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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A Winter Tale Told in Three Parts

Hi everyone! It’s been a little while, but I’m excited to get back to the blog with a little tour of my Christian fantasy novel, Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel.

Join me?

Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel is a winter tale told in three parts 🎄❄🕯

Part One: Christmas begins just as the holiday season is starting. I chose to start there for two reasons.

First, my mom loves Christmastime, and the story is inspired by her, after all, so I wanted to fill it with things she loves!

I also chose it because the holidays, which are meant to be so full of light and hope, often feel dark for those who are suffering loss and loneliness.

My family knows the joy and sadness that can come with this time of year, and I wanted to write a story that acknowledges both.

Whatever your holiday season looks like this year, I hope this story inspires and encourages you in the midst of it ❤

“Fighting for Me” by Riley Clemmons is one of the songs that inspired me while I was writing Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, especially once I got to Part Two: Winter ❄

Winter is a dark time of year for most and it’s a season that many dread.

But I have seen God show up for me and my family on the darkest of winter nights, radiant in all His power and glory, and I wanted to write a story that celebrated His faithfulness in dark times.

Whether winter is a season you love or one you strive to get through, I hope that Penelope Grace’s adventures through the world of Ellura shed a little warmth and light for you 💙

Part Three: Apricity is so special to me. 🕯 When I was thinking of the three parts of the story, Christmas and Winter came instantly.

But I knew that God was leading me to something a little extra special for the final part of the story.

I Googled words related to winter and God brought me to an article featuring a word that is now obsolete (or was, until I wrote Penelope Grace!)

Apricity means, “the warmth of the sun in winter,” and I knew instantly that this was the title of Part Three. I remember being unable to believe that this word was obsolete. It’s so beautiful!

And when I think about the meaning of it – the warmth of the sun in winter – I think, “What a necessary thing!”

Isn’t the time of year that can feel so dark and hopeless the time when we need the warmth of the sun most? Isn’t that the time of year when we need powerful reminders of God’s radiance and faithfulness?

Isn’t that when we need to remember that the dark and cold, the grief and depression that can grip our hearts at this time of year, aren’t frightening to God at all?

This is why I wanted to bring this word, Apricity, into the story. I wanted this final part to be a fresh reminder for everyone who needs it that God is not overcome by darkness. He obliterates every shred of it and, as if that weren’t remarkable enough, He then gives us the eyes to see the radiance He brings to take darkness’s place.

More than anything, I pray that you get to see that radiance for yourself this winter.

If you’d like a copy of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, it’s available exclusively in my Etsy store!

You can get a regular copy, one that is signed, or bundle a signed copy with a handmade ornament!

You can also check out reviews of the story on Goodreads! Thank you to everyone who has reviewed the book so far! I’m really grateful.

Next week, I’ll be sharing my review of Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler!

Until then, happy reading!

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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Adventures in Junk Journaling!

For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the world of junk journaling, and it’s become one of my favorite creative projects! I thought it would be fun to share my progress 🙂

One of the things I love about junk journaling is the way it takes items that people might otherwise consider to be trash.

Things like torn paper, old cardboard, bits of twine or lace.

Things that people take one look at and think, “Unusable. Past the point of usefulness or worth.”

These broken things become part of a bigger piece of art, and suddenly, they’re striking and beautiful and inspiring.

The more time I’ve spent making this junk journal, the more I’ve realized how the process mirrors God’s careful fashioning of us.

He takes these broken pieces that make up our lives, unafraid of their sharper edges, and He remakes them into something radiant and new.

Suddenly, we’re beautiful. Suddenly, we’re part of a bigger, God-fashioned work of art, and we get to see how those pieces we thought were useless come together to make the artwork precisely what it was meant to be all along.

When I discovered this craft, I never anticipated the way God would use it to help me know Him better, but I am so grateful He did.

What’s something unexpected that God’s shown you lately?

I’m heading back to junk journaling and writing for now, but I’ll be back here on Friday to share a writing update and my review of Starganauts by C.E. Stone!

Alexandria

Giveaway: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

🌹 GIVEAWAY! 🌹

I’m so excited to announce the second giveaway for my new book, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves!

One person will receive an art print of this exclusive illustration that will not be found anywhere else!

This is from one of my favorite scenes in the story, and I hope it comes to mean as much to you as it does to me ❤

How To Enter:

🌹 Pledge to the Kickstarter!

That’s all there is to it! Everyone who has already pledged is entered and good to go!

The Details:

This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress or Kickstarter. Void where prohibited. U.S. only

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me so far! I’m so grateful, and I’m expectant for all that’s to come for Chip’s story and those who go on the journey with him!

Alexandria

What Makes It Hard To Believe?

What makes it hard for you to believe that God hears and cares about your prayers?

For me, it’s the waiting. It’s so hard, isn’t it?

Like the impatient anticipation of waiting for a flower to bloom, waiting for a prayer to be answered or a longing to be satisfied is so difficult.

It can feel long and painful and desperate.

Hopeless.

As if God is silent or indifferent to our prayers.

But I don’t believe He is.

Still, we wrestle and we wonder.

Much like a young rabbit named Chip, who’s desperate to know if his cries are heard.

