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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.

From Elk to Mermaids!

Camp Club Girls: Bailey - Linda Carlblom

Linda Carlblom’s “Camp Club Girls: Bailey” 4-in-1 collection includes “Bailey’s Estes Park Excitement”, “Bailey’s Peoria Problem”’, “Bailey and the Sante Fe Secret”, and “Bailey and the Florida Mermaid Park Mystery” with Kate, Alex, Elizabeth, and Sydney each partnering with Bailey, respectively. These mysteries provide just the right amount of danger and suspense to keep girls engaged without being frightening and fall between the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew as far as reading level and intensity are concerned. The Camp Club Girls series has a nice diversity of characters from different racial backgrounds, united by their faith in God and their knack for solving capers. Although each story focuses on an adventure with two of the girls, the rest of the club is always kept up-to-date on the mystery and offers support through research and prayer. Scripture is quoted frequently and woven neatly into each story, and the girls are given a chance to reach out to others and evangelize as they work on each case. However, they do make mistakes, and they have vulnerabilities, which also teaches an important lesson: none of us are perfect.

These stories included several interesting scenarios and settings. From elk stampeding through town to sheep bearing strange messages, from a Native American pottery shop in the desert to Mermaid Park in Florida, there is no shortage of mysteries for Bailey and her friends to solve! They make new friends along the way and help those in need, all while having fun and strengthening their faith. I would highly recommend this series to girls ages 8 and up!

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

Redemption and Healing

The Forgiving Jar - Wanda E. Brunstetter

Sometimes sequels struggle to continue the storyline and keep the reader interested, but that is not the case with Wanda Brunstetter’s “The Forgiving Jar”. Picking up where “The Hope Jar” left off, book two in The Prayer Jars series focuses mainly on Sara Murray, although Michelle’s story continues to unfold as well. The two young women clash when they both begin living with Sara’s grandparents because of Michelle’s former deceit. Sara’s character was not very genial for a large portion of the book, and while I did not like her attitude, the author does a good job of explaining it, and the feelings that Sara experiences are ones that everyone can relate to in some form or another. This is contrasted with Michelle, who has become a Christian and is turning her life around. It did not seem as though there would be a resolution by the end of the novel, but thankfully things came together near the end.

“The Forgiving Jar” is a thought-provoking novel that truly engages the reader. Being given the advantage of viewing situations from both Sara’s and Michelle’s point of view adds depth to the reading experience and challenges how readers themselves respond to each scenario. Brunstetter adroitly incorporates Pennsylvania Dutch words into the dialogue while also defining them so that there is no confusion. Learning about how contemporary Amish folks have incorporated some aspects of modern living into their lifestyles while still remaining separate from the modern world is fascinating. Likewise, Sara’s and Michelle’s characters illustrate two different responses to the simple life, both coming from a place of past hurt. This is an excellent novel for those who have read book one and who enjoy a wholesome story full of redemption and healing from the past.

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

Surround Me Book Review

 

Blurb

 

Battles rage in Elizabeth Elliot’s heart as the threat of war invades her hometown.

 

Charles Town, South Carolina, 1773—The dark curtain of the rumors of revolution threatens to descend as Louis Lestarjette makes a permanent break from his homeland and pursues his relations with Elizabeth. Somehow, he must find a way to manage all aspects of his life amid the political and financial difficulties this turbulent time throws at him. Never has his heart been at the center of his life decisions, challenging what he really wants, if he cannot have it all.

 

Elizabeth Elliott must find unwavering courage, choosing to allow God’s love to surround her with strength. A marriage during a time of confusion seems impossible as a Patriot from a Loyalist family who loves a Frenchman. She wonders how a faithful daughter can marry without her father’s permission. After a summer apart from Louis, she begins to fear that the uncertain times might delay their life together.

 

 

Bio:

 

 

Marguerite Martin Gray is the author of Hold Me Close, Surround Me, and Bring Me Near--Revolutionary Faith Books One, Two and Three. She enjoys studying history and writing fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches high school Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Marguerite is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Abilene Writers Guild, Daughters of the American Revolution, South Carolina Historical Society, and Preservation Society of Charleston. She currently lives in North Louisiana with her husband. 

 

 

My Review:

 

The sequel to “Hold Me Close”, “Surround Me” plunges readers immediately back into the world of pre-Revolutionary Charles Town, South Carolina. Louis and Elizabeth’s story continues alongside that of the burgeoning nation, two plot lines that dovetail and reveal the intricacies of colonial life. In many ways, America is facing similar situations today, and this makes the narrative more apropos and relevant. Under oppression and unfair rule by the British, the colonies must decide where they stand and settle on a course of action. From the vantage point of history, it is easy to forget about all of the less-well-known events and just focus on the big picture, but “Surround Me” highlights the formation and strengthening of the Sons of Liberty and the political stirrings that fomented rebellion.

 

 

As a work of fiction, this novel adheres to historical fact while adding in a vital human element. Through the lives of Louis and Elizabeth, readers have a vested interest in the happenings of the town and the country at large. Reading about the couple’s trip to Boston was interesting, particularly in how closely it resembles a modern honeymoon. As partisans, both characters lead lives that put them at the forefront of the revolutionary movement, and readers are given the opportunity to see the roles a woman and a successful businessman would each play in the demonstrations and meetings leading up to war. Several famous historical figures appear, including Samuel Adams and John and Abigail Adams, the latter of whom is credited with the idea of creating pockets in petticoats to conceal items. The most inspiring component of the story is Louis and Elizabeth’s unwavering faith in God in the face of growing turbulence and unrest. Their allegiance is to God first, then each other, then their homeland, a delineation that serves well today, too.

