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
2 Stars
Book Review of Unwilling Promise by Emily Yager

 

 

Blurb: 

 

Klarysa Tutko, a young single mother, moves to Caribou, Minnesota, 
where her family is now living, to put her life back in order. All she 
wants is to leave the past in the past; though a family friend has 
other ideas and persuades her to make a promise that she is unwilling 
to keep.

 

Book Purchase Links:

 

Amazon

Barnes and Noble 

 

Author Bio:

 

 

Emily Yager writes Inspirational Romance novels set among the lakes, 
rivers, and north woods of Minnesota. Is the author of the Pursuing 
Voyageurs series.

When Emily is not writing, she is doodling over her notes, listening 
to music, searching for a new history book to explore, or dealing with 
the dramas of a bi-polar prima donna canine and writing puppy 
sidekick, Xian. She lives on the family farm in northwestern Minnesota.

 

Author Social Media Links:

 

Facebook @emilyyagerauthor (https://facebook.com/emilyyagerauthor/)
Twitter @TheEmilyYager (https://twitter.com/TheEmilyYager/)

 

My Review:

 

 

Set in Minnesota in 1905, Emily Yager’s “Unwilling Promise” tells the forlorn story of Klarysa, a young mother who flees with her infant son back to her family in order to start over and escape her past. Visiting an old friend, however, causes her to make a reluctant promise that turns her life upside down all over again. She begins to wonder if she will ever find a place to belong and someone to love her, bemoaning the fact that “[n]othing she ever did was good enough for anyone, [sic] she always disappointed those around her.” Her life experiences have taught her to be wary, and through Klarysa’s character Yager provides a glimpse into how PTSD can affect relationships. This is also poignantly demonstrated with little Ivanna.

Although this is a clean read, there is only a subtle faith element, with prayer and church only being mentioned. The story is predictable, with a resolution that is almost too easy, and it has a few details that are never explained. I think that it has potential but needs to be reworked into a more cohesive and coherent narrative. The grammar is very disjointed, with inconsistent verb tenses, run-on sentences, missing words, no question marks in the characters’ dialogue, and unclear or absent transitions between scenes. There is not an articulate flow to the narrative, and the dialogue between the characters is stilted and often marked by modern slang. Altogether, this makes for a very difficult and unfulfilling reading experience. However, I do applaud the author for writing about non-indigenous characters; I enjoyed learning about some Ukrainian customs and phrases. There is a Ukrainian glossary after the epilogue, which I appreciated and wish I had known about while reading the Kindle version, as well as a recipe for Ukrainian wedding bread.  

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
1 Stars
Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul Book Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Rest for the Justice Seeking Soul

Author: Susan K. Williams Smith

Genre: RELIGION / Christian Living/Devotional

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Susan K. Williams Smith is a minister and activist who has been on the front lines of social and racial justice for many years. As she has marched shoulder-to-shoulder to resist systematic oppression, she has heard the same question over and over: “How are we going to get through this?” Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul was birthed out of those cries.

Here is a soul-care manual for social justice-seeking believers who stand in constant vigilance against all forms of racial, class, and gender oppression. The fight for justice and equality is an exhausting daily grind—and the work is never over. That’s why it is incumbent upon all who speak and advocate for the less fortunate to practice self-care. You can’t fight when your tank is empty.

In response to the many calls and emails she has received from friends, clergy, and strangers who are in utter despair and even deep depression, she has created ninety daily devotions to provide a daily spoonful of hope and encouragement, a healing balm to “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12). Lift your gaze upward toward a better future by allowing God to restore harmony and focus in your soul and justice in your community. Our God is bigger than whoever is oppressing you. As the old hymn states, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”



Click HERE for your copy. 

About the Author

 


Susan K. Williams Smith is an ordained minister, musician, writer, and activist living in Columbus, Ohio. She has written for the Washington Post and Huffington Post, as well as her blog, Candid Observations. She currently serves as one of the tri-chairs for the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. She also serves as national scribe for the African American Ministers’ Leadership Council (AAMLC), and communications consultant for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. The founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, she is a graduate of Occidental College and Yale Divinity School, and earned a D.Min from United Theological Seminary. Her previous book, Crazy Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, was published by Judson Press.  

More from Susan

 

In response to calls and emails from friends, clergy, and strangers who are in utter despair and even deep depression in these political times, I’ve created ninety daily devotions to provide a daily spoonful of hope and encouragement, a healing balm for justice-seeking believers and social activists.
 

My Review

 

When I elected to read this book, I expected to encounter peaceful yet instructive readings about justice, with reassurances that in spite of the injustice extant in our world today, Jesus is our refuge and the One whose examples we need to follow to effect lasting change. However, the title is a misnomer because I felt anything but peaceful while reading, and although these readings are listed as meditations on the cover, they are referred to as devotions in the book description and are categorized as such on retailer websites. Each day begins with a Scripture verse, but aside from that, there are very few that I would classify as devotions. Rather, “Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul” is a clarion call to fight. The problem is that Williams Smith places most of the emphasis on us and our power as opposed to God’s power working within us, but the truth is that we can do nothing without Christ (John 15:5). She states that “God needs for us to seek God so we will be able to go and ‘hope’ somebody,” but our purpose is to glorify God. God doesn’t “need” us. To suggest that He does implies that He has weakness and disqualifies Him from being God. We also don’t “sap evil of its strength”; Christ’s power working within and through us does.

Throughout the 90 readings, the author’s working seemed off-kilter to me, hindering interpretation. In a few cases I thought I could see the point that the author was trying to make, but it could be easily misinterpreted. For instance, in day 4 she remarks that “It is in the darkness that our strength is made stronger, that our arguments become more pointed and vivid, and that our words become more inspiring, because only in the darkness can we ‘see’ places that we cannot see when we are in the light.” But I would argue that Jesus is the light of the world, and when we encounter darkness we should shine light on the darkness. Darkness does not enable us to see, nor does it strengthen us. God’s light does that. Growth does not occur in darkness as the author claims; through darkness, perhaps, but not in it, and neither does darkness give us power or life, which come from the Lord alone.

Theological issues throughout “Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul” disturbed me. This is considered a Christian book, but I found multiple ideas that go against God’s Word. The author references historical figures who “held on to God while simultaneously rejecting Christianity” and were strengthened by God, but it is Jesus who saves us. There is no God without Christianity; they are mutually inclusive. The author presents this dangerous idea that even if we reject God, we are still His children and He is with us (Emmanuel), but those who have never accepted Christ as their Savior or who have rejected Him outright do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. Furthermore, Williams Smith perpetuates the concept that “To be a peacemaker is to radically stand in faith, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other brand…In the name of the God whom we claim as our divine Parent, now is the time to covenant to be a peacemaker, no matter the cost. Too much is at stake.” Steve Ham, in an Answers in Genesis article from December 3, 2010 entitled “What is a True Peacemaker?”, refutes this by saying, “There is no such thing as peace at any cost. The gospel message is about both repentance of sin and salvation from judgment through Christ. It is not a feel-good message of misdirected love and tolerance.” Romans 12 also speaks to being a loving peacemaker.

According to the author, deception is at times necessary for survival and is okay as long as we “get in touch with our true selves” and “look to God for enough ingestion of God’s spirit not to betray others or ourselves.” However, if we are deceiving, then we are betraying God. She claims that the good news of the Gospel is that God is with us and always there, as opposed to the “self-serving principle that merely provides us with assurance that we are safe from eternal damnation.” While I agree that God is indeed steadfast and faithful, this “self-serving principle” is the priceless gift of our eternal salvation, for which He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf. Far from being the defiant activist Who “was not willing to ‘grin and bear it’”, He allowed Himself to be crucified and oppressed for us after living here on earth with us and showing us how to live.

White supremacy and racism are repeatedly discussed. Blanket statements such as saying that “white religious people” support racism, however, do not advance the cause. I absolutely agree that both institutions are wrong and should not exist, and I believe that working to eradicate them is a worthy and necessary endeavor. My issue is with the author’s approach and with what appears to be a mixed-bag of theological concepts that often distort God’s Word and promote the idea that as long as you stand for a religion, any religion, in faith, you are a peacemaker. Social activism is a loaded topic, but we are never going to find a better approach than that of Jesus. Praise God for the truth of John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

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

 

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 19

CarpeDiem, December 20

Artistic Nobody, December 21 (Author Interview)

Just the Write Escape, December 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 23

Simple Harvest Reads, December 24 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, December 25

All 4 and About Books, December 26 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, December 27

My Devotional Thoughts, December 28 (Author Interview)

janicesbookreviews, December 29

A Reader’s Brain, December 30

Through the Fire Blogs, December 31 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, January 1

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Susan is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and a finished copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
The Seductive Slayers of Success Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  The Seductive Slayers of Success

Author: Rosalinda Rivera

Genre: RELIGION / Christian Living/Women’s Interests

Release Date: November 19, 2019

“I am not a neat nut. Let me start with that confession. Don’t let the title of this chapter, Clean the Clutter, fool you into thinking I have all my ducks in a row. If I had ducks, they would not be in a straight line. Or all accounted for.”—Rosalinda Rivera

The snooze button on your alarm clock. The “brilliant shortcut” that makes you late. The unwritten to-do list that you follow from the time you get out of bed till the time you crawl back in it, making each day seem like the last.

These are some of The Seductive Slayers of Success—the little things that add up and try to stop you from moving forward and realizing your dreams. Rosalinda Rivera has been there and she knows just how to help you get up, move on, and Harness Your Strengths to Take Control of Your Destiny.

Using stories from her own life as well as Scripture, Rosalinda offers encouragement to help you kick the negative aspects of life to the curb and jump start your way to a brighter tomorrow. Like a close friend, she gives inspirational, down-to-earth advice with a dash of humor thrown in.  
 
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Rosalinda Rivera is both outspoken and passionate about helping others change their lives and accomplish their dreams. She is a sought-after speaker by major companies, non-profits, and ministries around the world for her high energy, humorous, and down-to-earth motivational style.
 
She is the executive director of New Life For Adults and Youth, Mercy House, and Mercy Moms House, a place for single mothers to find hope and healing. Rosalinda has been reaching out to families in crisis, poverty, and hopelessness for over twenty-five years.
 
Using her business skills, she developed a model of social enterprise to sustain the nonprofits she leads by creating businesses that train people in job skills and leadership. Rosalinda is the founder of Bella Women’s Ministry in Richmond, Virginia, which hosts annual conferences for over five hundred women.
 
She is also the author of Dare to Begin Again: Let God Write Your Best Future and Wonder Women: Becoming a Hero for Christ.
 
Rosalinda has been a featured presenter at various events nationwide and has ministered throughout the world. From the White House to the local community, she has been nationally recognized for her impact in bringing hope to the hopeless. Rosalinda was appointed to the Board of Governors of the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Style Magazine selected her as a “Top 40 under 40” leader for her impact in Virginia.
 
Rosalinda is the daughter of Victor Torres, an ex-gang member from the streets of New York, and his wife, Carmen, the founders of New Life For Youth and pastors of New Life Outreach International Church. She served as an associate producer on Victor, a movie about her father’s journey from drugs and gangs to Jesus and redemption.
 
