When Christmas Plans Go Awry (Christmas Embers Review + Blog Tour)

After sitting down to write this blog post, I turned on my writing music playlist and the first song that came up was Take My Life and Let it Be by David Nevue. And somehow, in a strange, yet wonderful way, it feels fitting.

Right now, whether I like it or not, I’m going through a season where each day I have to choose to follow and trust the Lord in the direction He’s leading. It’s tough. So, so tough. In some ways, I’m starting to freak out a bit about a few (big) things that need to happen in the next four weeks…and yet I still have no idea when they’re going to happen! But each day I just have to lay it down and say, “in Your time, Lord. You’ll reveal all in Your time.”

In some ways, it feels like our Christmas plans have gone awry. I never thought we’d have to move so soon in the new year, but that’s what it’s currently looking like. And with the Lord, it’ll be okay. I know it will.

“…ever, always, all for thee…”

Christmas Embers Tour Banner

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. Your purchase through these links help support this site—thank you!

Last year, I was part of Chautona Havig’s launch team, and followed along with the progress of her 2016 Christmas novel as she wrote it. She said it was the hardest writing project she’d ever had—and I believed her, especially when I had the chance later to read the book.

And today, I’ve got the privilege of participating in a blog tour for this book!

Wow. Christmas Embers is an incredible story. Heart-wrenchingly terrible, and yet so true and in the end somewhat—can I say it?—almost beautiful.

About the book:

Christmas Embers by Chautona HavigBook Synopsis: It’s a truth universally unacknowledged that sin will hunt you down and advertise its presence the moment you try to hide it.

Emily Byrne sits in her daughter’s classroom listening to the deepest wishes of twenty kindergarteners as she sketches them. But when little Joey Cordell breaks down, weeping and insisting the only thing he wants to find is his father, she isn’t sure where her Christmas project will take her.

Davia Cordell came to Rockland for one purpose—find her son’s father before she dies. An ex-prostitute, she’s well aware that the news will cause waves, but what’s a mother to do?

As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father—a Rockland area pastor, no less— Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.

Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time—if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this—an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.

A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?

Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.

My review:

Emily has undertaken an interesting project as a feature for her blog for Christmas: Interviewing children in her daughter’s class at school, and asking them what they’d like most of all to receive for Christmas. However, she isn’t prepared for the result when Joey says that out of all the things he could choose, he hopes his dad will come to live with them, so he can get to know him.

But does Emily really want to know the answer to Joey’s question?

When Joey’s mom is on her deathbed, will Emily be able to find her answer in time—or at least figure out how to temporarily help provide for this little boy?

Christmas Embers Quote

This book is such a tough story. Adultery in any form is just awful, and Ms. Havig does an excellent job bringing it out. She doesn’t mince facts, although despite the subject matter, I am impressed at the level of cleanliness in this book—things aren’t washed over, but they aren’t necessarily in your face, either. This isn’t your typical Christmas story, but it beautifully illustrates the reason why Jesus came. And SPOILER ALERT! the ending is absolutely wonderful. It isn’t perfect—no good story usually is—but it’s very well done. END SPOILER ALERT!

In all, I’m thankful to have had the chance to read this. It’s one of those superb books that you never really forget, because it’s so good. It’s tough going in some ways. But it also contains an extremely pertinent message in today’s day and age. And the children in here? Adorable!

I haven’t faced anything nearly the same as what the characters in this book had to work through. But even if Christmas isn’t the happiest holiday for one reason or another, remember: God’s still there. He’s still in control. And He still loves you, wherever you are.

Buy your copy here.

Chautona Havig ProfileAbout the author:

Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.

Christmas Embers - TruthGiveaway!

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!

Click here to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Other blog stops:

Carpe Diem, December 5

A Baker’s Perspective, December 5

Mary Hake, December 5

Moments Dipped in Ink, December 6

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 6

Daysong Reflections, December 6

Fiction Aficionado, December 7

A Simply Enchanted Life, December 7

Genesis 5020, December 7

Blogging With Carol, December 8

The Power of Words, December 8

Bigreadersite, December 8

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 9

A Greater Yes, December 9

Radiant Light, December 9

Just Jo’Anne, December 10

For The Love of Books, December 10

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10

Aryn the Libraryan, December 11

A Reader’s Brain, December 11

The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12

Books, Books, and More Books., December 12

Quiet Quilter, December 13

Seasons of Opportunities, December 13

Christian Book Devourer, December 13

Allofakindmom, December 14

Texas Book-aholic, December 14

Pursuing Stacie, December 14

Pause for Tales, December 15

Reader’s cozy corner, December 15

margaret kazmierczak, December 15

Red Headed Book Lady, December 16

Purposeful Learning, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Janices book reviews, December 17

Christian Bookaholic, December 17

Karen Sue Hadley, December 18

Remembrancy, December 18

Blossoms and Blessings, December 18

Let’s discuss: Have you ever read a book before that exposed sin for what it is? What was the latest novel you’ve read that challenged you deeply on a physical or spiritual level?

