Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

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If you’ve been following me here or on Facebook, you likely have heard about the new series I’m working on. A Season Passed contains 4 novels. Each of them is inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies.
First up is my Alice in Wonderland inspired novel titled If Only It Were Yesterday.

If Only It Were Yesterday is a story of good intentions, misunderstandings, history, life lessons, romance, conflict, time travel, Victorian lifestyle, tea, and just a little bit of that quirkiness that you’d expect to find in a Wonderland inspired novel.
I’m about 2/3rd of the way finished with the first draft, but already I can’t wait to hand this story over to you. But today I have the honor of showing you the official cover! I hope you love it as much as I do. Seeing the cover makes me even more anxious to bring this story to you. Lord willing, it’ll be a Fall 2018 release. It may sound like a long wait but it’s just around the corner if you’re the one responsible for its every word. ūüėČ

Final Liz

In other news: I’m currently working on creating two more covers for what I expect to be the next two releases following If Only It Were Yesterday. Book 2 of A Season Passed (which I’ll be sharing all the juicy details VERY soon) and my secret project are currently on my desk and awaiting their covers.
What happened to the rest of the Ancient ¬†Words Series? As you may know, there are two more novels to complete the series, but I find myself in a natural break and have decided to follow God’s leading to work on these other three books before finishing off Ancient Words. But don’t worry. If you’ve loved my previous work, you’re going to love what I have in store for you next. Here’s to our next adventure together!!

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

167A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?

England, 1851:¬†When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend‚ÄĒfor if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds.

But is she walking into danger?¬†It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests‚ÄĒher former fianc√©, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he‚Äôs given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it‚ÄĒand is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they‚Äôve been striving for isn‚Äôt what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

What I Loved: You’re in for a Christmas treat with this one! Griep has a charming, yet quirky, story to offer for your Christmas reading. I really enjoyed the insight into the Victorian Christmas traditions. There were several that I had never heard of. Griep’s guide to the Christmas traditions in the back came in handy.
There was an intriguing mystery here alongside the romance that kept me engaged. There’s also a timeless lesson on the power of kindness and on not seeking revenge.
This is something of a shorter novel, so it’ll fit right in with your busy holiday season.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving 12 days at Bleakly Manor 5 stars and recommend it to fans of Christian Historical Fiction or Christian Christmas stories.

~I received a copy from the author. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Audio Book Review: Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance

170They never should have met. But they might be made for each other.

Feya Broon, a Scottish half Gypsy, knows what it is to go hungry. Trapped in the Edinburgh tenements with a father lost to his past and only the faded memory of her mother’s faith, Feya is desperate to provide for her siblings. When an ill-conceived plan leads to thievery, she finds herself in the last place she’d ever want to be–captured by a palace guard. But there’s something about this man that tears at every preconceived notion she’s even had about the haughty English.

Alasdair Cairncross never dreamed he’d be forced to transport a Gypsy woman halfway across the wilds of Scotland. The timing is disastrous, considering his fianc√©e’s imminent arrival and his father’s political goals. Not only that, but the fiery young woman threatens to lay bare secrets Alasdair would rather keep hidden. And yet the farther they travel together, the less concerned he finds himself with duty–both to the crown and to the plans his family has for him.

As their walls begin to crumble, Feya and Alasdair must fight to survive a decades-old feud, a Highland kidnapping, and the awakening of their own hearts.

My Thoughts on the Story: I was hooked from the moment it started. This one felt so outside of the box in terms of standard Christian Fiction. And I mean that as a great compliment! I loved it!! The characters were properly developed, even down to the villain. The setting was rich and easy to envision. Vallance stepped out and gave her hero a unique ability or disability, depending on your viewpoint. This helped to set him, and the entire novel, further apart from the norm.
The one thing I would caution is that while Vallance didn’t go too far in terms of passion for a Christian Fiction novel, she went plenty far enough. Within the Veil would be more appropriate for a mature audience.

My Thoughts on the Audio Version: Everyone’s idea of an enjoyable reading voice will be different but this narrator was among my favorites. I liked her overall speaking voice and appreciated how she was able to slip into thicker Scottish accents when needed.
However, it takes a little time to adjust to her speech and be able to follow the story. I had to find some quiet time when I could focus on the story more than anything else.
One thing I would have liked to have seen differently is a longer pause when switching between view points.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Within the Veil 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, a clean Gypsy story, or a Scottish setting.

