How Reading a Horrible Book Encouraged Me To Write

Indie authors will often do something called a review exchange. It means you both exchange your manuscripts and review them for each other. A lot of times this turns into a great experience that ends with a new writer friend. Other times though, it can be disastrous. The latest exchange I joined has been more of the latter, but that’s ok. Why though? I’ve gotten a two star review on a book that otherwise has great reviews. Also, I’ve had to read through a horrible book. I don’t mean that the content was poor, but that the writing was less than mediocre. I kept making myself read further, and everything in me that loves reading and writing revolted. No, stop reading this. You’re wasting part of your favorite reading month of the year on this book. Read something—anything else—because life is too short.

Photo by Markus Clemens on Unsplash

The Worst Part

You know what offended me the most? Is that the book could have been good. It was about an interesting topic. The story had some problems, but they also could have been fixed with just a bit more effort. The whole thing was what my reading and writing friends call ‘lazy writing’… it’s the sort of thing that happens when the writer doesn’t put any effort into their writing. Using the same word three times in one sentence because you couldn’t be bothered to use a thesaurus? Lazy. Jumping from present to past tense as if there isn’t a difference because using the correct tense sucks brain power? Lazy. Using a cliche every other paragraph? Lazy! Writing is an art. It takes a lot of effort and constant education to increase one’s skill. It isn’t easy. If you want to do something easy, don’t write. As my favorite writing quote says

“Easy reading is terribly hard writing.” -Richard Brinsley Sheridan

No thanks, I’m ok being rubbish at my job.

But don’t be discouraged. I am also a stubborn believer that anyone that wants to can learn to be a writer. Because of that, I emailed the author and asked if she would like me walk her through why I would give her book one star if I did review it. Her response: “I would appreciate if you didn’t review it.” No, “Sure, I would love to hear your constructive criticism!” It makes me sad.

A few years ago I would have made a list of examples of why her writing was so difficult to get through (including the use of cliches, many grammatical errors, and lack of creativity when choosing words)… but now I ask first because usually I received a reply like, “Thanks for your email, but my readers don’t seem to mind the things you pointed out, so I’m just going to keep writing like I write now.” Why would you be ok being bad at something you supposedly love? I don’t get it. Sure, it takes time to learn how to be a better writer, but isn’t the time investment worth it? Because money. These authors don’t care if their books are good or not because their books still sell, and contribute to the idea that self-published books can’t be held to the same standards of other books… forget literature.

Photo by Jonas Svidras on Unsplash

Over the summer a writerly friend read two of my books. The first one I ever wrote, and the most recent (book number five). She said, “You can definitely see a difference in the quality of writing between the two.” THAT! That is what I want. Thank you, friend. That was the best compliment to me you could have paid.

After reading that horrible book I’m encouraged. Now I know what I don’t want to do, and I realize more than ever how much I care about the written word. I want to get better and write amazing books. Maybe I won’t be able to convince anyone they should read my books anytime soon. But either I’m going to do it right, or I won’t do it at all. Let me close with this quote:

“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” -Samuel Johnson

Happy reading,

Kristin

Book Review: Into a Silent World by Carmina Edwards

My Thoughts

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Into a Silent World‘ is quite the wild ride as far as stories go. I couldn’t put it down! The first half of the book had a slow pace as the author spent a lot of time helping the reader understand what the intriguing world of an aspiring nun was like for Amy, our fearless protagonist. But at exactly half way in, crazy and interesting things start to happen. If I gave you a preview of all the schemes Amy gets into, you probably wouldn’t believe me, so I suggest you read it for yourself. Amy is a lovable, timeless character you will never forget!

An additional note for readers of my blog– I found this book really helpful as research for better understanding what religious instruction in an institution like the one where Amy lived might be like. This comes into play in my NaNoWriMo book as the protagonist attends a school in religious instruction before he can be sworn in as a time traveler.

