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
Draw Me to Your Side Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book


Book:  Draw Me To Your Side

Author: Marguerite Martin Gray

Genre:  Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: February 25, 2020

Warships in the harbor explode with battle cries for freedom in the hearts of Charles Town’s Patriots.

Charles Town, South Carolina, 1776—With the British war ships threatening his family and livelihood, Louis Lestarjette commits to aid Francis Marion, Christopher Gadsden, Silas Deane and other fiery Patriots with secret correspondences in code and in French. Although not convinced that the colonies can succeed in separation from Britain, he abides by his word—available with funds, his time, and if necessary, even his life.

Louis’ potential volatile role leaves Elizabeth Lestarjette uncertain of the future. Add to that her impending confinement, the secret missions her friends embark on, and the ever-encroaching danger into her domestic world, and the cost of independence grows steeper with each passing day. How will her family survive the coming turbulence?  How will she survive not being an active part of it?  One thing is certain, she must draw to God’s side or lose heart altogether.

Draw Me to Your Side… a prayer whispered against the coming destruction.



Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys history especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches Spanish and French and has degrees in Spanish, French, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She received her MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Presently, she lives in north Louisiana with her husband and rescue cats.
 

 

 

More from Marguerite

 

I have always loved history, probably because my father took me to every historical site he could find on our travels. As I listened to him tell the story of our ancestors to a group of tourists at our Antebellum home, I suddenly realized that he was weaving tales about my own blood line. Very soon after that I flew to Charleston, South Carolina and began my research. From that first of many trips, my Revolutionary Faith Series arrived.

Draw Me to Your Side is Book Four of the series. The titles play a very significant role in the series, each having a dual meaning. The human element is obvious. Although the series is more historical than romance, the titles offer a glimpse into a potential romance. The other element is spiritual. God is the one who weaves his love and hope into their lives.

If you love book titles as I do, as you read this series, see if you can determine the dual meanings of Hold Me Close, Surround Me, Bring Me Near, and now Draw Me to Your Side.

Happy Reading!
 
 

My Review

 

Definitely among my favorite series to date, Marguerite Martin Gray’s Revolutionary Faith series belongs just as much to the attended upon than as to the smallest boy, stoking the patriotism of Americans then and now. As in the Colonial period in which events are heating up and hurtling toward war, I can’t help but notice parallels between the current Coronavirus pandemic. Both situations require us to come together as a nation, united under a common cause; in the case of the Revolutionary War, this is the first time that the colonies stand independently as one entity, a fact that never occurred to me until Louis realizes it in the book.

Book four, “Draw Me to Your Side”, represents the culmination of the rising action of South Carolina and the other colonies as war is declared and what will become known as the Revolutionary War begins. Louis Lestarjette commits fully to the patriot cause, which seems to be doomed from the beginning due to lack of resources and the might of the English King’s opposition. Looking back through history, it is easy to see the heroes and recognize the victories, but we tend to forget that those same brave patriots were living in the midst of great uncertainty, risking everything for the cause of freedom. This includes the women, too, both those carrying out dangerous missions and those caring for their homes and families. Elizabeth’s internal conflict about this demonstrates how much the unstable political environment has affected the colonies: “She may never understand the timing of her love for Louis, her marriage, and the births of her children. But she’d do the best she could as a faithful wife and mother.” This is one of the traits that I admire most about Elizabeth, however, and also about Louis: their ability to look beyond the present discomfort and conflict and see a positive resolution.

The Lestarjettes are a family whom I never grow tired of reading about, and their faith in God and love of country and each other is something that we should seek to emulate, a testament to the foundation of America as truly one nation under God. I hope that there will be more books to follow since the American Revolution is still raging at the conclusion of “Draw Me to Your Side.” There are a few discussion questions focused on Elizabeth and Louis, respectively, as well as a Revolutionary Faith short story entitled “A Heart’s Home (Jeanette’s Story)” at the end of this book.

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

 

Blog Stops

 

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Marguerite is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Card and a copy of the eBook!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Book Review of Tatiana by Madeline Brock

 

Blurb:

 

Tatiana Bergman views life through a different lens than most. She says and does what she likes without regard for hurt feelings on the way. Living in the 1840s in rural Pennsylvania, her passionate, impulsive behavior confounds her sisters and appalls her peers.


Life only gets more complicated when Tatiana befriends Jonny Creek, a mischievous young man whose Native American blood puts him on the fringes of society. Jonny is trouble; Tatiana is intrigued. Together they spell out disaster. From being chased by wolves, to bashing around fancy gatherings, the unlikely pair get into one scrape after another.


When tragedy strikes the Bergman family, Tatiana is compelled to leave the security of her childhood home to live in the bustling city of Philadelphia. There, she is forced into adulthood as she deals with a mysterious young coworker and an unsavory employer.


Tatiana struggles to subdue her wild spirit and keep her heart pure while making the right choices and wrestling with her own woman she finds herself in a battle of her will between two young men and the God she serves.

 

 

Book Purchase Link: 

 

https://amzn.to/2RH8H39

 

 

Author Bio:

 

Madeline Brock's love of people, history, the Lord, and good storytelling flows over into her writing. She was born and raised in Northwest Ohio and came from a homeschooling family of seven. Madeline has loved reading and writing from a very young age.

In childhood, a favorite activity was taking family road trips across the country. Several unique part-time jobs filled her teen years. Among these were: music teacher, nanny, and a historic museum costumed guide. A chocolate factory and a produce stand were also memorable work experiences.

After graduation, Madeline spent two years on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. Her primary activity was teaching at a private school. Now California's beautiful Central Valley is her home. She resides with four cats, her carpenter husband, and their infant daughter.

Two of Madeline's favorite books are Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. She loves the timeless way the authors relate and portray their characters. Madeline strives to write with the nostalgia and emotion of her favorite authors.

 

 

Author Social Media Links:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Madeline-Brock/e/B00RZUN60E

 

https://www.instagram.com/madeline_c55

 

https://www.facebook.com/maddybrockbooks

 

https://twitter.com/MadelineBrock01

 

 

My Review:

 

 

This book was a surprising and refreshing change of pace! While I was expecting a rather typical nineteenth-century romance, Madeline Brock offers so much more with “Tatiana.” It is easy to see the influence of “Anne of Green Gables” and “Little Women” that are mentioned in the author’s biographical information. I was not expecting the eponymous heroine to be ten years old at the story’s opening, and I loved being able to read about her childhood for about half of the book, which was a bit unique from other books within this genre. In fact, “Tatiana” could easily be enjoyed by a young adult or even teenage audience.

 

 

 

 

Tatiana herself undergoes a dramatic yet convincing character transformation throughout the course of the novel, to the extent that I would classify this book as a bildungsroman. An impetuous, undisciplined 10-year-old with no sense of decorum, Tatiana’s life begins to change when she meets Jonny Creek, a half-Indian boy fostered by a local family. Her metanoia, however, comes after a harrowing nighttime escape from a pack of wolves. While a bit melodramatic at times, Tatiana demonstrates the inevitable marching on of time and the importance of friendship and family.

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

 

 

Review
4 Stars
Vengeance is Mine Saith Mi'Lord Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Vengeance is Mine Saith Mi’Lord

Author: Tammy Kirby

Genre:  Inspirational Victorian Romance

Release Date: October 9, 2019

A SISTER FOR A SISTER

Forced into a peer’s realm. Devastated by the death of his beloved sister. With vengeance burning a hole in his heart, will a distraught brother see the damage he’s causing in time to prevent the worst mistake of his life?

Kidnapped for a crime she didn’t commit. Ostracized from society. Can a broken debutante find the peace she craves at Haven House, or must she face her monsters over a ballroom—again?

Captain Nick Rutherford vows revenge against the man who murdered his sister. When the coward escapes, Nick discovers a way to flush him out. Never mind that what he proposes goes against everything he believes in.

Lady Piper Connor faces society’s whispers with her head high. When Captain Rutherford, the new Marquess of Blackwell, forces her to spend the night in his townhouse, she wants to hide in shame—for a moment. Is it wrong to feel relief when one is cast out of society?

Squaring her shoulders, she steps into the morning wearing the same clothes she’d worn to a ball the previous evening. Let them stare.

Join these two hurting people as they walk through overwhelming obstacles to find forgiveness and each other.

God loves her unconditionally, and that is enough. If only a certain marquess didn’t plague her thoughts.



Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Tammy Kirby holds an associate degree in Registered Nursing, a cosmetology license, and the title of author. When she’s not helping heal the sick, or dabbling in color, you can find her at her computer, giving life to the characters clamoring inside her head to be set free.

In 2018 she released her debut novel, His Grace Forgiven, the first book in the Victorian Inspirational Romance series, Haven House. She developed a love for reading at a young age. Beauty and the Beast is her favorite fairytale, and I Love Lucy her favorite tv show from childhood. That being said, you’ll always find one of her characters having some of the same characteristics in Tammy’s works.

She uses her writing to show God’s love and forgiveness through characters from hundreds of years in the past, who face the same problems people face today. Taking broken heroes and heroines and showing them this truth is her mission.

