December 31st: A New Year’s Message

At midnight we will cross over into 2017, and this year, I have a challenge for you. I’m asking you all to do one thing…remember

Remember the Heart of Christmas. Well, that’s easy enough, right? Not necessarily. I am not just talking about the tingly feeling that you get on Christmas morning, or the warm feeling you get when you hear your favorite holiday song. But to remember Jesus

This holiday season I was in the living room with my family, we were watching the news. On came a story, a little girl had been brutally murdered. How awful! But if that wasn’t bad enough, the suspects were the child’s mother and her boyfriend. How horrible is that, right? How can you be evil enough to beat your own child to death?

I sat there on the couch, and a thought came to my mind. There is so much tragedy in this world. It wasn’t a question, I wasn’t looking for an answer, but one came anyway. JESUS. The word was spoken into my brain the instant after my thought.

At first I was like “…yeah, I know. Jesus was born for us, that’s great,” But the more I thought about it, the more awed I was. In one word, all the tragedy and sadness this world as ever known and ever will know is answered. Jesus is big enough for all of it!

That experience has led to this post. As well as the knowledge in my heart that I don’t have to understand why the bad things are allowed to happen, I only have to realize that He is big enough for them. 

2017 is scary to a lot of people. Whether for political reasons, personal problems/goals, or simply fear of what it may bring on all fronts. At some point this year, every one of you will despair. But! In that moment, rememberJesus. He is enough.

So this is my challenge to you: when you are upset this upcoming year, try to remember that God loved us enough to send down His only Son. Every time you see a news story, Facebook post, or tweet that spells doom, all you have to do is remember Jesus.

2017 is going to be a year for tragedy. Just like every other year since Adam and Eve sinned, there will be death, strife, and sadness. But, it will also be a year for love, grace, miracles, redemption, hope, peace, and happiness

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33

Happy New Year 2017! 

Book Review: Kate’s Choice

 A rediscovered Louisa May Alcott literary treasure is set to follow in the footsteps of The Quiet Little Woman. From Little Women to The Inheritance, Louisa May Alcott has charmed generations of fans for more than 150 years. Her unrivaled legacy includes this rediscovered gem that begins… “According to her father’s wish, Kate was to live for a while with the families of each of her four uncles before she decided with which she would make her home. All were anxious to have her, one because of her money, another because her great-grandfather had been a lord, a third hoped to secure her hand for the son of a close friend, while the fourth and best family loved her for herself alone.

 


 

Overall Impression

What a lovely story! This is the sweetest short story I have ever read! Truly, Louisa May Alcott was and still is one of the finest author’s in assistance. Her stories are beautifully crafted. This is a wonderful Christmas story sure to delight you and yours! 

 

Characters

Kate is such a sweet girl. She has a sense of duty, a spirit of kindness, and loving heart. She is a beautiful character who is easy to like and sympathize with. 

Grandmother as well as all the servants are delightful. 

Grandmother’s children, while not ‘bad’ people have forgotten the woman who raised them. Kate is just what they need. 

 

Plot

The story is charming. It holds the heart and love that Little Women did. The story, though short, is powerful.

My heart quickly warmed to this story. I love reading it around Christmastime.

It’s a great read for both families and single readers!

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: None

Sex/Nudity: None

Book Review Bundle: Advent Adventures

1256825In this widely popular, exciting story for the advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.


 

Overall Impression

This was the first advent book  I had ever read with my family. And I must say, it was quite a nice experience. These books are an engaging way to celebrate Christmastime.

I will say that the writing in this series isn’t excellent, some if it isn’t even very good, but the stories themselves? Ah-mazing! So just know ahead of time, the writing is a bit weak, but the stories are good enough to balance it out! 

This series is incredibly unique. Each shows the same few weeks/months from a different character’s POV. Thus, you find yourself witnessing the same events but learning different details, seeing the same characters, but from a different view. One thing I love is that at the end of each book you find yourself at the same place…the manger. 

This is a fun series I would recommend to both families and single readers. Even if you aren’t interested in reading the advent part of it the stories are still fun to read around Christmastime!

 

Characters

Jotham is a brat in the beginning. But aren’t we all at some point? He doesn’t, however, stay in this part of his arc long. He is a good character, not my favorite, but still good. 

Nathan is one of my favorite characters in this series. He is just awesome. His quick responses and clever disguises are quite fun.

Decha of Meggido. Ek! This guy is evil! He is a great baddie, easy to hate, and appropriately evil.