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

 

A Love to Behold Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book


Title: A Love to Behold
 
Author: Sharlene MacLaren
 
Genre: Christian romance, historical
 
Release date: January 8, 2019
 
Publisher: Whitaker House

Two years after the Civil War, Lydia Albright, 27, is an established teacher in Boston when she senses God’s call to leave the comfort and security of her job and go south. She accepts a position to teach in a school for former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. A church there that’s affiliated with the American Missionary Association offers support, along with room and board at the parsonage.
 
The Ku Klux men are hell-bent on seeing that the new school fails. Lydia’s life is threatened, and the parsonage, church, and school are vandalized.
 
But they haven’t contended with a strong, determined woman like Lydia before. It also helps that she has a couple potential suitors on her side.
 
A Love to Behold is a tale of people who grow strong in the face of adversity and a church that learns love, compassion, and acceptance, even in the face of cruelty and hatred. Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author



Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating in 1971 with an education degree, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally with a singing ensemble for one year. In 1975, she came home, returned to her teaching job, and married her childhood sweetheart. Together, they raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying families of their own. Retired in 2003 after thirty-one years of teaching, “Shar” loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family—in particular, her adorable grandchildren!
 
A Christian for over fifty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar always enjoyed dabbling in writing. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school, and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, always when the teacher’s back was turned, “pass me the next page.”
 
In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, and in 2006, she signed a contract for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her writing career. With eighteen published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, she daily gives God all the glory. She dedicated her last novel, Their Daring Hearts, to Jesus.
 
Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and made several television appearances and radio interviews. She loves speaking for community organizations, libraries, church groups, and women’s conferences. In her church, she is active in women’s ministries, regularly facilitating Bible studies and other events. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton, and their ragdoll cat, Blue.
 
Shar loves hearing from her readers. If you wish to contact her as a potential speaker for a church function or would simply like to chat with her, please feel free to send her an e-mail at sharlenemaclaren@yahoo.com. She will do her best to answer in a timely manner. You may also find her on Facebook.
 
 

Guest Post from Sharlene

 

 

My dear readers,
 
It has indeed been my great privilege and pleasure to write this series set in Civil War times. What a thought-provoking, amazing, and heart-wrenching era in American history.
 
If you read all three books in the “Forever Freedom” series—Summer on Sunset Ridge, Their Daring Hearts, and A Love to Behold—you will have gotten some history lessons regarding the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers; Abolition; the Underground Railroad, which the Quakers were instrumental in launching; life as a Union soldier in the Civil War; the Freedmen’s Bureau; and Reconstruction, that period following the war when the south had fallen into great dis-repair. Also prevalent in this third book is a bit of history regarding the origin of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group that formed during the Reconstruction period.
 
Although I did not appreciate history as a young girl, as an older adult, I’m quite fascinated by it. History itself is a great teacher. Learning about it can be everything from exhilarating to depressing, challenging and yet exciting. It is my prayer that as you read my books, you’ll not only find them entertaining, but also inspiring and uplifting. I aim to encourage, not discourage. Much of history—if we dwell on it—can be disheartening, but focusing our hearts and minds on Christ gives us courage and confidence. Let us learn from history, but let us look to the future with hope in our hearts.
 
With love and a prayer for God’s best blessings,
 
Shar
 
 

My Review

 

Somehow this is the first book that I have read by Sharlene MacLaren, and I definitely feel as though I have been missing out! Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because I believe that we can and should learn from the past and use it to not only inform the present but also to help us move forward in faith. Granted, some events from the past are ones that we would rather forget, but to do so would be to stop learning from them and thus risk repeating them. American slavery comes to mind. We recall its horrors and its official end but sometimes tend to forget about the ensuing period, which ultimately culminated in the Civil Rights movement a century later. Reconstruction in the South was a time of immense change and challenges, something that Sharlene MacLaren masterfully addresses in “A Love to Behold”, book 3 in the Forever Freedom series.

Lydia Albright arrives in Charleston, South Carolina in August 1867 to fulfill God’s calling to serve as a teacher at a newly-constructed school for black children. The school is sponsored by a local church, and the way in which the community is divided over the school provides the main conflict. What surprised me the most was that so many citizens were in favor of or at least reconciled to the existence of the school in what I think of as a bastion city of the South. MacLaren adeptly portrayed how some people accepted that the Civil War was over and that times were changing, whereas the more intransigent members of society continued to rebel. The Ku Klux Klan plays an important role in this novel, and it was both frightening and informative to read about their perspective. What I most appreciated was the inclusion of characters such as Lewis, who forms a bridge between the diehard and progressive mentality, and Luetta, whose intelligence battles against years of abuse and neglect. In many ways, this is a novel of finding balance, and clearly the best way to do so is to follow the Lord’s leading in spite of the obstacles that stand in our way—a timely message for all of us.

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

 

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 22

Maureen’s Musings, January 22

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 23

Genesis 5020, January 23

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, January 24

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 24

Splashes of JoyJanuary 25

Blossoms and Blessings, January 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 26

Mary Hake, January 26

Godly Book Reviews, January 27

Daysong ReflectionsJanuary 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 28

Robin is Bookish, January 28

My Devotional Thoughts, January 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29

The Becca Files, January 30

For the Love of LiteratureJanuary 30

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 1

Janices book reviews, February 1

A Baker’s Perspective, February 2

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

Carpe Diem, February 4

Bigreadersite, February 4

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Sharlene is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
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/d8d2/a-love-to-behold-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Camp Club Girls on the Case!