What Happens When an Author has a Large Family?

…she writes a story about them!

I’ve participated in several launches for Sarah Holman’s books in the past, but I’m thrilled to be able to help promote this book this time. I’ve always enjoyed what she wrote, but (just between you and me!) it’s gotten even better in the last year or so as she’s gotten a professional editor to go over her books as well.

LaughterBlogTour

I’ve followed this story from almost its inception when she first started planning and writing it. It’s completely different from anything she has put out before, since it is non-fiction, but it’s also a beautiful snapshot of a lovely family.

Note: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. Your purchase through these links does not cost you anything extra, but helps keep this blog going.

There Was Always Laughter in Our House by Sarah Holman

Description

What do you get when you mix two parents who grew up in the city, six kids who have always lived in the country, and add homeschooling? You get a whole lot of laughter!

Homeschool graduate and author Sarah Holman shares stories about her family that range from thought-provoking to side-splitting. She shares both hilarious mistakes and heartbreaking moments in her family. In this collection of stories, she endeavors capture some of the answers to the questions people have often asked her about growing up in a conservative homeschool family as well as some of the wisdom she has gleaned along the way. Sarah invites you to open up this scrapbook of memories. She hopes that you come away encouraged, inspired…and laughing.

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My review

Well, today I’m supposed to be participating in the blog tour for There Was Always Laughter in Our House, but I realized yesterday that I had barely read past a quarter of the story! (I’m choosing to blame NaNo for this.) But here’s my review of the book so far. I’ll update this post when I finish reading it (hopefully within the next day or two).

Full of a mixture of funny and somewhat challenging instances where plans went awry or the family worked together on unit studies (and many, many other stories!), There Was Always Laughter isn’t your typical biography. I’d classify it more as something of a memoir, but it isn’t organized the way you’d normally expect one to be written. It’s somewhat of a random jumble of different odd facts and tales about Sarah Holman’s family, and even though the chapters might not have one continuous thread of “we did this, and then we did that, and then when we were a bit older we did such-and-so”, it’s an engaging read and one that I’m thoroughly enjoying.

I love the little glimpses into Sarah and her sisters’ relationships. They work at fighting evil together, they play together, they drive their brother batty and he makes them go crazy. It’s real life, and she’s got a lot of things spot-on in here.

Such as:

“My brother was a very manly man, even when he was small. He would rather dig in the dirt than play with his sisters. Every stick became a sword, gun, or club.”

(That’s my brothers, summed up perfectly in three sentences. I love it!)

Or:

“One of the issues with Christian homeschoolers is that the Bible is a book that the child becomes so familiar with early. It often leaves them feeling bored in most Sunday schools and even church services. […] Boredom breeds a large amount of misbehavior and annoying conduct. The best way to rout it out? Do what my parents did, and what Mr. and Mrs. Kline did. They didn’t punish me, they challenged me. ‘You already know that? Great, then try learning this.’

(I’ve found this very true in my own life—and Sarah finally put it into words for me! Yes, thank you, Miss Holman!)

Okay, I won’t bore you with more quotes, but I did think those two, especially the last one, was worth a little pondering. In all, I’m loving this story, and can’t wait to get back to reading.

Preorder your copy now for $2.99—price will be going up after launch day, which is next Friday, the 24th! (Paperback should be available in time for the launch as well).

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Sarah HolmanAbout the Author:

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined. You can find out more about her at her website www.thedestinyofone.com.


Free book!

Father Forgive (free)

Father, Forgive Them, an Easter story, is free right now! Claim your copy here, or click the image above.

Blog tour stops

November 16
Reachel — What stories are you going to include, Sarah?
Grace Pennington — An interview
Esther Filbrun — A review
Tarissa Graves — A review

November 17
Leona Ruth — A review
Chloe — A review

November 18
Kaylee — A review
Alexa – A Thanksgiving Story

November 19
Liv K. Fisher — Short Girl Jokes
Kelsey Bryant — A review

Where Dandelions Grow: My Review

It’s one of those brilliant blue spring days outside. My brothers are mowing—I hadn’t realized how long the grass had grown in the last couple weeks since the last mowing! The mound of clippings beside the greenhouse is pretty tall now.

