Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Shaped Notes


Shaped Notes:
How Ordinary People with Extraordinary Gifts
Influenced My Life and Career

Larnelle Harris
with Christine Schaub
(Morgan James Faith Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1683505273
February 2018/142 pages/$16.99

Larnelle Harris is one of the most renowned Christian vocalists of our generation. Aside from his numerous accolades in the recording industry, Larnelle has been a stalwart figure of integrity, choosing to always put his marriage and children above his career. In his first memoir, Larnelle honestly shares some of the most difficult moments of his life – from losing his voice for a year to being attacked for his color. And he humbly credits the people who shaped his life and career early on, offering timeless insights into how God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

“There were a few tears shed through the writing process,” says Harris. “Remembering all the people who have poured into my life and how they helped me was humbling. I hope what readers take away from this book is that we all have people in our lives that we can influence for the good or for the bad. And I sometimes wonder where I would have ended up had it not been for the people who came across my path and encouraged me with their words and actions.”


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Admired by fans and peers alike for his majestic tenor voice, Larnelle Harris has become the personificationof talent and integrity in a career that spans over five decades. He is the only person in history to be a member of three distinct hall of fame organizations: the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and the Amateur Radio Hall of Fame. He was twice inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, both as a solo artist and as part of the Gaither Vocal Band. He has achieved nineteen #1 radio singles and a plethora of top 10 hits. Harris was the first Christian artist to perform inside the Kremlin after the fall of the Soviet Union. He is one of a handful of celebrities to receive the Ad Council's Silver Bell Award for Distinguished Public Service in recognition of his song Mighty Spirit as the theme song for the longest-running Public Service Announcement in television history. He recently performed for the National Day of Prayer event in Washington D.C., at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall, and sang for a gathering of U.N. Ambassadors in our nation’s capitol. Harris and his wife of 45 years, Cynthia (a.k.a. Mitzy), reside in Louisville, Kentucky. For more information, visit www.Larnelle.com. ​

Christine Schaub is the author of the critically-acclaimed MUSIC OF THE HEART series, including Finding Anna--the story behind the writing of the hymn It Is Well With My Soul--and The Longing Season--the story behind Amazing Grace--with Bethany House Publishers. She won the On the Page screenwriting contest at Screenwriting Expo 2 in Los Angeles, developed four biopic teleplays for the stories behind the hymns, and published an online column for the MethodX website (Upper Room Ministries). She graduated from Anderson University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, and has received both regional and national awards in writing and design.


MY THOUGHTS

It's easy to look at Christians in the public arena and make assumptions about their lives. Larnelle Harris has always been one of my favorite musicians, and I was eager to read his memoir. Along with cowriter Anna Schaub, Harris opens up about his childhood and the early years of his career. Authentic in sharing both joyful and heart-wrenching memories, he communicates in a conversational, down-to-earth manner that seems as if he is sitting across a table at a coffee shop. Harris maintains an attitude of gratefulness and joy throughout each chapter that refreshes and encourages. His humility, lack of bitterness, and desire to focus on God inspires. Whether you are familiar with his music, or you struggle to reconcile issues in your own past, Shaped Notes will strengthen your faith.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free Morgan James Publishing and Adams PR Group for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Monday, February 19, 2018

.Phoebe's Light


Phoebe's Light
Nantucket Legacy, Book 1
Suzanne Wood Fisher
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800721626
February 2018/352 pages/$15.99

"Not today. I will not worry today."

Phoebe Starbuck has always taken care of her father--worrying enough for both of them, as he chases one whim after another. Now, for the first time, she's doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, she takes two gifts from her father, but desires only one: her great-grandmother's journal. The second gift? A "minder" in the form of cooper Matthew Macy, a man she loathes.

Phoebe soon discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary's journal and finds a secret that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially the captain and the cooper.

Sail away with expert navigator Suzanne Woods Fisher, who confidently explores the sometimes treacherous shores of Quaker life on the storied Nantucket Island.