It is neat to see some of the prominent people in the Nativity story in this book. Namely, Zachariah, Elizabeth, and baby John. Not to mention Jotham’s relation to Joseph! 

 

Plot

The story starts off with Jotham’s disappointment at not being allowed to go to Jerusalem with his brothers. Soon after he finds himself separated from his family and captured to be sold as a slave! From there all sorts of adventures ensue! 

 




7641046 In hard-to-put-down chapters, this engaging story takes readers through Advent to Christmas as they follow young Bartholomew on his adventures. You will accompany this delightful boy from the time Roman soldiers destroy his village and disperse his family, through his enslavement to a tyrannical master, his escape with Nathan, and his stay at the community of Qumran, to this reunion with his family and the wonderful climax in Bethlehem. Along the way he makes a new friend, Jotham, whom many readers grew to love in “Jotham’s Journey”.Following each chapter is a spiritual reflection that gives readers an opportunity to respond personally to a spiritual truth embedded in the story. Ideal for individual reading or family devotions.


Overall Impression

I have read 3/4 of the Advent Adventures, (still need to read Ishtar’s Odessy) and out of all of them Bartholomew’s passage is my absolute favorite!

Both Jotham and Tabitha’s stories were more centered around personal problems. Their own struggles, false beliefs. Bartholomew’s passage felt more…I don’t know, religiously centered. (Not that I think the other’s didn’t have great messages, but this was more Christmas-y to me.) 

Characters

Bartholomew was also a far sweeter person than either Tabitha or Jotham. I loved him soo much! He was much easier to sympathize with. His story kept me reading for hours. He (along with Nathan) was my favorite character of all. I love Bartholomew’s quick thinking and action. 

Yet again, I loved Nathan. He so kind, and epic. Just love this character.

The head priest guy at Qumran (can’t remember his name!) was so frustrating! I really hate people like him in books! But, he served his purpose. 

Plot

Great story! These stories have a general theme of the main characters trying to reconnect with their parents. I was rooting for Bartholomew all the way! 

The plot wasn’t quite as fast paced as Jotham’s Journey, but I didn’t mind this. I love getting to see this side of the story, the pieces that weren’t shown in Jotham’s Journey or  Tabitha’s Travels. 

Engaging and fun! 




8528987Following in the footsteps of the immensely popular Jotham’s Journey and Bartholomew’s Passage, this captivating story will take families through Advent to Christmas as they share in Tabitha’s adventures. Curious, competent, and courageous Tabitha is the daughter of a shepherd who is taking his family on caravan to his birthplace. Along the way, she meets and becomes friends with Jotham and Bartholomew, watches as Romans take her father prisoner, spends time with Zechariah and Elizabeth, helps Mary and Joseph just before Christ’s birth, and ends her travels at the stable in Bethlehem. With day-by-day readings, reflections for family devotions, and advice for making Christmas a meaningful season of worship, Tabitha’s Travels continues the beloved tradition of celebrating Advent with your family.


Overall Impression

This was my least favorite of all the stories. It was also the weakest. I read once, may read again in a couple years, but nowhere near as good as the other two books. 

Characters

I really didn’t like Tabitha. She felt like a totally different character than the Tabitha in Jotham’s Journey. That Tabitha had felt feminine, sweet, and kindhearted. Tabitha in this book didn’t match that character in the least. 

She had this annoyance, jealously thing going about what boys got to do that she didn’t. Some of her feelings/beliefs didn’t even seem reasonable for this time. I am so tired of the tom-boy thing! A girl can be adventurous, smart, and capable without wishing she was a boy! Look, I get that there was a lot of stuff back then that wasn’t fair. I understand! But Tabitha was a downright feminist.

Nathan, from what I remember, was good in this book. (Surprise, surprise!)

I liked Zachariah and Elizabeth in this book. 

Plot

The plot in this one wasn’t as exciting as either of the other books. There was adventure and the plot was engaging enough I kept reading it. 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Frightening Scenes/Gore: This series has some violence. People have their fingers, tips of their noses, etc. cut off. (Not as bad as it sounds.) It shows the danger and evilness of the time. I would recommend parents looking through before reading to kids under 9. 

Sex/Nudity: None

While I did not enjoy “Tabitha’s Travels” much, I would still recommend this series. Fun plots, characters, and settings. Even if you don’t care to read “Tabitha’s Travels”, “Jotham’s Journey” and “Bartholomew’s Passage” are still winners! 

