Book Review: Unbound by Grace

Hi, reader friends! Today’s review features a book which was spotlighted here a few months ago and I highly recommend it!

About the Book

Tori Bishop has carved out a safe circle of friends who know nothing of her privileged status. But when she’s roped into attending a glitzy fundraiser, she brings along strong and steadfast Derek for support. As long as her secret stays safe, she never has to question his motives.

Derek Miller wants his life to count for something, to make a difference—especially in the life of Tori Bishop, the spunky smart-mouth who loves razzing him. But if his prison record comes to light, she’s sure to take off running.

When Tori and Derek get involved in building a local women’s shelter, the extra time together stirs more than an ember of attraction. Haunted by the fear of exposure, each must wrestle with the chains of their pasts to experience freedom, love, and the full depths of God’s grace.

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

Michelle Massaro has done it again and this story was worth the wait! Tori and Derek are both believers yet they are deceived by fear and the lies they believe about themselves. Whether we come from poverty or plenty, our past experiences shape us. I loved reading their banter and the way they came to a more accurate understanding of their polar economic circumstances. Exposing our prejudices is the only way we can rectify them.

Unbound by Grace contains some delightfully swoony kisses and yet, my heart was also challenged and encouraged by the faith thread in the story. This novella is an excellent choice, I highly recommend it and I am patiently anticipating more work from this author!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first posted on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Michelle Massaro writes contemporary fiction soaked in grace. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship.

When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.

Websitefacebook | twitter

 

This book is currently touring with Celebrate Lit.
Check out the giveaway on Faithfully Bookish!

Review by Beth Erin
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Book Spotlight: The Solace of Water

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’m bringing you a book spotlight of The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts. Have you read it? You’ll want to check out this book as it follows three women, two of which are African American.


About the Book

The Blurb: “After the loss of her young son, Carver, an African-American preacher’s wife named Delilah Evans moves with her family from Montgomery, Alabama, to Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania, for a fresh start. The last thing she could have imagined was becoming friends with Emma Mullet, a reclusive Amish woman.

Emma is fighting personal battles of her own and feels estranged from her small Amish community. The secrets that have kept her isolated from her own community serve to unite her in an unlikely friendship with Delilah.

Sparrow, Delilah’s eldest daughter, knows she is responsible for the death of her little brother. When tensions at home become unbearable, she seeks solace at Emma’s house, becoming the surrogate daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could sever all ties to her safe refuge.

Life for these three gets harder when church and social issues confront them, causing rifts within Sinking Creek’s three distinct communities: whites, blacks, and Amish. When their carefully protected secrets come to light, there seems to be little hope for friendship, restoration, or even forgiveness. But when the unthinkable happens, Delilah and Emma find themselves looking into the mirror of their own self-deceptions and are forced to make a choice that will set the way of their future. ”

Links: Amazon, B&N, CBD, Goodreads


About the Author

Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

Follow: Website, Facebook, TwitterInstagram

Interview with Neta Jackson, about her book “Where Do I Go?”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Neta Jackson about her book “Where Do I Go?”

Enjoy the author interview!


Interview with Neta Jackson about her book “Where Do I Go?”

(Yada Yada House of Hope Series, Book 1):

Alexis: Did you co-author this book with your husband? Why or why not?

Neta: The Yada Yada House of Hope series is written by me but Dave was very instrumental in brainstorming the idea for the book, reading and editing my chapters. He also helped me with Chicago research, walking around the areas where the story takes place, finding the “tunnel walkway” where Gabby’s husband Phillip was mugged . . . THEN, the rascal, Dave stole one of my secondary characters and made him the primary character in two novels he wrote to parallel the House of Hope series! (More about that later.)

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Neta: At the end of The Yada Yada Prayer Group series, the prayer group got involved in a women’s shelter, and that situation just begged for more stories! Also, at the time I was volunteering at Breakthrough Urban Ministries women’s shelter in Chicago and I was deeply moved by all the different “stories” of the women there. I wanted readers to get to “know” the kinds of situations where women might end up in a shelter—many of them not so different than us. So the House of Hope series was born. I added a new main character, who met some of the original Yada Yada characters who were volunteering there to give this series continuity to the original series.

Alexis: What is the significance of your story’s title?

