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
Above the Fold Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Above the Fold

Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Confined behind a secretarial desk at her father’s struggling newspaper, Elissa Tillman longs for her father and the world to take her seriously—not just as a suffragette, but also as a full-fledged journalist.

Cole Parker regrets the day he’d abandoned Pittsburgh to chase a high-profile journalism job in New York, but now he’s returned to the steel city to amend his mistakes and win back the woman he once spurned.

The murder of a millionaire offers the perfect chance for Elissa to nab the headline and prove her skills. But there’s a catch. To get her story above the fold, she must compete for it. Her rival is none other than Cole Parker, the very man who shattered her heart.


Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. She currently enjoys life in Ohio with her husband and two kids. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms.
 

 

 

More from Rachel

 

What does the classic movie His Girl Friday, famous mystery writer Agatha Christie, and my husband’s grandfather all have in common? They were all used as inspiration for my debut novel Above the Fold.
 
His Girl Friday is one of my favorite stories. This movie captures the thrill of the newspaper world—that drive within the reporter’s heart to get the scoop, that hum of activity from the newsroom to the firing of the presses, and that inescapable pursuit to beat out the opposing paper. But what I loved most about this movie was the chemistry between the two main characters. They share a romantic history. In turn, there is major tension, but man oh man is there spark! So this triggered my creative mind. What would happen if I switched the roles and had the heroine be the one that gets jilted? What if I set this story in the 1920s when the profession of journalism was male-dominated? What if I add some more mystery? Cue Agatha Christie.
 
 
My husband and I love Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple series. Did you know that she wrote over 74 books? That’s staggering to me. My mind reels at how intricate and varied all her plots are. My husband and I would try to guess who the murderer was at the beginning of a story and more often than not, we were wrong! On one particular night we were watching a PBS version of Miss Marple and an idea struck me. What if I changed my story to go this route? What if I made this person the villain instead of that one? The idea that came to me had nothing to do with the story we’d been watching, but one thing that’d been said flickered a light in me. I love it when that happens! And I also love it when I can incorporate pieces of my personal life into the book. This brings me to the biggest inspiration of the story—my husband’s grandpa.
 
Grandpa Jay Lewis had two loves in his life—his wife and the newspaper press. He’d started working for the local newspaper during his early teens and made his way up the ranks until he became the press foreman. Here’s a picture of Jay when he was in his early 20s. The hat shown was made of folded newsprint paper and worn to keep the ink from dripping on his head. But the expression in this picture says it all—the press was his happy place. He’d worked with the presses for over five decades, until he no longer had the strength. In 2004, he passed away, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of many. So in tribute to Jay and his great passion for the newspaper world, I included him in the cast of characters. I only hope I was able to capture his zeal.
 
So there you have it. Inspiration came to me in a myriad of ways, but they all worked together to bring you a story that I pray delights your heart.
 

My Review

 

How appropriate that this book is set in 1922, as we now enter the “roaring twenties” of the twenty-first century. Comparisons are inevitable, and to my surprise, as I read “Above the Fold”, I realized that while there has been progress, much remains the same. This story seems timeless in some ways because the conflicts and circumstances translate so well, both on a more superficial human level and on a deeper spiritual level. A mark of noteworthy fiction, this detail goes hand-in-hand with being relevant and applicable to readers. Achieving this with historical fiction further raises the standard.

Rachel Scott McDaniel’s “Above the Fold” triumphs remarkably, no small feat for a debut! I certainly never would have guessed that this was a first novel, as it carries the sophistication of an established writer. From character development to plot execution, this story truly shines, and I am delighted that I had the privilege to read and review it. What initially drew me to the story was the fact that it is set in Pittsburgh, as that is not very far from where I live and I recognized most of the street names, as well as the Duquesne incline. The references to it as a steel industry magnate and the ecological concerns therein continue to be issues of debate today, even after the end of the steel era.

McDaniel’s focus on the newspaper industry offers another facet of the Steel City, bringing attention to journalism and the role of women in post-WWI, Prohibition-era America. Through Elissa Tillman, McDaniel highlights the ongoing women’s suffrage movement in the quest for workplace equality. While not a new theme in and of itself, in this story it dovetails with romance and the human condition to reveal how inextricably linked our identity is with the way in which we approach life and impact those around us. Elissa had been known in school as the “Shadyside Slob” because she was not elegant and graceful, and in adulthood, as she strives to earn a place as a newspaperwoman, she laments that “No man took her seriously. Not Father. Not Adam. And definitely not Cole.” So “[w]hich hurt worse, forgotten or betrayed? The only men she’d ever loved had done both.” Perfectionism results from a desperate need to prove herself. Cole, likewise, battles his own inner torments, able to see himself only through the lens of failure. However, a murder investigation serves as a catalyst for metanoia, demonstrating how the Lord uses even bad situations for good and is truly the God of second chances. She realizes, as we all should, that “Her dreams had been elusive like a breath of wind, but her value wasn’t found in triumphs. Or failures. God’s love defined her…God’s love made her enough.”

Highly recommended for anyone interested in 1920s Pittsburgh, journalism and the news business, women’s suffrage, Prohibition, addictions (handled very gently, without graphic details), second chances, and finding one’s identity in Christ.

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

 

April Hayman, Author , January 14

Robin’s Nest, January 14

Godly Book Reviews, January 15

Where Faith and Books Meet, January 15

Just the Write Escape, January 16

Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections, January 16

Through the Fire Blogs, January 17

mypreciousbitsandmusings, January 17

Betti Mace, January 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 18

Texas Book-aholic, January 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 19

janicesbookreviews, January 20

Emily Yager, January 20

She Lives to Read, January 21

For the Love of Literature, January 21

Inklings and notions, January 22

Life of Literature, January 22

Daysong Reflections, January 23

For Him and My Family, January 23

Stories By Gina, January 24

Jacquelyn Lynn, January 24

Hallie Reads, January 25

Beauty in the Binding, January 25

Back Porch Reads, January 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 27

Batya’s Bits, January 27

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her giveaway, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of an Autographed Paperback copy of Above the Fold, A Custom Newspaper-Themed Book Cozy, An Above the Fold vintage-style bookmark!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
3 Stars
There is Hope Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: There is Hope

Author: Carla Huelsmann

Genre: Journal, devotional, memoir

Release Date: August, 2018

52 life lessons for those struggling with major illness will inspire hope and encourage those suffering to take back control of their lives.

Carla Huelsmann dealt with the daily impact of seizures since age two. Her life-long battle with epilepsy impacted all parts of her life, family, career, self-confidence, and independence until corrective brain surgery ended the seizures. Free from the debilitating seizures and their accompanying residues of doubt and fear, Carla Huelsmann lives independently and shares her story to help others along their own journeys.

Part journal, part devotional, and part memoir, this is a book of hope, faith, and inspiration. The book addresses the fears, challenges, and questions about the future those going through a major illness, debilitating injury, or life crisis may have. Designed as a traveling companion for those facing challenging circumstances, each one-page entry is accompanied by blank space for the reader to journal his or her own thoughts and prayers.

My goal is to give hope, help, healing, and resources. I want to walk alongside others and assure them they are not alone; there is hope. -Carla Huelsmann  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy!

   

About the Author

 


Carla Huelsmann earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University, subsequently taught grades five through eight, and now works for the US Department of Veterans Affairs in St. Louis, MO. The alumnus of a fiction-writing course at Southern Illinois University, and the CLASS Seminar with Marita and Florence Littauer, she is also the author of articles on her experiences, and is available to speak.
 

 

 

More from Carla

 

I want to inspire and equip others struggling with epilepsy or other major illnesses to take back control of their lives.  Eighteen years after corrective surgery, I live a seizure-free life that I feel in control of. And, I want to share my story and lessons learned with others facing serious challenges. My goal is to give hope, help and healing and resources of helpful information in one book. I want to walk alongside them and assure them that they are not alone and there is hope!
 
I’ve dealt with seizures, epilepsy and their daily impact since the age of two. It has impacted my family, career, self-confidence, independence and much more. Through it all, family, friends and faith have provided bedrock sources of strength. In addition, timely interventions by doctors, new contacts, new techniques and self-discipline came at opportune times through perseverance.  
 
Now free from the tunnel of doubt, fear and debilitating seizures, I’ve gathered up my collection of personal journals and thoughts in order to help others along their journey. “There Is Hope: Bloom Where You are Planted” is a devotional for someone going through major illness, major injury, or life crisis.
 

My Review

 

After reading “There is Hope”, I have conflicting feelings about it. I was looking forward to reading it because of its focus on major illness, and because it is a devotional. However, I think that labeling it a “devotional book” on the front cover is a misnomer; had it been marketed as a memoir, readers would have a better idea of the content. Had I not been expecting devotional material, I think that I would have appreciated this book more. There is a Scripture verse at the end of each brief chapter, but in several cases the connection is not immediately discernible. I liked the setup of this book, with a “Your Turn” journal page after each chapter, but I did think that the prompt for each of these could have been a bit more thought-provoking and stimulating, and the majority of them did not have inherent spiritual application. If “There is Hope” were to be categorized as an inspirational memoir, I would consider it much more suitable.

With that being said, approaching this book as an inspiring account of the author’s struggle with epilepsy makes for an interesting and encouraging reading experience. The entries, usually half a page or slightly longer, are bite-sized and can be read in a minute or two, which affords readers plenty of stopping places to reflect and consider the journal prompts without feeling as though they are pulling themselves out of the story. I will say that there are grammatical errors, and the chronology is rather discombobulated regarding dates and the number of years that are said to have passed, which is not seemingly related to this being a reprint edition. Nevertheless, Huelsmann’s experiences with epilepsy are educational as well as inspirational, and I applaud her for not glossing over the hard days and for encouraging others not to give up or fall into despair. She writes, “Anytime I gave into [sic] my worries, fears like fiery darts peppered my emotions. Instead, I learned to hold fast to my victory through Christ who gave me victory.” With Jesus, there is always hope!

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

 

Texas Book-aholic, January 13

janicesbookreviews, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 15

Older & Smarter?, January 16

Inklings and notions, January 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 18

For the Love of Literature, January 19

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 20

Through the Fire Blogs, January 21 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 22

CarpeDiem, January 23

Splashes of Joy, January 24

By The Book, January 25 (Author Interview)

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 25

God is Love, January 26

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour Carla is giving away the grand prize of an autographed 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
4 Stars
Breaking Point Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Breaking Point

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Psychological suspense, romance

Release Date: September, 2019

The mere rumor of treasure can change lives, destroy friendships… even kill?

Alynne’s Stone’s planned out and predictable life ended when she hurried to her mother’s side to support her during a family tragedy. So why would she now have a target on her back? Her father’s death had nothing to do with her, but suddenly she’s having these “accidents”? How can she stay and support her mom when someone is intent on eliminating her?

Police Lieutenant Jason Danvers believes her father was murdered. How, he can’t fathom, but he also can’t ignore the details that don’t add up. Attempts on Alynne’s life must be somehow connected. Still dealing with the pain of his own wife’s death, he can’t allow an innocent woman to die on his watch. Especially one as scintillating as Alynne Stone.

Even in a small town, things—and people—aren’t always what they appear to be.


Click HERE to get your copy! 

