Interview with Sarah Monzon about “Novelly Upon a Time”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Welcome Sarah Monzon to our blog.

Remember her? She visited with us a few times earlier in this month of March.

Today, Sarah’s here to talk about her book, Novelly Upon a Time.

Enjoy!


Interview with Sarah Monzon about her book, Novelly Upon a Time: A Novella (Book Nerds and Boyfriends Collection Book Three):

Alexis: Why did you write this story and title it “Novelly Upon a Time?”

Sarah: As with any story I write, I wrote this one because the characters wouldn’t stop talking to me until I told their story. Sound a bit crazy? My husband thinks so. He’s always making fun of me and the “voices in my head.” But authors are a crazy lot and the only way to silence the voices is to give them one of their own in the form of a story.

Alexis: This is book number three in your Book Nerds and Boyfriends story collection. What inspired you to write this collection of stories and how does book three fit in?

Sarah: I was first inspired by the covers. I came across the graphics and thought they were so cute that I just had to write stories for them. Having each novella feature a book lover was icing on the cake. First, I didn’t have to look far for character inspiration (hello, avid reader here!) and second, I knew they would be characters that readers could relate to.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Harper Jones. What does she look like, sound like and act like? Why did you make her an author and not another career?

Sarah: Harper first comes on the scene in the second novella of the set. She’s a member of the book club. Her being an author is pivotal to the plot of the story because without that there would be no motivation. Plus, in the first featured a bibliophile, the second a literature professor, and I thought an author would round out the literary playing field.

Alexis: In what ways did receiving sour early reviews about her new novel, inspire Harper to, as you say, “get some real-life smooching experience?”

Sarah: Harper prides herself on her research. She will do anything to make her characters realistic and authentic. So when early reviews say that the romance in her book is unbelievable, she’s challenged to prove them wrong and establish herself as a person of authority on the matter.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero. What is his name? Describe him. What are his strengths and weaknesses and why is he described as Harper’s “arch nemesis?”

Sarah: Kyo Tanaka is a police officer and of Japanese-American decent. He grew up with Harper and had the ability to push her buttons. He would do things to deliberately get a rise out her. She hated it. And him.

Alexis: Why does Harper feel like she must “kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye?” Is that more of her own decision or is her book publisher pushing her?

Sarah: Both, although there is certainly a veiled threat from her publisher.

Alexis: What was the easiest aspect of writing this story and the most challenging part?

Sarah: The setting was fairly easy. I only live a ferry ride away from Seattle so have been to all the places I described in the story. The most challenging was Harper’s attitude toward Kyo. I’m not a person who holds grudges so writing her and her animosity toward him was not easy for me.

Alexis: What is the racial makeup of Harper and your story’s hero?

Sarah: Harper is White with no nationality ever expressed, and Kyo is Japanese-American.

Alexis: How did you decide on their racial identities for this story?

Sarah: Harper learns a valuable life lesson from Kyo’s grandparents who were prisoners in a Japanese internment camp during world war two.

Alexis: Describe the setting for your story. What makes it special?

Sarah: The story is set in Seattle. All the stories for this collection are set there. It’s a beautiful and diverse city with challenges and triumphs.

Alexis: What do you think is the importance of having books that show representation of all people? Explain.

Sarah: When we get to know each other’s stories and experiences, we are all richly blessed. God made a beautifully diverse world, and I think that should be represented in Christian fiction. As readers, we all like to be able to relate to the characters we read, and right now we may not be doing a very good job of that. Stories are also a good avenue to broaden viewpoints, soften hearts, and produce love that knows no boundaries.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Sarah!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


About the Book:

Author Harper Jones prides herself on the impeccable research she does for her novels, so when early reviews come pouring in claiming her romance reeks of inauthenticity, her editor suggests pulling her nose out of her books and getting some real-life smooching experience.

But her plans to do just that are thwarted by her archnemesis from high school who has recently returned to town. Now she’s left with an impossible decision—kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye.

Buy Sarah’s book, Novelly Upon a Time, on Amazon

Advertisements

Book Spotlight: Freedom’s Kiss

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Freedom’s Kiss by Sarah Monzon.


About the Book:

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to set them free?

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie.

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart.

Florida, 1816
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

Buy Freedom’s Kiss on Amazon


About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Book Spotlight — The Singing Quilt

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I am excited to share a novel by one of my favorite authors, Kathi Macias. The Singing Quilt, published in 2014, is another great book in her Quilt series. Like the other books in this series, Kathi ties the past and the present together through an heirloom quilt. Have you read this book? Please let us know what you thought.

