Book Review: The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

About the Book

Japan, 1587. Sen must find a husband to marry into her family’s swordsmith business. She seeks a Christian husband, though Christianity is banned.

Enter Nobuhiro. Third son of a high-level samurai, Nobuhiro fled his harsh father and apprenticed himself to a swordsmith. He yearns to prove his worth.

They seem an ideal match. But for Sen, the choice is faith or family. For Nobuhiro, choosing a Christian ends any reconciliation with his family. Can love be forged from the impossible?

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

This book’s rare setting alone is enough to tempt a horde of historical fiction fans. The story is saturated with the everyday culture and historical climate of late-sixteenth century Japan as well as a healthy dose of suspense and a dash of romance. After months of eager anticipation, I’m so pleased to share my experience of this intriguing literary journey.

Sen is an innocent young woman who is devoted to her faith and her family. As the only living child of her parents, Sen’s duty is to marry and ensure the family business and family name lives on. Simple, right?! Wrong! The ban on Christianity complicates her search for a good husband and endangers her life.

Nobuhiro is completely dedicated to his work and to the master swordsmith he is apprenticing under. While he has tight bonds with his brothers, Nobuhiro is estranged from his father yet still desperate to make him proud. Nobuhiro sets the bar high for himself and bends over backwards to care for his master’s family.

Take your time to savor the little things in this story and a slower pace will help keep those long unfamiliar names from becoming a stumbling block. This book is first in a three part series and while Sen and Naobuhiro’s story came to a satisfying conclusion, there seems to be a suspense thread that will continue throughout the series. Now onto the next order of business, eagerly anticipating the release of book 2!

I received the opportunity to read this book through the Kindle Scout program. The opinions expressed are my own.
This Review was originally posted on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Walt MussellWalt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb with his wife and their two boys. He works for a well-known corporation and writes in his spare time.

Walt primarily writes historicals, with a particular focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.”

Outside of writing, his favorite activity is trying to keep up with his kids. As they are both teenagers, this is proving more difficult each day.

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I highly recommend this one, reader friends!
Enter to win The Samurai’s Heart here and here!
What are your thoughts?

 

Reviewed by Beth Erin
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Book Spotlight: Sons of Ishmael – Books 1 & 2

Happy Wednesday, Diverse Reader Friends!

If you need a book (or two) to get over the hump, look no further. Today, we are spotlighting Unoma Nwankwor’s Sons of Ishmael’s series as part of Write Now Literary book tour.


A Note from the Author: Hello. I’m Excited. This is one of my stops during the one month tour for Sons of Ishmael Reintroduction Tour: The Danjuma Brothers. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs September 11 – October 5, 2017.  Follow the tour here.  Book your own tour here WNL.


About A Scoop of Love

The Blurb: “The oldest of the Danjuma brothers, Rasheed was a self-made man. He’d learned at an early age that love and commitment brought with it complications he didn’t want to deal with. His single-minded focus had paid off. He was able to step into the shoes of his absentee father by taking care of his mother and twin brothers. But just when he thought he could stop carrying the weight of his family on his shoulders, he gets a call that could change the trajectory of Rasheed’s life.

Ibiso Jaja, a professional caterer, had gambled on the love of a man and lost. Through the redeeming love of God, she had picked herself up and was now living her dream as the owner of Bisso Bites, a bistro in the heart of Abuja. However circumstances conspire to threaten the bistro and bring her face to face with the type of man she has vowed to avoid. The attraction is instant.

Once again, Rasheed is forced to do something he has done all his life – put the needs of his family ahead of his own. This time however, he crosses path with the sassy, independent, Jesus-loving caterer who is bent on making him see the power of forgiveness and God’s love. Just when Rasheed lets his guard down, a deadly sabotage causes old demons to rise. Will Rasheed continue to pursue power and success or surrender to the light of God’s love?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


A Scoop of Love Excerpt: 

Rasheed Danjuma sighed aloud at the sight of another unwanted email from the law
offices of Ezekiel and Stanley. These lawyers were beginning to work his last nerve. He placed his finger over the touchpad of his laptop, directed the cursor to the delete icon and pressed it.It had been six months since Zayd Danjuma, the man that contributed to his genetic makeup had passed away. And his lawyers were still hounding him. Rasheed had thought his non-attendance of the funeral service was a clear indication of his disinterest in anything they had to say about his so-called father.
Determined not to let the email ruin his day, he picked up the receiver and dialed his
assistant’s extension. She picked up at the first ring.
“Yes, Rasheed?”
“Have you heard anything back from those clients in the United States?”
“No, I didn’t,” she said. “But while you were on your conference call, your mother
called.”
Rasheed felt a strange rise in his stomach. His mother almost never called him on his office phone unless she wanted to reach him in a hurry. “Did she leave a message?”
“No, she just said to let you know she called.”
“Okay, thank you.” He disconnected the call.
Rasheed walked over to his jacket and pulled out his cell phone. Looking out of the large window of his Hyde Park office, his sense of unease grew. He checked, and there were three missed called from his mother. His voice mail was empty. What was going on? He dialed his mother. She answered on the third ring.
“Mama, you tried to reach me. Is everything okay?”
“Nna, I really don’t know how to answer that.”
His mother used her term of endearment, Nna, for her sons when she wanted to ask for something she knew they didn’t want to give.“What is it?”
“Those lawyers from your father’s estate came to see me today,” she said. “Rasheed, I don’t want those men in my shop or house. I’m asking you again to come home and see what they want.”
Rasheed’s jaw set. How dare those lawyers hound his mother? Why was it so important that he and his brothers attend the stupid will reading? Even though it had been twenty-five years since their father had walked out of their lives, the memory of that morning was still vivid. Their father didn’t care about them in life, so why was he so concerned about their well-being in death? Squaring up against those lawyers himself was one thing, but when they involved his mother, it was totally different. He wouldn’t have it.
“You mean they came to your shop?” Rasheed asked as though he didn’t hear her the first time. Anger shot through his feet as he began to pace the length of his office.
“Yes.” His mother’s voice sounded shaky. “It’s one thing for them to call but to show up,I don’t appreciate it. They almost scared my customers away.”
After his mother had retired as a school administrator, she had decided she couldn’t sit idle. Her love of fashion led to the opening of a boutique in the heart of Abuja’s business district. Within months, the business had flourished. Rasheed had supported her because whatever made his mother happy made him happy, too. After many years of living in pain, she deserved to live her life in peace. They all did.
Rasheed’s mind went back to the email he’d received earlier in the day. Since these
lawyers were playing hardball, it was clear he had no choice but to travel to Nigeria. “If those lawyers call you again, tell them I’ll be there soon.”
His mother’s sigh expressed her relief. “God bless you, my son.”
“It’s okay, Mama. They better make it worth my while. If not, I won’t be held responsible for my actions.”