About the Author

 

Marji Laine has completed seventeen years of homeschooling, but with her publishing business, her various volunteer activities, and her large family, she will likely never live a life of leisure. And that suits her just fine! When she does find spare time, she enjoys watching sports and Hallmark movies and mysteries, loves having game night with her family and friends, and enjoys talking “shop” with other authors. You can usually find her in her favorite recliner, plucking away at her keyboard with her rescue fur-babies at her feet or at www.MarjiLaine.com.  

 

More from Marji

 

It Started with a Dream
 
You know how just before you actually wake up, you sometimes have dreams that stay with you? I’ve recently chatted with a lady who had a dream about her husband and woke up mad at the man without realizing that her discontent was from a dream. Dreams are powerful, amplified thoughts that can move us to unexpected emotions and actions.
 
Such was the case with me. My latest release, BREAKING POINT, actually stemmed from a dream.
 
I had a scene in my sleep of a woman trapped on the roof of a beautiful, three-story, Victorian house, having crept out the window of one of the second floor gables. A storm whirled around her, slapping her brunette hair across her eyes and into her mouth. She was afraid of something.
 
Then I saw the something… or rather the someone. A hand raised above the eave of the roof. A man’s gravelly voice, “I know you’re up here.”
 
Lightning flashed revealing the top of his head as he climbed onto the window sill from which she had escaped. His left hand gripped the eave of the roof, likely holding onto the gingerbread décor that laced the edging.
 
The woman had nowhere to go, no other place to hide. Thunder jarred the air and rumbled across the ground. The woman stiffened, but not from the explosive sound.
 
The man’s eyes appeared over the rooftop. “There you are.”
 
This was it. She had no hope of survival. After all she’d done to avoid this moment.
 
He leaned to his left to pull his right hand over the edge of the roof. A murderous glint filled his dark eyes as a smile stretched his lips. The barrel of a gun appeared, cresting the roof.
 
Then a loud crack split the night. Not thunder. The man’s smile disappeared as his mouth fell open and his eyes widened. He dropped the gun and grabbed at the surface of the shingles with both hands.
 
The woman had climbed up the side of the gable up to the top of it. The surface didn’t offer a finger grip anywhere. The gingerbread must have broken, giving the man no handhold.
 
With a prolonged yell, the man’s face and hands disappeared from view. A close lightning strike and the thunderous result covered the sound of the man hitting the ground below.
 
This scene, from a dream, was where the story BREAKING POINT began. It was actually the very first novel I ever completed. However, after no less than five total rewrites where I changed every aspect of the story except the hero, heroine, and the setting – the beautiful Victorian house – that scene didn’t make it to the book at all. Maybe it will find itself in a new story someday!
 

My Review

 

“Had she even been conscious these past ten years? The loss of Pop had forced her to stop and look back over the decade. She didn’t like the pride and futility that stared back at her.”

The Heath’s Point Suspense series by Marji Laine is one that needs to be read sequentially. I admittedly have a dreadful memory and could not recall all of the characters from book one who appeared in this sequel, but I was able to identify more than one would-be spoiler, and the story overall will be much more cohesive if you read book one first. “Breaking Point” follows a similar pattern to that of its predecessor, in terms of both character and plot. In both books, the female lead character has recently lost her father, who was a businessman and a strong Christian. The romantic threads bear similarities as well, as do the numerous assassination attempts. I appreciate how Laine conveys unpleasant situations with limited violence and no lurid details, again proving that the genres of Christian fiction and suspense can be blended together without compromising integrity.

“Breaking Point”, book two in this series and sequel to “Counter Point”, illustrates what results when people reach the threshold of their ability to endure on their own. Alynne (pronounced the same way as Allen) must face regret and the fact that she has more or less shut herself off from everyone. Her own lack of faith is relatable because so often we are the same; we give in to fear and allow it drown out the voice of the only One who can truly rescue us, Jesus. We make decisions based, far too often, on the ways of the world rather than on God’s will, as Alynne realizes: “Why was it the only time she thought about speaking to God was when her worries overwhelmed her?” Thankfully, however, neither Alynne nor we need be caught in the enemy’s lies, whether they are past, present, or future. Lieutenant Jason Danvers, caught in his own storm of emotion and reaction, relates to her something that we all happily need to remember and share with others: “Your family cares about you, Alynne. Those who want to believe the worst about people will. But your family won’t want to assume such because they love you.” Likewise, the Lord feels the same way toward us, except that there is no doubt of our guilt, which makes the gift of salvation all the sweeter!

In some ways, I enjoyed “Breaking Point” more than book one. I personally found the plot of this sequel more engaging and more interesting. While I still did not feel a strong connection with the characters, I do think that they were more well-developed here. Strangely, for her seeming independence and intelligence, Alynne repeatedly goes against what she is instructed to do, a carry-over behavior from one of the characters in the first book. Even the non-endearing characters are entertaining in their own nefarious ways. Unrelenting action, grace, and faith make this a suitable book for readers of Christian suspense, mysteries, and forgiveness.

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

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 12

Betti Mace, January 13

Texas Book-aholic, January 14

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 15

janicesbookreviews, January 16

Inklings and notions, January 17

For the Love of Literature, January 18

For Him and My Family, January 19

deb’s Book Review, January 20

Artistic Nobody, January 21 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 22

Blogging With Carol , January 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 24

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a Texas mug, Bluebonnet seeds, Bluebonnet room spray, and some specialty chocolate!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
When Your Voice Became Mine Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book


Book: When Your Voice Became Mine

Author: Celeste N. Bowers

Genre: Non-Fiction

Release Date: November 2019

For all those who have lost hope and purpose, and for all those who hurt deep inside from loss, author Celeste Bowers wishes she could spare you from pain, just as she hoped she could shield her own ten-year-old daughter, Christina, from the storms.

Although she can’t protect you from life’s tragedies, Celeste can tell you this—and she is proof of this—no matter how hard you fall or how much you ache, God will lift you up with new purpose. He will carry you out of the weeping waves and safely to shore.

Celeste has been sending “packages” to heaven since her daughter passed away on May 29, 2005. What she never fathomed were the gifts sent back to deeply define her.

In a moment, Christina’s voice became hers. In that same moment, she knew “there is a mailbox in heaven.”

Click HERE for your copy.  

About the Author

 


Celeste Bowers has been blessed with gifts of writing, teaching, coaching, making people laugh, and being a mom. These gifts held crucial roles when her daughter, Christina, was diagnosed with cancer. Every gift Celeste received from God is tied together in her words. Packages bundled in love and filled with life lessons are sent to heaven in her first book, If There’s a Mailbox in Heaven. Christina’s testimony and Celeste’s newfound purpose are now joined together in When Your Voice Became Mine.
 
 

More from Celeste

 

Time is such a fragile commodity. When someone we love passes away,
we want the whole world to stop moving and acknowledge what truly matters at that moment—but we also want time to fly so we don’t have
to endure another day without our loved ones. What helped me move
gently through time was nothing that came about by my own means. Instead, I have trusted God wholeheartedly to navigate my path.  
 
Time does not exist in heaven. Since heaven is our real home, I
will not allow time to consume me here on earth; instead, I choose
to use my precious time wisely. I have been sending “packages” to heaven—letters that I write
to my ten-year-old daughter Christina—since she passed away on May 29, 2005. Each one is
tied with my hopes, wishes, and newfound purpose. What I never
fathomed were the gifts from above that would be sent back to me.
In a moment, Christina’s voice became mine. In that same moment,
I knew there is a mailbox in heaven.
 

 

My Review


There is so much to love about this book, and it is one that will stick with me for a long time. I initially decided to sign up to review it because a very dear friend of mine passed away at the end of August, and I felt drawn to the book’s description. However, as I realized that it was next up on my list, I started having second thoughts. With various health concerns and other issues causing me to feel overwhelmed already, I definitely did not feel up to reading a book about a child’s battle with cancer, even if it was an inspirational story, because I didn’t want to also experience the sorrowful aspect. Yet as I began reading, I realized that this was a book that blew my assumptions and expectations out of the water.

With “When Your Voice Became Mine”, Celeste Bowers chronicles the hard journey of her daughter’s unexpected and short battle with cancer, but as she asserts in the introduction, this book is not about cancer but rather about how her daughter, Christina, glorified God with her life. In following other families’ journeys through devastating diagnoses and through those of some of my own friends who have passed away, the one thing that stands out the most is their extraordinary faith. The same is true here. “And a little child shall lead them” kept echoing in my head while I read. Christina’s impact and legacy of faith in Christ lives on and grows, and it inspires me to become bolder in my faith. You never know whose life you might touch and how God will reap a harvest from the seeds you sow.

This book is very unique, not only in its extraordinary message of hope and faith, but also in its format. Glancing through the pages, it seems like a normal layout, with occasional black-and-white photographs included, but it is actually epistolary nonfiction, the first that I’ve read as far as I can recall. Rather than having titled chapters, this book is divided into segments that each represent a package from heaven. They are written as Bowers speaking directly to her daughter through a letter, but with enough background information tactfully woven in so that it makes sense to the reader. I think that this is most of the reason that this book is so upbeat. These writings are heartfelt, poignant, inspirational, and unwaveringly hopeful. I imagine that they have been cathartic for Bowers, and I think that writing letters like this to loved ones could be a powerful tool during the grieving process and beyond. Referencing Christina’s own words at age 10, Bowers sums up her daughter’s calling: “Those words live on and inspire so many people: It’s not about me. It’s about Christ working through me. Your journey was not about cancer or even solely about you. It was about allowing our Lord to work through you to bring others closer to Him, for His name and for His glory.” May that be the life goal of each of us!

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

 

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 10

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, January 11

Artistic Nobody, January 12 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, January 13

Book Love, January 14 (Guest Review from Lucy Reynolds)

Through the Fire Blogs, January 15 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, January 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 17

Texas Book-aholic, January 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 19

A Baker’s Perspective, January 20 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, January 21

janicesbookreviews, January 22

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 23 (Author Interview)

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Celeste is giving away the grand prize package  of a signed copy of each of her books, along with 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
4 Stars
The Thief of Lanwyn Manor Book Review
 
 

About the Book


Book: The Thief of Lanwyn Manor

Author: Sarah E. Ladd

Genre: Regency Romance

Release Date: January 7, 2020

In this sweet Regency romance, Julia knows Matthew Blake, copper mine owner and very eligible bachelor, is the gentleman she should set her eyes upon. But why can’t she steal her gaze away from his younger brother, Isaac?
 
Cornwall, England 1818—Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. Lanwyn Manor is at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks in the home’s ancient halls.
 
As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood—and the livelihood of those around them—the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made his intentions to court the lovely guest clear. And Isaac knows his place.
 
When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and items go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their own best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.
 
 
Click HERE to buy your copy. 
 

About the Author


Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever. Visit her online at SarahLadd.com; Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor; Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor.
 
 

Read an Excerpt

 

Click HERE to read an excerpt from the book.  
 

My Review

 

Until the past year, the Regency era held little to no interest to me. I attribute this to the fact that I’m not a romance novel devotee, nor do I find myself drawn to matchmaking tales or stories about typical marriage customs. I have read a couple of Jane Austen’s books, and I didn’t care for either one. I prefer the Colonial or Victorian periods. However, last year I read a couple of Christian fiction titles set during the Regency era, and to my surprise, I actually enjoyed them! One of these was “The Governess of Penwythe Hall”, which is book one of The Cornwall Novels series. As a result, I did not hesitate for a moment to sign up for the sequel!

