Thursday, December 26, 2013

Secrets Kept Blog Tour

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today we have a blog tour for the book Secrets Kept by Jennette Mbewe!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

The Secrets Kept Tour!

This tour will explore the World of Nälu:
Where a story with adventure, action, love, betrayal, and a quest takes place.
We will get to visit sites, learn more about the cuisine, and be introduced to some elves, dwarves, and shape-shifters, at the least.

Secrets KeptSecrets Kept 
by JL Mbewe
YA Fantasy
October 30th 2013 by AltWit Press

With a curse, she will build an army.
With the dagger, she will undo the last sacrifice.
But first the sorceress must find the secret keeper.

Torn from her homeland and thrust into a betrothal against her wishes, Ayianna learns her family has a deadly secret that now has her on the run. She joins forces with Kael, an embittered half-elf, and Saeed, an elderly High Guardian, to seek answers to her father’s death, the destruction of Dagmar, and the plains people’s bizarre behavior.

Ayianna discovers there is more at stake here than just her mother’s disappearance and her familial duty to her betrothed. The sorceress has cursed the plains people, and it is a race against time to release them before the sorceress resurrects an ancient evil.

Jennette has graciously agreed to tell us a little more about her world of Nalu, specifically the Kaleki and their dragons! Without further ado, I give you Jennette Mbewe!

The Kaleki & Their Dragons

Across many watery miles and treacherous seas, is a land of mystery, great beauty, and wonder. Ragged mountains emerge from the depths and loom over lush, colorful gardens. Home to the glowing moonflower, healing waters, and dragons.

Here, you will find the Kaleki. The Sea-people. Otherwise known as the merfolk.

With their slanted, ribbed foreheads, double eye-lids, and the gills on their neck, the Kaleki look the most different, aside from the Haruzo in their feline form. Their lack of facial expression makes others uncomfortable, and they are often mistaken as unfriendly. For many strangers, it is hard to tell what a Kaleki is feeling, but if you watch their eyes, you’ll soon learn their feelings run deep and truer than most outward demonstration of such.

One might think the Kaleki is limited to the water, but that’s a myth. When they exit the water, their gills close and their tail dissolves into legs, but they can’t go too long without their beloved waters or their skin will hurt and their body will begin shutting down. Upon contact with water again, their gills open and their legs form a tail. The transition between land and sea is quick at first, but as the merfolk age, the transition gets harder, slower, and more painful.  Toward the end of their years, a Kaleki will choose where they will die and remain in that form until the end.

Before contact with the rest of the nations, the Kaleki ruled the seas without thought to clothes, but as interaction grew between the people groups, the merfolk were encouraged to “cover-up”. Eventually, they designed a silver fabric that would not become cumbersome in the water. Still, the older generations prefer unrestricted movement and refuse to wear anything but a silver wrap around their hips when out of the water. So don’t be shocked if you see an elderly merwoman running around with no clothes.

Stygian’s rule did not reach the Kaleki until one of his hunting parties returned with a naked merwoman in chains. His thirst for conquest was rekindled, but before he could learn more, she disappeared in a failed rescue attempt, revealing a large undercurrent of resistance among the Saryhemor elves. Stygian turned his focus on squashing the rebellion instead and would never get the chance to claim Ganya as his own. Thankfully so!

Later on, the Kaleki would play an important part in the downfall of Stygian and in establishing the Perimeter to keep the Tainted One and her servants within the confines of Nganjo and the Abyss, but that’s a different story for a different time.

In Dragon Thief, we get a glimpse of the Kaleki and their dragon nurseries. They are the only nation allowed to breed and train dragons. Mostly for the king’s royal guard and defending against pirate attacks. The Kaleki share a special bond with the dragons. Some like to joke it’s because the Kaleki are half reptile, but there’s no evidence they are reptilian at all. One would think they would be closer in relation to the dolphin.

In Secrets Kept, we don’t see much of the merfolk, but we do meet Nerissa, one of the Guardians, and we’ll see more of them in the books to come. I’ve only brushed the surface of these remarkable people. We haven’t even discussed the differences in culture, language, procreation, or even commerce, but as you can see, this is getting quite long. Until next time!

FREE right now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
Desert Rose
(A Tale of Nälu #1)

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NOW AVAILABLE: Tales of  Nälu (all three short stories in paperback) on Amazon!

Living life balanced between reality and dreams.

