. I appreciated that she was a female scribe who loved languages: “The dance of ink over finely woven plant fibers became an act of worship, a connection to the Creator of language himself, especially when the words of a new song spilled from my heart onto a sheet of papyrus.” What an incredible description of our God-given skills when we use them for His glory!

Like so many of us, Rivkah wants to be in control of her own life, and she ends up reaping the consequences of her irresponsible choices. Her betrothed, Malakhi, also endures the costs of her decisions, the reverberations of which reach farther than she could ever have realized. Rivkah’s faith journey becomes derailed as she drifts farther from Yahweh, only to ultimately come to realize that no one can outrun God’s magnificent grace.
 


Epitomizing the story of the prodigal, “Until the Mountains Fall” is an engaging story with a beautiful message of redemption. The time lapses in the narrative are at times somewhat disconcerting but contrast well with the gradual and thoughtful unveiling of the storyline. There are plenty of twists that enhance the plot and take it far beyond a simple romance, as well as tear-jerker scenes. There is some mature and violent content, but it is tastefully done, without graphic details, and these scenes are integral to the story. Although each book can be read as a stand-alone, I recommend reading the Cities of Refuge series in order, as the characters carry over and their stories intertwine. Regardless, though, “Until the Mountains Fall” is a breathtaking, heartrending, and ultimately redemptive story of deliverance, highlighting the grace, mercy, and loving care of God, our Abba Father.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and the publisher and was not required to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Character Round-Up
The Express Bride - Woodhouse,  Kimberley

Barbour has a great concept with The Daughters of the Mayflower series. Covering some of America’s most auspicious historical events, the characters all descend from two Mayflower passengers, and yet each story stands alone so that they can be read in any order. Add to that the wholesome Christian perspective and you have a compelling series that addresses true periods of history from a fictional viewpoint. Having read each book as it releases, I have enjoyed every one of them, but some have left a deeper impression than others.

Kimberley Woodhouse’s “The Express Bride”, The Daughters of the Mayflower book nine, ranks among my favorite installations in this series. To begin with, it focuses on a brief but fascinating interval in American history, one that I have always found rather enthralling. Upon reading the author’s note at the end, I was surprised to learn that the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, better known as the Pony Express, actually failed financially during its short-lived run. The brevity of its existence makes it all the more interesting to me, and I was quickly drawn into the tale.

“The Express Bride” offers a glimpse into the routine and way of life of a combined express and stagecoach station in 1860. Located in the isolated wilderness of what was then the Utah Territory, the Carson Sink station serves as a tiny town unto itself. More remarkably, a young woman named Jacqueline “Jackie” Rivers runs the station and takes care of the riders who live there. As she adjusts to life without her recently-departed father, she finds herself embroiled in helping James Crowell root out a counterfeiting operation while also assisting a man named Elijah Johnson in the search for his employer’s heir.

Several aspects of this story appeal to me. The main characters are endearing, and the residents of the Carson Sink station have an easy camaraderie that adds depth to the narrative. Jackie is tender-hearted but also has admirable strength of character as she shoulders many responsibilities while still dealing with her grief. With a prominent Christian element, this story highlights the virtues of forgiveness and loving one another, and I appreciated that the author points out that two of the characters had been unequally yoked because one had not truly accepted Jesus into his heart. Not being much of a fan of romantic angst, I also enjoyed the fact that intrigue and discoveries dominate much of the narrative, with the romantic thread serving as an overall small portion of the book. Containing an inspirational message throughout, historical details about the unique Pony Express venture, and mysterious happenings, I highly recommend “The Express Bride” as a stirring western adventure.   

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
4 Stars
Turning the Tide: Book Review of Riptide Rumors by Melody Carlson

 

Blurb:

If the Tide Doesn’t Change, Who Will Pay the Price?

 

As autumn of 1916 descends upon the once-peaceful town of Sunset Cove, Anna McDowell has great hopes that the excitement of the summer will be over, now that a few of the key players in the rum-running ring have been arrested. But with a daring jailbreak getting the town in a dither again, she knows that the danger hasn’t passed for anyone in her coastal hometown.

 

With a mayoral election keeping tensions high and the authorities busy searching for those behind the jailbreak, Anna has plenty to keep the newspaper busy. But when her sixteen-year-old daughter begins making noises about leaving high school and abandoning dreams of college, Anna realizes that prohibition isn’t the only thing she needs to be worrying about.

 

How deep does the root of corruption run in their town? As she digs deeper, Anna is forced to put the concerns of her own heart on hold in an effort to save some of the people dearest to her.

 

Book Purchase Links:

 

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

 

About the Author:

 

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

 

 

Social Media Links:

Amazon Author Pagehttps://www.amazon.com/Melody-Carlson/e/B000APR3DC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1549482870&sr=8-4

 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/melodycarlsonauthor/

 

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/authormelodycarlson/?hl=en

 

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/AuthorCarlson

 

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7383.Melody_Carlson?from_search=true

 

Websitehttp://www.melodycarlson.com/

 

Bookbubhttps://www.bookbub.com/authors/melody-carlson

 

 

My Review:

“But she was a woman, and even though times were changing—they were not changing fast enough!”

 



A continuation of “Harbor Secrets”, “Riptide Rumors” is book two in Melody Carlson’s The Legacy of Sunset Cove series. Book one seems to have been a prologue of sorts, and in this sequel many of the issues that I had with its predecessor are more or less resolved. Most aspects of the story are written with more depth and intensity, and as such this book surpassed the superficiality that I felt characterized much of book one. Sunset Cove comes to life as a small town with credible residents and occurrences, demonstrating that while some matters have changed over the past hundred years, in many ways things have also remained the same.

Immediately, “Riptide Rumors” plunges readers into intrigue and concern, setting a swifter pace for book two. The issue of corruption remains prevalent as Anna seeks answers as to who else might be involved in rum-running, and the election for mayor also provides plenty of fodder for her newspaper. Not knowing whom to trust as circumstances escalate increases the tension, although I would still characterize this as being relatively light in terms of suspense. Faith did play a larger role here than in the first book, which I appreciated, although I will note that the characters do not seem to grow or mature in their faith. Rather, it is something that is noted by their praying. As for the characters themselves, they do come across as more multifaceted compared to book one. There is much more conflict in relationships and romance, as well as some teenage angst.

 



Friendships are tested, individuals exhibit jealousy, and romantic inclinations abound. For the most part, the characters seem realistic and believable. Katy’s character, in particular, stands out as she reaches the stage of life between adolescence and adulthood, with some of her struggles mirroring those of her mother. Life and love are complicated, and “Riptide Rumors” soundly demonstrates this. With a time-jump in the final chapter and a few unsettled matters, “Riptide Rumors” sets the stage for a third book and leaves readers satisfied yet wanting more. If you enjoy tales of light suspense, family drama, romance, and small-town life, pick up this series and take a trip to Sunset Cove.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.