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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Beautiful Clouds!

A couple days ago, I went outside and was just hit with how beautiful the clouds were! I took several pictures of them, but am unable to post them here. Instead, I found some pictures of similar clouds and here they are:
These aren't quite what I saw, but they were beautiful nonetheless and reminded me of ocean waves. So, I wrote a poem about them! It's far from perfect (and definitely free verse), but I hope you will enjoy it!

I look to the sky and see the sea,
Waves undulating through the clouds
Like so many currents flowing through the ocean.
It is a beautiful sight, yet terrible indeed.
It is as though a storm was about to break
Upon the vessels of the heavens,
Those poor ships tossed to and fro
Upon the oceans of the air.
Will their shattered remains soon fall
To the earth on which I stay,
Looking up upon these ships?
Nay! For soon a breeze of miraculous work
Shall cast these storm-clouds aside,
And all shall be safe once again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart
Amber Stokes

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay's livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others - and hers isn't the only heart that's broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Inspirational Historical Romance

My Review

Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes is the tale of Sally Clay. She chased after her love, Jack, only to be left in the dust with no way back home. Thus, the innocent young girl became a soiled dove—a tavern girl. But there is hope for love yet. She sets off to find Jack again, with the help of Myghal and Joe. But will redemption ever come? Will broken hearts ever be healed? And will she find new love with one of her companions?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! There were so many ups and downs I could never figure out what would happen next! There was romance, danger, and so very many broken hearts that needed healing. It was also an excellent portrayal of the old west—the mining, logging, and railroads, as well as the ups and downs of living in the old west.
My only complaints would be the names. There were so many people’s names introduced in the very beginning that I could not keep track of who was who. I knew who the main characters and villains were, but the other names that only appeared in the main characters’ backstories were confusing. Also, at the beginning, I could not figure out where they were or where they were going! Eventually, I discovered that the Virginia City in the book was in Nevada, not Virginia as I had originally thought. If I had known that at the beginning, it would not have been so confusing! However, by the end of the book, all these problems were resolved completely. I would only have appreciated more clarity at the beginning.

Over all, though, Bleeding Hearts was an excellent book! I definitely recommend it! And guess what! the kindle version is only $0.99! Amazon

Things you should know: The main character is a prostitute, but there is absolutely no sex in the book. The villain lusts after Sally so much that he has to have her. Because of this, there is a little violence.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The King's Great Love

here once lived a kind and good King who loved a certain young Princess from a faraway land. Even a as  young girl, this Princess was known for her great beauty. When the time came that she was of an age to be married, the King came to ask for her hand.

After He arrived, the King, in view of the entire royal court, knelt before the Princess. "I have loved you since before you were born. Will you be my bride?"

The Princess looked down at the King kneeling before her and whispered, if only to herself, "Do I even have a choice?"

"Yes, Princess," the King likewise whispered, "you always have a choice."

Then the Princess glared down at Him and declared for all in the room to hear, "Then I will NEVER marry you."

The King bowed and backed away, determined to wait for her.

After that day, the Princess went her own way. She did not listen to her Father, but spent his money lavishly and her time flirting with the men who came to call. She herself ruined her purity, and the day came when her Father forced her to leave the palace since she would not stop her immoral lifestyle. Then she turned to theft and prostitution to "earn" her living.

In her travels, the Princess found herself in the King's country and was soon brought before the King to be judged for her crimes.

In the courtroom, the King presented Himself to the Princess and bowed, as was befitting one of her station.

The Princess glared up at Him from her position on the floor, since she was too weak to stand from the diseases that ravaged her body. "You said you loved me," she spat, "but look at you--ready to send me to my death! Well, do not expect any groveling from me! Do your worst!"

The King looked at the Princess and saw who she was--and who she was meant to be. He saw her dirty, ragged clothing and her diseased skin. He also saw how hopeless the Princess was and how she regretted the things she had done, although she would never admit it.

The King then sat in His great throne and declared, "Princess, you have been charged with theft, lying, and immoral living. Do you deny these accusations?"

Her voice flat, the Princess replied, "No."

"The penalty for these crimes is death. All here know that the penalty for breaking these laws must be paid, I cannot simply pardon anyone. Therefore," the King stepped down from His throne and knelt down before the Princess, "I will take your place, Princess."

This finally broke the Princess and she cried, "I cannot ask you to die for me!"

"You are not asking; I am offering. All you need to do is accept."

"I cannot if it means you will die. You have done nothing wrong--I have. I deserve it, but you don't."

The King smiled at her, "I will die to take your place whether you say you will accept or not."

Finally seeing hope, the Princess asked, "You would truly do that for me, even if I don't accept?"


"Then," she said with tears in her eyes, "I accept."

Just as the King loved the Princess so much that He would die for her, even after all she had done, so God loves us. God created us and loves us, but we disobey His laws by lying, stealing, idolatry, jealousy, murder, adultery, and so many other things. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). 
But God still loves us. He loved us so much that He could not simply allow us to die in Hell—the punishment for our crimes against Him. Instead God sent His Son Jesus, who is God, to be the perfect human and die in our place. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8)

But He did not stay dead! Three days after Jesus’ death, He rose from the dead! “…that

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

If we believe what Jesus has done for us, God will forgive us for our sins and bring us into Heaven when we die. “…Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31).

All you need to do is believe.