I was provided a copy of this book by Celebrate Lit in case I wanted to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Purchase your copy here.

About the Book

Title: Into a Silent World

Author: Carmina Edwards

Genre: Biography, Memoir

Release Date: August 15, 2016

Following Amy’s adventures in A Door Cracked Open, she heads into a world which will test her faith and perseverance to the limit. Instead of settling into a simple, safe and unchanging life like she imagined, Amy is strongly drawn to a vocation with even higher requirements, prompting her to plan some seemingly impossible missions in order to reach her goal.

About the Author

I am a mother of two wonderful grown up children and currently living in the UK, after living in Sweden for three years where I wrote my first book, “A Door Cracked Open.” I was blessed to be able to spend six months in USA before returning to the UK, my home country, to work with my editor in California on the edits of this book and visit friends.

I am an avid reader and linguist, having also spent some years living in France and have been fortunate enough to have taught Swedish and French over twenty-five years and translate for businesses and manuscripts in both languages. Being unemployed the past few years, has led to me becoming homeless. However, I never give up hope. As I try to portray in my books, God has always had His hand on me. Once again, He has stepped in right at the last minute. I now have a new job in Sweden and will be moving back there. Because I feel passionately about helping the homeless, a large percentage of my royalties will go directly to them.

Guest Post from Carmina Edwards

“Into a Silent World” follows on from Amy’s story in “A Door Cracked Open.”

With a new beginning ahead of her, a long standing dream about to be realized, she was unprepared for the events which were about to unfold over the next two years.

Why would God send her to this place of “absolute conviction” and allow her to remain there for that long, if He never meant for her to be there? Amy struggles to understand and seeks His will, but determined that it was His plan, she persevered in order for her dream to be fulfilled.

Blog Stops

Just Jo’Anne, November 7

Mary Hake, November 8

Kristin’s Book Reviews, November 9

Janices book review, November 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 11

History, Mystery & Faith, November 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 13 (Interview)

The Power of Words, November 14 (Interview)

margaret kazmierczak, November 15

Splashes of Joy, November 16

A Reader’s Brain, November 17

Multifarious, November 18

Artistic Nobody, November 19 (Karin Perry guest post)

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carmina is giving away

Grand Prize:

Paperback copies of A Door Cracked Open & Into a Silent World

1st – 3rd place:

Ebook copy of A Door Cracked Open!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c3c4

Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna’s Choice by Angie Dicken

Welcome to another installment of ‘Kristin’s Book Reviews’ where I tell you exactly what I think about some of the most exciting new releases. Today’s book is about a woman in difficult circumstances, surrounded by hateful people, who tries to make the best choices, but often fails.

My Thoughts On ‘My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate…

I give this book 3/4 stars.

Category: Historical Fiction – Christian

Though I was naturally endeared to this book because of the interesting history revolving around Greek immigrants to America (I am an American immigrant to Greece), there were definitely highs and lows both as I read through this jaunt into America’s past.

This dual POV story gives you the side of each protagonist as you learn about their prior mistakes and cheer them on to victory.

As someone who speaks (I use the term loosely here) Greek, I have to say that for the most part the Greek was spot on. Kudos to Ms. Dicken who was influenced by her family history to create this story.

The thing that I really had a hard time with about this book is something I see in a lot of books lately. The constant repetition of the protagonists inner thoughts reaffirming their feelings, which the reader is already very familiar with after the beginning of the book, becomes annoying. In this case, multiply that by two because both protagonists do it through the entire book. I understand that when God speaks to us, we aren’t always so eager to listen, but in this case the author never had her characters deal with the fact that they were ignoring their feelings and circumstances because of their own pride. I think that’s a shame. I also think the idea of women being reluctant to marry, or men (in Alex’s case) is an overused theme in Christian literature.

Though this wasn’t my absolute favorite, the story was consistent and I was curious to know what would happen in the end. I think many people will enjoy it.

