Monday, December 30, 2019

Serving Up Love - Harvey House Brides Collection

Serving Up Love
by: Tracie Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764232695

It's been forever since I've read a novella and when Karen Witemeyer gave me the opportunity to review Serving Up Love, I couldn't resist!


On the Menu for These Ladies?
Adventure, Independence, and a Big Serving of Romance!
A storied part of American history, Harvey Houses offered women a unique chance to gain independence and see amazing parts of this great country. Celebrated historical romance writers Tracie Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano offer four fun, romantic tales of Harvey girls whose western adventures lead to love. 

Tracie Peterson - 
A Flood of Love
Returning home to New Mexico for the first time in years to fill in at the Harvey House, Gretchen Gottsacker is sure the past is behind her. But nothing can be that simple. When the man she loved long ago steps back into her life--with a daughter, no less--will she ever be the same?

Karen Witemeyer - More Than a Pretty Face
Rosalind Kemp becomes a Harvey Girl, clinging to the promise of one day transferring even farther west, someplace her youthful indiscretion won't catch up to her. But the past is hard to escape, and when the worst occurs, will anyone stand up for her? 

Regina Jennings - Intrigue a la Mode
When Willow Kentworth is warned that strange things are happening in the railyard after dark, she never intends to get involved. That is, until a handsome new employee at the Harvey House--who has secrets of his own--needs her assistance. 

Jen Turano - 
A Grand Encounter
After her fiancé abandons her, Miss Myrtle Schermerhorn flees New York's pity for a position at the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. She's determined to hold fast to her life of independence--but a rugged, frequent guest of the hotel makes that vow difficult to uphold.

My Review:

I've forgotten how quickly a novella story goes! You have to be prepared for it to go fast, and I wasn't quite prepared. HA!

What I loved about Serving Up Love is know how each author writes and finding their style with each novella. What I didn't realize was how familiar I am with each of their styles. Tracie Peterson tends to have a more serious toned storyline and that came through with her plot. I think for me, hers was the hardest to get into. The reason may be because they already had a history the reader didn't get to experience and we don't get to build up their relationship at the same time. Does that even make sense? I liked the characters and the story. I probably would've enjoyed it more as a full novel. There was so much more I wanted to know about their back story.

Karen's story was delightful. If you've read The Patchwork Family Series then you'll appreciate this little addition! I didn't realize this novella went along with the series, so when I hit chapter 2, I felt like I was having deja vu. Turns out this follows Book 2 of the series. I liked how once again Rosalind was trying to escape her past, but it wasn't to be. I felt like we got the full story even in novella form. You can always count on Karen's stories to satisfy your love of a couple falling for each other. Don't you love books that feel like a warm, cozy chair?

I've only read one other Regina Jennings books and enjoyed it. There was more mystery surrounding her story. That definitely added intrigue that I really appreciated. I really liked Willow because she is is comfortable in her position as a Harvey Girl. Graham comes along and disrupts her life unintentionally. The writing kept me turning the page because the story really pulled me in. Also, as a side note, I'm reminded once again that Pinkertons are somewhat new to me and I wonder if there are any novels out there about them.

We know my love for all things Jen Turano. As with all of her tales, this one had me laughing out loud. Jen's characters also have the best names. Myrtle learns very quickly that Jack, a guy who always seems mute in her presence, has a fondness for her. How she finds out is hilarious and is thanks to his brother, Walter. Unfortunately for Jack, Myrtle has sworn off men. Oops! There's a bit of miscommunication, which is no surprise when it comes to Jen's writing.

About the Authors:

Tracie Peterson - A Flood of Love
Tracie Peterson ( is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Karen Witemeyer - More Than a Pretty Face
Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at

Regina Jennings - Intrigue a la Mode
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She's the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online at 

Jen Turano - 
A Grand Encounter
Jen Turano, ( a USA Todaybestselling author, has written four historical romance series. She is a member of ACFW and RWA and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Moon Is Always Round By Jonathan Gibson

The Moon Is Always Round
by Jonathan Gibson
Illustrated by Joe Hox
Publisher: New Growth Press
ISBN: 978-1-64507-027-6

I was sent a complimentary copy of The Moon is Always Round by New Growth Press for review.


