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Book Review: The Farmer’s Daughter

Lisa Howeler’s novels never fail to leave my heart full and my spirit a little more hopeful. Enjoy my full review and grab a copy for yourself below!

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Molly Tanner is restless. After coming home to live and work on her parents’ dairy farm, life now seems to be passing her by.

She longs for something more, but every day is full of the same things: stubborn cows, an even more stubborn farm hand, Alex Stone, and the growing fear that her family’s life and legacy on the farm isn’t sustainable any longer.

So, Molly Tanner will have to decide…

Is it possible to find something new in the midst of familiar things, and can old fears truly be washed away by enduring love?

Every time I read a book by Lisa Howeler, I meet characters who are surprisingly real, who struggle with issues that hit close to home. The Farmer’s Daughter is no exception.

This is a poignant story of preserving legacy, believing for the impossible when all hope seems out of reach, and learning to trust that it’s still possible to find love that endures and is true.

If you’ve ever struggled to see your own worth or receive God’s grace, pick up this book. It will leave you feeling a little more whole and a lot more hopeful by story’s end.

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You can connect with Lisa on Instagram and her blog, Boondock Ramblings!

The Farmer’s Daughter is available on Amazon, along with all of Lisa’s other novels! You can read my review of her book, A New Beginning, here.

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Wishing you a weekend full of wonderful reads,

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from The Uncertainty of Fire

A repentant heart begs not to be turned away, but unforgiveness fights to have the final say in a young woman’s heart.

Join me for an exciting excerpt from Stephanie Daniels’ upcoming novel, The Uncertainty of Fire.

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I push the door open and trudge toward the bed.  His gray eyes—usually hard as steel, now like calm waters—meet mine. His hyena-featured face repels me as ever. Smells of leather and vinegar used to staunch the bleeding cause my eyes to water.  Instinct compels me to wipe my eyes, but I stop. Tears might help with my ruse.  I concentrate on commanding my twitching facial muscles from scowling. 

           He holds out a trembling hand.  No. I’d held his hand once through his pain and his unconsciousness. I’ll not do it again. I pick up the glass of water at his bedside and shove it in his hand pretending to believe that is what he wants.  His brow wrinkles in confusion, but struggling, he lifts the glass to his lips. I straighten the coverlet, unwilling to aid him in his task.

           He props up on his elbows, the empty glass in his hand poised on the bed. “Whimsy.”

           I freeze at his use of my true name, as nettling as leeches on bare skin. 

  “I didn’t think you’d come.  Did Colin convince you?  I’m a changed man. I can’t believe God can forgive me for all I done.  For what I done to Co–“

           He chokes on his words and grunts in pain, then he grips the bandage on his side. His body goes rigid then quakes and seizes. His features twist, then relax.

I thought I’d be happy to see him brought low. To be humbled as he had often humbled me.

           “For what I done to you.” Wheezing breaths follow his finished statement.

           My pounding heartbeat thuds in my ears. Maybe it will block out his words. But I stand defiant, waiting to say my part and never face him again.

           “God’s forgiven me. Colin’s forgiven me,” Mattie rasps.

            I cast my gaze downward. 

“I can die in peace now.  Well, almost. I know I’ve done wrong. And it must be hard to listen to me say this.” 

           He has something right at least.

            “But if you can. Please. Forgive me.”  

           The pallor of his face pales, as if the effort of his words drains the life from him. I raise my gaze as slowly as a hoisted flag. My fists clench then I shove them behind my back, out of his sight. I can’t risk his thinking I’ve not forgiven him and in one last moment, he reveal it to the Bradshaws.  He’ll not ruin another day of my life.  I’ll not be thrown back to the streets because of him.

           My nod is so small, I’m not sure he sees it. Will I need to say the words? I forgive you. Because I’m sure I can’t. Even if I don’t mean them.  But slight color suffuses his face, and his head drops back onto the pillow. 

“Thank you. Thank you.”  His eyes close and a tear slides down the side of his face.

           A battle as mighty as The War of the Rebellion rages inside me. Is Mattie truly a reformed man?  Had he really asked God’s forgiveness? Does he genuinely want mine? The brawling liquor-filled boy that invades my dreams doesn’t resemble the still form in the bed. The features are the same. But the hardness in the jaw has relaxed. Not a flutter behind his eyelids. Even the horse flare of the nostrils had ceased. 

             Should I forget the day he’d made a pyre of my hiding spot at the top of a lumber pile? Should I push aside the memory of his boot thrust into my back or my cheek bruised from his brutal beating?  How day after dreary day I’d dreaded how I’d sidestep his aggression? 

           No.  I will not. I cannot. God cannot expect this of me, even if Colin did.

           Mattie’s breathing slows. His face flushes as hot as the irons I’ve left on the cook-stove.