Neta: One time I spoke at a women’s conference on the same stage as Dottie Rambo, who wrote the song, “I Go to the Rock.” I loved that song, and realized that the words totally captured what I was trying to convey in the House of Hope series—when you don’t know where to go, when you don’t know who you can lean on, or talk to . . . you go to the Rock. Which is what Gabby Fairbanks had to do when her life fell apart. The words of that song actually became the titles for each of the books in the series!

Here’s the song, sung by Whitney Houston in the movie, The Preacher’s Wife: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOu7bis3We0

Alexis: How is hope found in “the last place you look?”

Neta: Who would have thought that a chance meeting with an elderly “bag lady” would lead to a job at a women’s shelter, which in turn would become a shelter for Gabby Fairbanks when her privileged life and marriage fell apart, which in turn became a place of hope as God turned disaster into an amazing opportunity to bless many others. God can use anything and anybody to bless us—and that goes for each of us as well!

Alexis: Tell us about Gabrielle Fairbanks. What role does she play in this story? Describe her character, hopes, and failures.

Neta: Gabby is a free spirit, a “down home” girl from North Dakota, when she meets a handsome young man on a trip to Paris who “sweeps her off her feet.” But it’s not long till Gabby ends up feeling caged in her marriage, playing second fiddle to a man who is all about succeeding in business with little regard for Gabby’s needs. They move to a penthouse in Chicago, where she feels totally alone, her only “friend” being a helpful older doorman in their building until she meets an odd “bag lady” whom she takes to a local women’s shelter. In spite of her husband’s objections, she applies for a job there as program director, a way to use her gifts and college training. The job energizes her spirit but becomes a thorn in her already stressful marriage.

Alexis: Why is Gabrielle searching for “real purpose” in her life?

Neta: She’s a wife, but only an ornament to her husband’s career. She’s a mother, but even her boys are away at a posh boarding school. She doesn’t feel needed or wanted or useful. She’s dying inside.

Alexis: What is the Manna House Women’s Shelter? Describe its significance.

Neta: Manna House is an emergency women’s shelter that can only house homeless women for 30 days, not meant for long-term housing. But they need a program director to fill the days with helpful and meaningful activities—a role that Gabby has the skills and training to fulfill.

Alexis: How does becoming a program director for the shelter help Gabby?

Neta: Gabby sees an opportunity to fill the emptiness in her life and throws herself into her new job. What she doesn’t expect is how the various staff and volunteers and even the “guests” at the shelter also bring her into a deeper and meaningful relationship with Jesus.

Alexis: What is the most major conflict in this story?

Neta: When her husband Philip gets fed up with his wife’s “new life” apart from his schedule, his needs, his wants, and he kicks her out of their penthouse and his life with nothing! Now she’s the one who is homeless with nowhere to go.

Alexis: What was the most challenging part of this story to write?

Neta: Gabby and Philip’s dysfunctional marriage was challenging for me to portray throughout the book because my own marriage is so different. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive, godly husband, praise God! But I do have close friends who have or had difficult marriages, with whom we have walked through painful times in their lives that I drew on in order to portray the Fairbanks’ marriage.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this book?

Neta: The answer to the question in the title: When you face challenges in your life, whatever they might be, even if you feel as if your whole life is falling apart, when you don’t know what to do or where to go, you go to the Rock of your salvation, who is Jesus Christ. He is your shelter, your comforter, your friend, your salvation, and He will never, never leave you nor forsake you.

Alexis: If you could step into your story as a licensed counselor, what would you tell Gabrielle to help her make the best decision when her husband gives her an ultimatum?

Neta: Whoa! This is the hardest question of all! (And I’m not a licensed counselor.) I do know that marriage is all about compromise, even making sacrifices for the good of one’s partner . . . but at the same time, I don’t believe a wife’s personhood should be squashed, and God doesn’t bless that either. Verbal abuse is as unacceptable as physical abuse. Sometimes we have to do what we need to do to stay sane, to stay alive—even if it means a separation. You make reasonable compromises if you can. Get counseling together if you can. But if your partner refuses to meet you halfway, you PRAY and ask God to make it clear what you need to do. Stay? Separate? Divorce? Finally, be at peace about your decision.

Alexis: What do you as the author, love the most about this story? Why?

