Book Review – Love the War Woman by April W. Gardner

Happy Friday, friends! If you haven’t yet checked out the Creek Country Saga series by April Gardner, you really must! Today, I’m looking at book #5 in the series but you could also read it as a standalone (though you’re missing out on all the other wonderful books that preceded it).

About the Book

Love the War WomanFor the DEFIANCE of a nation. For the DEFENSE of a tribe. For the LOVE of a war woman.

War woman Fierce Mink has loved Tall Bull as long as memory. He is beauty and power, but in the secret pockets of her spirit, he is vastly more. He is the brave to whom she swore her heart, the friend to whom she owes her life, and the chief to whom she will never be bound. Soon, he will be required to take a wife, but lamentably, Mink is severe, intimidating, hard-bitten by war—qualities a man appreciates in combat, not so under the bearskins. But perhaps it’s best he’s blind to her, for he clings viciously to the Beloved Path, and unbeknownst to him, she has joined her fire with Jesus.

Since his youth, Chief Tall Bull has treasured Mink. Even now, in their turbulent refugee world, she is comfort; she is home. Better yet, she shares his passion to preserve the Beloved Path and his fight to start anew in a land where they are no longer hunted. Then, a startling omen: before the blood moon, Tall Bull must make restitution for his transgressions, or the spirits will take payment. From her. A tragedy he would die to prevent.

Another portent looms—that of a horde of bluecoat soldiers pecking at their borders, threatening to drive the Red Stick Defiance into uninhabitable swamps. The Defiance will not go quietly, and as Tall Bull prepares for a brutal strike, he realizes the bluecoats aren’t his only enemy, and Mink’s life isn’t all he stands to lose.

goodreads | amazon

My Thoughts

With a richly atmospheric narrative and gorgeous word pictures, April Gardner takes us once again into Spanish Florida in 1817/18. The events closely parallel those of Bitter Eyes No More, but for a new perspective we follow Mink’s and Tall Bull’s stories instead.

Mink is fierce and fearless, but also insecure in many ways. Not only is she a Muscogee warrior, but she is also a new believer in Jesus. One who is still learning how to balance her vibrant tribal traditions with being a new creation. Yet, even in the transformation that Gardner exquisitely paints for her, Mink retains her culture and tribal identity. She does not, as so often fiction like this portrays, cease to be a Muscogee warrior when she also becomes a follower of Jesus. Instead, she finds new meaning and a covering of grace in her traditions, as well as seeing it all from eyes of faith.

Mink is also a woman long in love with her best friend – Tall Bull, a tribal micco who (as Beth Erin says) is an “unintentional master of mixed messages”. His own heart’s desires seem to catch him by surprise, and his intense pride often keeps him from those very desires. He is, like Mink, a complicated character but one well worth exploring each newly uncovered layer.

I also have to briefly mention Ten Cats, a seemingly minor character who grew in importance as the story progressed. He also grew on me and became one of my favorite characters in the whole book.

Mink and Tall Bull’s relationship is not a ‘typical’ love story. It’s a tumultuous path marked with detours and uncertainty, with other loving relationships, and with a conflict in faith. It’s often deliciously unpredictable but always exquisitely told with rich detail and lyrical prose. Gardner’s choice to include the tribal language (as well as a linked glossary) immerses you into a deeper reading experience that honors Mink and Tall Bull’s culture. And woven through it all is the overwhelming grace of Jesus, pursuing Mink and Ten Cats and Tall Bull – relating to them as their personal Savior, not as a white man’s God. Gardner does a beautiful job depicting the unity found in Jesus, as well as the cultural diversity He created.

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

About the Author

aprilwgardner

A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her two children and USAF spouse. She is unashamedly a child of the King. In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

After a year gaining experience as a content editor with Clean Reads, April is now a freelance editor, certified through the University of California, San Diego. As a way to give back to the writing community and to promote Christian fiction, April founded and runs the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles.

website | facebook | twitter

Also In This Series


 

What about you? What most interests you about this story?

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Book Review: The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

Happy Friday – and Happy February! Today, we’re looking at an emotional and inspiring read from Elizabeth Musser that spotlights the courage of Iranian refugees and the people who aid them. The Long Highway Home is a feast for the senses, the emotions, and the soul. It will break your heart and soothe it again, but it will not leave you the same person you were when you began reading.