About Anchored by Love

The Blurb: “When cardiac surgeon, Jabir Danjuma met Damisi Odinga at the University of Michigan seven years ago, it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. With love comes commitment and he knows that’s not a promise he could keep, after all he is his father’s son. However, their attraction can’t be denied. Their ensuing one year romance is passionate and intense, and he begins to feel the forbidden emotion—love. Just as he starts to let his guard down, Damisi breaks up with him and moves half way around the world to Lagos, Nigeria. He knows immediately that the demise of their relationship has something to do with that church she joined. She becomes unrecognizable and wants to change him into something he is not. His studies are the most important thing to him, so he did what any sane man would do, let her go.

Popular television personality Damisi Odinga, needs to end the fourth season of her show Becoming Ruth, with a bang. The trending topic in the country is the fairy-tale wedding of the heir to the Danjuma empire. The family has been shrouded in secrecy ever since the unknown sons resurfaced in the country last year. Coverage of the wedding weekend will give her show the boost it needs and seal its number one rating. No one can get an interview with the couple but she had a way in, her ex man, Jabir Danjuma. So what if he broke her heart and she hasn’t been able to get over him? This was kingdom business, right?

Years ago, Damisi left him without an explanation and now Jabir has her just where he wants her. Their encounter sets off a series of events that leave them both with fresh pain and hurt. Angry, they leave Abuja to their destinations. If they didn’t set eyes on each other again it would be too soon. But little did they know that fate has another thing planned. Will they stick it out long enough for the Potter to perfect their scars and pain for His purpose or will distance and time steal the day.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Anchored by Love Excerpt:

Thirty minutes later, Jabir was in the KTN lobby waiting for Damisi. He got curious stares from the receptionist and guard. He didn’t know whether it was because he looked like Kamal—someone they’d recognize—or because Damisi never received male visitors. He hoped it was the latter.
The space was decorated in light colors, and the walls were decorated with paintings or pictures of guests of their shows. He walked to the one the one that had Damisi in it. She was on the set of her show and looked beautiful. She had a microphone in her hand and was smiling. From the picture, he could see she loved what she did. His eyes saddened at what the scandal would do to her career. If they acted fast, she might have a chance of salvaging it, but she was too stubborn, and his approach wasn’t helping either. He had to get her to see reason.
“What are you doing here?” she whispered behind him.
Jabir turned around and marveled at how gorgeous she looked. He smiled inwardly.
“I figured you could use breakfast.” He handed her the smoothie and the box of pastries.
She took it from him slowly, her eyes softening with gratitude. “Thank you, but you shouldn’t be here.”
Jabir frowned. “Why? Expecting someone?”
She grabbed his wrist and tried to pull him to the corner. He resisted at first, but caved when he saw the plea in her eyes. “I really appreciate the breakfast, but I thought you were supposed to be on your way to Badagry. I really don’t need any rumors started.”
He lifted his brow. “Rumors? I’m not doing anything but making sure you’re fed. The baby needs to eat.”
She looked around in shocked horror. “Shhhh. Do you want to say it a little louder?” She rolled her eyes at him and he chuckled. “Jabir, please you can’t be here. In case you forgot, you look like one of the most recognizable Nigerian soccer players. I can’t do the rumor mill now.”
He wanted to dismiss her argument, but he was running late, and she was right. But then he had another idea. “Okay, I’ll leave on one condition.”
“Really?”
“Really.” He smirked.
Some people walked past them and did a double take. Damisi panicked. “What is it?”
“Have dinner with me when I get back.”
Damisi hesitated, then someone she knew walked over to say hello to them. By now, he could see the fury in her eyes. The daggers in them were aimed at him. He raised his eyebrow.
“I can’t believe you. Okay. Go,” she said hurriedly and turned away. He watched her go, but smiled when she walked back his way. “Thank you, and please drive safe.”
Yep. This new approach just might work. There was hope.


About the Author

Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents, Unoma Nwankwor is an award winning, international best-selling author of several fiction titles, and a champion of purpose. She is the recipient of the Nigerian Writers’ Award 2015 for Best Faith Based Fiction Writer. At the end of 2016, she was short listed for the Diaspora Writer of the Year. She was also recently named as one of the “100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40”

When she is not writing fiction, she empowers women of faith to remain rooted in hope by building confident expectations in the promises of God. She’s the host of the Anchor Talk Podcast, the COO of KevStel Group LLC and Founder of Living A Life of Expectancy.

Unoma resides in Atlanta with her husband and two children.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Author Interview: Bartholomew Boge

Happy Monday!

Today we have Bartholomew Boge to talk about his novel, Regarding Tiberius. Have you read it? If not, now’s the time to learn more, so grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us.


About the Book

The Blurb: “As true today as it has been for all of human history, one fundamental question plagues mankind:

In the midst of ancient hostilities and recent atrocities, which choice is the most honorable, the most moral one:  justice or mercy?