I was provided a copy of this book by Celebrate Lit in case I wanted to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Be sure to keep reading for more about the author as well as information on her awesome giveaway.

Purchase your copy here.

About the Book

Name of book: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah

Author: Angie Dicken

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: November 1, 2017

Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.

About The Author

Angie Dicken is a third generation Greek American, the granddaughter of strong men and women who endured hardship to grow American roots. My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate, Utah is set near the birthplace of her grandfather, a Greek coal miner’s son, and published 100 years after his birth. Angie is a contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog and an ACFW member since 2010. She lives with her husband and four children in the Midwest where she enjoys exploring eclectic new restaurants and chatting with friends over coffee. You can connect with Angie at www.angiedicken.com.

 

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, October 31

Faithfully Bookish, October 31

Caffeinated Reads, October 31

Captive Dreams Window, November 1

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 1

A Greater Yes, November 2

Janices book reviews, November 2

Daysong Reflections, November 2

Red Headed Book Lady, November 3

Books, Books, and More Books., November 3

Just the Write Escape, November 3

Carpe Diem, November 4

Christian Bookaholic, November 4

Radiant Light, November 5

History, Mystery & Faith, November 5

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 6

Texas Book-aholic, November 6

Babs Book Bistro, November 7

Kristin’s Book Reviews, November 7

Singing Librarian Books, November 8

Connie’s History Classroom, November 8

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 9

J.E. Grace Christian Author Blog, November 9

Neverending Stories, November 9

Have A Wonderful Day, November 10

Pause for Tales, November 10

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 11

Mary Hake, November 11

Splashes of Joy, November 11

Bigreadersite, November 12

Blossoms and Blessings, November 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 12

Vicky Sluiter, November 13

Bibliophile Reviews, November 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of her book The Outlaw’s Second Chance!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1ff

Book Review: Reintegration by Ashley Bogner

Welcome to another installment of ‘Kristin’s Book Reviews’ where I tell you exactly what I think about some of the most exciting new releases. Today’s book is special in the fact that it’s author Ashley Bogner’s first novel! Ashely has been a faithful reviewer of my books (even though we don’t always agree 100% on things) and I’m so excited to finally be able to return the favor. I was also able to interview Ashley about her writing process, which I know all my readers that write will enjoy. Without further ado, here is the interview. Make sure to keep reading to find out how much I enjoyed and ‘Reintegration’ along with a brief synopsis.

Interview with Author Ashely Bogner

What is the most difficult thing (or things) you struggle with as a writer?

World-building and scenery description, definitely. I’m so jealous of authors who craft richly-detailed, epic fantasy or sci-fi settings that make me feel like I’m actually in the story.

Are you part of a writing group? Why or why not?

I used to be part of a writer’s group that met once a month and I loved it. Unfortunately, my family moved and I haven’t been able to find a Christian writer’s group near me. It’s very disappointing, as I love meeting other writers and learning from their experiences.

When do your ideas usually come to you? When you’re writing? When you’re walking around? Reading a good book?

On car trips, actually! There’s something about watching the scenery go by while listening to music that just tends to inspire story ideas.

Although, I am also plagued quite frequently by the ideas that come when I’m trying to fall asleep and am too tired to write them down. 🙂

What kind of writer are you, a planner, a pantser, or a plantser (combination of the two)?

Definitely a planner. I never start a book without doing a gazillion outlines and synopses (I always want to write this synopsises—it’s very fun to say!). I don’t like getting half-way through a manuscript then realizing I either have no idea where I’m going or I have a major plot loophole. It’s also helpful for when I have to abandon a project for a while. I can just reread my outline and pick up right where I left off!

How many drafts do you write, and which of those is the most difficult for you?

This question made me laugh, because for me, there is actually no telling how many drafts I’ll have. Reintegration had one draft followed by some small edits. I’m currently on the fourth draft of the sequel. Once I finish the Reintegration trilogy, I’ll start my tenth draft of an old fantasy manuscript of mine. The number of drafts I’ll have is such a mystery.