51xe-5N1poL._SY346_Jolissa Montoya believes God is calling her to work with the disadvantaged children in her inner-city neighborhood. There’s only one problem: The children wouldn’t be able to understand her. Jolissa suffers from a speech impediment and has a thick accent because Spanish is her first language. Ridiculed through much of her youth, she is quite shy and reticent to speak. She is convinced that what God has spoken to her heart is impossible. Impossible, that is, until one day when her confidante shows her a quilt — a quilt that depicts the life of a courageous woman. Can another woman’s courage move her to try the impossible and step out and follow God wherever He leads her?

The Singing Quilt is set against the backdrop of the life of Fanny Crosby, who in addition to writing hundreds of songs was also a well-known public speaker and active in Christian rescue missions despite her disability. Readers will be inspired not to let fear or a disability prevent them from answering what they think is God’s impossible call.

KathiMaciasCasual
photograph from the author’s website


Kathi Macias
is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 50 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. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by BookandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

 

Interview with Sarah Monzon, author of “Freedom’s Kiss”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, you’re in for a special treat! We’re talking to celebrated indie author Sarah Monzon about her book Freedom’s Kiss and she has a surprise for you but you’ll have to read to the end of her interview to discover it.

Enjoy!


Interview with Sarah Monzon about her book, Freedom’s Kiss:

Alexis: Why did you write this book and call it “Freedom’s Kiss?”

Sarah: The first title I had for it was “A Warrior’s Heart” because it seemed the characters would be facing a lot of personal battles—like a warrior. But as I kept writing it seemed the message was more about freedom, in many different forms, and so the title Freedom’s Kiss came about.

Alexis: What happened in your hero’s life that made him a prisoner of the past?

Sarah: For my story’s hero, Adam Carrington, it was his involvement as a criminal defense attorney in a specific case that haunted him. He may have been doing his job, but he couldn’t get over his part in the outcome and held himself in his own type of prison after that.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Olivia Arroyo. What is her ethnic heritage? Describe her looks, personality, and heart.

Sarah: Olivia Arroyo decided to do a DNA ancestry test in order to track her family tree as a Christmas present for her mother who was very interested in such things. Olivia thought she knew exactly what the results would be. Some Mayan and Spanish heritage from her father’s side who is Guatemalan, and Scandinavian ancestry on her mother’s side according to the many stories she’d heard at family reunions. When the test results came in though…well, let’s just say Olivia was surprised at the outcome.

Alexis: Why does Olivia dream of becoming a chef? Describe her favorite dish to fix.

Sarah: Simply put, it’s her passion. Coming up with recipes and sharing those with others is what she longs to do. She doesn’t have a favorite dish, but she does like to switch to baking when she has a lot on her mind that she needs to work through.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Adam Carrington. What is his ethnic heritage? Describe his looks, strengths, and weaknesses.

Sarah: Adam is White and I imagine of European descent, although he has never taken an ancestry test. He has dark hair, has let some scruff grow along his jaw, and is patient and kind-hearted.

Alexis: Describe the meet-cute for Olivia and Adam. What was their first impression of each other?

Sarah: Adam had left his job as an attorney and opened a food truck. One that became immediately popular and for which he wasn’t quite prepared. Olivia forced her way into the truck and saved him from having to shut down and lose business. Adam’s first impression of her was that she reminded him of a hurricane.

Alexis: Why did you make this novel a time slip? Please explain what a time slip novel means to our readers who may not know.

Sarah: A time-slip novel is one that has more than one timeline. This book is the third in a time-slip series I am writing.

Alexis: Briefly describe your two main characters from the 1816 time slip in your story. Who are they? What’s their ethnic heritage? What’s the conflict that they are experiencing?

Sarah: Winnie is a runaway slave and Nokosi is a Seminole warrior. It’s an interesting piece of history that many aren’t aware of, but many of the slaves in the deep South didn’t seek freedom in the North, but by going even further South to Spanish-held Florida or even to Mexico. Many found refuge with Seminole tribes and became known as Black Seminole.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Freedom’s Kiss?

Sarah: If I could sum in up in one line, it is that Jesus is a chain breaker.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories written by White authors about characters of color and published by the Christian fiction book market? Why or why not?

Sarah: I would, although I would also love to see authors with diverse backgrounds writing #ownvoices stories. Who better to tell a story than those who have lived and experienced those things? This goes beyond culture, though, and encompasses other things that would be unique to each author.