This novel offers an answer.

Regarding Tiberius is the novelization of a series of ancient scrolls recently discovered in the ruins of famed Roman commander Scipio Africanus’ seaside villa (near Naples, Italy). Written in the First Century by a young woman of Persian and Æthiopian ancestry, Helena Mithridates Kleopatra, they comprise an account of how her life and destiny were forever altered by her chance meeting with Tiberius, the son of a prominent Roman senator.

The pair embark on an odyssey that takes them from Asia Minor to Syria and Judæa. His goal is to rise to the upper echelon of Roman military leadership at any cost, hers to find and assassinate Cato, the commander who gave the order to slaughter the entire population of Eupatoria, her ancestral home. Their aspirations lead them to Jerusalem where both of their quests meet bloody, final resolutions.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni:  Thank you so much for joining me today. Regarding Tiberius ask the question, “In the midst of ancient hostilities and recent atrocities, which choice is the most honorable, the most moral one: justice or mercy?”. What made you want to explore that theme in a historical setting?

Bartholomew: Great question. The answer goes back to a political/theological conversation I had with my former father-in-law in early 2004. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had just been captured and his trial was underway when the question of “could a ruthless dictator and war criminal like Saddam Hussein ever go to Heaven?” came up. My then-father-in-law, a brilliant lawyer and a very news-savvy guy, well aware of Hussein’s long list of civilian atrocities, said “no, I don’t think it would ever be possible.” I took the position that there is absolutely no one whose crimes are so ghastly or so numerous that he/she could not be saved by the work of Christ on the cross if that person, convicted of sin, were to cry out for forgiveness.

Regarding Tiberius, then, is my 192k word parable defending that position.

Toni: Wow! I bet that was an interesting conversation. I’d like to have been a fly on the wall. 🙂 Tell us a little about Helena Mithridates Kleopatra. Did you find it difficult to write about a woman and one who has a different ethnic background then your own?

Bartholomew: To be honest, I was more concerned with getting the tone right with regard to writing from a woman’s perspective than writing from a different ethnicity’s point of view. If the book were set in modern times, I might have a bit more trepidation with regard to ethnic perspectives, but the ancient world was so very different than 21st Century American culture that I did not fear offending a modern reader too much.

Over the course of my life I have worked in three environments in which I was, as a man, a minority figure (in a customer service call center, a health club, and in a large daycare center). I also was raised in a family comprised exclusively of strong-willed women. I wanted to be very careful to write with a gender mentality in mind, but without ever coming across as either patronizing on one extreme, or not authentic or believable on the other. They say “write what you know,” and I think I know intelligent and courageous women.

I modeled Helena’s mentality on that of a female athlete, a type of person I’ve run into quite often in my life. You’ll have to forgive my broad-brush generalizations, but in my experience, female athletes have a way of thinking that is remarkably different than that of most men and most other women. They do not use anger, rage, or bravado to motivate themselves like many male athletes do, but they do share one important ability that men often possess: to be able to completely shut down their emotional states in order to achieve razor-sharp focus on the immediate task at hand. To that I added academic brilliance, and came up with a character who has been described as either “Nancy Drew with a sword” or a “Female Jack Bauer.” Logical, decisive, courageous under duress, and unflinchingly lethal if circumstances demand lethality.

The ethnicity issues addressed in the book follow the stereotypes of the Roman world, which were very different than those of today. In the Roman world, barbarians from the North (blue-eyed blondes) were considered brave but stupid and uncivilized, while Ethiopians were considered very shrewd and wise, but not terribly brave. An olive-skinned Roman, therefore, considered himself the perfect compromise of those two extremes. Also, among Romans, lighter skin on a woman was considered a sign of wealth, because it meant she did not work in the fields as servants did. Aristocratic women from the highest ranks of Roman society, therefore, commonly wore make-up to lighten their appearance.

These ancient cultural values crop up in a few places in my novel. I enjoyed having Helena defy them, as she has a dark-complexion and yet is a woman of royal descent and high station in the Roman world. She is an exception to those stereotypes, and while at first she is dismissed by some as being of lower class or status, she quickly opens their eyes to her true genius, character, strength, and worth… sometimes only for the last few fleeting moments of their lives!

Toni: It sounds like you had a lot of ret insight and life experiences to aid you in your writing of Helena. Did you find it difficult to accurately portray this time period in history? What kind of research did you need to do?

Bartholomew: I was a history major in college, which helped me with the discipline for the kind of research it would take to write this book credibly. That said, I did not study the intricacies of Roman culture, politics, or military structure in college, so it was a slow process to get up to speed. It usually went something like this: write for an hour, then spend forty-five minutes doing research to determine whether or not what I just wrote was even remotely plausible. Then modify what could be salvaged, pitch the rest, and start again. By the time I was about two-thirds through the book, I was able to write more and research less, but the supplemental research never ends when writing a period piece like this.
I lived in mortal fear of two extremes: the online “Romano-phile” community completely cutting my work to ribbons if I did not have the details right, and turning rank-and-file readers off by making the entire work read like a history textbook. I am cautiously optimistic that I veered between those twin icebergs without sinking the ship!

Toni: Why did you choose Regarding Tiberius for a title?

Bartholomew: It is a play on words, really. I intend both meanings of the word “regarding.” In one sense, the book is about Tiberius. But as the reader will learn in the first few pages, the body of Tiberius, perfectly embalmed and preserved, was presented to Tiberius’ father, Lucius, for viewing, and, in this sense, Lucius is “regarding” his dead son, as in “to look upon.”

Toni: That’s beautifully done. What is the message you hope readers will leave with after reading this book?

Bartholomew: The central theme is forgiveness, from both sides of that sacred act: extending forgiveness, and seeking it in humility or under conviction. One of the greatest compliments I’ve received from a reader is that it caused her to reflect upon her own life and explore whether or not there are persons who she needs to forgive or whom she should beg forgiveness from.