Rosalinda and her husband, Carlos, have three children: Alana, Gabriel, and Victor.  

More from Rosalinda

 

Shoot Your Snooze Button
 
Time doesn’t stop and allow us to make up for minutes wasted. Procrastination is not preparation, no matter what we tell ourselves as we reach for that seductive slayer of success. Think I’m being dramatic? The snooze habit is a symptom of a much bigger problem—one that seeps into many areas of our lives. The struggle is real.
 
Delay is the destroyer of dreams. It reduces our resolve. Procrastination is the poison that paralyzes our potential. How many opportunities are you hitting the snooze button on? Putting it off until tomorrow can easily become the habit that defines our lives. Instead of building the life we hope for, we are adding another log to the fire of future regret.
 
Right now, you may recall specific life-goals that have fallen by the wayside. In what areas of life have you chosen to roll over, closing your eyes to what your inner dreams require of you? Look at your gifts. Your talents. Are you harnessing your strengths to propel you in the direction of your desires? Or are you letting that power go to waste?
 
You’ve likely heard someone say, “She has potential.” Sounds like a good thing, right? In truth, it’s a compliment with a caveat. To say someone has potential is like looking in their pantry and noting there’s ingredients in there to make a cake. It does not mean there’s a cake. It doesn’t mean they will ever bake a cake. It just means this person could make a cake, if they so desired.
 
If you want to have your cake and eat it, too, you have to do something with what you’ve been given. If you want red velvet deliciousness in your future, remember: it’s not going to bake itself. Potential is pointless until it’s proven in performance. Are you ready to see your possibilities manifest into something tangible?
 

My Review

 

“Sin subtly seduces you in stages, slowly slaying your success.”

Far from being just another self-help book that promises to reveal the secret of how to “live your best life”, Rosalinda Rivera’s “The Seductive Slayers of Success” opens the door to the things that hold us back from becoming the people whom God has created us to be. Most of all, we have to want to be successful, and we have to be willing to put in the hard work that it takes to get there. As we are setting our goals, we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and make sure that our hearts are right with God so that we are listening to and following His guidance. After all, as Rivera notes, “God knows we will find our satisfaction, purest joy, and absolute peace when He is the object of our desire.” In order for that to happen, we have to trust Him above people, paying no heed to the cynics as we choose to move forward with the dreams that God has planted in our hearts.

Something that I think makes this book both instructive and relatable is Rivera’s tone. She directly addresses her target audience, women, and uses slang, which makes this reading experience convicting as well as akin to having coffee with a candid friend. To be honest, as an introvert this felt overwhelming, and I personally found it off-putting at times, but this is just my own quirk. I did appreciate that the author added a few disclaimers regarding context for situations such as abuse and other issues that might be exceptions and therefore call for a different approach. The formatting in the advanced reader’s e-book copy that I read was disjointed, with page headers in the middle of the text and superscript notes meant to be at the end of the page showing up in the middle of the text, as well as all words containing “ll” missing the second “l” and sentences continuously being repeated back-to-back, word-for-word. However, I do not fault the author and have not deducted any stars; I trust that these issues do not exist in the final Kindle edition.

Each chapter builds upon the one before, and Rivera briefly summarizes them as the book progresses, refreshers that I welcomed because they tie the book together as a cohesive whole. One of the most helpful topics for me was the comparison between experiment and commitment. Rivera explains how writer Scott Young divides the two: “Before you start any activity that will last more than a day, decide whether it should be mentally categorized as an experiment or commitment before going further. Experiments are okay to quit…A commitment is a worthwhile endeavor with the goal of success.” I found this very insightful because I tend to try to do too much and sometimes impede my own progress.

Beginning each of the fifteen chapters with a relevant epigraph and ending with a New Life Plan, “The Seductive Slayers of Success” serves as a handbook for making the necessary godly changes in your life to achieve the success of a life lived for Jesus, the One who gave His life for us. Rivera reminds us that “God is looking for people who will make themselves available. He wants you to be one of the world-changers, the difference-makers.” Yes, YOU!

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 21

Writer Without A Space, December 22

For the Love of Literature, December 23

Artistic Nobody, December 24 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 27

Simple Harvest Reads, December 28 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, December 29

janicesbookreviews, December 30

My Devotional Thoughts, December 31 (Author Interview)

A Reader’s Brain, January 1

Inklings and notions, January 2

For Him and My Family, January 3

All 4 and About Books, January 3 (Author Interview)

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Rosalinda is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and finished copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Wings Like a Dove Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 


Book:  Wings Like A Dove

Author: Camille Eide

Genre: Historical fiction/romance

Release Date: December 1, 2019

Can the invisible walls that separate people ever come down?

In 1933, Anna Leibowicz is convinced that the American dream that brought her Jewish family here from Poland is nothing but an illusion. Her father has vanished. Her dreams of college can’t make it past the sweat-shop door. And when she discovers to her shame and horror that she’s with child, her mother gives her little choice but to leave her family. Deciding her best course of action is to try to find her father, she strikes out…hoping against hope to somehow redeem them both.

When Anna stumbles upon a house full of orphan boys in rural Indiana who are in desperate need of a tutor, she agrees to postpone her journey. But she knows from the moment she meets their contemplative, deep-hearted caretaker, Thomas Chandler, that she doesn’t dare risk staying too long. She can’t afford to open her heart to them, to him. She can’t risk letting her secrets out.

All too soon, the townspeople realize she’s not like them and treat her with the same disdain they give the Sisters of Mercy—the nuns who help Thomas and the boys—and Samuel, the quiet colored boy Thomas has taken in. With the Klan presence in the town growing ever stronger and the danger to this family increasing the longer she stays, Anna is torn between fleeing to keep them safe…and staying to fight beside them.

Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest



 
Click HERE to get your copy.
   

About the Author

 


Camille writes poignant, inspirational love stories some call “more than a romance.” She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grandma, office admin, lead foot, cinnamon roll baker, and a bass guitarist. She’s a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, and Peanut M&Ms.  

More from Camille

 

If Only I Could Fly Away…
 
Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” -Psalm 55:6-8
 
What do you think of when you read this passage from Psalms? Does the idea of escape tempt you? Have you ever cried out for relief from life’s storms?
 
In Wings Like a Dove, Anna faces growing difficulties in her life. Psalm 55:6 is brought to her attention and she ponders it more than once, especially as the difficulties in her life steadily increase.
 
As Polish Jews in the early 1900s, Anna’s family lived in constant upheaval, so fleeing danger is nothing new to her. The problem is that Anna craves connection and community. While she was often uprooted, at least Anna enjoyed the security of family—until now. As the story begins, she is turned out of her home and must journey across the country alone, a heartache that only intensifies the persecution she faces as a Jew, an immigrant, and an unwed woman with child.
 
But her journey is temporarily delayed out of necessity, and she quickly falls in love with those who have taken her in. The idea of leaving them is as painful a prospect as leaving her own family, but because of the troubles that follow her, it seems she has no choice.
 
Psalm 55:6 isn’t tempting Anna to leave her surroundings; it tempts her to escape the negativity that robs her joy.
 
For Anna, and for the rest of us, we can’t flee trouble any more than we can grow wings and fly. The desire for relief is understandable. But what if there is a purpose in the difficult situations we face? What if we are called to more than simply outlast life’s storms? What if our weakest moment is exactly what God wants to use to show his power, love, mercy, and grace?
 
What if God is waiting for us to stop fluttering our wings and find joy in knowing that we are in the very place we need to be, for a purpose, for such a time as this?
 
Quote from Anna:
 
If these past months have taught me nothing else, they have taught me that though I am only a seed blowing in the wind, I must still be fruitful wherever I land. I have learned that wherever we find ourselves, we must have the courage to stretch out roots and produce something useful, even in times of difficulty. We must bloom boldly in whatever field our seed has fallen.”  
 
May you find the sweet spot of joy and purpose in the midst of your storm!  
 
-Camille
 

My Review

 

As an avid reader of Christian historical fiction, finding a distinctive work that truly stands out from the rest and also covers a little-known time period can be challenging. Earlier this year I read Cathy Gohlke’s “The Medallion” and appreciated it for being a different type of Holocaust narrative. Throughout college, I took courses on and studied the Holocaust, focusing mostly on the concentration camps. However, I do not remember studying the earlier years of Hitler’s rise to power, nor do I recall reading accounts of Jewish life in America prior to WWII. This is obviously not to say that they don’t exist, but rather that literature, especially when fictional, tends to focus on the War and the atrocities perpetrated therein. Part of the reason why I loved “Wings Like a Dove” so much is that it diverges from the conventional novel about Jewish people during this era.

Writing with verdant detail, Camille Eide cultivates a poignant story within the pages of “Wings Like a Dove.” Interestingly, this story takes place in America in 1933, the same year in which Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. After leaving their native Poland, Anna Leibowicz and her family are struggling to make a life in America, which is turning out not to be the promised land of opportunity for everyone. Anna is such an interesting, multi-faceted character, and her growth and maturation are beautiful yet heartrending to witness. After becoming pregnant out of wedlock, she is forced to leave her home and make her own way, which lands her in the role of tutor to six orphaned boys whose caretaker’s deeply-held Christian beliefs both baffle and intrigue her. She has always lived in a community in which neighbor took care of neighbor, but she doesn’t understand the workings of Christianity: “A choice? To belong to a religion? How strange. Being a Jew was not a choice.” This was eye-opening for me because it offers perspective; being a Christian is a matter of asking Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior, whereas being Jewish is something that you are born into.

A fact that I did not fully realize before reading this novel is that living in America did not exempt Jewish people from persecution. Although America became a safe haven for Jewish refugees during and after WWII, and I have always considered those who immigrated prior to Hitler’s invasion of Poland as being secure, “Wings Like a Dove” sheds light on how dangerous it was to be Jewish: “All she knew was you could be tormented for a heritage you did not choose. You could inherit a life of constant upheaval and uncertainty whether you wanted it or not. You could be despised for the odious crime of simply being born.” This is the crux of the story’s conflict both within Anna herself and in the world around her. Sadly, this is something that we still see today, but we must remember that accepting Jesus brings us to a glorious eternal inheritance regardless of race or nationality.

Eide deftly works the historical atmosphere into “Wings Like a Dove.” The Campbell Home for Mothers and Children in this novel puts me in mind of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and highlights some of the potential danger faced by the orphan boys. In the same manner, Sam’s elective mutism bespeaks past trauma inflicted due to the color of his skin. As aforementioned, xenophobia plays a major role in the story, with the Jewish people being discriminated against along with Catholics, Negroes, and other immigrants. The Ku Klux Klan enters into the narrative as well. I applaud Eide for demonstrating that racism is always wrong and that we should offer Christ’s love to everyone because that is what will ultimately triumph. For further exploration, there are discussion questions included at the end of the book, followed by more generalized discussion questions about broader points.