  I creep from the room, ridding my features of any trace of anger in case Colin waits on the other side of the door. Which of course, he does. 

           Clicking the door shut behind me, Colin steps close, peering down into my face. “How was he?  Did you do it?”

           My eyes still damp from the medicinal smells, I glance at Colin and muster my sweetest smile. “Yes.” 

           Better not to say too much in case my anger spills over.  Anger at tending to that man. Anger at Colin and the Bradshaws for requiring this of me. To hold my security and peace of mind ransom so that the brute in that bedroom could die unburdened before his Creator?

           I push past Colin, escaping downstairs away from his praise and relief before my face clouds with emotions he’ll read all too well.

            I duck into the butler’s pantry, grabbing an unused apron to swab the real tears I’d tamped down. I breathe in, then expel a shuddering breath that causes the silver to sway and tinkle. This heavy iron cauldron in my chest is Mattie’s fault. I’m sure it is. But Mattie is near to death, unable to harm me. And his sorrow, much to my dismay, seems real, unfeigned, genuine, despite my doubts.  Why then, did the heaviness continue?  Why does my chest burn like I’m unable to breathe? Can it be that Mattie isn’t the only one that carries a burden in need of release?

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Be sure to join Stephanie for all the exciting writing adventures to come! You can follow her on Instagram and her blog!

Thank you to all of the wonderful authors who have joined me so far this month! It has been an absolute joy to share your stories 🙂

Next week, Erica Richardson is joining us for an interview and exciting giveaway of her book, Luna’s Rescue, the first installment of The Cottonwood Chronicles! You won’t want to miss it!

I’ll meet you back here then!

Alexandria

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Installment Ten of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Welcome to Installment Ten of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, in which the fight for wonder is nearing its end…

To read on, click below or head to our contact page to get in touch if you would like to receive a unique manuscript edition of this winter tale.

Join the Fight for Wonder

What do you get when you subscribe?

  • Weekly installments (through February 26th) of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel
  • Illustrations to accompany the story
  • A chance to win an art print of your favorite illustration (details here)
  • Unlimited access to the story, as long as you remain a subscriber
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An Excerpt from Installment Ten of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

I’m so excited to share with you an excerpt from Installment Ten of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel! I’ve loved sharing this story and my heart for wonder to be reignited in people’s hearts.

I hope you enjoy it, and be sure to read the news below about a manuscript edition of the story!

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As Penelope Grace stepped beneath the arch and pushed the gate open, a creak from rusting hinges filled the air, nearly disguising the soft growl coming from behind her. She turned, dreading whatever new danger awaited, and found two wolves with hackles raised.

Penelope gasped when she saw them, not for fear of what they might do, but for the shock of seeing that their bodies were formed entirely from rough stone.

She knew they must be Denagon’s servants, though she wondered if that were by choice or force. Every inch of their carved frames made their ability to harm her clear, but Penelope’s attention was drawn to their eyes. Even as these creatures bared their fangs and began to advance, their eyes held something more than the hatred she had encountered in Denagon’s other slaves: a plea and real despair. The longer she looked, the less convinced she was that the wolves truly desired to harm her.

Knowing this was possibly her most foolhardy choice since arriving in Ellura, Penelope Grace reached out a hand to the nearest wolf, hoping against hope that she might cool his anger with a friendly touch.

Her fingers were nearly brushing against his muzzle when he lunged at her, jaws snapping. She jumped back with a yelp, while both wolves came closer, knowing she was trapped.

“This way, lass!” she heard a familiar voice shout.

There was no time to question the little fox’s appearance or how she had snuck past the wolves. She was here and had found a way for Penelope to escape the jaws of Denagon’s sentinels.

Just as both wolves lunged forward, Penelope Grace darted out of reach, and together, she and Tilly ran for the twisting pathways of a wilted, frozen garden, praying they might lose the wolves there.

Bare, rigid hedges lined the nearest pathway that Tilly led them down. Penelope did her best to keep up with the nimble fox, but she was already worn from her ordeal in the maze, and she could hear the scrabble of the wolves’ claws against the paving stones as they closed in. She risked a glance back; one wolf was directly behind, while the other sought to head them off to the right.

With a frustrated growl, Tilly took a sharp turn onto a curving path that, she hoped, would help them lose their pursuers.

But the wolves never missed a step and Penelope was left with the uncomfortable feeling that their pursuers were herding them. The feeling only hardened into belief when they reached an enclosed grotto that offered no escape. Penelope and Tilly whirled round to face the wolves…

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Only a few more weeks remain before this wintry tale comes to a close…

But it’s not too late to join the adventure. If you’re longing for your sense of wonder to be renewed, please follow Penelope Grace on her journey through the land of Ellura, where wonder may yet prove victorious…

To subscribe and receive weekly digital installments (along with illustrations and the chance to win an art print!), click below.