Ultimately, I want the book to put to bed that original argument my father-in-law and I debated over a decade ago: that no one is beyond the forgiveness and redemption of God through Christ.

Toni: Forgiveness is one of my favorite themes. Last but not least, what’s next for you on your writing journey?

Bartholomew: I have received a lot of positive feedback about Regarding Tiberius, particularly with regard my protagonist, Helena. I was going to move on to other projects, but there are enough unanswered questions to justify writing at least one sequel. At the time of this interview I am working on the tenth chapter in that first sequel, and I have a basic plot outline for a third book as well. I have been debating killing off Helena at the end of the third installment, keeping her story a neat trilogy, but my oldest daughter would probably not let me live that down!

Toni: Lol, or a lot of readers, I can imagine. Thanks again for joining us here at Diversity. Readers, do you have any questions for Mr. Boge?


About the Author

Originally known for applying his creative vision to the composition of Christian art-rock epics, Bartholomew Boge found a new niche writing historical fiction. Whether it be through music or literature, Bartholomew challenges his audience to examine the sinfulness of man and the role faith plays in developing one’s moral compass.

In his debut novel, Regarding Tiberius, Bartholomew explores questions of justice, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness. Set during the time of Christ, this fast-paced story moves through several locations within the Roman Empire including Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Judea. Confronted with the brutal death of her parents and the destruction of her kingdom, Bartholomew’s female protagonist, Helena Mithridates Kleopatra, must weigh her quest for vengeance against her desire to love and be loved. Reflecting on lessons learned in his own life, Bartholomew’s writings remind us once again that through literature and the arts, one can find understanding and healing.

Bartholomew Boge lives with his family in Northeast Wisconsin.

Follow: Facebook


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion: What Diverse Books Have You Read Lately?

DBTP - letstalk

Hello, fellow diverse book readers! Happy Saturday! Summer is officially over and fall has begun. The perfect time to curl up with a diverse read and drink a mug of hot chocolate or spiced cider or pumpkin spice coffee. 🙂

The question of the day is: what have you read lately in diverse fiction? And/or what’s on your reading list? We want to grow our list of diverse fiction and the only way that works is hearing from others about what they have read or have heard is awesome!

Comment below with your recent diverse reads.

Book Review: If I Believe

Happy Friday, Diverse Reader Friends!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Sometimes the biggest risk is daring to hope.

Cinda Ellis doesn’t dare to dream. Life has dealt too many blows, and she’s come to expect disappointment. But then a lifelong dream is realized—meeting her dad—and Cinda’s life is finally turning . . . until reality crashes in once again. On the verge of despair, Cinda finds connection with a group of women from Living Hope Church—and an unlikely connection with one of Hollywood’s hottest stars. Her life just might be turning again. But will she only suffer disappointment once more?

Alonzo Coles is living the life of his dreams. On the heels of his first Academy Award nomination, people are already buzzing about his next film. But his choices—from his career to his exploits with women—are starting to bother him. And he’s reminded of a connection he’d made—to Jesus. His quest for answers—about who he is and what he’s called to do—leads him to the pastor of Living Hope Church . . . and a woman unlike any he’s encountered.

Treva Alexander is embracing her new season. A widow turned newlywed, she’s enjoying new love in a new city, in her new role as pastor’s wife. But she’s suddenly challenged when God begins to shake things up. What will she do when her faith is tested like never before?

Faith Langston is on hiatus—from life. An unexpected pregnancy has made her a new mom at twenty. Now, instead of doing big things for God as she’d hoped—or at least working toward her degree—she’s sidelined at home. And though she’d thought she and the baby’s father would rekindle a relationship, she now wonders if she’s even on his mind—or on God’s mind. Has she forfeited the plans He had for her?

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


Review

I absolutely adored this book. A modern Cinderella tale? Yes, please. If I Believe pulled me into the stories of Cinda, Alonzo, Treva, and Faith. Treva and Faith were in Though I Stumble, book 1 in the Promises of God series, so I was thrilled to see them again. And the magic of Cinda’s story made me think of dancing, and love that sparks under the moonlight.

Of course, it could be because I’m slightly obsessed with Cinderella and Ms. Tate brought that story alive and sprinkled the grace of God on it. Seriously, what could be better than a romance that shows Christ’s love?!

Faith and Treva also had their own issues to go through and I loved how Ms. Tate handled them. There were moments where I felt like I was in church and being ministered to. There were moments where I had to sigh, and moments where I felt like shouting “Amen.” This book has it all so run out and get your copy or beg your local library like I did. 🙂


About the Author

KIM CASH TATE is the author of several books, including Cling (2017) and If I Believe (2017). A former practicing attorney, she is also a Bible teacher and is currently doing a study on First Samuel on YouTube. She’s been married to her husband Bill for more than two decades, and they live in St. Louis with their two young adult children. You can find Kim online at kimcashtate.com and on social media @kimcashtate.

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube


Review posted by Toni Shiloh

Book Spotlight: Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne

Happy Wednesday!

We at Diversity Between the Pages have a new book to tell you about! Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne releases November 14, 2017 (Waterfall Press) and is the first book in Herne’s new series. It features a diverse cast of characters, one of whom I would consider a ‘main secondary character’ who will get her own story in a future book.


About the Book

welcome to wishing bridgeKelsey is on her way to a life do-over. And it’s not the first time. Abandoned by her drug-addict mother as a teen, she landed in a foster-care group home where she experienced faith and community—and met her best friends, Jazz and Theadora. The trio stuck together like sisters and vowed to make their lives mean something.

Now Kelsey’s pushing thirty, and her life has taken a wrong turn. Pregnant and alone after loving the wrong man, she’s on her way to making another life-changing decision when a wicked blizzard strands her outside the sleepy town of Wishing Bridge.

