Tag Archives: fiction

Mind Over Matter: A Book Review of Rachelle Dekker’s “Nine”

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“This time she would break the rules. Even the ones she’d set for herself.”

By turns dark and intriguing, Nine by Rachelle Dekker explores what makes us human and how much choice, if any, we have in what we become. Through a trio of main characters, Dekker presents a narrative that is as timely as it is terrifying, given the current direction of science and military weaponry. Lucy, a young amnesiac, bursts into Zoe Johnson’s carefully-constructed and reclusive life, and the metaphorical house of cards comes crashing down. Part one contains third-person narration, but in part two some of the chapters are narrated in the first person by Lucy, a shift that adds depth and insight. Each girl’s backstory is revealed slowly as the story progresses, and their similarities are essential to the plot. Both have been brainwashed, in a manner of speaking, and their trauma draws them together: Lucy from scientific studies and Zoe from her mother’s cult. Agent Tom Seeley seemingly walks the fine line of double agent, but in this story trust is a quality that gets you killed.

While there is a discernible interplay between goodness and darkness (evil), manifested through a myriad of topics, I am conflicted as to whether I would classify this as a Christian novel. It is marketed as such, and while I can extrapolate a general Christian message from the overall content, I still do not feel quite comfortable labeling it as such. I personally don’t think that if a non-Christian were to pick up this book and read it, they would consider it a Christian work without being told so. There is no profanity, just allusions to people cursing, and none of the characters demonstrate any kind of faith in God that I could see. The bits and pieces of the former cult are the only religion demonstrated in the narrative, and naturally Zoe has a bitter and negative view of such, which was reinforced after leaving the cult. I think that with the storyline, Dekker could have really turned this into a fantastic Christian inspirational novel by the last third of the book, and I’m disappointed that it didn’t happen.

Delving into the shadowy realms of military experimentation, neuroscience, and ethics, Nine is not for the faint of heart. There are scenes of and descriptions of torture that I could definitely have done without; while I am not naïve enough to believe that such things don’t happen, a sentence or allusion to the events without details would suffice, for me at least. The topic of abuse in the story is handled better in this regard, and I think that the questions Dekker raises about ethics are important and need to be considered, especially as we are rapidly entering into a new era of digital dependency and artificial intelligence. As we move forward, we, like the characters in Nine, have to determine who we are and wherein our identity lies. Otherwise, we open ourselves up to being controlled by whomever our community—be it small or large—says we should. From a Christian perspective, we have two choices: follow Jesus or follow Satan: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

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

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Lady Airell’s Choice Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Lady Airell’s Choice

Author: Rachel Skatvold

Genre: Christian Medieval Romance

Release Date: January, 2019

Will one choice save her kingdom from destruction?

During a time of peace and prosperity, Princess Airell of Daireann is given the rare privilege of choosing her own suitor. As eligible rulers from all over Ardena vie for her hand, a betrothal to Prince Tristan of Órlaith seems to be the clear choice. Yet, in the midst of Lady Airell’s happiness, the winds of change are coming.

When an evil usurper from the north rises to power and his forces attack the southern kingdoms, peace in Ardena is shattered. With Daireann under siege, the princess must find the courage to protect her people. Will Lady Airell choose to sacrifice her own happiness in order to save her kingdom?

Get swept up in an epic adventure while reading this Christian medieval romance filled with themes of faith, redemption and forgiveness.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Rachel Skatvold is a Christian author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance and encouraging blogs. Rachel completed her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas in 2014 and is now working on the Hart Ranch Series, set in the Montana wilderness and the Ladies of Ardena Series, set in medieval times. She is also a contributing author in the Whispers in Wyoming, Brides of Pelican Rapids and Independence Island Series. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons. You can find more information about Rachel and her books on her website: www.rachelskatvold.com.

More from Rachel

The Ladies of Ardena Series has been by far my favorite series to write because the stories are adventurous fast-paced tales with themes of faith, hope and redemption. While I am more well-known for my contemporary western and small-town romance series, I have always been interested in history and fascinated with the medieval time period. Although Ardena is a fictional land, it is inspired by Irish and Scottish culture, in honor of my ancestors. Each book is also inspired by one of my six nieces and is dedicated to them. For that reason, these stories have a special place in my heart.

Lady Airell’s Choice follows the eldest daughter in the Daireann royal family who has come of age. Since it is a time of peace in the land, her father allows Airell to choose her own suitor. She is excited to start a new chapter in her life, but her dreams for the future are shattered when a usurper from the north kills her father and wages war against Daireann. Princess Airell is forced to choose between her own happiness and the survival of her kingdom.

Lady Airell’s story is inspired by Psalms 23 1-3 NLT which says: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” This verse is relevant during Airell’s time and in our lives today as well. We may not face the same perilous circumstances with evil kings and perilous voyages across the sea. Our battles are a little different these days, but God is still the same. He can help us through any trials and lead us down the correct path if we put our faith in Him.

Thank you for following this Celebration Tour for Lady Airell’s choice. To learn more about this book and the others in the series, please read the summary below and visit the series page on Amazon. Also, don’t’ forget to sign up for the giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Blessings.

My Review

“She would have to make sacrifices for her family and her kingdom. No more would she dream of having choices and being free. Serving her kingdom was her duty as Princess Airell of Daireann.”

An avid historical fiction fan, I nonetheless admit that the Middle Ages has never held much appeal for me, nor does royal life. That seems like a much too stifled and public existence for my taste, and I never had dreams of becoming a princess or a queen. Therefore it would seem odd that this book caught my attention, but between the cover and the author’s mention of basing the fictional setting on Ireland and Scotland, I was compelled to find out more, and I’m glad that I did.

Rachel Skatvold has created a charming yet ominous world in the country of Ardena, in which an idyllic life is suddenly destroyed and peril strikes the hitherto peaceful kingdom of Daireann. Lady Airell’s Choice opens with a drastic contrast between the prologue and the first chapter, which seems disconcerting at first but matches the characters’ emotional turmoil and also allows readers to vicariously experience the confusion that the characters themselves are facing. Written in the third-person, Lady Airell is the character with whom we become the most familiar, but we are also given insight into various other characters. Some do follow the stereotypes of good and evil, but there are enough complex characters to balance the scales. The effects of the influence that some people can have on others is clearly demonstrated and is a point that is particularly relevant today. There is romance, but these scenes are clean and do not dominate the book, which I always appreciate.

