Saturday, November 27, 2021

Epic Book Launch: Silencing the Siren by Denise L. Barela

About the Book:

Book: Silencing the Siren
Author: Denise L. Barela
Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale
Release date: January 4, 2022

Andrew Grayson thought he had everything… until he met her.

The indulged son of wealthy parents, Andrew has always gotten whatever he wanted almost before he knew he wanted it—clothes, gadgets… even a car! What more could a young man desire?

Enter Annabel Thompson. Freakshow mermaid extraordinaire… in a wheelchair!

Of course, her beauty attracts him. How could it not? Add to that a kind heart, and Andrew can’t help but fall for her.

Annabel’s connection with the freakshow repels his parents and their society friends. They want him to sever all ties with her and his new friends. Oh, and marry the “right” girl with the “right connections.” But he won’t do it. He’ll defy them and marry his little mermaid.

When Annabel turns up missing, declared dead, things don’t add up, Andrew begins asking some difficult questions, the most important being, “What happened to the little mermaid of the Coney Island freak show?”

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. Silencing the Siren offers a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch the story unfold.


Book Excerpt:

He would find the answer, although he had no clue where to start. He needed to know what led to her death. Needed to know who killed her and why they picked her as their victim. Did her kind heart make her an easy target? Could it be because of him?

He would solve this… well, mystery! And he’d make sure the criminals were held responsible. Make sure they were brought to justice. It was the least he could do for her. Maybe it would serve as a way to distract himself from the pain of her loss and the void she left behind in his heart.

His Annabel didn’t deserve this fate. She deserved the world and everything in it, but he couldn’t give it to her now. Anger clashed and rolled with the grief inside him. A war of fire and ice with no clear winner.

He would solve this mystery and would find her killer.

Even if it was the last thing he’d ever do.

They, whoever “they” were, wouldn’t get away with it.

***

Andrew tiptoed quietly through the house. He wasn’t sure if his parents were home, and he’d rather avoid any confrontation with them today.


About the Author:


Denise Barela’s passion for fiction, her faith, and general creativity define her life. In all things, she strives to glorify God, though especially in and through her writing. She has spent the past six years working for a publicity company and five years working as the head editor for a publishing company. With an MFA in Creative Writing and a Professional Writing certificate, Denise enjoys using her education and work experiences to help authors achieve their own writing dreams. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…

Book Review: Scripture Up Affirmation Journal by Dennis Schleicher

About the Journal:

"When we use the power of words to fuel our life's purpose, we can easily develop more positive, constructive habits and accomplish many of our goals (if not all of them)." -Dennis Schleicher, Author

Why another journal? Why scripture affirmations? 

Not only will the Scripture UP Affirmation Journal help you develop the righteous habit of regularly reading the scriptures, but it will also strengthen your testimony and faith in Jesus Christ. 

We often say, "I should read my scriptures every day" when a more effective way of developing the lifelong habit of consistently studying them would be to say, "I will read my scriptures every day." 

We invite you to record your impressions, thoughts, and feelings as you study the sacred words of God. Develop the righteous, positive habit of studying them every day and making them a permanent part of your life. It's definitely a goal worth pursuing!
My Thoughts:

I have long appreciated the power of affirmations. Repeating truth to myself literally changed my life when I was in my early twenties. I eagerly ordered the Scripture Up: Affirmation Journal by Dennis Schleicher with the hope of forming new affirmations for my current season of life. In this journal, the author, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, pairs both Bible Verses and Articles of Faith from his church tradition with affirmations.

What I liked:

  • Each affirmation has a Scripture (or Article of Faith) and 3.5 pages of lined space to write. All this space allows abundant room to work out thoughts, doubts, and beliefs regarding the affirmation. It’s an invitation to take time and think deeply.
  • There are six sections of topical affirmations: Fear, Hope, Healing, Courage, Strength, and Love. At the end of each section is a page for reflecting on the previous affirmations and recording ideas learned.

What Could Have Been Improved:
  • In a substantial portion of the affirmations, I failed to see how the Scripture or faith statement matched with the affirmation.
  • Certain Bible verses repeated through the journal and I’d prefer a more diverse selection of Scriptures to coordinate with the affirmations.