After being rescued from a snowbank by a handsome cop, she’s embraced by the welcoming village, but she still feels upside down. Fortunately, her frantic SOS brings her besties rushing to help sort things out. They soon find that Wishing Bridge has as many secrets as Kelsey does—and she’s connected to it in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

ruthyBest-selling, multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of over thirty novels and novellas through traditional publishers and her own independent works. She loves God, her family, country, coffee, chocolate and dogs, and wishes possums would leave the cat food on the side porch alone. With over 3/4 million books in print, Ruthy is living her dream of touching hearts and souls by writing the kind of books she likes to read. She is also part of Mighty Finn Creations with her photographer/editor daughter Beth Jamison.

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Author Interview: Chautona Havig and “Will Not See”

We’re welcoming Chautona Havig to Diversity Between the Pages today to talk about her latest release, Will Not See. This is the second book in Chautona’s Sight Unseen series, and it is best to read this series in order. You can learn more about the first book in the series, None So Blind, here. You can also read my review of Will Not See at Fiction Aficionado.


~ About the Author ~

ChautonaAuthor of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.


Connect with Chautona: 
Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Pinterest  //  Instagram

~ About the Book ~

When Vikki Jeffries wakes up in a Rockland hotel with no idea of who she is and why she can’t remember… well, anything, the Rockland medical community begins to take a closer look at what may have happened to cause a second case of inexplicable amnesia.

But for Vikki, this is more than a medical anomaly–it’s her life. What is she doing in Rockland, thousands of miles away from her home in Apache Junction, Arizona? Who is she? Why is no one looking for her? Or are they?

The secrets of a past she’s discovering she doesn’t want to know lay locked away in a memory that refuses to acknowledge their existence.

When Brandon Marana finds his neighbor struggling to open her front door, his quiet life becomes a race to protect Vikki and himself from people who are determined to find her.

He’s falling in love with her–but he shouldn’t. He’s a Christian. She’s not. But the more she depends on him to know who she is and learn why these things keep happening to her, the stronger those ties become.

Will Not See: Sometimes, the past needs to stay there.

Genre:  Contemporary Christian Fiction
Release date:  29 August 2017
Pages:  340
Publisher:  Wynneword House

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Interview ~

KATIE: Thanks for joining us at Diversity Between the Pages today, Chautona. Let’s start off by taking a little ‘flight of fancy’. Finish these sentences for me:

If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…

Well, since I’m dying to write this cool book idea I have for an American who marries a Greek man and moves to a small Greek village with no knowledge of the language or customs, I’d definitely say that one.

Lol! Make sure you pack me in your suitcase. I have a feeling that would be a memorable trip!

If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…

This is so easy it isn’t even funny.  Grocery shopping.  I hate all forms of shopping, but I loathe, despise, and abominate grocery shopping.  I’ve been working on trying to like it for almost twenty years now—ever since I heard a preacher say that if we MUST do something, we might as well learn to like it.

My seven-year-old LOVES doing the grocery shopping. Go figure! Maybe he’ll change his mind when he’s the one paying for it!

If I was a musical instrument, I would be a…

I’d say if I were an instrument, I’d definitely be a cello.  Besides being rather shaped like me (although I have a much shorter neck), as I’ve gotten older, my singing voice has deepened.  It also has a lot of volume.  Even when you play a cello quietly, it doesn’t whisper—ever.  Yep. I’m definitely a cello.

Oh my goodness! I think you might be my clone!

When I was a child, I wanted to be a…

I had it all planned out.  I’d own a yellow house with a white picket fence and a huge oak tree in the front yard.  I planned to have a collie, and I wanted it to have a genius name like “Inkling” or something. I would teach high school English for 9 months of the year and write over my full three months of summer break (stop laughing.  Even with teachers in my family whom I helped get ready for their classes every year… over summer), I existed in a dream world.

Then, in my spare time (again, stop laughing!) I’d edit during the school year.  This way I’d be able to write one book per year. I had chosen to eschew husband and children, not being interested in having those horrible creatures, you see.  Okay, there you can laugh. After all, I’m pretty sure God got the last one on that idea.  His plans were FAR different (not to mention superior) than mine. Nine kids and a husband later, I write four to six books a  year. Snort.

Bahahahaha! I had similarly idealistic dreams when I was growing up. Something about being a concert pianist, a lawyer, AND having ten children! 😂

My ideal place to read would be…

A “window seat hammock.” I want one so bad it isn’t funny.  Perfect window seat area… nice bay window perhaps… and then a hammock hanging.  Sun shining on my feet.  Balmy breezes flowing in.  Huge stack of books… Oh, wait. What did you say?

Who, me? I have no idea. Would you mind passing me one of those books while I make myself comfortable? 😉

Let’s discuss your Sight Unseen series now, and more specifically, Will Not SeeEach book in this series tells the story of someone who wakes up with no memory of who they are or of their life up to that point. What inspired you to make that the basis of a series?

Well, I tend to be a bit of a rebel, so part of it did have to do with wanting to do something different with a trope.  So instead of someone waking up after a car accident and having to work his or her way back from a blank slate (or doing a “Remember Sunday/50 First Dates” kind of thing), I wanted it traumatic-less.  Inexplicable.  And then what would you do with a clean slate when you knew you’d probably never get those memories back again?

You? A rebel? 😉 But I can see why the idea intrigued you.

Memory loss always seems like a tricky element to introduce to a story in my mind, from a point of view of making it realistic and consistent. How does memory loss affect Vikki in the book, and what kind of research did you have to do to make it believable?

Vikki’s memory loss was harder than Ella’s (from the first book). Ella had family to fill in her past and help her with things.  It also annoyed her because she wanted to be seen for who she’d decided to be rather than who she had been (she didn’t really like her former self when she figured out some things).  But Vikki has a completely different personality.  I really had to struggle to find people like her and study them—people who wouldn’t want to know the horrors of their pasts.