Book Review: The Princess Adelina

4918709From eighth-century Germany comes the stirring tale of Princess Adelina, a virtuous young woman determined to fulfill God’s call on her life. The daughter of an Iona missionary to the German people, Adelina’s world is turned upside-down when a young pagan ruler, Hedan of Thurginia, falls in love with her and takes her as his bride. As a wedding gift, Hedan promises Adelina that he will allow Christians within Thuringia to worship and evangelize freely, spreading the Gospel among his people. But Hedan’s mother, Geila, hates both Adelina and Christianity, stopping at nothing to subvert her daughter-in-law and stamp out the fledgling German church. Based on a true story, this Esther-like tale recounts the deeds of courageous Adelina as she endures persecution, slander, exile, and the impending destruction of her people. Through it all, will Adelina remain faithful to her Heavenly King? Or will she fall away and leave the Culdee church to its fate? Find out in The Princess Adelina.


 

Overall Impression

This book has, since the first time I read it, been one of my favorites. The culture is amazing, the characters wonderful and the story itself? The story is a powerful tale of faith, love, and courage. And the most amazing part about it is that it really happened. This story truly shows the power of God’s hand and the beauty of his plan. I would recommend this to everyone. 

 

Characters

Adelina is truly a heroine. She is one of my favorite characters of all time. In this sweet maiden you find a heart true to the Lord. She is kind, godly, and faithful to her husband even when it’s not easy. This is one of my favorite things about her. Hedan, for a time, is TERRIBLE. But even when another man who is kind and loving comes into Adelina’s life she remains true to her husband. 

Hedan. For quite awhile this man is very angering. He only “loves” Adelina for her beauty, and is quick to believe false testimony against her.He is an evil man. That’s just the truth. But wait it out, eventually, he becomes a wonderful man. He is a great character. 

Gelia, ugh! The woman is shiver-worthy! She is the perfect antagonist! So much evil in one woman. I hate her through and through. 

Five stars for the background characters! I adore Regiswald, Pillung and the others! 

 

Plot

This story is very much like the story of Esther. A Christian girl marries a heathen to protect her people. Not only does she saves them, but ultimately, she saves many more people. 

Be prepared for somewhat difficult writing, it is filled with “thee” and “thou” and many complicated names. This, however, doesn’t detract from the story. Rather it adds to the character and culture of the book. 

I love the rise and fall of this book. It begins a bit slowly, but it quickly gains momentum. It’s one I can’t stop reading. I love the climax and the ending. This book is gold

 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Gore/Frightening Scenes: There is some violence in this book and (if I remember right) some mild gore. Nothing horrible, most readers should be fine. There are some frightening scenes, at one point a woman is going to be sacrificed to Woden. She, however, is saved and unharmed. A woman is beaten, this is non-descriptive. A man is somewhat crushed by a tree. There is a battle. A character is threatened with going through fire trials. (Overall, readers 9-10 on up should be fine with this.) 

Sex/Nudity: A woman has her chest bared when she is about to be sacrificed. Nothing descriptive. 

November 30th: A Message For NaNo’ers

And so it ends…for the past month thousands of writers have been feverishly working. They have typed their fingers to the bone, missed meals, and even now many are still writing their hearts out. Such is NaNoWriMo. 

Here is a message for all you NaNo’ers, every word you have written is victory! Every step of progress in your novel, short story, or novella is amazing! As are you! Take this moment…savor it, feel it, remember it. Today you are a champion, a writing warrior, you are victorious

Next time you are discouraged in your writing, remember today. Remember that you did it. You wrote thousands of words in 30 days! Guys! That is amazing! 

So remember…YOU are a writer. You are capable of great things, and not just in the month of November. Take this day with you as a memento of victory, a reminder of your determination. You got this! Write you hearts out! 

Black Friday Book Sales

Hi guys! I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving! I know I certainly did, despite a cold I had a great time. Instead of a book review, this week I am advertising Black Friday Book Sales! I hope you all find a great read for a great price, Happy Holidays!

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Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my “things I’m thankful for” list every year. It’s hard to choose favorites, but I went ahead and picked five books I read in 2016 and am thankful for.

  • Samara’s Peril, by : Jaye L. Knight
  • Reversal Zone, by : J. Grace Pennington
  • Prophet, by : R. J. Larson
  • Dare, by :Tricia Mingerink
  • The Widow of Larkspur Inn, by : Lawana Blackwell

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here’s one more thing to be grateful for. Books on sale! In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 25-28. There’s literally something for everyone.

Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.

Don’t know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!

