Book Review: Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler

How can I put into words all that I loved about this story (and, to be perfectly honest, every book I’ve read by Lisa Howeler)? These stories always seem to find their way into my hands at the perfect time.

Sometimes, it’s that I’m going through the same thing as a character, like wrestling with guilt or shame. Other times, her books touch on something I’ve gone through in the past and the story and characters manage to shine new light and perspective on my experiences.

Lisa writes real, flawed, and beautiful characters. They are reflections of ourselves and of the people we know, and it’s a source of comfort and encouragement every time I get to spend a little time with them in Spencer Valley. This was a wonderful continuation of the story, and I’m really looking forward to reading book three and any other books to come.

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You can find Harvesting Hope, as well as the other books in the Spencer Valley Chronicles, on Amazon.

If you’d like to connect with Lisa, head over to any of these places:

Facebook

Instagram

Lisa’s Blog

Goodreads

Speaking as a fellow author, it’s so fun and encouraging when we get to connect with the people who have enjoyed our books, so be sure to follow along on Lisa’s writing adventures!

And once you’ve read her books, please leave a review on Goodreads. It will make her day!

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Up Next…

Next week, I’ll be sharing my review of The Innkeeper, a fantastic Christmas story (loosely inspired by A Christmas Carol) by Keaton D. Winter. This is a story that I’ll be re-reading year after year, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my review with you!

Speaking of Christmas, I think I might do a post about my favorite books to read at Christmas time!

Currently Reading…

Water Falling by H.A. Pruitt (cue my to-do list gathering endless amounts of dust until I’m finished)

and

Hunter by Joanna White (this one has been on my TBR for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally dive into it!)

What about you? What books have you read and loved lately? I’m always looking for recommendations, so please share in the comments!

The Best Fantasy Books to Reignite Your Sense of Wonder

I am so excited to be part of Shepherd, a fantastic website for readers that features authors, their books, and books they love!

I created a list of the best fantasy books to reignite your sense of wonder (after all, that’s what Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel is all about 😊)

It would mean so much to me if you would check out the list! Some of my very favorite books are featured and it was so fun to share more about why these stories are so important to me.

One thing I want to mention! There is a purchase link for Penelope Grace in the list. If you’d like to buy a copy, click the button that says Direct! The story is only available on Etsy, not on Amazon or Bookshop!

And while you’re there, check out Shepherd’s bookshelf of magical realism!

Thank you to everyone who has bought and reviewed Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel! I’m so grateful for each of you, and I’m praying that the story encourages you and anyone you share it with!

While you’re exploring the Etsy shop, check out the bookish treasures that would make for some lovely stocking stuffers 🎄

Keep an eye out this week for my review of Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler!

Alexandria

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Putting Holes in the Darkness

I recently read the most beautiful story about Robert Louis Stevenson.

One night, when Robert Louis Stevenson was a small boy, his nanny called him to come to bed. Oblivious to her summons, he was staring at something outside his nursery window. The nanny walked over, stood at his shoulder, and inquired patiently, “Robert, what are you looking at?”

The little boy, without taking his eyes away from the window, exclaimed in wonder as he pointed to the lamplighter who was lighting the streetlamps, “Look, Nanny! That man is putting holes in the darkness!”

You and I may not be able to change the world, but surely each of us can put a hole in the darkness!

The Joy of My Heart, Anne Graham Lotz

As soon as I read this story, I started thinking back on all of the remarkable books I’ve read over the last few years by my fellow authors and how much their stories matter.

In Anelthalien and Earth Quaking, H.A. Pruitt invites us into a world that is altogether different, where the characters reflect our own struggles and strengths and unexpectedly remind us that no part of our story can erase the purpose that God has uniquely prepared for us.

Whether you’re reading The Cottonwood Chronicles, Peregrine, or Astrid and the Marble Tower, Erica Richardson’s books are full of stunning and much-needed reminders that you never go unnoticed or unseen by God, no matter how small, insignificant, or different you might feel.

