Tag Archives: young adult

Catching Hope Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Catching Hope

Author: Kathy Cassel

Genre: Young Adult, action/suspense

Release date: February 1, 2021

Catching Hope—a pursuit fraught with danger.

Newly adopted Lexi Michaels is taking her first real vacation as she, twin brother Levi, adoptive brother Chad, and new cousin Jen head to Haiti where their dad, a pediatrician, will be volunteering in an island clinic. But who is the man who displays such hatred for the Michaels when they arrive at their resort? Is an attempted burglary as random as it appears? Will Jen ever accept the newcomers to the family? When the four teens set out to explore Haiti’s sights and history on their own, an unexpected encounter and natural disaster plunge them into adventure and danger. With their very survival at stake, can the four teens work together or will Lexi’s dream of a “forever family” end in tragedy?

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Kathy Cassel lives in the Florida panhandle with her husband and four of their eight children, five of whom are adopted. She is a motorcycle rider, scuba diver, and loves spending time with her family. Her debut novel, Freerunner, was published by Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. in 2019.

More from Kathy

My Experience with Haiti

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Prior to the 2010 catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused immense damage to the country of Haiti, many people would not have been able to tell you that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola just a two hour flight from Miami.

I knew where it was because our family had adopted a child from Haiti in 1997. At the time the earthquake took place, my husband and I were in the process of adopting twins from a different orphanage in Port au Prince Haiti. It had been over three years and our adoption was not yet complete. During those three years I visited the twins at the orphanage five times. Other family members went with me on some of those trips, and at one point, all of our children still living at home went to visit the orphanage.

This was an eye opening experience for my family. In fact, I volunteered us to do the daily wash. That meant hand washing clothes and sheets for 135 orphans using large metal tubs and harsh soap, then rinsing the clothes in other tubs before hand wringing them and hanging them on clotheslines. Once home, my children no longer complained about unloading the dryer!

Cooking was done in large pots over open fires and mainly consisted of rice and beans, or red sauce over rice. The cooks originally prepared the food in a wooden shack, but more than once one of them would get so hot she’d pass out, so an outdoor area was set up for food preparation.

After the earthquake, there was a mountain of paperwork to be done to get refugee status for children in the orphanages who had families waiting for them. Finally the children were brought to the United States, although some of the orphans went to other countries too, to be united with their forever families. Sadly, many were held in the airport for days before being released. For our family, the long wait was over January 25, 2010. Now our family is complete with three birth children and five adopted children, three of whom are from Haiti.

Some of the places mentioned in the book resemble real places in Haiti, although they have been fictionalized. I hope you will not only read Catching Hope, but will also take time to learn more about the country of Haiti.

Author Interview

When/how did you decide to become a writer?

I always enjoyed writing but never thought it could be a career, so I went into teaching. But moving around with my Air Force husband meant trying to recertify in different states, so instead of teaching, I parented and worked on my writing. I had several devotion books published before feeling a passion to write issue-based teen fiction.

Which author has most influenced your own writing?

James Scott Bell. I reread Write Your Novel from the Middle and Plot and Structure quite often, especially when starting a new project.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I want to understand my characters, their hobbies, interests and so on. This had led me on some interesting adventures such as whitewater rafting, certifying in scuba, and getting my motorcycle certification. I never know where my writing will lead me.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I have to grab a little time here and there to write. But if I need to get a lot done and have time free, I head to the library where there are no distractions.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A pantser with a few key points in mind. I have a vague idea of where the story is going, but write it as I go. I really need to learn how to create an outline.

Do you have a favorite or special place to write?

I have a home office I’ve fixed up, but more often I simply set on the living room couch with my computer.

Is there a particular literary period that you’re drawn to (Regency, Victorian, Romantic, Modernism, etc.)? Why?

There are some really amazing authors who write historical fiction in an authentic way. I’m not one of them. I want to reach today’s teens by tackling the issues they face each day in order to provide hope and healing.

Describe your book in five words.

Despair gives way to hope.

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

Lexi. She so badly wants to fit in with her new family, yet she’s afraid to hope for that coveted happily ever after.