JL Mbewe - AuthorWriting as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and is busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. Her debut novel Secrets Kept and her short stories set in the world of Nälu: Desert Rose, Dragon Thief, and Indestructible are now available. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and books, among other things.

For more information about her journey as a writer mama and all things creative please visit her at:

Tour-Wide Giveaway

Kindle Fire Prize Pack (US/CAN ONLY), which includes:
- Kindle Fire
- Chocolate truffles
- Paper backs of Secrets Kept and Tales of Nälu
- Awesome swag (key chain, bookmark, and poster)
Ends January 7, 2014
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour!

12/9: Launch on Colorimetry and Tressa's Wishful Endings
12/12: The Real Deal
12/12: fundinmental
12/15: Colorimetry
12/23: alwaysjoart
12/29: Fictionally
12/31: Grand Finale

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Friday, December 6, 2013


So, on Black Friday, I went shopping--mostly for books since I'm a major book-a-holic. I had a pretty specific list of books I wanted to buy. But when I picked up Doon, just out of curiosity, and read the back cover, I was hooked! It was the only book I bought that day that I hadn't even heard of before.

Isn't the cover just gorgeous! It has fairytale written all over it! And I LOVE fairytales!

Anyway, here is what the back cover says:

Vee's soft whisper tickled against my ear. "Are we were I think we are?"

What moments ago seemed like a fairy tale now seemed impossibly and unsettlingly real. Yet it couldn't be true. My entire body began to tremble. Keeping my eyes fixed on the castle in the distance, I whispered back, "I seriously hope not."

Don't you see why I was hooked? It sounds like they go to another world!

Anyway, I just finished reading it, and, oh, it is good! I loved the romance (as completely unrealistic as it is)! There were some parts where I wished there was more action, but overall, it did not disappoint me.

And the end? It was amazing--and very frustrating! It was one of those books where I just went "Gah! How can you possibly end there, after that new and terrible revelation?" It was one of those times when someone makes a decision, with no possible way to reverse it, then reveals it was a completely and utterly WRONG decision! I suspected it all along, but then to have her do it anyway? Gah!

However, does that mean there's a new book coming in which the decision is somehow rectified?

Also, there was a second part to the ending that was perfect and amazing! One character finally got her true love, and fulfilled her destiny! Now, I don't believe in destiny, but I still loved that half of the ending!

I hope I didn't give away too much of the ending! I loved the book, and I don't think any of you should not read it just because of that one part that frustrated me.

Anyway, you can find it here!

Characters in Costume Challenge!

Gillian, who writes the blog Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant, issues a Characters in Costume Challenge about every month. The idea is for writers to get to know their characters better by dressing in what they would wear and perhaps acting as them for a little while. Most of what is required to participate is to pick a character, whether of your own imagining or a book you love; take a picture; and post it on your blog, facebook, or wherever else. It's such fun!

Well, I decided to do it this month! The theme is Sidekick Characters, so I chose a girl from one of my stories, named Arianna. I bought some things from a thrift store to use for her costume since I didn't have what I needed. But when I put them on (and mind you, this was the last day I had to prepare), the clothing just didn't look like Arianna. So, last minute, I had to choose a different character!

I ended up choosing a woman from a different story. She is the sister to the crown prince (one of my main characters), and truthfully, I don't have her personality or part in the story thought out well. In fact, I don't even have a name for he yet! She is just "Penn's sister" or "the Princess" in my mind.

However, I have a hard time with names. I tend to choose personality, looks, and place in the story long before I actually name the characters. I don't usually even name the characters until I am forced to!

So will, you help me out? Look at the photo and read what I write about her personality and role in my story and suggest a name. Please?

Penn's Sister

First of all, she's a princess, which comes with certain responsibilities and wealth. She's sassy, a natural leader, proud perhaps, and just a little bossy. A spitfire! Her clothing seems to show that she's a horse rider (not that I know anything about it). She's definitely not dressed up for a ball!

In the story, she's the first one Penn tells about his discovery of another world (and Emma, who he met there) when he was 14 and his sister was 11. The two are great friends!--most of the time.

At 17, she gets locked in the dungeon because of a dramatic power change, although I doubt she went down without a fight! Don't worry, though; she escapes with the help of Emma, our main character. I would expect they eventually became great friends--eventually. Their personalities probably would have clashed since Emma is supposed to be a leader and would be receiving much of Penn's attention.