The spring daffodils are pretty much done now, and the apple trees are in full bloom. They’re the last of the fruit trees to bloom, if I remember right. The dandelions are also just starting to bloom. Another week or so, and there will be hundreds of them all over the yard and down the roadsides. So pretty!

Mowing

And speaking of dandelions, I’m excited to share with you a new book I’ve had the privilege of reading recently: Where Dandelions Grow! It’s written by one of my favorite bloggers, Lydia Howe, and it released today!

Note: Some of the links today may be affiliate links. Your purchase through these links will not cost you any extra, but will help keep this blog going.

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up the story for the first time, but I knew I really appreciated what the author blogged about, and I had great hopes for a good book. I wasn’t disappointed. This book blew me away in some aspects, and overall, I loved the story.

Where Dandelions Grow by Lydia HoweDestiny isn’t quite sure what to expect when she decides to go against her mom’s wishes and go back to her roots—back to Swallow Ridge, where she was born. And had lived, until she was ten, when for some inexplicable reason the family up and moved away. She didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to her three best friends—her cousins. Now, she’s heading back, hoping against hope to be able to track her family down and find answers to the questions she’s been silently asking all these years. She’d also really like to prove that for once her mom is wrong: That she can write a book, and that she can do it well. Will her move prove fruitless in the end? Will she ever be able to figure out what happened so many years ago—and even if she can, is there any way she or her cousins can help to bring healing to their fractured relationships? And how is she even supposed to start looking, when all she knows are first names?

I loved the fact that while this is a young adult novel, it didn’t have the stereotypical triangle of love interests—or any romance in it at all, for that matter. That fact both shocked and delighted me, not because I don’t like romance, but not having it in the story (especially since in this case it wasn’t needed) was a refreshing change. The story also wasn’t fantastical fiction (is there such a thing? the characters certainly didn’t attempt to do things that under normal conditions would be impossible), rather, it felt fairly believable and the characters were delightfully relatable. I read the book in close to one sitting, and thoroughly enjoyed the pacing—it wasn’t too fast, but fast enough to keep me interested. In all, if you’re looking for a clean book—not necessarily hold-onto-your-seat fiction, but gripping enough to keep going—with a good theme, I’d recommend checking out Where Dandelions Grow.

Note: I received this book for free from the author, in exchange for my honest review.

Now for a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

Where Dandelions Grow Quote 01

Where Dandelions Grow Quote 02

There’s a giveaway going—enter here!

And join in the fun over at Lydia’s blog here.

(Psst…Where Dandelions Grow is still $.99 as of this writing right now. I’m not sure what the “normal” price will be, but I believe it will be going up after a while.)

Book Review of A Name Unknown

We sat there, Mom and I, in the too-clean feeling hospital room, with the stiffly starched sheets and the stinky hand cleaner. I’ve always read that hospitals have an awful “clean” smell. I submit that perhaps it’s just the overall too-clean feeling. We were both reading, trying to pass the time until the ward doctor came by for one last check on Mom before we were given her discharge papers. It’s hard to focus on reading when you’re anxious to get out to fresh air, green grass, and blue skies again—even if the stay was pleasant enough, and not nearly as long as other people’s! (Now, I’m not complaining—I am thankful for modern medicine, hospitals, and all that. I’m just a terrible homebody!)

“It’s hard to focus on finishing a book,” I sighed to Mom as I set the book aside, “when you’re tired of reading and you already know what the ending will be.”

She agreed with me, but went back to reading. There wasn’t much else to do between those four walls with several curtains designed to give each patient a little privacy!

(This blog post contains affiliate links. Your purchase through these links does not cost you anything extra, but it helps keep this website going. Thank you!)

Several months ago, a book came up on a book reviews site I follow, and it immediately piqued my curiosity. Roseanna M. White is a co-author of the Go Teen Writers blog, and as such when I saw her most recent release available in exchange for review, I decided to try it. I was really interested to see what kind of writing style she had, so I was glad for a way to find out! I did know that the book was a romance, so thankfully that wasn’t a surprise.

What I Thought of A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White:

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. WhiteI loved this book! And…in some ways, got quite annoyed with the story, but that’s a side point right now. I loved the setting. I can’t remember when the last time was that I read a historical fiction about England right before the First World War, so that was extra special (probably partly because I’ve always had a bit of fascination for English history anyway!). I loved the tension as it built between the different characters as they tried to prove (or disprove!) one of the main character’s loyalties—whether to the Crown, or to the enemy, the Germans.