About the Book

the long highway homeWhen the doctor pronounces “incurable cancer” and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier.

Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss.

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession back in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along the refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger.

Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.

goodreads | amazon

My Thoughts

“… how costly it was to follow Isa [Jesus]. Costly, yes, but worth it.”

The Long Highway Home is set in 2005, at the height of the riots in France, but its theme is oh-so-timely today. The story follows several main characters – Bobbie, Tracie, Stephen, Hamid, Amir, and Rasa – as well as the secondary characters these six encounter on their respective journeys. The text shifts from first person to third person, depending on which character’s perspective we are reading, but the transitions are clearly indicated and easy to follow.

Seven-year-old Rasa has the beautiful faith of a child – after hearing New Testament stories of Isa (Jesus) she comes to believe in Him and trusts Him to help her family. This is not an easy decision, even for such a young child. In her world, in her country, belief in Jesus is a death sentence. And yet… she believes. Wholly and without doubt.

Hamid is a gentle soul who must flee Iran along the treacherous ‘Refugee Highway’ after Rasa is caught with a New Testament. Knowing his family is in grave danger, hoping they are safe where he has hidden them (they aren’t), he escapes to find help and freedom. Along the way, he meets Jesus too. Yet the journey may be no safer than remaining behind in Iran. The terrain is unforgiving and the dangers are many.

Hamid and Rasa’s stories are incredibly moving and emotional – heartbreaking and deeply inspiring. Even in great darkness, when their lives are on the line, Jesus is there in their story, wrapping them with grace. The best part (to me) of Hamid & Rasa’s story is that they are based on real-life refugees and their own stories that captured the author’s heart. As Musser herself said, “The Long Highway Home is fiction, but it is based on many, many true stories of refugees finding hope in the midst of the horror as Jesus reveals Himself to them in the most surprising ways.”

The Long Highway Home is, at its heart, a bringing together of the plot lines of a refugee’s story. It’s not a political statement. It’s not a religious statement. It’s a beautiful picture of how Isa [Jesus] redeems and rescues, with plot lines simultaneously playing out in Turkey, in the Netherlands, in Iran, in Atlanta, and in Austria. No matter where you stand on the refugee debate, this story and its people are for you. It’s an inspiring portrait of the selfless individuals who work behind the scenes in many cases to help refugees find hope as well as freedom. And it’s a heart-clenching reminder that, while following Jesus is very costly to so much of the world’s population, He is very worth it. “Not everyone had made it safely out of Iran. But everyone has made it safely Home.”

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author.
Portions of this review were originally posted on Reading Is My SuperPower.

About the Author

elizabeth musser

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years.  All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.

What about you? Have you ever met a refugee and listened to his/her story?

Book Spotlight: Upcoming Diverse Christian Fiction

Happy New Year! Instead of just spotlighting one book today, I thought I’d take a look at several upcoming diverse titles in Christian fiction!

January 2018

missing isaac

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse
Revell Books

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

Goodreads | Amazon

thebittersweetbride

The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley
Entangled Publishing

Widow Theodosia Cecil needs a husband to help protect her son. The former flower seller turned estate owner posts an ad in the newspaper, and no one is more surprised than she when her first love, the man she thought dead, reappears.

Goodreads | Amazon

February 2018

Love the War Woman

Love the War Woman by April W. Gardner
Big Spring Press

He is the moon to her tide, the sun to her corn, and the beautiful chief she will never have. She is the scent of home, the glory of a dozen battles, and the woman he didn’t see until she was seen by another.

Goodreads | Amazon

when god made light

When God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner & David Catrow
WaterBrook

‘Let there be light!’ that’s what God said. And light began shining and then started to spread.” Wild and creative illustrations from top children’s illustrator David Catrow pair with Matthew Paul Turner’s lyrical verse in this message of a God-made light that cuts through darkness to bring vision and hope to all young readers.

Goodreads | Amazon

a light on the hill

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette
Bethany House

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing… Her father has found someone to marry her… But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

Goodreads | Amazon

March 2018

reclaiming shilo snow

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber
Thomas Nelson

Known as a brilliant mind that could hack humanity’s darkest secrets, seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is the most wanted teenager alive. She found her way to the icy, technologically brilliant planet of Delon to find Shilo, the brother everyone but Sofi believes is dead.

