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 Spotlight: Dear One by Brandi Boddie

Happy Valentine’s Day, reader friends!

We hope that you will enjoy this book spotlight on “Dear One” by Brandi Boddie.

If you’re looking for a sweet story to celebrate the holiday, this is it!


About the book:

Love in Steel Town America during the midst of WWII

Youngstown, Ohio 1944

Molly Clayton works as a ladies columnist for the Valley Bulletin, the town’s most prominent African American newspaper. Between writing, aiding the war effort, and helping her struggling parents pay the bills, she doesn’t have time for her favorite pastime of swing dancing.

When a friend gives her tickets to a Valentine’s Day dance for her birthday, Molly can’t wait to attend. She meets Stephen Keller, a handsome jazz magazine editor. She’s attracted to him, but a painful secret lurks beneath the surface of Stephen’s easy charm that makes him defensive to others and suspicious of her faith.

Things take a turn for the worse when a vicious rumor threatens to destroy both her career and her blossoming courtship. Will she gain the courage to confront the rumor and speak her heart to Stephen before it’s too late?

Book purchase link: Amazon


About the Author: 

 Brandi Boddie writes historical and contemporary romance. She resides in Texas where she loves spending time with her husband and dogs, a cocker spaniel and a schnauzer who both aspire to be food critics. She holds a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law and a B.A. in political science from Youngstown State University. She has worked for the Office of the Attorney General in Washington D.C. and traveled extensively across the country as a military wife. When she isn’t writing, Brandi enjoys fencing and swing dancing.

Visit her website www.brandiboddie.com for news and updates.

Follow Brandi on Twitter

Book Spotlight: A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

Hi, reader friends! Today’s book spotlight features a leading lady with an exciting and inspiring story of overcoming the past, embracing her heritage, and remembering the Hope of her first Love.

about the book

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn CossetteSeven 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. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. 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 | bookdepository | christianbook

 

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

 

about the author

Connilyn CossetteConnilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience.

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More from Connilyn Cossette on Diversity Between the Pages
Giveaway opportunities on Goodreads & Faithfully Bookish

What are your thoughts, reader friends?

Spotlight by Beth Erin

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 Review: Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Hello, reader friends! We’re featuring the final book of The Out of Egypt series which takes a closer look at the culture and diversity of a miraculous time in our history. Plan to join us tomorrow for our Saturday discussion post dedicated to these and other covers.

About the Book

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn CossetteAlanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape.

But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core.

Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

goodreads | amazon | bookdepository | christianbook

 

My Thoughts

This story filled my heart and convicted my spirit… that’s powerful fiction, y’all! The characters, setting, and storyline captivated my attention while the underlying messages of God’s constant presence in our lives and our restless complacent tendencies struck a chord deep down inside of me.

Alanah is a fiercely independent woman. She has the strength and tenacity of half a dozen women (or more)! Alanah’s warrior spirit carries her across a rough and dangerous land and into the chaos of battle in the name of vengeance for her family. As a survivor and captive of the conflict, she expects a fate worse than death but Yahweh and His people turn her world upside down.

Tobiah is a steadfast and devout Hebrew warrior. His dedication to his family is surpassed only by his commitment to obey Yahweh in every way. Tobiah must overcome grief, expectations, and prejudice to embrace the Creator’s will for his life. A classic quiet, steady hero (with a fiery inner strength), Tobiah grows and matures in confidence and compassion throughout the story.

Although the majority of the characters within this story are fictional, the thorough research and care taken with the biblical accounts are superb. The emotional and spiritual depth combined with vivid visuals and skilled storytelling send this book straight to my all-time favorites.

I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review was originally posted on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Connilyn CossetteConnilyn Cossette is a homeschooling mother of two with a passion for writing stories of timeless grace.

She hopes to draw readers into a personal encounter with the rich ancient world of the Bible and spark curiosity that will lead to digging deeper into the truth of the Word.

Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. She lives near Dallas, Texas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Out of Egypt series

book 1 book 2 book 3 preorder

goodreads | amazon | bookdepository | christianbook

 

Share your thoughts, reader friends! Are you discouraged or comforted (in a “nothing is new” kind of way) by the presence of prejudice throughout history?

 

 Review by Beth Erin

New Year’s Resolutions!

DBTP - letstalk

Happy Saturday, friends!