Camp Club Girls: Elizabeth - Green,  Renae Brumbaugh

This four-book collection includes “Camp Club Girls and the Mystery at Discovery Lake”, “Elizabeth’s Armadillo Adventure”, “Elizabeth’s San Antonio Sleuthing”, and “Elizabeth and the Music City Mayhem.” As someone who grew up reading Nancy Drew and Lois Gladys Leppard’s “Mandie” series, I was eager to see what the genre is offering twenty-first century girls. Despite having a modern setting and making use of current technology, these stories had an old-fashioned, reassuring feel to them. There is a strong Christian thread throughout each of the stories, but it is not over-the-top. The girls are very respectful toward their elders, addressing them as sir or ma’am, and this was not only refreshing but also sets a good example for readers. The girls are well-mannered and courteous but not saccharine-sweet, nor are they perfect, and they do make mistakes; as such, they are definitely relatable while also being good role models. The inclusion of all the Camp Club Girls in each story, even if the main focus was only on a couple of them, was fun and added different perspectives to each situation. I loved that Alex (Alexis) always made references to classic detectives and TV shows, and Kate’s affinity for gadgets provided an interesting angle. The two stories in which Biscuit the dog was featured were my favorites. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, and although it is recommended for ages 10-12, I think that older girls (and even adults!) will find it appealing.

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

Hold Me Close Book Review

 

Blurb

 

The leisurely life Louis has intended does not include revolution.

 

Charles Town, South Carolina, 1772—Louis Lestarjette arrives from France without purpose or plans beyond reconnecting with family and making a profit. Finding the town questioning its alliances, Louis must make decisions about the direction in his life, even as he tries to avoid all political conflict. He wonders if he will be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence. When decisive events confront him, Louis finds himself torn between staying with the woman he loves or escaping the coming conflicts.

 

Elizabeth Elliott trusts that God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, he challenges her role in the political battle. She must decide what actions she can take for the cause, if any at all.

 

 

Bio:

 

 

Marguerite Martin Gray is the author of Hold Me CloseSurround Me, and Bring Me Near--Revolutionary Faith Books One, Two and Three. She enjoys studying history and writing fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches high school Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Marguerite is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Abilene Writers Guild, Daughters of the American Revolution, South Carolina Historical Society, and Preservation Society of Charleston. She currently lives in North Louisiana with her husband.

 

 

My Review: 

 

The Colonial era is one of my favorites in the historical fiction (and nonfiction) genre, so I was immediately eager to read “Hold Me Close”. However, as the story began, I started to have my doubts as to whether or not I would enjoy it because I was not enamored with one of the main characters. Introduced on page one, with much of the narrative being told from his point of view, Frenchman Louis Lestarjette did not seem like a particularly interesting character. I was put off by what I perceived as arrogance and his singular pursuit of wealth as well as his stubborn neutrality. To my delight, I saw him develop a dynamic personality as he settled into his new life in Charles Town, South Carolina. This was what I appreciated most about his character, that he represented those who wanted to maintain their neutrality and just conduct their business as usual. As an outsider, his perspective was valuable in viewing the positions of both the Loyalists and the Sons of Liberty. How his faith journey intertwined with his political enlightenment enhanced my enjoyment of the story.

 

 

 

As the other main character, Elizabeth Elliott proved affable from the beginning, a devoted Christian and woman of high standing, and yet she was not without her own struggles. Living with an unabashedly British father and a submissive mother, neither of her parents understood her passion or her political stance. With that being said, something that pleasantly surprised me was that Elizabeth enjoyed an amount of freedom that I would not have expected for women during this time period. She not only taught part-time, and at a college no less, but she also seemed to be able to come and go as she pleased. Undoubtedly, she faced certain restrictions of gender, but belonging to the upper class afforded her (and Louis) the autonomy to become politically involved. Both were able to use their positions in society to benefit their cause. This added intrigue to the story and demonstrated how citizens prepared for inevitable conflict during the pre-revolutionary years. I look forward to following Louis and Elizabeth’s journey as tensions in the colonies rise!

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

 

 

Social Media:

 

http://margueritemartingray.blog

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14836211.Marguerite_Martin_Gray

 

https://www.amazon.com/Marguerite-Martin-Gray/e/B01ASA16RC

 

https://www.pinterest.com/gray8864/historical-christian-fiction-hold-me-close/

 

Creative and Meaningful

The Devoted Life: A Creative Devotional Journal - Jackson,  Marjorie

Described as being for teen girls, “The Devoted Life” works just as well for adult women. This is the first “creative devotional journal” that I have ever explored, and it is very neat! The book itself is slim, which is handy for carrying in a purse or bag, and the imitation leather gives the book a more forgiving binding that allows for coloring and writing inside without too much hassle. Normally I would prefer a spiral-bound setup with this type of interactive book, but the imitation leather really does work quite well here. There is even a pink ribbon bookmark attached to the binding. Each section title appears in hand-drawn bubble letters, along with occasional small illustrations, to color; as such, the text is somewhat difficult to read, but I imagine that it would be easier once the letters are colored.

Each devotional consists of a Bible verse followed by a one-page commentary and three Scriptures for further study. There are five journal prompts related to the devotional, and out of these, at least one or two would be good for groups as well as individual reflection. The topics are easy to relate to and bring up common issues that everyone has dealt with at one time or another. Following the prompts, the Bible verse from the beginning of the devotional is drawn out for coloring. At the end of the book there are 9 pages with simple borders to “Create Your Own Hand-Lettered Scripture Art”. Just flipping through the book, it might seem a bit bland, but it lacks color because that’s where the reader’s creativity comes into play! What a fun, meaningful journal-devotional combination!

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

In the Shadow of Croft Towers Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 



Book: In the Shadow of Croft Towers  
Author: Abigail Wilson  
Genre: Historical fiction, romantic suspense  
Release Date: January 15, 2019

From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a mysterious Regency tale of secrets and spies, love and treachery.
 