Alexis: Some White authors are hesitant to write about people of color because they’re scared of getting something wrong or stereotyping. What advice from your own experience in writing and publishing diverse stories, would you give the White authors who feel this way?

Sarah: It’s funny because I recently did an ancestry DNA test myself and the results came back that I am pretty much as White as you can get! My ancestors came to America from England and Holland. And I’m sure some people are wondering how I can write diverse characters when I don’t share any of their heritage stories. And it is a nervous undertaking. I often question who am I to give voice to a culture that I have no personal experience with? The only answer I have is that I was called to do so. I pray over every story and whole-heartedly believe that every story I have written or will write has been given to me from God. I have to be very careful about cultural appropriation. There is a lot of prayer, a lot of research, and help from readers and writers who have a more diverse history than I do.

Alexis: If you could step into your story and spend a day with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do?

Sarah: Olivia because she could cook for me and we’d eat amazing food.

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

Sarah: Freedom’s Kiss will be free from March 6-10. It has also just recently been announced as a finalist for this year’s Selah Award.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


About the Book:

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to set them free?

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie.

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart.

Florida, 1816
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

Buy Freedom’s Kiss on Amazon

Interview with Jan Thompson, author of “Know You More”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re interviewing Jan Thompson about her book Know You More.

Enjoy!


Interview with Jan Thompson about her book, Know You More:

Alexis: Know You More is Book 1 in the Savannah Sweethearts series. Briefly tell us about this series. Why is it special to you?

Jan: Savannah Sweethearts is my series of contemporary Christian romance, set in the city of Savannah, Georgia, and on the small beach town of Tybee Island by the Atlantic Ocean.

There are 11 books in all in Savannah Sweethearts, a mix of novels and novellas, including a prequel novel (that doubles up as a prelude to other spin-off and sister series). In this series, 7 of the books are multiracial romances.

I love the city of Savannah, where I have visited with my family on vacations. I decided to create a story world there, on the warm and sunny (in the summer, anyway) coast of Georgia, rich with history and vibrant with modern life. I am happy to showcase the ethnic diversity of my home state of Georgia in these books.

Alexis: What or who inspired you to write this book?

Jan: Across the board, whether contemporary Christian romance, romantic women’s fiction, or Christian romantic suspense, my inspiration to write is the same: to God be the glory. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Heidi Wei. What is she like (looks and personality)? Who does she love (people)? What is her strongest trait? What does she value in life? Explain.

Jan: A Chinese-American, Heidi Wei is working on her doctorate in history. When Know You More starts, Heidi is in a conversation with her brother about their lives as they know it. Heidi has been in graduate school for years. Her brother wants her to go out there and do something more than just perpetually earning degrees.

Sneak peek: Ming’s own story is in the next book, Tell You Soon.

Heidi’s strongest trait is her sincere care for people, which has led her to help in the Riverside Chapel ministry of visiting elderly church members who are unable to physically attend worship services.

Most of all, Heidi values God’s perfect will for her life.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Diego Flores. What is he like (looks and personality)? What are his strengths and weaknesses? What are his core values in life? Explain.

Jan: A biracial Christian pastor whose father is Latino and mother is Italian, Diego Flores is the young pastor of Riverside Chapel. He is tasked to grow the small church and feed the flock. He is so busy with church life that he doesn’t think he has time for his own personal life. Along comes Heidi…

Diego’s biggest strength is that he is committed to the calling of God for his life as the pastor of a busy church. He handles the Word of God carefully, and honors God when he preaches Sunday after Sunday. He takes after his father, a retired pastor who still counsels him and gives him advice.

However, when it comes to matters of his own heart, Diego is at a loss. He tries to keep Heidi at bay, being quite sure that he doesn’t need her. And yet…

Alexis: What draws Heidi and Diego together? What threatens to tear them apart?

Jan: Heidi and Diego have been friends for some years, so they are often in each other’s company, whether at church or doing ministry projects together. Both of them are Christians who desire to serve the Lord.

What threatens them apart? I’m trying to be careful not to give away spoilers! However, you’ll find out about the ups and downs of their lives when you read the book. At this time, the Know You More ebook happens to be free at these major online book retailers (see retailer links).

Alexis: You’ve mentioned that your book Know You More is a Multiracial Christian Romance. What does that mean?