~ I received a copy from the author. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

And if you don’t listen to audio books, fear not! Within the Veil is available in paperback and e-book form! Enjoy!

*Note for those following the blog: I accidentally released this review before it was finished. My apologies!!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: With You Always by Jody Hedlund

160A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.¬†

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Thoughts: I struggled a bit in the beginning with this one, but once I was hooked, I was really hooked and couldn’t put it down! I always appreciate historical fiction for the insights into lesser known areas of history, and Hedlund is a master at her research. The setting comes to life with a hard look at the plight of the poor and the destruction of the gangs of New York City. A new-to-me lesson was that they sent workers out west as well as young orphans. I enjoyed seeing more on the development of a new town.
The spiritual lessons were just as strongly woven into the story as the history lessons were. We’re treated to themes such as fighting fair, finding strength in humility, not judging those beneath you, and trusting God for your needs and at to be with you in the dark times.
There were some great twist and turns along the way, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next with this family.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving With You Always 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical¬†Christian Fiction or stories about the Orphan train.

~I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: One Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

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Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fianc√©, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

What I Loved: From the moment I picked up the book I was hooked! I don’t know if Johnson was inspired by the movie Sweet Home Alabama, but I couldn’t help but pick up on some subtle similarities in the first few chapters. And I loved every minute of it! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a remake, but if you’re familiar with the movie you’ll likely enjoy watching a similar situation unfold.
Johnson kept my attention until the very end. I sympathized with Natalie in a way that I rarely do in a book. She made me laugh, she made me cry. And no heroine is complete without a lovable hero. Johnson did a great job crafting characters that felt and acted like real people. The supporting cast is equally charming.
I’m going to miss visiting PEI with Johnson and the crew, but I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented author!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving On Love’s Gentle Shore 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Contemporary Fiction.

~I received a copy from Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Bible Review: NKJV Cultural Background Study Bible

163CONTEXT CHANGES EVERYTHING

You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture.

That’s what the NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world.

The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world.

The NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers. 

Features:

  • The full text of the NKJV
  • Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written
  • Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages
  • Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features
  • Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics
  • 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world
  • Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color
  • Words of Jesus in red

Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps

Basics: As mentioned in their description, this is a fully loaded study Bible. The colored pages and illustrations were a treat. However I found the pages grainy, and as odd as it sounds, that really bugged me.

My Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this study Bible. While there are certainly lots of helpful information here, I also found areas that I felt were needless or unbalanced. I understand the purpose in studying the cultural backdrop is to understand more about the setting in which the Bible was written. Some of the areas I read over seemed to focus more, and needlessly so, on pagan gods to the point where I began to feel like this study Bible loses sight of the fact that God is doing something different.
In my honest opinion, I feel like this study Bible can be a helpful tool for those who are coming for a specific reason, for pastors, and even Biblical fiction authors. There really is a LOT of information here that will help you fill in the cultural setting. But I also feel that there is too much information into things that we don’t need to know. I think for most Bible students, there are better commentaries out there that will teach you enough of the cultural backdrop to understand what God meant when He said something that this particular Bible could be either harmful or just unnecessary.
Here’s an example: (Commentary note associated with Exodus 13:21 “The Lord went…in a pillar of cloud.”) And I quote, “There are similarities between the poetic language and specific imagery given here and a vanguard motif in various ancient Near Eastern texts. In the Assyrian Tukulti-Ninurta Epic, Assur leads the vanguard with devouring flame. The gods Enlil and Adad . . .” And they continue in this manner for 3 whole paragraphs, listing a total of 9 pagan gods and how they were associated with light or how they led their people before finally closing with, “This powerful imagery assured the Israelites of God’s guidance and presence, as it also served to exalt Yahweh.” My complaint here, as with several other passages that I had read, was that they spent more time discussing what the pagans believed about their gods (recap, gods that are not even real and couldn’t have possibly done these things) than they discussed what the ONE TRUE GOD was ACTUALLY doing here in this text.
And again, I read their commentary on Joseph’s dreams. But the authors went further than simply explaining the significance of dreams in that day by giving a full explanation of a story about a pagan king and the dream his false god gave him. Again, and again, I keep coming to the conclusion that while cultral study is a commendable thing, I think the authors of this particular study have the wrong focus.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 2 stars and advising you to proceed with caution. I don’t believe this is all bad, but I don’t believe it’s all good, either. I don’t recommend it for all Christians equally.