Orphaned Sybil Delafield jumps at the opportunity for a position at the mysterious Croft Towers. She believes she was hired to act as companion to a dying woman, but a highway robbery and a hostile welcome from the Chalcroft family cause her to wonder if she was actually hired to help someone spy for France.
 
An unsolved murder adds intrigue to this already secretive family, and Sybil recognizes Mrs. Chalcroft’s handsome grandson as one of the infamous highwaymen who robbed her. Sybil must determine if this man’s charming smile and earnest eyes speak the truth or if he is simply using her like others in the house. Everyone seems to have something to hide, and Sybil must decide who to trust while also coming to terms with the truth about her own past.

Click here to purchase 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 ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 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
 

Excerpt from the Book

 

1813
 
THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE
 
I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had never learned the truth. I wouldn’t have set off as I did for Croft Towers. I never would have met him.
 
It’s strange what I remember about the day I left London. The mail coach was late; the weather wretched. The clock had struck midnight long before two strangers and I ducked beneath the postmaster’s outstretched umbrella to board the Royal Mail and rumble across the North Downs.
 
That difficult journey east marked the beginning of an unseasonably cold autumn. Frigid rain pelted the coach windows. The undercarriage squealed beneath the seats as a metallic scent wound its way between the drafty boards. I gripped the windowsill, wondering if the coachman intended to hit every bump in the road.
 
“Far to go, miss?”
 
The woman’s voice startled me.
 
Dressed head to toe in red satin, she’d endured the last few darkened hours with a handful of smelling salts and a tongue hot for complaints, but she hadn’t spoken to me until now. Not until the first hint of rain-soaked daylight peeked over the horizon.
 
I lowered my gaze and fiddled with my bonnet ribbons. “Yes, ma’am . . . well, not too much farther, I hope.”
 
Taken from “In the Shadow of Croft Towers” by Abigail Wilson. Copyright © 2018 by Abigail Wilson. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
 
 

My Review


In spite of all the Regency rage sweeping the literary world, I myself have not read many books with that setting. This was both advantageous and detrimental with regard to my reading experience of Abigail Wilson’s “In the Shadow of Croft Towers.” Because I went into the book with no prior information, I found myself really pulled into the story. However, I wish that some background information would have been included, either within the narrative itself or as a prologue, to provide historical context. Being unfamiliar with the political situation in England during this time period, I did not understand what was happening with regard to that part of the plot. With that being said, the story was overall not difficult to follow, but I think that having a basic understanding of England’s situation would have clarified some aspects.

“In the Shadow of Croft Towers” is what I would call a slow burn. There is suspense, but it plays out subtly. Seemingly disparate events come together bit by bit toward the end, like a tangle of thread that forms an intricate design. A key theme is identity. Sybil Delafield comes to Croft Towers in an effort to find out who she is, and in so doing sets off a chain reaction that makes the reader question if everyone is who they claim to be and what each person’s motivations are. Even though I figured out Sybil’s identity rather early on, the story still held some surprises for me, especially at the end, and that kept me turning the pages. I was reminded of Jane Eyre because of Sybil’s character and the foreboding location. Despite dealing with some heavy subjects, this book does not have graphic details or profanity and is a clean read. My quibble is that while it is marketed as Christian fiction, there was nothing in the book itself that distinguished it as such aside from two very vague mentions of God; it could just as easily be a clean secular read. Nevertheless, it was an interesting story with some unexpected twists that tied the narrative together in a nice package by the finale.

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

 

Just the Write Escape, December 20

Faery Tales Are Real, December 20

The Avid Reader, December 20

Reflections From My Bookshelves, December 21

seasons of opportunities, December 21

Mary Hake, December 22

Carpe Diem, December 22

Inklings and notions, December 23

Blogging With Carol, December 23

A Baker’s Perspective, December 23

Stories By Gina, December 24

Remembrancy, December 24

Madeline Clark, December 25

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 25

For the Love of Literature, December 26

Blossoms and Blessings, December 26

Janices book reviews, December 26

Back Porch Reads, December 27

Book by Book, December 27

Daysong Reflections, December 28

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 28

Godly Book Reviews, December 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 29

Bigreadersite, December 29

Inspiration Clothesline, December 30

A Rup Life, December 30

Bibliophile Reviews, December 30

A Reader’s Brain, December 31

Texas Book-aholic, December 31

Just Your Average reviews, January 1

Bookworld Reviews, January 1

Pause for Tales, January 1

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 2

Simple Harvest Reads, January 2

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Abigail is giving away a grand prize of one finished copy of the 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/d777/in-the-shadow-of-croft-towers-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Escape: Intense Book Review

 

Blurb 

 

I’d never seen a dead body before, but I was pretty sure the guy in the car trunk was dead.

 

Middle school's tough, and Tyler Higgins just wants to hang with the cool kids. But Dustin’s idea of quality entertainment is spying on parked cars on Lover’s Lane. When two creeps show up with a body, Tyler doesn’t want to stick around. Then again, he might not have much choice.

 

Author Bio

 

 

Glenn writes inspiring adventures with an edge. No matter how dark the day, finding hope to pursue the prize is the core of all his novels and studies. He is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), a graduate of Vision Loss Resources and Bethel Seminary, the father of six and grandfather of seven. Glenn likes tandem biking, kayaking, and daydreaming and lives in Minneapolis with his wife. He is also an award-winning author with short stories published in Splickety, Havok, Cadet Quest and Partners. Chase, the third book in his Intense series was released on April 1, 2018.