Jan: I do believe that God created the human race, so we are all one race. By multiracial, I mean that my two main characters have multiethnic ancestries. My story world culture is still definitively Christian, since I write primarily about Christians. Thus, the books in Savannah Sweethearts are not multi-religious, as I focus on the Christian church life environment.

Alexis: What are the racial makeup of Diego and Heidi? Briefly describe their backgrounds.

Jan: A Latino-Italian-American, Diego Flores is the last unmarried son in his family, and the only one called to be a pastor of his own church. He is very close to his father, who travels a lot with his wife, now that all their sons have grown up with lives of their own.

A Chinese-American, Heidi Wei has been on her own with her brother since their parents perished in the mission field. They live on Tybee Island, minutes from the city of Savannah, where they are helping Diego Flores to build and grow their small church on the Savannah River.

Alexis: Why was writing this multiracial romance story important to you as an author of color?

Jan: For years I have been unable to find clean Christian fiction that reflects real life America, with its rich ethnic diversity—that is, my world, my community.

My own family is multiracial. I have relatives who are from various ethnic origins around the world. My all-American son has at least five ethnicities in him, from Chinese and Japanese to English and Irish to Native American.

I find it ironic that it took so long for Christian publishers to come around to publishing books showing that America is a melting pot of many ethnicities and cultural origins.

Therefore, in the words of Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” (source: Goodreads)

So there by the grace of God, go I, with not just one book, but several series of books that reflect my multiethnic world.

Alexis: What kind of impact are you hoping that this book will make on your readers? Why?

Jan: It is my hope that not only are my readers entertained by this beach romance, but that they also take away some verses that might be encouraging to them or to someone they know. Throughout Know You More, I mention Bible verses that apply to Diego’s and Heidi’s many situations. In a church life series, it’s impossible to avoid mentioning the Word of God, and I am happy to talk about God all day long.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story?

Jan: In every book in the Savannah Sweethearts series, I sign off with a farewell verse from the main characters. I hope that those scriptural references would be a good reminder to my readers about the importance of faith in God.

For Know You More, the overarching verses at the end of the book are: 

“And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3).

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jan! God bless you.

Jan: Thank you very much for having me here. I appreciate the interview. These are amazingly insightful questions. I am delighted to be able to share a little bit about the main characters in Know You More and the setting of the Savannah Sweethearts series. Thanks again, and may God bless you too!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


Author Bio:

USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson writes clean and wholesome multiethnic contemporary Christian romance with elements of women’s fiction, Christian romantic suspense with an air of mystery, and inspirational international thrillers with threads of sweet Christian romance.

Jan’s books are for readers who love inspiring stories of faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ.

Follow Jan on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


About the Book:

He loves her… He loves her not…
She’s waiting for him to decide.

A young pastor of a growing church in a thriving community, Diego Flores has to come to grips with God’s will for his church and his personal life.

From USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson come 10 clean and wholesome, sweet and inspirational contemporary Christian romances set on the beaches of Tybee Island and in the city of Savannah, Georgia, two of the most romantic coastal towns in the world.

Welcome to Savannah, Georgia, in the multicultural new south! Meet a group of multiracial and multiethnic churchgoing Christians who love the Lord, work hard in their careers, and seek God’s will for their love lives. Against a backdrop of ocean, sand, and sun, these inspirational romances showcase aspects of the human need for God and for one another.

These sweet and wholesome Christian beach romances begin with KNOW YOU MORE, the story of Diego Flores and Heidi Wei living in the city of Savannah and on the sunny beaches of Tybee Island.

*Buy Jan’s book on Amazon, Google Play, Kobo/Walmart, Apple Books or Barnes & Noble.

Book Review: We Hope for Better Things

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels started the new reading year out right — it is a 5-star time-slip novel with not two, but three story lines. It not only was a beautifully written novel, but an eye-opening book that shows the effects of racism on every aspect of our lives. I highly recommend this book!

About The Book

51JLHN44hoL._SX322_BO1204203200_When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time — from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War — to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

My Thoughts

We Hope for Better Things begins in present day Detroit with main character Elizabeth, a young journalist hungry for the big story, the juicier the better. But she soon finds herself out of a job and in rural Lapeer, Michigan. A family homestead harbors a reclusive great-aunt and stories that may have a greater impact than Elizabeth could ever dream.