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

No. I just want them to identify with the main character, be riveted by the story, and find a sense of hope for themselves.

What are your hobbies?

Scuba diving, photography, traveling with my family and finding new places to visits and things to try.

Who was/is your biggest inspiration?

Don’t really know.

What is your favorite book?

No one book, but Mary Higgins Clark is my favorite author. I like her style and sense of story. I like her Under Suspicion series.

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

I drive a lot, so I listen to books much more than read them.

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

I really like the key verse for this book, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NLT. My other favorite is Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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

That’s a tough question. I know I would not want to live in one of Mary Higgins Clark (favorite author) books for fear I’d be the victim!!

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

Mary Higgins Clark. Unfortunately she passed away, so that won’t happen.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Study your craft. Invest in the James Scott Bell books I mentioned earlier or other writing books that appeal to you. Read the kind of books you want to write—but don’t copy them. Find your own voice.

Blog Stops

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, February 25

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 27

For the Love of Literature, February 28 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, March 1

Inklings and notions, March 2

For Him and My Family, March 3

Wishful Endings, March 4 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, March 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 5

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 6

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 8

deb’s Book Review, March 9

Simple Harvest Reads, March 10 (Author Interview)

Lots of Helpers, March 10

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Books-A-Million 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/1089e/catching-hope-celebration-tour-giveaway

Gen SeXYZ Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Gen SeXZY

Author: Jeff Grenell

Genre: RELIGION / Christian Ministry/Youth

Release date: January 19, 2021

“Corrupt the young. Get them away from religion. Encourage their interest in sex.…”—Vladimir Lenin, 1921, How to Destroy the West

Going through each of the prophetic statements made by Lenin in 1921 shows why America is where it is today. Only 4 percent of Gen Z think about life through a biblical lens. To them, sexuality is more important than friends, family, or their faith.

Jeff Grenell’s goal in Gen SeXYZ: Love, Sexuality & Youth is to reach youth, youth leaders, and the church with a message that kicks the devil to the curb and restores sexuality to its God-given origins.

When the church failed to respond to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the present one of the 21st century, its role in society crumbled. The media stopped censoring, the government redefined marriage, schools taught progressive sex education, and the list of genders grew. We’ve experienced generational loss because we’ve gotten further away from the source of our original knowledge of sexuality: the Bible.

Jeff points out that our understanding of sexuality must be anchored to the fact that God is love and the devil stole sex. He provides direct quotations from teenagers and leaders, practical knowledge, and tools to launch a spiritual revolution of love and truth that will grow the church to reach younger generations and combat the loveless, godless sexuality ethic in our culture that’s misleading them.

 
Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

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Jeff Grenell is a nationally recognized youth ministry veteran who inspires youth leaders across denominations.

After four decades in youth leadership, Jeff and his late wife, Jane, founded ythology to both reach and teach youth and train youth leaders to prepare the next generations to lead in the church and the world.
He served as a youth pastor at churches in Michigan and Ohio, taught at North Central University’s Church Leadership School, and has traveled around the world to teach youth ministry and development at large churches, conventions, universities, and leadership training conferences.

Jeff attended Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, where he received his B.A. in Communications and Theology and his M.A. in Organizational Leadership.
He is the older brother of Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany. The father of three adult children, Jeff makes his home in Minneapolis.

 

More from Jeff

Corrupt the young. Check. Gen Z has a 4 percent biblical worldview. Get them away from religion. Check. Only 25 percent of Gen Z sees attending church as “very important.” Encourage their interest in sex. Check. Cause the breakdown of the old moral virtues like honesty, sobriety, and self-restraint. Check.

We could go on through each of these prophetic statements from Lenin in 1921 and see why America is where it is today.

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Just look at the title of the book. This project is a compilation of the sexuality handoff from Generation X (the adult parents of young people today), to Generation Y (the Millennials), and finally to Generation Z (teenagers and early twenty-somethings). We can learn a lot from this generational handoff—mostly that it has failed to pass the Christian faith along to the following generation.