Or, if you would prefer a print copy, I’m releasing a manuscript edition of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel and would love to share this unique copy with you! This edition of the story is done in beautiful manuscript form, printed on paper from The French Paper Co. and bound with waxed thread imported from Northern Ireland, giving readers a unique, collector’s first edition.

Please contact us at 2125bks@gmail.com if you would like to receive the manuscript edition!

Until this Friday,

Alexandria

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Even When You Can’t See It

Have you ever longed to know the ending of a story a few hundred pages before The End?

Have you ever longed to see the finished painting before the first brush strokes reach the canvas?

Maybe God’s given you a calling, a dream, a drive to do something for His glory and His Kingdom.

But here you are, still at square one, with the vision so clear in your mind and seemingly invisible in the physical world.

Oh, I have been there.

I am there.

Are you?

Here is what God’s been teaching me in what I recently heard Dr. Sam Chand call “the messy middle,” that place between, where you’ve received your dream, but aren’t seeing fruit yet.

Yet.

Isn’t that the key word?

The one all our hope is hinged on?

It’s not bearing fruit yet.

On November 24th, I wrote these words:

“I’m so thankful for all You’re doing, both what I can see and what I cannot.”

Then, on Dec. 29th, I wrote this prayer in my planner: “Can’t believe how You’re moving, God. In ways I see and ways I can’t.”

God’s been weaving this lesson through my days. He weaves it through every one of yours.

I am moving, both when you can see it and when you can’t.

This is what He speaks over us, sons and daughters of the King who orchestrates everything, a perfect symphony.

He does all things well.

And this is what we can rest in, no matter how long we’ve been waiting:

We’ll always wait in good company. He never leaves.

And He is always working.

Even when we don’t understand.

Even when we can’t fathom what comes next.

Even when we can’t see it.

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I hope this encourages you, friends!

Please share below: what are you waiting on or struggling to see? How have you witnessed God at work?

I’d love for us to pray for and encourage one another!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Installment Nine of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

The maze seeks to claim her.

Will Penelope Grace ever find her way out?

A new excerpt awaits you, reader.

Will you brave the bracken and thorns for yourself?

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She had only decided on two more paths when another rustle sounded behind her. Penelope stopped short, but would not look back, would not let her fear get the best of her.

One deep breath and she moved forward again, fighting to remain sure of herself.

This time something moved just to her right, not touching her, though she could feel the breath of it passing by. 

Another rush of movement to her left. Penelope jumped back as she glanced frantically around for its source. Her cloak ripped as it caught on a thorn. Quickly now, Penelope Grace bent to untangle it from the bracken, her fingers clumsy. 

The rustling sound grew louder, and as her cloak only grew more entangled, Penelope let out a cry of frustration and panic. 

Looking around for any kind of help, though she didn’t know what she expected to find, Penelope froze. 

A mass of thorns and brittle vines were unassumingly gathering in front of her, barring her way forward while she remained none the wiser. 

Frightened and enraged, she ran forward, at last succeeding in wrenching her cloak free. But the way was shut before Penelope could reach it, and she stopped just short of beating against the solid wall of bracken, knowing that would only leave her hands a bloody, aching mess. 

Penelope’s mind raced, but there were countless paths through this maze. Surely, she could retrace her steps and find another.

Racing down the path, Penelope nearly stumbled over the enormous husk of a root that she knew had not been there before. Undeterred, she ran on. Though the mist was growing thicker, she could see the light from the lantern that had illuminated the crossroads and knew she was close. 

She was almost on top of the barred path before she realized her mistake. 

She could not go back.

Neither could she go forward.

How many more paths would the bracken prevent her from reaching? How long before every way was shut?

There was no way out.

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This Friday, Part Two: Winter comes to a close, but Penelope Grace’s adventures are far from over.

To receive weekly digital installments, click below to join the fight for wonder. Or, if you would like to receive a unique, manuscript edition of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, contact us at 2125bks@gmail.com

Until this Friday,

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Installment Four of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Welcome to Part Two: Winter, being the second part of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the story.

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She kept hoping her mother would turn around or that Georgie would return to the family room, ready to plead with their father once more with his usual mischievous grin.

No one appeared.

Penelope Grace, now alone with her father, summoned up her remaining courage and went to him. His back faced the rest of the room, and she nearly lost her nerve but made herself speak in the end.

“Papa, would you sit with me awhile?”

He did not stir.

“Papa?”

She waited a few moments for his response, though it hurt her to know how oblivious he was to her. 

When it was long past obvious that she would get no answer from her father tonight, Penelope, at last, followed in Georgie’s and her mother’s footsteps.

She stopped at the foot of the staircase when a faint touch of frigid air swept past her. The cold never troubled Penelope Grace, but it was unnatural to feel its touch indoors.

