Friday, February 28, 2020

The Cry Of The Raven By Morgan L. Busse

The Cry of the Raven
by Morgan L. Busse
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764232244

Having read book one of The Ravenwood Saga at the end of 2018 I was glad my son received book 2 for Christmas. The timing was impeccable as book 3 came out in February and I was offered to receive The Cry of the Raven by the author! There was NO way I was going to say, "No," to that offer!

Summary:

Wife. Warrior. Lady of Two Worlds.
As War Looms, Will Her Power Be Enough to Save the Ones She Loves? 
Lady Selene Ravenwood has come into her full power as a dreamwalker--a power greater than any in history. She embraces her new role as Nightwatcher, able to intercede for her people in the dream world, but the dark shadow of war draws ever closer. 

Working together, the Great Houses come up with a plan to secure the borders from the approaching Dominia Empire. But dissension, conflict, and suspicion threaten to destroy their tenuous treaty, and as the empire burns a path across their lands, Damien Maris starts to lose his ability to raise the waters, leaving the lands vulnerable to the empire's attacks. 

The only one who can keep the Great Houses unified and restore her husband's power is Selene. But it will require that she venture deep into the dream world to confront the enemies of her past who will do anything to stop her power. Will it be enough, or will both worlds fall under the empire's might?

My Review:

I have to admit, closing the page on book 2 and opening page one with book 3 was a seamless move and one I would suggest for anyone reading this series!

The Cry of the Raven. This was such an excellent final installment of The Ravenwood Saga. To me, the spiritual aspect of the stories ramped up in beauty with each book. Their faith deepened and became more relevant to the story as it progressed. As you read the story you'll understand what I mean.

Watching Selene grow throughout the series has been incredible. I went from giving her the side eye in book one to really cheering for her in the last two books. And of course there's Damien who I'd say readers (at least I) have loved from book 1. But what's a guy to do who's carried the weight of the kingdoms on his shoulders?

It was incredible to get to know the other kingdoms better during book three. So many secrets revealed. Stories of the past that come to light threaten to tear them all apart. The way Morgan L. Busse wove the story together that has you invested in the choices they make.

The family dynamics and Selene's growing strength in the dream world carries through the entire story. How the author brings the whole story together with the faith element beautifully solidified this book and this series as one of my top favorites and this book specifically will get a 5star rating from me.

Now on to read ALL of Morgan's other novels!

About the Author:

Morgan L. Busse (www.morganlbusse.com) is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series and the steampunk series The Soul Chronicles. Mark of the Raven won the 2019 Carol Award and the 2019 INSPY Award. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel. She and her family live in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Off The Hook By Dana Tibbitts & Patti Goldberg

Off the Hook
by Dana Tibbitts & Patti Goldberg
Publisher: Hidden Manna Ministries
ISBN: 978-0-985097837

I was sent this book from FrontGate Media for review. I know I don't often review non-fiction, but forgiveness is such a vital part to our walk with Christ I wanted to check this one out.

Summary:

SO YOU THINK YOU'VE FORGIVEN? THINK AGAIN. Is there something you’ve inadvertently picked up along the way that’s sucking the life out of you? Stealing your peace? Has you stuck? Stuck happens. Much as we think we’ve moved on, hard things have a way of taking root in the heartscape of our lives. Off the Hook shares real life stories of real people who had no idea they were still captive to past hurts—until they walked through deep forgiveness! This way of forgiveness offers healing and freedom you never thought possible. It’s about the power of truly letting go—taking old pain patterns and people off your hook, for your sake, not theirs. No longer hemmed in by the burden of deep hurt, loss and offense, you are free at last to soar above it. Discover what no one has told you about the forgiveness power tool—what it is, what it is not, and how to do it. Rewrite the ending to your true story by retrieving the wellbeing and destiny God has for you.



My Review:

I was surprised at how in depth Off the Hook was. It was also written in a way that digestible for readers. Forgiveness can easily be a heavy topic to tackle, but the authors do so in a very grace-filled way. I appreciated that for readers such as myself, each chapter is broken down in a way that makes it easy for the reader to take in what's being said, mull it over, and then continue reading.

One of the pieces of the book that I really appreciated were the stories that went along with the segment of the chapter they were covering. I'll admit, the first part of chapter 1 struck a chord with me. I'm not always the greatest at building up my husband and I don't ever want him to look back at our relationship and see me the way their example did to his ex-wife.

We all have to deal with forgiveness. While it's going to be on a different level for each of us, what's shared in this book is practical for everyone. The scripture that they pair with the area of forgiveness that's covered is vital to us understanding the power of forgiveness and what God calls us to. This is a book I'll be suggesting to my book club, because I believe we can all use it in our lives.

Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book. You can also get the book with the Kindle Countdown set for February 20-27, starting at $0.99 1st day. (Regular price $5.99)!