In this harrowing sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Sofi and Miguel must trust each other and discover the secrets locked inside Sofi’s mind as the line between what’s real and what they imagine begins to slip away . . . threatening to take humanity with it.

Goodreads | Amazon

Also in March – Freedom Lake series #2 by Toni Shiloh

April 2018

no one ever asked

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
Waterbrook

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge… Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

Goodreads | Amazon

June 2018

the solace of water

The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts
Thomas Nelson

In The Solace of Water, Elizabeth Byler Younts tells the story of two women, one white and one black, in racially charged 1956, who fight personal battles of freedom and form a friendship that neither expected.

Goodreads | Amazon

Also in June – Maple Run series #3 by Toni Shiloh

July 2018

river to redemption

River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart
Revell Books

Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She’s determined to find a way to buy Louis’s freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she’ll face an uphill battle.

Goodreads | Amazon


 

What about you? Which of these upcoming titles are you most looking forward to?

 

 

Book Review: Straight Flies the Arrow by Sydney Tooman Betts

Hi friends! I have so enjoyed this People of the Book series from Sydney Tooman Betts, especially the merging of cultures that it depicts. Recently, I had the opportunity to review the third book, Straight Flies the Arrow, in which everything comes full circle.

About the Book

straight flies the arrowDuring the winter of 1841, Pacing Wolf, the esteemed leader of the Many Lodges, follows the trail of a brutal murderer, leaving behind his beloved woman, Small Doe.

When his tracking party returns without him, the Sparrow Hawks’ Real Chief pronounces him dead, insisting Small Doe grieve, but she cannot bring herself to give up hope her husband will return. The coming spring offers her few choices. She can accept the courageous new warrior chosen for her or risk falling prey to his war-society rivals.

Vengeance and loyalty, hatred and faithfulness, all vie within two enemy villages, one belonging to the Sparrow Hawks and the other the Allies, threatening to crush every hope of happiness for Small Doe and everyone she loves.

goodreads | amazon | barnes & noble

My Thoughts

“…instead of driving me away, His own Son, I-Am-Savior, took my punishment.”

Sydney Tooman Betts’ People of the Book series will make God’s Word come alive for you in fresh ways. Not only does seeing His Story from the Native American’s perspective allow it to be seen with new eyes, but the story itself reflects THE Story, God’s story, in its plot and its characters. Perhaps none more in the series than the third and final novel – Straight Flies the Arrow.

While this can easily be read as a standalone, you really will to want to read the first two in order to understand book 3 in its full context. Because the story told on these pages brings full circle the story begun in A River Too Deep, showing how one woman surrendered to Jesus can influence generations. As you become caught up in this epic saga (which is easy enough reading for teens and up), you will also become inspired to reflect on the ripple effects in your own life. Whose life has influenced yours? Who influenced that person? And then that person? And so on? And… who are you influencing? A spiritual heritage is sometimes even more precious than a genealogical bloodline, and it’s always good to pause from time to time and reflect back on the people who have shaped you.

Along with the spiritual impact, there is also a cultural impact that comes from reading this series. The interactions between tribes as well as with the white community highlight themes that are still relevant today. This shows up even more clearly as we follow Eyes-Like-Water through each book.

Pacing Wolf’s and Small Doe’s story is emotional and compelling, and it will tear at your heart in every way. The setting wraps around you vividly, and you will experience it as though watching it unfold first hand. These characters are not easily forgotten, and their story will linger long after you’ve closed the book.

I requested the opportunity to read this book through Celebrate Lit.
The opinions expressed are my own.
This review was originally posted on ReadingIsMySuperPower.org

About the Author

sydney tooman bettsSydney Tooman Betts and her protagonist-husband currently reside near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several early chapters of this book.

While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed) was involved in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level and serving as the Sunday School Superintendent, Children’s Church Director, or Women’s Ministries facilitator in several evangelical denominations.

Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.

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Have you ever heard the Gospel story told by a culture different from your own?
Eyes-Like-Water’s adaption of Jesus’ story in a way that assimilated best with the Native American culture is the part of this story that impacted me the most.