"Shedding light upon Quaker customs and beliefs as well as the whaling era, Fisher plunges her readers into turbulent waters with plenty of plot twists and intrigue that lead to a satisfying conclusion."--Jody Hedlund, author of Luther & Katharina, Christy Award winner


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna's Crossing, The Newcomer, and The Return in the Amish Beginnings series; The Bishop's Family series; and The Inn at Eagle Hill series; as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.


MY THOUGHTS

Suzanne Woods Fisher posesses a knack for creating fascinating stories that simultaneously entertain, inform, and inspire. Her newest novel does all of this and more as the first book in her Nantucket Legacy series. Lauded for her Amish novels, Fisher turns her attention to colonial Nantucket and the early beginnings of its Quaker faith community. Life, love, and faith intertwine amidst the challenging and often harrowing setting of the whaling trade as fact and fiction merge in this captivating tale. As always, Fisher creates situations that cause her characters to probe their faith beyond the external, often prompted by someone who doesn't "follow the rules," a characteristic that makes her one of my favorite authors. Interspersed experts of Great Mary's journal broaden and add layers to the story, and unexpected plights escalate the tension. And while the ending satisfied, I am already eager for the next Nantucket Legacy novel. Don't miss Phoebe's Light.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Revell Publishing for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Refuge Assured


A Refuge Assured
Jocelyn Green
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764219078
February 2018/416 pages/$14.99

Fleeing One Revolution to the Aftermath of Another, She Seeks and Dreams of Peace

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.


Read an excerpt.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of ten books to date, including The Mark of the King, a Christy Award winner in 2017; Wedded to War, a Christy Award double finalist in 2013; Widow of Gettysburg; Yankee in Atlanta; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. A former military wife herself, her passion for military families informs all of her writing as well as her numerous speaking opportunities. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University with a BA in English and now lives with her husband and two children in Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.


MY THOUGHTS
Words fail me as I attempt to do justice to this incredible novel. Jocelyn Green possesses a gift for crafting a phenomenal story among a lesser-known historic backdrop, and her talents shine in A Refuge Assured. Masterfully created characters populate this novel, with as much care given to minor personalities as to the primary individuals such as Vivienne and Liam. Fact and fiction intermingle with arresting detail, and Green seamlessly blends it all with prose as expertly and elegantly wrought as Vivenne's lace. The harsh realities and consequences of oppression and carnal choices are heart-breakingly evident, yet a redemptive thread of faith is a steady reminder that anyone who seeks can find A Refuge Assured. You do not want to miss this phenomenal book. Grab your copy today!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House Publishers for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





Q & A WITH JOCELYN GREEN

1. What drew you to tell this particular story?

When I first read a mention somewhere about French Asylum, the refuge built for Marie Antoinette in the wilderness of Pennsylvania during the French Revolution, I couldn’t tell if it was fact or fiction. So I immediately turned to Google and verified through several sources that it was real. Though Marie-Antoinette did not escape the guillotine, the refuge was still used by those who longed for their queen and her son, Louis-Charles. Once I started reading about the men and women who found refuge in Asylum, I was hooked. The settlement only lasted about a decade, but its history is fascinating and worth telling through the eyes of my heroine, Vivienne Rivard, a former lacemaker for the French court.

2. What is the theme of A Refuge Assured?

The primary theme is that of finding refuge in the Lord, when no physical place of safety seems to exist. But a secondary theme popped up through a character I didn’t plan on creating: Armand, the father from whom Vivienne has been estranged her entire life. The two flee France together, and through their relationship, a picture of reconciliation emerged. At one point Armand says to Vivienne, “One is never too old for a father’s love.” None of us are ever too old—or “too far gone”—for our heavenly Father’s love, either. And that is the greatest reconciliation story of all time.

3. What kind of research did you do for this book?

I devoured every book and digital resource I could find first, plus documentaries on the French Revolution, Marie-Antoinette specifically, and the Whiskey Rebellion. I did not go see Hamilton on Broadway, but I did read Ron Chernow’s amazing book about Alexander Hamilton, since the Treasury Secretary plays a significant role in my novel. I also took my family on a spring break/research trip out to Pennsylvania. My favorite research spot in Philadelphia was City Tavern, an eighteenth-century-style restaurant that was a frequent haunt of our founding fathers. I created a fictional tavern in Philadelphia for my characters, so eating at City Tavern and getting a tour into every corner was a special treat. From Philadelphia, we drove to the site of French Asylum, or Asylum. As always, on-site research is the most fun!