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Tuesday Ten With Sandra Byrd

It's time once again for today's Tuesday Ten! I know that it's been a while, but life has been NUTS since the start of the year. I'm so excited to have the wonderful Sandra Byrd on my blog today!



Q1: If you could go to any location in Washington to find inspiration for your next story, where would you go?

Sandra: Happily, my next book is set in Washington, on one of my two favorite places in my home state, Whidbey Island. 

Mimi: In all the years I lived there I never went to Whidbey Island. IF I were a writer I'd probably go to Olympic State Park because it's so stunning!


Q2: We're visiting England together, and you want to take me to tea. Where are we going and what kind of tea do you suggest I try?

Sandra: Oh, Claridge’s, absolutely.  There are many other places to try, in London, but Claridge’s has my heart.  (Scroll down to see the Tea, in this link.) The history behind the hotel is a story in itself—and I do think a book has been written about that—but the tea and tea treats are delightful.

The setting is amazing, and you can eat as much as you like.  I don’t think they counted on my then-teenaged son eating so many plates of dainties one time when we visited. But they were gracious!

Mimi: Oh my word, I'm ready to go there when you are! It sounds absolutely delightful and I'd make the most of the food as well!


Q3: What inspired you to start your tea & coffee mug exchange?

Sandra: When I was a kid, I loved it when my school would set us up with pen pals  - I looked forward to it all year. As a teen, I loved one summer’s month in France, and one in Germany, and how it expanded my understanding of the world, and friendship. 
Later, my husband and I hosted students from other cultures and made lifelong friends.

I love the idea of connecting reading friends I love with other reading friends I love.  I hope your blog readers will join us in 2020!

Mimi: I have enjoyed the two ladies I've done the exchanges with! I appreciate that you created this experience for all who participate!


Q4: You're given the opportunity to dress up and act in character in Williamsburg (or anywhere they have period actors) as one of the characters in your book. Which character would it be?

Sandra: Anne Boleyn, for sure.  I’m a dark brunette, and my husband is a strawberry-blonde like Henry XIII and can grow a huge, bristly beard if he wants to. I suggested he grow his beard, get costumes, and host a party.  He didn’t dig the idea of being Henry XIII. 😊 I know people think about the traumatic parts of her life, and there’s a lot of shaming that doesn’t show the whole woman.  I think she was a powerful – if imperfect – aid to the Protestant Reformation, which eventually led to tightening and strengthening the Catholic church, too.

I think I’d pick a period early in her marriage, though, for obvious reasons!

Mimi: lol I'd go with an earlier period of her life as well! I've been thinking about this, and I don't think I'd want to be a specific character, but maybe someone who was in the upper class so I could enjoy the gowns and parties... even if just for a day!


Q5: If you could go to Israel and visit one spot where Jesus had been, where would you go?

Sandra: Sea of Galilee. I have seen so many beautiful photos, and I can close my eyes and imagine being there with the first-century disciples.  I hope we can go some time.

Mimi: I think I'd want to go to Gethsemane. I've never felt a huge pull to go to Israel, but I know if I ever went it would be more that I could ever imagine.


Q6: What facet do you enjoy most when you're researching history for your period books? Is it the clothing, how they spoke, the setting, etc.?

Sandra: I am an immersive researcher. I eat what they ate (yes, even eels!) and try to walk where they walked. I watch films and read dozens of books.  I listen to YouTubes of dialogue and interview as many people as I can. I care immensely about getting the details right, whether they be cultural, professional, or personal. I hope that when my readers slip into the pages of the book, they are right there – and then – too!

Mimi: I really appreciate that as one of your readers! I definitely feel like the time period comes to life with your books. I can admit that I cringed when I read about you eating eels. 😬


Q7: If you could design your dream library, what would it look like? Would it be big with rows and rows of bookshelves? Would it be small and cozy?

Sandra: I have books in every single room of my house. Honestly, they are friends, and my home would feel naked and soulless without them.  So, I seek to make special places in each room a nook – or a shelf – for books, rather than one dedicated library.

Mimi: My dream would be to have a room with walls of books and there would definitely have to be a sliding ladder! But I'm with you, I like having friends nearby so having them in each room is fantastic! I have them around my house as well!

Q8: Since you do book coaching, do you ever find yourself giving a tip that you realize you should've used in your writing? Can you give us an example?

Sandra: I hope that, when I coach, I help my clients learn from the many years I have been writing, coaching, and editing.  I want to help them avoid potential pitfalls, when I can, and give them skills and tools it took me years to learn.  I wish I would have learned much earlier in my career how important it is to structure a novel a bit before writing it. It would have saved me many long deletions! I show my clients how to structure and create while retaining their voices.

Mimi: So fantastic that you are able to pass on what you've learned over the years from your own experiences.