What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.Also, some of the authors this year chose to not sell their paperbacks directly through the site. Those books are also marked “Sold Out” but if you click them open, you’ll find a link to the site where they are on sale and a discount code for you to use at check out.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Book Review: The Widow of Larkspur Inn

When Life Seemed Its Worst, Gresham Awaited1123434

Julia Hollis’ opulent life in Victorian London crashes to pieces when her husband passes away. Worse, she is told by his bankers that he gambled away their fortune. Now, the family’s hope rests on The Larkspur, an old abandoned coaching inn in the quaint village of Gresham.

Driven by dread and her desire to provide for her children, Julia decides to turn the dilapidated inn into a lodging house. But can she–who was accustomed to servants attending to every need–do what needs to be done and cope when boarders begin arriving? And then an eligible new vicar moves into town…

 


 

Overall Impression

If you are looking for a sweet and wholesome Historical Romance, The Widow of Larkspur Inn  is for you. I had seen this quite awhile ago and was instantly attracted to the cover. As I skimming through my Kindle library, searching desperately for a new book to read and this one popped up. I started in with high expectations that were not disappointed. 

The overall feeling to this book was warm and homey. Gresham was delightfully portrayed, I could see the very streets with a wonderful clarity as I read the book. I love it when books have strong settings, ones where you can see the story playing out in your mind. So was The Widow of Larkspur Lane.  

The Widow of Larkspur Lane is a great novel for single readers and families alike. I would recommend it strongly to reader who are looking for, or fine with a somewhat slower story.

Characters

I really enjoyed all the characters in this book. Julia, in particular, was refreshing. In lots of books the heroines bounce from one end of the spectrum to the other. Either they are perfect or they can’t boil water without messing it up. Julia was a breath of fresh air! She was totally out of her element in Gresham but that didn’t stop her. She worked hard, and learned a lot. She had children to provide for and nothing was getting in her way. Julia had an air of elegance and graciousness to her that was lovely. She was very kind, very tactful, and properly discreet. I loved this character! 

Julia’s children, Philip, Aleda, and Grace were well done.Philip tried hard to be the man about the house and was very sweet. Aleda, to be honest, wasn’t really my favorite. She was rather sharp and annoying. Grace was a dear! She was so sweet definitely my favorite of the two girls. 

Fiona O’Shea, Julia’s maid/housekeeper/best friend. Fiona was so sweet. Her Irish brogue, not to mention her pluck, spiced the book up nicely. She was so dutiful and God-honoring without being annoyingly perfect. I loved her character and I was so glad she got a happy ending! 

There were a lot of lodgers, all of whom were unique personalities. But as there are so many I will only touch on my favorite, Mr. Clay. Ambrose Clay was such a dear man. He was always kind and considerate even through his depression. He was one of my very favorite characters. 

The other supporting main and side characters were good. They added to the story beautifully. My hat’s off to  Mrs. Blackwell! Her characters were superb. 

Plot

The plot of The Widow of Larkspur Inn was very enjoyable. The story was definitely a slower pace than most books I read, this wasn’t bad however.

My only critiques on the story line and pace was the end. This, I felt, was not wholly satisfying. Julia’s romance literally took place in like the last 3% of the book. Now to be honest, Fiona’s romance was more important to me than Julia’s, but I would have preferred more time with Julia’s romance. I don’t even think the way that her romance was laid out was bad, just too short. The ending was abbreviated in my opinion, I would have been happy for another chapter or two.  

Other than the above mentioned I felt that the plot and story were organized well. It flowed well and had good passage of time. The characters had time to progress in their character arcs. This book was relaxing and fun to read! 

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: None

Violence/Gore/Frightening Scenes: None

Sex/Nudity: There is one comment that is suggestive of immoral behavior. Not a big deal for older readers, and families could easily skip. 

Book Review: Truth by Molly Evangeline

12121575Trapped in a village no one is allowed to leave, Makilien yearns for the answers to her questions about life and the world outside the village walls. Yet no one but her closest friend seems to understand or share her desire. Despite her family’s fears and warnings of the consequences, she is determined to find answers.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger, and the knowledge he possesses, drives Makilien to drastic action. Confronted with a world she knows nothing about, she must choose carefully who to trust as both good and evil lurk in all places. As a battle looms, one in which will be determined the fate of all, she must decide whether to believe in the One who is truth or fall prey to the lies of the enemy.


 

Overall Impression

Truth is one of my all-time favorite fantasy reads. It is, actually,the book that first inspired me towards writing. It was so different from anything I had ever read before. Entering the world of Dolennar was, and still is a treat.