Does this give you an idea of what this princess is like? Will you help me name this feisty princess?

(Also, other names in that land include Arianna, Roran, Zerina, Violetta, Johnathan, Eleva, Deron, Illivia, Junia, and many more!)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Mighty Fortress Blog Tour Guest Post!


A Mighty Fortress
Faith Blum

“Stay back!” Joshua ordered. He kept his eyes on the scene below while waving his arm in Ruth's direction. “Get deeper into the woods and stay down low to the ground.”
Joshua hazarded a glance behind him. He could no longer see Ruth and breathed a sigh of relief. In one swift move, he grabbed his rifle and lay flat to the ground. Extending the rifle, he aimed at the shorter man whose gun was pointed at Bradshaw.

Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who's hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom's gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss's right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what's one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God's strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town? Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running--the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?

Guest Post by Faith Blum

As part of A Mighty Fortress's blog tour, I have asked Faith to write a guest post for us! So without further adieu, Faith Blum:

What must I do to be saved?

Just over two weeks ago, I published my first book, A Mighty Fortress.  I have been asked a few times, “Why are you writing this book?  What are your goals for your book?”  While I would love to sell lots of books and become a best-selling author, I know that is just a pipe dream.  Before I get to my goal and reason for writing A Might Fortress, I would like to inform or remind you that this post is just one part of my blog tour.  For more excerpts, interviews, posts, and reviews about my book please check the links on this blog post: http://faithblum.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/introducing-my-first-blog-tour/. 

My true goal and the reason for writing my book as epitomized in chapter 16 of my book:

As the weeks and months sped by, the ranch hands became part of the family.  Wyatt and Flynn even seemed to relax some.  Since there were only four ranch hands, Harriet insisted that the hands eat with the family for meals. 
“It's just as easy to feed eight as it is to feed four,” she exclaimed.  “Eating with a family will be good for them.”
Daniel gave up on arguing with his wife about the subject.  Instead, he chose to truly make them all a part of the family and insisted that they join the family for devotions after dinner. 
Even though Christmas was still a few months away, Daniel felt a burden to share the Christmas story a little earlier than he had planned.  After the table was cleared, Daniel opened his Bible to Luke chapter two and began to read.
“In those days, Caesar Augustus...”
Ruth smiled at these words and listened in rapture to her father's deep, expressive voice.  She felt like she lived in the story.  This happened nearly every year, but this year was the first time she really put herself in Mary's place.  She felt the confusion, the fear, the pain, the rejection.  What would it have been like to be the mother of the Son of God?  Would she have been as willing as Mary was?
God, she prayed as her father continued reading, make me a willing maidservant for you. Help me do what You ask when You ask me to do it.
As she prayed, a peaceful contentedness swept over her features.  After her prayer, Ruth looked around the table and watched as the men listened to her father read.  She noticed a tear slide down William's weather beaten cheek, skirting his mustache before falling onto his shirt.  The looks on the other men’s faces were softer than she had noticed them being before.  Ruth wasn't sure what word would be best to describe the look.  Peaceful?  No, not quite.  Serene?  She shook her head.  No, definitely not that.  Tranquil.  Yes, that was it.  They all had tranquil looks on their faces.  As if, for this one moment in time, something was right in their lives.
Her father finished reading the Christmas story and finished up with a Scripture passage he traditionally read on Christmas Day.  “'And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sits on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created...And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard him saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.'” Daniel paused.  “Let's bow our heads and silently worship our Savior.  He bowed his head and the others followed his example. 
Ruth bowed her head and praised God for sending His Son into the world as a baby to be her atonement for sin.  Silent tears rolled down her cheeks as she considered how unworthy she was and how grateful she was that He still forgave her.
A rough hand on her shoulder made her jump.  William stood next to her.  “Sorry to disturb you, Miss Ruth,” he whispered, “but I was wonderin' if'n I could ask you a few questions.”
Ruth's eyes widened in confusion.  “Me?  Why me?”
William shrugged and he licked his lips in what seemed to be nervous agitation.  “I watched you while Mr. Brookings read.  I think you'll be the best’un to answer my questions.”
Ruth nodded, stood up and went to where her father sat.  She leaned her mouth to his ear.  “Pa, Will has a few questions.  Is it all right if I bring him out on the porch so we can talk?”
Daniel glanced over at William before nodding his assent. 
Ruth motioned for William to follow her as she took her shawl off the hook near the door.  William grabbed his coat and shrugged into it before holding the door for her to step onto the porch.
Ruth sat on the step while William leaned against one of the posts.  They stared at the snow covered mountains in the distance for a few minutes.
William finally broke the silence.  “Yer whole family seems ta have a...somethin' different about you.”  He cleared his throat.  “What...what's so different?”
Ruth looked up at the stars.  “We all have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Her eyes wandered to William's face as he looked across at the land before him.
He nodded.  “Yer brother explained some about that on the trail here.  I know some 'bout Jesus, but I never heard the Christmas story the way I heard it tonight.  Yer pa read it as if it were real to him.”
“It is.”
“I realize that now.”  He looked down at Ruth, then back out at the landscape.  “I just never made the connection 'tween Jesus' birth and the celebration and worship, and then to move to the future celebration
and worship... Was that part 'bout the last times?  When the world ends?” William's words trailed off.
Ruth smiled and nodded.  “About the elders bowing down in worship?  Yes.  As for the connection between the two, Pa has a tradition of doing that.  Sometimes he adds the middle part of the story.”
William's eyes darted toward Ruth in surprise.  “The middle?”
“Yes.”  Ruth's answer was soft as her mind raced, and prayed, for the words to say.  “The part where Jesus gave Himself up to die for your sins and for mine.  There was no celebration in heaven then.  No one worshiped Him.  He was forsaken and alone, but He knew what He had to do and He went into it willingly.” 
“Why’d He do that?” William asked.
Ruth took a deep breath as she stared unseeing at the barn.  “To save you from your sins.  Romans 6:23 says, ‘For the wages of sin is death.’  Three chapters earlier, in Romans 3:23, God states that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’.  Jesus died to take away the wages of sin and restore us to the glory of God.”
“He did that for me?” William looked incredulous.