Neta: I love the fact that God sometimes uses the most unlikely people to encourage us, to show us God’s truth, to be the person God uses to make a difference in our life. A doorman? Harry Bentley was there for Gabby, and (in the rest of the series) became a treasured friend. Lucy the bag lady Gabby “saved” her at the beginning of the book, but it was Lucy who “saved” Gabby at the end. I love seeing the surprising ways God works! (This truth permeates the Gospels, both in how Jesus related to “the least of these” and also in His teachings.)

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Neta! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Neta: Yes! Speaking of Harry Bentley, the doorman . . . my husband decided there was a lot more to Harry’s story that didn’t come out in Where Do I Go? So like I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, he stole that character and wrote two parallel novels with Harry as the main character that parallels the House of Hope novels! Harry became such a beloved character to our readers in Harry Bentley’s Second Chance and Harry Bentley’s Second Sight, that he and his (eventual) wife anchored a whole new series that Dave and I wrote together called: Windy City Neighbors (five novels).

Also, at the end of the House of Hope series (four novels), there are still some questions about what happened to Lucy the bag lady. So Dave and I together wrote a stand-alone novel about her life called Lucy Come Home, starting from her life as a teenager and catching up all the way to where readers meet her in House of Hope—and beyond. Some readers have called Lucy “the best one yet!”

You can check out these House-of-Hope-related novels on our website: www.daveneta.com

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Sometimes you find hope in the last place you look.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband sixteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip’s ambition, Gabby longs for the chance to find real purpose in her own life.

A chance encounter with a homeless woman suddenly opens a door she never expected. The women of Manna House Women’s Shelter need a Program Director–and she has the right credentials. Gabby’s in her element, feeling God’s call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn’t like the changes he sees in her. But she never anticipated his ultimatum: quit your job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of our sons.

In this moment, Gabby’s entire foundation shifts. She must find refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday worship: “Where do I go when there’s no one else to turn to . . . I go to the Rock I know that’s able, I go to the Rock.”

For everyone who loves the best-selling Yada Yada Prayer Group novels comes a brand new series sprinkled with familiar faces and places from the Yada Yada world. It’s the perfect novel to start with–or to meet friends from past Yada stories.

Buy Neta’s book on Amazon.


About the Author:

Neta Jackson and her husband Dave are an award-winning husband-and-wife writing team, the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies.

They are best known for Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series and its sequels, as well as their forty-volume Trailblazer series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for young readers.

Neta and Dave raised two children as well as a foster daughter and are now enjoying all the “grands”!

The Jacksons are thankful for their multi-cultural church and neighborhood in the Chicago area, which provides the characters and setting for their novels.

Follow Neta and her husband Dave Jackson on social media: 

Website: http://www.daveneta.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DaveNetaJackson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveNetaJackson

Book Review: Red Ink

Happy Friday everyone! It’s good to be here on Diversity Between The Pages. This is my first post on this wonderful site, and I am excited to share great fiction with you. For my inaugural post I chose Red Ink by Kathi Macias. While this book has been out for a while, it is a very relevant read. Set in China and in the US, this book highlights the plight of believers in hostile nations and the role of Christians in the West as prayer support. Hope you enjoy it!

ABOUT THE BOOK

img240014b28699d1c4f7A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted. It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name Truth and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu Lord Jesus and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets. Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathi-MaciasKathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

MY THOUGHTS

Red Ink is another great book in the Extreme Devotion series by Kathi Macias. The novel follows the life of Zhen-Li, imprisoned for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in the oppressive environment of China. While the book focuses on the hardships, persecution, and oppression of Chinese Christians, it also takes a look at the ongoing call for prayer by all Christians.

Julia and Laura are elderly residents in an assisted care home.  But their days of ministry are not over – far from it.  These two prayer warriors continue to pray for their fellow residents and families.  When they feel the call of God to pray for someone in China, they are obedient to the call. They heed God’s leading to pray specifically for a woman at risk in China – you decide who that might be. Ever open to opportunities to pray, they also begin fervent prayer for a fellow resident and her granddaughter.

Zhen-Li lives a life of extreme devotion, continuing to share her faith even within the walls that imprison her. Laura and Julia are also extreme in their devotion, continuing to be in prayer and in tune with their Lord.

Red Ink is an eye-opener into the trials of Christians in China. It is also a heart-opener for those who heed its message of fervent prayer and bold living for Christ. If you want to learn how to live a dynamic life in Christ, pick up Kathi Macias’s Red Ink to get a glimpse of just what it might take.