Book Review: Mercy Triumphs by Jana Kelley

About the Book

mercy triumphsThree women. Three impossible circumstances. One merciful God.

Mia, an American Christian, has lived in Sudan so long that persecution, harassment, and danger have become commonplace for her. Her tough outer shell threatens to harden her heart while her newly Christian friends, Halimah and Rania, former Muslims, are forced to live in exile outside Sudan.

All three quickly discover that escaping danger in one place only means facing even greater challenges elsewhere. As God’s mercy becomes evident in their lives, they must choose whether or not to offer mercy to those who don’t deserve it.

Third in a trilogy, Mercy Triumphs opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Mercy Triumphs reveals some of the struggles Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for new believers, those who are persecuted for their faith, and even for the salvation of the persecutors.

goodreads | amazon

My Thoughts

“This is exactly how they could fight the misperceptions flooding the media: one relationship at a time.”

I have so enjoyed this series from Jana Kelley – Mia’s relationships with her Muslim friends speak to my heart so clearly, reminding me of my own friendships with Muslim women. Even though I have never lived overseas, not to mention never in a country where it was dangerous to follow Jesus, I can’t describe to you how it feels to give that part of my life an understanding voice. Someone else knows what it’s like to build those relationships, what it’s like to navigate the tricky waters of different faiths, and what it’s like to sit around a table heaped with Arabic food and laugh until we cry.

In this final book, Mercy Triumphs, Mia and Halimah and Rania face obstacles unlike anything they’ve quite experienced before. All along the journey, they learn to trust God more profoundly with their own lives and with the lives of their friends and family. I love that these novels can be used to spark conversation between believers but also provide a bit of guidance on how to start faith-conversations with Muslim friends and neighbors.

Mia and the women she befriends – in Sudan and in the States – are women we can all relate to, even if we haven’t had the same life experiences. They love their children. They love their families. They love feeling beautiful. They love visiting friends. They struggle with doubt. They struggle with insecurity and anxiety. And Jana Kelley shines a light on each dear woman with her own gentle and engaging writing style.

You may cry. You’ll probably smile. And you will certainly be drawn to these characters and their stories. In fact, I kinda hate to say goodbye to them. Through the ins and outs and ups and downs of Mia and Michael’s lives as aid workers/Jesus-followers living in Sudan, Kelley reminds  readers of God’s tender love for His children and of His triumphant mercy. (While each book can be read as a stand alone, you will understand the journey better if you read the series in order.)

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this novel which I received from the publisher..
This Review was originally posted on Reading Is My SuperPower.

About the Author

jana kelleyAuthor of the captivating “Side by Side” series, Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After 13 years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.

website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

What about you? Do you have friends of different faiths? How do you bring up Jesus in ways that fit naturally within your friendship?

Reviewed by Carrie

Book Spotlight: Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

Happy Wednesday!

I’m excited to tell you about Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter which releases November 7, 2017 from Thomas Nelson Publishers! It is the first book in Hunter’s new Blue Ridge Romance series, though if you’ve read Sweetbriar Cottage you will be familiar with the setting and some of the supporting characters. Cruz Huntley, the Latino leading man, will leave you swooning for sure, and little Gracie is one of the most adorable children in current fiction!


About the Book

blue ridge sunriseFormer free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe—a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities … and her first love.

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

denise hunterDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband have raised three boys and are rapidly approaching an empty nest.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter

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.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest

 

Book Review: Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley

About the Book

door to freedom“It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.”

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom—the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than man-made security.

Part of New Hope® Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

goodreads | amazon

My Thoughts

Door to Freedom is a compelling story about two women and their experiences with Jesus in a country opposed to him.

Rania is a Muslim girl who wants to be an artist. She has access to the book of John (though secretively) and finds it captivating, the almost poetic words filling gaps in her heart. Mia is an American woman living in Sudan with her young family, Christians who work with a refugee aid organization.