“The Thief of Lanwyn Manor” shares many of the themes of its predecessor, but with a unique plot that Sarah Ladd weaves into another intricate tapestry. This book could be read as a standalone, as there are very few spoilers, but I always recommend reading a series in order when possible to get the most out of it and to appreciate how everything comes together. Either way, this second book also has a simultaneously mysterious and romantic air about it. Fans of Abigail Wilson will enjoy The Cornwall Novels, and it is that layer of foggy inscrutability that most draws me to these books. There is an underlying aura of disquiet that permeates the story, an instinctive type of foreshadowing that blends into the romance and makes the narrative intriguing. The plot unfolds slowly but steadily, the pacing appropriate for the style.

As for the characters, they are well-developed overall. Julia Twethewey, a child in “Penwythe Hall”, is now 19 and thankful for the opportunity to serve as temporary companion for her cousin, Jane, who is confined to bed for the last trimester of her pregnancy. Part of Julia’s motivation is also to fulfill both her desire and society’s expectation to marry well: “Of course she was in search of a husband. Every single lady of marriageable age was eager for security.” The twins, Isaac and Matthew, add romantic tension and enhance the mysterious elements, and numerous secondary characters populate the narrative to balance the scales. Because of the novel’s location setting, mining plays a significant role, and I learned about the struggles and dangers involved in this livelihood, which in this case become a primary source of conflict. As is still true today, different places, even when near each other, can be vastly diverse in their values and way of life. As Julia notes, “Geographically she was not that far from home, but indeed, there was no denying she was in a very different world.” Nevertheless, as “The Thief of Lanwyn Manor” goes to show, it is not where we live that truly matters, but rather who we are and how we live and, most importantly, Who goes with us.

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


Blog Stops

 

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 13

Genesis 5020, January 13

A Baker’s Perspective, January 13

For Him and My Family, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

Inklings and notions, January 14

Bigreadersite, January 15

For the Love of Literature, January 15

Texas Book-aholic, January 15

Through the Fire Blogs, January 16

Pause for Tales, January 16

Wishful Endings, January 16

deb’s Book Review, January 16

Betti Mace, January 17

KarenSueHadley, January 17

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, January 17

Robin’s Nest, January 18

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 18

The Christian Fiction Girl, January 19

Remembrancy, January 19

Books, Life, and Christ, January 19

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, January 20

My Devotional Thoughts, January 20

Hallie Reads, January 20

Blogging With Carol, January 20

Kat’s Corner Books, January 21

Life of Literature, January 21

Danielle Lozada, January 21

She Lives to Read, January 22

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 22

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 22

By The Book, January 23

Blossoms and Blessings, January 23

SPLASHES of Joy, January 23

My Precious Bits and Musings, January 24

Mary Hake, January 24

Back Porch Reads, January 24

Daysong Reflections, January 24

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 25

Mamma Loves Books, January 25

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 25

Hookmeinabook, January 26

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 26

Simple Harvest Reads, January 26 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

 

Review
4 Stars
King Here Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: King Here

Author: Trish Porter Topmiller

Genre: Religion/Christian or Spiritual

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Trusting God and sharing Jesus with aging parents can be difficult. As Trish Porter Topmiller watched her father’s casket be lowered into the ground, she knew the complicated jigsaw puzzle of his life finally held the missing piece―Jesus. But for years, his life seemed as far away from grace, and a believing faith in God, as a person can be. A multimillionaire entrepreneur who believed his financial fortress (and business acumen) was invincible, he turned into a workaholic adrenaline junkie―and ultimate opioid statistic who had given up on life. Even then, grace found him.

King Here offers hope that no matter how old, how rich or how addicted someone is, it’s never too late to meet Jesus. Trish shares her father’s inspiring, yet tragic life story―filled with adventure and color and unique escapades―to reveal God’s plan for an old rich man who thought he had no need for God. Stepping back to see the big picture brings to light the hope and joy that God truly can answer prayers and do the impossible, but it doesn’t always look the way readers expect. In this moving tribute to her father, Trish encourages readers to never give up on loved ones who seem “too far gone” for God to reach.


Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Trish Porter Topmiller is a Christian writer who is a 1988 U.S. Olympian in the high jump, former world record holder for women age 40-44 in the high jump, and multiple times U.S. National and World Masters Champion. Trish is a frequent speaker and guest on radio and television programs and has been the subject of interviews in the Wall Street Journal, U.S.A Today, and Today’s Christian Woman. She is a survivor in Life. Trish lost her husband of twenty years (Pat Porter 2 time Olympian) and son Connor (U.S. National Fencing Medalist) in a plane accident in 2012. She remarried in 2016 and has a wonderful daughter who is a nationally competitive figure skater. She attends Woodmen Valley Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Sagebrush Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has a B.S. Business Marketing degree from University of Oregon.  

More from Trish

 

I did not set out to write a book. I was preparing to talk at my Dad’s funeral and I looked at his life; the outrageous adventures, his business success, all the tragedies, and then the miracles. I realized his life was like an amazing puzzle and only God knew the puzzle box top. That’s when the outline came to me. He affected so many people and generations and once home, I was compelled to continue writing and it began to take shape and grow. I wanted information about publishing, so I contacted Terry Whalin who wrote Billy Graham’s biography. He said it was a story that I needed to share with people beyond my family.  
 
King Here is not only about finding faith and hope, but about the strength and courage it takes to handle what comes our way.  In a five-year period, from 2012-2017, I was confronted with the loss of my husband of twenty years (a two-time Olympian), and my beautiful fifteen year old son, Connor (a U.S. National Fencing medalist). They perished in an airplane accident where my husband was the pilot. A few years later my stepmother died at age 60 after a battle with addiction and then my father.
 
My prayer is you can be drawn into my Dad’s and my life and not want to put the book down. May your basket be filled with nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. May you enjoy the journey and the roller coaster of emotions. May you see how I trusted the Lord through tragedy which strengthens your faith. May you be encouraged to pray for those around you and be empowered to share Jesus with others.
 

My Review

 

When I picked this book up to begin reading it, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised. To be honest, I was also wondering why I had signed up to review it, because the description didn’t sound like something I would be interested in. I thought it was going to be a different type of nonfiction book than it was, based on the title; I must not have skimmed the summary before deciding to review this one. Books about financial matters, drug use, and/or death do not appeal to me; they just aren’t my cup of tea. Thus I was mentally preparing myself to muddle through while still hoping for the best.

Trish Porter Topmiller’s “King Here” grew on me as I turned the pages. The first section is expository, offering details about Chuck King, who is Topmiller’s father and the primary focus of the book, as well as the author herself and her family. Because this part speaks extensively about athletics and reads like a biography, I did struggle with it a bit, but in light of the rest of the story, I understand why it is written this way. I was amazed at Chuck’s adrenaline-seeking disposition. Definitely far more daring than I will ever be! His “Chuckisms”, the brief inspirational quotations he spoke often, open many of the anecdotes. The book is not separated into chapters but rather short vignettes that bespeak the transitory nature of life. Black-and-white photos interspersed throughout also demonstrate the process of growing and maturation that each person experiences while giving readers visuals of the people in the book and making them become more invested.

Following that initial segment, the rest of the narrative proceeds with a more familiar manner, drawing readers into the author’s family. There are several heartbreaking instances, which sets the stage for a godly victory and an unexpected ending. “King Here” does deal with issues such as grief, opioid use disorder, and suicide, but Topmiller is careful to address these gently and continuously turn readers toward hope, which can only truly be found in Jesus. Due to certain events in the story, Topmiller addresses possible challenges and questions that will likely arise. Her foresight extends to telling readers how to share Jesus or how to meet Him. This relevancy flows naturally from the narrative and ties together the theme of allowing God to direct our steps: “I am in awe of how God cares for every detail. Every piece of the puzzle was important.” The most important lesson of “King Here” is that God is always working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28) and that it is always the right time to come to Jesus. What are you waiting for?

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

 

Texas Book-aholic, January 8

Inklings and notions, January 9

Through the Fire Blogs, January 10 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 11

Just the Write Escape, January 12

Andrea Christenson, January 13 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, January 14

janicesbookreviews, January 15

Simple Harvest Reads, January 16 (Author Interview)

As He Leads is Joy, January 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 18

CarpeDiem, January 19

Vicky Sluiter, January 20 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, January 21

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Trish is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and 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
4 Stars
It'll Be Okay Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: It’ll Be Okay

Author: Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner

Genre: Non-Fiction, Christian Growth

Release Date: April, 2018

Is it okay for Christians to doubt?

When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep praying or walking forward in faith. Difficult times often cloud our perspective. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith.

Our doubts express a yearning to be sure of what—and who—we trust. When our questions are answered by trust, faith is fed and our doubts transform into deeper belief that pushes us toward a decision.

· When we address doubt head-on, faith can grow.

· God has a plan in the good and bad that life brings.

· God can heal our wounds and turn our past mistakes around.

Join nationally-known Bible teacher Sheryl Giesbreacht Turner as she guides you toward a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth—and how learning to ‘doubt your doubts’ enables faith to prevail.  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author


Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner holds a bachelor of arts, a master’s in ministry, and a doctorate of theology. Her television and radio show, “Transformed Through Truth,” is nationally and internationally syndicated; it’s seen and heard daily by millions of viewers and listeners on audio, internet, Roku, and YouTube networks across the United States and through The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network worldwide. Sheryl is the author of three books and hundreds of columns, articles, and devotions. As a Lead Like Jesus facilitator, a blogger, and a missionary with Freedom in Christ Ministries she has personally equipped hundreds and facilitated the training of thousands of national and international leaders. She and her husband, Dr. Jim Turner, live in California’s Central Valley where she enjoys running 5K races with her eighty-five-year-old mother. 

More from Sheryl

 

I’ve always been the one to ask the questions. As a kindergartener, I embarrassed my mother when I inquired, “Where did I come from?” Years passed, as a teenager, I made unhealthy life choices, experimented with alcohol and street drugs, and wondered, “What am I here for?” As a young adult, in Bible College; I asked God to take control of my life and questioned, “What’s my purpose?” Maybe you, too, have had or now have questions? These concerns may even keep you up at night? Doubting ourselves or God may be criticized as a lack of faith. I disagree. Doubt is the in between. Doubts need to be addressed. If doubts are not considered, they will rot our faith from the inside out. When we doubt, we are able to be honest with ourselves and God. We should not be afraid to doubt.
 
As a delivered drug addict, stage four cancer survivor, and former widow, I’ve faced many types of situations which caused me to question God’s love, goodness and compassion. As I have gone to His word, I’ve discovered He hasn’t changed, His word continues to speak and revives my faith, taking me to a deeper level every single time. I am reminded of this in Lamentations 3:21-24 (NIV) Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
 
Thank you so much for being part of this blog tour. I am excited about what God is going to do with His truth in us as we bring our questions to the Answer – Jesus.
 