I also loved the fact that this felt like Oliver Twist retold in some ways. Different, of course, but some elements were very striking in that area. And since I loved Oliver Twist when I read it for school several years ago, this naturally felt like meeting an old friend once again.

The whole librarian thing is, of course, an intriguing element for me since I love books as well. And I LOVED the fact that one of the main characters was a writer! It gave an interesting, sometimes humorous twist to the story—and one that’s all too relatable! At one point, he got distracted with an idea for his story, and ended up ignoring someone for about five minutes. I couldn’t help laughing! Been there, done that!

Despite all the fun parts, though, the history, the semi-classic feel, the fun characters (some really made me crack up!), the bookishness (if that’s a word!) of the story, I was disappointed in some ways. The romance was actually okay—only one kissing scene made me gag a little, and I’m thankful that was confined to just over a page. Overall, though, it wasn’t icky. I appreciated that.

(POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT) My main gripe with the book lies in its predictableness—or, at least, what felt like that when I was reading it. I knew from the first page who would marry whom, and what the ending would be—down to some of the less important parts—and that kind-of ruined the ending for me. I’m not sure I would have even finished the book once I got past the climax, except for the fact that I wanted to finish for the review’s sake. I also didn’t like the fact that the villain (or supposed villain) didn’t actually end up bad in the end. It was understandable, but disappointing. (END SPOILER ALERT)

In all, while I did enjoy this book, I don’t see myself coming back to read it again very soon, which I find to be somewhat disappointing. However, I do hope I’ll be able to read more of White’s books in the future, because I loved the rhythm and wording she used. In many ways, this book was a cozy, relaxing read for me—some parts were outright funny, some sad, and overall it was a good story.

There were two things that I learned from A Name Unknown I thought noteworthy: First, have you ever heard of these landscaping things called ha-has? I hadn’t, until I encountered it in chapter thirteen—and had to look it up. Very neat idea! (You can find out about them here.) I was glad, this week, I had taken time to look it up—while I was listening to Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, a ha-ha was mentioned several times. Never would have picked up on that otherwise! Second, I enjoyed the mention of New Zealand cabbage trees, of all things, being in Cornwall back in the early 1900s—and looked that up as well. Apparently there are places in the UK that have them. So I did find it neat to have two different minor things confirmed as being realistic parts of the setting.

White 2

About the Book:

She’s out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary’s challenge of a lifetime comes when she’s assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown—so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth—about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

The Secret Slipper (Author Interview & Blog Tour)

Today, I’m stopping in again just for a bit to tell you about another book that I loved recently. I actually read The Secret Slipper quite a while ago, but thoroughly enjoyed it, and today I’m bringing the author onto the blog for a quick interview as well! But first…

Tour banner

About the Book

The Secret Slipper coverBeing a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn’t even know is searching for her?

Hello, Amanda! And welcome!

What was your first inspiration for “The Secret Slipper”?
I had finished “Befriending the Beast” (a spin-off of Beauty and the Beast) as a stand-alone when an author friend asked, “Hey, have you ever considered a father/daughter Cinderella story?” And that is exactly where the inspiration started. I prayed about it, and the Lord supplied the full story.

You’ve written quite a few short stories and novellas; which ones are your favorite and least favorite? Why?
“The Secret Slipper” is my favorite. 😉 Really. It has the most intricate plot of anything I’ve written so far. When it comes to short stories, “Coffee Cake Days” would be my favorite, just because it was so close to my heart and personal experiences. As for least favorites…that is a tough question. If I didn’t like it at least a little, I wouldn’t publish it. That being said, Journey of Choice would have been my least favorite if I published it last year. But I’m tweaking it to be better, so hopefully by the time it gets to publication, it won’t fall in that category anymore. 😉

Do you have any pets? Have these ever featured in your stories and/or affected portions of your books?
I’m not a big animal fan. I enjoy having them around and our family has several animals (chickens, German Shepherds, a Siberian Husky, rabbits, a cat). I have animals in my story and some of them have been influenced by animals I’ve hung around, but none in particular.

I know you have a fairly good-sized family. Have you ever included experiences from times with your family in your books? If so, could you please share an example?
“Coffee Cake Days” is one of the stories that most strongly includes my personal experience with my family and an important lesson I’ve learned. I also use my siblings to influence some of my characters—it is commonly assumed that “12 kids” are all alike. Oh my, how very different we are!! It helps to give some character diversity.

What is your favorite part of having the title “author”?
Honestly, my favorite is to connect with readers and other authors. It gives me a great place to form friendships with the common interest of books—and often, the common thread of salvation.