Honestly, rough drafts are the most difficult. As I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of planning so I don’t run into a lot of writer’s block. Rough drafts are hard for me because I’m a perfectionist and I want everything to be just right the first time. Oftentimes, I’m not even half-way through the rough draft and I’m already dying to go back and edit. I really have to push myself to finish before I start rewriting.

Are there any character traits you have that you try to instill in your characters? Are there traits you wish you had that you give to your characters? What are they?

You’ll actually find a lot of “me” in my characters, especially my female protagonists. I want my characters to feel authentic, so oftentimes the fears and dreams and values and flaws and doubts they have are based off my own. I try to make them unique characters, but also have them be characters I relate to.

My characters have a lot more courage than I do. They’re more willing to take action when they need to. I’m that person who has to think through all the options before making a decision, and I sometimes miss opportunities because of it. That’s why I love speculative stories so much—the characters inspire me to be braver, even if I’m not involved in a world-saving adventure. 🙂

What genre is your new project?

Reintegration is a YA dystopian novel told from a Christian worldview. It’s also the first of a trilogy!

What was your world building process like for this project?

Dystopian is an interesting genre because it’s so theme-driven. World-building has always been a struggle of mine, but with Reintegration it came a lot easier than with previous stories. With dystopian fiction, I found that the “key” to world-building (at least for me) is building the setting around the theme. My characters live in a world where tolerance and relativism have been taken too far. I looked at each element of the setting from this perspective. What government type would reflect this idea best? What would the education system be like? How would people interact with each other? Then I filled in the details with things like clothing, food, vocabulary, etc.

My Thoughts On ‘Reintegration

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Categories: Speculative Fiction, Young Adult, Religious Fiction, Dystopian

This book is touching and thought provoking with plenty of twists and turns. There is some violence toward the end, which is why I don’t recommend this book for readers under the age of 13, but besides that I found it to be totally clean and appropriate. If you like futuristic dystopian style novels, ‘Reintegration’ will definitely keep you entertained and turning the pages. I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in one sitting. The only complaint I have is that sometimes there were paragraphs of Katherine’s inner thoughts that seemed to go on too long. Those scenes would have been more powerful without as much repetition and length. I think that is one of the main reasons why I haven’t seen very many five star reviews for this book… the too-long inner dialogue bogs down the flow of the otherwise smooth yet punchy story line. However, I remember what it was like to write my first novel, and I think given time Bogner will learn to avoid this mistake.

The themes in this book center on what happens when the true meaning of tolerance is forgotten and twisted into moral relativism, the importance of family, and establishing boundaries within the context of righteousness. Does God exist? And if yes, what would Katherine be willing to risk to get that information into the hands of her peers? Matthew was definitely my favorite character!

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series whenever it comes out, and I would definitely recommend it to my friends. I wish there was more Religious Fiction in the world like ‘Reintegration’.

You can purchase it here on Amazon, here on Barnes & Noble, and here on CreateSpace.

Reintegration Synopsis

TAG LINE:  A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both…

SUMMARY: As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?

AUTHOR BIO: When Ashley Bogner was in third grade, she decided she would be a published author when she grew up. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and has lived in seven different states. She completed a year of Bible college and in the fall will begin pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. After college, her plan is to work in the Christian publishing industry. When not writing, she can be found baking, posting book reviews on her blog, and watching her favorite movies over and over to the point of memorization.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Blog: http://www.ashleybogner.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleybognerwriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@AshleyBWriter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16953932.Ashley_Bogner

As always, happy reading!

Kristin N. Spencer

Book Review: The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

Click here to purchase.