Ruth stood up and faced him.  “Yes.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came as a baby to be born in a humble stable.  He was worshiped by Magi, shepherds, old men, and old women.  He was born to a carpenter and his virgin wife.  He grew up as a normal child, though without sin.  He ministered to His people, knowing they would ultimately reject Him.  He died to save all mankind from their sins, but He also knew that if there had been only one man alive on earth to save, He would have died for him.  He rose on the third day, defeating death and the grave.  After appearing to many of His disciples and their friends, He ascended into heaven and will return again to earth someday to again be worshiped and adored as He deserves.”
William listened to Ruth's passionate summary attentively.  He stood in silent thought for a couple of minutes.  “How does one have a personal relationship with this Jesus?”
Ruth's smile widened.  “Let's go inside and let Pa tell you.  He is much better than I am.”
William stopped her before she reached the door.  “Before we do, I was wonderin'.  What were you thinkin' 'bout while he was readin'?”
Ruth blushed.  “What it would have been like to be Mary.”
William nodded.  “What else?”
Ruth looked down and scuffed the toe of her boot on the planks.  “How tranquil you and the other men looked while Pa was reading.”
“Tranquil?”  His voice held a tone of curiosity.
Ruth laughed a little and looked up at him.  “Yes, tranquil.  Calm, unworried, unharried.”
William smiled.  “That describes what I was feelin' then, too.  Though a bit sad for Joseph's pain and worry, too.”
Ruth nodded as a grin spread on her face.  “You are very observant.  Many people don’t think about Joseph’s side of the story.  I'm glad you could have a few minutes of feeling tranquil.  Now, let's get inside so Pa can answer the rest of your questions.”
William nodded and followed her in to get the answers to the most important question of eternity: What must I do to be saved?
That last question is what I want people to ask when they read my books.  If they already know, I pray that they are—at the very least—encouraged to live an active, daily Christian life. 
For those who may be reading this and asking what Mr. Brookings told William, let me tell you in the best way I know how: Through the words of Daniel Brookings himself.  Warning: this is an exclusive to-this-blog-post-only scene in my book.  This scene is not, nor will it ever be, published
in my book.
William and Ruth walked back into the house with William holding the door open for Ruth.  Ruth went straight to her father with a huge grin on her face.
“Pa, William wants to know how to get saved.”
Daniel Brookings looked at the shy young man standing nervously near the door.  Daniel smiled and beckoned for William to come closer while Ruth gave her mother a hug before sitting down.  William took a hesitant step forward and sank into the empty chair next to Daniel.
“Ruth tells me you would like to know how to be saved.”
William nodded.  “Yes, Sir.”
Daniel kept his eyes trained on William, but through his peripheral vision, he could tell that the other ranch hands were listening close.  Lord, give me the words to say and give William the understanding he needs.
“William, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” Daniel asked.
William’s hands twisted together in his lap while he thought.  A few seconds ticked by before he looked up into Daniel’s eyes.  “Yes, Sir.” 
Daniel nodded.  “In Acts, when Paul and Silas were asked ‘what must I do to be saved?’  Their response was, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.   And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.’”
William blinked his eyes in obvious confusion.  “That’s all?  Just believe?”
Daniel smiled.  “Earlier in Acts, Peter told the crowds he was preaching to: ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ 
“Repentance means turning completely from your sins.  If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for your sins to give you the free gift of eternal life, and you feel convicted of your sins, you are one step closer to being saved.  At this point, you have two directions you can go.  One, you can ignore God’s conviction and keep living in your sin.  Or two, you can turn to him, confess your sins, repent of your sins and ‘go, sin no more.’”
William looked like he was about to interrupt, but Daniel raised a hand for silence.  “Now, I do want to clarify one thing before I go on.  This does not mean you will be sinless.  You will still sin, you will still have problems, but you will also have Jesus Christ, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit in you helping you as often as you need the help and ask for it.”
William stared at his hands for a few seconds before looking up at Daniel with deep conviction in his eyes.  “I want that for myself,” he said in a husky voice.  “I need that.”
Daniel put his hand on William’s shoulder and looked him straight in the eye.  “All you have to do is lay your heart before Jesus’ feet.  Talk to him and tell him what you want.”
“I don’t know where to start,” William said, his voice almost a whisper.
Daniel nodded.  “Lord, I come before You today with my friend, William.  I’ve told You about him before, but today he wants to talk to You for himself.  Go ahead, William.”
William cleared his throat.  “Hi, God.  I’m William.  I don’t really know what ta say.  Mr. Brookings said ta just tell you what’s on my heart.  I’ve sinned a lot.  Maybe nothin’ big like murder, but I’ve lied, cheated others, and lots o’ other things I know I shouldn’ta done.  I wanna stop it, God.  Please come inta my heart and help me to stop sinnin’ and ta live like You did when Jesus came ta here. I’m gonna need lots of help, though, just so’s You know.  It’s not gonna be easy for either of us.  Thanks fer comin’ to die fer me, Jesus.  I really appreciate it.  More than I could ever say.”
Thank you, Faith, for that touching scene and the words you shared with us about faith!
It really is true, though, what she said about believing in Christ as your Savior. I appreciate you, Faith, for having the courage to write that!
Until next time!