Highly Recommended.

(I received a complimentary copy of Red Ink from New Hope Publishers. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Spotlight: Where Do I Go?

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Neta Jackson’s book Where Do I Go?


About the Book:

Sometimes you find hope in the last place you look.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband sixteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip’s ambition, Gabby longs for the chance to find real purpose in her own life.

A chance encounter with a homeless woman suddenly opens a door she never expected. The women of Manna House Women’s Shelter need a Program Director–and she has the right credentials. Gabby’s in her element, feeling God’s call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn’t like the changes he sees in her. But she never anticipated his ultimatum: quit your job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of our sons.

In this moment, Gabby’s entire foundation shifts. She must find refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday worship: “Where do I go when there’s no one else to turn to . . . I go to the Rock I know that’s able, I go to the Rock.”

For everyone who loves the best-selling Yada Yada Prayer Group novels comes a brand new series sprinkled with familiar faces and places from the Yada Yada world. It’s the perfect novel to start with–or to meet friends from past Yada stories.

Buy Neta’s book on Amazon.


About the Author:

Neta Jackson and her husband Dave are an award-winning husband-and-wife writing team, the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies.

They are best known for Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series and its sequels, as well as their forty-volume Trailblazer series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for young readers.

Neta and Dave raised two children as well as a foster daughter and are now enjoying all the “grands”!

The Jacksons are thankful for their multi-cultural church and neighborhood in the Chicago area, which provide the characters and setting for their novels.

Follow Neta and her husband Dave Jackson on social media: 

Website: http://www.daveneta.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DaveNetaJackson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveNetaJackson

Author Guest Post: Matt Mikalatos

Happy Monday, friends! Today, Matt Mikalatos is sharing why diversity is so important – in life and in fiction. His newest book The Crescent Stone features diverse characters, humor and an intriguing fantasy world.


Diversity – Why We Need Each Other

by Matt Mikalatos

When I first started writing my fantasy novel, The Crescent Stone, I knew a key theme was going to be about privilege and ethnic diversity. My main character, Madeline Oliver, was well-off, white, well-educated, attractive and intelligent . . . privileged in nearly every way you can be in our culture. She did not, however, have great health: she had a terminal lung disease, and even though she was young she was dying.

One of her classmates, Jason Wu, had fewer of the same privileges, but still was doing pretty well for himself. He had a personal tragedy in his recent past that he was working through, and had decided he would only tell the truth no matter what happened. He would, in fact, volunteer the truth when it wasn’t strictly necessary.

In my first few chapters, the plan was to keep Madeline as the main character, and Jason as one of a host of other characters around her in her journey. But it became clear, part of the way through, that we needed Jason’s point of view, too. Madeline by herself wasn’t seeing everything she could.

My editor suggested making Jason and Madeline both point-of-view characters, with alternating chapters, and I agreed to try it. The book came alive in a new way! Here are three things I noticed as I wrote the novel this new way.

  1. Diverse points of view help us to see things we miss.

Early in the novel, Madeline and Jason are walking through a tunnel that leads them into a magical world called the Sunlit Lands. In the first draft, from Madeline’s point of view, we’re told how the tunnel gets increasingly older . . . from concrete to brick to very old brick and eventually to stone walls. When I retold the same moment from Jason’s point of view, he noticed something that Madeline had not: Chinese characters etched into the oldest bricks. Jason stopped to think about something that never occurred to Madeline: who built this place? He stopped and read some of the names etched there, and he talked to Madeline about his own ancestors, who had come to the United States and worked on things like building the railroads. This was something that Madeline missed completely, and I, as her author, didn’t notice until I was writing as Jason. That was a weird feeling!

  1. We learn best in diverse settings.

Madeline and Jason arrive in the Sunlit Lands to discover that the people of the Sunlit Lands are dizzyingly diverse . . . not just the “magical races” of other creatures, but also a variety of ethnicities and nationalities from Earth. Madeline’s roommate is a Syrian Christian, and Jason’s two roommates are Hawaiian and Native American. As Madeline works to unravel the mystery of the Sunlit Lands, each of these people contributes along the way. If it had been (like my favorite fantasies of my youth) all white British kids, they would likely never discover the answer to what is happening in the Sunlit Lands, because it wouldn’t occur to them to ask.