Even young children want answers to the hard questions about God and suffering. In The Moon Is Always Round, seminary professor and author Jonathan Gibson uses the vivid imagery of the moon to explain to children how God's goodness is always present, even when it might appear to be obscured by upsetting or difficult circumstances.
In this beautiful, full-color illustrated book, he allows readers to eavesdrop on the conversations he had with his young son in response to his sister's death. Father and son share a simple liturgy together that reminds them that, just as the moon is always round despite its different phases, so also the goodness of God is always present throughout the different phases of life.
A section in the back of the book offers further biblical help for parents and caregivers in explaining God's goodness to children. Jonathan Gibson reminds children of all ages that God's goodness is present in the most difficult of times, even if we can't always see it.
My Review:

What a compelling story for children who have tough questions or have experienced loss. The Moon is Always Round was unexpectedly beautiful to me.

The text in the story is written to flow along with the illustration. The style and bolding of words certain words brings emphasis throughout the story. The illustrations go along beautifully with the story, which help make the reader become invested emotionally in the story.

When I read the story, it pulled on my heartstrings for any family who has endured loss, and for that reason needs to read a book like this to their child. On the other hand, this is such an important book for families to have in the face of loss. I'm sure it can be hard to know how to have such a difficult conversation with a child, but this book will help.

What I liked most about this story is how it gives a concrete example of how God can exist even when we can't see him, just like the moon when it waxes and wanes. Also, because this is based on a true story, you have an appreciation of how the author understands how to relate loss to children in a simple, but straightforward way.

I appreciate at the back of the book the lessons that will help children grasp the story on deeper levels. The catechism at the end will help adults and children have a discussion about the moon while relating it to how we know there's a God even when we can't see Him.

About the Author & Illustrator:

Jonathan Gibson (PhD, Cambridge) is ordained in the International Presbyterian Church, UK, and is associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. He is coeditor with Mark Earngey of Reformation Worship, contributor to and coeditor with David Gibson of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, and Covenant Continuity and Fidelity: A Study of Inner-Biblical Allusion and Exegesis in Malachi. He is married to Jacqueline, and they have two children: Benjamin and Leila.
Joe Hox was raised on a farm in southern Iowa where he doodled whenever he wasn’t spading thistles or feeding pigs. Everyone knew by his crooked hay rows that he would choose art over farming. Joe earned his BA in Art and Education from Dordt College and his MA from the University of Nebraska. Today he lives with his wife and four children in Pella, Iowa, where he illustrates and teaches art. Joe has illustrated all of the Good News for Little Hearts series.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Christmas Books From Zonderkidz & Giveaway

I'm so excited to bring you two Christmas books from Zonderkidz. They've got some great options available just in time for the holiday.

A Very Fiona Christmas
by Richard Cowdrey
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310767732


It’s Fiona the hippo’s very first Christmas, and the zoo is sparkling with holiday spirit. When the adorable little hippo asks her friends, “What’s Christmas?” they set out to show her all the wonders and excitement of the season. With each new experience Fiona lets out a snort, wiggles her ears, and asks, “Is THIS Christmas?”
Amidst the snow, twinkling lights, mistletoe, and stockings, Fiona ends up meeting a new friend at the zoo who helps her discover the true meaning of the holiday: Love. Snuggle up with your little ones and join Fiona and her adorable animal friends for a heartwarming holiday romp through the zoo. 
My Review:

A Very Fiona Christmas is such an absolutely delightful book! The hardcover is textured. The lightbulbs as well as the snow and part of Fiona's scarf have sparkly glitter on them. Honestly, if the cover doesn't pull you into the story, I don't know what will. First impressions are everything and this cover doesn't disappoint.

Is there anything cuter than a hippo enjoying her first Christmas? The illustrations throughout the story is beautiful and something even the adults reading the story can appreciate. Fiona interacts with a variety of other animals who live at the zoo as she tries to understand what the day is all about. At the beginning of the book you'll notice a koala bear watching Fiona's activity from afar. This plays into the full story.

Now, this isn't a Christian book so there isn't any discussion about Jesus, and I think my readers need to be aware of that. The point of this story is teaching children to think of others and show kindness. Both of those are important lessons for our children to learn.

I can see this book becoming a must-read every Christmas season with your little ones. It would also make a wonderful gift to anyone with little ones.

I'm giving away A Very Fiona Christmas on my Instagram page along with a group of other bookish items! Be sure to enter. Giveaway ends 12/10 at 11:59pm ET.

The Beginner's Bible: Jesus is Born
An "I Can Read!" Book
ISBN: 9780310769279


A young girl named Mary is going to have a special baby. When he is born, God’s angels tell everyone the good news. But the king is not happy at all. What will become of Baby Jesus?