And what I discovered is that even those people would still want to know THEM.  Many I talked to were very connected to their own identities despite agreeing that if there were situations in the past that I’d created for Vikki, they wouldn’t want those details.  The only way I could make it believable was simply to ask.

My mind boggles at the thought of what it would feel like to be in Vikki’s position. It was one of the reasons I found the story so compelling!

Learning Vikki’s ethnic background is a little tricky, given she doesn’t know it herself! Could tell us a little bit about that background, and why it’s difficult for her to discover that background after she loses her memory?

She’ll learn a bit more in book three (if there is a natural place to share it). I know that she was removed from her mother at a very young age and placed into foster care.  I chose not to give her a permanent placement because she needed a logical reason to become who she was. My personal knowledge of people of color isn’t ethnically or culturally much different from me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m on the west coast or if it’s because I’ve always lived in rather diverse places where most people become rather homogenous.  So that’s mostly why I put her in Apache Junction.  I didn’t see it as too implausible that, once on the streets, she might have been recruited by another runaway and then induced into one of the Hispanic dominated gangs.

So, she has a bit of street slang she has picked up, but since she spent time in the home of an educated family, her speech slips in and out of “street” from time to time.

Okay, so let’s think about this for a moment. You have an ethnically diverse character who’s not exactly sure of her heritage, and you need to write her in a way that avoids clichés and stereotypes. How exactly do you go about doing that?

Well, as I said above, my best choice was to put her in places that could “homogenize” her a bit so she didn’t turn into a TV cliché.  I was so worried about that.  For example, the blacks I know personally (I chose that word for a reason), have said they don’t care to be called “African-American.”  In the words of one man, “I’ve never been to Africa… you’ve never been to Scotland.  Why should you get to be ‘just American’ but I have to be defined by the location of ancestors that go way back?”

I think he makes a valid point.  So, I moved her in and out of enough homes that she identified as a part of whatever group she was in rather than a specific culture or race.  If I’d tried to write someone from the deep South, for example, I’d have under represented her or made her a horrible stereotype.  I really wanted to avoid that.

Whenever I started doubting myself, I actually thought of that man’s daughters and tried to imagine how they’d respond in the situation.  It helped.  A little.

I, too, know people who prefer to be referred to as black rather than African-American. In any case, I think you did a great job with Vikki. She really is her own person!

What inspired Vikki’s character? Was there a reason you made her an ethnically diverse character, or was that just an organic part of the character who presented herself to you?

I fought the ethnicity for a bit, if you want the truth.  I knew she’d be harder to write than another character I have in the works. I knew it would be crazy easy to get her wrong, but she demanded to have a voice.  She reminded me that I have friends of all colors, shapes, sizes, and intellects.  I needed to embrace her for who she was.  I’d never reject someone I met in the store, at a restaurant, or in church based on her color, so why would I do it in a book?

Good point. And it sounds exactly like something Vikki would say!

What do you hope readers take away from this series? (Besides the enjoyment of a riveting read, of course!)

If I can only show one thing through this series, it will be that we often hide from the truths of ourselves because of what we see there.  Well, Jesus’ blood has washed that ugliness away. It’s gone.  Isaiah tells us, and Hebrews reminds us that God won’t remember our sins anymore.  We need to let the blood of Christ be sufficient.  But being blind to them rather than repenting of them doesn’t do us any good.  Like any problem, we have to face them.  Lay them at the feet of the cross.  Step back. Revel in the beautiful work Jesus did there.  But we can’t do that if we refuse to acknowledge and repent of them.

This series really does explore that in a fascinating way. Thanks for chatting to us today, Chautona!


~ Sight Unseen Series ~


Interview by Katie Donovan.

Book Review: Love’s Second Chance

Happy Friday, Diverse Readers!

I truly enjoyed reading Cindy Flores Martinez’ book Love’s Second Chance!

I hope that you too will want to read her story after you read my review of it.

~*~

About the book: 

Can two broken hearts find healing together?

Brad McIntyre is much too young to feel so disillusioned with his life as a deputy sheriff. Esperanza De La Cruz has left the only home she has ever known to work at Sweet Grove’s daycare. When someone steals her car, Deputy McIntyre comes to the rescue.

There’s an instant attraction between them, but they’re both broken on the inside. Her father is in prison for intoxicated manslaughter and she’s afraid that Brad won’t want to be with her because of it.

He’s thinking of leaving the only career he’s ever known but pretends that everything is fine. His desperate prayers seem to go unanswered.

When they start spending time together and their feelings for each other begin to grow stronger, things become even more complicated. When the truth comes out, will it pull them apart or will they find a second chance at love and in life together?

Buy the book on Amazon

~*~

My Review:

I enjoyed reading this book! Cindy Flores Martinez is a USA Today bestselling author and her heart for telling stories shows in this story about broken characters that are given a second chance at finding and keeping love.

This story has a relatable and interesting premise. It focuses on Brad McIntyre and Esperanza De La Cruz who both want different things in life but soon find out that they need each other to get what they truly need.

Brad is a disillusioned deputy sheriff. His original passion for his career is long gone and that is evident when the reader meets him. However, since he cannot think of who he would be if his identity weren’t in being a cop, he holds on and begrudgingly makes it through each day on duty. But when his job introduces him to Esperanza, she gradually breathes hope back into his life and helps him rediscover why he wanted to be a cop.

When the reader meets Esperanza she is flustered and discouraged because her car was stolen. She’s also a bit tongue-tied when Brad arrives on the scene to assist. She finds him very handsome but dating is far from her mind because all of her money, laptop, purse, food, and personal items were in her car that was stolen. Now she doesn’t know how she’s going to survive in Sweet Grove, TX without money to pay rent or a place to stay or food to eat.

Brad and Esperanza are both people of faith in God and true to the real life journey of believers in the real world, the author shows her readers in this fictional story that we can make our plans but God determines our steps.