Given my friendships with several Muslim women, I smiled at many scenes in this story and wept at others (the baptism!).  It reads almost like a memoir in many ways and is inspired by the author’s own experiences, which makes it all the more poignant in my opinion. Readers will get an inside look at Sudanese and Muslim culture as well as a more personal perspective into Muslims as people, not just news reports.  We also see what it’s like to be a Christian in a hostile country – and two opinions on how to approach it. (Side note: Several years ago, before I started working with Muslims, I would have totally been Beth.)

This is a quick read but a powerful one. Hopefully readers will finish the story with a softer heart toward Muslims, a greater understanding of the importance of relationship in introducing them to Jesus, and more appreciations for the freedoms and conveniences we so often take for granted. I was inspired by Michael and Mia and their courage as well as their honesty. I’m looking forward to book 3 (which comes out in September)!

I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED ON READINGISMYSUPERPOWER.

About the Author

jana kelleyJana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys, moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana has authored two novels (soon-to-be three) and two devotional books.

Learn more in Jana Kelley’s Author Interview.

website | facebook | twitter

 

Review by Carrie

Author Interview: Jana Kelley


Today, I’m chatting with Jana Kelley, author of two novels (with a third releasing in September) and two devotional books. I had the privilege of interviewing Jana earlier this year for the release of her second novel, Door to Freedom.


About the Book

door to freedom“It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.”

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom—the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than man-made security.

Part of New Hope® Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N


About the Author

jana kelleyJana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys, moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana has authored two novels and two devotional books. You can learn more about Jana at www.JanaKelley.com.

You can also connect with Jana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Carrie: Hi Jana! Welcome to the blog! Let’s start out with a ‘fast four’ 🙂

Apples or oranges?

Jana: Apples, they are less messy than oranges. They do require more work, though, since I have to cut them up. I don’t like to eat them whole…too messy. I’m sensing a theme here. I guess I don’t like messy fruits. I like the taste of apples better too. But that being said, I live in Malaysia and February is Chinese New Year month, so I have an entire box of honey mandarins sitting in my fridge: a favorite CNY delicacy.

Carrie: Yumm… honey mandarins sound intriguing!

Winter or Summer?

Jana: Since I live in the tropics, I like Winter better because that usually means rainy season which usually means a little bit more pleasant weather. When I visit my home state, Texas, I like summer better because I don’t like to be cold.

Carrie: But don’t you miss the snow just a little??

Dogs or Cats?

Jana: Hmmmm, probably cats, but I have a dog. I guess both. But really, cats. I like that they sort of take care of  themselves. On the other hand, I love the welcome that I get from my dog every time I come home. She greets me at the door with lots of tail wagging, like she’s been waiting for this moment all day. So sweet!

Carrie: My dog Zuzu has decided to ignore everything you just said about cats and focus instead on the delightful things you said about your own dog 😉

Finally…. coffee or tea?

Jana: Coffee in the morning. Most definitely coffee…in the morning. But later, I’ll drink tea all day long if I have a good book or someone to chat with. I like hot drinks because they force me to sit down and relax and drink slowly. Deep breaths. Enjoy!

Carrie: I sense you like diplomatic answers 😉 LOL

I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Jana: I’d have the ability to speed read (and still retain the information). I am a book junkie and I love to collect books of all kinds; but I have a hard time getting them all read. I’d like to be able to read books as fast as I can buy them.

Carrie: Oh that would be lovely. I would also then like the ability to review books as fast as I read them!

Who is your favorite book character from childhood?

Jana: My favorite book character from childhood is Betsy from the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I loved reading about the friendship of Betsy and Tacy and Tib. I remember reading them at a time when my family lived in a small town in Indonesia, Southeast Asia. I only had two friends in that town and they were from a very different culture than me. But after reading one of the Betsy books, I appreciated that at least I did have those two friends (just like Betsy) and I started being more proactive about reaching out to them. So Betsy, a fiction character from Minnesota in the early 1900s reached out to me, a little American girl in Southeast Asia, and gave me the courage to reach out to my Indonesian friends. That’s why I like Betsy. And now that I wrote this little tribute, I’m going to go to the library to check those books out!

Carrie: I love this!! How sweet!!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?

Jana: Second to the times that writing drives me to search the Scriptures and study what the Lord says about various topics is my interest in Google research. What would we do without Google? Write boring, one-dimensional books I guess. I have researched birding in Sudan, WW2 internment camps for women, and how to tell one’s fortune using coffee grounds.  Perhaps the weirdest Google search I did was on chemicals that can be dropped from the sky that cause apathy. Did you know there is such a thing? Me either. But there is. Thanks Google.