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time and Again

Time and Again
Book 1
Deborah Heal
The olden days aren't all they're cracked up to be. . .

Abby thinks tutoring an "an economically disadvantaged adolescent" as her college service project for the summer will be a snap.

Merrideth, her sullen 11-year-old student, thinks "No thanks, I don't need a babysitter."

John thinks Abby's kidding when she tells him she can fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but that of the girl who lived in Merrideth's house 160 years ago.

It's difficult for Abby to break through Merrideth's emotional wall. The girl has been closed down ever since her parents' divorce, especially since she was forced to move to the dilapidated old house that her mom inherited. But when her dad sends her a top-of-the-line computer to make up for it, Abby and Merrideth discover a crazy program that invites them to "Take a Virtual Tour" of houses around the world-- including Merrideth's.

It's a tour all right... a tour of the past when the house was new and a girl named Charlotte Miles lived there. It's like being there, only better. They know Charlotte's thoughts and feelings. They experience her joys and frustrations as she courageously takes on a huge challenge, risking her life for others while her father is off fighting in the Civil War.

Watching from a distance, Abby and Merrideth gain a new perspective on their own lives, their faith strengthened as time and again they see God's loving hand in Charlotte's life.

"What really made the story unique was how she brought the past to life via a computer program. While this book is geared toward teens, I think that anyone who enjoys contemporary and historical fiction woven together will certainly enjoy this book. On a scale of one to five I would easily give this book a six! Highly recommended."
My Review
In Time and Again, by Deborah Heal, Abby travels to an extremely small town in Illinois to tutor eleven-year-old Merrideth. However, the summer job is more than Abby expected. Convincing spoiled Merrideth to do her schoolwork is nearly impossible, that is, until the girls find a computer program called Beautiful Houses. The program allows them to “time-surf,” or “spy,” on people who lived in their large house over 150 years before, mainly Charlotte, the daughter of the original owner. What will happen in the lives of Abby, Merrideth, and Charlotte? Will Abby be able to answer Merrideth’s deep questions? And what will happen to Charlotte when the Civil War begins?

I really enjoyed this novella! It was a little slow in the beginning. After all, I thought the entire book would be about time-surfing, but it wasn’t. There was so much more going on in the story than simply watching Charlotte live her life. Abby helped Merrideth grow in self-esteem and kindness, not just help her with her studies. They were friends—eventually, that is.
Also, Merrideth had many hard questions. Having had her parents’ divorce a few weeks earlier and then move away from her father, Merrideth is hurting. She feels futility in life—a person is born, dies, and no one even remembers them. But Abby tries to show Merrideth hope in Christ. Abby even uses Beautiful Houses to illustrate that “all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.”

The historical element was a rather realistic portrayal of life in the 1860’s. Charlotte is a young woman who matures throughout the novella. She goes from a teenager who is angry at her father to a woman courageous enough to hide escaped slaves in her attic while feeding soldiers downstairs.

The stories from the escaped slaves were tragic, but yet so realistic. I wish no one had to suffer as they did. I’m just glad slavery is outlawed now.

Overall, Time and Again was a pleasant, thought-provoking novella.

Things you should know: This book is completely clean!

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Love's Refuge Blog Tour

I am excited to share my first blog tour with you! The book is Love's Refuge by Sandra Leesmith!
Don't you just love the cover!
Anyway, I'll introduce the book, give my review, have an interview with the author, and, finally, have the giveaway!

Skye Larsen loves her peaceful life on Leeza Island in Puget Sound – the tranquility, the friendly neighbors, and especially the safety from big-city dangers. So when cruel pranks start to escalate and changes threaten to overtake the island, Skye is determined to fight for her haven. The presence of a handsome vacationer and the unexpected feelings he awakens can’t distract her from her goal.
Danny Fraser doesn’t realize how desperately he needs a rest until he meets Skye. By allowing him to glimpse her simple way of life, she helps him reorient his priorities – and steals his heart in the process. But his work and home in Seattle keep Skye at bay.
An isolated island girl with painful memories. A dedicated city boy with a wild past. What will it cost for them both to find a refuge from their storms?
My Review
In Love’s Refuge, by Sandra Leesmith, Skye lives on a small island in Washington state. She loves the peace and beauty of the island, but strange things begin to happen. Soon Skye’s peaceful life is shattered, but through it all, she grows—both to love Danny and to overcome her fears from the trauma in her past. Also, she grows to trust in God and His protection of her.
I enjoyed this book! It wasn’t as fast-paced as I’m used to, but it was still eventful and interesting. I loved Skye and Danny’s banter and nicknames for each other! It was just fun and added some positives to a book that had many negative things happen to the characters. It gave the entire book a more positive feel than otherwise.
I also appreciated that Skye grew! She didn’t stay on her lonely little island—even with Danny. Yes, so many things changed that her home would never be the same as before, but Skye still overcame her fears and moved on.
The romance was sweet! Skye and Danny really did seem to love each other. Their relationship wasn’t just infatuation—although they were definitely infatuated! Each of them genuinely cared about the other and spent time getting to know one another, unlike many other romances I know of.
I only wish the author, Sandra, would have been clearer as to what Christianity is. When Skye prayed for safety, she didn’t automatically become a Christian simply because she prayed and trusted God for her safety. Also, Biblically, Danny should not have been dating Skye since she was an unbeliever during most of the story. However, there would not have been a romance if the author simply had the characters wait until Skye became a Christian.
Nevertheless, the romance was sweet and clean—definitely something worth reading!
Things you should know: There was no bad language or sex in this book. There was a little violence, but only memories of such things as murder and rape. There was no gore even in the memories.
About the Author
Sandra loves to hike, read, bicycle and write. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two dogs, a Labrador retriever and a toy poodle. During the hot summers she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project.