Love and prayers, Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner
 

My Review

 

Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner’s “It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth” is a short but powerful work of nonfiction that addresses the doubt that we all feel at one time or another. As with the fact that trees grow deeper roots when they are exposed to winds and storms, so it is with our faith in God. Trials may cause us to doubt, but as long as we continue to talk with God and spend time in the Bible, doubt can make our faith grow. “Life offers opportunities to doubt or believe God through many unwanted circumstances, and you will find him present, faithful, and true in all of them.” God will never let us down, and He will work all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), even if we can’t see it. He understands our emotions, and He desires for us to discuss our doubts and fears with Him and to read His Word; doing both will ensure that doubt does not become unbelief, a distinction that the author makes in this book. Furthermore, she makes the point that never doubting is dangerous because it means that you are not connecting with God and His Word.

Part of what makes this book so relatable to readers are Giesbrecht Turner’s personal anecdotes. Through the hard times of her own life, she demonstrates how she has learned to draw closer to God despite tragedy and seemingly overwhelming situations. Because, she affirms, “Disruptive moments are opportunities for God to strengthen us and deepen our faith if we let him. They are opportunities to place our trust in an all-knowing God rather than rely on our limited human perspective.” While this book does not have any particularly revelatory information, it serves as a ready reference for times of spiritual drought, when God seems distant and our problems appear magnified. When we choose to confront doubt, faith moves to the forefront and becomes more resilient. “As believers, a Christ-centered hope must be the foundation of our lives”, so start doubting your doubts and leaning into the Lord and you truly will be okay.

I recommend “It’ll Be Okay” to everyone who is facing doubts, big or small, in their lives. It is an easy book to understand but still contains plenty of insights into life’s nadirs. Each chapter opens with a relevant quotation and concludes with a “Can you relate?” section that includes discussion questions for individual or group study. The only real issue I had was that, throughout the book, “He” and other personal pronouns referring to God are not capitalized, but because this is a work of nonfiction, it is clear Who is being referenced. I do love the “Love Letter to My Readers” that Giesbrecht Turner includes at the end; it summarizes the main tenets of the Christian faith and offers a prayer for devoting (or recommitting) your life to Jesus.

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

 

Through the Lens of Scripture, January 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 8

janicesbookreviews, January 9

Older & Smarter?, January 10

For the Love of Literature, January 11

Texas Book-aholic, January 12

Artistic Nobody, January 13 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, January 13

God is Love, January 14

Genesis 5020, January 15

Inklings and notions, January 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 17

Emily Yager, January 18

All 4 and About Books, January 19 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 19

Beck To Basics, January 20

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Sheryl 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.
 

 

Fire Women Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Fire Women

Author: Joanna Sanders

Genre: Non-fiction

Release Date: October, 2019

Combining biblical instruction and discipleship, Fire Women is a testimony to the powerful benefits of submitting even the most intense desires to the authority of Jesus Christ. It’s an intimate view of a woman with almost-untamable passion and the God who delivered her to live the passionate life she truly desired.

Having been married twice, Joanna candidly reveals a stark contrast between her two marriages, as well as the impact of her choices through three decades of being burned—and nearly destroyed—by the desire of the flesh. In hopes to inspire passionate women to godly living, Joanna shares practical applications from the difficult lessons learned within an intense five-year refining period between marriages and an honest account of a landscape laid ruin by a life of sin. Written from the perspective of one fiery woman to another, readers will hear of the worth of living God’s way, the importance of dying to self, the true measure of passion in God’s eyes, and that not all flame is bad . . .



Click HERE to get your copy!  

About the Author

 


Joanna Sanders is a graduate of Villanova University and Moody Theological Seminary. She’s the founder and head writer of Colossians46.com, which provides biblical content support, writing, and editing. She loves helping other authors realize God’s purpose through their stories and reflecting His glory back through their words. It has been her lifelong dream to finally write her own story. Joanna writes and edits for several Christian publications and publishers and has a heart for women’s ministry.
 
Most importantly, she is wife to Geoff and mom to three godly-men-in-training. Cookies, pasta, music, and the beach also play integral roles in her life.  

More from Joanna

 

My parents named me after a song about a woman who consumed her lover in such a way that even long after she had left him, he continued to find glory in the short, but intense way she had loved him. It was like my parents knew I would love with a fierceness that could not be contained, that would subject me—and those around me—to a thousand deaths by my own hand. They knew before I was born. This has been a long journey.
 
I spent many years trying to figure out my intense passion, wrestling with it, even trying to extinguish it by choking out its oxygen. I didn’t realize there was indeed a healthy place for it. In fact, I felt like each time I looked around this world, I could only see that there was no place for it where it wouldn’t set flame to those around it as well.
 
I hadn’t viewed my intense passion so much as a gift before, especially since it got me in more and more trouble as I followed it. But now I see it as a gift. My passion is what has driven me to finish this book and, God willing, hopefully inspire you with my testimony. My passion is what gives me endurance and drive to persevere, to finish well in all areas of my walk, and to meet Him at the finish line.
 
If you are a passionate woman like me, join me in the journey. I can’t wait to show you how I learned, and Who I learned was able to handle my passion. The same road is waiting for you.
 

Author Interview

 

 

When/how did you decide to become a writer?

 

I’ve had, what I believe, was a God-given gift to write since I was a girl. I wrote a lot of poetry and some short stories. As a young adult, I started to write more and pursue it professionally after falling in love with reading and pursuing an English degree in college. I finally became published (magazine and other professional publications) when I was 26, but was still not writing as a career. My dream job was always to be a writer full-time but I’m not sure I had the confidence to pursue it. I am now living my dream and I believe it is because I am finally using the gift God gave me to glorify Him. I love helping other writers realize and convey God’s purpose for their stories as well.


Describe your book in five words.

 

Sex. Jesus. Consecration. Worth. Passion.


Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

 

I enjoy audiobooks when it is the actual author reading the book so you can hear the original emphasis and inflection they intended. I also like connecting with their voice and spirit through their reading of the text. But for me, nothing compares to a traditional book. I love the smell of old books, the wonder of walking down long aisles in libraries and the possibility of discovering great finds in a second-hand book store.


If you could live inside a book, which one would it be?

 

I would live in the original Choose Your Own Adventure series that was popular when I was a kid in the 80’s and early 90s! I loved the ability to make various choices to experience new plots and then to turn back if I didn’t like how the choice played out. If only real life was so simple! They were so imaginative and fun and they still bring me comfort and safe escape.



What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

Don’t ever consider skipping the editing phase. In fact, it’s a great idea in my opinion to use different editors at different stages. Get various perspectives on how your writing is being received and always maintain a teachable spirit.

 

 


Blog Stops

 

Texas Book-aholic, January 3

janicesbookreviews, January 4

Inklings and notions, January 5

Artistic Nobody, January 6 (Author Interview)

Through the Lens of Scripture, January 7

Genesis 5020, January 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 9

For the Love of Literature, January 10 (Author Interview)

Just the Write Escape, January 11

For Him and My Family, January 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 13

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, January 14 (Author Interview)

CarpeDiem, January 15

Emily Yager, January 16

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Joanna is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Amazon Gift Card and signed copy of Fire Women!!
 
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 Amish Marriage Bargain Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book


Book: The Amish Marriage Bargain

Author: Marie E. Bast

Genre: Amish

Release Date: December 17, 2019

Will a baby girl bring them together at last?

She’ll do anything for her niece…Even marry the man who broke her heart.

Nothing can keep May Bender in her Amish hometown—except caring for her baby niece. But the bishop insists that May also marry her widowed brother-in-law, Thad Hochstedler—the beau who jilted her to wed her sister. Can May risk her heart long enough to learn the real reason for Thad’s first marriage…and possibly rediscover their love?


Click HERE to get your copy!  

About the Author


Marie E. Bast is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author. Her stories whisper words of hope and healing through complex characters and twisting plots. She enjoys writing Amish, contemporary and historical stories. Married for twenty-eight years, Marie and her husband have two grown sons and one daughter. When she’s not writing, she’s walking, golfing, gardening or spending time with her family. Visit her website at MarieBastAuthor.com or follower her on social media. 

More from Marie

 

Did you know that until as late as the twentieth century, marriage was never based on love?
 
In fact, the institution of marriage predates recorded history. But in ancient biblical times, the reasons for marriage are numerous. The kings, nobility, wealthy, and aristocratic families used arranged marriages to ensure loyalty between kingdoms, which forced a united bound and ensured the integrity of their inheritance and the family wealth.
 
Arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, and marriage bargains were practical to keep property and kingdoms intact and in the family line. But these marriage contracts also spilled over into the commoners’ lives. In times of poverty, a daughter was only another mouth to feed and therefore a burden on the family. That fueled the arranged marriages where the groom gave the family money, animals, or some other commodity in exchange for the marriage.
 
Also, arranged marriages were instrumental for women over the age of 30 who were unwed. Even in the nineteenth century, many women would find that a marriage of convenience was the way to go. Often, a widower needed a mother and housekeeper for his family, and sometimes a woman without means to support herself would readily accept a marriage of convenience. Even today, some cultures still use arranged marriages.
 
But one of the most unique marriage of convenience is the marriage bargain, and that is the central theme to my newest book, The Amish Marriage Bargain, which releases in book form December 17, 2019, and eBook January 1, 2020. The marriage bargain is the specific negotiation of the terms of the agreement regarding a particular situation and often included land.
 
After her sister dies, May Bender will do anything for her niece…Even marry the man who broke her heart. But like the days of old, the bargain goes deeper than that.
 

My Review

 

“She didn’t know what was worse…losing the farm or losing her heart. But could she risk sticking around to find out?”

With “The Amish Marriage Bargain”, Marie Bast composes an inspirational romance that tugs at the heartstrings and encourages readers to never lose faith. This is the first Amish novel I’ve read that focuses on a marriage of convenience, at least as far as I can recall, and I have to admit that I’m surprised to have enjoyed it as much as I did. It did not fall into a clichéd trope, which made it all the more appealing. Books such as this excel at demonstrating the similarities between the Amish and English communities; there are obvious differences, but similarities abound, too, and in this divisive day and age it is important to remember the things that can bring us together. Things like family and faith.

After having her heart broken when her beau married her sister, who died shortly after giving birth to baby Leah, May Bender takes over her little niece’s care. Living in her family’s farmhouse with her former beau, Thad Hochstetler, is a sacrifice she is willing to make for Leah, but the situation escalates quickly when the bishop stipulates that the two must marry. Add in several suspenseful predicaments and the scene is set for an intriguing story. Well-crafted characters enhance the story as well, with backstories that Bast reveals over time. May both embodies and defies the image of the ideal Amish wife, as she is willing to do whatever is necessary to overcome obstacles, even if it is unconventional. Her ardent nature is a source of consternation to the bishop and to her draconic mother-in-law, and I appreciated May’s determination and perseverance while sympathizing with her desire for true love. “She didn’t want secondhand love or someone who pitied her, or someone who wanted her out of loneliness. She wanted to feel loved by someone who was content being next to her.”

The circumstances surrounding the dairy farmers’ dilemma provides a glimpse into the challenges that the Amish face, and how these are in some ways unique from those of the Englishers. The sense of community is an aspect of Amish literature that I never tire of reading about, and the faith element in “The Amish Marriage Bargain” is likewise strong. Forgiveness and sacrifice tie faith and community together, reminding us to put Christ first and to live out lives of kindness and service. After all, His plans for us are always greater than we can imagine.