Who isn’t satisfied to sit still and just wonder.

Who’s willing to brave the most dangerous and thrilling of adventures to find out what he’s most desperate to know:

Does God hear our prayers? Do they even really matter to Him at all?

Wouldn’t you like to know the answer, too?

Follow the link in my bio to join Chip on a marvelous adventure through the land of Almea and find the answer for yourself…

The Kickstarter project for Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is 47% funded!! Hurray! 

There are just 14 days left to reach my goal, and I would so appreciate your support!

If 25 people gave $50, we could reach the goal and bring Chip’s adventure to readers together!

Will you help me?

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and encouraged me! I’m thankful for each one of you!

Waiting for the adventure to begin,

Alexandria

What Do You Treasure?

What do you treasure?

This old perfume bottle that belonged to my grandma, Mary, is something that my family carefully protects.

Not because the bottle is expensive, but because the woman who wore the perfume and the memories we have of her will always be dear to us.

We treasure it because we love her.

Have you ever wondered what God treasures?

Have you ever dared to believe that, perhaps, He treasures each of our tears like priceless perfume?

That He carefully preserves each one of our prayers, lovingly keeping track of every single one?

I know a young rabbit, daring and adventurous enough to wonder and to follow an unfamiliar path to find the answer.

Will you follow him?

The Kickstarter for my illustrated children’s book (with pictures to color!), Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, has just 24 days left.

I’m longing to share this story with you.

I’m longing for your confidence in God’s heart for your prayers to be restored.

And if you’ve ever felt that longing, or known someone who has, will you join me on this new adventure? I would so appreciate your help.

Alexandria

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An Interview with Careena Campbell

Happy release day to Free, a YA Christian historical fiction novel by Careena Campbell!

To celebrate, I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Careena, where she shares what led her to write YA historical fiction, tips for authors curious about cover design, and what she hopes readers will get out of reading her debut novel!

Enjoy 🙂

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Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a writer and published author! What first inspired you to pick up the pen? 

As a little girl, a pen was just another outlet for my ever-active imagination. As I got older, I wanted to write so I could create the kinds of books I had always wanted to read–books full of adventure that featured main characters that would set a good example of character to me. I wanted young people like me to go on wild adventures that inspired them to live closer to Jesus. 

Of all the genres you could write in, what drew you to YA historical fiction?

I have always been fascinated by the past. The way people lived, how they thought, and how it was similar or different to me always filled me with wonder and curiosity. I chose YA because I was the same age as YA protagonists. I will soon be beyond the YA age myself, but I still have a special place in my heart for teen readers. Adolescence is such a moldable time, and teen minds are like a sponge. I want to give them good, wholesome stories that they can “soak up” with excitement, that also help build their character into that of strong adults. 

Top three tips to help cure writer’s block! Go! 🙂

I feel like this is cheating because I actually did a YouTube video on this topic a while back. I’ll try not to quote it though! My best two tips are taking a break or reevaluating your outline. If you feel void of any inspiration on what to do next, a short break can help. If that doesn’t work, there may be a piece of the story missing from your outline. Of course, not everyone uses an outline to plan their story, but I personally find it a great way to avoid getting “stuck”!

You designed your own cover for Free. Do you have any advice for other independent writers who are looking to venture into the world of cover design?

Look at lots of different book covers. While it’s good to pay special attention to those of a similar genre to your own, look at other genres too. You might see a useful design element that was less common in the genre you had previously been looking at. Also, don’t be afraid of creating “mock-up” book covers by collaging a bunch of pictures together. I’ve lost count of the exact number, but I created at least five different versions of the book cover for Free. While you don’t want to use Pinterest and similar sites for your final cover, they can be very useful for finding images to practice with. I searched for and downloaded ocean and person pictures so I could practice getting the right layout. 

Today is release day for Free! Congratulations! What do you most hope readers get out of reading this story?

I want to remind readers of their identity in Christ–that, no matter the circumstances, if we remember Whose we are, there is an unlimited spring of hope and courage available to us. We are free to shine for the Lord, no matter what may happen, and free to celebrate our identity in Him. 

What are some of the books you’ve recently read and enjoyed?

I know I’m behind on the classics, but in January I finished Pride and Prejudice! I thoroughly enjoyed the worlds Austen created and can’t wait to explore more of them. Her characters were so funny, lovable, and–at times–embarrassing, they felt like they might really be your neighbors in the next manor over. I also recently enjoyed the Tales of Faith series by Amanda Tero. It consisted of three novelettes, each a Christian retelling of a different fairy tale. They were so clean and uplifting, and yet at the same time riveting and full of adventure. I will certainly be reading more of her books in the future!

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You can order Free on Amazon and follow along on all of Careena’s adventures on Instagram and her website, The Anchored Writer!

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Next week, an adventure begins. Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves publishes this spring, and the Kickstarter officially opens next week! My heart is overflowing with expectation for how God is going to restore our reassurance in His heart and His intent, listening ear for our prayers.

I hope you’ll join me in the next chapter of 21:25 Books’ story. It’s my greatest desire to fill the world with books about Him and the good things He does, and I hope I get to continue doing just that all of my days.

Until tomorrow,

Alexandria