Lisa Howeler’s books, like A New Beginning or The Farmer’s Daughter, remind us that grace is real and that the insecurities we feel and the mistakes we make don’t disqualify us from receiving it.

M.H. Elrich’s Daughters of Tamnarae series reassures us that our worth is set in stone and showcases the delight God takes in weaving us into His grand story of love and redemption.

The first book in the Hope on the High Seas series, Free by Careena Campbell, reminds each reader who picks it up that pure faith, though it might be scoffed at, is true strength, and that the more we walk in step with God, the more fully we’ll get to know Him and the hope He offers.

Effie Joe Stock’s books, like Child of the Dragon Prophecy or Aphotic Love, confront the most intense emotions with a courage and boldness that can’t help but inspire her readers. Each page is a reminder that, just like her characters, you are brave enough to experience anger, grief, and pain without being defeated by them.

In Starganauts, C.E. Stone takes readers on a journey through the most crushing grief and uncertainty and displays God’s faithfulness in the midst of it. The whole story is a beautiful reminder that hope is possible even in the most intense battle and that victory and joy are waiting on the other side of it.

There are so many more authors and stories that have inspired me than I have room to share in one post, but I am so grateful for the chance to experience each and every one of these stories.

With every word you type, you are all putting holes in the darkness, reminding us how fragile the night really is when it comes up against God’s radiance.

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You can check out all of these wonderful stories at the links above! If you have any book recommendations, share them below. I’m always looking for an excuse to add another bookshelf to my library 🙂

Alexandria

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Book Review: Letters from the Dragon’s Son

Jonathan Gudwyne is in trouble.

But he shouldn’t be. It doesn’t make sense. Much of what he’s longed for has been fulfilled in these last months.

He is reunited with Izzy, they’ve settled into their homestead, and they’re building the life and family they’ve dreamed of.

And yet, something is not quite right. Something feels stagnant and off-kilter, and it is not long before Jonathan realizes that the rot can be found in his own heart. And when an unexpected and shattering loss occurs, Jonathan finds himself pushed to the breaking point, altogether unsure that he’ll survive what’s consuming him from the inside.

Avery is a man longing for reconciliation and certain he doesn’t deserve it. In fact, if you were to ask him, he’d tell you that what he most deserves is as much pain as can be inflicted for all the suffering he’s caused others.

Still, he hopes. Hopes for forgiveness. Hopes for his boy to see him for the man he’s become rather than the one he’s been.

The possibility seems far-fetched. Still, there’s always a chance for his hopes to be fulfilled. Always a chance for the dragons of our pasts to be, at last and finally, laid to rest.

Letters from the Dragon’s Son is one of my favorite books of all time. For the way it raised my hopes, for the way it lifted my eyes to see my own past through the only proper lens: grace.

We all have parts of our pasts that we are ashamed of, and, like Avery, we all tend to shy away from the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that Jesus freely extends. We know we’re not worthy, so, why bother, right?

But Tammy Lash has woven an intricate story that lovingly, but firmly, refuses to leave its readers in that rut of guilt and shame.

This is a story that lifts you out of the ashes.

This is a story that helps you see yourself and others clearly, perhaps, for the first time.

This is a story full of characters that reflect our own struggles and victories, in all their imperfect glory.

If you’re longing for hope, forgiveness (or the ability to forgive), and a new beginning, this is the story I’ll suggest over and over and over again.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

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You can find a copy of Letters rom the Dragon’s Son here.

And be sure to read book one, White Wolf and the Ash Princess.

You can connect with Tammy Lash on Instagram and Goodreads.

Happy reading!

Alexandria

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An Interview With C.D. Hulen

I’m so excited to share my interview with C.D. Hulen as we continue to celebrate the recent release of his sci-fi novel, Abort!

Read on to learn more about the inspiration for Abort, C.D. Hulen’s advice for fellow indie authors, and his thoughts on how to include a powerful, faith-based message in novels!