4. What was your favorite part of the process of writing this book?

Aside from lunching at City Tavern, one of my favorite aspects has been learning how to bake baguettes and scones from the City Tavern cookbook as part of my research. The other favorite part was developing secondary characters that are just as vibrant as the hero and heroine. This cast of characters was a joy to bring together.

5. You have shared that your heroine, Vivienne Rivard, is related to the heroine in Laura Frantz’s new novel, The Lacemaker (Revell, Jan. 2018). What is their connection?

Yes! Laura’s story is set in colonial Williamsburg on the eve of the American Revolution. A Refuge Assured starts in Paris during the French Revolution and quickly moves to Philadelphia in 1794. The connection between the lacemakers was easy to imagine, because lacemaking is typically a tradition passed down from one generation of women to the next. Laura and I had a great time creating a family tree with roots in France, and determining where the branches reached to England before spanning the ocean to America. Our heroines don’t interact with each other in either book, but eagle-eyed readers will catch the mention of a great-grandmother they
shared in each one.

Many thanks to Jocelyn Green and Bethany House Publishers for providing this Q & A!




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Monday, February 5, 2018

High Treason


High Treason
FBI Task Force, Book 3
DiAnn Mills
(Tyndale House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-1496410993
February 2018/416 pages/$14.99

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised—and none too happy—when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.

Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit—plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince—or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader's Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is codirector of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She's an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DiAnnMills, Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannmills, or any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.


MY THOUGHTS

I eagerly anticipate each new book that DiAnn Mills releases, and I always make sure I have a slot of uninterrupted time to read when one arrives because I know I won't be able to put it down. High Treason met my expectations in spades! Mills creates an all-too-likely scenario in this fast-paced tale rife wifth tension on an international level as well as among those guarding the Saudi prince, for whom trust is as imperative as it is dangerous. Multiple layers seamlessly weave together into a fascinating framework of clashing cultures, family friction, and political posturing. Heart-pounding moments are punctuated with the perfect amount of romance, adding a whole 'nother level of tension. High Treason is high drama and highly thrilling. Don't miss this captivating novel!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from DiAnn Mills and Tyndale House Publishing. I was not required to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


FBI TASK FORCE NOVELS: CLICK THE COVERS FOR MY REVIEWS!






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Friday, February 2, 2018

ACFW New Releases - February 2018

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical:

A Passionate Hope, Hannah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith -- Hannah has spent her life trusting God, loving her husband, putting up with abuse from a second wife and still she has no child--until one day she discovers the secret to her own heart's longings and rejoices in what will soon become God's promised hope. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Contemporary Romance:

Focus On Love by Candee Fick -- In the standalone sequel to Dance Over Me, photographer-turned-actress Liz meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold, but when Ryan shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Love by the Numbers by Laura V. Hilton -- When false allegations by the bishop back home catch up with Lydia and threaten to ruin her reputation, can she clear her name and find lasting happiness? Or will her sunny disposition fade away into heartbreak? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Historical Romance:

This Treacherous Journey by Misty M. Beller -- Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing arrest. Innocent of her husband’s crimes, she and her brother hope to make it through the Rockies to Canada for a clean start. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on Simeon Grant’s doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects memories he’s worked hard to forget. Widowed and childless because of his own bad choices, can he overcome the past that haunts him to give her the safety she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron -- Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman speaks of a secret past and castle ruins. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . . But her grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley to unearth its secrets before time silences them forever. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The English Lieutenant's Lady by Evelyn M. Hill -- I’m not your enemy.” He held her gaze, willing her to believe the lie. It’s 1845. Britain and America both claim the Oregon Territory, and neither side is willing to back down. To survive, British Lieutenant Geoffrey Montgomery and American Lia Griggs both are pretending to be someone they're not. The last thing either of them wants is to fall in love. And as the threat of war grows stronger, choosing to stay together could cost them everything they have. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Widow of Rose Hill by Michelle Shocklee -- Widowed during the war, Southern slave owner Natalie Ellis strikes a bargain with a Union Colonel to save her plantation and her son’s inheritance: in exchange for use of her family’s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. Natalie Ellis is everything Colonel Levi Maish loathes: a Southern slave owner. But the plight of the beautiful Widow Ellis stirs to life his compassion and the heart he’d thought hardened by war. While the army camps on her land, Levi finds himself contemplating a future with Natalie and Samuel. But when he learns where her husband perished during the war, he knows a life with Natalie is impossible. How could she ever forgive him for what he’d done in battle on the banks of the Bull Run? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin -- As D-day approaches, an American naval officer and a British Wren work together on invasion plans. But if he succeeds, will he destroy what she loves most? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky -- A determined young aviator who strives to be the first to fly across the English Channel also longs to win the heart of an aspiring journalist who is secretly covering the race across the Channel. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

The Mail-Order Brides Collection by Megan Besing, Noelle Marchand, Donna Schlachter, Sherri Shackelford, Michelle Shocklee, Ann Shorey, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Nine advertisements for brides lead to inconvenient complications in romance. Traveling west alone on a promise of marriage, each woman has her reasons to accept a husband sight unseen. Some are fleeing poverty or abuse while others simply seek hope for a brighter future. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

High Treason by DiAnn Mills -- CIA Operative Monica Alden and FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson face the challenge of their careers when a Saudi Prince's life is threatened on American soil. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Kill Shot by Susan Sleeman --
As the ballistics and weapon’s expert for the FBI’s special task force nicknamed the White Knights, Rick Cannon has known the Department of Defense was developing self-steering bullets and feared their effects in the hands of the wrong people. Now his fear is coming true. The ammunition been stolen, and the Knights are called in to find the thief and stop the killings. When therapist Olivia Dobbs discovers one of her military clients moments after he is murdered, she becomes both the FBI’s prime witness, and suspect. But with a sniper now training his rifle on her, Rick must recall all the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a kill shot that takes Olivia out. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

Supernatural Thriller:

The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart -- In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul. (Supernatural Thriller from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Western:

Cheyenne Sunrise by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her? (Western by Mountain Brook Ink)



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Monday, January 29, 2018

Judah's Wife


Judah's Wife
A Novel of the Maccabees

The Silent Years, Book 2
Angela Hunt
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764219337
January 2018/384 pages/$15.99

To Be Silent Would Be to Deny Their God, To Defy Would Bring the Wrath of the King.

Seeking quiet and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she'll have peace. But the very nation Judah was named for has been conquered by a cruel king, who decrees that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws or risk death for following the laws of Moses.

Judah's father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands Judah to pick up his sword and continue the fight--or bear responsibility for the obliteration of Israel. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband's decision--what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah's wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The author of more than 100 published books and with nearly 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Like the first book in this series and Angela Hunt's Dangerous Beauty novels, Judah's Wife creates a compelling story amidst the backdrop of a thoroughly researched, historically accurate setting. Prior to this novel, I was only vaguely familiar with the Maccabees and had minimal knowledge of the events of the Silent Years, the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments when God sent no prophet to speak to His people. Hunt makes it evident that while He may have been silent, He was not absent in this gripping tale of the man and his sons who lead the Jewish people in their revolt against the evil king, Antiochus Epiphanes, who seeks to snuff out their religious practices and force them to worship the pagan gods. While many of the characters are verifiable, Hunt creates others who are not documented in historic references, Leah and other women among them, seamlessly blending fact and fiction into a tale that, in spite of its ancient setting and customs, has relevance for today. The demands made by Antiochus Epiphanes and the pressure to conform to a secular form of religion seem distressingly possible in our increasingly faith-hostile world. Judah's Wife will challenge and encourage you. Don't miss it!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free Bethany House Publishers for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Q & A WITH ANGELA HUNT

1. Why write about the Intertestamental Period? God was silent during that time, right?

God did not speak through his prophets during that time, but He certainly wasn’t napping, so surely He continued to speak to individuals in His still, small voice. For instance, we know He spoke to Simeon, the old man waiting to see the Messiah in the Temple. But God made no proclamations through His prophets. In the preceding years He had already told His people everything they needed to know about the coming Messiah.