Final Thoughts: Although the Scripture Up: Affirmation Journal by Dennis Schleicher is not quite ecumenical (I had expected it to be completely ecumenical), I still appreciated the thoughts presented and the large journaling space for responses.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Book Spotlight: Truth Unshaken by Kristina Hall

About the Book:

Title: Truth Unshaken

Series: The Moretti Trilogy, #3

Author: Kristina Hall

Genre: Christian historical suspense

Publication date: 11/11/2021

Whom can they trust?

After losing her parents, Carla Belardi discovers her life was a lie. Now, she must flee unless she wants her parents’ fate to be her own.

Frank Ashton lost the use of his legs—and his desire to live—in the Great War. When Carla is brought to his home injured, he gains a friend. But despite the attraction growing between them, he can never burden her with a cripple.

Alberto Moretti thought he could do good working for the Prohibition Unit—until he finds out his new employer isn’t much better than the criminals he once served. Now, he has to fight both sides—the Prohibition Unit and the crooked Belardis.

When danger surrounds Carla, Frank, and Alberto from too many angles, will they put their trust in the Truth that will never be shaken?

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/truth-unshaken


Excerpt:

Carla Belardi ran her thumb along the novel’s spine. If she kept her movements slow and steady, the numbness would hold her fast. The images would stay buried.

The two caskets at the front of the church. The line of black-clad mourners who’d filed past her.

She drew her hand from the book and clenched her black skirt. Nothing would bring Mamma and Papà back. Just as nothing had stopped that motorcar from hitting their Packard and pushing it into the river.

She closed her gritty eyes.

“Carla?” Mrs. Pasetti’s soft voice echoed through the library.

She opened her eyes and set the book on the little table beside her chair. The aging housekeeper stood in the doorway, hands knotted at her waist, eyes rimmed in red.

Evening shadows draped the library, dulled the oak shelves, and washed out the velvet curtains. Cold slipped in, undeterred by the flames flickering in the fireplace.

“Yes?” She lowered her head. The compassion on Mrs. Pasetti’s round face would shatter the last of her composure.

“Dario and Emilio are here to see you. I know it’s not the best timing, but they insist it’s important.”

They’d been at the funeral. Strangers more than cousins.

She dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. “It’s all right. I’ll see them.”

“I’ll have them come in.” Mrs. Pasetti slipped from the doorway.

The grandfather clock beside the door ticked away the seconds. Footsteps creaked down the hall.

She lifted her head.

Emilio and Dario filed into the library and stopped a couple of yards from the wingback chair she occupied.

She motioned to the sofa pressed against the only wall not occupied by bookshelves. “Take a seat if you’d like.” She swallowed to clear the reediness from her voice. “And thank you … thank you for coming this morning.”

Dario lowered himself to the sofa, while Emilio remained standing. Emilio crossed his arms and pinned her with a steady stare.

She clasped her hands in her lap. Why had they come?

He took a slow step forward, his bulky shoulders stretching his coat. “I’m aware your parents kept much from you.”

He’d come to tell sordid lies? “They kept nothing from me.”

Emilio shook his head. “Then tell me what you know of them, Gian in particular. What kind of work did he do?”

Nausea stirred her stomach. Why would they question Papà’s work?

“He managed a restaurant. You know that.”

Emilio glanced at Dario. “Sure, we know that. Same as we know he operated eleven speakeasies throughout the city.”

Speakeasies? Papà had never touched a drop of liquor. “You’re … lying.” He had to be.

Emilio’s lips twisted. “He ran his restaurant all right. During the day. But at night, he ran a club out of the basement. Real nice. And he had ten others like it.”

Trembling swept through her. “You’re lying. Don’t—don’t speak of him that way.” Not Papà. Not the man who’d swept her into his arms every morning. Not the man who’d sat with her in this very library reading his Bible. Not the man who’d smiled that indulging grin at her and Mamma when they’d brought home boxes of new dresses.

Emilio gestured around the room. “You think he made enough running that restaurant to put you and your mother up in this big house? You think he was raking in enough to afford four new Packards?”