  1. We make better decisions with diverse advisors.

Once Madeline realizes what is happening in the Sunlit Lands, she’s struck with a nearly impossible choice . . . one that requires either enormous sacrifice or the harm of many other people, or possibly both. I don’t want to include any spoilers, but through the relationships and help of the people with her, she’s able to find a third choice . . . a hard decision, still, but something that lets her be true to herself without harming innocents. She wouldn’t have found that path on her own, because she wouldn’t have seen it.

In the “real world” we need each other, too. Our diverse points of view and experiences help us to see the world, to learn better, and to make better decisions.


About the Book

the crescent stoneA girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . .

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price.

When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.

GOODREADS  | AMAZON | B&N

About the Author

matt miklatosMatt Mikalatos writes books (surprise!). In the past, Matt worked as a high school teacher and a comic book clerk, but currently focuses on nonprofit work devoted to helping people love one another despite their differences.

He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, three daughters, two unicorns, a gryphon, a dragon, and three brine shrimp.

website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review: God Made Me & You

Happy Friday, friends!

Today I’m excited to bring you my review of a new children’s book that celebrates diversity – God Made Me and You by Shai Linne (illustrated by Trish Mahoney).

About the Book

God Made Me and YouThis beautifully illustrated children’s book invites kids to explore God’s design for ethnic diversity and challenges readers—both parents and children—to learn and live out counter-cultural, biblical views, fostering a lifelong celebration of diversity for the glory of God. Designed for four- to eleven-year-olds, God Made Me and You by Shai Linne is the second book in the God Made Me series, starting with God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.

Because Scripture teaches that ethnic diversity is not something that should be tolerated but rather enthusiastically embraced, Christian hip hop artist Shai Linne helps children, parents, and caregivers to celebrate this biblical truth through a lyrical, rhyming style and colorful illustrations.

God Made Me and You is an approachable guide for families to begin conversations about cultivating God’s perspective on ethnic diversity, confronting the sins of racism, bigotry, and ethnic pride.

Because children learn from family members, media, or peers, parents and caretakers have a responsibility to teach their children what God has to say about the beauty of diversity in his image-bearers, with a particular focus on ethnic diversity.

This colorful and compelling children’s book serves as a resource and lifelong gift for children and parents, helping families understand diversity from a biblical perspective and with a clear picture of the beauty and glory of God.

Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

First, I have to mention the illustrations in this sweet lesson-in-a-story. Bright, colorful, adorable, and full of diversity of all kinds! Kids of all skin colors, kids from other countries, kids with braces & hearing aids & wheelchairs & crutches & birthmarks. Everywhere you look there are examples of the beauty of God’s creative design. If you have a child who says “there are never any characters who look like me” you can probably find one in this book.

“Dark skin, light skin, and all in between / In each color and shade, God’s beauty is seen.”

Second, the text. The words are written in a delightful rhyming cadence that pulls children – and adults – into the story. The classroom setting starts off with an all-too-common scene of children teasing other children for their differences. This is a great approach because it allows children to identify with either being teased or being the one doing the teasing – or being the one who stands up for the teased. As the teacher arrives and sees what has been going on, she is able to redirect the narrative into a lesson on celebrating our differences as part of the beauty of God’s creation.

“There’s no sin in heaven, / no hating each other, / Just love from the heart / for our sisters and brothers.”

Scripture verses are woven throughout (in rhyme, of course), including one of my faves from Revelation 7. Biblical truth is on every page, giving children and adults gentle reminders of God’s design and how we should embrace our differences and love each other. Also included at the end of the story are six excellent tips to help your child appreciate God’s design for ethnic diversity.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher.

About the Author

shai linneShai Linne is a recording artist who has released numerous acclaimed Christian hip-hop albums, including The Atonement and The Attributes of God. After completing a pastoral internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., Shai co-founded Risen Christ Fellowship, an inner city church in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Blair and their three children, Sage, Maya and Ezra. Shai is the author of God Made Me and You: Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity and co-author of It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God

About the Illustrator

Trish Mahoney is a graphic designer and illustrator in Seattle where she runs The Mahoney Studio with her husband, Patrick, also a designer and illustrator. They have two children—both budding artists, too. Trish is also the illustrator for God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies and The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible.

