Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Book Review: A Healer's Promise by Misty M. Beller

About the Book:

She was called to be a healer, but her skills--and heart--have never been so challenged.


Levi Masters's time as a British spy hasn't ended, though his country's war with America has. After overhearing a scout reveal a discovery that could give America the upper hand in future conflicts, Levi is sent on one last mission. While trekking through the Canadian Rockies in pursuit of his former enemy, he is taken captive by warriors from a hidden mountain village.

Village healer Audrey Moreau is more curious than afraid of the outsider, and she's drawn to his commitment to honesty even at his own expense. Despite her arguments for his release, the council remains at an impasse. Compelled to help him escape, she sneaks him out of the village. But when Levi faces a life-threatening injury and the fierce mountain winter closes in, Levi and Audrey are forced to discover just how far they'll go to ensure the safety of the other and the love growing between them.

Read an excerpt from A Healer’s Promise by Misty M. Beller on the publisher's website. 


My Thoughts:

A Healer’s Promise by Misty M. Beller offers a historical romance with an interesting setting. Laurent, a village seated in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, intrigued me with its community and customs. I liked the way the villagers came together in times of need, displaying forgiveness and grace. Unfortunately, I never connected with either of the main characters. Audrey seemed too busy falling in love to take responsibility for her actions and Levi’s quick turn to truth felt overly convenient. I wished for more genuine struggles within the characters.

A Healer’s Promise by Misty M. Beller lands as the second novel in the Brides of Laurent series. Brielle and Evan, the couple from the first book, appeared frequently, but A Healer’s Promise worked fine as a standalone story. Readers who have enjoyed Misty M. Beller’s prior novels will likely enjoy this offering. 3.5 Stars.

 


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.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Author Interview & Giveaway: The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes by Dawn Ford

The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Dawn Ford, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes

Title: The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
Series: Firebird Series #1
Author: Dawn Ford
Publisher: Expanse Books
Release Date: April 12, 2022
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy

Eighteen-year-old servant girl Tambrynn is haunted by more than her unusual silver hair and the star-shaped pupils in her eyes. Her uncontrollable ability to call objects leads the wolves who savagely murdered her mother right to her door. 

When she’s fired and outcast during a snowstorm, her carriage wrecks and she’s forced to find refuge in an abandoned cottage. There, her life is upended when the magpie who’s stalked her for ten years transforms into a man, Lucas. He’s her Watcher and they’re from a different kingdom. His job is to keep her safe from her father, an evil mage, who wants to steal her abilities, turn her into one of his undead beasts, and become immortal himself. 

Can they make it to the magical passageway and get to their home kingdom in time for Tambrynn to thwart her father’s malicious plans? Or will Tambrynn’s unique magic doom them all?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dawn Ford 

Winner of the 2016 ACFW Genesis Award and finalist in the 2018 Grace Award and the 2020 Great Expectations Contest, Dawn Ford has been recognized for her published and non-published works. Her flash fiction stories have been published in Havok magazine under both her real name and pen name, Jo Wonderly. Her debut novel, Knee-high Lies, was published in 2017.

As a child, Dawn often had her head in the clouds creating scenes and stories for anything and everything she came across. She believed there was magic everywhere, a sentiment she has never outgrown. Nature inspires her, and her love for the underdog and the unlikely hero colors much of what she writes. 

Dawn adores anything Steampunk, is often distracted by shiny, pretty things, and her obsession with purses and shoes borders on hoarding. Dawn lives in Iowa and helps her husband run their foodservice and catering business out of Omaha, Nebraska. When not reading, writing, or catering, Dawn loves babysitting her grandchildren, is parent to Snickers the Wonder Beagle, and can usually be caught daydreaming. 

You can learn more about Dawn Ford at her website: https://dawnfordauthor.com 

CONNECT WITH DAWN: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

AUTHOR INTERVIEW


Q: What was the inspiration behind The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes?

Dawn: I sat down one afternoon to write with a vision in my head of a servant girl who had been dismissed from her employer because of her errant abilities. Her carriage wrecks in a dark, dangerous forest. I had three chapters written within an hour just from that single image.


Q: How long did it take you to write this story?

Dawn: I started writing this story in 2010, so it’s taken me twelve years from start to publication.


Q: Do you have a favorite quote from this book?