The narrative throughout this book is a clear picture of how we have gotten here as a nation: by abandoning God as the center of our lives in the past few generations. And while we will do some commentary about Generation X and their influence upon our society, most of this study is about the Generation Y/Millennial and the Generation Z young people in America.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 6

Fiction Book Lover, February 7 (Spotlight)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 7

Texas Book-aholic, February 8

A Baker’s Perspective, February 9 (Spotlight)

Inklings and notions, February 10

For the Love of Literature, February 11 (Spotlight)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, February 12

Through the Fire Blogs, February 13 (Spotlight)

For Him and My Family, February 14

Blossoms and Blessings, February 15 (Spotlight)

Artistic Nobody, February 15 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

Splashes of Joy, February 17 (Spotlight)

deb’s Book Review, February 18

Simple Harvest Reads, February 19 (Spotlight)

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, Jeff is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and copy of the book!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/10710/gen-sexyz-celebration-tour-giveaway

Nomad Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Nomad

Author: RJ Anderson

Genre: Christian YA, Fairytale, Fantasy

Cast into exile, she must return to free her people.

Banished from her underground home by Betony, the queen of the Cornish piskeys, young Ivy sets out to forge a new life for herself in the world above. But a deadly threat lingers in the mine, and Ivy cannot bear to see her people suffer while Betony refuses to believe. Somehow she must convince the queen to let them go.

Her mission only becomes more complicated when Ivy starts to dream of the ancient battles between her ancestors and the spriggan folk. Who is the strange boy in her visions? Could her glimpses of his past help Ivy find a new home for her fellow piskeys?

To find the answers, Ivy must outfly vicious predators, outwit cunning enemies, and overcome her own greatest fears. And when evil threatens the people Ivy loves best, it will take all her courage, faith, and determination to save them.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Born in Uganda to missionary parents, R. J. (Rebecca Joan) Anderson is a women’s Bible teacher, a wife and mother of three, and a bestselling fantasy author for older children and teens. Her debut novel Knife has sold more than 120,000 copies worldwide, while her other books have been shortlisted for the Nebula Award, the Christy Award, and the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Science Fiction. Rebecca lives with her family in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

More from R.J. Anderson

Fear of change. Fear of an unknown future. Fear of failure, loss or regret. What fears keep you from doing what you know you should do, or being the person you ought to be?

In Nomad, the second book of the Flight and Flame trilogy, my heroine Ivy is forced to make a new life for herself after being exiled by Betony, her people’s proud and stubborn queen. Though all Ivy ever wanted was to help her people, Betony refuses to believe that the piskeys of the Delve are in danger — because to do so would mean not only questioning her own beliefs and prejudices, it would force her people to change their entire way of life.

But though Ivy is brave enough to stand up for the truth and even adapt to the strange new world she’s thrust into, she has her own fears to overcome in the course of this story. Fear of vulnerability, of unworthiness, and of making mistakes hold Ivy back as she struggles to find a way to save her friends and family. She’s only one young woman, with few allies and very little power. How can she make a difference?

Just as Moses begged God not to send him to confront Pharaoh and free the Israelites because he didn’t think he was eloquent or impressive enough, Ivy finds it hard to believe her fellow piskeys will ever listen to or believe her. The hard lesson she has to learn is that courage doesn’t come from being tough and self-confident, it comes from caring about something bigger than yourself. Not until the people she loves most are in danger does Ivy cast off her fears and take the bold steps needed to save them — but by then it may be too late.

It’s easy to get trapped by our own uncertainties and insecurities, and let fear rule our actions. Only when we take our eyes off our own frailty and act out of faith in God and love for others can we become all we were meant and made to be… and the longer we delay, the more others may suffer for it. Can we pray together for strength to start doing what’s right in our homes, our neighbourhoods and our churches, no matter how unqualified we feel to do it?

Nomad is the second step of Ivy’s journey to save her fellow piskeys and find her true calling. If you’ve enjoyed Swift and this novel, you can look forward to the final book Torch in February 2021!

— R.J. Anderson

My Review

All my life I’ve been a nomad, or a fugitive, or both. It’s time to stop hiding, and face up to what I’ve done.” He took her hands in his. “You taught me that.