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

 

KarenSueHadley, December 17

My Devotional Thoughts, December 17

Reflections From My Bookshelves, December 18

Mia Reads, December 18

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 19

Genesis 5020, December 19

Emily Yager, December 20

mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 20

Betti Mace, December 21

To Everything A Season, December 21

Christian Bookaholic, December 22

April Hayman, Author, December 22

For the Love of Literature, December 23

For The Love of Books, December 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 24

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, December 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, December 25

For Him and My Family, December 25

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 27

Deanne’s Book Thoughts, December 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 28

janicesbookreviews, December 28

Pause for Tales, December 29

Texas Book-aholic, December 29

A Reader’s Brain, December 30

Inklings and notions, December 30

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Camille is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon card & a signed 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
Finding Joy Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book

 


Book: Finding Joy

Author: J.C. Lafler

Genre: Christian Fiction, Generational Fiction

Release Date: November, 2019

No matter what complications life throws your way, search until you find something to be joyful for.”

Elisabeth Davis has lived by these words for most of her eighty years. Through good times and bad, this mindset has served her well, and she hopes and prays that her grandchildren will carry this sentiment forward when she is gone.

But Max has heard his grandmother say this so many times, he is almost oblivious. And while he understands her point, putting it into action is not always easy.

When his girlfriend demands he make a choice between her and his best friend—in the same week his grandmother has a stroke!—Max struggles to find joy anywhere. He is forced to reexamine his life, his relationships, and even his faith in this heartwarming story of coming of age and leaving a lasting legacy.



Click HERE to get your copy.

About the Author

 


J.C. Lafler has always enjoyed writing and dreamed of being published, but it wasn’t until she retired in 2015 that she realized her dream. J. C. and her husband, David, live in Battle Creek, Michigan—except in winter, when they escape to sunny Texas. Along with writing, she enjoys public speaking, reading, puzzles, traveling, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
 
Finding Joy is J. C.’s fifth novel to date. Her other books, also released through Redemption Press, include Lost and Found, Amazing Grace, Hope Everlasting, and Leap of Faith.

More from J.C.

 

“Finding Joy” by J.C. Lafler is a story about the challenge of finding joy in life’s most trying circumstances, and corresponding verses in the Bible that lead us to choose joy. This story came about because of a comment made by one of my children, who’s middle name just happens to be Joy. She (Lynsey) made the comment to me one day that her middle name reminded her that every day it is up to her to choose joy. Jokingly telling her that “Choosing Joy” would be a great title for my next novel, I let it go for a couple of months. While preparing to began said novel, I wrote “Choose Joy” at the top of the page and started writing. During editing I changed the title to “Finding Joy,” but the whole story developed around the idea of choosing to find a bit of joy every day, no matter what is happening in your life.
 

My Review

 

At first glance, J.C. Lafler’s “Finding Joy” looks as if it might be a work of nonfiction, but it is in fact a novella. The unassuming cover design piqued my curiosity because it leaves so much to the imagination, and I was somewhat apprehensive that the story itself would be too plain. After reading it, however, I instead think that the cover highlights the main theme of the story: seeking joy at all times, as Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The cover may not be elaborate, but I appreciate what I interpret to be the subtle nod to meekness and prioritizing simplicity, lessons that emerge from the pages within.

“Finding Joy” has all of the components of a Hallmark movie, with an upbeat viewpoint tinged with poignant moments. Because of its short length, there are gaps in the narrative timeline, setting a brisk pace, and in some cases I felt that more details would have enhanced the story. However, the advantage is that this book can be read in one sitting. As for the characters, they are predictable but endearing. Max serves as the main protagonist, but Gram is the focal point around which everything revolves. She is the character with the most depth, and her life experiences have molded her into a sagacious woman. I most appreciated her perceptive nature and how she lives out her faith and dispenses important advice with clarity: “Just be yourself, dear, and keep God in your lives.” Lafler keeps the narrative relevant, in one case pointing out the dilemma of a dating relationship between two people who are unequally yoked: “Julia always says that me being a Christian isn’t a problem for her, but maybe her not being a Christian should be a problem for me.” Also, Lafler intersperses Scripture verses pertaining to joy throughout the narrative, lending a sermonic aspect that encourages. As Gram counsels, “Choose to find the joy. There is a bit of joy in almost every situation, if you just look for it. Learn to be happy right now, because life is short and otherwise you might run out of time. Trust God. He will never let you down…no matter what happens.”

For those who enjoy generational stories, thoughts about the legacy that we leave behind for posterity, or short books with happy endings, “Finding Joy” will inspire you to search for the joy in every circumstance and maintain an attitude of praise for our Savior, the One who “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set 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

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 9

Inklings and notions, December 10

A Reader’s Brain, December 11

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 12

janicesbookreviews, December 13

Texas Book-aholic, December 14

Artistic Nobody, December 15 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, December 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Lighthouse Academy, December 17 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

For the Love of Literature, December 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 19

Aryn the Libraryan, December 20

CarpeDiem, December 21

Simple Harvest Reads, December 22 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, December 22

 

Giveaway

 

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

 

Review
4 Stars
A Season to Dance Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book:  A Season to Dance

Author: Patricia Beal

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Release Date: May, 2017

Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.

Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.

Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?


Click HERE to get your copy!  

About the Author

 


Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. A Season to Dance is her debut novel (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Her second novel comes out in February of 2020. Patricia graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and has worked for the U.S. Army as a writer and editor for many years. Patricia writes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find more info about Patricia on her website HERE.  

More from Patricia

 

A Season to Dance: The Book That Wrote Me
 
When I wrote the first line of my first novel in January of 2011, I wanted to get published because I was desperate to feel important.
 
I finished writing A Season to Dance that fall and hired coach Gloria Kempton via Writer’s Digest to look at the whole thing and tell me if it was any good.
 
She saw potential in the story of a small-town professional ballerina with big dreams, but explained I needed a clearer quest, more telling details, better scene structure, and better balance between sequels and dramatic scenes. I joined Gloria’s critique group and spent a year rewriting.
 
During that year, my husband got orders to move the family from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Germany, and he deployed for the sixth time soon after we settled on a lovely mountaintop in Idar-Oberstein.
 
When I finished rewriting, Gloria said the novel looked good and had everything a novel was supposed to have. But… “Something’s still missing. I don’t know what it is. We’ve covered it all.”
 
So of course I did what any writer desperate for validation would do. I told my coach that surely nothing was missing and that it was time to query. I hired a service to blast queries everywhere for me. I know… Shame on me… But God used that.  
 
God’s Plan—Phase One
 
One query ended up with Mrs. Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary. The novel wasn’t Christian—I wasn’t a Christian. She shouldn’t have received my query. But she did. She sent me a note saying she liked the storyline but that in Christian novels the protagonist couldn’t live with her love interest without being married. She was very kind and said that if she was missing the point and if the novel was indeed Christian that I should resubmit explaining the living together piece.
 
When I read it I laughed and rolled my eyes. I started typing a condescending reply. Something about Christian fairy tale brains and me living in the real world, but I decided not to send it.
 
Days passed. A week passed. A month passed. And all I did was collect rejections. I became bitter. Bitterly sad at first. Then bitterly discouraged. And then bitterly ugly. I’d never been ugly before. Not like that.
 
See, up to that point, I’d believed that there was some kind of “god” and that somewhere, somehow, being good was right and that it paid off. But with the disappointments of the publishing journey those beliefs became a joke to me. I stood in the middle of my empty German kitchen—husband deployed, kids at school, my first dog had just died. And I looked at that inbox full of rejections and stated to whomever or whatever was out there: “God is dead.”
 
Mercy. Surely I said that to the “god” of my imagination, and not to the real God—God as He reveals Himself in the Bible. But I know that He was in that kitchen with me. And phase two of His plan was about to start.
 
Luke 22:31-32: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  
 
God’s Plan—Phase Two
 
As I lost all restraint and became the worst version of myself, God removed me from my green German mountaintop.
 
After less than eighteen months in Germany, we were sent back to America, to the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas. To a place called Fort Bliss—a place from which you can see a Mexican mountain with the words: “Cd. Juárez. La Biblia es la verdad. Leela.” That translates to “City of Juárez. The Bible is the truth. Read it.” Gotta love it. God is good.
 
During the first six months back in America, I went to two secular writers’ conferences and met more rejection. My lack of restraint and my selfishness didn’t really make me happy. I wanted to go to therapy. I wanted a job. I still dreamed of that book deal that had to be just around the corner. I wanted, I wanted…
 
But nothing happened, and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to get help, get happy, and find any kind of relief for the pain I felt. Nothing. Happened. I’d never seen so many closed doors—slammed-shut doors—ever in my life. Even the shrink kept double booking, closing early, and somehow cancelling on me. It was ridiculous.  
 
The One Open Door
 
When God planted our family in the desert, He planted us two blocks from a friend from the Fort Benning years. A friend whose claim to fame was church shopping whenever the Army moved her family. I asked her to take me to church on the first Wednesday of January of 2013.
 
I fell in His arms. Surrendered, defeated, and dependent. Or what God likes to call—ready. I was born again two weeks later and was baptized on Super Bowl Sunday that February.  
 
Gloria’s “Something Missing”
 
I had tickets to go to New York for the Writer’s Digest conference that spring, but sometime in March, it dawned on me: “You silly goose of a girl. You wrote a salvation story without the salvation piece.” My first coach, Gloria Kempton, had been right all along. There was something missing!
 
A Season to Dance isn’t just the story of a small-town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York and the two men who love her. It’s also the story of a girl desperately trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with often misguided career and romantic pursuits.
 
I deleted Mrs. Hart’s email that week. Yes, it was still in my inbox. Job well done, Mrs. Hart.
 
Now, I had work to do. I spent 2013 and the first half of 2014 rewriting the novel. Five ladies from my Sunday school read chapter after chapter as I produced them and cheered me on through that gruesome process. I couldn’t have done it without their support. God is good.
 
Jeff Gerke edited my novel in the summer of 2014 and had me read Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes. God is good.
 
I went to my first Christian writers conference, the ACFW 2014 in St. Louis. Two weeks later, Les Stobbe offered to represent me. God is good.
 
ACFW 2015 was fantastic and many houses are looking at that first manuscript. God is good.
 
In early 2016, we sold the manuscript to Bling! Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A Season to Dance released in the spring of 2017. God is good.
 
My family got saved, too. My husband in July of 2013. Our son in December of 2013. My mom in the fall of 2014. And our little girl just this past summer, the summer of 2015. God is amazingly good!
 

My Review

 

Sometimes broken dreams pave the way to our true calling.

Patricia Beal’s “A Season to Dance” is one of those books that I signed up to review on a whim. It’s not one that I would pick up for leisure reading; being a ballerina never appealed to me personally, and just the thought of such a highly-competitive career makes me cringe. Romances aren’t really my thing, either. Nevertheless, I want to broaden my literary horizons as much as possible within the Christian genre, and that means stepping outside of my comfort zone at times to explore books that I might then be able to recommend to others who would benefit from these stories and draw closer to God through them.  