Q9: What do you do to get into your "zone" as you prepare to start writing your next book?

Sandra: Once I slip into the next book, I am almost always in the zone.  I see things all around me with a view to the story. I take notes on my phone when I’m with my friends or family and something occurs. I cook from the culture or preferences of my characters. All of my reading and much of my tv is geared toward supporting the book. I slip away, as it were, and don’t really emerge until the draft is done.  The time at the computer is just an extension of that.

Mimi: Aside from the eels, I'd love to be around you as you're creating your books where the food is concerned. lol Sounds like you become one with the creation of the book as you're in process. That's incredible!

Q10: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Oh, and it's going to be the setting of your next book! 

Yes, ma’am, it is! Whidbey Island, and I’ll be there in just a few weeks and popping in and out all summer long!

Mimi: Sounds like a fantastic way to spend your days doing research, especially during the summer!


Be sure to keep up with Sandra via her newsletter from her website or on Instagram!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Operation Blessing Recipes From Around The World Recipe Book

I'm so glad to be sharing about Operation Blessing. The first time I heard about them was when I joined FrontGate Media to promote the recipe book. Operation Blessing provides relief in 39 countries around the world. They help in a variety of ways: disaster relief, medical aid, hunger relief, orphan care, and much more!


In the recipe book, each of the countries represented have stories where Operation Blessing has been a help. Like for Asia, they helped a family's village by building a well for them. Before the well the family had to walk to another village for fresh water! That's just one example.

After looking through the recipes some of the first ones I want to try are the Imam Bayildi which is a recipe from Israel, Coconut Mahamri from Kenya, and Ahi de Gallina from Peru. Thankfully the ingredients are ones we can get at nearly any grocery store.

There are a couple of offers I wanted to share:

The cookbook is offered as a gift for any dollar amount donation. It has a soft cover with a total of 34 international recipes ranging from breakfast, side & main dishes, breads & desserts and drinks. The recipes originated from 15 countries namely Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Kenya, Israel, Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, China, and United States.


We are pleased to offer four (4) recipe cards inspired by international recipes from Operation Blessing’s latest cookbook, “Recipes From Around the World.” Anyone can sign up to receive this free gift after which, requests will be processed and delivered straight to their mailbox.


You can even enter to win a copy of Recipes From Around the World!


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Isaiah's Legacy By Mesu Andrews

Isaiah's Legacy
by Mesu Andrews
Publisher: WaterbrookMultnomah
ISBN: 9780735291881

Having started following Mesu Andrews on Instagram last year and also starting a new bookstagram account, I heard a lot of book people talking about her books. When I had the opportunity to read Isaiah's Legacy for review, thanks to WaterbrookMultnomah, I jumped at it

Summary:

The drama of the Old Testament comes to life as Judah's most notorious king ascends to the throne in this gripping novel from the award-winning author of Isaiah's Daughter

At eight years old, Shulle has known only life in a small village with her loving but peculiar father. When Uncle Shebna offers shelter in Jerusalem in exchange for Shulle's help tutoring King Manasseh, Judah's five-year-old co-regent who displays the same peculiarities as her father, she's eager to experience the royal court. But Shulle soon realizes the limits of her father's strict adherence to Yahweh's Law when Uncle Shebna teaches her of the starry hosts and their power. 

Convinced Judah must be freed from Yahweh's chains, she begins the subtle swaying of young Manasseh, using her charm and skills on the boy no one else understands. When King Hezekiah dies, twelve-year-old Manasseh is thrust onto Judah's throne, bitter at Yahweh and eager to marry the girl he adores. Assyria's crown prince favors Manasseh and twists his brilliant mind toward cruelty, beginning Shulle's long and harrowing journey to discover the Yahweh she'd never known, guided with loving wisdom by Manasseh's mother: Isaiah's daughter, the heartbroken Hephzibah. Amid Judah's dark days, a desperate remnant emerges, claiming the Lord's promise, "Though we're helpless now, we're never hopeless--because we serve El Shaddai." Shulle is among them, a girl who becomes a queen through Isaiah's legacy.


My Review:

As this was my first introduction to Mesu Andrews as an author I'm wondering if this is where my starting point should've been.

Isaiah's Legacy is an extremely intense story. I've heard of King Hezzekiah as well as Manasseh, but didn't realize how terribly things went from the king to his son. As we all know, if we've read the Bible, there are stories in there that are intense and ofttimes overwhelming. We can't quite wrap our minds around how dark times were.

The introduction to Shulle sets off a very dark story. I have to admit, when I first started reading the book, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to complete it. The depravity that Shulle experienced at the start was really hard for me to digest.  Evil existed then and it exists now. While Shulle had good intentions at the beginning, it's clear to the reader how quickly a person's thoughts can be manipulated and turned.