Featuring vibrant art from the beloved The Beginner’s Bible®, this faithful retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth from the New Testament is perfect for parents to share God’s Word with their children. Few books capture the iconic story about the first Christmas for beginning readers as memorably as the proven format of this My First I Can Read! book—The Beginner's Bible Jesus Is Born.

My Review:

I have been a fan of The Beginner's Bible stories since my daughter got her first Bible as a toddler. Jesus is Born covers the time before Jesus is born all the way to when the angel told Mary & Joseph they could go back home.

The illustrations go along with the rest of the series and are as sweet as you'd expect. The story is easy to read for children to help pick out some basic words. The type is written large enough for children to be able to attempt to participate as they read along with the story. The story is simple enough for children to grasp that Jesus was born to Mary, but Joseph wasn't His father, but God is. They can understand how Jesus was born, that He was visited by shepherds & wise men, and that they had to leave Bethlehem because Herod wanted to capture Him.

I appreciate the simplicity of the story and how easy it is to enjoy it. What a great book to read leading up to celebrating Christ's birth. This would even make a great stocking stuffer!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tony Evans Study Bible Review & Giveaway

I love Tony Evans. There. I said it. Oh, but not in THAT way. Like, if he were my uncle, he'd be my favorite uncle! He has been a staple in my life for pretty much the entirety of me being a Christian. Can I share a memory, albeit a vague one, of my one and only time seeing Tony in person?

My roommate, and dear friend, Vicki won tickets to go see him preach in downtown Seattle. I had this image of him in my head of this large man to fit his booming voice. Back in the mid-90s I couldn't Google him. We went to hear him speak and I think she and I were the only caucasian women in the crowd. Then there he was. His stature wasn't what I expected, but his voice was the same one I heard on the radio. lol We had the most incredible time at that church service! The only thing I honestly remember is his voice didn't match how I pictured him.

Now I have The Tony Evans Study Bible! I was BEYOND thrilled when I found out I could review this thanks to FrontGate Media. Let's check it out!

Introducing The Tony Evans Study Bible from BH Publishing on Vimeo.

CSB Tony Evans Study Bible
Contributors: Tony Evans (author)|CSB Bibles by Holman (editor)
ISBN: 9781535971133


Tony Evans is one of the most influential church leaders of our time and has been studying and preaching the Gospel for over 50 years. He serves as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX and founder of The Urban Alternative, a ministry which promotes a kingdom agenda philosophy designed to enable people to live all of life underneath the comprehensive rule of God.

The Tony Evans Study Bible includes extensive study notes and other ancillary resources carefully crafted and curated by Dr. Tony Evans as General Editor and adapted from his sermons, teachings, and writings. These features are strategically placed alongside the biblical text to explain God’s Word in a fresh way. Applying these truths will empower readers to have transformed lives that then transfer the values of the kingdom of God to others.

Features include: Elegant design, study notes crafted from Tony Evans sermons and writings, 40 inspirational articles, 50 “Lessons on Kingdom Living,” a plethora of “Questions & Answers,” numerous "Hope Words,” over 150 videos of sermons, devotionals, and teaching from Dr. Evans, page-edge cross-reference system, black-letter text, presentation page and introductory front matter, special back matter section with key definitions, theological and doctrinal charts, and other study helps, concordance, Bible reading plan, full-color maps, and more.

The Tony Evans Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible's original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture's life-changing message and to share it with others.

My Review:

Ok, let me warn you. I'm going to gush about this Bible. This has become my go-to Bible. I'm NOT just saying that. The Tony Evans Study Bible is stunning! There's no other way to put it. Let's start with the cover. The one I received for review is black/brown leathertouch. It may be imitation leather, but you would never know it. The stitching also adds to the gorgeous design. The pages have a gold trim. I also love the added touch of the gold embossed crown on the spine.

Let's head into the Tony Evans Study Bible. One of the features I liked immediately is that it lays flat. I don't have to constantly have to try to keep it open. I appreciated the section on how to use the Bible. Study Bibles tend to have a lot included in them, and to understand how each piece can be used effectively is essential to getting the most out of it. The brown shading they use to highlight the resources is easy on the eyes and draws you to notice them as part of the page, but doesn't distract from it.

Now here's a funny for you. As I began reading the Bible for my studies, guess what I heard? Dr. Tony Evans voice. Ha! I'm not kidding. I've listened to him on the radio for so long I can hear his voice as I start to read. Speaking of hearing his voice, one of the resources through out the Bible is his video devotions. You can scan the QR code or underneath each code is the url. It's so helpful to read scripture and hear teaching to go along with it.

The back of this Christian Standard Bible is loaded with all kind of helps. There are:
  • Definitions of key terms and doctrines of the Christian faith
  • Topical index
  • Attributes of the triune God
  • Bibliology
  • Names of God
  • Reading plan
  • and more
I haven't even been able to take it all in there's so much to it! I haven't done it yet... I'm still in the honeymoon phase of my new Bible -- you know what I'm talking about, right? Trying not to crinkle the pages and such, but I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of highlighting and note writing in the one. I haven't done that for years! Can you believe it?

Now you have the opportunity to win your very own Tony Evans Study Bible!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Good News For Little Hearts 3 Book Review

I know I've mentioned it before, but I love storing up books for when I have grandchildren to read to. I was sent these books from New Growth Press to review! They're part of the Good News For Little Hearts series.

Gus Loses His Grip
Editor: David Powlison
Ilustrator: Joe Hox
Publisher: New Growth Press
ISBN: 978-1-948130-77-6


Gus, a raccoon who loves all things sweet, learns what happens when you want something too much. After Gus gets caught taking candy from the store, Papa reminds him that temptation might be strong for us, but it’s not too strong for Jesus. Both Gus and Papa can ask Jesus for help when they want something too much.
The last page contains information for parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are tempted. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life.
Also included is a tear-out page of “Back Pocket Bible Verses” that will give children a practical way to remember God’s words when they want something too much.
My Review:

I was surprised at how deep this book is for the age group it's listed for. This series is for 3-8 year olds. I would say if you read this to a preschooler or younger you'll need to modify the story for them otherwise I'm sure it would go over their head. The story is very fitting for elementary age kids.

I think the author and illustrator came up with the perfect critter to represent a character who can't stop snacking. They are called trash pandas for a reason. lol I think most kids will get a kick out of how much Gus eats and will be able to relate to going overboard on their favorite things.

The great part about this story is that it will hit home for the adults reading the book. We can all take stock in how we can overindulge ourselves and how our kids see us doing that as a not so great example. I appreciate how God is woven into the story for the kids to be able to grasp the message.

The illustrations give kids a lot to take in so they'll be be able to listen to the story as you read it to them. The pages will definitely keep their interest.

About the Author:

David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, (1949–2019) was a teacher, counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He wrote many books and minibooks, including Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context, Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken, God's Grace in Your Suffering, and Safe and Sound. David was also the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling.

About the Illustrator:

Joe Hox was raised on a farm in southern Iowa where he doodled whenever he wasn’t spading thistles or feeding pigs. Everyone knew by his crooked hay rows that he would choose art over farming. Joe earned his BA in Art and Education from Dordt College and his MA from the University of Nebraska. Today he lives with his wife and four children in Pella, Iowa, where he illustrates and teaches art. Joe has illustrated all of the Good News for Little Hearts series.

Henry Says Good-bye
Editor: Edward T. Welch
Ilustrator: Joe Hox
Publisher: New Growth Press
ISBN: 978-1-948130-78-3


Henry the hedgehog loves his pet ladybug. She keeps him company and entertains him, his family, and his friends with her flying tricks. But one day, he has to say good-bye to his ladybug. Henry and his whole family are sad, but they learn to go to Jesus with their sadness and ask him to comfort them.
The last page contains information for parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are sad. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life.
Also included is a tear-out page of “Back Pocket Bible Verses” that will give children a practical way to remember God’s words when they are sad.
My Review:

When I got this book, I thought "saying good-bye" meant Henry was letting his ladybug go, but she actually passes away. I wanted to make sure that was clear because it's an entirely different topic to discuss with your child when you read the book.

I think the topic of death is covered well by the author. He helps Henry share his emotions in a variety of ways. As adults we understand there are varying responses to the loss of someone or something we love like: sadness, anger, confusion, etc. I think this book would be good in the face of the loss of a pet.

God's part in handling our sadness is covered in a way kids can understand. I love that Henry's father gives him scripture on a piece of paper that Henry can keep with him. I also like that it helps children to be aware of others who are possibly hurting.

At the back of each of these books are ways to engage the kids in discussions. They help adults have talking points when kids have various questions or even a way to talk about it more in depth with older kids.

About the Author:

Edward T. Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He earned a PhD in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. His biblical counseling books include: Shame Interrupted; When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness; Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love; and A Small Book about a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace.