Dawn: “Those who are given special gifts from the Kinsman have a great responsibility to use them faithfully. That doesn't mean ye won't fail. It just means ye'll have to work hard to make things right.”
 

Q: What do you hope readers take away from The Girl With Stars in Her Eyes

Dawn: From the first image of this story, I wanted to get across the idea that our abilities are gifts, not curses. Too often we belittle our own talents while thinking someone else’s have more value. We’ve all been born with unique abilities and special talents. The trick is to appreciate ourselves for how wonderful we’ve been created.
 

Q: Would you share something about yourself that most readers would not know?

Dawn: I didn’t start writing until I was in my forties, so it’s never too late to discover your special abilities.
 

Q: What are you reading now?

Dawn: I’m reading Erin Howard’s Beyond the Gates. It’s currently up for preorder.
 

Q: How many bookcases are in your home?

Dawn: Three.
 

Q: What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Dawn: Reading, thrift shopping, watching my grandchildren.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(3) winners will receive a $10 Amazon gift card, a signed paperback copy of The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes, and book swag!

The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes JustRead Giveaway 

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 16, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 23, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Author Interview & Giveaway: If You Really Knew Me by Alison Cheah



About the Book


Book: If You Really Knew Me

Author: Alison Cheah

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Release date: December 2021

Tommy is glad of friendships which make him forget the situation at home. His father’s illness makes his behavior so unpredictable that the whole family must tip-toe around him for fear of becoming the butt of his anger.

Elise wishes her twin sister didn’t think being champion swimmers was an adequate goal for their lives. She has her own dreams to fulfil.

Carrie hides a secret, avoiding other students so nobody will ever find it out. But Tommy and Elise both look to Carrie to save them from their situations.

Until she disappears.

Tommy’s protective instinct kicks in, and Elise reassesses her priorities so she can help keep Carrie safe.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author


Alison Cheah worked at Youth for Christ for five years and volunteers with her church youth group. One of her favorite activities is preparing Bible Studies and seeking how to connect the stories of the Bible with her students’ own stories.

As a child she was always to be seen with her nose in a book, and nothing has changed. One of her favorite authors was Patricia St. John. Her characters are people you want to know, and you are rooting for them to overcome their problems, but for Alison, the added dimension was that each person discovers their answers in Jesus. She saw that the faith she had grown up with had applicability in real life.

Her prayer is that this story has the same result for you.


More from Alison

I spent five years working at Youth for Christ with middle school students like Tommy, Carrie, and Elise. They are not based on kids I met, but they are inspired by my experiences then.

My friend and mentor in youth ministry was Anna-Marie Valles who is also a character in Tommy, Carrie and Elise’s story helping them to make sense of some of the questions they have.

We don’t get to know her well in the book, but I had a chat with her recently about youth ministry and here is an extract from that conversation. I think you will enjoy getting to know her better.


Alison: In the story, Elise shares her problems with you. Do you find teens want to talk to an adult about their problems?

AMV: Kids are hungry to be able to unload their stories on people who are willing to listen. I remember in one club a student said that all day, adults were telling him what to do. But club was a space where people were asking him, “How are you feeling? “What are your thoughts on this?” He was shocked.

 

Alison: You were only eighteen when you started in youth ministry. After all these years, how do you stay current so kids still want to talk with you?

AMV: If you come to kids with a willingness to learn, you become relevant. Say to them, “Tell me what’s going on?” Don’t pretend you have all the answers. I find that has worked for me. “I don’t know your culture like you do. But I’m willing to see through your lens if you’re able to share that with me.”

Age is interesting. I always worried I would age out. At my application interview for seminary I said, “I always thought if I aged out of youth ministry, I’d be a chaplain.” And the professor called me out on that. You never age out because kids still need that safe place where someone is willing to listen.

 

Alison: The profits from this book will be used to send kids to camp. Why is this important to you?

AMV: Youth ministry is all relational. But trust can take a while to build. The beauty of camps is that you can create a bond in one week that could take two years without. And at camp they hear the gospel presented in different ways by different speakers. Other people’s creativity and presentation may reach my students in a way that I haven’t been able to.

What saddens me is not everyone can go because camps are costly. My desire is that every student who wants to go will have the opportunity to do so.

 

For more of this conversation, see alisonrcheah.com

(Interview transcribed by https://otter.ai )

My prayer is that the story of Tommy, Carrie and Elise will be one of those different speakers Anna-Marie talked about, helping kids to begin their own relationship with Jesus.