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I really enjoyed reading your novel! What inspired the story of Abort?

Thanks so much! Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what inspired me, outside of God of course (as all things work according to His will). This particular story concept came to me almost fully formed, which wasn’t super common for me. I thought it would make a good book, so I wrote down the idea and then promptly forgot about it for about 6 months. But obviously, I found it again, and here we are. 

One common pro-life argument that is used to confront abortion is that of comparing unborn children to people in a coma who are going to wake up (both are dependent on others, neither are highly responsive, and both are in their respective states for a limited amount of time, i.e., the person in a coma will wake up and the child will be born). This particular argument was definitely an inspiration. After the initial stages of writing, I drew inspiration from other sources, such as my Christian faith, my Dad’s suggestions, Ray Comfort’s videos on abortion, and Paul Washer’s articulation of the gospel, in order to add more depth to the story.

Throughout the story, Mason wrestles with divided loyalties and the distinction between right and wrong. Was he a difficult character to write? What do you think makes characters like him so compelling?

Definitely one of the most difficult things about writing Mason was keeping the reader from being completely disgusted by him. What he’s trying to do is terrible, and readers generally don’t want to root for that, so it was a struggle to balance the sympathetic aspects of his character without excusing his actions. I think his relatability and understandability help make him compelling. Although the reader hopefully won’t agree with his mission, they can understand why he’s doing it, and can relate to the many trials he faces on the HS10.

Christian sci-fi isn’t a genre that I, personally, hear much about, and it was exciting to read your novel! What about sci-fi do you believe uniquely positions the genre to share a faith-based message?

There’s definitely not much Christian sci-fi in mainstream media—none in film that I’ve seen, and not a ton in literature. But anyway, I think science fiction can be uniquely poised to tackle current issues as well as delve into compelling allegories. The concept of Abort was perfectly setup for a science fiction setting—I didn’t even consider another genre! I also believe that with science fiction you have something that Fantasy can struggle with—a real presentation of the gospel. This can be done in contemporary and historical fiction for sure, but fantasy generally relies heavily on gospel allegories if it wants to approach the Christian theme (Jesus). Science fiction has the privilege of dealing with the real thing.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced as a self-published author and what enabled you to overcome them? Do you have any encouragement to offer fellow writers who want  to follow that same route?

I think the battle against anonymity has been the hardest. I can learn how to write good prose, design a book cover, and develop compelling characters, but as an author who started with zero platform, it’s been challenging. I think what’s to be learned is that it’s all up to God. If He wants the book to go far, it will. If not, it won’t. I have to hold my dreams loosely, trust His plan, and be faithful. If the marketing of this book has taught me anything it’s that God is in control.

A note of practical advice for writers: keep writing, keep getting feedback, and write again. It’s a long slog sometimes, but the more you do it, the better you get. And if you’re a Christian who is writing fiction, don’t tack your faith onto it. What I mean is that the gospel isn’t an afterthought, so if you’re a Christian and writing a story, don’t force the gospel into it, allow it to permeate the entire thing. Don’t sprinkle the gospel onto your story, soak your story in the gospel. All or nothing. Don’t be afraid to be preachy but tell a good story, make it real, and give it over to God.

Can you share any details with readers about your current or upcoming projects?

Well, I don’t want to share too much, but I’ve always got story ideas in my head. People who’ve followed me for a while know that I’ve wanted to write a musical, as well as refurbish and finish my historical fantasy trilogy. I also have some more Christian sci-fi stories brewing which address the current issues of the woke church and Christless conservatism. All that to say, I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, but whatever it is, I want God to be glorified.

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Thank you so much to C.D. Hulen for joining me for this interview!

You can connect with him on his website, Instagram, and Goodreads to stay up-to-date on his writing journey!

Abort is available on Amazon.

Alexandria

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Book Review: Abort

Happy Release Day to C.D. Hulen and his brand-new novel, Abort!

This is a science-fiction adventure unlike any other, and I’m thrilled to share my review below (and an interview with the author later this week)!