An imaginative, outstanding sequel to Swift (see my review HERE), R.J. Anderson’s The Flight and Flame Trilogy continues with Nomad. Because it picks up where book one leaves off, this series does need to be read in order for maximum enjoyment. This story, too, is very well suited for both adults and young adults, containing enough adventure and societal relations for an older audience while also harkening to the angst of those just entering adulthood. While its predecessor did not involve a romantic thread, Nomad does, and while I will be the first to admit that I am not much of a romance fan, I have to commend Anderson for carrying it out so well in this story. She crafts it into the heart of the tale without it becoming the main focus or a distraction, which takes finesse.

The few issues that I had with Swift were resolved with Nomad, and in fact make sense in retrospect. Most of the characters in the first book were unattractively self-centered, albeit not necessarily maliciously so, and as a result sympathizing with them felt like a bit of a chore and I felt little to no connection with any of them. However, this is the beauty of trilogies: not only observing but walking alongside the characters as they grow and transform—in this case, sometimes literally! “All this time, Ivy had been obsessed with what she wanted. But she hadn’t gained the wings she longed for until she stopped fretting about how much they meant to her, and started thinking about what they could mean to someone else.

The characters are my favorite part of this series; the fantasy element adds to their already high level of unpredictability, and I love being surprised throughout the narrative. New connections come to light, with their own set of consequences, as Ivy makes it her mission to somehow save the Delve from the deadly hazard that the current Joan, her aunt Betony, dismisses. Despite her status as an exile, Ivy determines to save her people or die trying. Strange dreams about the piskeys and spriggans of yore puzzle her as she works to create a plan and learns more about herself in the process. With themes such as sacrificial love, forgiveness, and mercy, the Christian aspect of this series is subtle but recognizable. And mercifully, there is not a cliffhanger at the end of this story—enough to leave readers anticipating the rest of the journey, but no lack of resolution to the plot of this segment.

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 ♥♥♥♥♥

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, R.J. is giving away the grand prize package of a three bookmarks, two blank-inside notecards with envelopes featuring artwork by Kirk DouPonce and Rory Kurtz, a postcard with character art by Nicole Deal, a sample of custom book-related tea, and a copy of SWIFT or NOMAD!!

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/10534/nomad-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

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 ♥♥♥♥♥

The Seer Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Seer

Author: Erin R Howard

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: February 27, 2018

Viktor has one order to follow:
Kill the girl before her eyes are opened.

For thousands of years, his job has been to torment and kill seers: humans that have the gift of seeing the spiritual realm. So it was no surprise when his brother Matthias was once again sent to stop him and protect the girl.

Now the last of the seers’ bloodline hangs in the balance, as the estranged demon and angel brothers are forced to work together to save a girl’s life and escape to the sanctuary city of Bethesda.

 

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

 

About the Author

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Erin R. Howard is a Developmental Editor, YA Urban Fantasy Author of The Kalila Chronicles, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. When she’s not writing, Erin enjoys spending time with her family, fueling her craft addictions, and teaching writing workshops. Erin is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the KenTen Writers Group. She resides in Western Kentucky with her husband and three children.

 

 

 

More from Erin

If I’ve learned anything these past few months, it’s that I’m still not a fan of change. It’s always been hard for me to transition from what I know, to the unknown, and then find a new normal. Let’s be honest. Stepping out of our comfort zone isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to challenge and stretch our faith. And as a result of stepping out, we hope that we will learn and grow.

I love messy characters, because life is messy, and it doesn’t always work out the way we expect. It’s full of changes and situations. The characters in my series, The Kalila Chronicles, are no different. Each character has unique challenges. For some, they didn’t ask for change, and for others, they are stepping out on their own.

Here’s a little bit more about The Seer. The first book in The Kalila Chronicles:

For thousands of years, Viktor has carried out his orders from Lucifer faithfully. But after a recent demotion in rank, he has grown weary of the bloodshed. His latest order is to kill Thea, a seventeen-year-old Seer before her gift manifests, and she can see into the spiritual realm. However, his estranged angel brother, Matthias, intervenes on his plans. Seeing this as his way out, Viktor proposes that in exchange for leaving Thea alive, Matthias must escort him to the sanctuary city of Bethesda. Although, getting through the portal isn’t as easy as Viktor thought, and now he has to work with Matthias to protect the very girl he was ordered to kill.