 

My Review

 

 A novella-sized prologue to Glenn Haggerty’s Intense series, “Escape” fulfilled some criteria of the genre while falling short in others. For the most part, the writing was what I would expect for the target audience (age 10 and up), although some descriptions and situations might be too frightening for the younger end of the spectrum. Bullying and pandering to the “cool” kids was a leading theme that will make this book relatable to kids and teens, and there was a Christian element, illustrated by Tyler’s thoughts and short prayers. This was definitely an exciting story, with many elements thrown in to capture the reader’s attention and keep them turning pages. It was an implausible scenario, but overall it worked for a middle-grade story. The ending, however, was quite abrupt. Prior to that point, there were so many details included about Tyler’s situation and how it was playing out minute-by-minute, and then suddenly it was over. I thought at first that he had been dreaming. I did find the scene with the rebreather fascinating, as I have never heard of such a device and thought that it was an interesting addition. Had the level of detail and explanation been maintained through the ending rather than rushing into a finale that interrupted the coherency of the narrative, this story would have rated four stars instead of three.

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

 

Link to Book

https://amzn.to/2ImyCIu

 

Social Media

https://www.facebook.com/GlennHaggertyAuthor

https://twitter.com/grhaggertyjr

https://www.instagram.com/glennhaggertyauthor/

https://amazon.com/author/glennhaggerty

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/15943355-glenn-haggerty

 

Mind Games Review and GIVEAWAY!



About the Book

 



Book: Mind Games  
Author: Nancy Mehl  
Genre: Suspense  
Release Date: December, 2018  
Publisher: Bethany House 

FBI Behavioral Analyst Kaely Quinn’s methods may be highly unorthodox, but her talent is undeniable. She’s done her best to establish a new life for herself after being demoted and transferred to St. Louis when a reporter revealed she’s the daughter of an infamous serial killer. But when that same reporter claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, it seems her old life
has followed her.
 
When a body is found that fits the poem’s morbid predictions, Kaely and her new partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, are forced to move past his skepticism of her approach and work together to unravel the deadly riddle.
 
With a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else, including Kaely, is killed.

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.
 

Guest Post from Nancy

 

 

Writing Mind Games is a dream come true. I’ve been interested in FBI profiling for years. I’ve read about it, studied it, and watched every TV special I could find on the subject. So when the chance finally came to write the book I’ve always wanted to write, I jumped at it. Thankfully, through the help of another writer, I was hooked up with a retired FBI profiler. I was so excited. Until I found out I had almost everything wrong. Yes, I had some understanding about profiling, but I knew nothing about the FBI and how it works.
 
First of all, the FBI doesn’t call the men and women who profile criminals, profilers. They’re called Behavioral Analysts. The plot for Mind Games had my analyst running around the country solving crimes while she was stationed in St. Louis. Uh, no. Behavioral analysts do travel, but they all work out of Quantico in Virginia. So…I rewrote.
 
There were ways around my conundrum, but one solution led to more and more problems. We finally worked through them. Then I spent the next few months learning acronyms. CIRG, CJIS, NCAVC, HRT, UNSUB, CNU, THU, ViCap, CODIS, SWAT, ERTU, OPU, THRU, ERT… Well, the list goes on and on. The FBI is made up of many specialized units. And a plethora of acronyms, it seems.
 
I rewrote Mind Games three times before my source said we were good to go.
 
If you assume I’m out of the woods now, you’d be wrong. I haven’t had the nerve to open up the manuscript I sent her for book two in my Kaely Quinn Profiler series. I figured I had Fire Storm right but… Well, I can tell from her email comments I’ll be doing more rewriting. Sigh.
 
So is it worth it? A resounding yes! I love learning, and as long as my analyst friend hangs in with me (she has the patience of Job), I’ll keep at it.
 
I hope you enjoy Mind Games. It’s edgy but fun. Kaely Quinn is a quirky character. She was thrown out of Quantico because her version of profiling is… Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
 
 

My Review

 
 Nancy Mehl has definitely moved onto my list of must-read Christian authors! “Mind Games” reads like an episode of “Bones” or “CSI” and yet at the same time manages to be unique. It has certainly raised my expectations in the suspense field. The tight writing and sense of anticipation reminds me of Jaime Jo Wright’s novels, although whereas Wright’s works tie together historical fiction with a present-day story, Mehl takes full advantage of a contemporary setting in order to lead the reader down the rabbit hole of modern crime solving. Since the main characters are FBI agents, the reader is treated to details about the Bureau’s inner workings and how cases are solved. Some of the details are gritty, and there are a few disturbing scenes, but there is no profanity and the book is a clean read.

Psychological thrillers are among my favorite reads, and “Mind Games” surpassed my hopes for several reasons. From the start, I liked and related to Kaely Quinn. She is mostly a loner and a workaholic who believes in getting the job done and not stopping until she does, and she is a perfectionist. Despite her past and her trust issues, she is a Christian, and this aspect of her life is expressed in the narrative in a few compelling scenes that illustrate a growing faith. The way in which Mehl reveals Kaely’s prior history and walks the reader through Kaely’s work as a behavioral analyst is skillfully done. Not only is it fascinating, but it allows the reader to step into Kaely’s shoes (and occasionally the other characters’, as well) and experience the tension as it unfolds. As an avid mystery and suspense reader, more often than not I figure out whodunit by at least the halfway point. Although I had narrowed the suspects down, I did not definitively identify the culprit until right before the reveal, which really enhanced my enjoyment of the novel. “Mind Games” is both well-plotted and well-executed, a taut combination that makes for a thrilling read for fans of the genre.