I will warn you, if you dive into this story, there are topics that could be hard to swallow. Yes, these are events that took place in Biblical times, but that doesn't make it any easier to read. There is also the topic of witchcraft that's throughout the entire story. You see how evil it truly is.

As we're introduced to Manasseh, I can picture children who have autism being like him. I appreciated the author's handling of this condition. She never made it more than it needed to be and I felt like she portrayed it in a very believable way. His life is also brought to life in such a detailed way.

I had to keep reminding myself how young he was and everything he went through. It's easy in this day and age to forget that kings (as well as others) married as adolescents. Imagining even my 16yr old as a ruler, married, or in battle boggles my mind, yet here was a young boy reigning initially as co-regent and then as a king. I can see how his mind was able to navigate it all if he had something such as autism, especially in this story. It certainly makes sense. It was incredible to me how Mesu brought his mind to life and helps the reader understand how it worked in his decisions.

It also helped that there was a thread of humanity in him when it came to Shulle. It aways came back to her. While he had darkness in his mind and heart, Shulle in a way kept him human. Through all of the deception that occurred in the early part of his reign (in this story), I wasn't surprised at how winding a path his life took. Amazing to me how God can use a life that had been spent in so much darkness, and for His glory!

I'm definitely going to have to try a different book by the author. This one certainly left a heaviness with me, even as I finished it. Once again it was a learning experience getting to know people of the Bible better, even through a fictional setting.

About the Author:

MESU ANDREWS is the Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter and numerous other novels, including The Pharaoh's DaughterMiriam, Of Fire and Lions and Love Amid the Ashes. Her deep understanding of and love for God's Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband, Roy, and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Hidden Current By Sharon Hinck

Hidden Current
by Sharon Hinck
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
ISBN:

The best book that wasn't released in 2019, but 2020, that I read was Sharon Hinck's new novel Hidden Current. Now, I don't tend to shoot myself in the foot, but I can guarantee you right now that I'm not going to do this book justice with my review. I've been trying to process it in my mind since I read it in December, and it just floored me! Thanks to Enclave Publishing for my review copy.


Summary:

The dancers of the Order direct their floating world of Meriel with their movement… but are they steering it toward destruction?
Calara spent her life learning dance patterns and seeking to become the perfect servant to her people. When she discovers the work of the Order is built on lies, she flees with a rough-edged herder, Brantley of Windswell. Pursued by soldiers, her journey through the suffering villages of the rim leads her to encounter a truth that sends ripples through her world—and through her soul.
As she seeks clues to her forgotten family, Calara discovers newfound courage in the face of danger, while her quest awakens a growing but forbidden affection for Brantley. Yet even his support can’t fully be trusted, since he’d rather destroy the Order than bring reform.
She is a lone woman facing opposition from rim villages and treachery from the all-powerful Order. Can she restore the dance to its true purpose and bring freedom and hope to her people?

My Review:

Hidden Current was beyond what I was expecting. Sharon Hinck has outdone herself with the beauty of this story. The story telling is exceptional. I mentioned to her that I felt her sharing images of her ballet days inadvertently prepared me for her book. I mean, I'm sure that was part of it, but it lent to preparing my mind for what was to come without me realizing it. I'm so thankful she put so much of her own experience into the story because it absolutely came through for me.

Ok, so let's get on with it, right?

Calara is such a compelling character. She's practiced and given 100% to becoming a dancer who will help spin her world. That all comes crashing down around her as she's come to the cusp of making the transition. You can feel how gut wrenching and life changing it is for her as well as those around her. There's such vivid detail put into the story you almost feel like a spectator.

Brantley is the hero you can get behind! Maybe because he's an inadvertent one. When we as readers learn why he's at the Order, we learn how dire things truly are! Isn't it amazing how things can fall apart AND come together at the same time? It's incredible to see how grace and mercy are able to be found even when evil is happening! It's such a reflection of God.

When I read speculative fiction, I oftentimes have a difficult time imagining the world about which I'm reading or what the civilization is like. Not with Hidden Current. With Hinck's writing I was able to imagine Meriel and it's inhabitants. Whether it was the people in the rim villages or those with the Order, the writing brought it all to life.

I'm SO glad this will be a series because it's an absolutely beautiful story! I can't recommend it enough.

About the Author:

Sharon writes "stories for the hero in all of us" - uplifting and entertaining novels about ordinary people called to extraordinary challenges.

She's won several Carol awards for both contemporary Christian fiction and fantasy, and was a Christy finalist for The Restorer - a genre-blending adventure of a soccer-mom in an alternate world.

She holds an M.A. in communication, and worked for many years in arts ministry. In her various roles over the years as wife, mom, grandmother, church worker, choreographer, and writer, and adjunct professor, she has loved learning how God's grace pours into our lives in the midst of our weakness.

When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She and her husband make their home in the mid-western United States.

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