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When Commander Mason Wyatt wakes up on a starship, he has more questions than answers.

Discovering his mission should have been a comfort, but the clock is ticking to complete it, and Mason finds himself stuck with a partner who is asking difficult questions, questions that unsettle his understanding of right and wrong and that put his precarious reputation at further risk.

When he first awoke on the starship, Mason thought the most important thing was to complete the mission, but as time runs short, he must decide if he even has the right to do what the mission demands…

C.D. Hulen has created a masterful, stand-alone sci-fi novel that is both a thrilling adventure through space an intriguing exploration into a character’s struggle with right and wrong.

With a faith-based perspective that effortlessly permeates the entire story, Abort is a novel that will both entertain and challenge readers, and it’s certainly an adventure that they’ll never forget.

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Abort is available on Amazon!

Be sure to add Abort on Goodreads and leave a review once you’ve finished reading! It’s one of the best ways to support authors!

This Thursday, I’ll be sharing an interview with C.D. Hulen.

Reading a few more good books until then,

Alexandria

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Book Review & Giveaway of Luna’s Rescue!

This, week, I am so excited to share a book review and giveaway of Erica Richardson’s book, Luna’s Rescue, the first book in The Cottonwood Chronicles.

This story is an absolute, magical delight, and you won’t want to miss a chance to read it!

Read my full review and giveaway details below.

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Luna is just your average crested gecko: small, unassuming, and perfectly content with her routine of sleeping by day and enjoying fruit puree by night.

But when her family suddenly goes missing, Luna knows she must abandon the familiar and do something that no one expects of her: go on an adventure!

Along the way, she is joined by the prickly, but loveable, owl, Hoover, and the curiously quirky and ingenious wizard, Edwin. While they agree to help Luna, they also believe that, when it comes to rescuing her family, she is just too small.

But don’t lose heart! Wizard Edwin has a plan, and it’s bound to transform Luna’s adventure into something entirely unexpected…

Erica Richardson has created a charming children’s story in Luna’s Rescue, the first book in The Cottonwood Chronicles. Her characters range from the persnickety to the courageous, the quirky to the loveable, and every turn of the page is sure to bring fresh delight to readers of all ages. This is the perfect story for families to curl up with and read aloud together.

So, have you ever felt too small to face the impossible or help those you love?

What a magical coincidence! 🙂

Luna’s Rescue is the perfect adventure for you.

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Are you ready to start this magical adventure? Head to my Instagram to enter the giveaway for a print copy of Luna’s Rescue!

And be sure to follow along on Erica’s writing adventures by following her on Instagram!

Luna’s Rescue and the second book, Hoover’s Horn, are available on Amazon 🙂

Once you’ve finished the adventure, please review Erica’s books on Goodreads! It’s the best way to support indie authors!

This Thursday, I’ll be sharing an interview with Erica!

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria

Book Review: Champion of Valdeor

It’s a new week, and I hope it’s full of wonderful books!

I have the pleasure of sharing my review for Champion of Valdeor by Sandralena Hanley, a wonderful story that makes you feel as if you’ve just stepped inside an old Arthurian legend.

You can read my full review below!

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The people of Valdeor are waiting, breathless with anticipation, as they hope for the promised new beginning to arrive.

They are unaware that their hopes rest on a young shepherd boy, Alloryn, and Lauressa, a princess from another age, hidden from her people for countless years.

One must decide if he is willing to embrace an unexpected identity and purpose, while the other must embark on a quest to learn if she possesses the virtues necessary to be a queen.

Neither is prepared for what comes next.

The people of Valdeor are waiting for a new beginning.

But will it ever come?

In Champion of Valdeor, Sandralena Hanley has crafted a tale reminiscent of Arthurian legends. Readers who are longing for a story full of epic quests, daring champions, and virtuous rulers of legend, will find none of that missing here.