Lady Airell’s Choice is not a lighthearted, feel-good story, but there are moments of levity, and it is worth reading for its thematic values alone. There are battle scenes and mild descriptions of wounds and the like, but these can be skipped over by readers who find them disturbing. The story is full of treachery, heartbreak, and sacrifice, a stark reminder that “in this world you will have trouble”, but thanks to the Lord’s own sacrifice, we can add “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Vengeance and redemption both feature heavily in the story in unexpected ways, challenging readers to examine their own hearts and truly love others and to forgive offenses. As Peadar asks Airelle, “I believe anyone can find redemption. Don’t you?”

At the end of the book, there is a set of discussion questions, as well as family trees detailing Ardena’s royal lineages and a list of pronunciations and meanings. The latter, particularly, I think is invaluable. I would not otherwise know how to pronounce most of the people and place names, which always bothers me when it happens, and understanding what the names mean offers special insight into the story. Aside from grammatical errors, I think that this first book in the Ladies of Ardena series is an intriguing opening, and I look forward to further exploring the other women in the remaining three books of the series.

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

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 21

For the Love of Literature, August 22

Inklings and notions, August 23

Novels Corner, August 24

deb’s Book Review, August 24

For Him and My Family, August 25

Older & Smarter?, August 26

Connect in Fiction, August 27

Labor Not in Vain, August 27

Blossoms and Blessings, August 28

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 30

Pause for Tales, August 31

Emily Yager, September 1

Artistic Nobody, September 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/ffa1/lady-airell-s-choice-celebration-tour-giveaway

Two Rivers Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

 

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Book: Two Rivers

Author: Michael W. Henry

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: April 10, 2020

In 1840 Pastor Allen Hartman leaves behind his white-steepled church in New York, and the woman he hopes to marry, to serve as a missionary to Indians in the Oregon Territory. On his epic westward journey, he is plunged into the dark end of spiritual warfare and vital intercession. His mettle is further tested when he’s asked to stay in a village of Arapaho already contending with a malevolent witch doctor—where Allen has to draw upon courage he didn’t know he possessed and discovers ministering to Indians is not at all what he imagined.

Arapaho medicine man Two Rivers knows one thing—the Great Spirit is sending White Falcon to help his people defeat the malicious spiritual forces determined to overpower the tribe. But even as White Falcon teams up with Two Rivers, Allen finds himself enslaved in a cave and in a heaven-meets-earth clash of faith with an evil sorcerer. With his life at stake and his new friends unable to help, will Spirit-led prayers of believers lead to a complete victory, or will something be left undone?

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

About the Author

 

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Michael W. Henry’s ministry has spanned from serving as a missionary in Mexico, where he encountered intense spiritual warfare, to planting and pastoring churches in Washington state. A Christian counselor, Michael is certified through the American Association of Christian Counselors and offers spiritual-life coaching to believers searching for deep faith encounters with Jesus. Michael has long been fascinated by Native American spirituality and culture. He and his wife, also a certified counselor, live in Wenatchee, Washington, and enjoy hunting, hiking, canoeing, and other outdoor activities with their four adult children and two grandchildren.

 

 

More from Michael

Two Rivers is a story about courageous faith. I wrote it because as a missionary in Mexico, I had experienced spiritual encounters that I felt needed to be shared. A historical fiction seemed the perfect place to demonstrate the power of prayer and cross cultural respect in an authentic way.

 

My Review

If I had to choose only one word to describe Michael Henry’s Two Rivers, it would be intriguing. It is a story unlike any I’ve read, and one that will remain in my thoughts for a long time to come. What sets it apart in my mind is the unique combination of elements; it is a Western, a survival story, an Oregon Trail missionary journey, and a spiritual warfare novel. At times it takes on aspects of the supernatural, and there is an aura of suspense as well. Quite unusual for a work of Christian historical fiction, yet the author weaves it all together excellently. The title, too, shows forethought; at first blush, it seems to refer simply to one of the main characters, yet I surmise that it also symbolizes divergence from the mainstream course and, naturally, good vs. evil.

Set in 1840, Two Rivers demonstrates the prejudices of the time period. From Violet’s aversion to a life in the wilderness to the manner in which the Methodist Episcopal ministers in the missionary band avoid their fellow Negro pastors to the prevailing view of the Native Americans as ignorant heathens, the behavior of those who should know better and be more loving is made apparent. However, this serves to highlight the true light of Christ while acknowledging the uncomfortable truth about racism, which sadly still exists today. The fact that Henry took the time to include this rather than whitewashing the novel and portraying all of the missionaries as angels of mercy enhances my respect for and appreciation of this book. Part of a conversation between Gloria and Pastor Allen Hartman, both part of the missionary group to take the Gospel to Indians in the far-off Oregon Territory, indicates their awareness of the Native American culture. Gloria remarks: “We travel with a wagonload of material possessions, and they have just the essentials. We live such a complicated life. I can’t see them as savages anymore.” Allen follows this by saying: “How can we expect them to understand what our culture has developed over centuries? We have to walk in their shoes, not make them walk in our ours. The commissioning makes sense to me now.”

Without a doubt, the spiritual warfare is what sets this book apart. Henry skillfully employs foreshadowing to alert readers to impending conflict. There are just enough chapters focused on the antipodal Arapaho men, one a malicious witch doctor and the other a medicine man, to build tension. As the missionary group and the Native Americans come closer to converging, the suspense likewise crescendos to a battle for survival. The way in which Christianity and Native American religion meet each other in this book is interesting and, again, distinguishes this from any number of other novels with similar settings or themes. A timely reminder of the apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Let’s remember to put on the armor of God daily as we follow His marching orders!