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 Power of Words, January 2

For Him and My Family, January 2

The Avid Reader, January 3

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 3

Texas Book-aholic, January 4

Vicky Sluiter, January 4

Mary Hake, January 4

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, January 5

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 5

Among the Reads, January 6

Betti Mace, January 6

Older & Smarter?, January 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 7

Batya’s Bits, January 7

janicesbookreviews, January 8

Hallie Reads, January 8

For The Love Of Literature, January 9

Britt Reads Fiction, January 9

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 10

Bigreadersite, January 10

mypreciousbitsandmusings, January 10

She Lives to Read, January 11

Through the Fire Blogs, January 11

Quiet Quilter, January 12

Pause for Tales, January 12

Inklings and notions, January 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 14

EmpowerMoms, January 14

Blossoms and Blessings, January 15

Splashes of Joy , January 15

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Marie is giving away to four winners each a $25 Amazon card, and they will also receive a 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
Babel Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Babel

Author: Brennan S. McPherson

Genre: Biblical fiction

Release Date: July 29, 2019

A sweeping, epic retelling of the story of the Tower of Babel. . . 

More than a century after the worldwide flood, Noah, now the forefather of the living world, works peacefully in his vineyard until tragedy tears apart his relationship with his son, Ham.

Years later, dark prophetic dreams inextricably link him with a young man carrying scars from a painful past, and a young woman who longs for acceptance yet harbor secrets darker than either of them imagine.

Will Noah face the role he played in the slow unraveling of his family? Or will everything collapse when they meet the evil attempting to swallow the world at. . . the Tower of Babel?

Read today to experience biblical fiction that helps you think biblically and feel deeply.



Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

 


BRENNAN S. MCPHERSON writes epic, imaginative biblical fiction with heart-pounding plots and lyrical prose, for readers who like to think biblically and feel deeply. He lives with his wife and young daughter in the Midwest, and spends as much of his spare time with them as possible. Find out more about him at brennanmcpherson.com.

More from Brennan

 

10 Facts You Might Not Know About the Story of the Tower of Babel

When I first heard the story of the Tower of Babel as a kid, it was hard for me to take it seriously. A guy named Nimrod builds a tower that he thinks is going to reach to the heavens (what a nimrod) and God punishes him? That’s pretty humorous sounding.
But is that really the whole story?
 

Upon closer look, we see that’s not quite what happened! And neither is the story any laughing matter. So, let’s dive through 10 facts you might not know about the story of the Tower of Babel in the book of Genesis:

  1. The entire account of the Tower of Babel is in Genesis 11:1-9, but additional details and references are found from Genesis 9 through Genesis 11:26. There’s WAY too much here for just one point, so suffice it to say that to get a true understanding of the events in Genesis 11:1-9, you have to dig deep and cross-reference the surrounding Scripture text heavily. Because Genesis is written as what seems to be a poetic historical account, the events of the flood in Genesis 6-9 directly impact the events of the Tower of Babel. As do the troubles between Noah and his children, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In addition, the text of Genesis 9 through Genesis 11 is not perfectly chronological. Noah’s death is talked about in Genesis 9, and yet Noah was alive during the events of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. This is part of the reason why we have to read carefully, and cross-reference often, to make sense of the nuanced details in the story.

  2. The story of the Tower of Babel wouldn’t have happened without Noah getting drunk in Genesis 9. In Genesis 9:18-29, we are given a general overview of the breakdown of Noah’s family, and the end of Noah’s life. Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk, then gets naked (a little strange), and his son Ham sees him naked and ridicules him to the family. Noah wakes up, hears what happened, and curses Ham’s lineage instead of directly cursing Ham, because as a prophet of God, Noah doesn’t presume to curse whom God has blessed (Genesis 9:1). This curse splits the family, and Noah’s failure to be a spiritual leader in his family is part of what allows the events of the tower of Babel to happen, because the Tower was most likely a religious structure made to aid in the worship of the celestial bodies (i.e. sun, stars, moon). If Noah had not allowed a schism in his family, he would have been more capable of speaking against occurrences of idolatry. Seeing this connection, along with the next point, was what gave rise to the plot for my full-length novelization of the story, BABEL: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man.

  3. Noah was alive during the events of the tower of Babel. In Genesis 9:28-29, we’re told that Noah lived 350 years after the flood, and died when he was 950 years old. If we flip ahead to Genesis 11:10, we find several VERY interesting clues that help us piece together a reasonably accurate timeline. Shem’s son Arpachshad (I don’t know how to pronounce that either) was born two years after the flood. If we assume that every descendant afterward is a father-son relationship (meaning that there’s no skipping generations—which we see in other genealogies in Scripture), we end up finding out that a man named Peleg was born 101 years after the flood. We’re also told Peleg lived 239 years, so he died 340 years after the flood (ten years before Noah died). We’re also told in the mirrored genealogy in Genesis 10 that the earth was “divided” in Peleg’s lifetime. We know that this doesn’t refer to a continental divide, or the flood, because the flood happened 101 years before Peleg was born, and a continental divide would have caused worldwide flooding again (which God promised to never do). The only other divide we’re told about in Scripture is the divide in languages and countries from the events at the Tower of Babel. Thus, we can pretty safely conclude that Noah was alive during the events of the tower of Babel.

  4. Abram could have been alive during the events of the tower of Babel, and was definitely alive during Noah’s lifetime. Following the timeline given in Genesis 11 (along with the assumption we already talked about in point 3 above), we see that Abram was born 292 years after the flood. This is 58 years before Noah died, and 48 years before Peleg died. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that Abram could have both known about (or been present at) the Tower of Babel event, and that he could have been directly discipled by Noah himself, learning about the beginning of the universe and the world’s greatest cataclysm from someone who had experienced the violent baptism of the world first-hand. In addition, Noah’s father, Lamech, could have known Seth (Adam’s son), and gotten a second-hand account of the garden of Eden. Not hard to see how an accurate oral tradition about the beginnings of the universe could have been passed down to Abram’s lineage and written in some form in his day (because they definitely had Semitic cuneiform writing back during the Tower of Babel days).

  5. The Tower of Babel story could have happened anywhere from 101 years after the flood, to 340 years after the flood. This is interesting for several reasons. The closer the events were to the timing of the flood, the more we question what in the world Noah was doing during the events of the Tower of Babel. Why wasn’t the prophet of God stopping the world from gathering in rebellion against God with blatant idolatry? This was the provocative “What-if” question that gave rise to my novel, BABEL: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man, which is (you guessed it) largely about Noah’s involvement (and failure) in the events at the Tower of Babel. But in addition to that, we can also see that the population size could have varied widely, from a thousand or so people, to tens of thousands of people.

  6. Just like the hundreds of flood myths in myriad cultures around the world, there are countless myths about the confusion of the world’s languages. Many of these language myths arose through oral tradition in areas that were untouched by the biblical text, which strongly indicates that there was a real event that spawned the disparate accounts. Some of the accounts include an Australian myth that attributes the language split to cannibalism, an African tale where madness struck people during a famine and they all spoke different languages and scattered, and a Polynesian tale that talks of a God who, in his fury, scattered the builders of a tower, broke its foundation, and made the builders speak in many different languages. Pretty crazy, right?

  7. It’s possible that Nimrod didn’t build Babel OR the Tower, though he was likely involved in the process. We’re told in Genesis 10:9 that Nimrod was primarily a hunter (a man of violence), and that the “beginning of his kingdom” was Babel, among other cities, before he went and built Nineveh, among others. If he built Babel, it likely would’ve said so there (though this is, of course, still up for debate). In addition, the actual account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 cites that the people communally said to one another, “let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens.” There was no one person who was commanding the building, but rather a group deciding in unison. Again, Nimrod could have been involved in this process. Or, he could have come to power afterward.

  8. The trinity was involved at the events of the Tower of Babel. Traditional interpretation of Genesis 11, and God’s words saying, “Let us go down and see the tower” that mankind had built, is that Jesus, God (Yahweh), and the Holy Spirit were present and involved in the event. This makes sense with our New Testament understanding of the trinity for several reasons. First, Jesus is the Word, and his relation to God’s spoken revelation is inseparable throughout Scripture. Second, the world was created through Jesus (John 1:3), so he and the Holy Spirit are shown as involved in everything God has done from the beginning (“Spirit hovered over the face of the waters”). We also know the Holy Spirit’s involvement in human speech is profound from the account at Pentecost in the Book of Acts, which seems to be a sort of divine symbolic reversal of the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel. Furthermore, if God was speaking in the plural to beings unified with him and who needed to be involved at the Tower, he could only have been speaking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If God took a physical form in some way, traditional interpretation says that it would likely have been as a humanoid prefigurement of the Christ. Now we’re getting kindof “out there,” but this is important because we can see Christ and the Holy Spirit at work in this ancient, Old Testament story, along with links to their work in the New Testament church and the covenant we have with God under Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. Because Noah was atypeof Adam. The world began anew with Noah through the baptism of the world. And we know that Christ is the last Adam, the undoing of Adam’s mistakes, and that his baptism is by the Spirit, not by water, which pointed ahead to the baptism we experience through Christ’s blood. Baptism came to represent the death of the old world because of the literal destruction of the old world through water at the almighty hand of God. In this way, we see powerful symbolic connections and importance layered into the Tower of Babel story, and the lives of those involved.

  9. The tower of Babel was likely finished when the languages were confused. In Genesis 11:5, it says God went down to see the city and the tower which the children of man “had built.” In addition, In Genesis 11:8, it claims God spread them out from there over the face of the earth, and that the people left off building the city (but not the tower, which implies the tower was already finished).

  10. For the last time, the Tower of Babel story is NOT about technological advancement. Baked bricks were no new technology. In fact, though modern sociologists who don’t hold the Bible to be trustworthy often say that iron-working didn’t exist until much later, the Bible claims that in the first couple generations of humanity’s existence (long before the flood), humanity was building cities, creating pipe and stringed instruments, forging bronze andiron, and cultivating livestock (Genesis 4:19-22). So, we know that brick-making and using mortar were no great technological advancements. Especially after reminding ourselves that Noah (who was still alive) built the world’s largest wooden boat, waterproofed it with pitch, and survived the greatest cataclysm to ever strike the earth. He had some advanced building skills and would not have been impressed by bricks. The point of the story of the Tower of Babel is to illustrate man’s pride (wanting to make a name for themselves separate from their identity as children of God – i.e. “children of man”), along with man’s tendency toward idolatry, and God’s unlimited power coupled with his mercy and gentleness. The confusion of languages was a brilliant, non-violent way of disrupting their prideful plans. All in all, however, this story is a fascinating view into human nature, family dynamics, mankind’s purpose and ambition, and God’s personhood. If you want a more detailed historical study on the Tower of Babel, check out Bodie Hodge’s book, Tower of Babel, which is a careful study of the historical details, and which is endorsed by Answers in Genesis.


Before working on the full-length novelization of the story of the Tower of Babel (BABEL: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Mankind), I didn’t know any of this. This is part of the reason why I love writing biblical fiction. It drives me back to the text of the Bible in a way nothing else does. I hope reading it does the same for you! Blessings, and thanks for reading. And if you want to pick up a copy of the book, you can do so now on Amazon or Audible.