Setting chapter one almost four years later than the progression of the rest of the novel (save for the last couple of chapters and the epilogue), Beal immediately kicks off her debut with an adrenaline rush. This drew me in quickly, especially when I realized that the name of Ana’s husband is cleverly left out of the first chapter. However, after that, I had a difficult time getting into the story, even though it is narrated in the first person by Ana. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and felt rather disappointed in them and in their foolhardy decisions. Then, when a beloved dog dies, I cried because that is one of my deal-breakers in books—namely, I do not read books where dogs die, especially not in emotional scenes like this one. But at slightly past the halfway point, there is a shift that begins to occur. Circumstances begin to develop Ana’s nascent faith, leading her to start truly seeking the God she is so unsure about and wary of, and I was reminded that as Christians we need to plant seeds of faith and trust God to water and grow them, even when we may not perceive any discernible effects.

What at first seems to be a narrative wrought with discontent and unfulfilled hopes gradually transforms into a salvation story that demonstrates the unconditional, never-ending love of God, who is always with us in all seasons. As Ana remarks, “Spotting worked for life too. My husband was my spot. But while in ballet it’s ok to pick a spot that moves, like another dancer, it’s not okay to pick a spot that’s completely unpredictable. As my spot became more and more unpredictable, I could only hope that religion would work. I’d run out of other options.” God will use every situation to draw us to Him if we are willing to open our hearts to Him even a fraction of an inch; all we have to do is respond to Him!

While I recommend this book to readers of contemporary romance, to those who enjoy ballet, and to anyone searching for that missing piece of their lives, I do want to give a few trigger warnings. This is a clean novel, but there are: mentions of and allusions to sex, deaths, Huntington ’s disease, and unmarried people living together. “A Season to Dance” includes thoughtful discussion questions to ponder after reading the story, either individually or in a group.

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


Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, December 12

The Power of Words, December 12

As He Leads is Joy, December 13

Through the Fire Blogs, December 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 15

For the Love of Literature, December 15

Hallie Reads, December 16

By The Book, December 16

Girls in White Dresses, December 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 17

Texas Book-aholic, December 18

janicesbookreviews, December 19

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae, December 19

Godly Book Reviews, December 20

Blogging With Carol, December 20

Christian Bookaholic, December 21

For Him and My Family, December 21

Inklings and notions, December 22

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, December 22

Emily Yager, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 23

A Reader’s Brain, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 25

Batya’s Bits, December 25

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Patricia is giving away the grand prize package of a themed basket of book-inspired coffees and chocolate!!
 
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 Camera Never Lies Review
 

About the Book

 


Book:  The Camera Never Lies

Author: David Rawlings

Genre: General fiction/allegory/magical realism

Release Date: December 3, 2019

David Rawlings, author of The Baggage Handler, returns with another probing story: what would you do if your secrets were revealed to those around you?

Daniel Whiteley is a successful couples counselor who regularly puts families back together, helping them face up to the things in life they hide. But his own marriage is falling apart.

His wife, Kelly, knows Daniel is hiding something from her, but she doesn’t dare probe for fear her own secrets will be revealed.

When his grandfather dies, Daniel inherits an old SLR camera from a time when cameras pointed away from the person taking the photograph. On the camera is an inscription: “Use this camera wisely and remember, regardless of the picture you think you took, the camera never lies.”
 
When Daniel first uses his new camera he finds someone has already filled the roll of film. Annoyed, he processes the film and finds photos of a secret that he’s been hiding from his wife and daughter.
 
He has no idea who took them.

Now every time he uses the camera, the photographs reveal another secret about himself the he is desperate to keep-as well as those of his wife, which he is desperate to uncover.



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


David Rawlings is an Australian author, and a sports-mad father of three who loves humor and a clever turn of phrase. Over a 25-year career he has put words on the page to put food on the table, developing from sports journalism and copywriting to corporate communication. Now in fiction, he entices readers to look deeper into life with stories that combine the everyday with a sense of the speculative, addressing the fundamental questions we all face.
 

 

My Review

 

No matter what you think you might see, the camera never lies.

Because I heard so many positive remarks about “The Baggage Handler”, I decided to give “The Camera Never Lies” a try. Photography doesn’t really interest me, although I do enjoy looking at nature and wildlife photos, and I have never been a fan of having my picture taken. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled when I skimmed the synopsis, either. Had I not read so many favorable reviews when this author’s previous book toured with CelebrateLit, I likely wouldn’t have signed up to review this one, and I’m glad that I did!

Blending elements of magical realism and allegory, David Rawlings’ “The Camera Never Lies” explores the secrets that we hide and the consequences to which they lead. This story reminds me of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” television series, and I can easily envision it as an episode; likewise, if this book had a theme song, I think that Natalie Grant’s “The Real Me” would be a perfect fit. Rawlings offers great insight into the human psyche and how one lie leads to a cascade effect, even subtle lies such as pretending that things are fine when they’re not. Using a camera to develop the ideas in the narrative is brilliantly apropos because “[t]he camera reveals how our lives truly are. We can’t trick it, even if sometimes we think we can trick ourselves and everyone around us.” Furthermore, “Truth cannot simply be avoided, covered up, or ignored, and the camera chooses the truth it shows.” The symbolism also works well, as with the fictional prescription drug Mendacium, which references the term “mendacious” and its Latin etymology from words meaning “lying” and “fault.” The revelations from the storyline filter through the lens of truth, exposing the lies.

One aspect of this book that I did struggle with was the characters. I didn’t particularly like any of them, with the occasional exception of Simon, nor did I feel a personal connection with any of them. I found myself groaning and rolling my eyes a bit with David, in particular, but to be fair, his reactions are believable and his approach to life is essential to the plot’s execution. Also, although there is no direct mention of faith, there are easy parallels to Christianity throughout the text and in the theme of uprightness vs. deceitfulness. Sometimes we, like Kelly, might think that honesty doesn’t always work, but as Simon tells her, “Well, sometimes your honesty doesn’t produce results you can see with your eyes. Sometimes the results are about your own integrity.” This immediately brought to mind Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It all comes down to trust. We have to decide who or what we are going to trust in, ourselves or the Lord, and when we choose to trust in Jesus, we find the truth, the way, and the life. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

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

 

Read an Excerpt

 

Read an excerpt of The Camera Never Lies HERE.

Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 5

amandainpa, December 5

Older & Smarter?, December 6

Through the Fire Blogs, December 6

Blogging With Carol, December 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 7

For Him and My Family, December 7

Christian Bookaholic, December 8

Emily Yager, December 8

Splashes of Joy, December 8

As He Leads is Joy, December 9

Mamma Loves Books, December 9

Vicky Sluiter, December 10

mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 10

Robin’s Nest, December 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 11

Bigreadersite, December 11

Genesis 5020, December 12

Remembrancy, December 12

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 12

Pause for Tales, December 13

A Reader’s Brain, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14

Seasons of Opportunities, December 14

Inklings and notions, December 14

Artistic Nobody, December 15

To Everything There Is A Season, December 15

Texas Book-aholic, December 15

Just the Write Escape, December 16

janicesbookreviews, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Hallie Reads, December 17

My Devotional Thoughts, December 17

Quiet Quilter, December 18

Literary Reflections Book Blog, December 18

Godly Book Reviews, December 18

Review
1 Stars
Darling Hedgehog Goes Down A Foxhole Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

 

About the Book

 


Book: Darling Hedgehog Goes Down A Foxhole


Author: Auralee Arkinsly


Genre: Early reader chapter book


Release Date: September 13, 2019

 

Darling Hedgehog learns about the animal nature of things in high humor and carefree, cute, and winning episodes. This childhood story reads a bit like Aesop’s Fables or a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, for children 4-8 or preschool and kindergarten, as a read-to-me picture book, and first grade and second grade as a chapter book.
 
Pictures similar to the Mercy Watson series are characterized and painted in full-color, though the pages are set up like a chapter book.
 
This book helps to train children in natural wisdom, analysis, and discernment. It helps to balance the teachings of acceptance of everyone and friendliness to all. There may be good purposes for everyone to exist under heaven, yet all purposes may not be good for a child. So, beware, be discrete, and flee from crafty foxes especially when they are holding your parents in the pantry.

 



Click HERE to purchase your copy.

 

About the Author

 

 

Auralee Arkinsly writes in good humor about serious subjects because kids of all ages can learn a lot from laughing. She is a strong believer in right and wrong but knows that getting onto the right path can mean falling down a slippery slope. She reckons if she can save some from the bumps and bruises, then she has done her job

 

More from Auralee

 

I’m so excited to launch my children’s book, Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole with the Celebrate Lit crew!  You are a river of hope for a new author.
 
So, here’s the story behind the story.
 
My friend and fellow author, Kathy Joy, left me a small hedgehog in a tutu as a going away gift on her guest bed after she had been visiting. I put it on the windowsill in my bedroom, and every morning, I would see it when I awoke.
 
I don’t know if you can relate to this experience, but I often wake up from a good night’s sleep with the gift of a problem being solved.  Sometimes, I wake up with a creative idea.  Well, one day, I awoke to find that I had the beginnings of a child’s story about where the hedgehog found her tutu.
 
Initially, it was a simple story about Darling Hedgehog finding a foxy friend who helps Darling find her calling.
 
I wrote out the story and then asked a talented neighborhood girl if she would like to draw the pictures for the tall tale. Having seen a lot of Julia’s sketches as she grew up, I thought that she might like to know what it felt like to earn money from her talents and at the same time, learn about the process of creating a book with an author to propose to a publishing company.
 
She agreed. Julia was in ninth grade. She was at the age where she was beginning to think about high school jobs and even to make plans for college and a career.
 
The same day we wrote out our contract, Julia sent me her first image of what she imagined Darling to look like. It clearly was not a mistake to hire this young artist!
 
When I awoke another morning, I believed God had given me another bit of advice. I needed to do better research on the nature of hedgehogs and foxes, their habitats and characteristics. The outcome caused the story to take a turn towards intrigue.  It became a fable. It became an action-adventure animal story. It became better.
 
A librarian encouraged us to continue with it no longer as a picture book for very small children but as an early reader chapter book for second graders learning about similes.
 
I hope that we can teach children to notice facts and objective truth as they are being trained for life. So, I’ve accepted that my child’s fantasy had to grow some legs of gravity and wisdom.  I’ve trusted my editors and beta readers that this is true, but I’m not above being told off.
 

My Review

 

When I select a book to review, I either skim the synopsis or skip it entirely because I do not want to know any of the details of what happens within the pages until I actually read them myself. To avoid developing preconceived notions, I do the same with any reviews that have already been written about the book. As a result, I chose to review this children’s book based on the cute cover and the title. I love reading about nature, both fictional and factual, and enjoy anthropomorphic stories.

Auralee Arkinsly’s “Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole”, however, was not at all what I was expecting. By page 4 I was very perturbed, and the feeling only intensified as I began to realize why “horror” was one of the subjects listed in the cataloguing information on the copyright page. The author’s intent of warning about stranger danger is pertinent and certainly important, but the execution in this story is sorely lacking. Because this book comes from a Christian publishing company, I expected there to be at least a subtle faith element, but I did not find any redemptive thread, discreet or not. In fact, quite the opposite.