2. This is a novel about the Maccabees—who were they, and why are they celebrated?

The Maccabees were followers of Judah/Judas Maccabees, the son of a priestly family who refused to capitulate to the ruling Seleucids who wanted to Hellenize the Jews. When Antiochus Epiphanes made it a capital crime to observe the Sabbath, circumcise baby boys, or refrain from eating pork and other unclean foods, the Maccabees fought back. Literally.

3. In the book, you mention that the celebration of Hanukah has its roots in events that took place during the time of the Maccabees. What is the connection with Hanukah, and why does a menorah symbolize that celebration?

After the Maccabees put the Seleucids to flight, they reclaimed the Temple, which had been desecrated in the most horrible ways imaginable. When they had finished cleansing it, they declared a festival—the word Hanukah means dedication.

Many Jews celebrate Hanukah with a menorah because a legend arose 600 years after the festival’s origination. The legend states that the priests found a vial of holy oil that had somehow escaped contamination by the pagan Seleucids. They poured the oil into a lamp, which miraculously burned for all seven days of the festival.

4. What lessons can a contemporary reader—Jewish or Christian—take from this book about the Maccabees? Is their story relevant to us today?

I believe the story is extremely relevant because our culture is becoming increasingly secular, and Christians are being pressed to conform to the world as never before. Of course, we should never be surprised or offended when people who do not believe in a holy God behave like people who do not believe in a holy God. The problem arises when we who DO believe are asked to accept and/or condone practices the Bible declares unacceptable for God’s people. Judeo-Christian principles once served as a basis for Western civilization, but now we are being asked to accept a fluid form of morality or be labeled “haters.” This is what the Jews faced under the Seleucid
empire, only they faced death, not criticism on social media.

5. The book’s characters frequently talk about “Hellenes,” or Jews who had set aside their Jewish faith in order to follow Greek customs and culture. Why were the religious Jews so opposed to the Hellenes? Aren’t we supposed to be culturally relevant?

If you can relate to the culture without compromising biblical standards of righteous living, great! If you must violate principles the Bible clearly declares, then we should be as steadfast as the righteous Jews who risked their lives to obey the Torah, God’s Word. If the Seleucid king had allowed the Jews to continue worshiping according to their beliefs, he would not have faced them in war. But when he began to put righteous Jews to death (in truly horrifying ways), the Maccabees took action, and God blessed them.

6. What book comes next in The Silent Years series?

The third book in The Silent Years series is Jerusalem’s Queen, a novel based on the life of Salome Alexandra. Who was she? Israel’s greatest queen, and a truly remarkable woman.

Thanks to Angela Hunt and Bethany House Publishers for providing this Q & A!


THE SILENT YEARS Series - click the covers for my reviews!




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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Song Unheard


A Song Unheard
(Shadows Over England, Book 2)
Roseanna M. White
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764219276
January 2018/416 pages/$15.99

If Betraying Her Heart Means Saving Countless Lives, Will She Find the Courage?

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I--to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has.

Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long said that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two kids, designing book covers, editing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories on her Facebook page and at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Roseanna M. White is a must-read author for me, and she delights once again with A Song Unheard. White creates vivid and compelling characters that charm their way into my heart, even when one is a pickpocket and a skilled thief such as Willa! (Who knew thieves had such scruples?) This tale offers the perfect blend of intrigue, treachery, danger, and romance--not to mention the magnificent music that practically wafts off the pages. I lost track of time as I read, experiencing the setting, circumstances, and emotions as if I were transported back more than a century and across the pond to Wales. You don't simply read A Song Unheard; you feel it! Grab a blanket and your favorite warm drink and curl up with this extraordinary novel.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free Bethany House Publishers and Roseanna M. White for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Q & A WITH ROSEANNA M. WHITE

1. Where did you get the idea for A Song Unheard?

When I was researching Great Britain during World War I for the first book in the Shadows Over England series, A Name Unknown, I came across information about the hundreds of thousands of Belgian refugees that flooded the country in the first few months of the war—and specifically about an orchestra composed of Belgium’s best musicians. Two sisters from Wales, Margaret and Gwendoline Davies, devised the idea of funding a refugee orchestra. They actually sent men into Belgium soon after it was invaded by the German army to offer the musicians a safe haven in Wales during the war. They wanted to help provide for them, and also to bring some culture to their small neighborhood. As soon as I read about that, I was intrigued!