Carrie: I feel like i should now run that NBC jingle for those “The More You Know” spots they ran all the time in the 80s and 90s. Do they still do those? I never watch TV anymore. To the Google!! lol.

Describe your main characters and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce Door to Freedom as a movie!

Jana: Mia-A blonde-headed young wife and mother who teeters between joy and angst. I think Candace Cameron-Bure would be the perfect actress to be Mia. She is spunky but genuine and, as a person, seems like she would be able to play a convincing version of Mia!

Rania-A beautiful young Sudanese Arab artist who is shy but determined. I think China Anne McClain would make a great Rania.

Carrie: I love both of these actresses! Great choices!

What surprised you about Door to Freedom or your characters as you wrote their story?

Jana: Rania’s resilience in the face of difficult situations surprised me the most. In the beginning, Rania is quite shy and compliant. She grows in personal strength as the story unfolds.

The other surprising character is Jamal. Things don’t turn out the way a reader might think they should. This came as a surprise to me too as I wrote his character.

Carrie: I’m a little worried about Jamal now…

What do you most want readers to take away from Door to Freedom?

Jana: I would like readers to come away with a better (perhaps more loving?) understanding of Muslims and of the universal need for Jesus.

Carrie: Yes. Amen.

What’s coming up next for you?

Jana: As DOOR TO FREEDOM releases, I’ll be busy editing the third book of the series. I’m excited about how this sequel will wrap up the stories that began in the first book SIDE BY SIDE. I have also dug up old letters and journals from a time in my life when my husband and I lived in a little country in East Africa. I’m hoping to use the memories and information to write a devotional series and perhaps plan the backdrop for a new series. I guess we’ll see what happens!


This interview originally appeared on ReadingIsMySuperPower.

What about you? My heart’s cry is to see more Muslims represented as people, as our neighbors, not just terrorists, in Christian fiction. What is a people group you would like to better represented in Christian fiction?

Book Review: Finding Love by Toni Shiloh

About the Book

FindingLoveDelaney Jones has finally started to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after the death of her husband, Parker.

Just as life enters a new normal, in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson.

Just when she makes the decision to trust him, life deals her a heavy blow.

Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson can’t get over his part in the death of Delaney’s husband. In hopes to assuage his guilt, he offers to lend a hand.

Only, he never counted on the feelings she evokes with just a smile. Will his secrets widen the gulf or will he finally find absolution?

Series: Maple Run #2
Publisher: Celebrate Lit
Release Date:
June 28, 2017
Pages: 197

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly waiting for a return to Maple Run ever since I read Buying Love. (Some of that may have been cravings by proxy for the delicious food, too. Don’t judge.) And Finding Love definitely was worth the wait! I’m also pleased to report that I did not want to purse whomp Delaney’s momma as much as I did in Buying Love. 😉 

The characters in Finding Love are diverse and layered with Delaney and Luke each bringing emotional baggage to the table. After the death of Delaney’s husband Parker, her life for all intents and purposes stopped too. So did Luke’s. Delaney, because she doesn’t know how to go on without Parker. Luke, because he feels responsible for Parker’s death.

The meeting of their hearts results in a swoonworthy romance, yes, but also some soul-searching that all of us can apply to our own lives too. Delaney is scared to fall in love with Luke, a soldier still on active duty, “because if it ended up with her receiving another set of widow’s benefits, she would be crushed.” She – and Luke both – must wrestle with this truth (and its application):

“God was the keeper of her heart, keeper of her entire being. She needed to let God hold her heart.”

Bottom Line: This second visit to the quaint community of Maple Run is even better than the first! Mouthwatering food, a swoon-inducing hero (complete with dimples and military uniform), adorable/hilarious children, and a compelling heroine (complete with a great family and a yummy restaurant) – just one of those elements would be reason enough to love Finding Love. All of them together, plus a tender story of second chances and trusting God? Yes please!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. This review first appeared on Reading Is My SuperPower.

About the Author

tonishilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST


Review by Carrie Schmidt