Since the target age group for “Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole” is early elementary, I am going to do something that I would otherwise steer clear of and detail some of the actions that I found alarming, thereby giving some spoilers in the process. As the story opens, Darling Hedgehog is looking for her lost parents and falls into a foxhole, where she meets Miss Fox, whose motivation seems like it should be clear but instead immediately becomes puzzling and distorted. She dresses “Dumpling” in a tutu and pink bow and then puts makeup on and dresses up herself. Darling becomes enamored with pleasing her in gratitude for the tutu and completely forgets about her missing parents. Miss Fox ties a consenting Darling to her convertible’s rear-view mirror with a leather strap so that she can “feel the wind” and later asks Darling to be a doorstop at her shop. Then when Darling prepares to get Miss Fox something to eat, she finds small animals in cages in the pantry, including her parents. She frees her mom and dad but none of them let any of the other animals out, although there is clearly an opportunity to do so. The moral of the story is that “Not every stranger can be a friend” and therefore the hedgehogs need their spines, so “They were glad to have found their spines…and each other.”

As much as I wanted to like this book, I can’t. If the story was reworked to be less demoralizing and strange, I think that it could be a good one. There are openings for Christian faith and values which, if explored, would bring an uplifting tone of redemption and point out the Lord’s protection over children and families. I give kudos to the illustrator, who is only in ninth grade, but I cannot recommend this book.

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

 

A Baker’s Perspective, December 11

A Diva’s Heart, December 11

Girls in White Dresses, December 11

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 12

For Him and My Family, December 12

Older & Smarter?, December 13

Emily Yager, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 13

Just the Write Escape, December 14

Blogging With Carol, December 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 15

Bigreadersite, December 15

janicesbookreviews, December 15

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 16

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 16

Blossoms and Blessings, December 17

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 17

A Reader’s Brain, December 17

Aryn the Libraryan, December 18

Lights in a Dark World, December 18

Remembrancy, December 19

Inklings and notions, December 19

Lighthouse Academy, December 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 20

Live.Love.Read., December 20

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 21

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 21

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 22

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, December 22

Maureen’s Musings, December 23

With a Joyful Noise, December 23

Texas Book-aholic, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Auralee is giving away the grand prize of a set of Darling Hedgehog greeting cards!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 
Review
4 Stars
Counter Point Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Counter Point

Author: Marji Laine

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: November 2016

Someone is determined to finish the final assignment of a murdered hitman.

Her father’s gone. Her diner’s closing. Her car’s in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose.

Except her life. And a madman’s bent on taking that away. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart.

Keeping Cat safe from a fallen cartel leader might prove impossible for Ray, but after seeing his mission destroyed and several godly people killed, he knows better than to ignore the man’s threats. Cat’s resistance to his protection and the stirring of his long-denied feelings for her complicate his intentions, placing them both in a fight for their lives.

How can a small-town girl survive when ultimate power wants her dead?
 
 
 
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. 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

 

COUNTER POINT takes place in a small town in East Texas. A family-owned diner provides the backdrop for many of the scenes. The owner, Cat McPherson, makes a point of smiling and chatting with everyone who stops by. Even the superior and difficult Mrs. Heath—of the Heath’s Point Heath’s, make no mistake. Mrs. Heath might think she’s all that, but she is still dependent on Cat’s diner for a slice of her favorite Magnolia Pie.
 
Have you ever had a piece of this custard paradise? Smooth, creamy, and with the minutest crisp of a glazed caramel on top of it. I can practically taste one now. This favorite of mine had to go into my book. I first tasted a Magnolia Pie (my adopted grandmother called it Buttermilk Pie because Magnolia Pie sounded too southern and she was from New Jersey) at a Christmas Eve celebration. It was my instant favorite.
 
I’ve searched for my grandmother’s recipe through old books that she gave me and a collection that she and several others put together when I got married. Sadly, I cannot find that original recipe that she used. But I think it must have been something like the one I was thinking of when I included Magnolia Pie in my book. Let me know if you make this recipe! I’d love to enjoy a virtual slice of pie with you!

Magnolia Pie

 

Ingredients:
 
3 eggs at room temperature
1 stick of softened butter
1½ cups white sugar
3½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk the eggs until foamy.
  3. Cream together sugar, butter, nutmeg, and flour. Add the eggs and other ingredients, beating until smooth.
  4. Pour into pie shell and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely or chill before serving.

My Review

 

Christian suspense is a genre I gravitate toward as someone who has always enjoyed mysteries. Trying to find a clean thriller or mystery in secular fiction is often like searching for a needle in a haystack, especially among those published within the last few decades. Reading Christian books instead (hopefully!) removes the profanity and vulgarity while still conveying the darkness of this world and, most importantly, shining the light of Christ and the joy of salvation. Rarely do I pass up an opportunity to review a book from this category, and most of the ones I’ve read have lived up to my expectations, so I was eager to read this first book in the Heath’s Point Suspense series.

Marji Laine’s “Counter Point” contains interesting elements that make this story in some ways different from others I have read. I try to stay away from plotlines about drug cartels because they don’t appeal to me personally, although I understand that they are an important topic to consider and approach from a Christian viewpoint. Something that really stood out to me about this book is the missionary aspect. Although it is not difficult to consider the dangers that the missionaries themselves may face, I had not really considered that their families and loved ones back home might also be endangered. As in this narrative, sometimes missionaries break up cartels or otherwise threaten the livelihood of corrupt authority figures. Prior to reading “Counter Point”, I did not realize that the risks might extend beyond the missionary station itself.

Each chapter opens with a Scripture verse epigraph, which keeps the focus on God through trials, loss, and frightening situations. That in itself is a lesson worthy of recognizing. Multiple times throughout the narrative, the Lord’s divine intervention becomes evident, drawing awareness to how often He intercedes for us through “coincidences” and in ways we don’t even realize. One issue I did have with the novel, however, was the characters. I did not feel much of a connection with any of them and found them incongruous and somewhat stereotypical. They do not seem to have much depth or dimension and more or less follow foreseeable paths. The interactions between Cat and Ray seem to go in circles, with Cat being too puerile for her age. Cat’s late father’s will does not make sense with what we are told of his nature. Nevertheless, the characters do have redeeming qualities and do lead others to Jesus. I love the ministry of sunset dinners, feeding the homeless suppers and letting them know they are seen, and how Laine makes it clear that this can be missionary work as well. You don’t necessarily have to travel to be one of Jesus’ disciples; He can and will use you no matter what your circumstances!

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, Marji is giving away the grand prize package of a “reading S’mores” Christmas Ornament, a book light, and copies of COUNTER POINT and the first book of the Grime Fighter series, GRIME BEAT!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
From Cradle to Grave
In the Cradle Lies - Newport,  Olivia

Sequels are a tricky business. They can enhance their predecessor or they can weaken it, especially if the first book was strong. Ideally, they demonstrate an improvement from prior books and offer more details about the characters and themes, depending on how the series is connected. This is one reason why I enjoy being able to begin a series at its inception and keep up with it as it grows. “The Inn at Hidden Run” opened the Tree of Life series and introduced readers to small-town Canyon Mines, Colorado, where Jillian and her father Nolan combine their professional talents to assimilate past and present.

 Olivia Newport’s “In the Cradle Lies” intensifies some of the elements from the first book in the series, making this a commendable sequel. Even so, this book could be read as a stand-alone, although I would recommend reading the series in order to better understand the characters’ backgrounds. In spite of the cozy milieu, “In the Cradle Lies” reads much like a suspense novel, and I found it difficult to put down. The mystery is more ominous in this book, and the winter setting augments this. Jillian and Nolan remain the main protagonists, but I was glad to meet different secondary characters this time around in Jillian’s best friend, Kris, and the mysterious vacationer, Tucker. For quite a while I was not sure what to make of Tucker, who is tight-lipped about his life and who is obviously hiding something, yet is incredibly generous, his savoir-faire attitude blending with his strange reserve. As he learns, you can’t outrun your past. However, for those who have accepted Christ, the past is just that—the past—and we can trust in the One who knows us, loves us, and breaks the chains that enslave us. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Intertwining the past and the present with her dual-timeline narrative, Newport demonstrates once again the substantial impact that our histories can have even decades later. Titling this series Tree of Life echoes with layers of meaning, particularly in this sequel. Aside from the obvious genealogical connection, I’m reminded of the eponymous tree in the Garden of Eden and how Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to their being denied its fruit yet also paved the way for the Savior. Also, cross-pollination serves as a metaphor in the narrative, alluding to the combination of the past and the present to form a stronger future and also to the subject of black-market baby snatching, taking a child from its original parents and transplanting them into another family. Although the faith element is very light, reconciliation is a solid subject, along with the realization that you cannot outrun either your past or God. Nolan observes that “[h]e couldn’t go back and change what he thought was right at a different point in time. But he could choose differently now.” The same is true for all of us, and because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection, no matter where we are in life’s journey or where we’ve come from, when we accept Jesus as Lord, He makes us new!

Recommended for those interested in genealogy, skiing, small-town life, father-daughter duos, and the criminal exploits of Georgia Tann, as well as fans of Liz Tolsma’s “The Pink Bonnet.”

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

Review
5 Stars
Made for Brave Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Made for Brave

Author: Alyssa Galios

Genre: Christian Memoir, Widowhood, Cancer

Release Date: November, 2019

From the testimony viewed over 100 million times on the internet:

“I am so sorry I have to deliver such awful news.” Shaking his head, the doctor muttered, “You are both so young.”

A young woman in her twenties with a future and a plan for her life comes up against a tragic nightmare when her handsome and otherwise healthy husband is suddenly diagnosed with a rare inoperable cancer. As her husband’s beliefs grow stronger, Alyssa’s dreams evaporate, and her faith slips away when the worst happens.

Experience soul-searing pain and miraculous moments of joy in this poignant true-life account. Journey with Alyssa as she grapples with life and death, faith and unbelief, disappointment and hope in a search for answers that takes her beyond grief to peace and a surprising new love.

Along the way, you’ll find answers to the questions you may be asking in your own life:

  • Where is God when it hurts?
  • Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
  • Can God make something good come out of bad?
  • Does true love ever strike twice? 

    Made for Brave
    is a striking example of how God can create overwhelming good from even the worst of life when we choose to partner with Him.



Click here for your copy.
 

About the Author

 

 
Alyssa Galios is a writer, speaker, social media influencer, and coach. Founder of the #MadeforBrave movement and CEO of the Made for Brave Company, Alyssa is known for helping countless people create better lives through faith, family, and fitness. Her life story has been featured on sites like Yahoo News, Christian Post, Fox News, HuffPost, and Viralized. Alyssa and her husband Jay run their business out of their home north of Seattle, where they happily raise their daughters. For more information, visit alyssagalios.com.  

More from Alyssa

 

Some people come into your life as bright as shooting stars. They zip across your horizon then, all too soon, drop back into the blackness. Though you can no longer see them, you are forever changed by their brilliance. This is just as it was with Nicholas Magnotti. Six beautiful years changed the person I will always be.
 