The Who Could See is a Speculative Fiction book set in contemporary times. Note for those with younger readers: This book does contain some violence.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Speculative Fiction (Young Adult)

I loved the worlds that Kara Swanson created in this book. The setting takes place mostly in Los Angeles (my home town!). If you like dystopian, you will love this book. It has all the edgy qualities a dystopian novel would have, but is still set in contemporary times. Fern is a very interesting character, and her backstory is interesting, studded with pain and horror. This is a type of redemption story as Fern tries to find healing from her past and present afflictions, all while trying to discover if her imaginary friend is really imaginary after all. I also enjoyed the 2D characters in this book. Fern’s niece is adorable. I don’t want to give too much away, but the relationships in this story are complex and magnetic. Also, the villain rocks (as far as villains go). The Girl Who Could See is a great read.

I was provided a copy of this book by Celebrate Lit in case I wanted to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Be sure to keep reading for an interview with the author as well as information on her awesome giveaway.

About the Book

Book title: The Girl Who could See

Author: Kara Swanson

Release date: June 1, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy/Young Adult

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after al—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

About the Author

As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories herself. At seventeen, she independently published her debut fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Guest Post from Kara Swanson

Did you have an imaginary friend growing up? I did. And I think most of us probably understood what it was like to use our childhood imaginations to create friends and take us places.

The Girl Who Could See follows Fern Johnson, a young woman who’s imaginary friend, Tristan, first appeared in her life when she was eight years old—and has never left. Now nineteen, Fern still sees Tristan, only he is no longer her friend. Now he is her curse. The source of her insanity. The reason Fern cannot keep a job and has been passed from one psychologist to another. The reason she is one step away from a psych ward. However, Tristan disagrees. He says that he’s not a figment of Fern’s imagination and is determined to prove it. But, if his existence is real, it has dangerous implications not only for Fern, but for her world. Because the creature that decimated Tristan’s planet is coming for Earth—and only the girl everyone says is crazy can stop it.

I wrote the novella as a way to explore the idea of what would happen if someone had an imaginary friend who never left. What would the psychological and daily implications be? And what if that imaginary friend wasn’t imaginary? The story that grew from those sparks of ideas became an adventure that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did. 🙂

Blog Stops

June 27: A Baker’s Perspective

June 27: A Simply Enchanted Life

June 27: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 28: Kristin’s Book Reviews

June 28: Christian Chick’s Thoughts

June 29: Fiction Aficionado

June 29: Genesis 5020

June 30: Smiling Book Reviews

June 30: The Fizzy Pop Collection

July 1: Blogging With Carol

July 1: remembrancy

July 2: Inklings and notions 

July 2: Ashley’s Bookshelf

July 3: Zerina Blossom’s Books

July 3: God1meover

July 4: Book by Book

July 4: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

July 5: Dragons Read History

July 5: Through the Open Window

July 6: It’s Storytime with Van Daniker 

July 6: Baker Kella

July 7: Pause for Tales

July 7: Edits and Reviews By Leslie

July 8: Books, Books, and More Books.

July 8: Pursuing Stacie

July 8: The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate

July 9: Reader’s cozy corner

July 9: A path of joy

July 10: Neverending Stories

July 10: Henry Happens

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kara is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b7f6

Book Review: A Spring of Weddings by Tony Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell

This is my first every Celebrate Lit blog tour post. Yay! I hope you are as excited as I am.

And they are also giving away a Kindle, so check out that giveaway here.

A Spring of Weddings is collection of two stories about, as I’m sure you guessed, Spring weddings. I don’t normally like Romance books, but there were a few things that made this collection special.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction (Contemporary Christian Romance)

The first story in this collection is “A Proxy Wedding” by Toni Shiloh. This was the first book of hers that I’ve read, though I like her blog. I have to say, the unique premise of this story caught my attention right from the start. I didn’t even know what proxy wedding was, let alone a double proxy wedding. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there were definitely a few surprises in this cute, well planned tale.