While the tale might have benefitted from being longer, so that some characters could be developed further, Champion of Valdeor remains a deeply enjoyable read, full of what we all long for most: adventures abundant, heroes just and true, and a purpose truly worth pursuing.

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You can connect with Sandralena on Instagram and her author website!

Champion of Valdeor is available on Bookshop and Amazon. And don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads once you’ve finished reading!

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Later this week, there’s a new excerpt for Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel and the next installment! Don’t forget that all subscribers are entered to win an art print of their favorite illustration from the story 🙂

You can find more information on the giveaway here and subscribe below!

What do you get when you subscribe?

  • Four weekly installments of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel
  • Illustrations to accompany the story
  • A chance to win our giveaway
  • Access to all past and future book releases, as long as you remain a subscriber!

That’s all the bookish news I have for today! I hope to see you back here for the next installment of Penelope Grace’s wintry adventures!

Alexandria

Book Review: The Secret Lake

I happened upon this children’s mystery adventure by Karen Inglis several weeks ago, and I’m so glad I did! This is a charming, endearing tale, absolutely perfect for families to read and enjoy together. Read my full review below!

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Have you ever wondered what mysteries might await you in the garden?

Don’t leave it unexplored, reader.

Don’t leave a stone unturned, for a secret is waiting just beneath the bushes, and it might be you who uncovers it…

In this delightful children’s mystery adventure, Karen Inglis has created a story that is perfect for families to enjoy together. They’ll feel all of Tom and Stella’s sadness as the two children adjust to an unfamiliar new home, grumble along with Tom at caretaker Charlie Green’s antics, celebrate the arrival of an unexpected friend, and cry for joy as the mystery is, at last, uncovered and a life-long adventure revealed.

The Secret Lake is a chance to read and wonder and adventure together that no family will want to miss.

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You can join Karen Inglis’ Readers’ Club here, where you’ll receive a free poster of The Secret Lake and a crossword puzzle inspired by the story!

Head to Bookshop, Books-A-Million, or Amazon to pick up a copy of The Secret Lake!

You can also follow Karen Inglis on Facebook or Instagram to receive all the latest updates on her new releases!

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That’s all for today! What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started The Champion of Valdeor by Sandralena Hanley (review to come next week!), and I’m already knee-deep in reading challenges for 2021!

This Friday, the next installment of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, a winter tale of the fight for wonder, releases! I hope you’ll join us for the adventure. You can do that here:

In the next day or so, I’ll be announcing a fun giveaway for subscribers!

Stay tuned!

Alexandria

Book Review: The Edge of Everywhen

What a delight sharing this story is going to be with you! Read my full review of The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey below!

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“Be astonished! Be astounded! For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5, NRSV

Something astonishing, indeed, awaits you, dear Reader.

On the pages of The Edge of Everywhen, you’ll find a young girl, Piper, frightened and desperate for what has been lost to be returned…

Her brother, Phoenix, an altogether rare young man, longing to be seen and understood…

A father, fighting to be reunited with his family…

And Aunt Beryl, with a cold, reserved heart, longing to be warmed.

Do you hear the echoes of your own story in any of theirs? Then, read on.

But be warned!

Something astonishing, indeed, awaits you, dear Reader, for between the covers of The Edge of Everywhen, you’ll encounter a story that will bring you closer to God and closer to the person you were handcrafted to be.

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There truly are not sufficient words to express how wonderful this story is, so I’ll leave you with a simple plea: please read The Edge of Everywhen. You won’t regret a minute of this adventure and will, I believe, walk away from it forever changed.

My heartfelt gratitude to A.S. Mackey for having the courage to write this story.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

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You can grab a copy of The Edge of Everywhen from Bookshop (a fantastic site that allows you to support indie booksellers!), Lifeway, or Books-A-Million.

Be sure to connect with A.S. Mackey on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!

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This Thursday, Installment Three of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel publishes!

You can read an excerpt here and subscribe below 🙂 It’s been my great joy to share this winter tale of wonder with you, and I can’t wait for the story to continue!

Until then,

Alexandria