Tammy lives with her husband, Roger in Northeast Louisiana, where she spends her free time doting on grandchildren, reading, crocheting, sewing and, of course, writing about how the Lord can take any sin, no matter how bad and turn it into a blessing to glorify Him. Her desire is for her writing to speak to her readers in a way that draws them closer to the One who loves them above all.
 

More from Tammy

 

When God placed the Haven House series on my heart and instructed me to put them on paper, I asked Him why me? He said because you’re not afraid to write what I tell you even if it’s uncomfortable. This entire series deals with forgiveness in some form or another. Can you forgive the unforgivable? What happens if you can’t?

As an avid reader, my favorite books are those I can apply to real life—my life. I will read almost any genre, but historical romance is my preference. My characters are flawed, even the Christian ones. In my writing I use them to show the world that God can fix anything we get ourselves into—if we ask.

Vengeance is Mine saith Mi’Lord is the third book in a series of five. One day I was sitting at my kitchen table working on the second book, when a handsome ship’s captain waltzed across the room. I knew then, Captain Rutherford would have his own story.

Because of hurtful circumstances, my hero, Nick acts completely out of character. Even though he doesn’t like himself for it, he can’t seem to stop the emotional carriage wreck he’s causing himself at the expense of my heroine, Piper. Throw in a cat named Satan whose alter-ego is Angel (according to my heroine), a cabin boy with a secret, a murder coverup, and you have all the makings for a fulfilling read.

I hope you enjoy Nick and Piper’s story. I certainly enjoyed bringing them to life for you.
 

My Review

 

When I opened this book on my Kindle, I have to admit that I had some reluctance. It is certainly the first book of its kind that I’ve read, with the sobering subject matter and what appeared at first glance to be a dismal storyline. If this also sounds like your reaction, do what I did; take a step of faith and give this book a chance. I found myself warming to the story as I read, and while I don’t think that “enjoy” is the proper word, I do feel that I have benefited spiritually from my time within its pages. Sexual slavery is, sadly, still a major issue around the world, even in the U.S., and I applaud the author for shedding light on this problem and also for addressing PTSD through her characters. It is easy to think of these problems as belonging to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but they have been around just as long as the troubles that cause them.

Opening in London in 1863, “Vengeance is Mine Saith Mi’Lord” by Tammy Kirby is the third book in the Haven House series and the first that I have read, but I did not have any difficulty following along. As I read, I thought about this being Dickens’ London, with its poverty and hardships. This made it easier for me to connect with the setting, even though the main characters are from the upper echelons of society. Later on in the story, as some of the poorer characters emerged, my heart went out to them even more for the lack of choices they had and for the treatment they endured. Haven House is a beautiful mission amidst the backdrop of the evils prevalent in society, much the same as is the case today. This book is not one that sugar coats, but rather that highlights concerns relating to the characters’ wellbeing with respect and an eye toward the Savior.

“Vengeance is Mine” deals, as the title suggests, with Captain Nick Rutherford’s, the Marquess of Blackwell, burning desire for revenge against the man whom he believes murdered his sister. Believing that to be Piper Connor’s brother, he kidnaps her during the night in order to draw her brother’s attention and to recoup some of his own emotional losses. While it’s easy to quickly condemn, there is great value in forgiveness, and we shouldn’t expect characters to be flawless any more than we expect people to be. Ecclesiastes 1:9 reads: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” And as Piper tells one of the girls at Haven House, “You are more than your past mistakes. You are more than what those people who had power over you made you. Do not remember the lies. Your future started when you entered the halls of Haven House. Make it what you want, not what others have told you is your destiny.”

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

 

Blog Stops

 

For Him and My Family, March 23

All 4 and About Books, March 24 (Author Interview)

Through the Fire Blogs, March 25 (Author Interview)

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, March 25

Remembrancy, March 26

Inklings and notions, March 27

Connect in Fiction, March 28

Artistic Nobody, March 29 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, March 29

Texas Book-aholic, March 30

For the Love of Literature, March 31

Vicky Sluiter, April 1 (Author Interview)

Betti Mace, April 2

A Baker’s Perspective, April 3 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 5

 
 

Giveaway


 
To celebrate her tour, Tammy is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & two signed books, His Grace Forgiven and Joy to the Earl!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
The Blue Cloak Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  The Blue  Cloak

Author: Shannon McNear

Genre:  Christian Historical/Suspense

Release Date: March, 2020

Evil Incarnate Leaves a Trail of Destruction across the Frontier

Book 5 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence in 1797 at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend Sally Rice’s wedding only to watch the marriage dissolve into horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin Micajah become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims.

How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?



Click HERE for your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. She’s a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, grammie of two, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® finalist. When she’s not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies. Connect with her at www.shannonmcnear.com, or on Facebook and Goodreads.
 

 

More from Shannon

 

How dark is too dark for a Christian to write?

That was the question I wrestled with when deciding whether or not to take on the story of the Harpes. The histories in Scripture itself aren’t rated G, but writing fiction requires a level of detail and depth of emotion I wasn’t sure would be wise, or helpful, to explore in this case. But as I prayed and sought the counsel of those whose discernment I trust, the answer came back, overwhelmingly …

Is God stronger than the darkness, or not?

Well, of course He is. And nothing in human history has ever escaped His notice, or taken Him by surprise.

So, was there something redeeming to be found in the tale of the Harpes?

For the first few weeks of research, I walked around in a state of shock at the horror of the historical accounts, but details surfaced that helped me shape my fictional characters Rachel and Ben. With Rachel working in her family’s trading post near the wild frontier town of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ben a lawyer who recently passed the bar, the real-life Hugh Lawson White provided a handy connection point between them. Many other details fell together in ways I had not foreseen when I began developing the story. Sally Rice Harpe, however, rose to the forefront. This was more her story than anyone’s, but realizing I couldn’t properly write the book without using her point of view? That was scary. I knew the moments I’d have to visit, some of them in real-time.

Despite the tragedy, however, I could see an overarching story of spiritual warfare. Felt a growing conviction that prayer must have played a vital role in bringing the Harpes’ reign of terror to an end. So it is my hope that against the backdrop of one of the most chilling episodes of our country’s early history, the hand of God shows clearly, and that yes, the reader finds it redemptive.
 
 

My Review

 

Barbour’s True Colors series always has me anticipating the release of the next installment, and each story seems more intriguing than the last. True crime is a genre that I have watched on television as well as read about, and although I can’t remember exactly which medium provided the information, I’m sure that I’ve heard of the Harpes before, although the details are extremely hazy. Due to having some medical background and chronic illnesses, descriptions of bodies tend not to bother me as much as the next person, so in my case that is not a deterrent. This book does include content that some readers may find disturbing insomuch as to make them want to avoid reading it, but these passages are few and far between and are handled tactfully, without sensationalized graphic details. As usual, the pop of color (blue, in this case) on the otherwise monochromatic background infuses life and dimensionality into the cover.

A horrifying look at the two brothers who are considered by many to be America’s first serial killers, Shannon McNear’s “The Blue Cloak” is a book that will stay with you after turning the last page. The first third of the story is, in my opinion, a bit more slow-paced, with exposition and character development, but that is certainly not to say that it is lacking in activity, which becomes apparent later on. From the beginning, Sally Rice’s wedding to Wiley Harpe felt wrong, but unfortunately in the late eighteenth century along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee, the threat can remain hidden for a long time. Rachel Turner is a godly heroine, relying on prayer and trusting God to work in all situations. As an employee of her family’s trading post business along the Wilderness Road, she also represents a working woman who does everything that she can for those she loves. Her work, and that of lawyer Ben Langford, serves to not only seek out justice but also to bring the hope and love of God to even the most desolate. In times such as these, this message is all the more important; may we be lighthouses guiding the lost to the safe shores of the Savior’s arms.

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

 

Blog Stops

 

Just the Write Escape, March 24

Texas Book-aholic, March 24

Inklings and notions, March 25

Girls in White Dresses, March 25

Emily Yager, March 25

Godly Book Reviews, March 26

Genesis 5020, March 26

Remembrancy, March 26

Among the Reads, March 27

Through the Fire Blogs, March 27

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 28

Christian Bookaholic, March 28

Inside the Wong Mind, March 28

For the Love of Literature, March 29

For Him and My Family, March 29

Betti Mace, March 30

Older & Smarter?, March 30

deb’s Book Review, March 30

Robin’s Nest, March 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 1

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 1

Stories By Gina, April 1

By The Book, April 2

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, April 2

Blossoms and Blessings, April 2

A Reader’s Brain, April 3

Connie’s History Classroom, April 3

Artistic Nobody, April 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 4

Back Porch Reads, April 4

Daysong Reflections, April 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 5

Pause for Tales, April 5

Britt Reads Fiction, April 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 6

Hallie Reads, April 6

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, April 6

 
 

Giveaway

 

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

 

Review
5 Stars
Balaam's Curse Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Book:  Balaam’s Curse

Author: C.L. Smith

Genre:  Biblical fiction

Release Date: 2016

Unfathomable evil grips the ancient homeland of the Children of Israel. When Yahweh, Most High God, led his people out of slavery in Egypt to confront it, they failed miserably and spent the next forty years wandering homeless in the desert. Now they are ready to try again. But before they can cross the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land, the prophet Balaam is summoned from Babylon to stop them. Joining forces with supernatural powers, he unleashes a plot so twisted that the name of Balaam is used as a synonym for seductive evil a thousand years later in the Book of Revelation.