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

 

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 14

Inklings and notions, August 15

For Him and My Family, August 16

Texas Book-aholic, August 17

Joanne Markey, August 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 18

deb’s Book Review, August 19

For the Love of Literature, August 20

Rebecca Tews, August 21

Artistic Nobody, August 22 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 23

Connie’s History Classroom, August 24

Simple Harvest Reads, August 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Quiet Workings, August 26

To Everything There Is A Season, August 27

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Michael is giving away the grand prize package of an eBook copy of Two Rivers, a $50 Amazon gift card, and 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.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fec3/two-rivers-celebration-tour-giveaway

Rahab Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

 

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Book: Rahab

Author: Diana Wallis Taylor

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Some biblical scholars maintain that the woman in Jericho who hid Joshua’s two spies was a harlot or a prostitute. But if that was the case, how did this woman, Rahab, become one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ? Wouldn’t the Father ensure a pure lineage for His Son?

In this historical fiction, author Diana Wallis Taylor offers a beautiful story of intrigue that explains how Rahab came to be the mother of Boaz, grandmother of Obed, and great-grandmother of Jesse, the father of King David.

In Rahab, Woman of Jericho, readers discover a Rahab who is a descendent of the tribe of Ephraim, one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. Her clan left Egypt and settled in Canaan before the Hebrews were enslaved. Although they did not wander in the desert with Moses for forty years, nor did they hear the laws that the Lord gave to His people, they still worshipped the one true God.

Rahab marries Radames, a young Egyptian officer, who is to become the new governor of Jericho. They live in the Egyptian embassy set in the city wall. When the Israelites approach Canaan with their army, pharaoh sends word that he is withdrawing his troops. Radames fabricates a story to tell Jericho’s king, but Hammurabi doesn’t believe it…and he has his eye on the beautiful Rahab.

What will happen to Rahab after the lecherous king poisons her husband? How can she save her family from the invading Israelites? God parted the waters of the Jordan River for them—will He likewise provide miracles and blessings to her Ephraimite clan if they can rejoin their people?

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

About the Author

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Diana Wallis Taylor is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books, including such novels as Hadassah, Queen Esther of Persia; Lydia, Woman of Philippi; Mary, Chosen of God; Ruth, Mother of Kings; Mary Magdalene; and Journey to the Well. She is also the author of Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business?

Diana’s additional published works include a collection of poetry, Wings of the Wind; an Easter cantata, “Glorious,” written with a musical collaborator and available on Sheet Music Plus; and contributions to various magazines and compilations.

She received her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University and was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. She operated two coffeehouse/used bookstores and later retired from a private Christian college as Director of Conference Services.

Diana makes her home in San Diego, California. Readers are welcome to reach out to her and read her blog at www.dianawallistaylor.com.

 

Read an Excerpt

At one large, ornate building that was obviously a temple, young women wearing flimsy garments, much jewelry, and elaborate make-up were lounging on the steps.

“Who are they, Radames?”

“Temple priestesses.”

“Women priests? They do not look like priests.”

He took a deep breath. “They are temple prostitutes who serve their god. By laying with a worshipper, they believe they assist him or her to honor their god.”

She put her hand on his arm. “I cannot judge others, but my people worship one God, Jehovah, who does not require that sort of worship.”

Radames seemed thoughtful and made no reply.

Her family had lived among the Canaanites for years, but she had never seen such a temple before. Beth-horon was so small—wouldn’t she have seen one if it was there? Perhaps her parents and their parents had endeavored to shield their children from the worst pagan practices.

Just before they returned home, she looked back at the palace, looming over the city like some evil monster. It sent a chill through her.

When they were safely in the embassy again, they sat in the dining hall and ate their mid-day meal: fresh bread, goat cheese, figs, and pomegranates, with a cup of beer for Radames and wine for Rahab.

Rahab turned to Radames. “My lord, the Canaanites have so many gods. You said you worshipped a fewer number. I am not familiar with Egyptian gods and would like to hear about them.”

He looked at her thoughtfully and took her hand in his. “Amon is the main one; he is considered the king of the gods and goddesses, and we believe he is father to the Pharaohs. His female counterpart is Amunet, called the Female Hidden One. They had a son, Khonsu, the moon god. Mut, which means ‘mother’ in Egyptian, is a deity who wears two crowns on her head. Osiris is considered the oldest child of the earth god, Zeb, and the sky goddess, Nut. He is the god of the afterlife. That is why many things are buried with the body when an Egyptian dies, so that he has what he needs in the life after death.”

She remained silent, listening, her thoughts twirling round about. She had married Radames out of love and her father had assured her that marrying an Egyptian was not forbidden because of their family heritage. But how was she to deal with a husband who worshipped idols? She smiled at him. “Tell me more.”

He sliced a piece of cheese and playfully fed it to her before continuing.

“Anubis is the divine embalmer. Before Osiris, Anubis patrolled the underworld. He is known for mummifying the dead and guiding their souls toward the afterlife. Horus is the god of vengeance and is the child of Osiris and Isis. He avenged his father’s death and ruled Egypt. Thoth is the god of knowledge and wisdom, who settles disputes between good and evil. He maintains the universe by his mastery of calculations. We believe him to be the author of science, philosophy, and magic. He is also the one who created our calendar. Sekhmet is the goddess of war and healing. She can destroy the enemies of her allies. Geb is the god of earth, who represents crops and healing. We believe he retains the souls of the wicked.”

It was a lot to digest. “Those are all your gods?”

He shook his head. “Only some of them, the most important ones.”

“And you worship all these gods?”

“When I am home with my family or with my soldiers, I profess to worship them. My father would be insulted and perhaps disown me if I even hinted that I did not.”

She stared at him, realizing what he had just revealed. Hope rose in her heart. “You say that as if there is something else you believe.”

Radames hesitated, as if uncertain how to proceed. “I don’t know,” he said finally. “I have grown up with all our gods, but prayers to them are not answered. I have not mentioned this before, beloved, but I was married years ago, at the age of eighteen. My wife was only fifteen. Both she and our infant son died in childbirth a year later. I made offering after offering to the gods, praying for her to live, but there was no answer—and no comfort. So I do not put my faith in any god.”