Tori Comes Out of Her Shell
Editor: Jayne V. Clark
Ilustrator: Joe Hox
Publisher: New Growth Press
ISBN: 978-1-948130-76-9


Tori the turtle feels all alone. She has just moved to a new pond and a new school with her family and it seems like everyone has a friend except her. Her teacher notices she feels alone and helps her remember Jesus is always her friend and then along the way she makes some new friends.
The last page contains information for parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are lonely. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life.
Also included is a tear-out page of “Back Pocket Bible Verses” that will give children a practical way to remember God’s words when they feel all alone.
My Review:

Once again the author and illustrator have picked the perfect critter who is shy and tries coming out of her shell. Moving and being the new student is rarely an easy change. It's also a terrific way for kids to see that they're not the only ones feeling lonely or scared.

The author made sure another character feels somewhat the same way as Tori. I also like how the teacher can help ease her into making friends. It's good for kids to see the different ways people can help each other out. I also like that Miss Minnick gives Tori a card like the ones on the back of the book.

Each book in this series has 4 tear-off cards. Kids can keep them with them or maybe even put them on the fridge to help keep them in mind throughout the day. For this book the scriptures would be great in lunch boxes as well. Once again God is an integral part of the story as well as showing kindness to others.

The illustrator also made Tori's room really cute (as well as the rest of the book). To me it looked just like a turtle's room would look if they had one. It was also nice to see the same characters drawn through each of the book so they're familiar to the kids and families who read the books.

About the Author:

Jayne V. Clark, MAR, is the Chief of Staff at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). She is also a counselor with thirty years of experience, a frequent retreat and conference speaker, and the author of the minibooks Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy You Desire and Healing Broken Relationships: What to Do When You’ve Been Hurt and many counseling articles.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Tuesday Ten With Patrick W. Carr & The End Of The Magi Review

I was so thrilled when author Patrick W. Carr agreed to answer my 10 question in conjunction with my review of his newest book, just in time for the Christmas season! After you learn more about him, check our the review I did of his newest release "The End of the Magi." I was sent the book thanks to Bethany House! I was excited to get my hands on the novel!

Q1: Who is an author whose book you'll pick up and not even read what it's about because they're an author you know you'll love no matter what?

Patrick: C.S. Lewis tops the list. The first book of his I read wasn’t SciFi/Fantasy, it was the Screwtape letters. I guess some would call that Speculative fiction, but I’ve always thought of it more as anti-theology. It was a book I had to take in small doses because it made me think so much. After that, I read everything of his I could get my hands on. Another author is Michael Crichton. He’s written about everything from dinosaurs to how airplanes are manufactured and I find it all interesting. I don’t just read his books, I study them. I’ve never read another writer who can match his mastery of pace. 

Mimi: I need to read more of C.S. Lewis. His mind fascinates me! And The Screwtape Letters definitely has to be taken in bit by bit.

Q2: Do you remember who some of your first fantasy authors you devoured?

Patrick: Oh, wow. I was in college and I used to go to the Georgia Tech bookstore and browse the shelves. The first fantasy I read was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson. I bought it because the covers looked cool. That was my introduction to the idea of an anti-hero, and I stayed up late reading. After that I read Tolkien and more Lewis and Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master of Hed series. Then I came across one of my favorite series, The Belgariad by David Eddings. I read it until the books fell apart.

Mimi: Those are some new authors to me. I liked Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, and Piers Anthony. I actually had to step back from fantasy books because I became too steeped in the worlds the authors created. I'm glad that I've been able to read it again in the past few years!

Q3: In your new book, The End of the Magi, what made you decide to make Myrad have a disability?

Patrick: I don’t know anyone without one. In Myrad’s case I wanted a visible sign of what people would mistakenly assume was God’s disfavor. “You have a club foot, so God must not like you.” The goal is to have readers identify with your main character and I think a lot of people struggle with the reality of God’s love. All those voices we carry with us that tell us we aren’t good enough, or righteous enough, or whatever enough tell us the same thing. I might write a main character someday that isn’t so deeply flawed…but it won’t be anytime soon.

Mimi: I have to say I appreciate the flaws that are so evident in your main characters. While we can't relate to every piece of those flaws, the reader can see a part of themselves in it!

Q4: Ok, can you explain the difference between speculative fiction and fantasy fiction? Is there a difference?