Aided by the ruthlessly ambitious Princess Cozbi, the prophet gathers a coalition of five Midianite kings who will stop at nothing to defeat Israel and prevent a crossing that will change the world. Balaam’s Curse, Book One of The Stones of Gilgal, is an epic telling of the resulting deception, revolt, plague, and war. Familiar biblical characters—Moses, Caleb and Joshua—stride through this tale of mayhem and miracles. But this is the coming-of-age story of the next generation, young people nurtured in a simple wilderness life who suddenly find themselves caught in a vortex of violence and upheaval beyond anything they could have imagined.



Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


C.L. Smith, retired junior high school English and history teacher, former missionary, and lifetime student of the Bible, has been captivating audiences around the world for years with the timeless thrill of biblical tales. More than twenty years ago while reading the books of Joshua and Judges, Othniel caught her attention and then his future wife, Acsah. They are only mentioned in a few short verses, but there were a lot of possibilities embedded there. They lived through an exciting era peppered with some other fascinating minor characters of the Bible. The more she thought about them, the more it seemed they were begging her to tell their story. Well, Acsah was. Othniel didn’t say much. He’s pretty quiet. But they convinced her that their impressive and important story had been buried too long among the spectacular events of the time of Joshua. It was about time someone told it. The idea for a biblical novel quickly grew into The Stones of Gilgal series. Balaam’s Curse was published in 2016, A River to Cross in 2017, and Trouble in the Ruins in September, 2019.
 

More from C.L. Smith

 


The light of God’s love dispels the darkness obscuring the era of Joshua and the violent conquest of Canaan. Be inspired by this epic series of biblical novels illuminating the murky mists of ancient time with truth applicable to modern life.


Balaam’s Curse

The first book of the series plunges the reader into a nightmarish tale of terror instigated by an evil prophet from Babylonia. If you think you remember the story of Balaam and his talking donkey from Sunday School, think again. When God puts words of blessing in the prophet’s mouth, thwarting his attempt to curse Israel, Balaam joins forces with supernatural powers in a scheme so twisted that his name is used as a synonym for seductive evil a thousand years later in the Book of Revelation.

Forming a coalition with five Midianite kings and the ruthlessly ambitious Princess Cozbi, the evil prophet unleashes a deadly plot against the twelve tribes of Israel. He will stop at nothing to prevent them from crossing into the Promised land to claim their inheritance. This is a gripping tale of the seduction, revolt, plague, and war that traps the Children of Israel in the Valley of Acacias east of the Jordan for months. Well-known Biblical heroes—Moses, Caleb and Joshua—stride through its pages, but the story unfolds primarily through the eyes of the next generation, young people born and nurtured in the simple wilderness life of the forty-year Wanderings. Suddenly, on the brink of their new life in the Promised Land, they find themselves in a life or death struggle that tests their strength and batters their faith before they’ve even crossed the river.


The Story Behind the Story

This series of biblical novels began with a new interest in Othniel, the first of the biblical hero-judges. His love story with Acsah and his heroic adventures are summarized in only a few words of scripture, but I saw a lot of possibilities embedded in those brief verses. Digging deeper, I realized that Othniel and Acsah came of age during the turbulent era of Joshua along with a handful of other fascinating minor biblical characters. The more I thought about Othniel, Acsah, and friends, the more I was convinced that their impressive and important story had been buried too long among the spectacular events of the time of Joshua and it was about time someone told it. The result is the six-part Stones of Gilgal saga showing how the obstacles overcome in their youth shape each character for their ultimate roles in the story of the settlement of Canaan. The series ends with Othniel rising to save Israel from an oppressive enemy as the first and most noble of the hero-judges.


The Dark Side

The Stones of Gilgal saga includes several “tales of terror,” dark episodes standing in juxtaposition to some of the Bible’s most dazzling miracles. I see these stories as dark and light puzzle pieces, making sense only when viewed within the framework of the Great Cosmic War. Whether read as ancient history or truth-teaching myth, these incidents are chapters in the epic story of the entire Bible, a good God working to save humanity from the forces of evil.


The Characters

Six of my characters are minor but real characters found in scripture who lived during the era of Joshua, experiencing the transition from the Wilderness Wanderings to the Promised Land. They all crossed the Jordan, witnessed the fall of Jericho and the sun standing still at a word from Joshua—life-changing events that prepared them for leadership roles in the book of Judges.

  • Othniel, who becomes the first hero-Judge of Israel
  • Acsah, only daughter of the heroic Caleb
  • Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, future high priest
  • Jonathan, grandson of Moses whose story appears in Judges 17-18
  • Salmon, prince of the tribe of Judah, who appears only in genealogies as the husband of Rahab
  • Rahab, the courageous Canaanite harlot not only saved by faith but honored with a place in the lineage of King David and Jesus Christ.
  • Plus Abihail, fictionalized daughter-in-law of the biblical Achan


My Review

 

Thus far this has been an incredible year for Biblical fiction! Tessa Afshar’s “Daughter of Rome”, Connilyn Cossette’s “Like Flames in the Night”, Brennan McPherson’s “Babel” (2019, but I read it this year) and “Eden”, and now “Balaam’s Curse” by C.L. Smith. It is a blessing to see more and more Christian authors approaching Biblical fiction without compromising God’s Word. When done well, it encourages the reader and reinforces or perhaps even introduces the Biblical text, inspiring deeper study of the Word. Such was the case for me with “Balaam’s Curse.”

This year I am following a YouVersion Bible reading plan that consists of daily readings from both the Old and New Testaments, and therefore the foundation of this novel is one that I’ve recently read, making my reading experience all the more enjoyable. One technique that I recognized Smith employing early on is referencing other Bible stories that would already have occurred prior to the setting of Balaam’s and thereby demonstrating that the ancient Israelites were aware of previous Biblical history. Similarly, the fact that Moses is recording the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt and through the wilderness further displays the accuracy and eternal longevity of God’s Word.

Told through multiple viewpoints, “Balaam’s Curse” chronicles a fictionalized account of the prophet Balaam, whose story appears in the Bible in Numbers 22. In Smith’s fictional account, Balaam has spoken blessing over the Israelites rather than cursing them, and now he pledges himself to Baal in order to get rid of God’s people so that they cannot enter the Promised Land. Othniel, Acsah, and Rahab all have parts in this saga, as do more familiar characters such as Moses, Caleb, and Joshua, offering readers a panoptic view of this seminal point in the history of God’s people. Ephesians 6:12 encompasses the overall theme of this novel, and it repeatedly came to mind as I read: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” As such, while there are certainly some disconcerting scenes in this book, it is important to remember that other gods such as Baal are false gods and are not real, but the evil of our true enemy, the devil, is very real. Despite the power struggles between good and evil in this story and in our lives today, we need to remember that God is good and that He will always prevail; our victory is already secure in Christ’s sacrifice for us.

A few details that I appreciated and would like to call attention to are the simple map at the beginning of the book, which really helps readers to visualize where the events are occurring, and “The Family of Nations descended from Terah” family tree and List of Characters found at the end of the story. These resources are a great help in understanding the story and in making further Biblical connections. Nevertheless, “Balaam’s Curse” is highly readable and, while containing supernatural elements that may be disturbing to more sensitive readers, is an excellent work of Biblical fiction that explores the transition time between Israel’s 40-year wilderness wandering and their entry into the Promised Land.

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

 

 

Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, C.L. is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

The Ministry of Healing Spotlight Post
 

About the Book

 


Book:  The Ministry of Healing

Author: A. J. Gordon

Genre:  Christian non-fiction, spiritual growth

Release Date: January 17, 2020

Classic Christian author A. J. Gordon expresses curiosity about whether the healing miracles from the Middle Ages up to his day can be verified as a continuation of Christ’s Spirit in the church. Through deep study and inquiry of the established history, Gordon concludes that the power to heal followers remains with the church—there was no special era of miracle working. God and His powers remain the same in the modern era as they have right through human history. For Gordon, God’s intervention in the suffering and sickness of His followers is frequent; the will of the Lord however is variable—but He will not prolong the pain of someone whose illness is too great. Throughout this text, A. J. Gordon makes his argument from a biblical perspective, citing passages in both the Old and New Testament that support the continuation of spiritual gifts. Quoting testimonies of believers across the ages, he offers a convincing argument that the church ministry is, to this day, one of healing.



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 

Adoniram Judson (A. J.) Gordon (1836–1895) came to prominence in the United States as the evangelical pastor of Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston for more than twenty-five years. During his tenure there, he saw the church completely transformed into one of the most spiritual and aggressive churches in America, with an unsurpassed effort in missions. A missionary training school and publishing house were associated with the church, and Gordon preached at many of D. L. Moody’s Northfield Conferences, along with other notable preachers such as A. B. Simpson, A. T. Pierson, and R. A. Torrey. His training school eventually became Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He also founded Gordon College, in Wenham, Massachusetts. He wrote his most famous book, The Ministry of Healing, in 1882, but he also wrote at least fifteen hymns, including “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” as well as other books of Christian instruction.
 