 

Book Spotlight: Redeeming Honor

Happy Hump Day, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages! We’re committed to bringing you ethnically diverse reads so I’m excited for today’s book spotlight, Redeeming Honor. Written by E. A. West, this diverse read was published in 2017. Be sure to add it to your ever growing TBR pile!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Meghan Carpenter loves God, her yarn business, and her twin brother Ryan—a former marine who currently lives with her. When she agrees to let his wounded buddy live with them on her small Indiana alpaca farm, she expects an American marine. What she gets is a former Afghan interpreter who’s painfully shy around women. Scarred from the war, both physically and emotionally, Basir Hamidi is grateful for a place to live. But his attraction to Meghan is a problem. With his honor destroyed by events in his homeland, and nothing to offer her but his broken, scarred self, he vows to avoid her and protect her reputation. Yet he is drawn to her with a strength that can only be God’s leading. For a man who has lost everything, letting go of the past is a difficult process. When he must also redeem his honor, his only chance of success is to rely on God.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

Award-winning author E.A. West is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Follow: Website, Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads

Author Interview: Jaycee Weaver

Welcome to another week of diverse Christian reads here at DBP! Today, we’re kicking things off with an author interview. Jaycee Weaver is the author of Whatever Comes Our Way, the second book in her Everyday Love series.


q&a

Why do you write stories with diverse characters?

Jaycee: The world is a big, beautiful, multi-colored place. Why wouldn’t we want to represent the beautiful tapestry of cultures and peoples in fiction the way they are in reality? At least, that’s how I think.

I’m an overly avid reader, and I firmly believe that fiction readers tend to learn empathy well because they are always putting themselves in other characters’ heads. That makes fiction a perfect vehicle for reaching people’s hearts and showing them that we are all just human beings. While we might have different values or traditions or cultural identities that set us apart from others, ultimately, we are all humans who love and live on the same planet. We are children of the same God, which means we should honor one another and treat each other with love and understanding.

With that, I felt led to set my books in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I live. It’s not a place very well represented among all the big cities and fictional small towns, but it’s a wonderful place that holds my heart. There is absolutely no way I could set stories here without being willing to represent all the different facets of our culture. Hispanics outnumber every other people group here, so it’s just logical to tell stories that involve characters of Hispanic descent. I have always been fascinated by the culture, food, language, and love of family I experience in this state.

Beth: I couldn’t agree more with your thinking! 

Tell us a little bit about your latest series. 

Jaycee: The Everyday Love series is about regular people in everyday situations. I love that I can showcase my city and all of the many things I love about it!

What Could Be, the first in the series, is about a college student named Brynn who is trying to figure out what it really means to follow God’s will. She has all of these massive expectations for herself, some good, some unrealistic, and it isn’t easy for her to let go of the preconceived notions she’s grown up believing. Josh Davis is a single father who has rededicated his life to Christ. He’s drawn to Brynn and her innocence, but the things that pique him also make him second-guess himself. As their friendship develops, they really have to figure out if maybe God has a bigger plan for them than they thought possible.

Whatever Comes Our Way is actually my personal favorite of the two (so far). Gina Hernandez has some fairly deep-rooted issues. She’s a bundle of contradictions sometimes, but she has a heart for taking care of other hurting people. Jaydon Bennett is a reformed pastor’s kid, now a youth pastor himself, who has a painful past of his own. The two immediately share a strong connection, but while they are trying to navigate this new relationship, Jaydon comes across a family in crisis. Their experiences just might make them the perfect people to help do the Lord’s work in their lives.

Beth: Oh, these stories sound like they’re right up my alley!

Describe Gina.

Jaycee: I have to admit, I really adore Gina. She was raised by a single mother whose partying ways put her at risk and led to a whole slew of issues including severe anxiety, a distorted body image, and an overdeveloped sense of personal responsibility. By nature, she’s determined and strong-willed, with a bit of snark and sass, but she’s also a natural caregiver. Her first-generation immigrant grandparents helped raise her early on, and their loving influence is what has helped her get past the damage her mother inflicted unaware.

My heart when writing her story was to really get at the heart of some of the ugly things that happen to people in this fallen world, but how a loving God takes those things and makes something beautiful from them. Gina has to learn to trust, and Jaydon makes it easy. My favorite stories are those that take heavy issues and make them not feel so heavy. I want to be inspired, to reaffirm my undying belief that God will never leave us to deal with things on our own and that we are never too far gone. Ever. So that’s how I tried to write Gina.