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, December 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 11

The Lit Addict, December 11

amandainpaDecember 11

A Reader’s BrainDecember 12

Daysong ReflectionsDecember 12

Livin’ Lit, December 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 13

By The Book, December 13

Lighthouse Academy, December 13

Multifarious, December 14

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 14

Splashes of JoyDecember 14

Back Porch ReadsDecember 15

Real World Bible Study, December 15

Robin is Bookish, December 15

Janices book reviews, December 15

C Jane Read, December 16

Ashley’s BookshelfDecember 16

The Becca Files, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

Quiet Quilter, December 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, December 17

Godly Book Reviews, December 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 18

Just the Write Escape, December 18

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 18

Simple Harvest Reads, December 19 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, December 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 19

For the Love of Literature, December 20

Remembrancy, December 20

Inklings and notionsDecember 20

Carpe Diem, December 20

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 21

Locks, Hooks and BooksDecember 21

Pause for Tales, December 21

A Baker’s Perspective, December 21

Have A Wonderful DayDecember 22

Book by Book, December 22

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 22

Bibliophile Reviews, December 23

To Everything a Season, December 23

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 23

Cafinated Reads, December 24

Texas Book-aholic, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Nancy is giving away a grand prize of a copy of Mind Games and the three books in Nancy’s Defenders of Justice series, plus a $20 Starbucks gift card!
 
Two additional winners will also receive a copy of Mind Games!
 
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/d73b/mind-games-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

You Better Watch Out, You Better Be Good

Benjy and the Belsnickel - Swinehart,  Bonnie

Heartwarming and charming, “Benjy and the Belsnickel” is an all-around fun read for children whose reading skills are advanced enough for chapter books, and the hand-drawn illustrations add to the appeal. With Christian underpinnings, this book reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie series as well as the lesser-well-known “Younguns of Mansfield” by Thomas L. Tedrow. Benjy is an eleven-year-old boy growing up in the Pennsylvania Dutch town of Landisburg in the 1930s, and this quaint setting includes a one-room schoolhouse and rural farms where adventure is never far away. Unfortunately for Benjy, neither is trouble. Poor Benjy doesn’t mean to be so naughty, but he can’t seem to help himself, and as a result he fears a visit from the Belsnickel at Christmastime. A more benign version of Krampus, the Belsnickel is associated with southwestern Germany and also the Pennsylvania Dutch. Benjy’s encounter with this mysterious creature might be slightly scary for younger kids, but the overwhelming majority of this delightful book is amusing and pleasant. Reading about a time when kids played mostly outside and used their imaginations to have fun is such a relief from today’s technological age and will hopefully inspire young readers to engage in some of these “old-fashioned” activities!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.

Compelling, with a Caveat

Gone Too Soon - Carlson,  Melody

Whew. This is a tough one to review, because of the subject matter itself and because it’s difficult to discuss without giving spoilers. The first half of this book is very dark. Although there are important peripheral characters, the main characters are sixteen-year-old Kiera, her mom Moira, and her recently-deceased older sister Hannah. Kiera’s part of the story is told in the first person and Moira’s in third-person limited point of view; Hannah’s story is told through diary entries. As such, the reader is really placed into the mind of each character, and let me reiterate: it’s very dark, especially for the first half of this novel. On the one hand, this really makes the experience realistic and enables the characters to come alive and evoke sympathy, but…maybe it’s a bit too much for too long.

The target audience for “Gone Too Soon” is young adult, and as an adult reading this, I would categorize it as mature young adult or even adult. I loved that this became a story about redemption and coming to terms with grief, with all of the baggage that involves: shame, guilt, anger, depression, etc. However, I feel the need to add a major caveat here. A large percentage of this book is not a feel-good story, and it’s not meant to be. This is about a family truly coming apart at the seams, and it is anything but pretty. It is raw and real, and the first two-thirds or so of the story could be included in a manual about how not to deal with grief. There are plenty of unhealthy coping mechanisms, and for this reason I would issue a trigger warning for suicide, rape, and drug and alcohol abuse. There are no graphic details, but the mindset of the characters are described thoroughly. Given this, I would only recommend this book to those who are looking to help people who are dealing with grief and/or those who are looking for a heartfelt read but who are approaching it from a stable mental health perspective. The later part of this book, about the resolution of the plot, could be helpful as a Christian approach to grief. My main bone of contention with the book as a whole is that while I found it to be an absolutely compelling read and loved that it dealt with real-life issues and brought in a Christian perspective in a realistic, non-preachy manner, I feel that the darkness was too heavy without any whispers of hope for too long before any relief entered the narrative.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.

I Will Never Leave Thee Nor Forsake Thee

Woman of Courage: Collector's Edition Continues the Story of Little Fawn - Wanda E. Brunstetter

“I am a woman of faith who is trusting in the Lord to give her courage.”

“Woman of Courage” has been on my reading list for a few years now, and I am glad that I was able to read this collector’s edition, which includes the sequel novella “Woman of Hope.” Expecting “Woman of Courage” to be a travel novel and an Oregon Trail-like experience, I was surprised to discover that it fell more into the genre of wilderness survival and mountain living. Traveling was still a part of the tale, but most of the narrative was focused on the characters’ experiences and interactions with each other rather than on the trek itself. Fraught with omnipresent danger, this story did not have any lulls or tedious sections and proved to be a quick read, even taking into consideration the appended novella. The situations seemed realistic and not contrived, and there were several twists that I did not expect, which I always appreciate. Amanda, the eponymous heroine, was a sweet character, and I would have liked to have more of her background; other than being unerringly Christian and using quaint language (“thee” and “thou”), there were no other indications that she was a Quaker. It would have been worthwhile to add more information about this particular religious group to the story, in my opinion. However, I did appreciate the author’s use of Native American and mixed-race characters.