Thank you.

Alison


Author Interview with Alison


Q: What was the inspiration behind this novel?

Alison: Some years ago, when our church was holding a summer reading program for the kids, my friend asked me whether I had written a missionary story which they could include. I hadn’t, but I decided to write one with a twist. The main characters were two fictional girls whose lives were impacted by some of the missionaries supported by our church.

I liked the format so much that I decided to do another one for my friend Anna-Marie Valles in aid of her work in middle schools.

The story isn’t about her, although she does make an appearance. Instead, I concentrated on three students who are trying to find their way through the complicated problems of life in middle school.
 

Q: Do any of the novel’s characters hold a special place in your heart?

Alison: I love Tommy who is mischievous and full of fun. He’s the sort of friend you’d want because you know he’ll always have your back. But that’s a heavy responsibility for him because when things go wrong, he blames himself. It’s a pity his father can’t be a better role model for him.


Q:What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

Alison: In my family when I grew up, Jesus was a daily part of our lives, but I much preferred reading fiction to reading the Bible.

However, in the stories written by Patricia St. John, I found both. Each character became a friend whose ups and downs mattered to me. But each one gave me something more. They all discovered that Jesus was a Friend who cared about their problems and loved them in their messiest moments and through them, I began to understand the same thing.

My goal is to write stories with the same “both/and” elements that Miss St. John engaged, piquing my reader’s interest while attracting them to Jesus who loves them.
 

Q: What are you reading now?

Alison: I’m scouring the shelves of the library for middle grade fiction. I review books that I have enjoyed recently on my Facebook Author page.

I’m also reading Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens. He is one of my favorite authors because his observations of life are true, and he writes boldly about social issues. He is one of those people whose stories leave me with a better understanding of myself and human nature. Although I’ve read most of his books, I’m not sure I ever discovered Martin Chuzzlewit before. It’s always a delight to find an unknown book by a favorite author.


Q: Who is an author you would recommend to anyone and everyone?

Alison: C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books are stories I return to again and again. In his essay Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to be Said he explains that in stories the author can "steal past [the] watchful dragons of stained-glass and Sunday School associations" to direct the reader to a correct feeling "about God or about the sufferings of Christ." That’s what he does for me in the Narnia books.


Blog Stops


Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 14

Texas Book-aholic, May 15

Beauty in the Binding, May 16 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, May 16

For Him and My Family, May 17

Inklings and notions, May 18

Blossoms and Blessings, May 19 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, May 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 22

Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Author Interview)

Vicarious Living , May 23

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 25

Guild Master, May 26 (Author Interview)


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Alison is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a 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.

Enter Giveaway: https://promosimple.com/ps/1db4d/if-you-really-knew-me-celebration-tour-giveaway.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Book Review: Curtain Call by Lyneta Smith


About the Book:

I thought I was having a breakdown; turns out, it was a breakthrough. In 2014, I wanted out of my story. I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore. 

Bombarded by uninvited memories of childhood trauma, I questioned why God would allow so many horrible things to happen to me.

When God interrupted my pleas for help with a simple question—“Will you trust Me with your story?”—I agreed to step out of my stage-perfect Christian life and into the journey toward healing and finally seeing Him as a good, loving God.


My Thoughts:

Curtain Call by Lyneta Smith retells the author’s journey from living behind a fa├žade to living authentically in all areas of her life. The author wove in a theme about the masks we wear and tied everything together well.

That being said, I almost didn’t get past the second chapter of Curtain Call. The author’s story belongs to her, and she has the right to tell it with as little or as much detail as she wishes, but she retold the sexual abuse by her babysitter in graphic detail. Once I read the words, I couldn’t unread them. I had to put the book down for several days. When I returned to it, I read it slowly, but found the frequent timeline jumps a bit confusing. As always, reading about sexual assault was difficult and saddening, but Curtain Call’s narrative felt authentic. I recognized some of the same family dynamics from my own childhood and experience with sexual abuse.

Curtain Call by Lyneta Smith brims with compassion and offers hope to readers struggling to heal from sexual assault. Specifically, Lyneta’s experiences testify that healing is possible for survivors and that God cares for those harmed by sexual assault. While survivors are the target audience for Curtain Call, the book might prove helpful for those wishing to understand and help a survivor.