Rahab reached out to touch his arm. “Oh, Radames. I am so sorry about your wife and child. That must have been so hard to bear. Did my father know of this?”

“I told him that first night I came.”

“And what did he say?”

“He said that I may someday wish to speak to you about your God…when I am ready to do so.”

 

My Review

“Something in her heart longed to truly know the God of her people. He had made a way to save her when there seemed to be no way.”

Biblical fiction is often a hit-or-miss genre, and readers tend to either enjoy it or avoid it altogether. I can understand both sides of that case and tend to stick with trusted authors I’m either familiar with or who have been recommended to me by reliable sources. Last year I did take a chance with then new-to-me author Diana Wallis Taylor’s Hadassah and found it intriguing. As the author herself acknowledges, she likes to choose Biblical women who are generally not well-regarded and offer a different perspective of them. One requirement that I have for reading Biblical fiction is that it does not change fundamental truths about Scripture or promote anything that does not line up with God’s Word. Good Biblical fiction, in my opinion, causes readers to more deeply contemplate and connect with the Lord through His Word, the Bible.

In her most recent novel, Rahab: Woman of Jericho, Taylor explores this enigmatic figure from the book of Joshua. I will be honest and say that I do not think that this is truly plausible as Rahab’s backstory because I have always read among various translations that she was a prostitute, and I think that her being a redeemed prostitute in the lineage of Jesus makes more sense and demonstrates God’s grace and mercy, particularly considering that she is mentioned in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. Also, Taylor portrays Rahab and her family as Jewish, the only ones in Upper Beth-horon. That being said, though, I respect the author’s creative license and the reasons for her interpretation, and I appreciate that she addresses these at the end of the book.

The genealogy of Rahab is given several times throughout the novel, and I found this helpful in connecting her to the historical story itself and to the bigger picture of ultimately becoming part of the lineage of Jesus. It is interesting that her name means “remembering Egypt”, and that is a theme that plays out in a variety of ways as the story unfolds. There are also several elements that stood out to me as having very clear contemporary parallels. Just as, in this story, Rahab and her family are terrified when Jericho is attacked but are spared as followers of Jehovah, so are we living in frightening times amidst a global pandemic and increasing unrest and chaos, and so too will God spare us if we are truly devoted to Him. Trust is key. There is also an urgency to share God (and in the modern world, the Gospel) with others because the walls are falling down, literally in Rahab’s case and more metaphorically in ours. Another thing that struck me is the acknowledgement of the emotional and psychological impact of killing that the Israelite soldiers bore. The overall effect of everything that the Israelites went through on their journey became much more apparent to me than it had before, and I am so grateful to live in the time after Jesus’s sacrifice!

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

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

 

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, August 8

Novels Corner, August 8

A Reader’s Brain, August 9

Our Whiskey Lullaby, August 9

Texas Book-aholic, August 10

Hebrews 12 Endurance , August 11

lakesidelivingsite, August 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 12

For Him and My Family, August 13

Betti Mace, August 14

Splashes of Joy, August 15

deb’s Book Review, August 16

CarpeDiem, August 17

For the Love of Literature, August 18

Connect in Fiction, August 19

She Lives To Read, August 20

Mary Hake, August 20

Lights in a Dark World, August 21

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away the grand prize of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/feba/rahab-celebration-tour-giveaway

Survival, Love, and Faith in the Rocky Mountains: A Book Review of Angela Couch’s “Heart of a Warrior”

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Nineteenth-century historical fiction is and always has been my favorite genre, one which I never tire of reading. While much of the subject matter may remain similar, skillful authors will develop unique sets of circumstances and create enough nuances to set their stories apart. Angela Couch accomplishes this with her novel Heart of a Warrior, which is a tale of survival, romance, and faith in the Rocky Mountains in 1859. This is the first of her works that I have read, and it won’t be the last. She draws readers in from the startling opening chapter and continues to pepper the novel with suspenseful scenes interspersed among the more domestic ones.

Rife with the struggles of the western frontier, Heart of a Warrior nevertheless remains a predominantly character-driven story. All of the primary events in the novel serve to promote interaction between the characters, especially Christina and Towan. Towan is the first to suspect that God made their paths cross for a purpose, and with him as the starting point, Couch goes on to overturn stereotypes from that era right up to the very last page. While it may seem an unnecessary and antiquated point at first glance, the firestorm of race relations this year suggests otherwise. Christina describes Towan as “A most peculiar mix of the Rocky Mountains and civilization. As refined as any gentlemen, yet as wild as nature itself. He was a living, breathing, walking paradox.” She is the one who had a Bible in her possession, but Towan is the one who reads and believes it, and he wrestles with the anger and bitterness he carries toward the white race.

Both Towan and Christina grow in unexpected ways as the story progresses. They each soften their erroneous views of the other’s culture while not abandoning their own. Their names, too, are noteworthy; Towan means black fox, which I researched and found to be a rare genetic variant of the red fox, and therefore a very apt title. He repeatedly exhibits a sacrificial, Christ-like love for which he seeks to gain nothing. On the other hand, I admittedly was not fond of Christina for the majority of the story due to her seeming lack of gratitude and trust and her prejudice. However, it occurred to me that we are all Christinas (and her name is, fittingly, an anagram of Christian) who fail daily. No matter how many times the Lord proves His goodness, we still distrust Him at times, and we still complain when we should be thankful.

For readers interested in Shoshone life, survival in the Rocky Mountains in the nineteenth century, historical romance, or inspirational historical fiction, I recommend Heart of a Warrior. The only issues I had were with Towan’s acknowledgement that “There is only one God. Only understanding of Him differs. Knowledge about Him. Where knowledge lacks, men form opinions, some true, some false.” I am a bit unclear on this because the views of his tribe were never mentioned, and from what little I know about Native American religion, they do not believe in the Christian God, so I wonder if he is trying to reconcile the Shoshone religion with Christianity when he speaks of having a different understanding of God, which I do not agree with. Also, I would have liked to see Christina’s moment of truly accepting Christ because as it is, I am unsure as to where exactly she stands. Overall, however, I truly enjoyed this novel, and I particularly loved the final scene.

