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Free: Book Review and Excerpt!

Today is an exciting day in the bookish world!

I had the pleasure of being on the launch team for Careena Campbell’s debut novel, Free.

If you’re looking for an adventure on the high seas, full of hope and the promise of true freedom, this YA Christian historical fiction novel is the perfect book for you!

Read my full review below, and get swept up in the adventure for yourself in a special excerpt of the story 😊

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Very few books allow you to encounter freedom, and Free is certainly one of them.

As the book opens, readers are introduced to a young woman named Ruth, who is forced into service on a merchant ship. Fearful and confused, she still manages to bring a pure heart and joyful spirit to every trial and adventure she faces on the high seas.

Still, despite her abundance of both kindness and patience, the men remain resistant, confused by her unwavering faith and uncommon humility towards those who have treated her so unfairly.

But freedom can come to the hardest of hearts, and hope remains that, one day, Ruth will find herself in the company of those who know they are wholeheartedly free.

Careena Campbell has penned an exceptional tale, full of adventure, high stakes on storm-tossed waves, and, above all, the longing for freedom and a place to belong.

With characters rich in faith, internal struggles, perseverance, and humility, Careena has crafted a book perfectly suited to lovers of YA historical fiction, and, at the same time, produced that rare thing: a story that leaves readers with hearts wide open to the miraculous and full of faith that they, too, can be free.

Read an excerpt from Free below:

Ruth limped the few short steps to the edge of the ship. Her hands floated up to the railing as she gazed upwards. The night sky was encrusted with millions of brilliant stars, each twinkling one after the other. They stretched out all the way to the horizon, where they cast their reflections over the ocean. The sea, like a great blue blanket covered with shining sapphires, rocked back and forth as the wind gently caressed its water. The waves seemed to sigh in contentment, as if they were settling down to sleep, as they softly swooshed over each other.

Ruth’s heart beat fast as she was overtaken with the beauty and the majesty of God’s creation. She could not resist praising and thanking the Creator of this breathtaking scene, and her awe bubbled over in soft song. 

“This is my Father’s world, 

and to my list’ning ears,

All nature sings and round me rings

 The music of the spheres…”

The nearby sailors turned, surprised to hear the gentle strains of a song floating from the ship’s edge. 

  “…This is my Father’s world, 

I rest me in the thought,

  Of rocks and trees of skies and seas—

  His hand the wonders wrought…”

For a moment, they watched the maiden fairly sing. Why was she so calm? Didn’t she understand the danger they were facing? 

But Ruth, for once, did not even notice them. She was swept up in the beauty of God’s peace. 

She reflected on her own situation as she sang the final verse:

  “This is my Father’s world; 

O let me ne’er forget

  That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

  God is the ruler yet. 

  “This is my Father’s world! 

The battle is not done!

  Jesus who died shall be satisfied, 

  And earth and heav’n be one.

“Yes,” Ruth thought. “The battle is not done. God isn’t finished with me, and He’s not finished with the sailors, either. I will press on. I know He is still working!” 

Ruth’s heart swelled with joy and contentment. Leaning out over the ship’s railing, she folded her hands to pray. “Lord,” she whispered, “please bless the sailors and help them to come to know You. And help me to be brave even when things aren’t this peaceful. Amen.” 

Ruth straightened up and smiled as she returned to her room for the night. Now she felt she could face her future, for God had reminded her of His presence. 

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Free releases this Thursday, March 11th! You can help Careena celebrate release day by pre-ordering Free and adding it on Goodreads!

You can learn more about Careena and connect with her on The Anchored Writer.

And don’t miss my interview with Careena this Thursday!

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Lots of exciting new things are beginning on 21:25 Books! Watch for announcements on Instagram 📖🌹

Wishing you happy reads,

Alexandria

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Book Review: The Princess Companion

What a wonderful story this was! I’m thrilled to share my review of The Princess Companion with you all today and sincerely hope you grab a copy for yourself! Read my full review below (and can we all take a moment to admire that gorgeous cover?!).