And now, I have asked Sandra to answer a few questions about herself and her books. Enjoy!
Dear Emily,  Thank you for inviting me to join you on your blog. It is a real pleasure.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
I grew up in California and moved to Arizona in the seventies after my husband and I took a year tour of Central and South America. I am retired now from teaching and enjoy traveling in our motorhome. My husband and I love to hike and play pickleball.  I also enjoy writing of course. Hubby likes me to write novels because then I’m not writing him a “honey do” list.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I start my day with devotions. I play pickleball every morning and swim every afternoon. A long walk in the park or a good hike are always fun. It is during my walks that I get my story ideas.
Do you have a day job as well?
I am retired. My day job is spoiling my husband. J
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first started writing in the eighties when I was taking an education class at ASU. The instructor told us if we were going to teach writing, we should write. He assigned us to write during the summer. When we asked “What should we write?” He answered “Write what you love to read.”  I love romance novels so decided to write one and finished it that summer.  I discovered writing a romance was even more fun than reading one.
Where do you get your ideas?
I have always been a daydreamer. Whatever I see happening around me ends up being a story in my head.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I have learned over the years that writer’s block for me comes when I’ve written myself in a corner. That happens every once in awhile and I just back up and go a different direction. Seems to help.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I’m very left brained so I do prefer working from an outline. It helps prevent writer’s block in my case anyway.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
In the eighties Janet Dailey and Katherine Woodiweiss were my favorite romance writers. Janet Dailey wrote a series with Harlequin when she traveled the United States in her RV and set each novel in a different state that she had visited. Since I traveled in an RV every summer when school was out (it was cheaper than staying home and paying for air conditioning) I used her as a role model when I started writing that summer.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
When I started writing, I had never heard of RWA nor had I met any other authors. My biggest challenge was submitting manuscripts. When they said they didn’t want multiple submissions, I thought they meant they didn’t want me to send more than one book so I submitted to everyone. They also said they wanted a sample chapter. This was before computers and you had to manually type each manuscript, so I sent each publisher a chapter of the same book so one publisher got chapter one, another chapter two, another chapter three and so on. I’m sure editors had a good laugh over those first submissions. 
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Not really. I did all the things one is supposed to do. I had a critique group go over it, I submitted to every publisher that might be interested and I made all the changes they asked for.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have a whole drawer full of manuscripts that haven’t been published. I love every one of them. 
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
All of my novels and characters are fictional, but they contain elements drawn from real life.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapters were the chapters containing the fun time Skye had teaching Danny about island life. I think they were my favorite because they were based on my own experiences of being taught island life by my aunt and uncle who had a cabin on an island similar to the island where Skye lives.
How did you come up with the title?
I didn’t like my working title and mentioned it to Amber Stokes, my editor. She came up with the idea of tying it into my title of my previous book, Love’s Miracles. They are both emotional dramas and she thought they would be able to brand as such if they had similar titles. She brainstormed with my cover artist, Lena Goldfinch and said let’s do a Love’s ….
To come up with refuge, I brainstormed with my Seeker group and they actually came up with the word refuge. It fits perfectly. 
What project are you working on now?
I’m fine tuning another romance novel. I just returned from a trip to Spain where I did research for a historical novel that has been in my heart for a long time.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I hope to have the romance out next January or February.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I don’t usually write with a series in mind, so haven’t really given that much thought. Are there characters you are interested in?
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism was when I was told to ditch the first three chapters. Sadly this has happened more than once. They were right, but those were three chapters that I had spent hours on. Do you know what I mean?
The compliment that recently touched my heart to the core was the review on Amazon I received for Love’s Refuge written by Shadowplay. Shadowplay said in the review “The simple yet powerful message that filled the pages of this book whispered countless truths to my heart and surrounded my soul with the lavish love that shone through”. I was not consciously thinking this when I wrote. I was simply telling a story. So what this statement proved to me was that the Holy Spirit did indeed speak through me. That humbles me and is indeed a compliment.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The best advice I can give is to join writer’s organizations and to do whatever it takes to learn your craft. A good critique partner is a real blessing also. Persist, persist, persist. And not to brag, but our blog seekerville.blogspot.com is filled with craft skills and helpful hints for writers. You can find a post on almost any topic in our file on page one.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I want to thank all my readers and fans. I am always humbled by the trust they put in me to buy my book and spend their valuable time reading it. I truly hope they enjoy the story and are inspired by the content.
Thank you, Sandra!
Also, she is generously giving away a basic kindle loaded with her books!
Here is the giveaway: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review