 

Author Interview

 

When/how did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It came from a love of reading and grew as I got older. Through middle and high school I was writing short stories and poetry. When I was in my twenties I started writing novels, but never finished them. It wasn’t until I switched genres from chick lit and fantasy that I started getting really serious about completing a novel.

 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I wish I had a set schedule, but I tend to write whenever there’s free time, which is never at the same time each day. I have three kids, and I’m re-opening my retail store since my youngest son finished  Leukemia treatments about a year ago. Now, I will have an office to go to every day, so that will help. When I’m home, I can get distracted. LOL!

 

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

Most people are surprised when I say that Viktor is my favorite character because he’s a demon. But he’s got all of these conflicting emotions waging war within himself. I think Viktor’s character shows that it’s never too late to try to change.

 

What are your hobbies?

I love to read and play games. My family enjoys playing board games and computer games. I’m also addicted to crafting. I teach craft classes, like crochet, string art, and door hangers.

 

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

I love holding a book in my hands. But I also appreciate ebooks and audiobooks. Ebooks are great for taking on traveling, and I love to listen to audiobooks while I’m driving or cleaning the house.

 

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, July 21

For the Love of Literature, July 22 (Author Interview)

Rebecca Tews, July 22

Through the Fire Blogs, July 23

Inklings and notions, July 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 25

Just the Write Escape, July 26

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 27

Artistic Nobody, July 28

deb’s Book Review, July 28

For Him and My Family, July 29

Wishful Endings, July 30 (Author Interview)

April Hayman, Author, July 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 31

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 1

Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 2

Emily Yager, August 3

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Erin is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Seer, a Behind the Story Booklet of The Seer, and a $25 Amazon 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/fe2f/the-seer-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Something I Am Not Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Something I am Not

Author: Cher Gatto

Genre: YA Fiction

Release Date: January 25, 2019

A father who never loved him…
A woman who stole his worth…
And a brother he couldn’t protect.
Where does someone run in the face of his deepest shame?
 
Billy McQueen works hard to keep his life together … and concealed. At seventeen, he dreams of an escape from the barroom, his father’s manipulation, and the advances of his father’s girlfriend. However, on his eighteenth birthday, Billy is introduced to a younger brother he never knew he had. An eight-year-old who is barely capable of navigating the corrupt world of his father’s boxing club.
 
Now, in order to secure his freedom, Billy must fight for it. But to save his little brother who is next in line for the slave trade … he must die for it.
 
SOMETHING I AM NOT, formerly titled Billy, won the ACFW Genesis Award for the Contemporary category. It was published by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas.

 

Click HERE to get your copy!

 

 

About the Author

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Cher Gatto is a native to NJ and lives with her husband (pastor) and five teenagers. Their family spent 10 years in Mexico developing a horse ranch for kids (see more about the ranch below) and founded an addictions ministry (R-HUB) back in the states. Cher has a Master’s in Psychology and serves as president of the ACFW NY/NJ chapter. Cher’s debut novel won the Genesis Award in 2016 and the Christian Indie Award for Best YA in 2020. Her new novel, Regent, is scheduled to release this fall, and she has begun a sequel to Something I Am Not.
 

 

 

More from Cher

I never meant to be a writer. It’s something that happened to me when I wasn’t looking. Our family (my husband and I and our five children) lived in Mexico developing a horse ranch for kids, at-risk youth, and broken families in impoverished villages surrounding the ranch. Our co-workers ran a women’s shelter in the city, and we used the horses to love on the girls there. I say “women’s” shelter, but most were children (13, 14, 15 years old) trying to raise babies of their own. Many of the babies a result of abuse, rape, or incest. Some had been drawn out of trafficking. Their stories tragic and incomprehensible.

About a year after we got on the field, the shelter closed down for a dangerous breach in security. All the girls were sent back to where they came from. We could do nothing. Nothing at all, but watch them go. A few months later, I saw one of the girls at church escorted by her “father.” When our eyes met, the vacancy in hers shattered my heart. I will never forget it. And one day, while I was cleaning a horse corral, I had Billy’s story. Not the whole thing, but a piece of it.