Despite very much enjoying this story, there were a few points with which I had issues, and I wavered between a four and a five-star rating. Some of the language and slang used in the narrative was not period-appropriate, and several of the characters were stereotypical, including Amanda. She was too perfect and therefore did not seem to grow or change throughout the course of the story, whereas Jim Breck’s attitudes and place in the story shifted too quickly. Yellow Bird and Buck McFadden were my favorite characters, as they were the most dynamic and realistic, given their pasts and what became of them. Because Amanda was a missionary, the Christian underpinning of the novel did come across as preachy, but not overbearingly so. Amanda’s story dovetailed well into that of Little Fawn’s in “Woman of Hope”, and this novella is what ultimately bumped up my rating. Little Fawn’s story was not as idealistic and yet it was still hopeful and inspiring. Amanda’s character was also more realistic, and all of the characters’ actions were credible. The story was well written for its short length, as well, and it did not seem like it was too abrupt. Being able to see how circumstances changed for the characters from “Woman of Courage” in the approximately seventeen-year time gap and being introduced to the next generation of characters was a fitting way to end the saga.

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

The Amish Midwife's Secret Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 



Book: The Amish Midwife’s Secret  
Author: Rachel J. Good  
Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance  
Release Date: November 27, 2018

A beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances.” -Shelley Shepard Gray, New York Times bestselling author
 
They won’t see eye-to-eye until they meet heart-to-heart…
 
Kyle Miller never planned on becoming a country doctor. But when he’s offered a medical practice in his sleepy hometown, Kyle knows he must return… and face the painful past he left behind. Except the Amish community isn’t quite ready for Kyle. Especially the pretty midwife who refuses to compromise her herbal cures and Amish traditions with his modern medicine…
 
The more Leah Stoltzfus works with the handsome Englisch doctor, the more she finds herself caught between the expectations of her family and her own hopes for the future. It will take one surprising revelation and one helpless baby in need of love to show Leah and Kyle that their bond may be greater than their differences… if Leah can find the courage to follow her heart.

Click here to purchase your copy!


About the Author

 



Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for many of her stories. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.
 
Rachel’s Amish series include Sisters & Friends (Charisma House/Harlequin), Love & Promises (Grand Central), Hearts of Amish Country (Annie’s Book Club), and Surprised by Love as well as several anthologies—Springs of Love, Love’s Thankful Heart, Plain Everyday Heroes—and the Amish Quilts Coloring Books.
 

Guest Post from Rachel

 

 

The Amish and Herbal Remedies
 
As many of you know, my Amish novels are based on real life. I get ideas from hanging around Amish friends, hearing their stories and observing their lives. I’d never invade their privacy by telling their stories exactly as they happen, but the things I learn trigger plot ideas.
 
I’ve always been fascinated by the way the Amish approach healing. Once thing I’ve learned is that, although they’re usually willing to visit doctors, they don’t always take the medicines that are prescribed. Instead, they often substitute herbal remedies. That, and several visits to one of my favorite Amish natural products stores, gave me an idea for one of the conflicts in The Amish Midwife’s Secret.
 
Leah, an Amish midwife, prefers herbal remedies. Of course, that puts her in direct conflict with Kyle, the new Englisch doctor in town, who only believes in science and traditional medicine. Put the two together and lots of sparks fly. Of course, some of those sparks are also of a romantic nature.
 
Leah is not only a midwife, but her family owns a natural products store. She knows the best herbs for healing. Rather than sending a small boy to the hospital for pneumonia, Leah covers the baby’s chest with a warm mixture of onions and other herbs and spices (some Amish friends prefer raw onion for congestion), and she feds the baby fresh pineapple juice for his cough.
 
As a doctor, Kyle is horrified. He wants to admit the baby to a hospital at once. And he expects the old country doctor he’s replacing to back him up. Instead, Dr. Hess informs Kyle that many of the Amish go to doctors for a diagnosis, but then rely on herbal treatments rather than prescriptions.
 
Kyle, who’s been debating about whether to stay in Amish country or move to a big-city hospital, decides to remain in Lancaster and make it his mission to prevent the Amish midwife from harming newborns and their mothers. He certainly doesn’t expect to have his eyes opened to other ways to handle illnesses. But he has to admit, Leah’s methods do seem to work. When a crisis comes, they soon discover that it takes both of them to save a baby.
 
***
 
A extra little secret: Those of you who get my newsletter already know this, but Kyle in The Amish Midwife’s Secret appeared in two earlier books. The Midwife story stands alone, but if you want to know more about Kyle and Emma’s past, you can find it in the Sisters & Friends series, Book 1, Change of Heart, and Book 2, Buried Secrets.


My Review

 
My feelings going into this book were a mixed bag. On the one hand, I loved that it had a medical aspect and that it featured many Amish characters, but I wasn’t so sure about some of its other aspects. It’s a contemporary romance, and I prefer historical settings and, although a romantic at heart, I’ve never been a fan of the romance genre. However, so much of Christian fiction is romance-oriented that I’ve come to accept that it’s most likely going to be part of the story. What sets some Christian fiction authors apart for me as a reader is the ability to craft a narrative in which the romance is not overdone. The romance is definitely there, but it’s not overdramatized and it coalesces well with the other primary storylines. To my delight, this was the case with “The Amish Midwife’s Secret”. Even though it was clearly evident from the beginning that Leah and Kyle were attracted to one another, knowing this early on did not detract from the story.

Something that really stood out in this novel was Good’s ability to weave together the Amish, Mennonite, and Englisch cultures and customs. The characters were all dynamic, facing challenges to their beliefs and traditions, and this conflict added emotional depth to the story. Both Leah and Kyle had to come to terms with defining moments in their past and learn how to move forward in faith. They each had dreams that pulled their hearts in different directions, and it was interesting to watch this play out. One of the main lessons, in my opinion, was about compromise. Sometimes the answer isn’t always black and white but rather a mixture of the two. Balancing complementary medicine such as herbal remedies with prescription medication and more invasive procedures is one example of this. Seeing how the Englisch and Amish can coexist and learn from one another made this book stand out, and the strong faith element was a good reminder that God is always working things out and making a way for us. What a blessing it is when we, like Leah and Kyle, realize how things are coming together and falling into place!