As a reader, I kept turning the page to find out what happens next and was not disappointed in the way this story progressed. The author knows how to capture and keep the reader’s attention from the start of this story to the very last line. Cindy’s storytelling skills are extraordinary. My only complaint is that I wanted this story to be longer like a full-length novel.

However, this story is just what it needs to be—short and sweet.

*I received a free copy from the author. The review is my own, honest opinion.

~*~

About the Author: Cindy Flores Martinez is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes Christian romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world. You can learn more about her at www.cindyfloresmartinez.com.

Follow Cindy: Facebook ~ Twitter

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Book Spotlight: Though I Stumble by Kim Cash Tate

Happy Hump Day!

I hope you’re having an awesome week. We at Diversity have a new book spotlight for you. We’re featuring Kim Cash Tate’s Though I Stumble, book one in the Promises of God series.


About the Book

The Blurb: “Four women, one weekend, and their lives will never be the same.

Stephanie London thought she’d heard from God when she moved to Hope Springs, N.C. But a tragedy in that small town left her soul desolate. Now her husband’s inattentiveness has pushed her over the edge. Bereft of hope, she travels home to St. Louis as a women’s ministry conference kicks off. Though less than enthused to attend, new friendships offer strength and light. But what happens when the weekend ends and real life begins again?

Treva Langston grieves still the loss of her husband of twenty-two years. Now, two years later, her heart is breaking again as her oldest daughter’s travails come to light. Traveling from DC to St. Louis for a women’s conference seems the last thing she should do, given the circumstances. But in St. Louis her path crosses with someone new—and her world turns upside down. Will it only lead to more heartbreak?

Jillian Mason can’t wait to attend the Living Word women’s conference. She’s done their Bible studies for years and expects God to show up in an amazing way. But the weekend delivers something unexpected—a discovery about her husband. As the state of her marriage hangs in the balance, Jillian is suddenly anxious about returning home.

Faith Langston has always been a girl after God’s heart. She loves Living Word studies and registered early for the conference. But at the end of her college sophomore year, she finds herself in circumstances she never imagined—with a heart that has strayed from God. She makes it to St. Louis nonetheless, with her boyfriend in tow—but how will she find her way back to God?

Four women in different seasons of life converge at a women’s conference—with a theme that charges them to run “in hot pursuit” for Christ. But how do they run when challenges seem insurmountable? And can they help one another navigate the difficult terrain?”

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


About the Author

KIM CASH TATE is the author of several books, including Cling (2017) and If I Believe (2017). A former practicing attorney, she is also a Bible teacher and is currently doing a study on First Samuel on YouTube. She’s been married to her husband Bill for more than two decades, and they live in St. Louis with their two young adult children. You can find Kim online at kimcashtate.com and on social media @kimcashtate.

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

Author Interview: Cindy Flores Martinez, featuring “Love’s Second Chance”

Let’s welcome Cindy Flores Martinez to the blog today!

She’s here to talk about her book, Love Second’s Chance.

Read Cindy’s interview below to learn more about her All-American/Latina heritage and discover her passion for portraying Latino-American characters in her stories whose experiences are relatable to the readers regardless of the readers’ race.

~*~

About the book: 

Can two broken hearts find healing together?

Brad McIntyre is much too young to feel so disillusioned with his life as a deputy sheriff. Esperanza De La Cruz has left the only home she has ever known to work at Sweet Grove’s daycare. When someone steals her car, Deputy McIntyre comes to the rescue.

There’s an instant attraction between them, but they’re both broken on the inside. Her father is in prison for intoxicated manslaughter and she’s afraid that Brad won’t want to be with her because of it.

He’s thinking of leaving the only career he’s ever known but pretends that everything is fine. His desperate prayers seem to go unanswered.

When they start spending time together and their feelings for each other begin to grow stronger, things become even more complicated. When the truth comes out, will it pull them apart or will they find a second chance at love and in life together?

Buy the book on Amazon

~*~

About the Author: Cindy Flores Martinez is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes Christian romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world. You can learn more about her at www.cindyfloresmartinez.com.

Follow Cindy: Facebook ~ Twitter

~*~

Interview with Cindy Flores Martinez, author of Love’s Second Chance:

Alexis: Tell us about the First Street Church Romances novella collection. What is it about? How did you get involved? Why did you want to contribute your story to the collection?

Cindy: The First Street Church Romances novella collection is part of Amazon’s fan fiction called Kindle Worlds. The series is based on Melissa’s Storm’s Christian romance series, which includes Love’s Prayer, Love’s Promise, Love’s Prophet, and Love’s Vow. Each of the stories takes place in the fictional town of Sweet Grove, Texas where the First Street Church is an important part of the characters’ lives. I knew Melissa from a boxed set that we were part of together and I found out that she was seeking authors for her Kindle World debut. I reached out to her and became one of twenty authors who were chosen. The Christian romance theme is what interested me in contributing a story.

Alexis: Tell us about your story, Love’s Second Chance. What is it about? What or who inspired you to write it?

Cindy: Love’s Second Chance is about a young woman who moves to Sweet Grove, Texas after landing a job at the daycare there. The day she arrives, someone steals her car and a young deputy sheriff answers the call. They’re attracted to each other and their feelings grow as they spend time together, but they face obstacles that keep them from admitting their feelings for one another. My inspiration came from reading Melissa’s books. Her characters face serious problems in life and find strength and answers through prayer. I had written mostly romantic comedy and wanted to try writing a deeper story like that.

Alexis: Your story’s heroine is Esperanza De La Cruz. She’s a Latina. Which country is she from and how does her heritage affect the way she is portrayed in your story?