Patrick: Probably not. I don’t know where the term speculative came from. I grew up with the terminology Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m not sure when it changed and nobody told me what the ground rules were. It figures. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention that day. Ha.

Mimi: Kind of reminds me of people using the word "bandwidth" now instead of talking about how much time we have to do something. I must not have been paying attention that day!

Q5: Was it a difficult transition from speculative fiction to Biblical fiction? What prompted you (other than the Lord if that's possible) to write your newest novel?

Patrick: The transition was actually pretty easy. Instead of spending a lot of pre-writing time world-building, I did research instead. After that it was pretty much the same. Build a set of characters and have something happen that knocks their world upside down. In this case it was a bit easier. A lot of the plot points were non-negotiables, if you will. As far as what prompted me, I heard a Bible study on tape (yes, really) back in the early 90’s that really fired my imagination about a possible origin for the magi, and I always wondered what that might have looked like. When I finished The Darkwater Saga, I decided to pursue it. Hey, it only took 25 years. 

Mimi: Well, I'm glad you pursued it! Biblical fiction has become one of my favorite genres! I do have questions about a couple of your characters. HA! I'll try to remember to mention that in my review.

Q6: How do you start the process of creating a completely new world? Do you have an idea of what it physically looks like in your mind? Can you envision a map of it in your head?

Patrick: I’m going to go in reverse order on this one. The map of the world evolves as the story is told. If my characters need a place to go in my story, then I make up one and annotate it on the map-in-progress. As for what the world looks like, I use climates and places that carry at least some familiarity to our world. The thing about world-building is you have to have enough of the familiar for the reader to find their way. If everything is alien, the story gets lost in the plethora of details. Now, as for the process, I do a lot of day-dreaming that centers around what-if. What if the church still relied on the casting of lots to make decisions? What if the clues to a crime that threatened your entire world were hidden in your mind. What if the God of the Hebrew chose you, a Persian boy with a club-foot, to reveal the birth of his Son? It’s so fun. I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time to write all the what-ifs I’ve already thought about.

Mimi: Oh my goodness, the idea of all the "what-ifs" gave me chills! Speaking of climates, I can't remember which book had the huge sand storm. In my mind I thought of those haboobs they have in the southern states. I want to get my hands on some speculative fiction maps! 

Q7: How many books have you read this year? Do you have a favorite?

Patrick: I don’t know how many I’ve read this year, except to say it’s not as many as I’d like. Writing and teaching takes so much time away from reading. I do know that the most impactful book I’ve read this year is “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell. It has 4.3 stars on Amazon. Seriously? Who are these people?

Mimi: I didn't start the year off well in regards to reading, but I ramped the past few months. I like the idea of having a reading goal, but I'm terrible at those so I never make them. lol I read what I get around to reading. And I have to admit, I don't know if I've ever given a 5 star. Maybe once or twice? Maybe.

Q8: If you could bring one of your characters in any of your books to life and have a conversation with them, who would you choose?

Patrick: Ealdor from The Darkwater Saga. I’d like to know what his world was like before the fall. That question was actually one of the things that spurred me on to write that series. I can’t imagine our world before the fall and I don’t think anyone can. But still I wonder and I hope God will reveal it to me, but if it happens, it won’t be on this side of eternity.

Mimi: Oh, interesting! I like the idea of talking with Ealdor. You know who I'd like to talk to? Well, try to talk to? Custos! All of that wisdom and knowledge in his head!

Q9: You're going to collaborate with 3 other authors on a speculative fiction novel. You each get to write a different part of the book: the world, the storyline, the characters, and the faith element based on your strengths. Who gets each role?

Patrick: Any authors? Even the greats? Alright. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and me. Lewis gets the faith elements. Seriously, how can you top the guy who wove such wonders into the Chronicles of Narnia. Amazing. Tolkien gets the world. There’s nobody else out there who’s going to go to the effort of making his own elvish alphabet just as background information. Wow. The storyline(s) goes to Robert Jordan who wrote The Wheel of Time. Any story that can hold me for 14 book over 23 years is past great, it’s phenomenal. Lastly, I would do characters. I never writer any other way, which is why you may see me writer any genre. I writer stories about people and I love making them as complex and real as possible.

Mimi: Well, now I have to find out who Robert Jordan is. Fourteen books?! Wow! And I can't find a qualm about any of the other authors you chose. I'm pretty sure that book would be near perfection. Even enough to get a 5-star rating from me!

Q10: How do you celebrate the release of a new book?