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

 

Among the Reads, November 27

Christian Bookaholic, November 27

KarenSueHadleyNovember 27

The Avid Reader, November 28

A Baker’s Perspective, November 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 28

Genesis 5020, November 29

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 29

cherylbbookblog, November 29

Because I said so- adventures in parentingNovember 30

BigreadersiteNovember 30

Quiet Quilter, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Wonders of Anomalies Book Reviews, December 1

Bibliophile Reviews, December 2

Britt Reads Fiction, December 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3

Captive Dreams Window, December 3

Cafinated Reads, December 4

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd CornerDecember 4

Carpe Diem, December 4

Maureen’s Musings, December 5

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, December 5

Christian Centered book ReviewsDecember 6

Janices book reviewsDecember 6

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 8

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 8

Moments, December 9

Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 9

Miss Tinas Amish Book Review, December 10

The Becca Files, December 10

Vicky Sluiter, December 10

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
 
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize package of two faceless Amish dolls and an autographed copy of The Amish Midwife’s Secret and Plain Everyday Heroes!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66f/the-amish-midwife-s-secret-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

I Pledge Allegiance

The Liberty Bride - Tyndall,  MaryLu

Once again this series has delivered a solid, intriguing story full of suspense, romance, and faith. While some series might fall into a rut and begin to turn out indistinguishable heroines and monotonous plot lines, The Daughters of the Mayflower always rises to the occasion with a fresh, exciting experience. Part of this may be attributable to the fact that a variety of authors have contributed to the project. In “The Liberty Bride”, MaryLu Tyndall immerses readers in a Regency-era adventure during the War of 1812, featuring an unlikely heroine and hero. Their vulnerabilities and fledgling faith endear them to readers from the start, and the secrets that they keep ensure that there is no lack of tension. Throw in wartime conditions and you have a tightly-woven narrative that flows swiftly toward its climax, betrayal and love in its wake.

The Regency period is one with which I am not very familiar, and this book certainly aroused my interest. Piracy, blockading, spies, war…wow! I appreciated the gravity of the situation from an American viewpoint. From the comfortable detachment of history, it is easy to forget that victory was far from assured and that the action of individuals such as the characters in this novel often provided the crucial turning points in battle. Then, too, there is the dramatic internal struggle that we empathize with, and while mentally bolstering the characters and pointing out their flawed thinking, hopefully we turn some of the same introspection toward ourselves as well. After all, history reflects and informs our reality, and if, as in this case, it is done well, so does fiction.

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

Shelter of the Most High Review and GIVEAWAY!

About the Book



Book: Shelter of the Most High  
Author: Connilyn Cossette  
Genre: Christian Biblical Fiction  
Release Date: October, 2018

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.
 
Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.
 
As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

 


Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com.

Guest Post from Connilyn

 

Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.
 
So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint, in fact it just went way too fast!
 
One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).
 
Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.
 
One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan and although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.
 
Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul, and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.
 
Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.
 
Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.
 
Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.
 
Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.
 
Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families. I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back!
 

My Review

 

 My expectations were high going into “Shelter of the Most High”, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. Connilyn Cossette is now on my list of favorite authors, and you can bet that I will be bumping all of her books to the top of my pleasure reading list. I am eager to explore Moriyah’s story in “A Light on the Hill”, and although it is not necessary to read it first, I am sure that it offers background information that would enhance the reading experience of the second book. “Shelter of the Most High” holds its own as a standalone, however, and takes off with a flying leap right from the very beginning. There are no lulls in this story! With a diverse cast of characters and a vulnerable but determined heroine, the plot resembles a wheel hub with spokes fanning out from it, each intriguing and skillfully connected to the whole.  

Sanctuary cities are a hot-button topic in today’s political climate, and the concept of a city of refuge, while clearly different in implementation, connects the reader to the narrative and makes the story more contemporaneous. The other issues that unfold augment this connection. Some of the characters suffer from PTSD, and the reality of transitioning from one culture to another, overcoming language barriers as well as foreign customs, is very convincingly portrayed. Romance plays a role also, and one of the most poignant elements in the novel is the faith journey that the characters embark upon. Sofea and Eitan were the main protagonists, and the story is told from their alternating points of view in the first person, but this tale belongs just as much to the secondary characters. Cossette truly achieves a well-rounded narrative in which all of the characters’ lives echo throughout the pages and enrich those of the hero and heroine. This is Biblical fiction done well, on par with the works of such authors as Tessa Afshar. Highly recommended!

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


Blog Stops

 

A Baker’s Perspective, November 20

The Power of Words, November 20

Among the Reads, November 21

Gensis 5020, November 21

God’s Little Bookworm, November 22

Book by Book, November 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22

Remembrancy, November 23

Real World Bible Study, November 23

Inklings and notionsNovember 23

The Becca Files, November 24

Christian Centered book ReviewsNovember 24

Baker Kella, November 24

Bibliophile Reviews, November 25

The Meanderings of a BookwormNovember 25

By The Book, November 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 26

Aryn The LibraryanNovember 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 28

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

For the Love of Literature, November 29

Janices book reviews, November 29

The Lit Addict, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Just the Write Escape, December 1

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 1

Connect in Fiction, December 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 2

Bigreadersite, December 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 3

Purposeful Learning, December 3

Carpe Diem, December 3

 

Giveaway

 
 
To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away
 
Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts
 
Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!

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/d66d/shelter-of-the-most-high-celebration-tour-giveaway