The room descended into swirling reds and browns. “He … was doing … well.”

“How’d he explain taking a bullet to the shoulder? He say it was a robbery?”

But it had been a robbery. He wouldn’t have lied to her. He wouldn’t have.

“Here. Look at this. Tell me he’s as innocent as you think.”

Paper pressed against her fingers, and she blinked to clear her vision. Papà stood against a concrete wall, face blank, his name written in white above his head. A mugshot.

“What’d he tell you about that time he was gone unexpectedly for a week? That he had to take a business trip?” He motioned to the picture. “Well, that’s where he was.”

Jail. Papà had been in jail. The picture fell from her limp fingers and fluttered to the floor.

“He lied to you. They both lied to you. Face the truth.”

The truth?

All the times he’d come home in the early hours of the morning, sneaking through the halls as if she didn’t have ears. All the times he and Mamma had argued behind closed doors. All the times Mamma had ushered her from the room when family had come to dinner. His injury. The mugshot.

Her throat closed, and black edged the library. “No. Please, no.”

Emilio laughed, the sound muffled. “You’re part of our family. And as part of that family, you will be loyal.”

Loyal. Family.

“You will be loyal unless you want to end up like them.”

The wreck hadn’t been—

She lurched from the chair and hurled herself at Emilio. Slammed her fists against his chest, into his stomach.

He’d killed them. Murdered them.

Iron fingers clamped around her wrists, threw her back. His palm stung her cheek, snapped her head to the side.

The seat of the chair drove into her calves, and she collapsed into it. Black fell over her.

And cold metal pressed to her forehead.

“You’re wondering why?” Emilio gave a sharp laugh. “Gian decided he’d rather give his loyalty to the government. He was feeding them information for close to a year before we found out.” His voice dropped low. “But not before they arrested four of our men and killed three others.”

The gun pressed harder to her forehead, and she jammed her shoulders against the back of the chair.

“Unless you want to end up like them, you will be loyal. Your grandfather will take you in, give you everything you ever wanted.”

Mamma and Papà murdered. Papà a government agent. Her life nothing but a lie.

The gun dug into her skin. “Do we have your loyalty, or do you want to die like your parents? And don’t think you can run to the cops. We’ve got our sources there too.”

“You have … my loyalty.” A lie. Just as her life was nothing but a lie.

About the Author:


Kristina Hall is a sinner saved by grace who seeks to glorify God with her words. She is a homeschool graduate and holds a degree in accounting. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, arm wrestling, lifting weights, and playing the violin. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Book Review: Of Daggers and Deception by A. L. Sowards

About the Book:

After years as a soldier and mercenary, Rasheed has retired from battle to run the bathhouse in Thebes with his friends Gillen and Eudocia. The simple life suits them, so when Venetian strangers come to town looking to hire the renowned crew, their answer is no. But when one of his friends is abducted, Rasheed is left with no choice but to take up his weapons and join forces with the Venetians, including the beautiful and clever Cecilia, whose betrothed has also been seized by the unknown foe.

As the reluctant allies face ambushes and the looming threat of capture, Rasheed and Cecilia forge a surprising connection. But as the party races to rescue their friends, Rasheed discovers that nothing is as it seems. As his trust in Cecilia begins to waver, he realizes that in the end, they will both be forced to make a choice between love and duty.


My Thoughts:

Of Daggers and Deception by A. L. Sowards continues the story of Rasheed, Gil, and Eudocia that began approximately eleven years earlier in Of Sword and Shadow. I recommend reading these novels in order. Although Of Daggers and Deception gives backstory, reading them sequentially establishes the characters and vividly depicts their prior actions.

Rasheed serves as the narrator in Of Daggers and Deception and the story hooked my attention early on. I stayed engaged as the plot clipped along brimming with danger, suspense, and mystery. Although Rasheed seemed super-human in some of the battles, he made an admirable male lead for other reasons: his wisdom, the way he valued contributions by women, his pursuit and protection of Cecilia, his bravery, and his devotion to the Lord.