What is the most interesting response you’ve gotten when you’ve told people you write books?
Hmm…probably the assumption that I’m popular.

I’m curious: What stories are you working on right now? Could you please share a little synopsis (or maybe even a favorite quote) from your most recent work-in-progress?
My current WIP is Journey of Choice. I am still figuring out the entire synopsis as the rewrite is changing the first draft about 50%. It is the first Orphan Journeys novel about a teen, Nat, who is brought from the streets of New York against his will, taken in by a family against his will, and eventually, enlisted in the army against his will. With so much in his life that has happened against his choice, will he continue to turn his back on God or turn to Him in time of need?

About Amanda

Amanda Tero Profile PicAmanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again—starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda:
Email (amandaterobooks@gmail.com)  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Blog  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

My Review

Well, I’ve actually already reviewed this book over on the main reviews website. So here’s a portion of it, but I hope you won’t mind if I refer you there to see the full version!

When looking through the books I’ve read lately, I was surprised to see how many of them dealt with tougher issues—the Revolutionary war, identity, and growing up being some of the more recent stories. So I was happy to see a slightly “lighter” story in the mix, The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero! If I remember correctly, near the end of last year the author asked for a few beta-readers, so that is how I got to read this story. This is a fun book, one that I classified after reading as “the kind of book I dream of writing.” (Read the rest here.)

Giveaway!

The Secret Slipper Giveaway

U.S. Giveaway: Enter to win the set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper” (ENTER HERE)

International Giveaway: Enter to win the eBook set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper” (ENTER HERE)

Final Tour Stops:

May 31
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings for His glory | Spotlight, Review
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae | Spotlight, Review

June 1
Kellyn @ Reveries Reviews | Review
Victoria @ Victoria Minks Blog | Spotlight, Review
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook | Spotlight

June 2
Hanne @ RockandMinerals4Him | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Erica @ Roxbury Books Blog | Spotlight
Janell @ Views from the Window Friend | Review
Crystal @ Crystal’s Adventures for Christ | Spotlight, Review, Interview

June 3
Alexa @ Verbosity Reviews | Spotlight
Faith @ Chosen Vessels | Review
Melissa @ Clothed with Scarlet | Review, Interview, Giveaway

Thank you for following along! I know blog tour posts can get a bit tedious, but thanks for taking time to read and please check out the posts from other participants over the next few days (for a list of the previous stops on the tour, go here!). And hopefully sometime soon, I can work on normal blogging again. For some reason, though, taking a trip seems to sap a lot of brain energy even before it happens—not sure how that works. Anyway, until next time, keep serving the Lord!

All the Way My Savior Leads (Book Review & Blog Tour!)

Today, I’m participating in the blog tour for All the Way My Savior Leads, a great new story by author Faith Blum! I loved this book, and am looking forward to sharing it with you! (Find out more about the author here.)

I made a mistake last week. I had been planning to read All the Way My Savior Leads, but since I was still smack-dab in the middle of the adventures of two sisters in Suit and Suitability (a retelling of the classic Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, but set in Depression-era Ohio!), I decided to wait a bit and see if I could finish the other book first. This book was just a novella, right?…or so I thought. So when I tapped to open it in my Kindle Sunday morning, I realized differently quite quickly. Thankfully, even though this book is a novel, it’s a shorter one in the range—but I still enjoyed it immensely.

All The Way My Savior Leads Blog Tour

About the Book

Caroline and I walked out the back door and went into the barn. “What are we going to do?” Caroline asked.
“Head out on our own. Saddle Whitey, please.”
Caroline’s mouth gaped open. “They’ll find us.”
“I know.”
Caroline sighed. “What can we do then?”
I shook my head. “We can stick together. Always.”

Tragedy stole everything from him…except her…

Three years ago, an illness orphaned Henry and Caroline Sullivan. The harsh years at the orphanage have forged a strong bond between the pair.

But Henry’s about to age out.

He must choose whether to leave his only family behind in relative safety, or take her with him as he pursues dreams of owning a farm. Henry trusts that God has a plan for him, but little does he know that others have plans for him and his younger sister as well. He will need all his faith to find the right path.

Although this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Note from the author: 50% of my income from this series will go to the World Orphans organization.

My Review

All The Way My Savior Leads Book ReviewI’ve been fascinated by orphan’s stories ever since Mom recorded the Orphan’s Journey Series by Arleta Richardson onto tapes back when I was 5 or 6. I listened to those recordings so many times that I’m sure she got quite tired of hearing her voice over and over, but I loved the books—and still do, although it’s been years since I last listened to it (a great excuse to re-read an old favorite in order to review, I reckon). So I was quite delighted when I found out that this book by Faith Blum was about an orphan. (Seeing as I didn’t even know that much basic info about the story illustrates the fact that I hardly read any description about this book before I requested to review it!)