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

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Purchase your copy at Pelican or Amazon, or at your favorite Christian bookstore!

Six Years and a Quarter Way Through Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Six Years and a Quarter Way Through

Author: Cassandre Brissot

Genre: Christian Romance, Coming of Age

Release Date: April 19, 2019

Six Years and a Quarter Way Through is a story about a young woman who’s lost her way. Like many of us, Leah believed that the vision supersedes the process until, at age twenty-six, she stops believing in the vision and the one who gave it to her. Leah has lost her faith, her job, her confidence, and maybe her mind. Utterly defeated and without hope that her dreams to become a star would come true, she meets Trenton Shaw, a rich, powerful, handsome, hot-shot producer who has spent the last six years of his life trying to find her. Leah is weary of Trenton initially, particularly since he is adamant about enlisting her for a new reality show that he is putting together called “Star Quality.” However, after reasoning that she has nothing left to lose, she consents. If she wins the show, she will receive a cash prize, an agent, and most importantly a part in a brand-new feature film; even if she loses, people would still know her name.

Trent and Leah quickly fall for each other, forming an intense and sometimes volatile relationship, which only gets more complicated after she moves into the house she’ll be sharing with her costars and meets Brice. Frightened awake from a nightmare, Leah stumbles into the living room, where she finds Brice looking as haunted as she feels; he confides in her about his dead fiancée, and she in him about her nightmares and anxiety attacks. Her nightmares recur, worsening with each night as the competition intensifies and her relationship with Trent deepens. Gradually it becomes apparent that Leah’s way of getting everything she’s ever wanted may have taken her on a road she should not have traveled.

At its core, this is a story about the journey we all must take: What do we believe? How strongly do we believe it? Will that belief be steadfast in the face of temptation? Although everyone’s story is different, you only either chose to do it God’s way or your own.

 

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

About the Author

 

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Cassandre Brissot is the author of debut novel, Six Years And A Quarter Way Through. She completed her bachelor of fine arts in Television and Radio production at the City University of New York Brooklyn College. She then went on to work as a TV production assistant until becoming a flight attendant in 2014, which is the same year she was crowned Miss Black New York USA. Nowadays, she can still be found on set but in front of the cameras, though mostly as an extra, thus far. When she’s not on a set, she’s writing for her blog. She also enjoys dance parties with her young nieces and karaoke, very much.

 

 

 

More from Cassandre

 

The best part of being young is the possibilities. In your minds eye you’re the next president, or celebrated surgeon, maybe a coveted fashion designer, you might even be Superman. As a child I dreamed fanciful dreams of stardom, celebrity, vast fortune, and a handsome prince to boot. I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could start living the fabulous life I knew would be mine. In spite of the hardships of my early years, I never doubted that my life would go according to plan, when it didn’t, it just about killed me.

I received my college diploma with a dangerous amount of pride. I was certain that after one of the best years of my life, which included interning at a prominent television network, success on the pageant circuit, and getting cast in and shooting a great pilot, that the world was my oyster. I had the talent, ambition, drive, and connections. Not to mention, I knew God. Why wouldn’t things work out for me?

Nearly two years passed before I was able to gain employment-as a sales associate, in a small boutique. No one would hire me let alone cast me in a project. The pilot I’d banked all my hopes on was never picked up. Each day that went by brought me to new lows. The successes of my friends and former classmates made the pain all the more acute. I was depressed, making terrible decisions in every area of my life, and loosing it. Thinking about my shattered hopes gave me an anxious feeling in the pit of my gut. Often that feeling turned into a full-blown anxiety attack. I was fledgling and inconsolable until The Holy Spirit spoke to me. What’s more important, He asked, the fame and the money or a relationship with Him?

It’s ironic, I called myself a Christian but I never consulted Christ about my life. I prayed for better but never did I ask God what His will was for me. I wanted what I wanted. I didn’t stop there. I wanted God to bless my endeavors regardless of whether it was His will for me or not because it was mine. Everything I’d done to that point answered the question loudly and clearly. I’d lived in yearning for things not Christ. It was heartbreaking coming to terms with that, however it was also the wake up call I needed. I finally understood I couldn’t serve two masters at the same time. I decided to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the rest of the things would come in His divine time.

The Holy Spirit taught me a lot of things during that season of my life: who you are-your character-is more important to The Lord than where you’re trying to go. Sometimes God will allow you to falter for the sake of truly finding Him, and perhaps most prominently, that nothing matters more than a true relationship with Christ. Six Years And A Quarter Way Through, was born of those lessons and the desire to honor Christ as a witness to His redemptive power and love.

Leah Albanese is a young woman who chooses the things-including the boy who is offering them-over God, but she soon learns that even when you give up on God He doesn’t give up on you.

 

Author Interview

 

Do you ever hide things in your stories for readers to find?

I’ve never considered that I was ‘hiding’ things in my stories for readers to find, although that’s exactly what I’ve done. There are key moments in Six Years And A Quarter Way Through where I mirror a biblical scene or lesson. I’m always waiting for someone to point out the correlation. The perfect example of this is when Leah and Trent meet for the first time and he offers her a spot on his new reality show. Leah’s enticed through the three temptations of sin: lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  1 John 2:16 describes this principal and warns against it. I used Genesis chapter 3 verse 6 to frame Leah’s seduction. Eve ‘sees the tree is good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise.’ It is after that she sins and eats of the tree. Leah sees that Trent is attractive, has a physical desire for him, and comes into agreement with his plan to give her everything she wants. It’s after that she gets involved with him.

 

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

Most of the books I own are electronic. For four years I was a flight attendant basically living out of my suitcase, between my clothes and toiletries I had no space for books. I’m grateful for eBooks however there is nothing like curling up with a physical copy.

 

If you could meet one author, living or passed, who would it be?

Not to sound cliché, but if I could meet any author living or alive, I would want to meet Jane Austen. I love her work¾how she was able to create strong female characters that were equally feminine, witty, and moral. If I had the opportunity to speak to her it wouldn’t be out of a desire to enhance my writing it would be for the pleasure of getting to know the brilliant mind that weaved wonderful stories.