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.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Movie Review & Giveaway: Family Camp


About Family Camp:




When their pastor encourages the congregation to sign-up for a week away at family camp, Grace (Leigh-Allyn Baker) believes she’s found the perfect cure for her imperfect clan—even if they’d all rather be anywhere but at rustic Camp Katokwah. 

The first feature film from The Skit Guys—Tommy Woodard and Eddie James—FAMILY CAMP is a laugh-out loud comedy that is sure to touch the hearts and tickle the funny bones of every family member from eight to eighty. 

FAMILY CAMP is releasing in theaters on May 13th! Buy your tickets now!

Tickets: https://familycampmovie.com/tickets/

Website: https://familycampmovie.com/


Movie Trailer:


My Thoughts:

Family Camp made me laugh… a lot – and that’s why I enjoyed this movie. The movie’s humor hooked my attention near the start, in part because I related to the parenting struggles and kid actions depicted. Hilarious moments ensued throughout the movie as two, completely opposite families find themselves forced together at church camp.  Occasionally, the movie sacrificed plausible reality in favor of humor, but that didn’t bother me. I thoroughly enjoyed having a reason to laugh repeatedly.

Although Family Camp’s story is mostly fun and light, the latter half of the movie increases in seriousness as it explores family dynamics. The movie advocates the conservative view of the man as the leader of the family. I don’t have an issue with that, but others might. However, I was bothered by how an extremely manipulative character receives immediate forgiveness with no indication of healthy boundary setting.

Although the movie ended with more open-ended situations than I prefer, the major issues were wrapped up satisfactorily. Overall, Family Camp is a fun movie, suitable for tweens and up. I watched it alone, but I’m pretty sure my kids would laugh most of the way through this.

By seeing it opening weekend (May 13-15), you are letting Hollywood know that you and your family want more movies like this! BUY TICKETS now to see Family Camp in theaters!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Many thanks to K-LOVE Films for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.


About the Creators of Family Camp:

The Skit Guys -- Tommy Woodard and Eddie James -- have been creating mini-movies for churches and youth groups for years, as well as performing live at events. Enjoy this interview with The Skit Guys and Jean of Momentum Influencers.

       


Giveaway:

One reader of this post will receive a $10 Amazon Giftcard.

Enter by leaving a comment on this post that includes your name and email address.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Book Review: Willow by Ronie Kendig

About the Book:

To save her, he must become the evil he fights.

Aftercare specialist Willow Metcalfe joined Mission: Liberate Everyone to help trafficking survivors navigate the healing process. When MiLE’s Obioma Compound is attacked by the Nigerian mafia, she’s taken hostage. Against nightmarish odds, she and the victims attempt an escape—and are thwarted.

A decade after leaving his beloved homeland, Chijioke “Chiji” Okorie returns to find his sister and fight for his own country. Believing a global trafficking ring behind her abduction and a string of kidnappings across Nigeria, he goes undercover to find the head of the serpent and his sister. Chiji is stunned to discover among the hostages a familiar face—a friend’s sister, Willow. The woman he vowed years ago to marry.

The man who has interfered with her escape attempts seems … familiar, kind—but Willow knows better. He reeks of the warrior ethos that has devoured many a good man. Engaged in an impossible battle and losing at every turn, Chiji is determined to complete his missions—all of them. Even if it kills him.


My Thoughts:

I read Willow by Ronie Kendig in a Sunday afternoon sitting. With a shorter page length and an action-packed plot, it’s a quick read. I loved the Metcalfe sibling dynamics and how fiercely loyal they were to each other despite tensions in their relationships. Now that I’ve been introduced to the wild Range Metcalfe, I’m looking forward to his story (coming later in 2022).

Willow brings awareness to human trafficking, a heinous reality for so many. Reading about violence and sexual assault is hard, but the story avoids graphic detail when possible. The novel does not dig deeply into the traumas of sexual assault or the extended healing process of survivors, which makes the novel lighter to read. Romance while surrounded by the terrors of sex trafficking may seem implausible, but Ronie Kendig deftly integrates Willow and Chiji’s budding relationship. 

Willow by Ronie Kendig lands as the second novel in The Metcalfes series.  I recommend reading them in order due to the overarching human trafficking plot as well as the cameos by characters from prior novels. Four Stars!

 


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.