Before my strapping, young and handsome 25-year-old husband got sick, I missed a large part of the point of living. I was a workaholic mainly; a worry wort often; and I got really good at playing the comparison game. As such, I spent the first three years of our marriage living in selfish fear. Nick’s presence in my life taught me something I won’t ever forget… It taught me that every single moment counts and that what we do in love for others is the only thing that truly makes a lasting impact. And, eventually, the strong faith he exuded through his trials would cause me to question and rebuild my own faith.
 
The day that I said yes to a blind date with a gorgeous man I had never met… the God of the universe set into motion a series of miraculous events that I couldn’t have possibly ever predicted. He didn’t cause the bad parts of my story. Not at all. But, He saw those parts, from way off in the distance and game-planned so that it would all still work together for good and for His glory. You’ll be amazed at all the good He was able to create. And, the craziest part? He is so not finished yet.
 
Made for Brave: A Journey Through Devastating Loss to Infinite Hope is an uncommon love story and, at times, a harrowing journey but, more than that, it’s my true life journey that I know I have been called to share. I hope you will walk it with me and come away knowing you have always been made for brave, too.
 

My Review

 

Whew. Note to self: do not save a tear-jerker to read when the review is due in a few hours. You will be trying to compose a review while exhausting the Kleenex box and attempting to see through glasses now fully smudged with tears. Truth be told, I didn’t have time to read this book any earlier, and perhaps that’s a good thing. It may not have had such a powerful impact on me if I had taken it piecemeal. Back when the sign-ups were posted for this book, I was on the fence about it, but as it turns out, I’m so glad that I decided to give it a chance. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!

An intimate memoir, “Made for Brave” provides a moving testimony of love and loss. Author Alyssa Galios details her journey through the trauma of her husband Nick’s diagnosis with a rare inoperable cancer and its aftermath. With piercing honesty, she tells her and Nick’s story from the beginning. The steady pace makes the pages fly by, and the writing itself is conversational and emotional, drawing the reader in immediately. For me, “Made for Brave” was even more personal because I related to this story in more ways than one. The reality of rare disease, the scramble for a diagnosis, the fact that doctors don’t know what to do even once they do have a diagnosis…I do not have cancer, but as someone with multiple chronic and rare illnesses, these are things I have experienced firsthand. Alyssa’s observation at one point early on is something that I am working on too: “Eventually, instead of worrying so much about what didn’t work right, I started counting everything as a blessing when it did work correctly.” Faith over fear.

The tears, however, didn’t start flowing until reading about Nick’s final months. So much of his amazing godly attitude and spirit reminded me of one of my dearest friends, my “soul sister,” who went home to be with Jesus in August, also at the age of 27. Her passing was not unexpected, either, but that does little to assuage the grief; grief for this separation, but joy in knowing that I will see her again someday in God’s Kingdom. As I was reading, I took a short break and came across a comment that my friend had written three years ago to someone who was grieving a loss, and it brought comfort to my heart. When I resumed reading, my eyes widened and the tears started coming in earnest as I read Nick’s words to Alyssa: “I’ll always be with you. Everywhere around you. In your heart.” The phrasing was almost identical! Definitely a God moment!

Heartbreaking as this story is, it also exemplifies Psalm30:5b: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The first two-thirds or so of “Made for Brave” deals with sorrow, but then hope arrives full-force, and I did not find even the sadness to be depressing because the threads of hope are there throughout. The chapter titles add depth and speak to the reader. A third of the titles begin with “I Used to”, a third with “Then I”, and the last third with “Now I Know.” They also demonstrate Alyssa’s spiritual journey as a Christian, culminating in a watershed moment of faith from the book of Esther.

If you want to be inspired, with tears of both sorrow and joy along the way, if you need to revitalize your walk with God, if you have cancer or love someone who does, or if you just want to read one of the best memoirs available, check out “Made for Brave.” For as Psalm 73:26 makes clear, “My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

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 2

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

Reader’s Cozy Corner, December 4

Just the Write Escape, December 5

As He Leads is Joy, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 7 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Artistic Nobody, December 9

Inklings and notions, December 10

Lots of Helpers, December 11

janicesbookreviews, December 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 14

Through the Fire Blogs, December 15 (Author Interview)

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Alyssa is giving away the grand prize package of  $25 Amazon Gift Card & a signed 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
In the Cradle Lies Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  In the Cradle Lies

Author: Olivia Newport

Genre: Christian Fiction

Release Date: November, 2019

Book 2 in the Tree of Life Series: A Father-Daughter Genealogy Team Link Faith Journeys on Family Trees

On a solo ski vacation in Canyon Mines, Colorado, Tucker has a love-hate relationship with his wealth, spending indiscriminately while skiing fearlessly and preparing to conquer the overgrown slope of Hidden Run, a dangerous run not attempted in decades. As genealogist Jillian tries to uncover enough of Tucker’s family tree to understand his charming nature but reckless resolve, Jillian’s equally charming father, Nolan, cajoles Tucker into giving him ski lessons to get him talking about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s life in St. Louis in the 1930s.

On the surface, Tucker’s family’s history seems too perfect. The secret may lie in the sealed envelope Tucker carries with him at all times—even on the ski slope. When no one can find Tucker to tell him the fiancée he never mentioned turned up in Canyon Mines, they realize he must be off attempting to ski Hidden Run alone in a snowstorm. And they may be too late.

In the Cradle Lies is the second book in the Tree of Life series by Olivia Newport. You’ll want to return to the lovely Colorado mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that will inspire you to connect with your own family histories and unique faith journeys.



Click HERE to get your copy!  
 

About the Author

 


Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twenty something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of Pikes Peak.  

More from Olivia

 

True confession. I live in Colorado and don’t ski.
 
In the Cradle Lies includes several references to “How can you live in the Colorado mountains and not ski?” Jillian, a main character in the Tree of Life series, has lived in the mountain town of Canyon Mines since she was two, and by the time she was eight she knew she didn’t want to ski.
 
I grew up in Illinois, and while my high school had a ski club and somehow found places to ski (I’m not sure where; um, not exactly mountain territory), I was sure I would break something. Arriving in Colorado in my forties did not persuade me to take up skiing at that age. I live at the base of Pikes Peak, not in the mountains like Jillian. I do love the views!
 
But one of the fun things about being a writer is learning a lot about things you know little about. Enter Google and YouTube. And more YouTube. And … you get the drift. Some quick facts about Colorado skiing to help get you in the mood for In the Cradle Lies:

  • Colorado typically leads the country in “skier days”—days of skiing purchased in ski areas.
  • Actually, most people in the state don’t ski. By a large margin. Like 90 percent. (So I feel better and so does Jillian.)
  • People visiting the state to ski or snowboard are important to our economy. (So thank you!)
  • Colorado has hosted about 175 ski areas since it became a state in 1876. Today, we have only about 30 operating resorts—so there are lots of dormant, lost, and hidden runs like the one in my story.

I hope you’ll check out In the Cradle Lies—and find out why Tucker came from St. Louis to Canyon Mines to ski an abandoned run that put his life at risk.
 

My Review

 

Sequels are a tricky business. They can enhance their predecessor or they can weaken it, especially if the first book was strong. Ideally, they demonstrate an improvement from prior books and offer more details about the characters and themes, depending on how the series is connected. This is one reason why I enjoy being able to begin a series at its inception and keep up with it as it grows. “The Inn at Hidden Run” opened the Tree of Life series and introduced readers to small-town Canyon Mines, Colorado, where Jillian and her father Nolan combine their professional talents to assimilate past and present.

 Olivia Newport’s “In the Cradle Lies” intensifies some of the elements from the first book in the series, making this a commendable sequel. Even so, this book could be read as a stand-alone, although I would recommend reading the series in order to better understand the characters’ backgrounds. In spite of the cozy milieu, “In the Cradle Lies” reads much like a suspense novel, and I found it difficult to put down. The mystery is more ominous in this book, and the winter setting augments this. Jillian and Nolan remain the main protagonists, but I was glad to meet different secondary characters this time around in Jillian’s best friend, Kris, and the mysterious vacationer, Tucker. For quite a while I was not sure what to make of Tucker, who is tight-lipped about his life and who is obviously hiding something, yet is incredibly generous, his savoir-faire attitude blending with his strange reserve. As he learns, you can’t outrun your past. However, for those who have accepted Christ, the past is just that—the past—and we can trust in the One who knows us, loves us, and breaks the chains that enslave us. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Intertwining the past and the present with her dual-timeline narrative, Newport demonstrates once again the substantial impact that our histories can have even decades later. Titling this series Tree of Life echoes with layers of meaning, particularly in this sequel. Aside from the obvious genealogical connection, I’m reminded of the eponymous tree in the Garden of Eden and how Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to their being denied its fruit yet also paved the way for the Savior. Also, cross-pollination serves as a metaphor in the narrative, alluding to the combination of the past and the present to form a stronger future and also to the subject of black-market baby snatching, taking a child from its original parents and transplanting them into another family. Although the faith element is very light, reconciliation is a solid subject, along with the realization that you cannot outrun either your past or God. Nolan observes that “[h]e couldn’t go back and change what he thought was right at a different point in time. But he could choose differently now.” The same is true for all of us, and because of Jesus’ sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection, no matter where we are in life’s journey or where we’ve come from, when we accept Jesus as Lord, He makes us new!

Recommended for those interested in genealogy, skiing, small-town life, father-daughter duos, and the criminal exploits of Georgia Tann, as well as fans of Liz Tolsma’s “The Pink Bonnet.”

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


Blog Stops

 

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 3

Inklings and notions, December 4

Daysong Reflections, December 4

Genesis 5020, December 5

Godly Book Reviews, December 5

Just the Write Escape, December 6

Pause for Tales, December 7

For Him and My Family, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

Betti Mace, December 9

Bigreadersite, December 9

A Baker’s Perspective, December 10

Hallie Reads, December 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 11

Spoken from the Heart, December 11

Older & Smarter?, December 12

Texas Book-aholic , December 13

Blogging With Carol, December 13

janicesbookreviews, December 14

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 15

A Reader’s Brain, December 16

With a Joyful Noise, December 16

 

Giveaway

 

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

 

Review
4 Stars
Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers

Author: Kathy Joy

Genre: Non-fiction, Gift Book, Picture Book

Release Date: October 1, 2019

The final book in the series, Breath of Joy, Winter Whispers speaks of the deep quiet earth movements that echo human proving grounds and transitions during rest. Photo Art and Prose. Three everyday celebrations on every page spread are not commercially Christmas but rather interrelational and spiritually poised. This is simply because in Winter, when the earth’s axis is the farthest away from the sun, people warm themselves and grow in the wonder of darkness, where God still sees us, breathing life. 


Click HERE to get your copy. 