Patrick: It usually happens on a work day, so actually it’s pretty subdued. Mary and I might go out to dinner, but it’s usually just us. I’m a pretty private person. Big release parties aren’t really my thing. That’s probably bad, because writers are supposed to market their work, but I think if the story is good, that takes care of most of it.

Mimi: I don't think there's a "right" way to celebrate something, but I get where you're coming from in regards to promoting your work! I'm sure that The End of the Magi will get some terrific promotion, especially at this time of the year!

The End of the Magi
by Patrick W. Carr
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764234910


Centuries before the magi arrived in Bethlehem,
a prophecy sets a young magus on his path . . .
Following his vision of the coming Messiah, the prophet Daniel calls forth a select group of men who will count down the calendar until the arrival of Israel's promised king. Centuries later, as the day draws near, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, flees for his life when his adoptive father and others are slain by a ruthless Parthian queen. 

Equipped with very little, in haste Myrad escapes the city and, searching for a way to hide from the soldiers scouring the trade routes, tries to join the caravan of the merchant Walagash. The merchant senses that Myrad is keeping secrets, but when the young man proves himself a valuable asset, an epic journey filled with peril, near captures, and dangerous battles begins. 

With every day that passes, the calendar creeps closer to the coming Messiah. And over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can't forget, and the promise that the world will never be the same.

My Review:

This was SUCH a great book. The End of the Magi is a detour from the speculative fiction they author typically writes and he makes the turn effortlessly! I wasn't prepared for how great this dive into Biblical fiction this would be, although having read all of his other books, I shouldn't have been surprised!

Are there people in the Bible you don't really think much about after their bit in history is told? I've never really given the magi much thought other than the fact that they found Jesus, gave him gifts, and didn't return to Herod. Now, after reading this book I feel like the magi are more real to me! They had a life before AND after! I won't ruin the after part, but WOW!

So, the life before starts with the reader being introduced to Myrad. What a well written and unexpected view of one of the magi. What I like most is the fact that Myrad has a disability. God chose a young boy (at the time) who isn't the typical magi acolyte to bring a gift to the Savior. His trials and tribulations that lead to him coming face to face with Jesus takes up the bulk of the story. After reading about Myrad, now I want to learn more about the other two magis lives! I mean, I know a bit as they were incorporated into the story, but I want to know them better.

One of my favorite characters in The End of the Magi is Walagash. He's a well written character and is exactly who Myrad needs in his corner. I appreciate characters who bring wisdom and thoughtfulness to a story and he does just that. Each of the characters has a purpose and feeds well into the story.

The one "negative" that I would say in this book is the use of a$$ in the story. Don't get me wrong, it fits, but I feel that it would've been more appropriate to use donkey or mule. We'd still get the same impression using a different word. Other than that, I give this high praise and am ready for my next Patrick W. Carr novel!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Deadly Deceit By Natalie Walters

Deadly Deceit
by Natalie Walters
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800735333

Somehow I've ended up reading a lot of suspense lately. I don't know how since I'm typically a historical fiction reader. Maybe I've lost my mind. Oh, and have I mentioned *cough cough* that Deadly Deceit is book 2 in a series and I haven't read the first one yet? Gulp! Oops I did it again. Thanks to Revell for the opportunity to get to know Natalie Walter's writing with this review. I've already downloaded book 1 since it was free for Prime members last week! Woot!


Welcome back to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name--but no one knows your secret.
Independent and tenacious journalist Vivian DeMarco is back in Walton, Georgia, for one reason--to do her job and get out. When her boss suddenly dies under suspicious circumstances, Vivian's only hope for finding the truth--and the next big story--is small-town law enforcement's lanky poster boy, Deputy Ryan Frost. But the deeper they dig, the more twisted the truth becomes. False leads, incriminating emails, and someone called the Watcher force Vivian to fight for answers--and her life

My Review:

I think I'm going to have to start keeping track of how well I like a suspense novel by how many nails I devour while I'm reading. I read Deadly Deceit in about a day and a half and two of my "nails" are basically gone. By page 2, I was messaging Natalie saying how ominous the story was already. It was one of those situations where you KNOW things aren't going to go well with the characters, but you have no way to tell them!

I refrained throughout the rest of the book by not messaging her things like, "Is it just me or are things getting steamy in here?" and, "Oh my gosh, this section of the book was so stinking hysterical I laughed out loud!" or, "I think I know who the Watcher is, am I right?!"