 

Do you have a favorite Bible verse, or is there a particular Bible story that really resonates with you?

I absolutely love the parable of the Prodigal Son. It convicted me when guilt and shame wanted me to stay where I was; it has shaped my understanding of Grace, The Gospel, and the love of The Father. I’ve been so affected by The Prodigal son that it has fashioned my story telling. One of the hidden things in my book I hope readers pick up on is that Leah is a prodigal daughter.

 

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

The character that speaks most to my heart is Leah because she’s loosely based on me. When the story begins Leah’s in a bad place spiritually, mentally, and emotionally; the despondency she feels I’ve felt. Many of Leah’s despairing emotions and their cause are a reflection of my own desolation during a particularly painful time in my life. By the end of the book we see the beginning of redemption and reconciliation. Bringing Leah to life brought back some bad memories but it also reminded me of God’s love for and patience with me. Leah is a witness to myself and other young women who may have made mistakes that in Christ there is forgiveness and newness of life.

 

Blog Stops

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 1

Rebecca Tews, August 2

Splashes of Joy, August 3 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, August 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 4

Inklings and notions, August 5

Simple Harvest Reads, August 6 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, August 7 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Texas Book-aholic, August 8

A Baker’s Perspective, August 9 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 10

For Him and My Family, August 11

For the Love of Literature, August 12 (Author Interview)

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

Pause for Tales, August 14

 

Giveaway

 

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To celebrate her tour, Cassandre is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of Six Years And A Quarter Way Through, 1 journal (My Story His Way: Journaling your journey to a closer walk with Him), and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/fe94/six-years-and-a-quarter-way-through-celebration-tour-giveaway

Love’s Mountain Quest Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

 

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Book: Love’s Mountain Quest

Author: Misty M Beller

Genre: Historical romance

Release Date: June 30, 2020

After losing her husband in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, young widow Joanna Watson is struggling to make a new home for her five-year-old son, Samuel, in the little mountain town of Settler’s Fort. When she returns home from work to find Samuel and the woman watching him missing–and the sheriff dead–she enlists a man she prays has enough experience in this rugged country to help.

Isaac Bowen wants nothing more than a quiet, invisible life in these mountains, far away from the bad decisions of his past. But he has a strong suspicion of who’s behind the kidnapping and murder, and if he’s right, he knows all too well the evil they’re chasing.

As they press on against the elements, Joanna fights to hold on to hope, while Isaac knows a reckoning is coming. They find encouragement in the tentative trust that grows between them, but whether it can withstand the danger and coming confrontation is far from certain in this wild, unpredictable land.

 

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

About the Author

 

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After working for 13 years in the corporate world, Misty M. Beller (mistymbeller.com) is now the author of fourteen independently published Christian historical romance novels. Raised on a farm in South Carolina, she combines her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life by writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters. She lives outside Charlotte, North Carolina, is an active member of ACFW, and teaches regularly at conferences and writing groups on effective book marketing.

 

 

More from Misty

The Story Behind the Story: Love’s Mountain Quest

Love’s Mountain Quest was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written, even though I LOVE Isaac and Joanna and their story. What made this book so hard was the fact that I wrote most of the story during my third trimester of pregnancy with our son!

Baby

Our little Matthew is our fourth baby (and first boy), so I was VERY heavy with child during the last three months I carried him, and that was the time that I’d scheduled to write Love’s Mountain Quest. Needless to say, the words were not flowing very well. My creativity was as exhausted as the rest of me! I could see Isaac and Joanna’s story in my mind, but showing it for readers using real words was the hard part.

Thankfully, I have an amazing editor at Bethany House (waving at Jen Veilleux!) who helped me massage the first draft, pushing both me and the story to be the very best we could be. Unfortunately for her, the edits for this book were the first bit of writing I did after taking a short maternity leave after the birth, so my brain was still a bit mushy from all the post-partum hormones and lack of sleep a newborn always brings. Jen’s patience through the process was remarkable, yet I so appreciate her determination not to stop until we had the very best book possible.

Our little Matthew just turned one, and Love’s Mountain Quest is finally making its way out into the world. Because of Jen, I’m so excited to share it with you! I can’t wait for you to meet the characters and story I love so much.

 

My Review

Book 2 in Misty Beller’s Hearts of Montana series, Love’s Mountain Quest can be read as a standalone, but for background into the lives of the main characters, I recommend reading Hope’s Highest Mountain first. Both contain the author’s trademark combination of adventure, faith, and romance, and this sequel is my favorite, not only of the two, but of the handful of Beller’s other books that I have read as well. Love’s Mountain Quest offers a bit of a twist on the theme of a mountain man rescuing a woman; in this case, widow Joanna Watson receives help from Isaac Bowen to find out what happened to her five-year-old son Samuel and her friend Laura, not realizing how Isaac’s past and future both figure into the situation.

As always, Beller delivers an exciting and emotional tale set in the beautiful but treacherous Montana territory. The scenic detail places readers right in the middle of the action, although the characters take precedence, with their complicated pasts shadowing their current circumstances. All of them feel genuine, from the seemingly heartless villains to the hapless victims, and the rawness of emotion tugs at your heartstrings. Isaac comes face to face with a past that he thought he left behind, one that still causes feelings of guilt and holds a lesson about pride. Joanna is so relatable, described as a woman who “did not shirk her responsibilities, no matter how exhausted and worried she was.” Yet part of her drive comes from fear: “She’d been praying, yes, but had she really been trusting that God would answer her prayers? Or were they merely an outlet for her anxiety?” This really causes me to pause, especially amidst the uncertainties of 2020. How often do I pray merely out of worry or fear, rather than with a grateful heart of trust and belief?

From the thorough description of nature and scenery to the interplay between characters, Love’s Mountain Quest is a novel that brings together romance, trauma, forgiveness, and sincere faith to demonstrate the power of a 1 Corinthians 13 love. After all, love truly is the greatest gift.