About the Author

 


Kathy Joy enjoyed being a popular Christian radio D.J. in Colorado for many years. When her husband wanted to move to Pennsylvania to take over the family farm, Kathy Joy accompanied him with their two young daughters. Four years later, Kathy Joy found herself a widow raising two teenagers. To stave off despair, she began writing three every day celebrations in a journal. Friends on Facebook began prompting her to write a book, and so the beginning of the Breath of Joy series began. Kathy Joy now works in human services, speaking wonder on the weekends to grief therapy groups, motivational corporate meetings, and women’s retreats. Some of her topics include Vision Board workshops, Being a Harbor Pilot, Mirroring the Savior, The Fifth Season, and A Christmas Tea.
 

More from Kathy

 

I’m so excited to join Celebrate Lit for this first real blog tour of my Breath of Joy series!
 
As a collector of celebrations, curating pithy delights and sharing them with my readers, I do hope you enjoy the visual experience and personal comfort offered in my Winter Whispers book.
 
Wintertime, especially Christmas and Valentine’s day, can be some of the toughest times of the year for people who have experienced trauma, or significant loss and grief. I’m one of those people.  Collecting three everyday celebrations for me was a means of refocusing on common joys in my life. They were a means of turning my despair into faith. Now, by publishing four books in less than two years, I have encountered another ladder of faith and I continue to face fear in order to live the adventure that God has for me.
 
Don’t you know, the Lord gives us many different kinds of gifts, and some of those gifts we would rather return to Him?  However, my seasonal “Breath of Joy!” books helped me not only to be thankful for the phase of life in which I found myself, but writing these books also built depth into my relationship with my real self, not my public persona, and specifically with the real God of the Bible.
 
It brings joy to my heart to collect snapshots of life and give my readers an opportunity to experience simple blessings in fresh, new ways. My books were borne out of sudden loss and grief when my husband of 23 years died of a massive heart attack. Gathering up my will to go forward, I remembered he always encouraged me to collect “beautiful moments” and write them down.
 
Now, when people connect with me, they say things like, “I couldn’t sleep, and so I picked up your book, and it gave me a new perspective that has helped me go on. If you can do it, so can I.” / “I went to one of Kathy Joy’s vision board making workshops. When I posted my board on the refrigerator, I had no idea how much I would rely on it to get me through the next year.  I am writing this to thank you for helping me stay out of the hospital for a full year.” /

”Just downloaded your file/book. Absolutely beautiful. I thought you wrote prose/poetry. Forgive me for putting you off. I loved perusing the pages. I went through it too fast. I need to sip it. I will peruse it again tomorrow. Totally different from what I thought it’d be. Hmmm. It’s more than a coffee table book. Gift book. Calming book. Nice, very nice.  Let me sit with it and ponder it. Lovely creation.
 
These kinds of receptions make my day. They let me know that God still has adventures for me to take and purposes for me to speak wonder into other people’s lives.
 

My Review

 

Short, simple, and picturesque, “Breath of Joy: Winter Whispers” is the fourth and final book in the Breath of Joy series. Not having read any of the other seasons, I was not sure what to expect. I am accustomed to reading full-length books, so this was a unique experience for me. The format is somewhat unusual because it is essentially a postcard picture book. At first I was trying to connect each page into a continuous story, and I was struggling, especially when I suddenly finished the book. Looking back, I recognize that each page contains its own thoughts, which flow into the season and, taken compositely, offer hope: “Having strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…when heaven sings and earth replies…echoes of mercy, whispers of Love…” There are some wonderful truths within this book, presented so frankly, and they are a fitting contrast to the sheer beauty of the photographs on each page. Likewise, the writing itself stems from a place of loss and yet brings beauty to it. After all, “The honesty of trees in Winter: how the limbs know to let things go…how we turn over the broken bits…to discover hope.” Whether you are experiencing loss or not, “Winter Whispers” is a gorgeous little book that quietly comforts and reassures. It causes the reader to ponder: What has the Lord been whispering to your heart, and how will He continue to do so in the future?

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

 

Giveaway

 

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

 

Review
5 Stars
Christmas on Breakers Point Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Christmas on Breakers Point

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction, Christian Romantic Fiction, Christmas

One man’s last Christmas wish might change two lives forever.

Mallory Barrows has one last Christmas with her uncle.  She’s determined to make it the best one he’s ever had.

She knows when she asks what he wants as his final gift, it won’t be a tie or a new mug. He won’t need those where he’s going, and he’s quite happy about that.

Mallory just didn’t think he wanted a miracle wrapped in paper and tied with a shiny red bow!

Christmas on Breakers Point is the introductory book to the Independence Islands Series.



Click HERE to get your copy! 

About the Author

 


Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.  

More from Chautona

 

The book opens with a phone call that goes like this:
 
Her phone buzzed. Without taking her eyes from the page, Mallory Barrows fumbled about until her hand closed around it. The book held her bound in ropes of suspense as the villain slipped into the party unannounced—unseen. While she followed him around the edge of the imaginary room, her thumb swiped, tapped, and answered the call as if on autopilot.
 
Even as Mallory said, “Hello?” her breath caught. The guy had found his prey.
 
“Mallory, honey?” Without a second look, she dropped the book and sat up, feet planted firmly on the floor and all attention on the call.  “Is it time?”
 
“’Fraid so, darlin’. Doc says it’s a matter of weeks or a month or two. And I promised.”
 
“I’ll be there Friday afternoon.”  
 
 
 
Just days after I wrote those lines, I woke up to a message from my sister.  “Call Mom.”
 
I called.  Mom said, “I need you to come.”  That was Thursday.  I walked into Mom’s house on Saturday evening and our lives changed forever.
 
I don’t know if God prepared me for this change by having me write that scene just days before, but I have to say it felt like it!  Everything went crazy for over a month as I tried to wrap up my mother’s affairs in Missouri, I had to try to finish three books in a time of upheaval and turmoil.  No, it’s not the same as trying to help a young woman reclaim her True First Love so she could reclaim her first earthy love.  It isn’t the same as starting a whole new life and a new business.  But… oh, how it felt like it.
 
Another parallel in the story and my life was how Mallory struggles to try to get Uncle Bud to eat. I did the same thing for most of my time in Missouri.  Mom struggled so hard just to swallow and just wanted to eat.  So, while I was writing, I worked hard to come up with a recipe that Mallory might use to convince Uncle Bud to eat something.  The result were these Coconut Lime Cookies. I hope you love them as much as Uncle Bud did.
 


Coconut Lime Cookies Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups white flour ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup sugar

3 oz room temp cream cheese—cubed

½ tsp vanilla

Zest of 1 lime (key limes may be preferred)

½ cup (1 stick) melted butter (warm)

1 egg

1 TBS milk (whole is the most delicious… and half & half is even better)

1 TBS lime juice (again, some may prefer key limes)

½ cup powdered sugar  (reserved for rolling cookies in)

Directions: (oven preheats to 350)

Stir together the first five ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.Set aside

Stir together sugar, cream cheese, and lime zest in a large mixing bowl. Cream butter in. Repeat with egg, milk, and lime juice, one at a time. Make sure your ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Add dry ingredients slowly. Mix well. Roll dough into approximately 1” balls.  Roll each ball into powdered sugar and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for approximately 11-12 minutes until lightly golden.

Before you eat, close your eyes and imagine yourself beneath swaying palm trees with warm sand between your toes.  Merry Christmas!
 

My Review

 

Every year I intend to read lots of Christmas books during November and December, but somehow this doesn’t usually happen. When your to-read list has gone well past the point of no return, it becomes difficult to fit in all of the books that you expect to get through. As a book reviewer, it’s nice to have a set schedule in advance, and another perk is the opportunity to branch out and take a chance on books that are different from what you usually choose. “Christmas on Breakers Point” fits the bill! I have to admit that I am not at all an island or beach girl, although I have always loved lighthouses, and I’m not gung-ho for romances either, so I had some trepidation going into this one. As it turns out, I ended up enjoying it immensely!

Blending a variety of engaging elements together, Chautona Havig writes “Christmas on Breakers Point” with both sadness and joy interlaced into each chapter. Despite being a short book, it reads like a full-length novel, with detail and depth that are not rushed yet also not dawdling. Had I known the plotline beforehand, I likely would have passed this one up for fear that it would be too sad, and this is just another reason that I like to enter into a book figuratively blind. One of the main characters has terminal cancer and an unattainable wish for Christmas, but thankfully God does the impossible every day, and He often works through people.

With finesse, Havig offers a story that is layered with sorrow yet filled with hope and joy. A terminal illness, lost love, and renounced faith all figure prominently, but I did not once think that the narrative was depressing. Instead, I found myself inspired by the sacrificial love and deep conversations of the characters, highlighting a multitude of passages that I felt were convicting and very pertinent in this day and age. Mallory seems to speak to the prodigal in all of us when she says, “You have decided how you want things to be, and because they’re not, you’re crying foul. You define what He does by what you want rather than what it is. He speaks to us today. Don’t tell me His Word doesn’t.” What it all comes down to is that life is not about us, but about HIM. “If you’re going to choose a cause over Jesus, then you’re choosing to die for that cause. You’re throwing what Jesus did for you and for all mankind up in His face.” When we follow His Word and walk in faithful obedience to Him, we have joy; all other paths lead to death.

There is so much to love about this first book in the Independence Islands series. It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. Although obviously a great holiday read, this is one that can easily be enjoyed at any time of year. I think that everyone needs an Uncle Bud in their lives to speak truth, love, guide, and pray them through the good and the bad. One line from the book beautifully encapsulate the story: “A lifetime of moments could be summarized in a Breakers Point sunset.”

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


Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, December 2

She Lives to Read, December 2

Daysong Reflections, December 2

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

Mamma Loves Books, December 3

Aryn the Libraryan, December 4

CarpeDiem, December 4

A Baker’s Perspective, December 5

Hebrews 12 Endurance, December 5

Betti Mace, December 6

For the Love of Literature, December 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 7

Cultivating Us, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 8

For Him and My Family, December 8

janicesbookreviews, December 9

SusanLovesBooks, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 10

Connect in Fiction, December 10

Lots of Helpers, December 11

My Devotional Thoughts, December 11

Wishful Endings, December 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 12

Stories By Gina, December 12

Quiet Quilter, December 13

Batya’s Bits, December 13

Godly Book Reviews, December 14

Emily Yager, December 14

Blossoms and Blessings, December 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 15

Back Porch Reads, December 15

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize of a 6 Month Kindle Unlimited subscription!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
3 Stars
The Barn Quilt Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Barn Quilt

Author: Patti Michels

Genre:  Children’s Book

Release Date: November 19, 2019

Farmer Max and Miz Patti have a big red barn on their Maple Shade Farm, but one thing is missing—they need a barn quilt. But what pattern should they hang on the side of their barn? The pineapple quilt, or the corn and beans quilt, or what about a quilt with animals on it? None of them are quite right though. Since it’s Christmas, they wonder what barn quilt would have been just right for the stable where Jesus was born. Work along with their neighbor boy, Dennis, as he helps Farmer Max and Miz Patti decide on and make the perfect barn quilt.



Click HERE to get your copy!  