 

More from Whitaker House

 

This classic Christian work has previously only been self published. Gordon is renowned as founder of Gordon-Conwell Seminary and Gordon College. His writings became foundational work for what later became the spirit-filled movement.
 
 

Blog Stops

 

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 18

Blossoms and Blessings, March 19 (Spotlight)

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 20

Artistic Nobody, March 21 (Spotlight)

Inklings and notions, March 22

Lukewarm Tea, March 23 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, March 24

Andrea Christenson, March 25 (Spotlight)

deb’s Book Review, March 26

For the Love of Literature, March 27 (Spotlight)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 28

Simple Harvest Reads, March 29 (Spotlight)

CarpeDiem, March 30

For Him and My Family, March 31

 
 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate their tour, Whitaker House is giving away the 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.
 

 

The Builder's Reluctant Bride Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  The Builder’s Reluctant Bride

Author: Stacey Weeks

Genre:  Christian romance, women’s fiction

Release Date: July 8, 2016

He wants a second chance. She says there’s no going back. Ten years ago, a public disgrace sent Jenna Jenkins running from her hometown. Now, the success of her professional future hinges on joining her hometown church restoration project. Her partner and team leader on the job is William Scott—expert renovator, volunteer fireman, and the ex-flame who ruined her life.  William is in crisis, facing the tightening screws of personal and professional failure. When the interior designer on the church renovation project turns out to be Jenna Jenkins, William sees it as a chance to make amends. But Jenna wants nothing to do with him.  How much will William sacrifice to redeem his mistakes and prove his love? Can Jenna protect her heart this time or will William break her for good?


Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author


Stacey Weeks is the multi-award-winning author of Glorious Surrender (2016), and Chasing Holiness (2020), inspirational romances The Builder’s Reluctant Bride (2016), Mistletoe Melody (2018), Mistletoe Mission (2019), and inspirational romantic suspense novels In Too Deep (2017), and Fatal Homecoming (2019). Stacey lives in Ontario where she speaks at women’s conferences, teaches writing and bible study workshops, and writes about the things of the Lord. www.staceyweeks.com
 

More from Stacey

 

Afflicted but not Crushed

I created the character, Jenna, from The Builder’s Reluctant Bride, during a time of life filled with chaos. Changed ripped stability out from underneath me. I couldn’t tell if my challenges were from God deigned to build my faith or if they were a temptation from the enemy to doubt God. Life struck with a severity that stole the breath from my lungs, so I retreated into a fictional world to process. I needed to be reminded, like Jenna, that my current struggles didn’t negate the ways God was using me. I needed to remember that God would use everything in my life to shape me into His image and draw me closer to Him.
“I thought after his mom died, I had lost the both of them. Then, you came around.” The corners of his eyes crinkled.

“Me?” she squeaked.

“Yes. You changed everything for him. I know you left for college right after graduation, so you likely didn’t see the change. But God took that seed you planted in my son and grew this man.” He gestured to William, who stood with his fire jacket off and held a dog while it licked his soot-covered face. “This man of God.” Carmen looked squarely into her eyes. “I am indebted to you, Jenna.”

She squirmed at his unquestionable sincerity. She didn’t deserve his praise for directing his son to faith, the same faith that later let her down in every conceivable way.

When life’s chaos hit Jenna, it caused her to question her faith and question God’s goodness. It took her time to sift through the mess and find the truth. God is good.

Still.

Always.

Never changing.

Good.

It might not feel good. You might want to give up. You might think there is no way for God to redeem your story, but Jenna would tell you that you would be wrong.
 
 

Author Interview

 

Which author has most influenced your own writing?

 

Sandra Orchard is a great mentor and teacher to me. She has invested much into my writing career and has stirred a passion in me to invest into other writers as well. The Builder’s Reluctant Bride would not be in print without her influence.


Which one of your characters speaks most to your heart? Why?

 

I love Jenna. I connect with her because I know what it is like to hold tight to a dream or desire and struggle to submit it to God’s will. I ached as she ached, wept when she wept, and celebrated her victories because I know the struggle. I know what it means to want to forgive yet still feel anger. I understand wanting what God wants but battling with the hardened and wounded heart within. Life isn’t fair, it is too hard, and forgiveness seems to cost too much.

 

Jenna’s moment of complete surrender is my favorite passage in the book. It’s where she considers that God did hear her prayers, and He collected every tear she shed, that His love for her was not dependent on her ability to trust more, act more, pray more, or be more — but was based on Him. Because God remained near her during her struggles, she blamed Him instead of leaning on Him.


What are your hobbies?

 

I love to read and write (obviously!). I enjoy running, music, studying Scripture, and home reno projects.

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

 

I like reading traditional books for non-fiction because I want to mark up the text with observations or comments, and I like eBooks for fiction. The lower price of eBooks allows me to try out more new-to-me authors.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

Be teachable. Eventually, someone will tell you that you’ve made a mistake. You’ll learn a new grammar rule or an old grammar rule and recognize the dozens of ways you’ve mishandled the English language. You can be embarrassed. You can get angry (at yourself). You can run and hide, vowing never to publish again. Or, you can be teachable. You can hear, apply, learn, and grow. I’ve discovered that most other writers will share their knowledge with a student eager to learn. Many editors will graciously explain tricky grammar rules when the student responds to their correction and advice with a teachable spirit. It’s not always about being perfect. It’s about being teachable.

 


Blog Stops

 

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 14

deb’s Book Review, March 15

Texas Book-aholic, March 16

Artistic Nobody, March 17 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, March 18

For Him and My Family, March 19

Andrea Christenson, March 20 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 21

A Baker’s Perspective, March 22 (Author Interview)

Create! Teach! Inspire!, March 23

CarpeDiem, March 24

By The Book, March 25 (Author Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, March 26

For the Love of Literature, March 27 (Author Interview)

 
 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate her tour, Stacey is giving away the grand prize of a dainty bracelet with each word spelled out in Morse Code with beads!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Escape to Vindor Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Book:  Escape to Vindor

Author: Emily Golus

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: December 1, 2017

For as long as she can remember, Megan Bradshaw has imagined herself as the heroine of Vindor, her own secret world populated with mermaids, centaurs, samurai, and more. When school pressures and an upcoming move make life unbearable, Megan wishes she could escape to Vindor for real.
 
And then she does. Megan finds herself trapped in Vindor, with flesh-and-blood versions of her imaginary characters. Dreaming about being a hero and actually fighting monsters are two very different things–especially when the Shadow, the frightening creature now tearing Vindor apart, is one Megan doesn’t remember putting there.
 
Megan, playing the part of her alter ego, Selena, embarks on a dangerous journey, accompanied by a know-it-all centaur and a goblin she’s not sure she can trust. Will the Shadow destroy her before she can find a way to save her world?
 
 
Click HERE for your copy.
 
 

About the Author

 


Emily Golus has been dreaming up fantasy worlds since before she could write her name. A New England transplant now living in the Deep South, she is fascinated by culture and the way it shapes how individuals see the world. Golus aims to create stories that engage, inspire, and reassure readers that the small choices of everyday life matter.

Her first novel, Escape to Vindor, debuted in 2017 and won the Selah Award for young adult fiction. Its sequel, Mists of Paracosmia, released in April 2019.

Golus lives in Upstate South Carolina with her woodworking husband, an awkward cat, and the world’s most talkative baby.
 
 

More from Emily

 

In Escape to Vindor, teen Megan Bradshaw spends nearly every quiet moment she has in a world of her own imagination. Writing this part of Megan’s story came naturally to me, because that was the way I spent my adolescence, too.

While other girls were thinking about—I don’t know what they were thinking about, actually. Boys, maybe?—I was creating epic melodramas about rival mermaid queens or magical rainforest civilizations. The world of my imagination filled my quiet life with vivid technicolor.

My stories also helped me survive. Worldbuilding was a welcome escape from my ever-growing list of fears.

See, I was the extra-good girl, the one who followed every rule to a T, always giving a hundred and ten percent. Few people suspected I did all of this not because I had a lot of drive and confidence, but because I thought I had to be extra-perfect in order to be loved—by people, and by God. I had a deep-seated terror of making one little mistake, losing my way, and being abandoned forever.

The world of Vindor started out as a private daydream, a way for me to work through my anxieties. But as I grew, I discovered something amazing—and the story took an unexpected turn.

I wrote Escape to Vindor for the dreamers, the bookworms, and anyone who enjoys dazzling new worlds. More importantly, I wrote it for the quiet ones who struggle without anyone knowing, who need to hear: You are seen, you are known, and you are loved.
 
 

My Review

 

Right from the start, I knew that this was going to be a great read. Growing up, I never really fit in (and still don’t), and I was usually the kid who always had her head stuck in a book. I had a very active imagination and could thus easily relate to Megan. I always had an ongoing dialogue in my mind, which became the stories that I wrote; today these are usually book reviews! Often with fiction intended for or meant to include younger generations, there is a noticeable distinction in writing style that detracts from the allure of the story, for me at least. However, that is not the case here, and I love it!