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The kingdom of Arcadia is failing.

Chaos and unrest are brewing on every side, but the Queen, believing herself a failure, knows just who to turn to: a fairy godmother, who aided her once, many years ago…

Alyssa is just a woodcutter’s daughter, unseen by many, in search of work. But when she is separated from her companions one night and happens upon the Winter Castle, Alyssa finds herself unexpectedly employed as the Companion to the young princesses, Lily and Sophie.

Yet, there is more going on in the royal family than meets the eye. Prince Maximillian is being groomed for the throne, but as he and Alyssa grow closer, he only grows more restless, for the King and Queen are determined to see him marry royalty, a true princess worthy of the crown and the kingdom.

But, perhaps, the truest princess, unassuming and kind, has been among them all this time…

Melanie Cellier has crafted a refreshing and delightful take on The Princess and the Pea. This story is full of the villainous and valiant alike and breathes fresh life into an often overlooked fairy tale. Yet, for all its wonderful characters, twists, and turns, The Princess Companion is most to be cherished for the way it invites readers to believe once again, or, perhaps, for the very first time, that true love conquers all.

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You can connect with Melanie Cellier on Goodreads, Instagram, and her website, where you can subscribe to her newsletter and receive regular updates on all things bookish!

The Princess Companion (and all the other wonderful books in The Four Kingdoms series) can be found on Bookshop and Amazon.

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Last week, Part One: Christmas of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel came to a close. This Friday, the next part of the adventure begins in Part Two: Winter. Join the fight for wonder below and receive weekly installments of the story!

Happy reading, everyone!

Alexandria

Book Review: The Crowns of Croswald

I’m really delighted to share this wonderful story with you, The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night.

Read my full review below!

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Ivy Lovely is just another scaldrony maid, unknown to all except the unkind Helga and her one beloved friend, the dwarf Rimbrick.

But all her anonymity is about to be swept away.

A world of Scrivenists and Royals awaits, of magical training, and mysteries untold. But dangerous enemies are lurking, and it remains to be seen whether Ivy Lovely, with the help of a few enduring friends, is up to the task of facing them.

D.E. Night has successfully woven an enchanting tale full of magical wonders and excitement. The world-building is rich and the descriptions of Croswald and its residents so vivid that readers will feel as if they’ve been swept into a glenagerie bottle, a world of pure and vivid imagination, right along with Ivy and her friends.

The world of Croswald is unlike any other, and there is no doubt that all who pick up this book will find themselves better off for having visited it.

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If you’d like to connect with D.E. Night, you can do so on Goodreads. The Crowns of Croswald is available at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

The next installment of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is coming soon. We’re nearing the end of Chip’s adventures, and I’m so excited to share their conclusion over the next few weeks!

Until then,

Alexandria

Book Review: The One with the Scraggly Beard

This week, I’m thrilled to share The One with the Scraggly Beard by Elizabeth Withey with you. This illustrated children’s story is well worth the read. Though the words are few, they are rich and sure to stay with you for a long time to come.

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Sometimes, the right words for a book this wonderful come slowly. The story’s events are seen through the eyes of a young boy who is overflowing with questions about someone he calls The One with the Scraggly Beard, a homeless man who sleeps beneath a nearby bridge.

Readers might expect a little boy to be full of questions, but what sets him apart is his ability to really see someone whose life is so unlike his own, while also possessing the innocent courage it takes to understand that they aren’t so very different from one another after all.

Elizabeth Withey and illustrator, Lynn Scurfield, have bravely crafted a story that will fill readers with the longing to recapture all that’s best about a child’s heart and the willingness to ask the hard questions and truly see painful realities.

Read this one aloud with your children. Your family won’t soon forget it, for The One with the Scraggly Beard is one of those rare books that will simultaneously leave your hearts broken for the hurting and put the pieces back together with the hope that, one day, as love and empathy flourish, the pain of all those sleeping under bridges tonight will be healed.