So, going into a brand new book that I hadn’t read much about was somewhat of a new experience for me right there. I had heard of author Faith Blum before, and looked at her books with the hope that one day I could read them, and I must say…even though this is the second book in the series, and I haven’t read the first book (yet; she kindly gave it to me, though, so that will be remedied soon!), this one was enough to make me want to try other books that she’s written.

I was highly impressed by the story. As far as the plotline goes, I’d consider it average; there wasn’t anything intensely exciting, adventuresome, sad, or even unpredictable about it (although I wouldn’t have predicted some of the things that happened!). In some ways, it was highly predictable—but for some reason, I enjoyed that this time around. To me, this book felt like the kind of story you’d pick up as a cozy read on a chilly winter day or a lazy Sunday afternoon—it didn’t meander pointlessly, but it didn’t just rush from one place to another, either. It had a nice, even flow—so if you’re one for adventurous reads, this probably isn’t for you.

As far as the characters, I think Hope was my favorite. She was cute, had endured a tremendous amount, and yet still dared to love where she felt free to do so. I really enjoyed little Jimmy, too—he was hilarious when he wasn’t being naughty! The main character felt pretty “perfect” (one fact that did annoy me at times), although it wasn’t overt AND it was told in first-person point of view so that is a lot more understandable.

The Christian element to the story was both fairly well-done and annoying. The title song for the book cropped up about 4-6 times, and personally I found that a bit much—almost as if the author was trying to make a point about the title of the novel. Probably not, and it did normally fit the circumstances, but after about the third time I was getting annoyed. As far as the other parts of the story, the faith is talked about at times, but usually in a very normal setting. There was one point where the gospel message was presented to a boy, and it felt somewhat long-winded, but other than that it was fine.

I laughed out loud several times while reading. Thankfully, one of the places is fairly easy to quote; I loved the way she described this:

Tommy, Edward, and Jeremiah spun around, and I think I saw at least one jaw bounce off the floor.

In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It wasn’t super-exciting, but it pulled me in this afternoon (so much so that when I needed to do a job for Mom I had to repeat the instructions about three times to be sure I got it!), and to me that’s a big win there. I also don’t remember noticing any typos or other errors—which is a big pet peeve of mine toward self-published authors! In all, if you’re looking for a cozy, not-too-long historical fiction, this might be a good fit for you.

Thanks, Miss Blum, for giving me a copy of this book to review!

Other Notes

For May 26-31 only, get both books in the Orphans of the West series for just $0.99 each! They are both available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more. Buy now: Savior, Like a Shepherd and All the Way My Savior Leads

There’s a giveaway! Go here to enter and also see links to the other blogs participating in this tour. 🙂

Remaining tour stops:

May 30
Frances Hoelsma—Book Spotlight

May 31
Rachel Rossano’s Words—Guest Post: How I Pick Hymns
Written Rest—Review

June 1
Bookish Orchestrations—Giveaway Winner

New Book and Interview with Author Sarah Holman!

Hi, everyone! And welcome back after the long silence! I’m learning—slowly—that I’m not that great of a consistent blogger, but when I’m in the mood for it I enjoy it. That makes it slightly difficult for me, since I enjoy a regular routine, but such is life.

Anyway, I have something exciting to share with you today! Well, this evening, rather…it’s past 11 pm now. I’m having my last hot drink for the day, and hope to have this post finished by the time I’m done. That’s not very likely, but I can try!

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The last couple days I’ve had the privilege of pre-reading author Sarah Holman’s latest book Courage and Corruption! This book is the third in the series, a medieval fantasy that has good stories and Christian themes woven throughout. Looks like I haven’t reviewed any of the books in this series for the website yet—that will have to change. These books are worthwhile reading, especially for younger readers.

Oh, and before I go further I do want to let you know by way of disclaimer that I read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also, some links in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made through those links do not cost you any extra, but the small sum I receive from them helps keep this site running. So thank you! And now, onto…

My Review of Courage and Corruption:

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Christopher cannot understand how his father believes he can learn to be a man by being sent off with the women, girls, and younger children to a castle away from the battle scene. With strife between him and his sister as well—neither wanting to take the blame for careless mistakes made out of a lack of responsibility—his life is miserable. Will he ever be able to find true happiness? And what will happen to Taelis, their beautiful country that is about to be split by a civil war as the people try to decide who will next be king?