Beth: Gina sounds like a great character! 

What do you hope readers will gain from your story?

Jaycee: I think I pretty much summed it up already. My prayer is that readers will finish my books inspired and uplifted, maybe even with a renewed sense of hope for their own lives. I hope readers connect to my characters and think, “Whoa, that’s me. I’m not perfect, I’m not always a ‘good Christian,’ but God still loves me.” I don’t want to write white-washed fiction where everybody is living a perfect faith walk, because the reality is, even Christians struggle with sin and fall short. We need hope that the Lord can still use us and show Himself in our everyday lives because LOVE is what draws us to Him.

Beth: Yes, yes, yes!!! I’m so excited about reading your stories, friend!

Who are some of your favorite authors of “diverse reads”?

Jaycee: I’ll be honest. I don’t go into a book specifically hoping it’s “diverse”. I go into it hoping it’s authentic, with characters from lots of different walks of life.

But when I consider authors that come to mind right off the bat who represent diverse characters? Definitely Toni Shiloh, for one. I get so hungry when I read her Maple Run series! Sarah Monzon is another of my favorite writers, as is Chautona Havig. Belle Calhoune is one I haven’t read in a while but used to. Jenn Faulk is one of my most favorite authors because I just love her voice. I know quite a few of her characters have been from Africa and Japan, and she also features several missionary characters. I could easily list another three dozen writers I follow whose books I voraciously devour, but I think I’ll quit here. HAHA!

Beth: We share several favorites! 

What book are you reading right now?

Jaycee: Oh, now that’s so hard to answer, because it will change four times between writing, submitting, publishing, and someone reading this! If you look at my GoodReads profile, it will tell you I’m loving the Once Upon a Laugh collection, still trying to finish the Timeless Love collection (I’m a moody reader with historical), the Yesterday’s Mail collection, but also All the Way to Heaven by Becky Doughty. That’s way more collections than I normally read at once, but so many good ones have been in my TBR pile for entirely too long!

Beth: I can completely relate!  Thanks so much for visiting with us, Jaycee! 

 

about the book

Gina Hernandez is no stranger to hard work. She’s got three jobs to prove it. Trauma in her teens may have left her with severe anxiety and some body image issues, but no one can say she’s not a fighter. Her life has never been easy. It’s what’s made her strong.

Then she meets youth pastor Jaydon Bennett, a gentle giant with a big beard and an even bigger heart—though it does have a few scars. He’s never doubted God could bring him the perfect woman, he just never thought He really would. Until Gina.

When Jaydon encounters a troubled teen whose family is in crisis, he and Gina have to figure out if maybe the painful pasts they’ve been dealing with just might equip them to help this hurting family.

Goodreads | amazon

 

about the author

Jaycee Weaver lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her amazing husband, three daughters, a crazy shih-tzu, and a dwarf rabbit. When she’s not writing, she’s probably in hot pursuit of her 90 million other hobbies or shuttling the kids around.

Jaycee loves to read books in multiple genres, drink too much coffee (honestly, when are they going to make the coffee IV a real thing?!), sing, take landscape and floral photos, sew, cook, bake, and craft just about anything (can we say Pinterest?).

She considers herself a recovering perfectionist and sometimes hot mess. She does her best to live her faith in action, being open, honest, and real and letting God be Lord over the good, the bad, and the ugly even when it’s hard.

website | facebook | twitter | instagram | pinterest

 

Don’t y’all just want to be Gina’s friend and learn all about her story?!
I’d love to meet her grandparents too! Be sure to say hi to Jaycee in the comments.

 

interview by Beth Erin

Open Discussion: Diverse Books into Movies

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

I can’t believe how long it’s been since we’ve had a Saturday open discussion. Today I want to discuss some diverse books that have recently been made into movies.

There are so many questions going around in my brain, but I’ll limit them so I don’t bombard you. 😉

But first, I want to mention some of the books I’m taking about. Please note that none of these are considered Christian fiction. I’m not even sure if they are considered clean reads. I bring this subject up in hopes that it will filter into the umbrella of clean/Christian reads.

  1. Do you think this trend will continue?
  2. What books would you like to be see made into movies?
  3. How do you support these recent changes?