Vivian, I liked her from the start. She's a reporter who wants to get the story and understand what's necessary to do it, but she also has a conscience. When her boss' death becomes the story, Vivian's world is turned upside down. This is a gal you did NOT want to hand out with in this book. If something could go wrong or put her in danger, it did!

Cue the entrance of Deputy Ryan Frost. He was a great leading man. He's a no nonsense guy who wants to help solve the death of Vivian's boss, Harold. At the same, he's drawn to Vivian. There's definitely a conundrum when it comes to his work, the future he has planned, and now Vivian.

The twists and turns in this story will have you constantly checking your gps! Each answer seems to lead to more questions. Just when you think you might know who the Watcher is, BOOM, something else happens! And let's talk about the Watcher. I can see what this character does being southing we'd see on the nightly news. The Watcher is elusive to any who try to find the person and petrifying to the ones the person finds!

I liked the writing of the author and since this is my first dive into her writing I'll definitely be back for more. I felt like I was sucked into the story and didn't want to be disturbed as I read. The banter between the characters was great whether it was serious or funny. Actually, the lines where the characters are giving each other a hard time are the part I enjoyed most. The story did get a bit intense on the romantic side, more than I'm used to, but every writer is different as with every reader. It wasn't ever inappropriate, but it did have me wanting to reach for a fan. HA!

I'm off to read book one as I anticipate book two which comes out in 2020! 

About the Author:

Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of 22 years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

How Great Is Our God By Louie Giglio & Giveaway

How Great is Our God
by Louie Giglio
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
ISBN: 9781400215522

Actually when I signed up for this book review tour, I did it because of Louie Giglio. Are you like me and you'll get a book by an author without even asking a question about it? Bingo!


A follow-up to his bestselling children's devotional, Indescribable, pastor Louie Giglio's How Great Is Our God offers 100 incredible new facts and devotions about God and science to stir your child's amazement for the Creator.

Show the children in your life the awe-inspiring connection between the natural world and the God who created it.

The bestselling children's devotional Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science resonated with more than 200,000 kids, parents, and teachers. Now Louie Giglio offers 100 more devotions about God and science that will expand the curiosity of your 6- to 10-year-olds. Including amazing scientific facts, beautiful photography, fun illustrations, and simple activities, How Great Is Our God covers topics like

  • Space and time
  • Earth and weather
  • The human body
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • And more!

With this science devotional, which is based on Giglio's well-known "How Great Is Our God" and “Indescribable” messages, children will embark on a journey to discover more about God and His incredible creation. From the pink lake in Senegal to the earth's trip around the sun to the water-holding frog that can live up to five years without a drink, the wonders of the universe will deepen your kids’ appreciation for God's wild imagination.

My Review:

How Great is Our God is a wonderful book to explain the science piece of the things God has created. The book is broken down into 4 categories: space, Earth, animals, and people. Each scientific explanation begins with a scripture that coincides with the topic being covered.

For example, Pastor Giglio teaches about anteaters. He uses Psalm 141:3 which talks about controlling the tongue. Pretty appropriate considering the animal. Or there's thunder and lightning. He pairs that with Jeremiah 10:13. He also doesn't use the same version of the Bible for each scripture, which is something to take a small note of.

The topics each have a lovely illustration to go along with it. Most also have a photo that coincides with it. The illustrations are absolutely warm and inviting for the kids to get an idea of what they'll be learning about. I certainly hope to see more of Nicola Anderson's talent in future children's books that I come across.

After Pastor Giglio discusses the topic and infuses how God is involved in it, he gives a small prayer that helps children acknowledge God in what they're learning. Along with that, there's the "How Great!" section which gives a fact that correlates with the subject.

Even having not homeschooled, I think this would be a great book to pair with a science unit that would have the same information your child would cover. Just a quick, Biblical supplement to give a quick insight to what they'll be learning or what they've already learned.

Now you have the chance to win How Great is Our God! Five winners will be selected on 12/1/2019.

About the Author:

Louie Giglio is pastor of Passion City Church and founder of the Passion Movement, which exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.
Since 1997, Passion has gathered collegiate-aged young people at events across the US and around the world, uniting millions of students in worship, prayer, and justice.
In addition to the collegiate gatherings of Passion Conferences, Louie and his wife, Shelley, lead the teams at Passion City Church, sixstepsrecords, and the Passion Global Institute.
Louie is the author of The ComebackThe Air I BreatheI Am Not But I Know I AmGoliath Must Fall, and Indescribable.
Louie and Shelley make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.