 

My Review

 

As much as I love Biblical fiction, it is one of those controversial genres that are difficult to write well. There is a delicate balance between expounding upon the events and people of the Bible on the one hand and overstepping by trying to add to the Scriptures on the other. When done competently, Biblical fiction will always draw the reader back to God’s Word, and there will be a clear delineation between fact and creative license. To me, this genre sheds light on the lifestyles and customs of the Biblical era and hopefully offers perspective to aid in demonstrating that the Word is still relevant today and will always remain so. Therefore my expectations are high, and there are only a few authors whose work in this genre I trust. Brennan McPherson just may be another author to add to my list!

“Babel: The Story of the Tower and the Rebellion of Man” surpassed my hopes for an informative and
genuine novel about this watershed Biblical event. McPherson writes a riveting story that considers what Noah’s life may have been like over a century after the flood and during the construction of the Tower of Babel. The passage of time is one of the first details that I noticed, with 170 years separating parts one and two of this book. Likewise, throughout the narrative, Noah reflects on past events and how quickly time has gone, even hundreds of years’ worth. This reminded me of how today we feel the same way, and also that “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). As Noah’s fictionalized story in this book demonstrates, we need to make the most of each day by living for the Lord, loving others and proclaiming His love and care.

McPherson’s concept for the Fall of Man series, which can be read as standalones, is to explore the failures of the patriarchs. Admittedly, that sounds a bit strange at first, but the more I read, the more I understood his focus. While esteeming the fathers of the faith, it is also crucial to remember that they were just as human as the rest of us, and they made mistakes, but God used them in spite of that. He uses us in our imperfection, too! Our weaknesses are where God’s strength is made manifest. He will not forsake us: “The Almighty had always been faithful to him. Even when Noah had been unfaithful.” In “Babel”, there are several different points of view, but the main emphasis remains on Noah as “the father of all living people" and his fallibility. He feels guilty for abandoning his sons and living an isolated life after his wife’s death, lamenting, “What had happened to his family? Noah’s family’s story was not supposed to be that of Adam’s. For that first family had been built of dust, while Noah’s family had been washed in the floodwaters. The world was supposed to begin anew with them. But now, Noah’s family had become just like Adam’s. Nothing more than a pile of fractured dust.” Looking at Noah’s story through a post-Resurrection lens, we see clearly why Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary. Once sin marred the world through our first parents, Adam and Eve, its stain has spread to every one of us, able to be wiped clean only by the blood of Jesus. This drives home the difference between the Old and New Covenants, and reminds us that we can talk to God freely and hear from Him in His Word, secure in the knowledge that He is with us.

For Noah, however, the case was different, and this increases the heartache of his story as told in “Babel”. Although there are humorous moments, the predominant themes include failure, obedience to God, forgiveness, and retribution. As Noah explains to Aran, “The Word of the Almighty doesn’t bring suffering. It heralds the suffering purchased by our mistakes.” The consequences of Noah’s passivity include the Tower’s construction and the rampant evil of the Light Bringer (Lucifer), which put me in mind of what we see happening in the world today: “They believe in the vision of total unification, over and above the Almighty’s vision for repentance.” God cannot and will not ever be defeated, and as Noah’s story illustrates, we too will be victorious if we cling to Him.

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

 

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 4

Discipling4Life, January 4

Simple Harvest Reads, January 5 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 6

Literary Reflections Book Blog, January 6

For the Love of Literature, January 7

My Devotional Thoughts, January 7

Through the Fire Blogs, January 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 9

Betti Mace, January 10

Mamma Loves Books, January 10

Texas Book-aholic, January 11

janicesbookreviews, January 12

Novels Corner, January 12

Inklings and notions, January 13

Emily Yager, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

Aryn the Libraryan, January 15

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 16

Pause for Tales, January 16

CarpeDiem, January 17

Hallie Reads, January 17

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate his tour, Brennan is giving away a McPherson Publishing Bundle, which includes paperback copies of Flood, Eden, the Psalm Series, and The Simple Gospel!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Forget Me Now Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Forget Me Now

Author: Alana Terry

Genre: Christian Mystery and Suspense

Release Date: July 19, 2019

She’s forgotten everything … including who it is that wants her dead.

Mia’s trapped in a nightmare inside her own mind. After a brain injury leaves her unable to form new memories, all she knows is that entire months of her life are missing. Those closest to her are dead, and someone’s on their way back soon to finish the job.

Heart-gripping, page-turning Christian suspense from the author whose books are called “intense,” “life-changing,” and “impossible to put down,” Forget Me Now is a psychological thriller with enough twists to keep you reading … and guessing … late into the midnight hours.

Download your copy today for a fast-paced adrenaline rush you’ll never forget.



Click HERE for your copy.
 

About the Author

 

Alana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.  

More from Alana

 

I love writing Christian fiction suspense. I have multiple series for sale and one of the things my readers have grown to appreciate is how many of their favorite characters show up in more than one series. Another aspect of my books that readers’ enjoy is the mystery, intrigue, and twists and turns involved as they reach the final page.
 
My new novel, Forget Me Now, has all the favorite elements mentioned above, but includes a new psychological thriller element that I hope readers will love as much as I loved bringing it to them. This novel asks the question, “What would you do if you woke up to find three months of your memory entirely gone? Who would you turn to for answers during that confusing time … and how would you react if you began to question the ones you turned to for the truth?
 
Read all about how Mia handles a predicament just like this (except even more dangerous) in Forget Me Now, complete with all the thrills and gripping suspense you’ve grown to love from Alana Terry novels as well as the reminder that God is always in control.
 
If you want, let me know your thoughts after you’ve had a chance to dive into this thriller that is truly unforgettable by emailing me at alana@alanaterry.com.
 

My Review

 

What could be better on a cold winter’s night (or a rainy one, as the case may be) than a good suspense novel? One of my favorite genres, it’s not one that I’ve had a chance to read much of in the past year or so, which makes each opportunity more tantalizing. The author is one I’ve heard very positive comments about, and I knew that I had to find out for myself whether or not I would agree. Suspense is often a difficult category because there are so many tropes and hackneyed plots that once you’ve read enough of them, you can recognize where a story is heading within the first chapter or two. Not always, though!

A dynamic psychological thriller, Alana Terry’s “Forget Me Now” begins in medias res and continues with unrelenting action. Centering around recent high-school graduate Mia, this story explores the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury that has resulted in an inability to make new memories. Unfortunately, Mia also has amnesia regarding the cause of her trauma, which puts her life in danger. While this is not a new theme, Terry infuses it with originality by using a unique first-person narration in which the narrative reads like a diary. Mia directly addresses the audience, but in a style reminiscent of a diary format (albeit lacking dated entries) rather than a person-to-person conversation. As such, more personal details and thoughts populate the story, immersing readers in an increasingly disquieting chain of events.

“Forget Me Now” provides an adrenaline-fueled reading experience that is appropriately discomfiting without crossing over into the territory of a horror novel. Terry adroitly constructs a focused backstory for Mia that continues to the final chapter, and most chapters end on a gripping note. Flashbacks occur throughout the narrative and are not delineated from the rest of the narrative, which I would normally take issue with, but in this case it works well. The same can be said of scene repetitions, which are necessary to the plot. Heavily laced with foreshadowing, this novel will raise the hairs on your neck from page one. While I correctly identified the perpetrator in chapter one, the details and execution of the plot kept me engaged, as did attempting to figure out whether Mia is a reliable narrator: “Maybe I’m not me at all. How can you be yourself when you’ve forgotten half of the things that made you you?” Morever, the faith element gently underpins the story, strengthening toward the denouement and leaving readers with sage advice regardless of life’s vicissitudes: “I need to remember when life gets hard to look past my own circumstances. To see past my own fears and pain. To remember that no matter how bleak life gets, God is good, and God is with me.”

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, Alana is giving away the grand prize of a $30 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
4 Stars
No Space Like Home Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  No Space Like Home

Author: Dell Tunnicliff

Genre: Fiction/YA/Science Fiction

Release Date: September 4, 2019

If life were only as simple as following a yellow brick road. Gail’s quiet life among the Kansa Station turbines ends with a hug, a prayer, and a shove… into space.

She thinks she knows who she is, but she’s wrong.  Who is she really?  She’s about to find out.

Of course, landing on the wrong planet is complicated enough without crashing into things. Add to that spybots, waspbots, and cyberwolves and it’s no wonder Gail just wants to go home. Back to a life without this interplanetary circus and its flying monkeys.

Intrigue, secrets, and more than a little danger turn a “simple mission” into a hair-raising adventure as Gail—and three friends she meets along the way—accept a mission to save O-Zoras.

In the end, Gail wants nothing more to go home. She’s just not sure where that is anymore. “I’ve decided that home is more about who than where.” Well, that’s a good thing, Gail, because you’re not on Kansa anymore. It’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz meets Firefly in this fresh, a little zarbi, but totally licit YA space adventure. Grab your copy today and see what ALL that even means!  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Dell lives on the windswept Wyoming plains with her husband, six children, a cardigan corgi dog, a calico cat, and a flock of chickens.
 
A lifelong reader, and lover of words, she also loves the Word; God’s good news to us.
 
She takes the path less traveled, and that has made all the difference.  

 

 

More from Dell

 

We are our heavenly father’s children, created to create.
 
When I set out to write this novel, I craved challenge—something that would stretch my own imagination. The wild, otherworldly, frontier of science-fiction winked at me like a distant star in the night-sky of possibility.  I admire teens and young-adults for their eagerness to seize the wonder of “What if.”  So, young-adult sci-fi it is!
 
Creating an entire fictional solar system was every bit of the creative rush I hoped.  Orchestrating a dance of stars and planets, designing a space ship, imaging cultures, people-groups, values, and linguistic quirks provided ample opportunities to stretch my creative muscles.
 
And then there was the naming!  Names are yet another way we reflect our divine author.  Our loving and personal God spoke each star into being and calls each by name.  In No Space Like Home, I named the four-sun solar system, “Hiraeth.”  It’s a Welsh word for that vague, yet poignant yearning for a place to which you can never return, have never been, or even that never was.  It’s a deep, inborn longing for someone, something or somewhere just out of reach of our plane of existence.  As Christians, we feel this keenly.  This world isn’t our eternal home.  We thirst for Jesus.  We hunger for heaven.  We long for a garden—unmarred by thorns and thistles of the fall. We ache to know ourselves and our loved ones as God designed– in perfect relationship with Him, unfettered by sin.
 
As part of this longing, we create and we name. We are all world-builders, designing with the materials around us, and bringing order to our sphere in small ways and large.  We are image-bearers of our holy Author and Creator.
 
Whether we paint (like my No Space Like Home heroine, Gail), design software (like George), weld parts (like Nic), or develop strategies (like Leo), we are all inventors and designers.  Create today.   Spin a bit of beauty, order, and identity from the nameless, swirling, chaos.
 

My Review

 

As I was about to pass this one up, I found out that it’s a retelling of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, which is one of my mom’s favorites. The funny thing is, I have never been overly taken with it, and so I was quite amused to read in Tunnicliff’s note to readers that she isn’t, either! Moreover, I am definitely not a fan of futuristic or space tales. But that’s the beauty of reviewing books: stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something different. Did I become a space fiction enthusiast? No, but I did really enjoy this book!