2. Both your hero and heroine in this book are violinists. Do you have a musical background?

I do, yes—though not on the violin. I’ve been playing the piano since I was seven. I also learned clarinet during school, for the band, and organ in high school. I’ve been the pianist/organist at one church or another since I was fourteen. So I had a lot of musical knowledge and background to pull from when writing this story, and just needed some input from a violinist to make sure my details about that instrument were correct.

3. What was the most interesting or fun part of the research for this book?

Probably all the beautiful music I got to listen to! I needed to be able to refer to several pieces byname and composer, so first I just wrote the scenes describing what sort of piece I’d need (fast, difficult, soothing, etc.) and then I bought an album of classical violin music and enjoyed listening to it until I found compositions that fit what I needed. Not exactly a hardship, I confess.

4. Did you learn anything that surprised you?

Definitely! I read a book all about the invasion of Belgium in the first days of the war and the occupation throughout it, and it was shocking. I had no idea how similar the practices of the German army during this occupation were to the Nazi regime we all know so much about from thirty years later. More, because the press sensationalized and exaggerated it during the war, it was then totally dismissed afterward, and the world didn’t heed any of the warning signs. Historians now look to Germany’s treatment of Belgium as a direct precursor to Nazi practices. Of course, there were still a few German military leaders who tried to speak reason to the High Command, and I do give them their due as well. We see all of this through the eyes of my hero’s little sister, who, along with their mother, is caught up in the chaos of the invasion when their hometown is burned to the ground.

5. What hope do you leave the readers with in A Song Unheard?

Though the world around them is grim and my heroine especially can’t see much reason to trust, faith shines brightest in dark times. In this story, I wanted to show how God will make himself real to each of us in the ways we most need. For some, like Lukas, it’s in sending the right people into our paths the moment we need them. For others, like Willa, it’s in sending us a song when that’s the only Gospel that we’ll let around the walls of our heart. Our Lord isn’t confined to one way of reaching us with the news of His Son, and for that I am so grateful.

Thanks to Roseanna M. White and Bethany House Publishers for providing this Q & A!



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Monday, January 22, 2018

The Melody of the Soul


The Melody of the Soul
Music of Hope (Book 1)
Liz Tolsma
(Gilead Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1683700401
January 2018/320 pages/$15.99

Anna has one chance for survival—and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.

It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.


MY THOUGHTS

Best-selling novelist Liz Tolsma is the author of several World War II novels and prairie romance novellas. She also works as a freelance editor. She lives in a semirural area of Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. Her son serves with the US Marines. All of their chidlren came to them through international adoption. Her other passions include walking, gardening, camping, and reading.

Find out more about Liz at www.liztolsma.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Oh my. My words cannot do justice to this masterpiece of a novel. Liz Tolsma has penned a story that is a veritable symphony of words. Exquisitely titled and graced with an equally enchanting cover, The Melody of the Soul touched my heart as surely as if I were hearing Anna playing her violin. Just as the best musical compositions move the listener through an array of emotional highs and lows by the juxtaposition of chords and tempo, this story swells and diminishes as it builds to the final crescendo. I was thoroughly engrossed in Anna's plight and found it impossible to set this book aside, virtually reading it straight through. To do otherwise would be like stopping an orchestra in the middle of a performance with a dissonant clang the cymbals. I've read quite a few historical fiction novels set in the WWII era, and few have gripped me like this one. Don't miss The Melody of the Soul. Your soul will be richer for it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Gilead Publishing and Litfuse Publicity for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Travel back in time to 1943 and meet Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian and concert violinist whose career is ended because of Nazi occupation in Prague. Don't miss the new historical novel, The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma. Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Officer Horst Engel, quartered in Anna's flat and dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz's prize pack giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz's Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!