About the Author

 


Patti Michels has lived in the same rural midwestern county her entire life, thirty-nine of those with her husband. She loves designing her family’s Christmas card and working with senior citizens. At the end of a long day, she enjoys returning to the farm and looking out her kitchen window at her own barn quilt. 
 

More from Patti

 

Believe it or not, the idea for this children’s book started out as a Christmas card.  Each year the Michels family produces their own original Christmas card.  This tradition started out simple, in the early 1980’s, as the Michels’ two small daughters helped with the coloring, cutting, and gluing!
 
Patti Michels and Max, her farmer husband of 39 years, live on a small farm in Southern Illinois.  The girls have grown and moved on, and the empty-nesters have joined others in their small farm community, in creating a barn quilt to hang on their barn.
 
While Max was preparing the 36″ X 36″ wood panel for Patti to paint, Patti was drawing and designing and dreaming up the best barn quilt pattern to display on the barn at Maple Shade Farm. As Patti painted their special barn quilt, a Christmas card idea popped into her head. ”What if the stable where Jesus was born had a barn quilt?”
 
Patti feels like ideas are a gift from God, as is her husband, who helps her pull off one after another completed “project”.  Whether it’s feeding cows, baling hay, making Christmas cards, or creating a barn quilt, they continue to work side by side. This book, based on the real life story of creating the barn quilt, gives kids a glimpse into a small farm family life, while also enjoying and celebrating those things that make Christmas so special, like hot chocolate, cookies and God’s love.
 

My Review

 

Imagine my surprise when I briefly researched the history of barn quilts and discovered that they apparently originated in my home state of Ohio! And that they are not an Amish legacy; I had always connected the two in my mind because of the quilting link. I was eager to read this children’s book because I love literature about farm life, and I was anticipating the seasonal setting. Christmas always seems like a good time to enjoy some children’s books, and it’s even merrier when the two come together!

Patti Michels’ “The Barn Quilt” is written for young readers, perhaps around third grade age, and it is also suitable for parents to read to their children. I thought that it was a cute story, and although as an adult reader the narrative felt repetitive and the resolution obvious, the target audience would doubtless enjoy it and find it appropriate. I appreciated the fact that despite being contemporary, there is no mention of electronic devices. This gives it an old-fashioned feel that harmonizes with the title. The subtitle, however, did not fit as well for me. It did not read to me like a Christmas story, and I would not really have described it as such. The very ending is Christmassy but not altogether connected to the rest of the story, and while on a second read-through I noticed a few more holiday details, overall I had a difficult time classifying this as a Christmas tale. The cover indicates springtime, and the illustrations within only hint at the Christmas season. The outdoor scenes do have bare trees, but the ground is more green than white. Also, the note at the end of the book remarks that the custom of barn quilts “started many years ago”, but it seems that they are not documented before 2001, so I question this. It doesn’t have much bearing on the story itself, but I still think that if it is included, it should be verified. Nevertheless, the message of love and the conversation about what type of barn quilt should have been on the stable where Jesus was born are endearing.

Thoughtful and easy to read, with basic details of farm living and animals worked into the dialogue, “The Barn Quilt” offers a story that will cause young readers to think and ponder solutions while learning about farming and the fascinating variety of barn quilts.

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

 

Blog Stops

 

The Power of Words, November 26

Remembrancy, November 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 27

For Him and My Family, November 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 28

Older & Smarter?, November 29

Seasons of Opportunities, November 29

Vicky Sluiter, November 30

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 30

Bigreadersite, December 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 1

Maureen’s Musings, December 2

Texas Book-aholic, December 2

janicesbookreviews, December 3

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

For the Love of Literature, December 4

Mary Hake, December 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 6

Emily Yager, December 6

She Lives to Read, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 8

Inklings and notions, December 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 9

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour Patti is giving away the grand prize of a signed copy of The Barn Quilt, and a $25 gift card from Amazon!!
 
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 Melody of the Mulberries Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Melody of the Mulberries

Author: Tonya Jewel Blessing

Genre:  Historic Southern Romance

Release Date: September 16, 2019

This sequel is set in the late 1920s Appalachia, where granny witches and spiritualism often show the path for wanderers to take, especially in matters of the heart.
 
Coral sat in contemplation under a mulberry tree. It was spring, and the fragrant female blossoms promised the mid-summer arrival of first white, then pink, then crimson, and finally deep purple berries. The white berries were hard and tart and enjoyed by the quail, wild turkeys, mocking birds, and blue jays. The blackish purple berries were soft and sweet – perfect for pies and jams.
 
 
When the berries turned white, Coral would thank the good Lord for providing food for the birds, and when the berries ripened she would thank the good Lord for the sweetness savored in her mouth and curse the birds for wanting more than their share.
 
Where Emerald Ashby’s story leaves us in the last pages of The Whispering of the Willows, pure and innocent sixteen-year-old Coral Ashby’s story begins. Like the changing mulberries, Appalachian siblings Coral and Ernest Ashby, navigate their lives and loves through the Spanish Flu epidemic, poverty, and various as sundry prejudices. Coral is determined to visit the family nemesis, Charlie, who now stews in prison.When Ernest’s previous love interest, Mercy, returns to the holler of Big Creek, she discovers that Ernest has a new romantic attraction. He is singing a melody for Charlotte, the older Ashby brother’s widow. No matter, Mercy has brought along her own spiritual tools to circumvent the inconvenience and a special friend who guides her way.

Accompanied by friends and foes, matters of the heart complicate life for Coral and Ernest. Relationships must be journeyed carefully.



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


More about Tonya Jewel Blessing: Growing up Tonya spent numerous vacations and holidays in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Most of her adult life has been spent in full time ministry with a focus on helping women. She has traveled nationally and internationally as a conference speaker. For a number of years, Tonya and her husband operated a retreat facility in Colorado for pastors and missionaries. She and her husband currently live in South Africa. They are the founders and directors of Strong Cross Ministries, a non-profit organization that assists local churches, pastors, cross-cultural workers, and others in Christian leadership in providing spiritual reconciliation and humanitarian relief to the poorest in the world. Tonya writes monthly devotionals for women in ministry. She is the award-winning novelist of The Whispering of the Willows, which is Book 1 of the Big Creek Series. She is the co-author of Soothing Rain, a discussion starter handbook/devotional that provides women with important tools for sharing biblical truth.
 

More from Tonya

 

Greetings From Author Tonya Jewel Blessing
 
The Melody of the Mulberries is book two in the Big Creek Series. Both books are set during the late 1920s in the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia. The Appalachian Mountains were untamed in the 1920s and remain so in part today. The wonder of the hills is breathtaking, magnificent, and glorious.
 
The term “wild wonderful West Virginia” was used as early as 1969 before being adapted in the 1970s as the state slogan.
 
In 1937, my mother, Virginia Ashby, was born in the rural hills of West Virginia. She spent several of her formative years in an area known as Big Creek. I have borrowed my mother’s maiden name, several names from her past, and the name Big Creek.
 
The morning mist hanging in the lowlands, the dew on the ground, along with the green of spring and the deep red, sparkling gold, and brilliant oranges of fall draw me visually, emotionally, and on some level spiritually to its feral fascination. John Denver recorded in his tribute to West Virginia, “Take me home country roads to the place I belong…” Certainly, there are seasons in my life where I long for the steep, curvy country roads of my youth. This is one deeply satisfying reason for writing about hope with connections to West Virginia, a life held close to my heart.
 
It is a pleasure and an honor to share this story with the Celebrate Lit family. My southern story is an authentically derived historical romance for young adults and for women of all ages who love Appalachian lore and West Virginia history. It contains some depictions of spiritualism and traditional Christianity during the 1920s in West Virginia. It continues with the inter-racial dealings between two communities, where, some are friends and some are foes.
 
If anyone would enjoy a free sample of the first audiobook, The Whispering of the Willows, please go to the link and click “play sample”.  This amazing voice actress, Courtney Patterson, will start reading you my story so that you will feel like you are eavesdropping on the Ashby family. Enjoy!
 
Enjoy an excerpt from Tonya’s first book in the series, The Whispering of the Willows, HERE.
 

My Review

 

As a child, one of my favorite books was Cynthia Rylant’s “When I Was Young in the Mountains.” Growing up in rural Ohio, near the border of West Virginia, my home is considered part of Appalachia. I’ve always been drawn to folk music and the backcountry. I remember watching the television adaptation of Catherine Marshall’s “Christy” when I was younger. There is just something fascinating about living off the grid, regardless of the time period: creating a unique community that is self-sustaining and learning what makes it flourish and what holds it together. Set in late 1920s in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, Tonya Jewel Blessings’ “The Melody of the Mulberries” presents a wonderful glimpse into this experience.

“The mulberry tree that shaded her from the afternoon sun sang a melody of obedience. It grew, blossomed, and bore fruit in submission to God. All flora and fauna flourished in Big Creek through obedience to the Maker of All Things.”

Despite not having read the previous book, I decided to take a chance and read “The Melody of the Mulberries” anyway, and I am glad that I did. If possible, I would recommend reading “The Whispering of the Willows” first to set the foundation for this sequel, but it is not a prerequisite. I was a bit confused for the first chapter or so; my main problem was keeping the characters straight and remembering who was who, but then again I’m terrible with names, so that could have just been my personal issue. As the story progresses, the main events from the first book receive mention, which helps establish the plot of this second book.

My favorite element was the presentation of beliefs, the amalgamation of Christianity and folklore, and how Ernest in particular does his best to disenchant others from superstitions and lead them instead to Christ. As a teacher, “Ernest thought that education was one of the best ways to combat mountain mysticism.” His wisdom in both book knowledge and spiritual matters reveals his altruistic nature: “He had choices to make. He could choose to let others dictate his life, choose to direct his own life, or make the right choice and allow God to dominate his thoughts and actions.” Two of the other main characters include his sister Coral, 16, and his fellow teacher, Lottie. Although young, Coral is attuned to the voice of God and determined to follow where He leads her, even if it means leaving home to visit a convicted felon who harmed her family. I loved her conviction! Lottie doesn’t take center stage, but her actions prove her to be an encourager and supporter. Something that stood out to me throughout the narrative was how the characters use hymns and songs to talk to God and to minister to others. So often when I am praying or when I read a Scripture verse a Christian praise song or hymn comes to mind, and they can be such a beautiful part of worship!

“The Melody of the Mulberries” does not shy away from tough subjects. It deals with wedlock, race relations, and other issues that continue to be prevalent today, but it is a clean read. Each chapter begins with an epigraph that states an Appalachian folk belief and has an image of a black raspberry branch, with a leaf image used to divide the sections of each chapter. The author’s affinity for alliteration made me smile while reading. It took a few chapters for me to become accustomed to the Appalachian dialect, more so because I was reading it instead of listening to it, but I appreciated its inclusion in the characters’ dialogue because it enhanced the story’s authenticity. As such, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in mountain life, godly living, evangelizing, and tackling challenging topics.

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, Tonya is giving away the grand prize package of a special pillow and reader’s choice of an eBook or Audiobook of The Whispering of the Willows!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.