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

 

Blog Stops

Splashes of Joy, July 30

deb’s Book Review, July 30

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 31

Connect in Fiction, July 31

lakesidelivingsite, July 31

Emily Yager, August 1

Reviewingbooksplusmore, August 1

Simple Harvest Reads, August 1 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Inklings and notions, August 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 2

She Lives To Read, August 3

Genesis 5020, August 3

For Him and My Family, August 3

Texas Book-aholic, August 4

Read Review Rejoice, August 4

April Hayman, Author, August 4

Betti Mace, August 5

Blossoms and Blessings, August 5

Life of Literature, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Adventures of A Travelers Wife, August 6

Daysong Reflections, August 7

Labor Not in Vain, August 7

Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 7

Older & Smarter?, August 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 8

Mary Hake, August 8

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Just Your Average reviews, August 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 10

Blessed & Bookish, August 10

Hallie Reads, August 10

Wishful Endings, August 11

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 11

Lighthouse Academy, August 11 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Artistic Nobody, August 12 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Bizwings Blog, August 12

To Everything There Is A Season, August 12

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away the grand prize package of Love’s Mountain Quest, Hope’s Highest Mountain, and a bath bomb!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/fe39/love-s-mountain-quest-celebration-tour-giveaway

Dust Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Title: Dust

Authors: Kara Swanson

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: July 21, 2020

The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London…and a boy who shouldn’t exist. Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins. The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan—and herself.

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

About the Author

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As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent her childhood running barefoot through the lush jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the fantasy genre. The award-winning author of The Girl Who Could See, Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, connecting with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order. Kara chats about coffee, fairy tales and bookish things online (@karaswansonauthor) and at karaswanson.com.

 

More from Kara

I wrote Dust not just for those who grew up loving the original Peter Pan story — but especially for the children who were left behind. Those of us who never escaped through a window to a magical world, whose childhoods oftentimes felt a little shadowed.

Dust follows Peter Pan when he is cast out of Neverland, grounded in London. For the first time, this Peter has to start thinking about someone other than himself—and become a beacon to remind any Lost ones that there is still magic to be found.

Dust also follows a young woman named Claire who can create pixie dust, but is desperately afraid of herself because when her fears and insecurities leak out, her dust starts to burn. Claire has seen too many shadows to believe in fairytales anymore and is doing everything she can just to lock away the strange dust dripping from her fingertips. But when she meets Peter, he challenges everything she thought she knew.

I wrote Claire for those of us who may feel too weighted to even remember what it feels like to have hope lift your soul. Who can look at ourselves and all we see are our own shadows and shortcomings.

Throughout the course of the novel, Peter has to teach Claire how to see the spark of light inside herself that is far brighter than the darkness. As he helps this girl learn how to fly, Peter rediscovers what it is that truly makes him Peter Pan: the unquenchable childlike belief that there are weightless thoughts in all of us that can lift us out of the shadows.

This story is a love letter to anyone who has ever needed that reminder. We have value simply because we exist. We do not have to be weighed down by our shadows. There is still light that can lift our hearts if we have faith, trust…and a dash of the impossible.

 

My Review

“A fairy tale has not only become a nightmare but invaded my real life. And there’s no waking up from reality.”

Faith, trust, and pixie dust become the three elements that turn Claire Kenton’s world upside down—again—in Kara Swanson’s evocative novel, Dust, book one of the Heirs of Neverland. Since her twin brother Connor disappeared six years ago, Claire has eked out a hardscrabble existence, never fitting in thanks to an inexplicable skin condition that causes her body to secrete a golden dust-like substance and never giving up on her determination to find out what happened to Connor. Her search leads her to a fairy tale, but this one has a sinister plot and an elusive, if not impossible, happily-ever-after.

A stunning Peter Pan adaptation, Dust is at once nostalgic and unsettling, with the ideal balance of hope and distress. It is dark, but there are just enough cracks in the characters’ armor to allow some light to shine in, and it is a clean read. While not overtly spiritual, the author has adeptly added subtle parallels to the Christian life throughout the story, particularly during the latter half. These serve to inspire readers amidst the struggles that we all share, and will especially resonate with a young adult audience. As Tiger Lily tells Claire, “You have value simply because you exist. Because you are here.” Shortly thereafter, Claire acknowledges that “Lily was right. Hope is a little like pixie dust—it shines brightest in the darkness and makes the soul soar.” The Christian undertones here and at various other places in the story are a balm to the spirit, in opposition to the corrupt forces attempting to destroy Neverland.

Using a dual first-person narrative, Swanson truly breathes life into her characters. The chapters are titled with either the name Claire or Peter, and that character tells the story from their point of view, ultimately resulting in unreliable narrators, which makes the novel even more intriguing. Both characters are sympathetic, although readers are unsure whom to believe because no one is exactly who they claim to be. Swanson nails Claire’s and Peter’s very different personalities and dialects, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself, and perhaps best of all, she portrays the vulnerabilities of each of her characters and the reasons behind their choices and actions. Just as Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again, so should we live sacrificially and put others above ourselves. As Peter realizes, “[T]his caring for someone is not what I thought it would be. It’s not losing who I am. It’s finding my soul interwoven with another—and chasing the stars together. And that might just be the greatest adventure of them all.”

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

 

Blog Stops

Andrea Christenson, July 31

Rebecca Tews, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 1

For the Love of Literature, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Emily Yager, August 2

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 3

Blessed & Bookish, August 3

Through the Fire Blogs, August 4

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 4

Worthy2Read, August 5

Losing the Busyness, August 5

Adventures of A Travelers Wife, August 5

Remembrancy, August 6

Wishful Endings, August 6

Inklings and notions, August 7

April Hayman, Author, August 7

For Him and My Family, August 8

Musings of A Sassy Bookish Mama, August 8

Inside the Wong Mind, August 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 9

Nancy E Wood, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Mia Reads, August 10

Simple Harvest Reads, August 11 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Faery Tales Are Real, August 11

Artistic Nobody, August 12

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 12

Pause for Tales, August 12

Just the Write Escape, August 13

Blossoms and Blessings, August 13

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Kara is giving away the grand prize package of a Dust-themed bundle that includes a signed hardcover, bookmarks, character cards, Peter + Claire art print, and an exclusive Dust pin!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/fe3a/dust-celebration-tour

“An In-Between Place”: A Book Review of Shawn Smucker’s “These Nameless Things”

These Nameless Things

This is the most unique and unusual book that I have read in 2020, and perhaps in the past several years. It almost defies classification, and although I have a rather terrible memory, I know that this story is one that will remain with me, and one that I will be pondering for a long time to come. Since this is my first Shawn Smucker read, I don’t know if his other books are similar, but I intend to find out! These Nameless Things is a stunning amalgamation of allegory, dystopian, magical realism, and psychological horror. While reading, I found myself jotting down one quotation after another because the writing is so poetically profound. This is one of the few books that I plan to read again, likely more than once, and I anticipate discovering more details each time. As such, this novel would make an excellent choice for a book club or discussion group.