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In all, I enjoyed this book for the most part. There were a few things I didn’t appreciate so much about it, as I felt some elements might not be realistic (even in a fantasy setting).

I also didn’t totally agree with the theology. This book seems to be stressing accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, which I agree with—Jesus does need to be both Lord and Savior of our lives—but in my personal devotions in Acts right now (and from other scriptures I remember as well), we should actually repent rather than just accept. There’s a big difference, which I won’t go into now, but Acts 2:38 and 1 John 1:9 have some bearing on this. This view is mentioned two different times. This may be an oversight on the author’s part, I don’t know. But I do think it’s worth mentioning.

Despite that, the storyline was good as it taught the need to prove your responsibility in little things before you can be trusted in big things. I’m sure many young readers would find that a worthwhile message to hear. The story itself is also exciting. Lots to do with kings and princes and knight’s children. Recommended for ages 11-14, especially.

Note: There is a battle in the latter part of chapter 27 and again the very first part of chapter 28. It mentions people being wounded and some blood, but not in any detail.

Interview with Sarah Holman:

(I actually interviewed Sarah several months ago, but never got it published. I decided this was a great opportunity to share her insights with you!)

Esther: Thank you for joining us today, Sarah! Could you give us a quick background of who you are and what you do? And just for fun, what’s one thing you do with your family these days that will make memories you’ll cherish years down the road?

Sarah: I was born in Dallas but moved to the Austin area when I was three. I grew up with two book addicts for parents and a love for stories in every form: oral, book, movie, and so on. At age eleven, I was frustrated because I couldn’t find the kind of books I wanted to read, so I decided to write them. When I was seventeen, God laid it on my heart that I should pursue becoming a full-time author. I published my first book in 2012 and continue to write the kind of books I always wanted to read.

I love this question. I think my favorite memories will be of the evenings where we all sat together, just talking. It can be on a serious topic or a being silly. However, just being together makes it worth remembering.

Esther: I love our family’s times of just talking, too! For us, it usually happens around the supper table—and the topics can be all over the place from building trailers to something someone said at church several weeks ago!

I also think it’s neat that you’re writing the books you’d like to read. It can be difficult at times to write for ourselves, as opposed to what we perceive the world at large would like to read. What do you enjoy most about your job as a writer?

Sarah: Ah yes! Don’t you love how scattered family conversations can be?

What I most enjoy? Sitting behind my computer and letting the words of a new story flow through me. There is something amazing about see a fresh story starting to take shape that is always exciting for me.

Esther: That is fun! I love all the adventures and…um…adversities that I can throw at my characters from time to time. Or the ones they spring on me!

But moving on…I’ve always enjoyed the Christian elements in your stories (and I’ve read a good number of them). Do you have a story that was particularly hard to write as far as the faith aspect is concerned? Which book has challenged you the most in your personal journey?

Sarah: Wow! You know how to give a tough question. Just about every book has a message that was close to my heart. The hardest one to write was Kate’s Innocence. It took a long time to develop the story enough that a faith theme emerged. See, I don’t often start with a super clear idea of what it is going to be because I want it to come out naturally.

As for the most challenging personally that is a good story: 2015 was a really hard year for me. There were some awesome parts to it, but overall it left me drained and dealing with a lot of emotions. I took off of almost everything in January of this year and spent it writing. Out of that month, two books in the Tales of Taelis came and both of them reflect my struggles and what God taught me. Courage and Corruption and Dreams and Devotion will be coming out later this year and both of them reflect the struggles within my own heart.

Esther: That seems like a wise way to share faith in books. The one time I tried it, it ended up feeling stilted, but I may have to try again. After all, forcing things like that on fictitious characters could be as bad as on real people! It’s interesting that 2015 was difficult for you—in many ways, that was a hard year for me too. Now you’ve given me even more reason to look forward to the next Taelis books—I really enjoyed the first two!

Relating to the last question…I think we’d agree there are many challenges confronting Christians these days. (Lies propagated through the media and music, moral issues, etc.) Have you specifically addressed any of these challenges in any of your books–intentionally or no?

Sarah: Another good but tough question. Most of the time when we say we need to talk about issues, we have a laundry list of the ills of society. In my own way, I am addressing the issues, but at a heart level. Christians fall for the lies of this world because they are not spending enough time focusing on the truth. If we spend all our time focusing on the evil around us, often we will fall for the lies. If we spend our time on God and His truth, the evil won’t be as appealing.