With “Escape to Vindor,” Emily Golus skillfully combines elements from such classics as The Chronicles of Narnia in order to create her own unique world and plotline. I honestly never imagined that I would enjoy this book as much as I have, and for readers who desire a little more background and a map of this curious world, both can be found at www.worldofvindor.com in a delightful format. “Escape to Vindor” draws upon the fantasies we all exhibited as children and flips them around, placing us inside them as the hero/heroine, but one who is seemingly inept and obviously flawed.

In at least some way, we can all relate to Megan, thrust into a situation or circumstance that we weren’t prepared for: “She didn’t want to do this. She wasn’t an adventurer. She was shy, plain-vanilla Megan Bradshaw, who was used to a class speech being the most stressful thing she had to worry about all day”.  Sooner or later we all face things we don’t want to, and if we learn to rely on God and reach out and allow others to help us, we can weather the storms.

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

 

 


Blog Stops

 

Inklings and notions, March 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 20

Texas Book-aholic, March 21

Wishful Endings, March 22 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, March 23

For Him and My Family, March 24

deb’s Book Review, March 25

Through the Fire Blogs, March 26 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, March 27

Emily Yager, March 28

Vicky Sluiter, March 29 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 31

Pause for Tales, April 1

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Emily is giving away the grand prize package of signed copies of both Escape to Vindor and Mists of Paracosmia, an amethyst pendant, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Encountering God's Heart for You Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Encountering God’s Heart For You

Author: Diane Stortz

Genre:  Christian non-fiction, Devotional

Release Date: September 3, 2019

God put the Bible together for you, and he wants you to understand and know him better. But sometimes you can get lost in the details and miss the big picture. The Bible is more than just a collection of wisdom, instructions, and history. It’s one unified story of the incredible love of God!

Encountering God’s Heart for You
 takes you on a daily journey through the full narrative of Scripture in a year. And in the process, it will draw you nearer to God as you discover his love and compassion. It won’t cover every verse, or even every chapter, in the Bible, but by the time you’re through, you’ll have a strong grasp of what the Bible is all about.

Reading Scripture isn’t just a way to collect information or check something off a to-do list. Let this book bring you into God’s presence to better understand the Bible’s story of love, sacrifice, and redemption as he draws you to himself.


Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Diane Stortz is a multipublished author who writes to make God’s wonders known to the next generation. Diane’s books for women, A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year and Encountering God’s Heart for You, both from Bethany House, encourage women to get to know God through His Word, the Bible. Her children’s releases include the best-selling Say & Pray Bible and I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, both from Tommy Nelson. Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five grandchildren—all boys! Visit her at www.DianeStortz.com.
 

More from Diane

 

Twenty years ago, I was invited to join a women’s Bible study group planning to read through the Bible in a year to get to know God.
 
Although I’d been a Christian for many years and had read many parts of the Bible and used the Bible in my work as an editor, I had never actually read the entire Bible.
 
I joined the group. We read about three chapters a day and met weekly on Monday nights to discuss what we’d read.
 
I’ve repeated that experience in various forms most years since then, and it has changed my life in so many ways. (Getting to know God does that, right?)
 
I’m convinced that one of the most loving things we can do for someone else is to invite and encourage her to become a lifelong reader of the Word, and to read it together.
 
That’s how I view my new devotional, Encountering God’s Heart for You. It’s an invitation to every woman to pick up her Bible, read along with me, and look together for all the ways God teaches us about himself on every page.
 
 

My Review

 

This beautiful, unique devotional book is one of the best I’ve come across. Reading from cover to cover takes readers through the whole story of the Bible, a novel approach that I personally have not encountered before. While not a substitute for the Word of God, this daily devotional is an excellent and fairly comprehensive supplement, suitable both for those who are familiar with the Bible and those who aren’t. Because each page-long entry is numbered from 1 to 365, there is no set start or end date, unlike many devotionals that are divided into month and day. Each day has a title and the books and chapters of the Bible being discussed, as well as a Scripture verse taken from that designation, and each reading concludes with a prayer. The short reading sometimes consists of Biblical context or the Biblical story, and at other times it focuses on a contemporary connection. I love everything about the formatting; while not every single chapter of the Bible is examined, the highlights are, and this book goes very well with my Bible reading plan this year, which consists of concurrently reading both Old and New Testament chapters daily and results in reading the entire Bible by the end of the year.

Diane Stortz’s “Encountering God’s Heart for You” is structured in such a way that it can serve as a supplemental go-to book for addressing and praying about specific needs or exploring certain books or chapters of the Bible. To this end, I do wish that there was a table of contents, but the chronology follows along closely enough (although not completely) to the Bible that readers should be able to locate certain books without much difficulty. There are two main sections: Encountering God’s Heart for You in the Old Testament and Encountering God’s Heart for You in the New Testament. Each of these two sections is further divided into categories. For the Old Testament these include: The Books of Law, The Books of History, The Books of Poetry and Wisdom, and The Books of Prophecy. For the New Testament: The Gospels, The Book of History (Acts), The Letters, and The Book of Prophecy (Revelation). My favorite during this read-through was The Books of Poetry and Wisdom, although I think that would be subject to change depending on what is going on in my life at the time. This is definitely a book that is going onto my favorites list and that I will refer back to frequently.

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

 

 

Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Diane is giving away the grand prize package of a journal, a set of Scripture cards, and a set of gel pens!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

 

Review
4 Stars
One Little Lie Book Review
 

About the Book

 


Book:  One Little Lie

Author: Colleen Coble

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Release Date: March 3, 2020

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.



Click HERE to get your copy.

About the Author

 

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. You can visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.
 

My Review

 

“Something disturbing was going on in her town, and she wasn’t sure how to solve the puzzle.”

Always on the lookout for well-written Christian suspense books, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read “One Little Lie.” This is the first book in the Pelican Harbor series, and I love it when I’m able to hop aboard a new series as it’s releasing. I also realized that this seems to be the first Colleen Coble book that I’ve read, and after this experience, it won’t be the last.

What harm can there be in telling one little lie? The ripple effects are devastating and leave a trail of pain and destruction in their wake. Not only that, but a group of people find their lives inextricably linked by the falsehood, because trials usually cause people to draw apart from the world in general, and especially their faith. During times of difficulty and uncertainty, let us not ever forget that it is on Christ the solid Rock we stand.

In “One Little Lie,” relationships play a prominent role in the plot. Father-daughter, father-son, and even that between a mother and her children, as Jane Hardy reflects on her own boy, whom she lost briefly after giving birth to him, and as her relationship with her father becomes challenged as untruths keep piling up. Circumstances threaten her heart against trusting, but she can’t walk this path alone.

A fast-paced work of romantic suspense, this book will have you questioning everyone’s motives in the quest for the truth. It does contain some graphic details regarding crime scenes, as well as mentions of domestic violence and abuse, but neither is overdone. My favorite character is, admittedly, Parker the golden retriever because I love dogs and have a great respect for working dogs, which are all heroes in my book.

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

 


Blog Stops

 

Back Porch Reads, March 10

Life of Literature, March 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 10

Texas Book-aholic, March 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 11

The Avid Reader, March 11

Lighthouse Academy, March 11

By The Book, March 12

Older & Smarter?, March 12

Through the Fire Blogs, March 12

Remembrancy, March 12

Betti Mace, March 13

April Hayman, Author, March 13

Emily Yager, March 13

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 14

Bigreadersite, March 14

deb’s Book Review, March 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 15

Inklings and notions, March 15

CarpeDiem, March 15

Christian Bookaholic, March 15

Just the Write Escape, March 16

For Him and My Family, March 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Robin’s Nest, March 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 17

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 17

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, March 17

Stories By Gina, March 18

Janicesbookreviews, March 18

Mary Hake, March 18

Empowermoms, March 18

For the Love of Literature, March 19

Blossoms and Blessings, March 19

Because I said so – and other adventures in Parenting, March 19

Hallie Reads, March 19

A Baker’s Perspective, March 20

Quiet Quilter, March 20

Simple Harvest Reads, March 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Splashes of Joy, March 21

Moments, March 21

amandainpa, March 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 21

Pause for Tales, March 22

Britt Reads Fiction, March 22

Spoken from the Heart, March 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 22

To Everything There is a Season, March 23

Life love writing, March 23

Daysong Reflections, March 23

Lights in a Dark World, March 23

 

Review
4 Stars
Turning Tide Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Turning Tide

Author: Melody Carlson

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Release Date: Feb 15, 2020

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.



Click HERE for 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

 

 
Writing about the WW1 era has definitely been a good history lesson for me. Prohibition laws in Oregon (and rum-runners breaking them) combined with a massive war that changed the world and a global epidemic is worth paying attention to. Especially since history sometimes repeats itself. The early 20th century had a lot going on—much that seems nearly forgotten. I’m glad to see the movie 1917 is doing well—and we plan to see it this week. Although I’m not a fan of gruesome war movies, this era continues to intrigue me. Even as I wrapped up my Sunset Cove series with Turning Tide I was left wondering . . . what’s next? But isn’t that the beauty of story?
 
 

My Review

 

The fourth and final book in the Legacy of Sunset Cove series by Melody Carlson, “Turning Tide” lives up to its name and proves to be my favorite installment. Whereas “Surf Smugglers” left off with a bit of a somber feeling but with burgeoning love and relationships, “Turning Tide” truly does turn things upside down. Reality comes crashing in, and once again Carlson draws readers into an atmosphere that is at once both cozy and overwhelming.

