500 Reviews: Giveaway Time!

Hello, everyone!

It’s giveaway time! I’ve got to say—running giveaways is probably one of my favorite jobs around here at LRD (besides reading books, of course!). I was talking to Mom about the giveaway this morning, and she encouraged me to keep it simple…while I was all for doing something big and fun! Well, we came up with a compromise and I’m happy about that too.

500 Reviews Celebratory Giveway!

But first, before I tell you what you could win, I’d like to say a big thank you. I don’t do that enough, I know, but thank you for being here—even just taking time to read this. Thank you for your support over the past year and a half that we’ve been going, for taking time to read our reviews and buy a few books that hopefully have been helpful to you, and for sticking it out even through those times when I haven’t gotten the reviews up when I should have. Thank you. We couldn’t do this without you—if it weren’t for you, our job would be pointless.

And since we finally hit 500 reviews on the website, I thought it called for a celebration! 500 reviews isn’t nearly as many as I hope one day to have, but it’s a good start. Where will another 500 take us? Well…that’s at least partially up to you. What subjects do you want us to research and find more books on? Tell us, and we’ll see what we can do. We’re all about helping you succeed in what you’re doing. I’m excited to see what will happen next!

The Giveaway:

There will be three winners at the end of this drawing. It is open internationally (as long as you can use an Amazon.com giftcard or receive a book from Book Depository!), although please note the DVD is only available to those residing within the US. The giveaway will run from now (January 16) through to January 23.

You could win:

Enter to win:

LRD 500 Reviews Party

(Can’t see the widget? Enter here.)

Any questions or comments? Ask below. And here’s hoping you’ll win!

God bless,
Esther

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.

Sweet on You: A New Mystery by One of My Favorite Authors!

Well, this post was supposed to go up about a week ago. But that didn’t happen, due to the fact that I didn’t even have this written yet, much less scheduled! And due to the fact that I was picking grapes last week (a job that I’m learning to really enjoy!), it simply didn’t get posted. I’ve decided that late is better than never, and since I loved the story I thought I’d share my thoughts of the book with you. But then, if you don’t like women’s fiction, or reading book reviews, go ahead and skip this post. I won’t mind!

Sweet on You by Chautona Havig

Mom has done some launch promotion work for author Chautona Havig over the past year, and a couple weeks ago when Chautona was looking for a new launch group, I decided to sign up. And, surprise, I got to be part of it! I’ve loved her books ever since Mom introduced me to Ready or Not—the tale of a young 20-something who is given guardianship of her 8 nieces and nephews after her sister and brother-in-law die. (On second thought, it’s probably not so surprising that I liked the story since I’m the oldest of eight…it was very true to life.)

I didn’t know what to expect from Sweet on You, the first book in the Meddlin’ Madeline series, since the premise was “a young girl notices things that other people don’t, and her noticing stuff involves her in some kind of mystery”. I wasn’t disappointed, though! In typical fashion, what would be a mundane story from many turned into an enthralling adventure under Mrs. Havig’s hands.

A young man recently moved into town appears at one of the many socials. He quickly begins courting the interest of Madeline’s friend Edith, but Madeline notices certain things about his demeanor that make her wonder what he is like in real life. If he is hiding something, will she be able to figure it out before he marries Edith—and perhaps destroys all chances of the girl’s future happiness?

Through the course of the novel, little things kept popping up—until I got annoyed at Madeline for waiting so long to find out the truth! I really enjoyed the mystery part of the story, and yet I enjoyed the historical aspect even more in some ways. Through this book, I got a little glimpse into life in the early 1900s, without the glamour of modern-day retellings of Jane Austen books (now, I do like the movies I’ve seen, don’t get me wrong; but this was an interesting perspective as well). I found the few mentions of the Brownie interesting, and loved the ways Madeline used her camera—not necessarily the way Russell intended her to use it!

Overall, it’s a great story. Not as much “Christian” stuff in it as in many of Chautona Havig’s other books, but like Mom I’m looking forward to seeing where that aspect goes from here.

The Kindle version is now available—you can buy it here.

Well, turns out my review for the blog was as long as my review for the website! Eventually, we will combine my review and Mom’s review into one, but for now we’ll leave things as-is.