Return to Blogging

I'm back.  It has been over 6 months since I blogged, and even then it was very sporadic.  I have determined that this year will be different; however, I do know that it will be difficult.  I am back in school now so I have much less time, but I miss this!  So here I am.  I haven't decided how or what I'm going to do, but I am going to write more!


The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy Higley

I really enjoy Tracy Higley's novels.  You can find a list of her books here.  I have read a number of them and have a couple more in my to read pile.  I love reading historical fiction set in Biblical times.  I find these books extremely interesting.

In The Queen's Handmaid, Lydia, an orphan, is a handmaiden for Cleopatra.  When secrets arise, her mentor, Daniel, gives her an important mission and she must leave the only home she has ever known to now serve King Herod's wife, Queen Mariamme.  In the midst of all the transitions in her life, she must deliver the secret scrolls before time runs out.

Like Higley's other novels, the history and setting is well-researched and vividly-detailed.  It is educational and entertaining.  The pacing of the story is a little up and down, and I wanted a little more from Lydia.  Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and if you haven't read Higley's works, I would recommend you try one!


The Thief

Stephanie Landsem's The Living Water Series brings Biblical stories to life. The Thief is the second book in this series and is in the time of Jesus's crucifixtion.  It centers around Nissa, a Jewish woman with a secret; her brother Cedron, a man born blind; and Longinus a Roman Centurian. These three individuals are each effected by the life and death of Jesus.
I enjoy Biblical fiction, especially when it helps me imagine what life was like at that time. The Thief added to my vision of Biblical Times. The setting and characters were well developed. My only complaint is there were a couple of points that contradicted the Bible. A fiction writer is entitled to certain liberties, and readers need to understand that it is a work of fiction; however, when working with Bible stories, there needs to be even more caution. I did enjoy the book.  The story flowed smoothly and had a strong message.  I would recommend it.


William Sirls’ THE SINNERS’ GARDEN iPad Mini Giveaway!

Meet William Sirls: Once a senior vice president in a large investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners’ Garden is his second novel.

William Sirls writes unique works of fiction.  I read The Reason last year and was very excited about The Sinners' Garden.  It includes another original plot, great characters, interesting backstory, and a strong theme.  Centered around a small family and their close friends in a little town of Lake Erie.  The story explores relationships, miracles, and mysteries.  It is an interesting and enjoyable read.  

William is celebrating the book's release with an iPad giveaway.


One winner will receive:

  • A brand new iPad Mini

  • The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 1st. Winner will be announced March 3rd on William Sirls' blog.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by William’s blog on the 3rd to see if you won.


Julie Klassen’s “The Dancing Master” giveaway and “All Things Jane” webcast 1/23!

Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the "All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)" Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen DVDs, fun "Jane" merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

I have read the book and loved it!  Alec Valcourt, the title character, moves his mother and sister to the small town of Beaworthy after difficult circumstances force them to leave London.  Unfortunately, there is no dancing in Beaworthy, due to a decree by Lady Amelia Midwinter years ago.  Julia Midwinter does not appreciate Lady Amelia's strictness or her watchful eye and is thrilled at the new family in town.  It seems that the Valcourts are hiding something about their past, but apparently so is Lady Amelia.  In Julia's quest for the truth, all of her relationships are challenged and she comes away a different person.  I really enjoyed the character development in this one.  The plot is interesting and moves quickly.  The characters and relationships are authentic.  I would definitely recommend this one!

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!


To Know You

Julia Whittaker’s rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.
Julia and Matt Whittaker’s son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds—and his liver—crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a “living liver” transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon’s time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.
But can Julia ask a young woman—someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with—to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she’s never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
And what if she discovers in her own daughters’ lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she’s probably embarking on a fool’s errand—searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?
In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

To Know You tackles some extremely difficult situations; adoption, finding your biological mother/daughter, dealing with a dying child, and asking others to donate organs for that child.  It weaves together the minor story lines with flashbacks and various points of view, allowing the reader to get to know each of the characters a little better.  The novel generates strong emotions and had me asking a lot of "what ifs."  Overall, this is a powerful novel.  I would recommend it.  
I did receive a free e-copy in exchange for my honest review.  


The Rent Collector

Years ago, I read a book that has stuck with me ever since.  I will always remember the power and emotion of that book.  It was Letters for Emily by Camron Wright.  Before I discuss his new book, I highly recommend reading this one!!  When I was given the opportunity to read and review Camron's new book, The Rent Collector, I was hopeful to experience some of that emotion again.  I was not disappointed.  This book is quite different from his other novel; however the thoughts, emotions, and images it provokes are equally powerful.

Sang Ly is a young mother who lives in a large dump in Cambodia with her husband and their one small child, Nisay.  Nisay is very sick, and Sang Ly wants to do everything she can to help him.  She discovers something about the rent collector of her neighborhood, and seeks help in an unexpected way.
This book is about the grittiness of life and relationships.  It stresses both hardships and unexpected blessings and delivers strong messages about hope and beauty.  I would definitely recommend it!