This book was a very apropos read right now because of its candor in addressing World War I. Without going into gruesome detail, Carlson informs readers via Anna’s newspaper of the high number of fatalities of American troops overseas and the injuries to both body and mind that they faced. Shell shock, which is now known as PTSD, is discussed. What makes this part of the narrative so interesting is that it is presented as it was in 1918, with doctors’ thoughts and opinions revealed. Also, the Spanish Flu is an important part of the story, especially the latter quarter or so, which plays into the current Corona virus pandemic. As in this story and the rampant fear generated by the flu, our current response should be like that of Katy when she reaches the end of herself: “She knew it was time to pray.”

Relationships form the backbone of “Turning Tide”, just as they have for the previous three books in this series, and reading all four offers the advantage of witnessing relationships blossom and grow and, in some cases, end. The characters have become endearing over the course of this series, and I will miss several of them, especially Mac and Lucille.

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

 


Blog Stops

 

The Avid Reader, March 16

For the Love of Literature, March 16

Through the Fire Blogs, March 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 17

Inklings and notions, March 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 18

deb’s Book Review, March 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 19

By The Book, March 19

Wishful Endings, March 19

Texas Book-aholic, March 20

She Lives To Read, March 20

Betti Mace, March 21

Remembrancy, March 21

janicesbookreviews, March 22

Mary Hake, March 22

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 22

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 23

For Him and My Family, March 23

Maureen’s Musings, March 24

My Devotional Thoughts, March 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 24

Christian Bookaholic, March 25

Artistic Nobody, March 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, March 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 27

Blogging With Carol, March 27

Daysong Reflections, March 27

SPLASHES of Joy, March 28

Vicky Sluiter, March 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 29

Pause for Tales, March 29

For the Love of Books, March 29

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away the grand prize package of a complete set of The Legacy of Sunset Cove series!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Connilyn Cossette Author Interview March 2020

 

Like Flames in the Night, book 4 in the Cities of Refuge series, released on March 3!

 

You can order your copy HERE.

 

Author Connilyn Cossette has graciously provided answers to some reader questions to explain her writing process and talk about the end of the Cities of Refuge series.

 

 

How long does it take you to edit a book and how do you begin?

 

The editing process is fairly complicated because there’s a lot that goes into my editing process from the beginning. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so it’s pretty difficult for me to write a messy copy and then leave it be. So I usually will write a scene and then edit it the next day before I move on to the next chapter. I will also often send my chapters to my writing partners which will usually require another round of editing and then once I’m finished with a manuscript I will do one more full edit before I sent it to my editors. Then there are three rounds of edits before it goes to print, one in which I read the entire book out loud to myself (or in the case of LFITN, my daughter). So all that to say, I can’t really pinpoint how long it takes a book to edit fully but once I turn in my manuscript to Bethany House it is about a year before it lands in your hands.

 

Who was your favorite character (or the one you most resonate with) and why?

 

In regards to the entire series, I would have to say Moriyah because I got to know her as a young girl and was able to follow her journey all the way through becoming a great-grandmother. She has been the foundation of all of the stories within the cities of refuge and she will just always be one of my very favorites. Don’t tell the others. For Like Flames in the Night, I’d have to say Liyam because he was just a blast to write, such fun to put through the wringer, and I just loved how his character arc developed!

 

Did anything surprise you in this story as you were writing?

 

I have to say that the length of the story was what most surprised me. There were no plans for it to be longer than the others but just due to the nature of the plot and also because I wanted to make sure that all the loose ends from the entire series were tied up in a satisfying way it ended up having a few chapters more. However, I hope that readers will be so absorbed in Tirzah and Liyam that they won’t even notice!

 

What are you hoping readers will glean from this story?

 

Tirzah’s story is one of standing up courageously for her people, her family, and her God. My hope is that readers will be inspired to shine their lights boldly for Jesus and to not be afraid of anything—be it human or spirit—because Yahweh is our champion and when we are out of strength and frightened and feeling alone the Word says that He will fight for us! Nothing can stand against our great big God. Also, I want readers to be reminded through Liyam's Journey how truly powerful grace is.

 

Any fun bits of trivia you want to share with readers?

 

I guess I would have to say that the first thing is that I never planned on writing this book at all. The original Cities of Refuge was a three-book series but when I got to the end of Until the Mountains Fall I felt like there was more story to be told within the time period and with this family. So I proposed the idea to Bethany House and thankfully they went for it! Also, the book discusses an altar that’s at the top of Mount Ebal in Israel and that altar has actually been found on top of that mountain. It’s most likely a later rebuild of the original altar and from what I read it looks like beneath the altar there are possible remnants of the altar that Joshua built when he and the entire congregation of Israel re-confirmed the covenant before he died. So that’s pretty cool! Someday I would really love to walk up that mountain and see that altar for myself.

 

What do you have coming up next? Tell us a little bit about it and when we can expect it.

 

I will be coming out with a new series this winter which is called the Covenant House series. We are skipping forward a few hundred years to First Samuel in a time when Israel was in a fierce struggle against the Philistines, a foreign people that had arrived on the shores of Israel from the island of Crete hundreds of years before. This is a duology, based on the lives of a Philistine sister and brother who are adopted into an Israelite family and begins with the theft of the Ark of the Covenant. The first book is called To Dwell Among Cedars and will be releasing December 1 of this year.

 

This is your last book in the Cities of Refuge series, was there a specific plot or character you wanted to include before bringing the series to a close?

 

I think I really was just having a hard time leaving Moriyah and her whole entire family behind when I decided to write this book! But of course, I really wanted to explore Moriyah’s youngest daughter Tirzah’s perspective. I wondered what it would’ve been like to have grown up in the city of refuge, a place of complete safety in most cases, and then be kicked out and have to live somewhere else under the oppression of foreign invaders for eight years. Also, I was just really intrigued by the entire blank space there is in the Bible where Othniel is concerned and what his struggle against the Arameans might have looked like from the inside. And as advance readers already found out, there is a tie to the original Out from Egypt series in this book and I really wanted to explore connections there as well.

 

 

What is your favorite children’s book?

 

I was a prolific reader from the moment I learned how to put letters together and there are so many wonderful books from my childhood that it is really hard to narrow it down to just one. So I will have to say the entire Narnia series are probably my most cherished childhood books. I even have the original set that was given to my parents as a wedding gift in 1971 and those were the books that I read to my kids. But I have very distinct memories of reading them for myself when I was a child and being so enthralled by the way C.S. Lewis lured me into Narnia and built an entire fantastical world inside a wardrobe. And really, is there anything better than Aslan?

 

Favorite vacations, or a dream trip you’d like to take

 

My favorite vacation was absolutely Israel in December 2017. I only got to be there for a week but it was life-changing and enormously inspiring and I am really hoping that I can go back very soon. I also have a really deep-seated desire to go to Ireland and Scotland and am hoping that my family can take a trip there in the next couple of years. We do have tentative plans for Norway next year as well, where my husband has family to visit.

 

Any hobbies you enjoy?

 

Hobbies? What are those? I write. I read. I sleep, sometimes.

 

How did you and your husband meet?

 

We actually met through a mutual friend who was organizing a ski trip with a bunch of her friends from various parts of her life. We met up well in advance of the trip at Red Robin so that we could all get to know each other and my husband, who is very very shy somehow got the courage to ask me out while we were there. And the crazy thing is that in a whirlwind of dating we actually ended up being engaged before we even went on that ski trip! What can I say? We were young and dumb but somehow it worked out, we’ve been married going on 23 years in September! We still go to Red Robin every year on February 15th, the anniversary of the day we met, which also happens to be the day our daughter was born!

 

What is your favorite genre to read and what are some of your favorite books in that genre?

  

I love historical fiction and tend to gravitate towards it, even though I’ll read from any time period because I just love words and devour them all with great joy. Instead of telling you favorite books because I am terrible at narrowing that down, I’ll give you favorite historical authors. I love anything by Jocelyn Green, Joanne Bischof, Roseanna White, Laurie Benton, Laura Franz, Liz Curtis Higgs, Mimi Matthews, and about 5000 others.

 

Has your relationship with God changed at all through writing these stories? If so, could you share an example?

 

I would say that my faith is so much more real now. All the study of history and culture and archaeology that I have done has given me such confirmation that His hand has worked through history in such an intimate way, tying all the billions of threads together from Genesis to Revelation. The fact that he has led me on such a personal path of discovery just reminds me how much he wants me to love him with my heart, my soul, AND my mind. And the Cities of Refuge series, in particular, has illuminated his grace so clearly in my own life, especially looking backward and seeing how he led me lovingly to himself, even when I was so rebellious and self-centered that I could not look past my own nose, and called me to write stories that glorify his Name.

 

What was writing the Cities of Refuge series like? Emotionally and intellectually?

 

Wow, that is a tough question because it really has been a few years since I started and I have been through a lot of life in the meantime. I have been through two cross country moves since then and my kids are now teenagers! I will say that there were times when it was a struggle and I really had to force myself to write because I was fighting against my doubts, fighting against my overwhelming schedule, and fighting my own perfectionism, but it is so cool to look back at these four books and realize that through all those struggles God did something extraordinary with my very human, imperfect efforts. He has led me on an amazing journey that taught me how to be a better writer, how to be a better storyteller, and how to dig deeper into my own wounds in order to make a book connect with readers on a deeper level. And being able to write about how God displayed his perfect balance of grace and justice through the Cities of Refuge has been a privilege.