It’s 2018 for nearly a week now, so my question to you is…what are your resolutions/goals for this year and how are they going so far? Also, if you have “reading more” as one of your goals for this year, why not consider adding more diverse literature to your palate! 🙂

Comment below!

Open Discussion: Getting More Diverse Books in Your Local Libraries (and other ideas)

DBTP - letstalk

Happy Saturday, folks!

In past posts, we’ve been talking about the importance of introducing more diverse fiction into Christian fiction, why we love reading diverse fiction, why it’s important, what some of the roadblocks have been, and sharing some of our own stories.

Today I’d like to focus on some things we can do to bring more diverse fiction to our own neighborhoods. Because there are many ways to give at Christmas time and sometimes that can be a few extra minutes of our time! So, here are some of the ways I thought of:

  1. Go to your local library once per month and request a new diverse book they don’t have yet.
  2. Go to your local (non-chain) bookstore and request a diverse book that you’ve read and loved but don’t see on their shelves.
  3. Have a church group or a book club? Invite your favorite author of diverse books to speak. You never know, they might say yes! It means more sales for them and more exposure, plus added knowledge for our churches and book clubs!
  4. Have connections at your local schools or universities? See about getting more diverse fiction on their shelves or about inviting your favorite author of diverse fiction for a speaking engagement.
  5. When you read diverse books, make sure to write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. This helps with sales and spreading the love!
  6. Consider writing diverse fiction, if you don’t already. Writing is sometimes as fun as reading (though it’s a bit more work). 🙂

What other ideas do you have about spreading the love of diverse fiction in your neck of the woods?

Comment below!

Author Interview: Lee Tobin McClain

Hello, reader friends! From Rescue River and Sacred Bond to her new Arcadia Valley Romance seriestoday’s featured author often highlights diversity through her contemporary romance. 

About the Author

Lee Tobin McClainLee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. The PW bestselling author of fifteen contemporary Christian romances, she enjoys crafting emotional, faith-infused love stories with happy endings.

When she’s not writing, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

 

Interview

Beth: Writing is generally a solitary endeavor. Tell us a little bit about writing within the Arcadia Valley Romance universe. 

Lee: Writing in Arcadia Valley feels communal in two ways. First, it’s fun being part of a community of writers who are creating Arcadia Valley together. We’ve become good friends and are in touch all the time with questions, ideas, and support for each other.

And second, Arcadia Valley has become a community that feels very alive, with families and shops and greenhouses and farms and churches. We have pictures of the town (it’s modeled on a real town in Idaho) and of the surrounding terrain. When I write about Arcadia Valley, I feel like I’m actually there!

Wise at Heart takes place primarily at the hero’s home—a big converted barn surrounded by open land. That’s because Daniel, the hero, is a bit introverted, and he feels alienated from his family and community. Throughout the book, that changes, and he becomes more strongly connected to his siblings and to Arcadia Valley.

 

About the Book

Wise at Heart by Lee Tobin McClainWhen Daniel Quintana needs a summer nanny for his twins, it only makes sense to hire Tabitha Moore. Just back from an extended mission trip, she needs the job. The fact that she was his wife’s best friend shouldn’t matter, and neither should the fact that he finds her attractive. Daniel’s not in the market for relationships because he’s just so bad at them.

Tabitha Moore doesn’t want to work for Daniel because she knows a terrible secret about his daughters. But when staying with her sister is no longer an option, she feels like she has no choice. After all, it’s just for the summer…

With the help of Daniel’s five-year-old twins, Daniel and Tabitha start to become more than friends. Growing vegetables, rescuing a mama cat and her kittens, eating delicious Mexican food at El Corazon… all of it makes these two lonely souls crave to create a family long term… unless Tabitha’s secret rips apart everything they’re starting to build.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

 

Beth: I’m certainly looking forward to reading Wise at Heart! What do you want readers to gain from this story?

Lee: First, of course, I want readers to escape from their problems and immerse themselves in a happily-ever-after story. Because Wise at Heart has a secret at the center, I want readers to stay up late, turning the pages, to discover how everything plays out.

And I also hope that readers will enjoy seeing how God’s hand hovers over everything, gently nudging us in the directions we need to go in order to become the people He means for us to be.