While I probably will deal with some of the tough issues head on in some upcoming books, for right now I’m doing exactly what I’m called to. I am writing books that deal with the tough issues of the heart like God’s plans for your life (The Destiny of One), the importance of telling the truth (A Different Kind of Courage), where is God when life is hard (Adventures and Adversities), and the power of forgiveness (Brothers and Betrayal) to name a few.

Esther: I love that thought about focusing on truth! So true! I believe you are wise to address those issues first—as the Bible says, “the heart is the wellspring of life”. It’s a pretty important task!

Okay, I think that was the last “hard” question I had for you. In wrapping up, I wanted to ask about your personal writing process a little: You’ve just released Kate’s Capitol, and have several more books in the works right now.  Do you have any particular methods for keeping yourself inspired and motivated—even when doing things like editing, which can be a bit difficult?

Sarah: My biggest key to getting things done is just to keep at it even when I don’t feel like it. I make deadlines and work to keep them (although I haven’t been successful all the time) and even give myself rewards for completing things. My method for keeping inspired? To have several projects going at once. I don’t like editing, so I normally have a project that I am writing at the same time. This keeps me motivated to do the editing so that I can get to the writing.

The main thing that keeps me motivated, is that I know what I know I am doing what God has called me too. There is a huge amount of satisfaction that comes when you are in the middle of God’s plan for you.

Esther: Knowing you’re in the center of God’s plan—a wonderful feeling, I agree! That’s great! Do you have any words of advice for younger or newbie Christian writers? And just for fun, which book out of the ones that you’ve written is your favorite?

Sarah: I have three pieces of advice for new writers. First and most importantly is to make sure that everything you write aligns with your faith. Secondly, don’t write what you think other people want to read, read the kind of books you like. Third, read all the time and of many genres.

My favorite book? Can I say all of them? No? Okay, if I had to pick a favorite out of all of them it would either be A Different Kind of Courage because I love that time in history or The Destiny of a Galaxy because there is so much of my own emotions in that book.

Esther: I love A Different Kind of Courage, too—it’s really good! Thanks for sharing with us today, Sarah! Where can people find you and your books? Any closing thoughts?

Sarah: The easiest place to find my books is Amazon. But you can also find them on audiobooks on Audible and iTunes and paperbacks on Createspace.

In closing, I would just like to say that whatever God has called you to do, do it to His glory. Don’t look to the world or anyone else for your standards our validation, look to the One who made you.

About the Author:

111 Author - closer.JPGSarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

You can find her at her website: www.thedestinyofone.com

Follow the Tour:

November 15
Faith Blum
Lakeside Publication
Claire Banschbach

November 16
Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father

November 17
Learning Resource Directory
Into the Bookcase

November 19
Gods Peculiar Treasure
A Pinch of Faith

And that’s it for this girl tonight. My tea has run dry now, anyway. Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay tuned—I have a post written to tell about the recent earthquake we had and aftermath, and hope to share that in another day or two. Just as soon as I can remember to sit down to upload pictures—providing our internet stays on, of course. It’s been acting up a little since the earthquakes.

Ante Up!: A New Book by Chautona Havig!

About two months ago, Christian author Chautona Havig released an interesting mystery named Sweet on You. Now, not too much later, she’s completed another book named Ante Up!. This one is the fourth in a series called the Aggie’s Inheritance series, about a young woman who inherited her eight nieces and nephews after her sister and brother-in-law died in a tragic accident.

I’m reviewing the story today, but a more in-depth review will be posted on the website on Friday, so keep an eye out for that in this week’s newsletter!

Ante Up! by Chautona Havig

This is another great story by Chautona Havig! I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while, so it was great to finally be able to read it now. Aggie’s family is growing in this story; it’s been four years since the last book and now besides her eight nieces and nephews she’s preparing to welcome her second baby! However, things aren’t exactly going as planned. After dealing with vandalism soon after returning from a trip, there are new complications in the pregnancy. Can she keep her faith, despite the apparent setbacks? Vannie and Laird are getting older too, and have struggles of their own to navigate. Can the family hold together—and Aggie keep her eyes on the Lord—during this difficult time?

This was a challenging book for me to read. Seeing Aggie go from a happy, content Christian to an angry, empty shell wasn’t easy. Thankfully, there IS hope even when all odds seem against you, and Mrs. Havig did an excellent job bringing that out. (I was really relieved when Aggie finally realized the aforementioned truth—the ending was satisfying, although I want more!) I was captivated the entire way through, even though the overarching theme is such a difficult subject. I came away feeling very encouraged. Can’t wait for the next book!

Note: This book does contain a lot of stuff about pregnancy in it, so it isn’t suitable for men or children.