 

Why Cities of Refuge? Why not another story?

  

The easy answer is that because I was just fascinated. Once I started to do some reading about the cities of refuge, which I really didn’t know much about, I saw the beautiful way that they foreshadowed Jesus our Messiah who is the perfect balance of grace and justice for his people and I just wanted to delve into those characteristics of God so I thought that the cities of refuge was a perfect vehicle to do so! Besides, I’d just fallen in love with Moryiah in Wings of the Wind and felt she needed a story too. Who knew what would come of it all when I was struggling over whether to brand that poor girl’s face!

  

Apart from writing, what is your life like? Family? Fun things you do?

 

Well writing is a pretty big part of my life, it takes up a good chunk of my day. But I also am a homeschool mom to two teenagers, so in between writing chapters and doing all the other things that I have to do in my author life, I am organizing lessons for my kids and coaching them as they drink from the well of knowledge and learn to be intellectually curious like me. And then, of course, I’m doing lots of driving back-and-forth to play practices because my daughter is heavily involved in theater and chauffeuring kids to youth activities on top of all the other basic things that I do as a wife and mother. Since we’ve just moved back to the DFW area we are still settling into a new church home, but at our church in North Carolina I was also on the worship team because I love to sing. But yeah, that’s pretty much it. Other hobbies have pretty much disappeared because of writing, so I’m kind of boring, but it’s worth it!

 

 

What inspired the idea for this story?

 

When I was in Israel a couple of years ago we went to a place called the Ayalon Institute. It was actually a kibbutz (like a co-op farm) that contained an entire underground bullet factory hidden from the British and the Arabs before the 1948 war. They secretly crawled down ladders beneath a commercial laundry room because it was noisy and could cover up the sound of the bullet making machines and many of the people who lived and worked on the kibbutz had no idea what was going on under their feet! Over a number of years, this group of young people managed to make thousands and thousands of bullets and ship them out through covert means, like in milk trucks. Without their sacrifice and ingenuity, the nation of Israel might have been lost when the Arabs attacked en mass. I was enthralled by the stories of miracles that happened during this time and how these young people, men AND women stood up for their people so courageously. I was inspired by this short visit to the underground bunker to write about brave men and women who put their lives on the line for the nation of Israel, both in ancient times and in modern ones. So as you will see as you read, there are a number of places where I talk about covert operations and secret weapons-making and those were directly inspired by that tour of the Ayalon Institute. Malakhi and Eitan would have loved everything about it. Look it up, it’s fascinating! 

 

What are your favorite triggers to get in "creative mode," something that gets your imagination going?

 

I have learned over the years that I have to have a perfect solitude when I write. I cannot listen to music because it distracts my musical mind too much and I want to follow chord changes and lyrics, so I’ve learned that the best thing to keep myself isolated is to listen to brown noise. That way I can just block out everything around me and lose myself in the story. I’ve also found that writing or brainstorming by hand can be a huge jumpstart to my imagination because it uses a different part of my brain. If I get stuck other creative things help too: coloring, singing, drawing, doodling, or just chatting with my writing pals about what might come next! Oh, and coffee always helps.

 

Do you seek out a spiritual theme for each book before you draft, crafting the plot around it? Or does it come to you later as you edit and weave in a theme?

 

That really is different with every book. There are times when I know going in exactly what the spiritual theme is going to be; like with Until the Mountains Fall which was about a prodigal daughter. But there are times when it takes me almost the entire writing of the book to really figure out what it is the characters are trying to say and what it is the Lord is weaving into my story. And there are times when I may know the spiritual journey of one of the main characters but not the other and it untangles itself as I learn who the characters are together, what their wounds are, what their goals are, etc. There have actually been times when I thought it was one spiritual theme and then it completely surprised me by turning into another by the time I was done.

 

 How long did it take to write your first successful book, "Counted With The Stars" ?

 

It took me five years roughly because I was not only doing a lot of research but I was studying how to write a book and how to get published. So it took me a lot longer than it does to write a book now that I kinda-sorta-hopefully know what I’m doing.

 

What do you want your readers to know about you?

 

That I am just a simple girl who loves Jesus and loves to write stories and is absolutely delighted that anyone would want to get to know her imaginary friends. I am beyond blessed to get to hang out in my pajamas and make up stories all day long and somehow people out there want to read them. I am still pinching myself that this is my life!

 

 What are some of your favorite movies? Or do you prefer reading books when you’re not writing?

 

I don’t get to watch movies and TV as much as I used to, my writing world is too full and I will always choose a book first. But I have been known to binge Stranger Things and Fauda (an amazing Israeli TV show that gets my imagination revving). My favorite movies, if I have to choose, are probably About Time and the Princess Bride.

 

How does it feel saying goodbye to characters you’ve been with for so long?

 

It is really so bittersweet because I feel like these people are part of my family and I know them inside and out. So it kind of feels like I’m abandoning them in some way. But they’re always there waiting for me and maybe someday I’ll have a chance to come back and revisit them. And then again I’m also really excited to find new characters and discover their journeys and now that I’m writing this new series I’m having a great time creating a whole new set of people, discovering what makes them tick, and finding all sorts of disastrous and dangerous situations to put them into peril and complicated situations to mess with their heads. I’m kinda evil like that ;)

 

Did you think you would one day be a writer, let alone a published author?

 

I certainly hoped so. I wanted to be a writer since I was a pretty young girl and dreamed of a day when a book of mine would be on a shelf in the library— because to me that was like the ultimate goal. But life took me in some other directions and for many years I thought writing was a pipe dream. So God really surprised me by giving me the long-buried desire of my heart even though I had kind of stopped even hoping, dreaming, or even asking Him for it.

 

If you could only recommend one fiction book, which would it be and why?

 

I would have to say for classics, Jane Eyre because it is my favorite book of all time and no matter how many times I read it I find more ways that Charlotte Brontë was genius and a master of her craft. As for a modern fictional book I would have to say Joanne Bischof’s the Lady and the Lionheart because it made me just weep when I realized what the theme of the book was and as soon as I finished reading it I picked it up and read it all over again the next day and I had never done that before in my entire life. Read it, it’s fantastic.

 

What inspires you to write about the specific biblical characters that you choose to focus your books on?

 

It’s usually because I want to know more about that character or about that time period for my own personal understanding of the Word and to know God’s character better through those journeys. I just love learning about the Bible and about the people who witnessed those events and revel in darting down historical rabbit trails. And I love to let my imagination run wild and see what kind of fictional people I can tangle up with those who actually did walk this earth and experienced the stories we think we know so well.

 

If you could travel back in time to personally experience a Bible story, which one would it be and why?

 

That’s a pretty simple answer for me; other than the resurrection, I would be there for the crossing of the Red Sea because what bigger miracle—other than Jesus rising from the dead in a blaze of pure light—could there be? I sure hope the Lord has that one on video when I get to heaven. Who knows if the way I imagined it was anywhere close to the real thing (because I’m pretty sure Hollywood didn’t get it right) but however it happened it had to have been a mind-blowing thing to witness.

 

To learn more about Connilyn, get free devotionals based on her books, and join her email list, please visit ConnilynCossette.com and follow her on social media:

 

Facebook

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Check out the entire Cities of Refuge series HERE.

 

Review
5 Stars
In the Garden Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  In The Garden

Author: Whitaker House Editorial

Genre:  Christian non-fiction, Biblical history, cultural, Biblical reference

Release Date: January 10, 2020

Consider not only the lilies of the field, but all the plants, trees, herbs, shrubs, and flowers that play a role in the biblical narrative through this illustrated guide. From the barley Ruth harvested to the hyssop David craved, from the frankincense the wise men brought to Jesus to the sycamore tree Zacchaeus climbed, the Bible is peppered with allusions to the plants that were a part of daily life in the ancient Near East and in New Testament Israel. With original illustrations, this beautiful gift book clarifies the biblical references to fifty plants and provides delightful new insights into the Word of God. Includes indexes to each plant and its corresponding Scripture references, a calendar of Jewish festivals and the growing seasons in Israel, and tips for growing your own biblically inspired garden.



Click HERE to get your copy!

More from Whitaker House

 

Rather than being a dictionary of the plants mentioned in the Bible, In the Garden, with its original illustrations and plant descriptions, is meant to spark the reader’s spiritual imagination. It is our hope that these pages about the plants of the Bible will prompt your imagination and inform your study of the precious Word of the living God.

My Review

 

Having previously read and reviewed a book about essential oils used in the Bible and their modern applications (“Essential Oils: God’s Extravagant Provision for Your Health” by Teri Secrest), I was eager to further explore the topic of natural health from a Biblical perspective. For reviewing purposes, I was provided with an e-copy of “In the Garden”, and I can only imagine that the hardcover edition is even more delightful.