Smucker has taken an age-old question and written a compelling narrative around it, addressing it from the future-set prologue: “Have you ever, for a flash of time, understood the significance of being? The miracle of existing?” Perhaps the best part of the story is looking back from the last page and realizing how the many subtleties click into place. These Nameless Things brings to mind the essence of several famous stories, including Plato’s Cave and Dante’s Inferno. It has a Twilight-Zone ambiance and an intentional timelessness to it. While it has vague references to Scripture and is a clean read, I find that the story is more thematically spiritual, with overarching Christian symbolism that is for the most part subtle. By this I mean that believers will easily recognize it, and those not of the faith will most likely enjoy the story for its own sake because there is no overt proselytizing.

Along with the themes, some of the other aspects of this striking novel that appealed to me include the chapter titles and the anthropomorphism. I cannot remember the last adult fiction book I read that had chapter titles, and it was both refreshing and appreciated. It took me a while to understand what was happening in the novel, and for a while in the beginning I felt baffled, which is intentional on the author’s part and will make sense later on, and the titles helped to bring some comprehension amidst the surreal atmosphere. As an aside, the cover is beautifully done, depicting the haunting essence of the story, with the mountain looming in the background, an ominous juggernaut. These Nameless Things is ultimately a story about secrets, guilt, and forgiveness. Dan, the first-person narrator, relates that “The secrets piled up inside of me. They hibernated into cocoons, transforming into things that had lives of their own.” Later on, another character tells him that “In this place, our guilt consumes us…The only thing that can rescue anyone from this deep darkness is grace.” This is the redemptive message of These Nameless Things: hope in the power of confronting and confessing our guilt, and hope in the unmerited gift of grace.

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Click HERE to buy These Nameless Things

New Release! The Dark Shadows Book Review

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About the Book

The Dark Shadows

 

Book: The Dark Shadows

Author: Carol Alwood

Genre: Young adult romance with a supernatural twist

Release Date: July 26, 2020

First love can be dangerous.

Seventeen-year-old Violet Blackstone is in love, but everyone seems to think she’s making a cosmic mistake. “You don’t know him the way I do,” she tells her friends and family. But the moment she accepts a promise ring from Dakota, she must fight harder to protect her relationship.

Dakota’s ex-girlfriend returns to town, a coven member makes threats, and Owen Parker tries to prove Dakota isn’t what he seems. The closer Violet gets to Dakota, the more she sees his dark side and the terrifying Shadows she thought she’d never see again. Can she fight the forces seeking to destroy her relationship and life? Should she be with a Christian guy like Owen Parker instead? Violet leans on her faith to keep going, but the dangerous forces grow stronger every day.

 

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

 

About the Author

Carol Alwood

Author Carol Alwood grew up in the green haven of Bellingham, Washington, the setting of The Good Shadows series. Now living in Southern California, she misses the raindrops on maple leaves, so when she isn’t home for a visit she writes stories that take place in her hometown. Carol adores fiction and is the author of the novelette, Ghost of a Girl. She also wrote Focused Backstory: The Key to Writing Deep Character Journeys, a newly released writing-craft book. Connect with Carol on her website or on Facebook, and check out all of her books on Amazon.

 

My Review

It takes a talented author to pen a sequel that not only lives up to its predecessor’s potential, but even surpasses it. As impressed as I was with The Good Shadows, I have to say that this continuation of the story moved me even more, and I did not want to put it down until I had read the last page. The target audience may be young adults, but anyone from that age group onward will absolutely benefit from reading this series, particularly if they are being influenced by the New Age movement or know others who are. This is an excellent series to read and study with teens, and author Carol Alwood has provided a seven-week Bible study at the end of her story (as she does with The Good Shadows) that addresses the occult elements in the book, what the Bible says about them, and what God tells us our response should be according to His Word. I really love and appreciate this extra effort on her part because it can be difficult for people of all ages to understand why a certain practice or activity is wrong, particularly when it seems like the status quo.

As witchcraft and other occult practices become more widespread and normalized in contemporary society, books like The Good Shadows series shine the light of God’s truth on the darkness by exploring the inherent dangers that are always involved in dabbling with magick. Whereas book one introduces the characters and shows how no one is immune to the enemy’s attempts to influence us and turn us away from God, The Dark Shadows takes readers deeper, further demonstrating the consequences of inviting demonic influences into our lives. I appreciate that Alwood does not shy away from the fact that there are always negative consequences from meddling with the occult, and that she lists multiple Scripture references regarding this in the Bible study section. Given that the subject matter of this series could be considered controversial, Alwood makes her intentions and viewpoint clear in the foreword and again in the introduction to the Bible study.

The story itself has a dual first-person narration, told sometimes from Violet’s point of view and sometimes from Dakota’s. I found this very insightful in understanding both perspectives: that of someone who is a Christian and that of someone who has been raised as a Wiccan, because as a Christian myself, I admit to being largely in the dark about Wicca and related practices. While I certainly don’t advocate for Christians to spend time diving into the occult, as Alwood states, it is important not to pretend that it doesn’t exist, and to always be willing to be a witness for Christ without compromising our convictions. As Violet wisely observes regarding the darkness, “Just because it chose you doesn’t mean you have to choose it back. What if you were meant for something else?” Indeed, one of the main messages in The Dark Shadows is that “God is stronger,” and that is a fundamental truth no matter what we face, and a fact that we can hold on to even if we encounter dark shadows.

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

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