RSVP today and spread the word!
Tell your friends about the giveaway
and Facebook Live party
via social media and
increase your chances of winning.
Hope to see you on the 6th!


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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage


The Ladies of Ivy Cottage
Tales from Ivy Hill, Book 2
Julie Klassen
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764218156
December 2017/448 pages/$15.99

Return to Ivy Hill as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold . . .

A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she's inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.

Rachel's hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what--or whom--has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards and ACFW's Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Julie Klassen once again delights with her new Regency-era novel. I loved returning to Ivy Hill and was charmed by familiar as well as new characters. While this book can be read as a stand-alone, recurring characters and references to previous events will mean more to those who read the first novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. And Klassen's storytelling is too good to miss in either book! Multi-dimensional individuals fill this tale, with as much care given to secondary characters as those in the main spotlight, and the result is a story that pulses with feeling. The societal expectations once again fascinated me, and of course as an avid reader, I loved that books play a prominent part in this engrossing novel. Don't miss The Ladies of Ivy Cottage!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free Bethany House Publishers for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


TALES FROM IVY HILL: CLICK THE COVERS FOR MY REVIEWS




1. What can you tell us about your new book, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage?

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second book in the Tales from Ivy Hill series. In it, Rachel Ashford finds herself living with her friend Mercy Grove but without a way to support herself. Jane Bell and others encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she’s inherited. As villagers donate additional books, Rachel discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for. Meanwhile, Mercy Grove has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. But the truth may surprise them all.

2. Where did you get the original idea for this series?

I have wanted to write a village-based series for years. As an author of historical fiction set in England, I have loved several BBC miniseries set in villages like Larkrise to Candleford, Cranford, and Middlemarch, as well as the Thrush Green series of books. I am drawn to their close-knit communities filled with unforgettable characters, romance, family drama, and of course, the British accents. Now I hope readers will enjoy the Tales from Ivy Hill series as well.

3. This is the first sequel or “Book Two” you have written. What unique pleasures or challenges did you face while writing it?

Both! Pleasure-wise, I enjoyed staying in the same village for a second book, going deeper with the main characters, and bringing more secondary characters to life. As far as challenges, I found it tricky to decide how far to move the story forward to make Book Two fully satisfying while also (hopefully) enticing readers to read the third and final book next year. Finding the right balance of each character’s story was also a challenge. It’s not surprising there was a learning curve, as I’ve never written a series before. Kudos to veteran series writers who make it look so easy! Thankfully, I have talented critique partners and editors who helped me hone the book. I truly think readers will enjoy it even more than Book One.

4. Is Ivy Hill a real place?

Ivy Hill is fictional, but it is based on a real place: the national trust village of Lacock in Wiltshire. (In fact, there is a map of Ivy Hill printed in the book, and the street layout is nearly identical to Lacock’s.) I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Lacock three times now, most recently in September 2017, when I hosted my first-ever group trip to England. What a pleasure to tour Lacock’s half-timbered buildings, ivy-covered stone cottages, tempting shops, inns, and eateries with people who had read the book. I think they were as charmed by the place as I was. And I am not the first to set something there. Lacock has been used as a film location for scenes in Pride & Prejudice (1995), Cranford (2007), Emma (1996), and several other productions.

5. The first book was set primarily in a coaching inn. What is the setting of Book Two?

The primary setting of the book is a house called Ivy Cottage, where Mercy runs a small girls school and Rachel opens a circulating library. Books were very expensive in those days and free public libraries did not yet exist in Great Britain. But by the early nineteenth century, circulating libraries were thriving businesses found in most major English cities. These libraries charged an annual subscription fee that would allow subscribers to check out a certain number of volumes in a given period. As a book and history lover, I enjoyed incorporating a few details about these forerunners to today’s public libraries.

6. How can readers learn more about the series?

Readers can learn more by visiting TalesFromIvyHill.com, a website devoted to the series, including a colorful village map, character list, photos, excerpts, author videos, and more.


Many thanks to Julie Klassen and Bethany House Publishers for this intriguing Q&A!


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