A clever reprise of L. Frank Baum’s beloved classic, Dell Tunnicliff’s “No Space Like Home” takes the primary elements from the original story and integrates them in such a way that the novel is not redundant and can be enjoyed by readers whether they are familiar with the storyline or not. The epigraph that opens each chapter consists of a quotation from Baum’s story that corresponds to the ensuing action and helps to anchor the science-fiction and space component in readers’ minds. I realized that while I have seen the 1939 movie numerous times, I have never read Baum’s original story, so there were some surprises for me, and I am very glad that Tunnicliff chose to incorporate these passages. They also helped me to further understand details of how events were unfolding, particulars that I would definitely have missed otherwise.

As for the characters, I personally did not feel a strong connection with any of them. I did not deduct any stars for this, though, because this may very well just be my personal quirk. I will say that I was disappointed that Gail decided to go to a nightclub with her friends, but I am also thankful that the author does not condone this behavior. One particular scene with Storm tore my heart out, but I will refrain from elaborating to avoid spoilers and simply say that this is a tender spot for me in any type of literature. I also would have enjoyed a more influential faith element; Uncle Henri does bolster Gail in the beginning by saying, “Remember God, our Shepherd, is always with you. The Good Book is key. It decodes what we can’t understand.” These truths carry throughout the narrative, but in a subdued manner.

The part of “No Space Like Home” that I found most intriguing but also struggled to process is the technological aspect. The target audience includes teens and young adults, and I feel that they would have a much better grasp on this than I. I might be in my thirties, but I have extremely limited knowledge when it comes to technology. I don’t have a smartphone or tablet, and I don’t get cell reception where I live. Therefore I felt clueless most of the time and would have been very grateful for a glossary of terms, but I doubt that many others would have this issue. The writing itself is well done; one of my favorite sentences is in the first chapter: “Painting provided temporary escape, but the envelope still leered from her cot-side table, cinching the knot in her stomach like a pneumatic torque wrench on a windmill’s yaw bearing.” This novel is laudable for being self-published and intricate, although it could use more editing to tidy up grammatical errors. Overall, however, it is a commendable debut novel for those interested in a unique twist on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” as well as for science fiction and outer space enthusiasts.

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


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Dell is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of Gail’s Bible: ESV Illuminated Bible (Art Journaling Edition), a paperback copy of No Space Like Home, and Frang Bingham’s Ard Ri game!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Common Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book


Book:  Common

Author: Laurie Lucking

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: February 14, 2018

Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


An avid reader practically since birth, Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. When she gets a break from playing board games and finding lost toys, she writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of fairy tale romance. Her debut novel, Common, won the Christian Editor Connection’s Excellence in Editing Award, placed third in the Christian Women Reader’s Club Literary Lighthouse Awards, and is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards. She has short stories published in Mythical DoorwaysEncircled, and the upcoming Christmas Fiction off the Beaten Path. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of Lands Uncharted, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. Find out more by visiting www.laurielucking.com.  

More from Laurie

 

Common started with the simple premise that I wanted to write a friendship-first romance that would be innocent enough for pre-teen readers, but complex enough for teens and adults to enjoy it, too! My love for fairy tales soon kicked in, inspiring a Cinderella-type dynamic of a secret friendship between a maid and a prince. Then came the “what if” questions. What if the king and queen arranged a betrothal between the prince and a foreign princess? What if the maid tried to help the prince find happiness with his new fiancée, but accidentally made things worse? What if she then discovered a plot against the royal family and was the only one who could stop it?
 
Looking back, it’s fascinating to see how my story expanded from a sweet romance to so much more. The romance is still there, prominent enough to satisfy any reader who loves rooting for a fun couple. But there’s also so much personal growth for my main character, who learns though her journey that even a lowly maid is anything but common and that the biggest challenges and disappointments we must overcome are preparing us for something better. I didn’t set out to include a spiritual thread, but my protagonist kept contemplating and reaching out to God until I finally realized her story wouldn’t work without a faith component. And that faith component led to an entire group of characters – spunky, mysterious nuns who now form the backbone of my entire Tales of the Mystics series.
 
The end result is an inspirational, romantic fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Melanie Dickerson, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and Jody Hedlund’s new Lost Princesses series. Book Two is in progress, and I can’t wait to see how much it will change and develop along the way!
 

My Review

 

For the most part, I am not a fantasy devotee. My go-to genre is historical fiction, but I challenge myself to read outside of my tried-and-true Christian fiction categories in order to develop a more broad level of experience and hopefully connect more readers with more authors. When I signed up to review “Common”, I went mostly by the cover and only briefly skimmed the description because, as I’ve previously mentioned, I prefer going into books without knowing the plot beyond the bare minimum. I also apparently didn’t pay attention to the series title. As a result, I was surprised when this book turned out to be a young adult Christian fantasy romance—the first I’ve read in this genre to date!

With “Common”, Laurie Lucking begins the Tales of the Mystics and weaves a tale that seamlessly blends multiple genres. The fantasy elements are mostly subtle, and it took some time before I began noticing them. Likewise, identifying a time period for the novel’s setting is not straightforward because the locations are fictional, but it seems to be late Medieval. As a side note, a search into the term “Trellan” (in the story, someone from Trellich) appears to be translated at times as, roughly, “homestead near the church”, which is very apropos. Overall, this ambiguity serves the story well, and in my opinion fits well with the plot itself and the fact that “Common” reads much like a fairy tale. This lends it a timelessness, and the focus remains on the characters and on the unfolding action. The romance component is rather predictable but still tension-ridden enough to be interesting.

The characters run the gamut from good to neutral to evil. Leah narrates the story in the first person, placing the reader into the unexpected changes occurring in her life shortly after she reaches Maturation at age 16. As a palace servant in Imperia, her friendship with Crown Prince Rafe is verboten, and when Rafe becomes betrothed to a Trellan princess, Leah learns of a plot to assassinate the royal family. Making the king and queen aware of it upends her life and, to me, also brings to mind Jesus’ teachings that the world will hate us for speaking the truth. John 15 succinctly summarizes Leah’s situation. In “Common”, God is referred to as the Luminate, and although Leah does not put much stock in Him initially, whispers of faith echo as she faces heartache and the loss of the life she once lived. The story exemplifies Proverbs 29:23: “A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit”, and serves as a reminder that if God is for us, it doesn’t matter who is against us (Romans 8:31).

While the target audience is young adult, I also recommend “Common” to adults who enjoy a clean, adventurous fairy tale, as well as for fans of Hannah Currie’s “Heart of a Royal.” May we all seek to remember that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us, and that He has wonderful plans for all of us, nobles and commoners alike.

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


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Laurie is giving away a themed basket with a signed paperback copy of Common, a beaded velvet bookmark, a handmade book sleeve, and a wooden “Have courage & be kind” sign!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Abraham Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Abraham

Author: Jennifer Beckstrand

Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance

Release Date: November 26, 2019

Things at the Petersheim house are getting too crowded for eight-year-old twins Alfie and Benji. As if things weren’t bad enough with three older brothers hogging all the bacon at breakfast and using more than their fair share of toilet paper, Mammi and Dawdi Petersheim have to move in because of Dawdi’s stroke. If Alfie and Benji have any hope of getting their own bedrooms, they have to get rid of their annoying brothers, and the only way to convince their brothers to move out is to make each of them fall in love. What could be so hard about that?

Abraham Petersheim is known as a man of few words. He’s painfully shy and doesn’t see the need to prattle on like other boys in the community do. That’s why he can’t understand his unexpected attraction to Emma Wengerd. For sure and certain she’s pretty, but she also has five or six boys buzzing around her all the time, and she seems to be constantly annoyed with Abraham and his little brothers. Emma would never be interested in someone as boring as Abraham, and he could never set his sights on someone as wunderbarr as Emma.



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Jennifer Beckstrand is the two-time RITA-nominated, #1 Amazon bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, The Honeybee Sisters series, and The Petersheim Brothers series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer and Home on Huckleberry Hill were both nominated for the coveted RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America. Jennifer has written twenty-one Amish romances, a historical Western, and the nonfiction book, Big Ideas. She and her husband have been married for thirty-five years, and she has six children and eight adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.
 

More from Jennifer

 

Alfie and Benji Petersheim will do just about anything to get their brother Abraham to fall in love with Emma Wengerd, even adopt a stray dog. But to catch that dog, they’re going to need Aunt Bitsy’ help. Alfie and Benji are about to get in a lot of trouble.  
 
I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Abraham.
 
Benji pushed his coffee cake around his plate with his finger. “Maybe we could keep that stray dog.”
 
Maybe they could keep the dog. Alfie’s heart started pounding. A dog could find them if they ever got lost in the woods. A dog could fetch sticks and bring Dat his slippers. A dog would eat crumbs off the floor. Mamm would never have to mop again. Bitsy shrugged. “That’s up to your mamm.”
 
Alfie’s heart sank to his toes. “Mamm would never let us have a dog. She won’t even let me have a goldfish.”
 
“I have a pet spider,” Benji said.
 
Alfie popped a small bite of coffee cake into his mouth. “He’s not your pet. He just lives in the corner of the cellar and kills other spiders.”
 
“You tried to spray him,” Benji said, “and I saved his life. He’s my pet now.”
 
Bitsy nodded. “Spiders are gute pets. They feed themselves and don’t poop on the carpet.”
 
Benji sat very still before wrinkling his forehead like he did when he was upset. “We need to help that dog.”
 
Alfie wanted a dog as much as anybody, but they had to be sensible. They’d been asking Mamm for a dog ever since they could talk. “Mamm won’t let us.”
 
Benji started crying. “But he’s going to get gassed.”
 
Bitsy reached over and patted Benji’s arm. “He might not get gassed. The pound might find a nice family that wants to adopt him. People like chocolate labs. I’m told they’re cute.”
 
Benji caught his breath and suddenly stopped crying, as if someone had turned off a faucet. “Do girls like chocolate lamps?”
 
“Chocolate labs?” Bitsy folded her arms. “Well, I’m a girl and I don’t think he’s cute, but most girls love dogs. Do you remember Vernon Schmucker? Poor fellow had a face like a potato, and the girls ignored him. One night he brought a puppy to the gathering, and he was surrounded by girls all night. That’s how he met his wife.”
 
Benji jumped from his chair and threw his arms around Alfie, making Alfie spill milk down his new shirt. “Hey. Watch it.”
 
“Alfie, girls like dogs!”
 
Benji was a good partner, but sometimes he made no sense. “So?”
 
“If Emma Wengerd saw us walking our chocolate lamp down the street, she’d run out of her house to pet him.”
 
Alfie’s heart started pounding. Benji was the best bruder in the world. “We could bring Abraham with us.”
 
Benji got more and more excited with each word. “And they could talk about dogs and chickens and maybe start kissing.”
 
Alfie set his milk on the table. “We’ve got to catch that dog.”
 

My Review

 

With the upsurge of Amish fiction in recent years, finding original books within the genre can be a difficult task. It’s easy for them to become formulaic and predictable. However, this makes discovering different authors all the more exciting, as was my experience with Jennifer Beckstrand’s “Abraham”. I have not read the first book in the Petersheim Brothers trilogy, but after hearing very positive responses to it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read and review book two. While I was able to assimilate into the story relatively easily, I do wish that there had been a glossary of Amish terms, some of which I was not completely familiar with. There are also many spoilers from the previous book, so read them in order if you prefer the element of surprise.