The organization of “In the Garden” serves to provide maximum ease of use. There are four sections regarding the plants themselves: Trees and Shrubs, Edible Plants, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, and Flowers. A Bible verse begins each entry, which also includes the Latin, Hebrew, and Greek names of the plant being discussed; to many, perhaps, this may be superfluous information, but as someone who loves languages and etymologies, I have to say that I appreciated it. Gorgeous illustrations give readers a clear visual, which really enhances the reading experience. Each plant’s native location and where it was used is also provided, along with how it relates to Biblical use (usually directly connecting it with the preceding Scripture) and modern use. The book also includes two more interactive segments: Growing Your Own Biblically-Inspired Garden and a Calendar of Jewish Festivals and Growing Seasons. This takes the book beyond an ordinary reference manual and invites readers to grow some of the plants mentioned, while backing the connection with the Bible by illuminating the connection between the Jewish festivals and the typical growing seasons.

Not being particularly well-versed in botany, I learned a lot of interesting facts from this book. I did not realize that the palms referenced in Scripture were date palms, nor did I realize that Solomon seems to be largely credited with the bountiful supply of cedar in Jerusalem. I learned how papyrus is made, and that flax has blue blossoms. I also found the possible explanation of why Jesus rejected the vinegar mixed with gall interesting: because of its painkilling properties. My only criticism is that I would have liked more description about the plants as opposed to the brief information that is given. My favorite aspect of the book is how it often relates a plant to one of God’s promises found in the Bible: “In the same way that foreign imports like cinnamon could be used in the most sacred worship of the Lord, so one day foreign nations would join in worshipping the true God, bowing the knee and confessing that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).”

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


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 


To celebrate their tour, Whitaker House is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and 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.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
We Can!
Yes Sisters: Surrounding Yourself with Women who Affirm, Encourage, and Challenge You - White,  Angelia

We CAN! Angelia White’s “Yes Sisters,” written with Erin Keeley Marshall, forms a handbook of sorts for women who are seeking to find or to become Yes Sisters, who encourage, speak truth, and help us become the best Christ-followers that we can be. As the appellation suggests, Yes Sisters should be women who support us and cheer us on while not being afraid to (lovingly) tell us what we need to hear: “Yes Sisters pursue and celebrate the potential in other women. They thoughtfully seek what’s below the surface. They give honor to the special beauty in someone else.” White connects this with our faith walk by delving into the qualities of God, including the yeses and nos that He gives us.

“Yes Sisters” is divided into three parts, with the first comprised of affirmations for women and also about God; the second focusing on moving forward with what God has placed on our hearts; and the third a look into becoming a Yes Sister, forgiving the No Sisters we have encountered on our journey, and learning about Yes Sisters found in the Bible. Each chapter opens with a relevant Scripture verse, and between each chapter is A Word from a Yes Sister, short stories of insight from a variety of Christian women.

The essence of this book may be found within the chapters themselves, as this is where White shares her own personal tragedies and triumphs, making “Yes Sisters” infinitely relatable and inspiring for women of all ages and all walks of life. Chapter 8, Our Faith Will Sustain Us, is one of my favorites. I particularly enjoyed the message regarding trusting God: “Instead of beating ourselves up for not trusting Him more, we need to see that the very act of admitting our need for Him reveals our trust. Something in us knows we need Him first and foremost. That something is faith.”

Whether you are a new Christian or a long-time disciple, “Yes Sisters” will uplift and enlighten you along your walk with the Lord, with faithful sisters by your side.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
Her Rebel Heart Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Her Rebel Heart

Author: Sharlene MacLaren

Genre:  Christian Historical Romance

Cristina Stiles is left to fend for herself and her two young children while her husband goes off to fight in the Confederate army. She also has to deal with two rogue Yankee soldiers who’ve beaten her, stolen her food, and keep coming back to cause more trouble.

Jack Fuller is a God-fearing Christian fighting for the Union. During a surprise encounter, he shoots and kills a Rebel soldier. In his final breaths, the Rebel asks Jack to deliver a letter to his wife—and he agrees. But when he arrives at Cristina’s small farm in West Virginia, she assumes Jack is one of the Yankee trouble-makers, trains her rifle on him, and fires. As he lies on the ground bleeding, he explains the purpose of his visit, and out of a sense of obligation, she decides to nurse him back to health.

What will happen when Cristina discovers Jack is the one who made her a widow? Will her rebel heart forgive him—or finish him off?


Click HERE to get your copy.

About the Author

 


Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating with an education degree in 1971, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally for a year with a singing ensemble. After traveling for a year, she returned to her teaching job, then in 1975, she reunited with her childhood sweetheart, and they married that very December. They have raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying their own families. 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!

Shar has always enjoyed writing, and her high school classmates eagerly read and passed around her short stories. In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, so in 2006, she signed a contract with Whitaker House for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her professional writing career. With more than twenty published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, Shar gives God all the glory.

Shar’s novels have won numerous awards. Most recently, Their Daring Hearts was named a 2018 Top Pick by Romantic Times and her last book, A Love to Behold, was voted “Book of the Year” in 2019 by Interviews & Reviews.

Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and has participated in several interviews on television and radio. She loves to speak 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. Shar and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton.

More from Sharlene

 

Dark-haired, independent, and tough to the bone, Christina cares for her two young children in a ramshackle cabin in Ripley, West Virginia. When the Yankee who killed her husband pays her a visit, she has to decide whether to forgive him—or finish him off. Will this tough Southern woman find grace in her rebel heart?
 

My Review

 

With a beautiful cover, a slowly-developing romance, delightful characters, and more, Sharlene MacLaren’s “Her Rebel Heart” is an absorbing, heartfelt read. Her writing won me over with “A Love to Behold” last year, and I was thrilled to be able to read “Her Rebel Heart.” Historical fiction has always been my first love when it comes to genres, and the additional fact that this novel features the Civil War made it appeal to me all the more. Exploring the narrative through a Christian lens is particularly enlightening when considering the big picture: how America as a country became so divided, and also the impact on families on both sides.

Several historical facts set “Her Rebel Heart” apart from other historical fiction written about this time period. For instance, I am very interested in learning more about the secession of West Virginia from Virginia, which as we know became permanent. I found it interesting to learn that some West Virginians maintained loyalty to the South, including the main character in this novel. In the spirit of historical accuracy and honesty, I give MacLaren kudos for two of the villainous characters, who are Union soldiers, because this demonstrates that not every Union soldier had good morals, nor did every Confederate have bad ethics. Also, by employing the dialect of the West Virginia town, the author adds authenticity and cultural flavor to the narrative.

As for Cristina’s newfound faith, she starts changing her habits, reading the Bible, and coming to Jesus when she realizes the negative effect that her attitude has had on her children, causing her son especially to feel callous toward others. As Jack comments, “Sure seems like you’ve got the hand of God on you, protecting you time and again, and I’m wondering whether you’ve been aware of that, or whether the idea’s entirely new to you.” Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction or a kind word to set someone on the right path, and we should all strive to offer that kindness to others. As in “Her Rebel Heart”, one never knows where it may lead.

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


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway


 
To celebrate her tour, Sharlene is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and a 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.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
I Am My Beloved's
Claim Your Crown: Walking in Confidence and Worth As a Daughter of the King  - Saint-Elien,  Tarah-Lynn

“As a King’s kid, you have the audacity to claim your inheritance and all God has promised to you. When you choose to belong to Christ, you become an heiress (Rom. 8:17) and receive all the promises reserved for Abraham’s descendants (Gal. 3:29).”

Plainspoken and pragmatic, Tarah-Lynn Saint-Elien sets forth an emboldening and encouraging manifesto of sorts with her new book, “Claim Your Crown.” As she explains in the introduction, “Claim Your Crown thwarts the media’s misconceptions about beauty and womanhood while teaching God’s original intent. It delves into the recurrent insecurities, fears, doubts, and guilt young women face daily.” With a non-nonsense, conversational tone, she speaks directly to all of the young women who, in today’s society, face more pressure and challenges to their self-worth than ever before. So, what makes this book different from the scads of other self-help manuals out there? Faith in God. That’s where it all begins, and until we understand that, we will continue to stumble around blindly.

 As Revelation 17:14 tell us, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, and Jesus and the Father are one. Therefore, as Tarah-Lynn states, “You, queen, are automatically deemed royalty as a child of God. You are born with royal blood.” Every one of God’s daughters is a princess, with royalty conferred on us from the moment of our conception. Feeling less than anyone else is a lie from the enemy because we are royalty. Instead of focusing on what the world tries to tell us, we need to listen to the voice of our Father, the King, and suit up each day with God’s armor as we fulfill His purposes for us and speak life over those around us.

Written for and addressing a young adult audience, Tarah-Lynn’s voice is very conversational and informal, addressing the reader directly. Because I am older than the target audience, this felt awkward to me at first, but it definitely presents a powerful narrative and would no doubt be perfect for those in their teens and twenties. Each chapter is titled, which I personally always find helpful in reinforcing the content, and ends with Kingdom Keys, which consists of a short summary of that chapter’s main points, and also a few Reflection questions to engage readers. This is a fun, inspirational book about serious topics, highlighting our regal status as God’s beloved daughters, and I highly recommend it for all young women, and even for those who are older but still need a reminder that they are preciously counted as princesses and queens in God’s sight.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.