I hid myself away whenever I could for months and wrote furiously. I had no idea how the story would unfold, or even what themes would develop. But three hundred and fifty pages later, I was done. I guess it was all in there, needing to come out. I thought I was writing a fiction novel, but Billy’s journey gave me the key to process and heal from things I saw around me but couldn’t change. Things that broke my heart.

I needed a different ending—a redemption. Billy’s story became an allegory on life. He lives under the wrong “father,” as an orphan, believing the fear and shame that those lies wield. But in finding the right Father, he finds where he truly belong. Billy’s story is about coming home. It’s his story, and it’s ours.

Something I Am Not was published by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. It won the 2016 Genesis Award for the contemporary category and 2020 Christian Indie Award for best Young Adult fiction.

 

Author Interview

 

When/how did you decide to become a writer?

The truth is I never meant to be a writer. It’s something that happened to me when I wasn’t looking. Our family (myself, husband and 5 kids) lived in Mexico for ten years developing a horse ranch for kids, at-risk youth, and broken families. Our co-workers ran a women’s shelter, and we used the horses to love on the women. I say women, but most were children (13, 14, 15 years old) trying to raise babies of their own. Many of the babies a result of abuse, rape, or incest. Some had been drawn out of trafficking. Their stories tragic and incomprehensible.

About a year after we got on the field, the shelter closed down for a dangerous breach in security. All the girls were sent back to where they came from. We could do nothing. Nothing at all, but watch them go. A few months later, I saw one of the girls at church escorted by her “father.” When our eyes met, the vacancy in hers shattered my heart. I will never forget it. Then one day, while I was cleaning a horse corral, I had Billy’s story. Not the whole thing, but a piece of it. Just one distinct scene, actually.

I hid myself away whenever I could for months and wrote furiously. I had no idea how the story would unfold, or even what themes would develop. In truth, I had no idea it connected to my life at all. Three hundred and fifty pages later, I was done. And I guess it was all in there, needing to come out. I realized later that Billy’s journey had given me the key to process and heal from things I saw around me but couldn’t change. Things that broke my heart.

I needed a different ending—a redemption story.

I thought I was done after that. One novel in me and that was it. But one turned into the next, and now I’m hooked.


Which author has most influenced your own writing?

I would say it was the classics in general and Charles Dickens specifically. I loved his writing and absorbed all of his books at a formative time when my own thoughts and writings were most influenced. I miss the rich vocabulary found in these earlier works that’s missing from our modern writing.


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

With the inspiration behind Billy’s story, and journeying with him through the depths of depravity and the miracle of redemption, he is by far the character who speaks most deeply to my heart. His message is for all of us—that there is no place too far down where God cannot reach. It is the truth of what happens when brokenness and God’s grace collide, and we find our way home.


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

I think Alice in Wonderland! At least, that’s the first to come to mind. I like pushing the limits of my imagination and living outside of the box. Except for the Queen who would want my head, it would be a fantastic journey!


What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would say, hang on and keep writing. The road to publication can be a slow, unglamorous process. It can be grueling, and the learning curve is steep. It’s those who stick with it day in and day out who reach that goal. But even more importantly, our writing can be a vulnerable process and can take captive our identity like nothing else. We expose our insides to the world, and that can be scary. As authors, we experience good days and bad days. Approval and rejection. All of us. We can tend to give too much power to a stranger’s opinion, so we need to be grounded in something more. Something greater that doesn’t bounce our value around with each ebb and flow. It makes a huge difference when I start my day with that deeper understanding of who I am.

 

Blog Stops

By The Book, July 4 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 5

Book of Ruth Ann, July 6

Artistic Nobody, July 7 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, July 8

Wishful Endings, July 9 (Author Interview)

Rebecca Tews, July 9

Inklings and notions, July 10

For Him and My Family, July 11

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

deb’s Book Review, July 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 14

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 15 (Author Interview)

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, July 16

Just the Write Escape, July 17

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cher 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/fd98/something-i-am-not-celebration-tour-giveaway