Hope Beyond Savannah” is the second part of the collection and was written by Melissa Wardwell. It was also my first time reading anything by this author. It was an interesting story, but in my opinion, things happened so fast without enough time for character development. Maybe it would have been better as a full length novel. I really appreciated the multicultural aspect of this story. I should also mention that if you don’t like to read about lots of kissing and physical affection, this isn’t the story for you. It felt like, “ugh, more kissing,” but as I mentioned before, I don’t really like romances. I still found the story interesting, though. And I felt for the main character, Lily. Poor thing!

Overall I would definitely recommend this book for a quick, entertaining read.

I was given a copy of this book by CelebrateLit Publishing in case I wanted to review it. All opinions are my own.

 

Click here to purchase your copy

About the Book

Book: A Spring of Weddings: A Contemporary Spring Weddings Collection

Authors: Toni Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell,

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Release Date: March 30, 2017

A Proxy Wedding

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.

Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?

Hope Beyond Savannah

Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

About the Authors

Toni Shiloh
Melissa Wardwell

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Melissa Wardwell was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.

Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Guest posts from Toni & Melissa

A Proxy Wedding

By Toni Shiloh

Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.

When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine spring time, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.

It. Was. Rough.

It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.

Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.

In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.

I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.

Hope Beyond Savannah

By Melissa Wardwell

I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun, but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.

With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.

My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Blog Stops

April 25: Blossoms and Blessings

April 25: Lighthouse Academy

April 26: A Baker’s Perspective

April 26: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

April 27: Blogging With Carol

April 27: Avid Reader Book Reviews

April 28: Moments Dipped in Ink

April 28: Mary Hake

April 29: Reading Is My SuperPower

April 29: The Power of Words (Spotlight)

April 30: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

April 30: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

May 1: Quiet Quilter

May 1: Kristin N. Spencer

May 2: Kat’s Corner Books

May 2: Karen Sue Hadley

May 3: Books. Books. And More Books.

May 3: History, Mystery & Faith

May 4: Jeanette’s Thoughts

May 4: A Greater Yes

May 5: Carpe Diem

May 5: Christian Bookaholic

May 6: These Splendid Sentences

May 6: Just Jo’Anne

May 7: God is Love

May 7: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 8: Autism mom

May 8: Caffeinated Reads

May 9: Bibliophile Reviews

Giveaway

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit Publishing is giving away a Kindle! Click here to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Happy reading,

Kristin

Book Review: Nehemiah – Becoming A Godly Leader

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 Stars.

Category: Non-fiction :: Target Audience: Christian Leaders

Nehemiah: Becoming A Godly Leader by Gregory Brown is a wonderful resource full of truth and practical application.

This book is a great resource to Bible teachers and small groups, but it is so simple that anyone could read it and gain understanding. That is one of the things I love the most about this book, is it’s accessibility.
The Biblical principles of leadership that Gregory Brown explores and expands on from the book of Nehemiah have the potential to change the world. If every leader would allow the principles in this book to shape their lives and leadership styles, we would see a great change, and even as Brown suggests many times, revival.
“Jesus said when the church is unified, we will see many souls come to Christ; the world will know that Jesus came from God…Sadly, most ministries swing to the other extreme. Most churches and ministries work very independently. In fact, they are often so worried about losing members that they never work with other churches at all. However, when you look at the early church, which also experienced revival, they were very unified.”
After reading this book, I can confidently state that Brown is a brother in the Lord that wants to see the lives of many transformed by the love of God through servant leadership. He discusses important topics such as unity, dealing with discouragement, leading by example, serving even when we don’t like the job or feel qualified, the importance of dealing with conflict instead of overlooking it, and how to deal properly with the provision God has given us.
This book would a blessing to any believer that wants more clarity on what it means to faithfully serve Jesus Christ, whether they are in leadership or not.

Book Review: From Fiery Trials by Marisa De More

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 Stars.