Wondering at the cause of it, Penelope searched the lower half of the house for an improperly latched window but found no such thing.

Frowning at the unwelcome mystery, she returned to the stairs, troubled, but at a loss for any sort of explanation. 

For every step Penelope Grace took, the air grew colder. Halfway up, she snatched her hand back from the banister with a sharp intake of breath. The light was dim, but she could still make out a small patch of ice, which was slowly expanding to cover the length of the polished wood.

Penelope stepped back, frightened and confused by what was happening. Her breath came in visible, panicked gasps as she rushed up the last of the stairs, the only way she could think of to escape the cold and ice.

Escape is rarely so simple.

A fresh gust of wind struck Penelope just as she reached the landing. Her eyes widening in horror, she barely succeeded in stifling a cry as she watched frost begin to curl its way around the pattern on the wallpaper.

It was the first time that Penelope remembered thinking of ice as something cruel.

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Installment Four publishes this Friday, Jan. 1st, and the fight for wonder is growing more dangerous than ever. Who knows what might happen next?

Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll receive four installments each month, illustrations that accompany the story, and the chance to win an exciting giveaway (announcement coming soon)! You’ll also have access to all past and future installments of our stories, so you can read them at any pace you like 🙂

Happy reading!

Alexandria

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An Excerpt from Installment Three of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

This week, I have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt from the third installment of my novel, Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, in which the search for the Wilderbeast has an unexpected ending…

Read on.

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They raced down the snow-covered steps, each eager to catch their first glimpse of the Wilderbeast.

“Where should we look first,” George asked, his face vibrant with anticipation and joy.

“Well, she came up our steps from the right, so –“

“To the park! Race you!”

Penelope laughed and ran after him, her cloak flowing behind her as she hurried to catch up.

They were nearly there when George finally slowed, his cheeks bright pink from the cold.

“Do you suppose, Penelope,” he asked in between deep breaths, “that the Wilderbeast will hurt us?”

“Never! Wilderbeasts come to the brave of heart to take them on wild adventures. They would never hurt anyone.”

With the park now in view, she smiled and cried, “Come on!”

Both Penelope and George quickly lost track of time and the Wilderbeast, but their time in the park did them immeasurable good. For a while, they could remember that, despite their concerns, there was still hope if they would only look for it.

Sometime later, as they made their way home, Penelope felt all the more determined to help her father; she could see him failing, could see all his joy and warmth fading in time with Uncle Alex. Perhaps, this Christmas would not be the same, but Penelope Grace fiercely believed that it could still be good.

Only a few streets separated them from home when George, suddenly remembering, cried in dismay, “The Wilderbeast! We never found her!”

“It will be all right, George. You never know when she might appear.”

They spent the next several minutes debating with great animation what the Wilderbeast might look like. As they turned down their street, George stopped in his tracks, delighted that they no longer had to guess.

Halfway down the street, just a few feet from their doorstep, the Wilderbeast lay settled in the snow, as if waiting for them all this time.

She looked very much like a dragon, but rather than scales, her sleek frame was covered in fur of a soft violet color, dappled in blue and green. As Penelope and George drew near, the Wilderbeast rose, extending her gossamer wings and lowering her head to look at them with her great, green eyes, the color of moss on rain-soaked bark.

They were less than a hundred yards from her when George halted, looking up at the Wilderbeast in wonder.

“She looks so kind,” he breathed.

“That’s so those who look closely enough will know they don’t have to be afraid of her.”

He was quiet for a moment more, then, “What’s her name?”

“Lunella,” Penelope replied, “for the way her wings shimmer in the moonlight.”

Just then, the Wilderbeast, seeming to decide that the two were worthy companions, lay on the ground once more and extended her leg so that Penelope and George could climb up.

“Shall we get on,” Penelope asked.

George offered her nothing more than a smile for an answer, and together, they ran to the Wilderbeast, but then –

“What on earth are you doing?”

Their father stood on the doorstep, and the Wilderbeast disappeared like a dusting of snow snatched by an icy breeze.

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What do you suppose awaits Penelope Grace and Georgie inside? To find out and join the fight for wonder for yourself, subscribe below to receive weekly installments of the story through February 2021.

Installment Three releases this Thursday, and Penelope Grace is about to discover that she is running out of time…

Until then,

Alexandria

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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

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The Inspiration Behind Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Good morning, everyone!

Today, I want to share a quick post about what inspired me to write Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel.

Listen below!

The Inspiration Behind
Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

I hope you enjoyed learning more about what inspired me to write this story and that you’ll enjoy all the installments to come!

To read a special sneak peek of the story and subscribe to receive future installments, click here!

The second installment publishes this Friday! And remember, once you subscribe, you have unlimited access to all past and future installments, so you can read the story at whatever pace you like 🙂

Until then,

Alexandria