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You can connect with Elizabeth Withey on Twitter and Lynn Scurfield on Instagram

And for more wonderful stories, connect with Orca Books on Facebook

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This weekend, the next installment of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves will be available! If you’d like to catch up on past installments, you can do that here.

Until then,

Alexandria

Book Review: Carousel Dreams

Can you hear the music, reader? The melody spins in time with the horses, inviting you to step into four carousel dreams sure to entertain and delight with their lighthearted romance and historic ties to, perhaps, the most nostalgic of all carnival rides.

Carousel Dreams is a whirlwind book, bringing together four stories that are unconnected in all respects except one: each features a historic carousel and the couples that are brought together by their connections to it. Each story celebrates love stories that, while not without their difficulties, are pure and true. While reading, I was impressed by each author’s ability to set the stage so deftly and craft meaningful story lines. That being said, the stories, with A Carousel Wedding being the exception, left me wanting deeper character development and a richer historical backdrop.

All things considered, Carousel Dreams is the perfect summertime read, lighthearted and inspiring. While the stories could have had more depth, the characters remain real: flawed, hopeful, torn, courageous, and all the more relatable because of it. In its own unique way, each story will encourage readers to take risks, remain faithful, and hold onto hope.

Can you hear the music, reader? Step aboard the carousel, quickly now, before the music fades.

Book Review: Redemption At The Eleventh Hour

Synopsis (provided by author):

“Living off thievery and evading the Roman authorities, Dismas is a man who looks out only for himself. But when a sudden misfortune leaves him stranded in a small village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Dismas has an opportunity to leave his fugitive existence behind. As a hired hand on a fishing boat, Dismas finds pleasure in work for time, and peace out on the sea. It’s an honest life—and he may have even found a woman to share it with.


But then tragedy strikes, and Dismas sets out on the road again to seek a man he’s been told is capable of miracles. However, being touched by the divine grace of this man cannot save Dismas from the Roman authorities if they finally catch up with him for his past misdeeds. As Passover approaches, Romans and Jews alike converge on the chaotic city of Jerusalem, where Dismas navigates trials of persecution, conspiracy, and murder that ultimately lead him to be an eyewitness to the most pivotal moment in human history.


With vividly imagined depictions of events from the New Testament, Redemption at the Eleventh Hour is the exciting tale of one man’s difficult journey towards salvation.”

Review:

Redemption At The Eleventh Hour is sure to be one of the most unique books readers will encounter this year. Dismas, a seemingly irredeemable thief with no remorse for his actions, has a chance meeting with Leah, a local fisherman’s daughter, an encounter that ultimately plants the seeds of change in Dismas’ heart. But this is not your run-of-the-mill redemption story; a twist of fate alters the course of Dismas’ life, leaving a soul ravaged by past shame open to grace and healing in the most unexpected of ways.

Andrew Crown has successfully crafted a redemption story that stands out beautifully amidst the many meaningful stories in Christian fiction. His descriptions, for all their simplicity, allow readers to easily imagine themselves placed in the most significant moment in all history, and they will be eager to follow Dismas down dusty, country roads to the streets of Jerusalem as he searches for Jesus and a life full of real meaning.

The characters, even those who play a more minor role, are memorable and unique. Whether it is the cruel and vengeful Roman, Bricius, or kind-hearted Leah, readers are alternately repulsed by and drawn to Crown’s characters. These are fully-imagined human beings with faults and redeeming characteristics in equal measure, making what could have been “just another book” a truly worthwhile read that will leave readers with questions and an undeniable thirst to know Jesus better.

The only issue with the novel is the grammatical errors. While every book has them, it became obvious fairly quickly that the book could use another thorough round of editing. That being said, Redemption At The Eleventh Hour is a pleasantly surprising story that is sure to remain with readers for a long time. In a world that often focuses on the negative and the “realistic,” it is refreshing to come across a book that celebrates the reality that people can, indeed, change, thanks to the One Who paid the price for our redemption.