 

Category: Non-fiction :: Target Audience: Adults

From Fiery Trials by Marisa De More is true, challenging, and encouraging. If you have struggled with mental illness, depression, or demonic influence, this book will encourage you as you turn to Jesus Christ for deliverance. Marisa De More’s testimony of her childhood is intense, but encouraging. I love how she approached everything in such humility. She also approaches issues that all Christians have in a very biblical way, explaining the seasons of growth she went though individually and also in her marriage with her husband, Barry. I loved this book so much, and I believe it will encourage many others.

One of the main themes of this book is, “Why has God created me? What am I supposed to do with my life?” I feel like the answer will encourage so many people in their quest to serve the Lord.

Personally, God used this book to minister to me during a very difficult time in my walk with Him. The illustrations and visions paint a perfect picture of God’s love, grace, and mercy. Thank you for your transparency and honesty Marisa! May the Lord continue to bring you closer to Him

Book Review: Carol and the Belles by Chautona Havig

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Contemporary

Themes include: Giving Abroad, Christian Dating, Orphanages, Family, Christian Friendships

I am delighted to review Chautona Havig’s most recent edition to her collection of wonderful holiday books“Carol and the Belles.” As usual Chautona’s natural “tell it like it is” style flows through each page, and while this book does deal with some serious issues, I didn’t find it to be too serious or heavy. If you add this to your stack of easy and enjoyable winter reading, you won’t be sorry. The story almost reminded me of Jane Austen’s “Emma” meets “The Shop Around The Corner.” I don’t want to give too much away, because that would just be a shame. It will no doubt be a Christmas favorite for years to come.

Are you curious? Good. Here is a brief synopsis that Chautona wrote that won’t give anything away.

Their childhood letters formed the friendship of a lifetime.

As part of an international school pen pal program, Carol and Michal began writing monthly letters twenty-five ago.  So, when Carol’s artisan guild decides to send an emissary to the United States to investigate a new gift store and potentially negotiate contracts for importing Romanian handcrafts to several major American cities, Carol applies.  Finally, the chance to meet Michal after all these years!

But Carol’s arrival in Rockland is fraught with surprises, misunderstandings, and a string of both awkward and delightful dates.  Michal and the “belles” do everything possible to make the visit memorable and special, but when Carol decides to apply for a work visa, things get really interesting.

As a self-professed “world’s most non-spontaneous person,” Michal discovers that following your heart and the Lord’s leading just might also lead you into unexpected places and spontaneous decisions.

Since I met my husband through the fine art of letter writing, aka Facebook messaging, this book holds a special place in my heart.

Book Review: Space Drifters – The Emerald Enigma

This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.

 

I give this book 4/5 stars.

Category: Fiction :: Science Fiction

Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma

Paul Regnier is a native Southern Californian like me, and his appreciation and enthusiasm for Science Fiction was not lost on me. There are several obvious references to Star Wars, and I found the crew to closely resemble the mishmash of the crew from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. I loved the characters. They will win you over right away. Even though Captain Starcrost (the protagonist) wears the same pants as Hans Solo, he most reminds me of Malcom Reynolds from the Firefly franchise. His tough exterior seems a bit irritating at first, but once he meets Jasette, the bounty hunter with an unexpected past, we finally get a glimpse of his softer side.

If you are a true sci-fi fan, you will appreciate the detail that Regnier put into “The Emerald Enigma.” There were scenes that reminded me of ‘Lost in Space,’ but there were also plenty of new and unexplored ideas, one being a ship computer that has an actual personality. It was basically like reading a mashup of all my favorite kinds of sci-fi. Well done, Reignier. There wasn’t anything inappropriate in this book, in case you are wondering. And for me, the most refreshing thing about the entire book was Blix, whose voice automatically sounded like Abe Sapien in my head from the first moment I read his dialogue.

As far as spiritual content, it is very subtle. One of the main characters is a Christian and has a Bible. He shares his faith with the other characters. There are a few mentions of prayer.

The only disappointing aspect was that this book doesn’t have a concrete ending, since it is the first in a series. It definitely leaves you wanting more.