~I received a copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Christy by Catherine Marshall

164In the year 1912, nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston leaves home to teach school in the Smoky Mountains — and comes to know and love the resilient people of the region, with their fierce pride, their dark superstitions, their terrible poverty, and their yearning for beauty and truth. But her faith will be severely challenged by trial and tragedy, by the needs and unique strengths of two remarkable young men, and by a heart torn between true love and unwavering devotion.

Having been written in the 1960s and inspired by the author’s mother, Christy is thought to be classic. Leastwise, it feels that way. I want to share a beloved favorite with you. I feel like it’s a forgotten gem. I fell in love with Christy when I was a young girl and Kellie Martin was on tv. I held a copy of the novel on my shelf for YEARS and have just now read it. I also had the pleasure of listening to the bulk of the story in audio. So today, I’m bringing to you my honest opinion of the book, the tv series, and the audio version.

What I Loved: I remember watching the show and falling in love with the story. Reading the book was just as enchanting! The setting is so rich. The accents, the visuals. The harsh realities of the setting. Marshall had done an excellent job pulling the reader in and planting them in the Appalachian mountains.
I enjoyed watching Christy grow and rise up to the challenges around her. More than once, she sat down to seriously question God and her immature faith. I found it refreshing and was pleasantly surprised by how deep she went. These were factors that the show didn’t cover to such a degree.

What I Didn’t Like: There were times when the characters’ theology would feel so far south that I wondered if Marshall would ever bring them back to truth again. I was relieved when she did come through and balance out the false religion with Biblical truth.
However, there was a scene where the character seems to be in between life and death. I know a lot of Christian media focus on such things these days. I’m not going to argue in a review. My aim is only to point out something that I didn’t agree with for those who might be turned off by it. I wasn’t quite on board with this section of the story, but in light of the greater truths she brought to pass, I feel that I can overlook the small factor we disagreed on in the end. At the end of the day, this wasn’t the focal point of the story, so I felt it was easier to brush aside. But each reader will have to judge for themselves.

Warning:¬† Catherine Marshall doesn’t write in an overly graphic way. However, she does remark on some tough realities. This book would be best for a more mature and less sensitive audience. As a sensitive reader, I was able to stomach it. I think what made this easier to handle was that the squeamish¬†areas weren’t focal points of the entire story, so they¬†weren’t dwelt on for very long. But reader be warned, there were some shocking and disheartening moments. If you need more details, feel free to email me!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Christy 4.5 stars are recommending it to mature readers who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or for those looking for a newer classic.

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Audio¬†Review: Having loved the tv show and Kellie Martin since I was a child, I enjoyed listening to the audio book read by Kellie Martin. There was something special about being able to hear the accents of the characters as well as hearing the story told from the actress herself. It’s one that I plan to add to my collection.
*Note there are more than one audio version available, so be sure to double check on the narrator before buying if you’re looking for this particular version.

 

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Tv Series Review: For those who have watched this when it was on tv, I don’t have to convince you. But for the rest of you: If you’re a fan of When Calls the Heart, then you’ll enjoy this series. Featuring a young teacher way out of her element, Christy is a ¬†must watch! The setting is drastically different so it’s not a “copycat” series to When Calls the Heart. And if we were to talk copycats, Christy is older. ūüėČ
Sadly, the show was only on for one season. This is a major upset for all fans. If you’re considering giving this series a try, at least you can walk in with your eyes open. They did come back to bring an ending to things with a Return to Cutter Gap mini series…or maybe it was a movie. I’m not too sure. Kellie Martin and at least one of the other main actors didn’t return for it. I’m sure it’s still a satisfying ending, but I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t watched it yet.¬†Even with the hiccup of not finishing with some of the same actors, I would still highly recommend this to anyone looking for period drama, family drama, or Christian drama.
I’ve found reasonably priced copies of Christy on all the Chrisitan media sites in the past.
And if you’re concerned about the warning I left on the novel, rest assured that the tv show doesn’t take things quite so far but keeps it family safe for as much as I can remember. I don’t recall any foul language or intimate scenes or inappropriately dressed actresses. Because of the reality of the setting, you will see things such as moonshine, but it’s always held in a proper light and the consequences of it are clear.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

162Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune ‚Äď retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected‚ÄĒTexas.¬†

In this modern spin on the Austen classic,¬†Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

My Thoughts: From the very first page there was a strong Sense and Sensibility vibe. Lodge had done an excellent job retelling this classic story in a whole new way. And I especially liked the way Lodge was able to bring a deeper focus on the relationship between the sisters. This was something that I felt like was missing more from the classic version.
There were times when the characters were a bit too perceptive for my liking but other than that it was a delightful read from start to finish.
One of the highlights were all the recipes Lodge added into the story. There are a couple that I’m looking forward to trying out.
Jane of Austin isn’t a Christian novel but it is a clean one. The difference is that the characters never focused their lives on God or sought Him out when in trouble. However, there wasn’t anything damaging to the Christian faith either. I feel comfortable recommending it to my friends.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Jane of Austin 5 stars and I recommend it to those who enjoy clean contemporary fiction or Jane Austen retellings.

~I received a copy from Blogging for Books through Net Galley. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Fly Away by Lynn Austin

150Wilhelmina Brewster has been a college music professor for 41 years, devoting her life to her career and never marrying. Now, after her forced retirement at age 65, she is mourning her loss and searching for something to fill the empty hours. Widower Mike Dolan is a pilot and World War II veteran who has always lived life to the fullest. When medical tests confirm that his cancer has returned, he makes plans to take a final flight in his airplane rather than become a burden to his family. Wilhelmina accidentally learns of Mike’s final plans, and when she discovers that he isn’t a believer, she knows it’s her Christian duty to talk with him about her faith. But although she has been a lifelong Christian, she feels totally inadequate for the task of witnessing to an unbeliever.
Mike and Wilhelmina are two very different people‚ÄĒone figuring out how to live, the other how to die. Yet they will find themselves journeying together as they search for answers to life, loss and faith in God.

What I Loved: This isn’t your typical Austin novel chocked full of historical facts and a before-this-time setting. However, Fly Away contained the same heart-felt story that we’d come to expect from Austin. It wasn’t a fast paced tale, but something deep and enriching.
When two unlikely friends meet up, it opens the door for a lot of self-exploring. What is the purpose of your life? What are you REALLY treasuring? How do you witness to the lost? Are you even supposed to witness at all?
Austin meets the readers where the general audience will be able to relate and she tackles each question beautifully. The characters are well developed and help to enhance the message behind the plot.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Fly Away 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction.

~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in About the Book

Celebrating New Release: Out of the Ashes

3Sometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

Eeeek!! It’s here!! It’s finally here!!! I’ll be celebrating my new release over the next three weeks with a Facebook party, Giveaway, Ebook Sale, and Blog Tour. Keep scrolling to catch all the details and links!

You can grab your copy of Out of the Ashes from Amazon in ebook or paperback.

Ashes reader praise

Find out what others are saying by visiting the blog tour.

July 31: Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley : Book Review

Aug. 1: Krista Noorman @ by Krista : Book Review

Aug. 2: Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings : Book Review

Aug. 4: Alicia Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny : Book Review and Interview

Aug. 7: Dana Kamstra @ D.L. Kamstra  : Book Review

Aug. 9: Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books : Book Review

Aug. 11: Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise : Book Review

Aug. 14: Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic  : Book Review

Aug. 15: Virginia Winfield @  Bigreadersite : Book Review

Aug. 16: Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae : Spotlight

Aug. 18: Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations  : Book Review and Interview

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If you were waiting for a sale to pick up the series, here’s your chance!!

Freebie and Sale!! Pick up your copies this week!
Where Can I Flee 
In the Shadow of Thy Wings
Out of the Ashes

 

Party banner

I’m hosting a release party on Facebook!! The party is open for 3 days so you’ll have more opportunities to stop by. Hope to see you there!!

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Giveaway in progress!! Enter to win all three books in paperback. 
*U.S. residents only