Book Spotlight: A Treasure of Gold

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on A Treasure of Gold by Piper Huguley.


About the Book:

When you follow your heart, never count the cost.

Trusting in the One who orders her steps, Nettie Bledsoe is determined not to deviate from her route to the charity kitchen. Don’t stop for anything, her sisters say.

Pittsburgh isn’t like Georgia, they warn. Yet when low moans of unholy suffering drift from an alley, she can’t help but investigate. It’s a man. The most beautiful man she’s ever seen.

Despite his scandalous reputation, something within her responds to his sinfully rich voice. Jay Evans is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and doesn’t want help from any church do-gooder.

But until his wound heals, he needs help caring for his young daughter, Goldie. Especially since Nettie saw fit to fire Goldie’s barely competent nanny.

Despite their mismatched backgrounds, Nettie and Jay fight a losing battle against their growing attraction. But it’s only when Nettie is kidnapped that Jay realizes that if he doesn’t get her back safe and sound, his heart will shatter into uncountable pieces.

Buy A Treasure of Gold on Amazon


About the Author:

Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20thcentury featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

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Interview with Piper Huguley about her book, “A Treasure of Gold”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Piper Huguley about her book, A Treasure of Gold.

Enjoy!


Interview with Piper Huguley about her book, A Treasure of Gold:

 Alexis: Describe the heart of your story, A Treasure of Gold.

Piper: It’s a Black Damon Runyon story of the nanny falls for the father of her charge, who is kind of like Robin Hood.

Alexis: What do readers need to know about Book One and Book Two in your Migrations of the Heart series?

Piper: Book One, A Virtuous Ruby, is about Nettie’s oldest sister. Book Two, A Most Precious Pearl, is about Nettie’s next older sister. If people care about their love stories, then they can read them. They all standalone on their own.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in the lives of your characters in this book?

Piper: Nettie was a middle child who felt that she was always overlooked in her family. When she recovered from an illness when she was a child, she became intent on pastoring to show her gratitude to Him.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Nettie Bledsoe. What’s she like?

Piper: Nettie is a very spiritual person who is intent on helping others, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness. She has to learn how to seek that for herself.

Alexis: Tell is about your story’s hero Jay Evans. What’s he like?

Piper: Jay Evans works on the wrong side of the law because racism prevents him from obtaining a well-paying job that would permit him to make good money, as well as have a sense of dignity. So, even though he is a numbers kingpin, he uses his money to help everyone in the neighborhood improve their lives. Helping people is what they both have in common.

Alexis: Why does Nettie think that Jay is the “most beautiful man she’s ever seen?”

Piper: Cause he is, lol! Think Idris Elba with hazel eyes.

Alexis: Beyond his beautiful looks, what is it about Jay that makes Nettie want to know him more?

Piper: At first she doesn’t! She cares for his motherless child. Then when she sees how similar they are in wanting to help people, she falls for his beautiful heart as well as his beautiful face.

Alexis: What is the core conflict between Jay and Nettie and why does he think she’s a “church do-gooder?”

Piper: Because she is! They think their core conflict has to do with Jay being on the wrong side of the law and Nettie as a church worker. The conflict really has to do with Jay’s estrangement from God and Nettie’s repeated attempts to bring him closer to God.

Alexis: What role does Jay’s daughter Goldie play in this story?

Piper: She helps Nettie and Jay realize their attraction to one another sooner than they would if she wasn’t there. Kids can be brutally honest in that way.

Alexis: What is it about Nettie that makes Jay’s heart break just by the very thought of losing her (after she’s kidnapped)?

Piper: He realizes that his life on the wrong side of the law has cost Nettie her safety. He also realizes that he loves her and that if he wants a life with her, he will have to leave the criminal life behind forever.

Alexis: Paint a picture of your story’s setting, with words. What makes it special?

Piper: The good girl and bad boy is a trope that happens a lot in romance, but I’ve not seen it in a story like this before. I enjoyed writing it and setting it in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA—where I was able to draw on lessons of Black history and incorporate them into the story.

Alexis: What’s lacking in CBA and how can you as an #ownvoices author help fill that void?

Piper: The CBA is rigid in terms of what it publishes and that is a problem. Diversity in all kinds of stories would help with that. I’m not sure that I could help the CBA unless they were less rigid.

Alexis: In what ways could ABA and CBA work harder to effectively market books and sell stories written by #ownvoices authors.

Piper: I’ve spoken to the CBA situation. The ABA seems as if they are willing to try, at least. Hopefully, they will be more creative with their marketing and reach non-traditional audiences in new ways to help sell #ownvoices authors.

Alexis: Are you happy with the currents state of affairs in the publishing industry?

Piper: No. I’m glad that the ABA seems to be trying to rectify the situation, but really, it’s been disgraceful for a very long time. I hope that they are in it for the long haul.

Alexis: What advice do you have for authors of color who want to write their #ownvoices stories and seek representation from a literary agent?

Piper: Learn your craft and write the best story that you can. If you chose to seek representation from an agent, know that they are not looking for innovation, but they are looking for the “sure thing.” Get an agent you can reach out to, and talk to. I don’t care who the agent is, if you feel afraid to send an e-mail or call, that agent is not for you. Remember that you are hiring the agent, not the other way around.

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

Piper: Thank you for this generous opportunity to appear on Diversity Between the Pages!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20thcentury featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog


About the Book:

When you follow your heart, never count the cost.

Trusting in the One who orders her steps, Nettie Bledsoe is determined not to deviate from her route to the charity kitchen. Don’t stop for anything, her sisters say.

Pittsburgh isn’t like Georgia, they warn. Yet when low moans of unholy suffering drift from an alley, she can’t help but investigate. It’s a man. The most beautiful man she’s ever seen.

Despite his scandalous reputation, something within her responds to his sinfully rich voice. Jay Evans is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and doesn’t want help from any church do-gooder.

But until his wound heals, he needs help caring for his young daughter, Goldie. Especially since Nettie saw fit to fire Goldie’s barely competent nanny.

Despite their mismatched backgrounds, Nettie and Jay fight a losing battle against their growing attraction. But it’s only when Nettie is kidnapped that Jay realizes that if he doesn’t get her back safe and sound, his heart will shatter into uncountable pieces.

Buy A Treasure of Gold on Amazon

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 Review: When God Made Light

Hi reader friends! Let’s be honest, some children’s books are annoying, especially when they are requested over and over and over. When I find one that I enjoy reading (even repeatedly over a long period), I simply have to tell all y’all about it!

About the Book

When God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner‘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.

This light radiates, chasing away the shadows, providing the wonder and fun of stargazing or firefly chasing.

Most important, this light appears in each child–an inner God-given spark that grows and will be used to change the world.

goodreads | amazon | bookdepository | christianbook

 

Review

A children's book you'll read again and again - When God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner (graphic credit Waterbrook Multanomah)When God Made You, has been a favorite in our home since its release last year so we were all delighted when When God Made Light arrived! Each one of our children (ages 5 through 13) has taken a turn spontaneously reading the pages and/or perusing the whimsical illustrations, soaking up each detail and pointing out parts that make them laugh or stop to ponder.

This book blesses my reader mama heart! It is a joy to see our children pour over the pages of an encouraging and faith-filled book like this one. The engaging artwork and beautiful prose are soothing and heartfelt. The vocabulary used by this author rises above the usual simplified children’s storybook fare with words to enrich and engage thirsty young minds.

Reading this book aloud is a delightful experience and one I look forward to reliving often for years to come.

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 was originally posted on Faithfully Bookish

 

Also Available

When God Made You

 

About the Author

Matthew Paul TurnerMatthew Paul Turner has authored 16 books including Churched and Everything You Need to Know Before College.

He has written for publications including USA Today, The Washington Post, Relevant, Christianity Today, and The Daily Beast.

His unique blend of story with spiritual commentary has garnered him a large and loyal fan base.

Matthew lives with his wife, Jessica, and their three young children in Nashville.

website | twitter | facebook | instagram | amazon

 

About the Illustrator

website | twitter | facebook | amazon

 

Fill your story times iwth Light and Love - When God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner (graphic credit Waterbrook Multanomah)

 

Book Trailer

 

Doesn’t this story look adorable?! 

Enter to win a copy of When God Made Light on goodreads!

 

Review by Beth Erin

Book Review: Watercolored Pearls

Book title: Watercolored Pearls

Author: Stacy Hawkins Adams

Number of pages: 228

About the book:

Three women spend a summer discovering that their less-than-perfect circumstances, their friendships with one another, and their faith are stepping stones to the lives they long to live.

Serena never thought she’d have children; now she has two active toddlers. But instead of being overjoyed, she’s overwhelmed. Did she make the wrong choice in giving up her successful career to be a stay-at-home-mom?

Tawana, an ambitious new lawyer, is trying to pull her life to together, but her past keeps getting in the way. An incredible opportunity at a prestigious law firm forces her to confront her demons. Can her new responsibilities fit with her growing faith?

Erika’s estranged and once-abusive husband wants her back. He says he’s changed, and he’s even going to church. But is he telling the truth? Or is he just smooth-talking her back into a bad situation?

Enjoy this anniversary edition of Stacy Hawkins Adams’ bestselling inspirational women’s fiction novel.

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N

~*~

My Thoughts:  Watercolored Pearls is a true pearl of a fictional story written by Stacy Hawkins Adams.

The characters are relatable, likable and their stories are inspirational. The author paints a vivid picture of each main character and portrays their multifaceted lives. The author drives the reader deep into the innermost desires and details the outer motivations of each character. She tells each of their storylines through their unique personalities and outlooks on life. There are many moments in this novel that will make you “ooo” and “ahh”. However, this is not your average HEA (Happily Ever After) novel.

The author shows the struggles that Serena, Tawana, and Erika face. She handles sensitive topics like abuse and immorality with care and conviction. She makes the reader care about the welfare of her characters. This is truly a riveting story!

My only complaint is that at times it felt like there were too many characters on the pages of this story and the varied viewpoints for each character along with their personal dramas made it a bit confusing for me as a reader. It was hard to keep up with each storyline and remember who was dealing with what as I moved from chapter to chapter. But the key line is that I kept it moving because the author knows how to keep the reader’s attention by building tension from scene to scene.

This book is a keeper! I’d share it with all young women who are dealing with issues and looking for hope. Watercolored Pearls may be just what you need to read.

~Reviewed by Alexis A. Goring, contributor~

~*~

About the Author: 
Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, journalist and writing mentor whose fiction and nonfiction enlightens readers while helping them find confidence in their own stories.

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book. She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family. Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

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Book Spotlight: Beauty From Ashes by Alana Terry

Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages. Today I’m introducing you to a new series written by author Alana Terry, The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction series. This series will feature “standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.

Beauty from Ashes is the first novel in this series.


~ About the Book ~

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?

The Orchard Grove books are a literary series of family-drama stories with realistic characters facing gritty issues that confront contemporary Christians today. Standalone novels from award-winning Christian fiction novelist Alana Terry, whose books “inspire without preaching at you,” these titles merge edgy Christian fiction, literary prose, and a God compassionate enough to look upon those who suffer and “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes … a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 60:3).

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Natalie’s sixteen weeks old, and I still don’t know what it feels like to nurse a baby. I’m positive it’s more comfortable than a breast pump or else the human race would have died out before we ever evolved past living in caves. I hated pumping, but at least it was something I could do. Something that only I could do is a better way to say it. I swear her grandmother jinxed her or something, because the whole time Natalie was in the hospital, she handled my breast milk just fine. Then we took her home, and within twenty-four hours, Patricia showed up on our doorstep, suitcases in hand. Four days later, Natalie was so uncomfortable the pediatrician told us to take her off breast milk.
[…]
I think Patricia was secretly thrilled about it all, really. Because now there isn’t a single thing I can do for my child that she can’t do better. She has her nurse’s training to thank, even though that woman hasn’t worked an actual nursing job since Bush was president. The first Bush, I mean, not the second.
That’s what makes me think about leaving sometimes. I know it’s the deadbeat thing to do, but given my family history, would you have expected me to stick around this long? If Natalie needed me, that would be different. Can you believe I waited sixteen days in the NICU just to see her open her eyes? And you know what? She didn’t even notice me. I was no different to her than any of the nurses in their colorful scrubs. When Jake holds her, I swear something clicks in that injured little brain of hers. She seems comfortable. Even tried to scratch his chin once. When I hold her, she’s completely oblivious. Even Patricia claims Natalie smiled at her. I’m sure she’s lying, because my child doesn’t smile. At anyone. But that doesn’t change the fact that my baby doesn’t even know I’m alive.
[…]
I had such high hopes for myself as a mom. I had it all figured out. I was going to stay at home for the first year or so. Maybe take in an extra kid or two for babysitting. I was going to give Natalie everything I never got at that age—a home, a sense of belonging, affection.
I remember laying around on bed rest, flipping through those mommy magazines and daydreaming about story time. That’s the one thing the articles always agreed about, even the older ones. Read to your kids from the day they’re born. I had the picture squared away in my brain. Me on the couch, with Natalie nestled up against me. In my imagination, we always read Dr. Seuss because honestly, I didn’t know any other kids books, but I was going to learn. I’d get a library card. Check out books there. And we’d cuddle and read, and it would do wonders for her development. Wonders for our relationship. That was the plan.
And now look what I’ve got. A kid who doesn’t even recognize me. A kid who can’t make eye contact. A kid who won’t even live to see her first birthday.


~ About the Author ~

Alana TerryAlana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

Connect with Alana:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter


Spotlight by Katie Donovan.

Book Spotlight: Watercolored Pearls by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages.

Today, we’re featuring Watercolored Pearls, another book written by the famous journalist-turned-author Stacy Hawkins Adams!

~*~

About the book:

 Three women spend a summer discovering that their less-than-perfect circumstances, their friendships with one another, and their faith are steppingstones to the lives they long to live.

Serena never thought she’d have children; now she has two active toddlers. But instead of being overjoyed, she’s overwhelmed. Did she make the wrong choice in giving up her successful career to be a stay-at-home-mom?

Tawana, an ambitious new lawyer, is trying to pull her life to together, but her past keeps getting in the way. An incredible opportunity at a prestigious law firm forces her to confront her demons. Can her new responsibilities fit with her growing faith?
Erika’s estranged and once-abusive husband wants her back. He says he’s changed, and he’s even going to church. But is he telling the truth? Or is he just smooth-talking her back into a bad situation?

Enjoy this anniversary edition of Stacy Hawkins Adams’ bestselling inspirational women’s fiction novel.

Book purchase links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo

~*~

About the Author: Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, journalist, and writing mentor whose fiction and nonfiction enlightens readers while helping them find confidence in their own stories.

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book. She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family.

Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

~*~

Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

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Book Review: Hello Stars (Faithgirlz / Lena in the Spotlight)

Book title: Hello Stars

Author: Alena Pitts

Contributor: Wynter Pitts

Illustrator: Annabelle Métayer

Number of Pages: 176

 Book blurb: Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster.

With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.

This Faithgirlz series entitled Lena in the Spotlight, written by Alena Pitts, star of War Room and tween blogger of For Girls Like You, and co-written with her mother, editor and author, Wynter Pitts, is a reflection of Alena’s own life experiences as she reaches for the stars and keeps her faith in balance.

Book purchase links: Amazon, B&N, CBD

~*~
My Thoughts:

Hello Stars is a children’s book written by Alena Pitts.

Alena is an author, actress, model and contributor to the magazine, For Girls Like You.

Hello Stars features Lena Daniels who the reader can infer is based on Alena and her real-life experience as a movie star, except the characters in this story have been changed. In real-life, Alena played Danielle, the daughter of Priscilla Shirer’s character Elizabeth Jordan in the movie War Room. In the story Hello Stars, Lena gets to meet her favorite celebrity. She goes through an audition process and is chosen to star in a movie with Mallory Winston.

Lena’s best friends Savannah and Emma play a role in helping her become a movie star because they were the ones who told Lena about the audition. The friendship between Lena and her best friends is sweet, solid and heartwarming. The bond that Lena shares with her parents, sisters and pet dog is also very encouraging. This fictional family is portrayed as happy, healthy and helpful. It’s very refreshing to read.

This story is not without challenges. Lena works hard on making her dreams come true. But when Lena starts working on the movie, she realizes that being in the spotlight is more difficult than she dreamed. She doesn’t like seeing her face on advertisements and being in the public eye. This is where Lena’s faith plays a strong role. She writes letters to God in her journal. She prays, and she relies on her parents to help her navigate fame. Through it all, Lena learns how to persevere, make good decisions, and trust God.

Alena’s real-life Mom Wynter Pitts contributed to the writing of this book. Just like Mrs. Daniels (fictional Lena’s Mom), Wynter plays a crucial role in keeping her daughter Alena grounded in reality and soaring high with her faith in God as her dreams come true.

My favorite character in this story was Lena because of her sweet personality, strong work ethic, drive to succeed and her heart for helping people. The characters in this book, though fictional, felt real. The storyline was a bit predictable but did have its surprises with plot twists that keep the reader guessing at times. My favorite part of this book was watching Lena’s dreams to star in a movie with her favorite celebrity come true. It’s my favorite part because it reignited my hope that my own creative career dreams—though I am much older—can come true if it’s God’s will for me.

There are no heartbreaking scenes in this book that will make the reader cry. But there are highs and lows that Lena experiences in the journey to her dreams, causing her faith walk with God to be tested. The author writes these scenes with believability, skill and perfect prose. The way she details Lena’s journey endears her character to the reader’s heart. Readers may find themselves rooting for Lena from the start of the story and caring about what happens—or does not happen—to her throughout this book.

There is a very tense scene in this story that involves a moment where Lena disappoints the entire film crew and something Mallory says crushes her spirit. But to find out the details on this, you’ll have to read the book!

This book didn’t make me laugh or cry but it did make me smile quite often. I loved reading this story! There honestly is not anything about Hello Stars that I did not like. I was pleasantly surprised that this story did not have any cliffhangers. As a reader, I enjoyed journeying through this story with Lena, her family and friends. The characters are relatable and the dialogue is lively. The author’s writing style is sweet and engaging.

Overall, Hello Stars is a wonderful story filled with captivating characters, a creative premise, hope, faith, love, and a heroine’s journey that will encourage you as the reader to dream again.

I’d recommend this book to younger readers ages 8 to 12. But I’d also tell teenagers and young adults to read this book because the heroine’s journey to her dreams is relatable with a lesson that’s universal. This book is unique and in a class of its own though the theme is slightly reminiscent of Natalie Grant’s book, Miracle in Music City (Faithgirlz/Glimmer Girls), which is also a Faithgirlz book series.

Hello Stars is worth every bit of a five-star rating!

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Author Bio: 

 Alena Pitts is a young actress and model from Dallas, Texas. As the oldest of four girls, Alena first cut her teeth in acting through making home videos and dramas with her sisters, using their entire home as their recording studio. She has a natural love for all things creative which falls right in line with her gifts and talents. The Kendrick Brothers’ War Room marks Alena’s professional acting debut. With only school theater on her young resume, Alena jumped at a chance to audition for the role of Danielle Jordan. In addition to school and acting, Alena models and is a frequent contributor for the magazine For Girls Like You.

Connect with Alena: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

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Contributor Bio: 

 Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You Magazine and the author of For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens and You’re God’s Girl. The mother of four girls, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip girls to walk boldly into becoming who God has created them to be and to provide parents with the resources and support needed to raise strong Christ followers. In addition to publishing the quarterly magazine, Wynter is a frequent blogger, a contributor for LifeWay’s ParentLife Magazine, and a public speaker. She is also the niece of Dr. Tony Evans. Wynter, her husband Jonathan, and four daughters (ages 6-11), reside in Dallas, Texas.

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Book Review: When God Made You

Book title: When God Made You

Author: Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrator: David Catrow

Number of pages: 48

Book blurb:

YOU, you… God thinks about you.

God was thinking of you long before your debut.

From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly.

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

‘Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew

That the world needed someone exactly like you!

Amazon ~ CBD

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My Thoughts:

When God Made You is a children’s book written by Matthew Paul Turner and illustrated by David Catrow.

The text of the book is neatly organized into clusters of two to four sentences, give or take with splashes of color that decorate each page like paint on a canvas created by an imaginative child.

Turner writes well for his target audience. The story is delightful, happiness is its tone and creativity is a key feature emphasized on every page. The little Black girl who is the main character in this story looks lovely. She bounces from page to page, always engaged in an everyday activity that she makes extraordinary through her active imagination and passion for life.

It’s the joy shown by the little girl that keeps the reader turning the page to find out where she’s going next. The reader may happily join the precious child on her daily adventures and be delighted by the activities.

The illustrations by Catrow are noteworthy. The reader can tell that he knows his target audience well because the pages are filled with splashes of color that does not follow the rules of staying in between neat and orderly lines. These colorful, vivid images are what children love. The fanciful illustrations remind me of a splash park for kids where they are allowed to play without boundaries and get water everywhere.

Just from the cover of the book that’s based in green with hints of pink, blue, yellow and orange with the little girl posed as if she’s diving into the deep end of a pool while also spreading her wings (arms) to fly, the reader can tell that they are in for a wild and fun ride.

The story starts in what looks like a living room where the girl is curled up on a couch with a book, her cat and dog positioned faithfully on either side. It progresses to her getting ready to go outside. She rides her bicycle into town and spends time painting the sidewalk with street artist then she goes on an imaginative adventure with the artist, fueled by their creativity. The author uses these scenes to express to the reader that God gave them the gift of creativity and loves to see the products of their imagination.

Children may relate to this little girl’s love for creativity and art. What kid doesn’t like drawing pictures or playing with crayons? This book will encourage kids to be more creative and it will also teach them about God’s unconditional love.

The author does a delightful job of creating a story that’s creative, bold and beautiful. He packs it with a powerful message of how much God loves children and it emphasizes the fact that the Master Artist (God) enjoys creating art with His creation (such as the little girl featured in this book).

The author accomplishes his goal of helping children discover how their unique persona and talents fit into their world. He makes it easy for children who read this book to know that God loves them dearly.

I’d recommend this book to parents who want their children to realize their worth at an early age.

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Bio according to author’s official website (with a few sentences edited out for this blog):

Matthew Paul Turner is a best-selling author, writer, storyteller, photographer, speaker, and blogger. As one of the most influential progressive Christian voices in media, Matthew has been featured on The Daily Beast, CNN, Washington Post, Yahoo!, USA Today, The New York …and many more.

What sets Matthew apart from today’s throng of open-minded Christian authors is a talent for combining thoughtful, often opinionated commentary about a variety of faith-related topics with poignant, spot-on wit and self-deprecating insight. Lauded by Publishers Weekly as “one of Christianity’s fresh voices” and revered by some as the “Christian David Sedaris,” Matthew writes what many people are thinking and unwilling to say aloud.

But commentary and humor aren’t this gifted writer’s only talents. Matthew has a sincere heart for the marginalized and relentless dedication to truth-telling. This passionate spirit motivates him to share rich stories that would often otherwise go unshared.

As a writer and photographer, Matthew has traveled extensively with World Vision to places.

Matthew and his family live in Nashville, Tenn. Connect with Matthew on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.