Truth is exactly what I look for in Christian Fantasy. A good, magic free story, deep and lovable characters, and a wonderfully constructed world. This book’s theme is a mix of a coming-of-age story and an epic quest for truth. Truth is a fun read for single readers and families both.

Characters

The large cast of characters in Truth are done wonderfully.

Makilien, the main character, is a nice mix of femininity  and warrior. She does what needs to be done without becoming a callused shell of a female. She is sweet and vulnerable, but very skilled. Makilien is a great role model. She wants to do the right thing and tries hard to do it. She, though somewhat rebellious in the beginning of the book, is not the sarcastic, hard-as-nails female character we have come to expect nowadays.

The supporting characters in this book are done very nicely as well. Each one is different from the next. Sometimes large casts of characters can detract from a book’s story. Either they divert too much attention from the main characters, or the large number background makes it impossible to give each an individual personality. This is not the case in Truth. The background characters have definable personalities and add flavor to the story rather than detracting from the book.

The baddies in this book are pretty good.And although they can be a slight bit overdone, overall they are good story catalysts.

Plot

The plot of Truth is an epic journey. The story-line, overall, is unique and exciting.And though there are some clichés, I didn’t mind them.

The story enters upon Makilien at the end of her patience with her stagnant village. A stranger arrives in Reylaun, her village, and  a series of event transpires that causes Makilien to leave her village. After that she visits several countries and makes many new friends.

Truth is a fascinating story, with characters you love to root for.

Warnings: 

Language/Profanity: None.

Violence/Gore/Frightening Scenes: This book has some frightening creatures and scenes. Goblins and orc-like creatures called Shaikes. There is some torture, nothing horrible, but for younger readers it may not be advisable. This book has several skirmishes and battles in this book and thus there is the stuff you might expect from that. The descriptions of battle, war, and death are apt while still being tactful. A main character is stabbed and nearly dies. This book is probably best for children 10-12 (depending on the child and parents preferences) on up.

Sex/Nudity: None.

 

 

Book Review: Call of the Wild by Jack London

8146139Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepherd), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit…

First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

 


“Old longings nomadic leap,

Chafing at custom’s chain;

Again from its brumal sleep

Wakens the ferine strain.”

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, is a novella about a domesticated dog’s journey to becoming a wild wolf-like animal. The story, though in some parts sad, was magnificent. It features Buck, a half St. Bernard half Scotch shepherd dog. It begins by showing the life that Buck lives in his Californian home; there he is a favorite among the pets, a well-treated and well-respected dog. This seemingly perfect life is ended when one of the servants leads Buck away from the property and sells him. While at first his abduction and the hard times that follow seem a sad reversal of fortunes, in truth they are a stroke of luck. For in the harsh and cold north, Buck lives a more vibrant life than ever before.

The Klondike gold rush has struck and sled-dogs are in want. Though not the typical husky, Buck is a large, strong, and thickly coated dog. For these qualities he is soon bought. Surprisingly, the harsh northern environment suits him well; better even, than his lazy life in sun-kissed California did.  And though the work is arduous and tiring, it brings Buck satisfaction and pride to his life. He works and lives in a truer sense than ever before.

During his journey Buck meets John Thornton, a man who saves Buck from death. Thornton’s actions light in Buck a raw, passionate, and wild love for the man. Buck trusts in Thornton un-doubting and unquestioningly, committing himself to protecting his friend.  This relationship is unlike any Buck has ever had with a human. It burns with a passion new to him; a passion that lasts even after Thornton’s death.

Throughout the book, the longing to surrender to the call of the wild grows in Buck’s heart. By the end, the only reason he has stayed so long is because of John Thornton. But when Thornton is killed, Buck’s last tie to humanity is cut. He sheds the last bit of his domestication and embraces the fierce life of the Canadian wilds. From then on, Buck follows the call of the wild, free, and contented.

He walked to the centre of the open space and listened. It was the call, the many-noted call, sounding more luringly and compellingly than ever before. And as never before, he was ready to obey.”-The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Warnings:

Language/Profanity: This book contains several h*ll, d*mn, and oh my g*d’s.

Violence/Gore/Frightening Scenes: This book is violent and somewhat descriptive. A man chokes a dog several times. A man hits a dog with a club. A dog is attacked and ripped apart. Dog’s engage in violent battles. A couple of animals have their back  or neck broken. Multiple animals have flesh torn, bones broken, and eyeballs are lost. Multiple dogs  A dog rips and bites multiple people’s throats. For children and teens who are sensitive to such things I wouldn’t recommend this book.

Sex/Nudity: Except for perhaps a brief mention of animals mating there is none.