Cindy: Esperanza is American with Mexican ancestry. Her character was easy to write because I consider myself the same. The difference between me and her is that I have American Indian ancestry on both of my parents’ sides, so I connect with that ancestry as well. Like me, Esperanza speaks both English and Spanish perfectly, has a college education, and a career, but the Mexican culture has played a big role in her life. Her story reflects the reality of so many Latinos. We grew up as all-American kids who became college-educated adults and we happen to have Mexican parents (or parents from other Latin American countries) who raised us according to their customs.

Alexis: Do you think there is a need for more Latino main characters in fictional stories written for the Christian book market (CBA)? Why or why not?

Cindy: Absolutely! I would love to see more Latino main characters in Christian fiction, as well as more Christian Latino authors. I often see stories that are written by authors who happen to be Latino but the genres aren’t what I want to read. I find myself looking to Christian women as role models and I enjoy reading Christian romance. It’s rare to see a Latino point of view within that mix. If there are other Christian Latino authors out there, please let me know!

Alexis: How did your own experience as a Latina affect the way that you wrote Esperanza’s character?

Cindy: I think the way Esperanza acts and reacts has everything to do with my experience as a Latina. One of my beta readers told me that the first draft of my story had parts that were melodramatic. I didn’t think so because, in the Latino culture, it’s normal to express strong emotions and to look at life in a way that may seem overly dramatic. I mean, some of us were told as children not to go out in the cold without a jacket or else our face would get twisted and stay that way. Talk about dramatic! That’s just one example. Well, the final draft of the story is much calmer than the first, but Esperanza still reacts emotionally when she experiences the problems in her life.

Alexis: In what ways do you hope that Esperanza’s story will impact your readers?

Cindy: My desire is that Esperanza’s story will show others that God is alive and active. He hears the prayers of His people and responds. Things may happen that aren’t fair and that don’t make sense, but He knows why. If you wait on Him and trust in Him, He will lead you to the right place and you will look back and understand why things happened the way they did. Esperanza’s story may be fictional, but the experience of God in her life is very real.

Alexis: Describe Esperanza’s look, personality, and heart. What is her most troublesome character flaw? Explain.

Cindy: Esperanza’s name, Esperanza De La Cruz, means “Hope of the Cross”. Her mother’s name, Milagros, means miracles. I chose those names on purpose to represent the theme of the story, which is the hope of the Cross of Christ. Esperanza is described as young and attractive and her most troublesome character flaw is that she carries guilt and shame over the negative events that have happened in her life, even though she wasn’t to blame. Isn’t that true for many of us?

Alexis: What happened to Esperanza that broke her heart? Is there hope for restoration? Why or why not?

Cindy: Esperanza’s father was arrested for intoxicated manslaughter and sent to prison. He didn’t plan on committing the crime. He had a few alcoholic beverages, drove home and hit and killed a pedestrian. In addition to devastating the victim’s family, it destroyed Esperanza’s perfect life. She suffered the pain of her father being taken away, and as a result of him being gone, her parents lost their home. Esperanza’s boyfriend left her because he couldn’t handle her family problems. She thinks there’s no hope for a better tomorrow, but God doesn’t see it that way.

Alexis: Esperanza works for Sweet Grove’s daycare. Why did you give her a heart for children? What role does her passion play in this story?

Cindy: Esperanza wants to teach kindergarten because she has a desire to affect people’s lives in a positive and lasting way, but she feels that teaching adults would limit her ability to do so. She realizes that teaching children would enable her to make more of an impact on others. Her desire drives her to move to a place she’s never known before and leave her mother in the process. Working at the daycare will enable her to get experience for when she is able to become a teacher.

Alexis: Brad McIntyre is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, personality, and heart. What is his most prominent character flaw? Explain.

Cindy: Brad is young and attractive and he believes that God has given him a calling in life to help others. He has pursued a career in law enforcement after realizing it was part of that greater purpose. His character flaw is that he wishes he can change the whole world and he doesn’t see the positive effect he has on the lives of the people around him. This leads to a sense of disappointment and feelings of being a failure.

Alexis: Describe Brad and Esperanza’s meet-cute. What brings them together? Is there anything that drives them apart? Explain.

Cindy: When Esperanza arrives at Sweet Grove with all of her belongings in her car, she parks in front of the apartment building where she plans to rent an apartment. She enters the building to search for the landlord, and when she returns, someone is driving away in her car. Brad quickly arrives after a witness calls the police. Their meeting isn’t a typical meet-cute because Brad is so focused on doing his job and Esperanza is overcome by the horror of what has happened. When Brad offers to drive her to the First Street Church to see if they can help her, she hesitates. Although they’re attracted to each other, it takes a while for things to become romantic.

Alexis: What’s Brad’s race? How does his heritage affect the way that he deals with people who do not share his same background…or does it not matter to him?

Cindy: Brad is described as having blond hair and blue eyes and he doesn’t fully understand Spanish, but I didn’t emphasize his ancestry. Like Esperanza, he’s all-American, but not Latino like her. He notices her dark hair and dark eyes and that she speaks to her mom in Spanish, and he’s attracted to her wholeheartedly. He helps her without hesitation.

Alexis: What role does Brad and Esperanza’s faith in God play in this story?

Cindy: When Brad struggles with his job situation, he calls out to God for help. When Esperanza needs a job, she seeks God’s guidance. Brad isn’t as confident in his faith as Esperanza. He’s confused about his life, but despite it, he waits on Him. No matter what, God remains their only hope.

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Cindy: No matter how hopeless life can seem, God will rescue you if you seek Him with all of your heart. People often quote Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,” but they fail to continue to the part that says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. A passion for God is the key to moving mountains.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Cindy! Do you have any closing comments?

Cindy: I want to thank you for letting others know that there are Christian diverse stories available to read. Sometimes our names and ancestries might give others the impression that our stories won’t be relatable to them. The result is that they don’t “hear” the message that God has inspired us to share. By sharing our works, you’ve opened a door that could lead to more lives being touched.

~ Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor ~

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