Although We Hope for Better Things has not just one, or two, but three story lines, they are so skillfully interwoven that the reader feels just how integral they are to each other. Three very strong female characters dominate — Mary Balsam, a young woman left to run a farm when her husband enlists to fight for the Union during the Civil War, Nora Balsam Rich, who falls in love with the right man at the wrong time, and Elizabeth, who finds her family legacy more important than her own ambition. The novel moves from one story to the other — the 1860/1870s, the 1960s, and present day — with never a misstep or loss of continuity. The breaks between stories just kept me turning page after page as fast as I could. There’s a lot of history involved (the Underground Railroad and the Detroit riots), but it is really the individual reactions of the characters that steer their destiny. I really liked that. It is easy to see historical movements or circumstances as the product of a society as a whole, but in We Hope for Better Things individual choices are important to the development of those movements and to future generations. There are a lot of parallels between the women, showing that one time doesn’t have any greater or lesser moral authority than another. Racism is the overarching theme in the novel with the author again showing it in very personal ways. Its insidiousness reaches into all aspects of life, including the life of the church. Bartels subtle hand doesn’t take away from the big truths shining through. In the end, the reader knows more than the characters, but there are still some mysteries left unsolved or hinted at. I liked that too, because it is those questions that will fuel great reader discussions. And this novel is perfect for book clubs — you will definitely want to talk about this book.

I could go on and on about the merits of We Hope for Better Things, but I will leave you with just one final thing — Read. This. Book. You will love it.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

About The Author

A10zq7b5JZL._US230_Erin Bartels is a copywriter and freelance editor by day, a novelist by night, and a painter, seamstress, poet, and photographer in between. Her debut novel, We Hope for Better Things, released in January 2019 from Revell Books. I Hold The Wind, which was a finalist for the 2015 Rising Star Award from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, will be released in November 2019. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. Her poems have been published by The Lyric and The East Lansing Poetry Attack. A member of the Capital City Writers Association and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, she is former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine.

Erin lives in the beautiful, water-defined state of Michigan where she is never more than a ninety minute drive from one of the Great Lakes or six miles from an inland lake, river, or stream. She grew up in the Bay City area waiting for freighters and sailboats at drawbridges and watching the best 4th of July fireworks displays in the nation. She spent her college and young married years in Grand Rapids feeling decidedly not-Dutch. She currently lives with her husband and son in Lansing, nestled somewhere between angry protesters on the Capitol lawn and couch-burning frat boys at Michigan State University. And yet, she claims it is really quite peaceful.

Find Erin on Facebook @ErinBartelsAuthor, on Twitter @ErinLBartels, or on Instagram @erinbartelswrites. She blogs semi-regularly at http://www.erinbartels.com.

Book Review: Novelly Upon a Time

Hi, reader friends! Today’s review features a bookish novella which is available as a stand-alone ebook or as part of Book Nerds and Boyfriends, a 3-in-1 print or ebook collection, and I highly recommend it!

About the Book

Author Harper Jones prides herself on the impeccable research she does for her novels, so when early reviews come pouring in claiming her romance reeks of inauthenticity, her editor suggests pulling her nose out of her books and getting some real-life smooching experience.

But her plans to do just that are thwarted by her archnemesis from high school who has recently returned to town. Now she’s left with an impossible decision—kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye.

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

A quirky author and brooding officer?! Yes, please! What’s not to love?! Harper’s unique research methods are delightfully entertaining, but the way Kyo pushes her buttons had me chuckling my way through each chapter. From aggression to attraction, these two have it all with tension to spare. Monzon takes what could have easily been a romcom fluff piece (nothing wrong with that but this reader likes more) and delivers remarkable depth, sincerity, and heart. I highly recommend this spunky story and plan to revisit its page as often as possible.

I borrowed this book through the Kindle Unlimited program. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

About the Author

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in a small desert town in central Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

website | facebook | twitter | pinterest

 

Also Available

What do you look for in a romance novella, readers?
Do you love being surprised like I do?!

Review by Beth Erin

Book Spotlight: A Handful of Hope

Happy Wednesday! We’re that much closer to FRIDAY – woohoo!

Today, I’m spotlighting book 4 in the Taste of Romance series of contemporary Christian romance novels set in the metro Washington, D.C. area.

ABOUT THE BOOK

a handful of hopeShe wants to be worth loving.

Repeated heartbreak has convinced Jen Andrews she’s unlovable. When the groomsman she’s paired with at her best friend’s wedding shows interest, she wonders how long it will be before he realizes his mistake.

David Pak is ready to settle down with the right woman. After a disastrous first date with Jen, he’s determined to look elsewhere. But he’s haunted by the wounded look in her eyes.