“Abraham” has a delightful balance of humor, poignancy, and romance. The antics of the 9-year-old twins, Alfie and Benji, form part of the plot as they take on the role of matchmakers because if one of their remaining two older brothers gets married, they figure that they will be able to move out of the cellar they’ve been rooming in since their grandparents came to live with them. As an only child, I have no experience with siblings or little boys, and I enjoyed the way in which Beckstrand taps into the twins’ thought processes and puerile reasoning. I also enjoyed the subplot about the chocolate lab, or as Benji calls it, chocolate “lamp”. The dog on the cover is part of what initially drew me to this book. With constant mischief afoot, the twins’ scheming leads to both comedy and heartache.

As for the other two main characters, Abraham and Emma, their idiosyncrasies make them all the more endearing. I appreciated Beckstrand’s representation of two young people who for the most part retain their individuality despite how this makes them different from their peers. Although I identified much more with Abraham’s character, Emma’s approach to life made me chuckle: “She already had plenty of friends and several exotic chickens. What more could a girl want?” In spite of her chicken-raising hobby, Emma is popular and draws the attention of the young men at gatherings, whereas Abraham is an introvert who can’t ever seem to say the right thing. Nevertheless, “[i]t seemed he found happiness in doing what he liked without having to impress anyone else.” Abraham exhibits a tender humility, whereas Emma seems rather self-centered at times. The difference in their personalities reminds me of how, as Christians, these two dispositions need to exist in harmony; we need to be humble and selfless but also bold and courageous for our faith. Jesus is our ultimate example of this; so, then, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

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


Blog Stops

 

Texas Book-aholic, December 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 28

She Lives to Read, December 29

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 29

Older & Smarter?, December 30

Through the Fire Blogs, December 30

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 31

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 31

For the Love of Literature, January 1

SPLASHES of Joy, January 1

Book of Ruth Ann, January 2

Mary Hake, January 2

janicesbookreviews, January 3

Vicky Sluiter, January 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 4

Pause for Tales, January 4

Quiet Quilter, January 5

Southern Gal Loves to Read, January 5

The Avid Reader, January 6

Christian Bookaholic, January 6

Inklings and notions, January 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 7

Blossoms and Blessings, January 8

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 8

Reading Is My SuperPower, January 9

For Him and My Family, January 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 10

Batya’s Bits, January 10

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving a $10 Amazon gift card to three winners!!
 
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 Live Without You by Sarah Grace Grzy

 

Blurb:

  

Piper Redding is a loner, but lonely. Everyone she loves has abandoned her and opening her heart to others is just asking for more pain. She can’t help but blame herself for her brother’s tragic death six years ago, and in her guilt, she shuts herself off from the world. No one could love her—not even the God who promised to be there for her but wasn’t.

 

For paramedic Ezra Bryant, failure is not an option. He’s had enough of it, and only by God’s grace is he able to put it behind him. But when a traumatic event brings Piper’s greatest fear and Ezra’s failures to light, can they use that event to allow God to mend their broken pieces? Can love triumph over fear, and grace over guilt?

 

Book Purchase Links: 

 

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

Author Bio:

 

 

Sarah Grace Grzy is a voracious reader, and if it weren't for this crazy thing called 'Life,' she'd be tempted to spend all her days in front of a wood stove, book in one hand, coffee mug in the other.

                                                             

A lover of learning, she finds enjoyment in many things and has more hobbies than she knows what to do with. Sarah Grace is a freelance web and graphic designer, and when not working, spending time with her ever-growing family, or reading, she can be found painting, playing the piano, or fangirling with her sisters and friends. Sarah Grace inhabits the State of Great Lakes, and wouldn't want to live anywhere else--unless it meant she could have a baby penguin, in which case, she'd gladly move to the South Pole. 

 

Author Social Media Links:

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahgracegrzy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahgracegrzy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18548336.Sarah_Grace_Grzy

Pinterest: @sarahgracegrzy https://www.pinterest.com/sarahgracegrzy/ 

 

My Review:

 

A debut novella sure to tug at your heartstrings, Sarah Grzy’s “Live Without You” invites readers on a journey toward healing and second chances. It may be a short read as far as page numbers are concerned, but it has the fullness and satisfaction of a novel. The author manages to successfully unite pacing and plot so that the action is continuous but not rushed. For the most part, I myself am not a fan of contemporary romance, and yet I could not put this book down, and the romance itself was delightfully tender without being saccharine. From the powerful opening scene, the narrative proceeds steadily, spiking with intensity at times and mirroring real life progression. Three-quarters of the way through, I thought that the story was coming to an end, only to have the most challenging conflict occur during the last section. In doing this, Grzy moves beyond a trite happily-ever-after to demonstrate how God works in all circumstances, even those that may take us into our darkest nights.

 



Although a work of fiction, this novella boldly confronts some of the lies that we tend to believe about ourselves and shines the light of God’s truth on them. Grzy constructs the characters with satisfactory backstories that explain their current struggles and complement their dispositions. Piper Redding lives as a loner, battling feelings of being abandoned and thinking that she bears guilt. She avoids establishing relationships because “[l]oving someone invariably meant that they would leave someday and leave her alone . . . again.” Ezra Bryant sees himself as a failure because of his past. As the author demonstrates, we cannot outrun God’s grace and love, and we need to learn to surrender all of ourselves to Him in order to be truly whole. He speaks to us in our pain, a fact that Grzy makes clear through the way in which Piper hears the Lord’s voice in her mind while she prays. We can live each day like the characters in this novella, “basking in the assurance that come what may, they would never have to live without Him.”

 



“Live Without You” is an inspirational read and one that will challenge you to examine your heart. Anyone who is struggling or who is recovering from trauma will find this novella illuminating, and if you enjoy contemporary romance with a few tear-jerker moments, you will not want to miss this one!

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

Review
5 Stars
Focused Backstory Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Focused Backstory

Author: Carol Alwood

Genre: Non-fiction, writing resource

Release Date: June 26, 2019

Learn how to write characters readers will love.
 
Has an industry professional told you not to dump character history at the beginning of your story? If so, you aren’t alone. But what’s the solution to this common advice? Most writers take the time to design interesting characters with troubled pasts. They long for readers to care about the characters’ lives. However, the sad truth is on page one, readers don’t care—yet. That’s why industry gurus tell writers to stop overusing character history, also called backstory, at the beginning of stories. Have you ever wondered… How to use backstory correctly? What are the ways other writers successfully incorporate backstory into their work? Do tools exist to help writers better plan stories so the backstory isn’t such a problem? In Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys, you’ll find answers to these questions and more. You’ll learn how to avoid the dreaded info-dump and instead, harness curiosity so readers keep turning pages. This resource breaks down focused backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story no matter what genre or length. Worksheets, tables, questionnaires, and templates will help you plan an engaging story with deep characters. Examples from popular stories will help you understand this method.
 


You’ll learn how to
• design a character around a troubled past.
• create additional characters around the main character.
• weave interesting sub-plots within a characters’ journey toward healing.
• design proper obstacles which interfere with characters’ goals.
• guide readers’ emotions so they have a satisfying reading experience.
 

No matter what kind of writer you are, if you take the time to analyze the use of backstory, it will enhance your style. Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys is the missing gadget in your writing tool kit.
 
 
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy.
 
 

About the Author

 


Carol Alwood has an unending passion for fiction, and she can’t think of a better way to spend her life than writing books for young adults and teaching about techniques she has learned along the way. With a Master of Education, experience as a content editor, and over a decade of establishing and working with critique groups, she is an excellent resource. An award-winning author, Carol finds joy in helping writers find the right tools to plan, draft and revise their novels so they can achieve excellence in storytelling.
 

More from Carol

 

Focused Backstory resulted from a personal quest to please industry critics who suggested I keep character history out of the first pages of my novels. My initial questions to this advice were: What? Why? I searched for resources to figure out how to write a more powerful beginning without relying on the past but found little help. On a mission to find answers, I studied popular books, television and movies to abstract what made stories work and — boom! I found it! We can break down backstory into simple pieces to use flexibly in any story without compromising artistry. This book provides definitions, examples, worksheets, templates, and comics to help writers study the art of using powerful character histories to keep readers turning pages. I’m so excited to offer this resource and hope it will empower your writing as it has mine.
 

My Review

 

At first glance, this book seems like an anomalous choice for me because I write book reviews and not novels, but it sounded interesting and I was hoping to glean some insights that I might be able to share with some of my friends who are writers. It never hurts to learn more about the craft you’re working with, either; I thought that I might learn something pertaining to the critical analysis of literature, which I employ in my reviews. I have to say, this book certainly surpassed my expectations!

Unlike many references books, “Focused Backstory” is not a dry, hackneyed text that might be accessed once in a long while for a particular topic but otherwise left to collect dust. On the contrary, author Carol Alwood brings her own expertise, honed by years of experience, to offer writers a vade mecum of character development. Regardless of the story you are writing, the characters become the focal point and can make or break the book. “Focused Backstory” concentrates on fictional writings, but the concepts have a ready application to other media as well. Alwood notes: “These tools will work when writing any story, from complicated literary works to short stories, screenplays, memoir, biography, and more.” For that matter, they are also appropriate for those interested in literary analysis.

“Focused backstory involves deep pain covered up with lies. A complete history is tedious. Focused backstory filled with pain is intriguing,” Alwood writes. “Once you have focused backstory, the core of your story, the possibilities are endless.” One of the best elements of this handbook is the way in which the author includes a multitude of examples, utilizing movie, book, and TV references to make her concepts easily understood. This book is such an engrossing study of developing engaging characters that I often felt like I was reading a psychology manual due to the incredible depth of the characters themselves.

“Focused Backstory” is a dynamic and interactive read. It identifies five focused backstories and the eleven elements that constitute them, branching out from there and building on how to compose a story with engaging characters. Alwood discusses the Enneagram Institute personality types and K.M. Weiland’s 8 ½ character archetypes, providing examples throughout the book for easy comprehension. Each chapter includes a brief epigraphic list of what will be covered and is bookended by a chapter summary and final writing tips. Within each chapter, Alwood employs tables for ready reference, templates, worksheets, and clues about an unwritten novel in order to demonstrate how to gradually reveal information to keep readers involved. She also uses bullet lists and endearing stick-figure illustrations. The combination of these methods reinforces learning in a practical and fun manner, and I highly recommend this book to all writers and to anyone interested in learning more about character development.

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


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 28

Holly Jo Morris, December 28

janicesbookreviews, December 29

CarpeDiem, December 29

Jacquelyn Lynn, December 29

For the Love of Literature, December 30

Mary Hake, December 30

Blogging With Carol, December 31

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 31

Genesis 5020, January 1

April Hayman, Author, January 1

Pause for Tales, January 1

Through the Fire Blogs, January 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 3

Emily Yager, January 3

Remembrancy, January 4

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, January 4

A Reader’s Brain, January 5

Spoken from the Heart, January 5

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 6

Godly Book Reviews, January 6

Blossoms and Blessings, January 7

With a Joyful Noise, January 7

Inklings and notions, January 8

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, January 8

A Diva’s Heart, January 8

Artistic Nobody, January 9

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 9

Hebrews 12 Endurance, January 9

Texas Book-aholic, January 10

Stories By Gina, January 10

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away the grand prize of 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.