Of Daggers and Deception by A. L. Sowards felt balanced – not too heavy, not too light. A recurring theme of God as a loving God rather than a dictator doling out commands and consequences added spiritual depth to the novel that I appreciated. At times, I found it challenging to keep all the warring factions and their motives straight, but the story earned four stars from me and has a permanent home on my bookshelf beside Of Sword and Shadow.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Horses, Hounds, & Happily Ever After

On Tour with Prism Book Tours
 

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Horses, Hounds & Happily Ever After

Coming May 2022 . . .

Horses, Hounds & Happily Ever After
By Various Authors

Historical Romance, Romantic Comedy
May 3, 2022 by Carpe Vitam Press

Escape with over 20 Historical Romance stories with all the feels!

✔ Horses, animals and love, oh my!
✔ Happily ever afters

This sweet rom-com collection contains over 20 original historical romance novellas from best-selling authors.

All proceeds benefit animal rescue All Seated In A Barn

Don’t miss this limited edition box set, featuring some of your favorite authors, is both heartwarming and inspiring.

(Affiliate links included.)
 

The Contributing Authors




Tour Giveaway



Four winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift card

Ends November 20, 2021

 
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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Book Spotlight: Jack and the Fantastical Circus by Ariel and Michael Tyson



BOOK DETAILS:


Title: Jack and the Fantastical Circus
Release Date: November 23, 2021
Publisher: Good & True Media
ISBN: 9781737079668
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 32
Price: $24.95
Website: https://goodandtruemedia.com/jack-and-the-fantastical-circus-ariel-michael-tyson


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Virtue? What’s that? And where can I find it?

On a trip to see his granddad, ten year old Jack falls asleep while his dad explains virtue. Suddenly he wakes up on a Circus Train! Led through each fantastical train car by the Ringleader, Reno, Jack comes face to face with a huge lion, flying flame torches, a silly juggler, daring tightrope walker and other memorable circus performers who have spent years cultivating a particular virtue for their acts! Jack and the Fantastical Circus shows children that virtue takes practice and dedication to grow them for our different walks of life.


MORE ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this dreamscape picture book, Jack and the Fantastical Circus centers around a young boy named Jack who finds himself on a Circus Train. As he makes his way through the train cars, he is introduced to new circus performers. Each performer shares with Jack their own lesson in virtue. Thus, showing children that virtue takes practice and dedication to grow.
Co-author Ariel explains, “Discovering virtue is so worth it and can be guided by mentors in our lives.” Author Michael shares, “It’s like a muscle. You have to keep practicing to help it grow strong. We want to teach kids this by showing them the distinct characters of the book and how they relate to areas where they may want to grow in their own lives.”
Jack and the Fantastical Circus will encourage children to explore their imaginations, learn critical lessons, and strive to grow in virtue. It will also hopefully inspire meaningful conversations between parents and children to discuss the importance of virtue.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



Ariel and Michael Tyson have been married for 13 years. United by a shared passion for helping others, they have been serving their community since 2005. Along this journey, they have gained over 600,000 followers on their Instagram page @arielctyson, and 1 million followers on their TikTok @arielctyson and have a YouTube channel named The Tysons. Ariel has a B.S. degree from Liberty University with an M.A. degree from there as well. She is a social media content creator, college counseling professor, and homeschooler. Michael is a graduate of Liberty University, and has attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor and entrepreneur for 15 years.




The role that Ariel and Michael are the most proud of; however, is their role as parents to their 7 children, who they are passionate about raising to be confident world changers! Michael and Ariel enjoy writing, exploring the outdoors with their family, and spending time in the gym. They currently live in Tennessee with their growing family. Jack and the Fantastical Circus is their first children’s book.


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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:


Mary Manning is an illustrator with over 16 years of experience. She has a knack for bringing the imaginary world to life and a particular interest and talent in character development. Her talents have led her to work on many children’s books throughout her career as an illustrator, including Jack and the Fantastical Circus. Mary currently lives in Oklahoma with her beloved dog, Cowboy.


ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Good & True Media is a children’s book imprint of Good Will Publishers, Inc. Good & True publishes a boutique list of books, all of which are told upon a Christian foundation and aim to inspire children's imaginations through works that promote classical virtues and wholesome examples of the moral life. For more information, visit www.goodandtruemedia.com.

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