 

Beth: What inspires you to create diverse minority characters like the Quintana family?

Mexican food

Lee: When I got involved in the Arcadia Valley project, I was immersed in studying Spanish, so that was a factor.

Also, the fictional town of Arcadia Valley is set in a part of Idaho where about 1/3 of the population self-describes as Latino or Hispanic, but when I joined the group, we didn’t yet have any major Latino characters.

Since the series is food-oriented—and since I love Mexican food—it made sense to create the restaurant, El Corazon, run by a family of Mexican descent.

 

Beth: I appreciate your dedication to crafting authentic settings, characters, and stories for your readers. In what ways do the second (and third) generation of the Quintana family honor their Mexican heritage?

Lee: One big way is through food! The Quintana siblings update their family restaurant throughout the series, moving toward healthier, more contemporary fare, but they keep many of their mothers’ traditional recipes untouched.

star-shaped piñata

They also maintain some Mexican holiday customs. For example, in Wise at Heart, the story ends with a traditional posada celebration that marks the beginning of the Christmas season—and leads into the hero and heroine’s happy ending.

On a deeper level, in traditional Latino families, the oldest male is considered as the head of the family. That would be Javier Quintana, the hero of Secrets of the Heart (review), and he feels every bit of that responsibility. His siblings alternately rely on, and get exasperated with, him and his tendency toward bossiness and control.

Honoring your heritage isn’t a simple matter, especially when you’re living in a different country and are surrounded by competing cultural traditions and ideals.

 

Beth: Since food plays such a major role in Arcadia Valley Romance, what is your favorite authentic Mexican dish?

Lee: My favorite authentic Mexican dish is tacos! Not the crunchy Americanized ones, or that abomination my daughter adores, the Walking Taco of concession-stand fame. But rather, small soft tacos made with homemade corn tortillas and various fillings. Buying a tortilla press and learning to use it rocked my culinary world! I’m mostly vegan, so my taco fillings tend to be vegetable based.

 

Coming soon from Lee Tobin McClain…

Available in stores mid-February


preorder now

Romance from the Heart: an Arcadia Valley Romance series

  
Look for Book 3
Joy of My Heart
April 2018

 

Lee, thank you so much for joining us!
Are y’all familiar with Mexican posada celebrations? I learned something new today!

 

interview by Beth Erin

Open Discussion: Vanilla Questions

Hello, reader friends! It’s me again, timidly edging out of my comfort zone to ask an (innocent and hopefully not offensive) question to spark open and honest discussion.

As mentioned in the previous Vanilla Confessions, my home county is not blessed with diversity (96.6% “White alone, not Hispanic or Latino” according to Census.gov).

The only descriptions needed on a regular basis around these parts, besides hair and eye colors, are various degrees of “white” and “farmer’s tan.”

Share which comparisons or adjectives you find appealing,
which ones make you cringe, and why.

What kinds of descriptors are preferable in diverse fiction?
Is it taboo to use food to describe skin color?
Are there alternative ways to identify ethnicity without physical descriptions?

Post by Beth Erin

Diverse Holiday Books (and Movies!)

DBTP - letstalk

Happy Sunday, folks!

Thanksgiving and Christmas is upon us, and for me, I love, love, love watching holiday movies, whether it’s about Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, or a combo of the two. I know we usually focus on books, but movies are like books come to life (if they’re done well!).

As I was planning this blog in my mind, I was trying to think about what my favorite holiday movie and book that features diverse principal characters. And nothing came in my mind, except for the movie, “The Holiday” with Queen Latifah. So either I have a sheltered shelf of books and DVDs, or we need more diverse holiday books and movies out there in the world (or perhaps a bit of both).

My son does have a Spanish language book about too many tamales (¡Qué Montón de Tamales!), which talks about Christmas with a Mexican family and working together to make tamales. The premise is that a little girl helps her aunt make tamales but later realizes she has lost her mother’s ring inside the giant mountain of tamales, and she and her cousins have to eat them to find the ring. Pretty cute!

But, seriously, as I think about all the holiday books and movies I love: “A Christmas Carol,” “Home Alone,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Elf,” etc. there are almost zero people of color in those movies. I am literally realizing this as I am writing this. Wow, that is sad.

Please tell me good movies and books with diversity so I can expand my horizons and get in the holiday spirit! Thanks!!!