How will David set aside his hesitations and see past Jen’s barriers to find love? And if he tries, will she let him?

If you like stories of love and hope in the fast-paced modern world with realistic characters and heartwarming romance, then you’ll love Elizabeth Maddrey’s latest journey with this beloved circle of friends.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

elizabeth maddreyElizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys.

website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review: A Cowboy in Shepherd’s Crossing

Happy Friday, dear readers!! Beth spotlighted today’s book on Wednesday – so you can already tell that we love it around here. And what’s not to love – with Ruth Logan Herne at the helm, a swoony cowboy, a sassy southern designer, and two adorable baby girls!

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Cowboy in Shepherds Crossing by Ruth Logan HerneCowboy bachelor Jace Middleton was ready to leave Shepherd’s Crossing for good – until he learns his family’s unspoken secrets.

Now Jace finds himself not only caring for his twin baby nieces, but working with beautiful, strong-willed designer Melonie Fitzgerald to renovate his grandmother’s run-down estate.

Love wasn’t part of the plan… but Jace soon finds himself wishing Melonie could become part of his unexpected family.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

review on Hope By The Book magazine website

MY THOUGHTS

First of all, kudos to Love Inspired for putting a hero of color on the cover – and kudos to Ruthy for writing one!

Jace Middleton is swoony and sweet, with a heart of gold and a spirit of integrity. He loves the small town of Shepherd’s Crossing, and family is the most important thing to him. Poor Jace is punched with a lot of life-changing revelations all at once, not the least of which is his attraction to career-minded city girl Melonie. (Melonie, for her part, has a much softer side to her than first appears and feels like a woman you’d want as your best friend.)

Herne has a way of capturing the beauty of diversity without making it a political issue or without seeming as though she’s just trying to make a point. Her warmth and genuine love for people from all walks of life and cultures shine through in her stories, and A Cowboy in Shepherd’s Crossing is no exception.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ruthyBest-selling, multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of nearly fifty 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. And yet… they don’t. With over a 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 lives on a pumpkin farm in Western New York where they grow all kinds of cool things for fall from sumptuous squashes and veggies to gorgeous stacking pumpkins. Ruthy’s farm is quickly becoming the place to be every September and October!

website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review: The Plum Blooms In Winter

Happy Friday! Today we’re looking at a debut novel from Mountain Brook Ink that looks at both sides of The Doolittle Raid in 1942 (a US air raid on the Greater Tokyo area during WW2) – the pilots and the victims.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thompson-1PlumBloomsSMALLA Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge–In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission–Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him–even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends–only to confront a decision that will change everything.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

MY THOUGHTS

The Plum Blooms in Winter is the kind of novel that isn’t easy to read because it shines a light on some of the darkest, most evil shadows of humanity. It exposes what fear, desperation, and bitterness will drive people to do to one another. The circumstances in which both Dave and Miyako find themselves, respectively, are brutal and raw and you may be tempted to look away at times to leave them a bit of dignity.

Yet at the same time it celebrates the power of God’s grace to begin the work of redemption and restoration. Hope shines brighter than the darkness – in a thousand little ways and a few really big ones. Though neither Dave nor Miyako acknowledge God right away, His hand is nevertheless obvious to readers who do know Him.

The author mentions at the beginning of the novel that she made the choice to include common derogatory terms of the day toward the Japanese as an accurate representation of the history she was portraying. And while these are difficult to read, they are used as sparingly as possible and do drive home the appalling attitudes of the time period. This disparity – between the debasing words and the God-given high value of the people being spoken of – is seen so clearly as Miyako is first met as a school girl racing to protect her little brother from the air raid and then as a young woman who sacrifices all she has left to afford her father’s medical care yet is still so dearly loved by her Heavenly Father.

Note: I did wince at the author’s choice to write some English words phonetically as the Japanese would have said them. To me, this negated some of the value & honor she had given back to the Japanese citizens (as opposed to military personnel) in her portrayal of them.

Overall though this is an extremely powerful novel of the extremes that war, prejudice, fear, and desperation can lead to. The compelling and emotional story shows that, deep inside, our hearts all beat the same – no matter what our race or ethnicity – and that God’s grace follows us into the deepest pit whether we’ve dug it ourselves or it’s been dug for us.

I VOLUNTARILY REVIEWED A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THIS BOOK.
ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE ONLY MY HONEST OPINION.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

linda thompsonLinda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves-stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading-yes, that does make her a throwback-taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan. Next up: Wales.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER