Author Interview: Stephenia H. McGee

Happy Monday!

On Friday, I shared my book review of Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee. Today, I’m pleased to share part of my interview with the author, an interview first posted at my own blog.

ABOUT THE BOOK

missing mercyMISSING MERCY
SERIES:
Ironwood Plantation Family Saga #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
PAGES: 376

Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering. Only truth can lead them to freedom.

The venture ahead could leave their friendship behind.

Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.

Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.

The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.

Pick up your copy HERE!


Hi dear Stephenia! Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages! Let’s start with a couple of ‘just for fun’ questions first 😉

Q: Which books are “on your nightstand”?

Stephenia: If we ignore my Kindle full of hundreds of books stored in that one slim little device, then I have: Shadows over England series, books 1- 3 and the Everstone Chronicles, books 1 – 5. And then there’s Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids in my drawer. But don’t tell my boys.

Carrie: haha! I highly recommend both of those series… and your boys won’t hear it from me 😉

Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?

Stephenia: It would tell you I need to throw away a bunch of crumbled receipts, I prefer lip gloss over lipstick, I have a keychain that I could use to hurt you (should you be a nefarious villain of ill-intent) and that I must never have to actually remove my key from the depths of my purse in order to start my car.

Carrie: LOL – hopefully that keychain is more accessible than the key, should you run into any nefarious villains of ill-intent!

Q: What was something you learned in the process/challenge of writing Mercy as a diverse main character?

Stephenia:Writing outside of your own ethnicity is daunting. I’m very grateful for the gracious guidance and insights of some awesome authors who performed a sensitivity read. The hardest part was having to write in some of the cruelty and hateful attitudes toward Mercy. I love her as a character. She’s smart, feisty, and strong-willed. Having people treat her as less than because of her physical appearance and disregarding the soul and mind inside was difficult.

Carrie: I adore Mercy – and those scenes broke my heart for her. Vital to the story – and to her character development – but heartbreaking nonetheless ♥

Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: There is a scene toward the end of the book (I won’t give it away!) that is inspired by “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman soundtrack. Actually, that song really could be the theme song for Mercy.

Carrie: I think I know which scene you’re talking about and I nearly stood up and clapped after reading it!

Q: How would Mercy and Faith each personally define ‘freedom’?

Stephenia: Freedom and what it means is a major theme in this book. In the beginning, Mercy defines freedom as life away from the isolated community of Ironwood, and Faith defines it as making her own way without depending on a man. However, as the story progresses, they both discover that true freedom, and how that relates to their relationship with God, is deeper than they imagined.

Carrie: I really love this theme in the book, and how it fine-tunes in each of their lives.

Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote Missing Mercy?

Stephenia: Every book means a lesson I have to learn. It’s no coincidence that during this particular book, I was struggling with asking God how I was supposed to maintain the calling to write when He also told me to homeschool. I couldn’t find a way to do both in the ways I expected. I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way. I’m still struggling with it, but the lessons Mercy learns are also things God taught me about following His plans instead of mine.

Carrie: I think that’s something we all struggle with at some point – just in different forms. ‘I had to learn to turn my gifting back over to the Giver, and do things His way.” – love this!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenia H McGee HeadshotWinner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of seven Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.

Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.

Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team on Facebook to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book-related topics. You can also catch her on Twitter & Pinterest.


What about you? What stuck out to you most about this interview?

Book Review: Missing Mercy

Happy Friday, friends!

I’m delighted today to bring you my review of Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee. Come back on Monday for portions of my interview with the author about the book!

ABOUT THE BOOK

missing mercy.jpgMISSING MERCY
SERIES:
Ironwood Plantation Family Saga #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2019
PAGES: 376

Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering. Only truth can lead them to freedom.

The venture ahead could leave their friendship behind.

Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.

Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.

The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.

Pick up your copy HERE!


MY THOUGHTS

“I have this impossible idea that God wants all his children to realize that what makes them different isn’t nearly as important as what makes them the same.”

It always amazes me how historical fiction can be just as relevant today as the themes were at the times in which they were set. In Missing Mercy, we encounter racism (born of ignorance as well as hatred) and human trafficking – two things that are still prevalent in our world today. For all of our technological advancements, humankind doesn’t change all that much as far as our prejudices and sins, do we? If nothing else, Missing Mercy reminds us that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ and ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it’ .. and thereby challenges us to always be alert to how we can be used to change the current course.

But that’s not all that Missing Mercy does – it also captivates readers with a beautifully written story of friendship, forgiveness, and the truest Love that pursues us through our faults and failures. It’s an adventure, a love story, a tear-jerker, and a smile-inducer. Mercy & Faith are strong heroines, due in part to their unusual upbringing at Ironwood Plantation – a  community protected from racism and one which encourages female education and independence. Both young women are in for a rude awakening when they venture out into the world, and both must learn to lean into God and surrender to His plans for them.

I loved both Faith and Mercy (and Nolan and Jed, too, for that matter) but oh how I wanted to shake both of them at various times throughout the book. Probably because I share similar traits with each one and heaven forbid fictional characters point out my own flaws LOL. During their separate character arcs in Missing Mercy, my heart alternately sank with dread and swelled with pride. One scene in particular, near the end, almost had me standing up and clapping (I refrained, because my husband was already asleep lol).

And then there’s Hezzie – oh my heart, one of my fave fictional characters ever, I think. I wanted to pick her up and hug her more than once. At other times, I wanted to sit at her feet and just listen. She was adorable, intuitive, wise, and kind – and she just made me smile.

Bottom Line: Missing Mercy by Stephenia H. McGee is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. While it’s the third book in this series, it can easily be read as a standalone. The theme of freedom – and where it’s truly found – manifests in various ways and through various characters, and its contribution to the story is well-written and pivotal. The layered plot keeps you firmly engaged from beginning to end, and the multi-dimensional characters capture your heart. Thought-provoking and entertaining, Missing Mercy is a must-read!

THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED ON READINGISMYSUPERPOWER.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author.
All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenia H McGee HeadshotWinner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of seven Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.

Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.

Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team on Facebook to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book-related topics. You can also catch her on Twitter & Pinterest.


What about you? What interests you most about Missing Mercy?

Book Review: A Song for the Stars

Happy Friday everyone!

Fall is finally here. The leaves are changing, pumpkin flavors are everywhere, and I am excited to be reading books with a comfy blanket and warm drink! Today I’m sharing a book that simply takes your breath away – A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd. Simply put, this is a book you need to read!


About the Book

Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads


My Thoughts

There is so much culture, history, romance, and character development in this story. Todd easily held my attention from page on until the very end. The setting was vivid, and the story was beautifully written. Todd’s attention to detail is evident in every chapter, and it made the story come alive in my mind.

This is no regular love story. This is two different people, two different cultures, coming together and learning how to trust and balance each other. The inclusion of journal entries from John only added to the depth of the story, providing readers a glimpse of his thoughts while experiencing this new world. There is joy, pain, sorrow, love, healing, and so many more emotions that readers will feel right along with the characters. I suggest taking your time to read this one so that you can enjoy every ounce of it.

Caution – reading this will probably make you want to go explore the Hawaiian islands. But in all honesty, Todd writes so vividly that you’ll already feel as if you are there! I highly recommend this remarkable novel.


About the Author

Ilima Todd

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and dives for octopus with her dad every time she visits—otherwise she’s diving into books in the Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and four children. She graduated from BYU with a degree in physics and eats copious amounts of raw fish and avocados without regret. But mostly she loves being a wife and mama and wouldn’t trade that job for anything in the world.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website


 

 

Book Spotlight: A Song for the Stars

Happy Wednesday!

I hope your week is off to a good start! I’m sharing a book spotlight on Ilima Todd’s A Song for the Stars. If you haven’t read it, be sure to put it on that TBR pile!

*Please be aware this is not Christian fiction but it is clean. There are references to gods but that is because this is historical fiction.


About the Book

Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaiʻi, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people—and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads


Follow the Author

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Book Spotlight: The Representative’s Revolt

Happy Hump Day!

We at Diversity are bringing you a new book spotlight. Today’s spotlight is taking you back in time to history in Piper Huguley’s The Representative’s Revolt. Have you read it? If not, check out the info below.


About the Book

Atlanta, Georgia, 1871

Someone has tried to assassinate Virgil Smithson. The Georgia State Legislature is not a safe place—if it ever was. To protect her growing family, Amanda wants to go home to Milford. Virgil is willing to serve out his term and return to life as a blacksmith, but first he has to know…who is trying to have him killed?

Meanwhile, Amanda works to resolve Milford College’s everlasting financial woes by starting a fund raising campaign to finish the school building. Her efforts require her absence from home and the many pressures influence the marriage of the Milford College founders.

Then, a missive arrives from Ohio and Amanda receives an offer she feels she cannot refuse.

When all they want is what they had in the first place, a quiet life in Milford, Virgil and Amanda must strengthen their faith to negotiate these difficult days of the Reconstruction Era.

Someone is trying to put an end to the dream of Milford College and Virgil Smithson’s life. In this, the finale of the “Founder’s Trilogy” the Representative and his wife have to find a way to figure it all out…before it’s too late.

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author

Piper G Huguley, named 2015 Debut Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam and Breakout Author of the Year by AAMBC, 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 20th century featuring African American characters, published by Samhain Publishing. 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 and received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine.

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. On release, the prequel novella to the “Home to Milford College” series, The Lawyer’s Luck, reached #1 Amazon Bestseller status on the African American Christian Fiction charts. 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: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Spotlight: “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes.


About the book (story collection): 

The Runaway Brides Collection: 7 Historical Brides Get Cold Feet at the Altar …

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger.

Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books


About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Interview with Terri J. Haynes, about her story “Legacy of Love”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Terri about her story “Legacy of Love.”

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Terri J. Haynes about her story, “Legacy of Love” published in the Runaway Brides story collection:

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Terri: Research. I am often amazed at how inspiring research can be. It is a great idea generator. I was researching another book when I came across an article about newly freed slaves that actually did well during Reconstruction. Well is relative, of course. The article also detailed classism between some freed Blacks and poorer freed blacks. I was amazed at how this could even happen given the horrible conditions slaves had just come out of. Often I see stories about classism in stories set in countries with ruling classes and I wanted to explore that notion.

Alexis: What is the significance behind your story’s “Legacy of Love” title?

Terri: The story features characters who are getting a fresh start in a way. They were slaves but now their situation had changed. They had the hope of starting something new. While I was researching this story, I came across an article detailing how many Black couples made their marriages legal during Reconstruction. Many went to the Freedman’s Bureau to legally start their lives together. That is a powerful thing.

Alexis: Who is the heroine of your story? Describe her looks, personality, character flaws and greatest strength.

Terri: Delia is a curious, intelligent woman with a great mind to build things. With all her intelligence, she’s a little oblivious about some things happening right in front of her. She also has a big heart and does all she can to help the less fortunate.

Alexis: Who is the hero of your story? Describe his looks, personality, strengths and weaknesses.

Terri: Josiah is a hard-working, honest, caring man. He loves horses and animals in general. He is also gentle and supportive. He has, however, deep wounds from his past.

Alexis: What draws the hero and heroine of your story together?

Terri: Delia and Josiah were friends for many years. Their relationship started when Josiah arrived to Burtonsville with his little sister, needing work and a place to live. Delia, kind-hearted as she is, helped him find a place. They are drawn together by their care for others and the fact that they both have dreams beyond their current circumstances.

Alexis: What threatens to tear the hero and heroine apart forever?

Terri: Delia’s desire to make her father proud and Josiah’s feelings of insufficiency cause problems for the relationship.

Alexis: How do your hero and heroine survive life’s challenges? Does faith play a role?

Terri: They both survive by putting other’s needs first. Josiah is caring for his sister and Delia is caring for the poor in the town. They both have faith that they will be able to build a legacy.

Alexis: Why did you choose to set this story in the 1800s?

Terri: Research, again! I had done some research for another project and had way more information than I needed. I think all historical writers have too much research (if that’s such a thing). What better way to use it?

Alexis: Paint a picture of your story’s setting, with words.

Terri: Burtonsville is a small town with stone buildings and wrought-iron fences on one side of town and wooden houses on the other. The town is dusty with poorly built houses. Horses and carriages are not uncommon and Main Street is lined with stores with colorful awnings.

Alexis: What were the unique challenges for brides of that day that made them want to run away?

Terri: I think the biggest challenge was actually making it to where they were going. Reconstruction was not the utopia newly freed blacks though it would be. Yes, they were free to go, but where? What kind of work would they do? Also, there were groups that were actively trying to stop Blacks from building a better life and those groups used threats and violence to do so. The danger of living and the danger of running held the same risks.

Alexis: What is the racial background of your hero and heroine?

Terri: Both my characters are freed Blacks.

Alexis: What do you want people to remember most about your story?

Terri: That there is always someone less fortunate than you and to recognize the responsibility of taking care of them.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature diverse main characters, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Terri: I would love to see more stories featuring diverse main characters in CBA. Representation is so important. And of course, there are stories in Black history that don’t make it to the front page…stories of love and success.

Alexis: What can CBA do to help authors of color tell their stories about characters of color and skyrocket their book sales?

Terri: That is a big task. I think that the main thing CBA can do is validate the stories featuring or written by people of color is to create an appetite for these stories by heavily marketing these stories. Publishing books with people of color and give them the marketing support that they need.

Alexis: What was your most memorable moment while writing this story?

Terri: Part of my research came from the National Archives, which is a researcher’s dream! Archives house several very cool interactive exhibits that a full of information. It was hard not to go down a rabbit hole because everything was so interesting.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Terri!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the book (story collection): 

The Runaway Brides Collection: 7 Historical Brides Get Cold Feet at the Altar …

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger.

Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books


About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Book Review: Shadow Among Sheaves

Happy Friday!

I’m super excited because I’ll be heading for the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat this afternoon. But before I go, I have to share my thoughts on Naomi Stephens’ Shadow Among Sheaves. Her debut novel released Monday, so if you haven’t heard about it or had an opportunity to read it, continue reading.


About the Book

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz

The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.

Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.

Amazon, B&N, CBD, Goodreads


My Thoughts

Okay, y’all, I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts together so I’ll start with my initial impressions.

Wow. The prologue sucked me right in as I entered Rena’s world. An Indian woman, she vows to follow her mother-in-law back to England. From that prologue, I knew this would be a story I’d read until the very end. I love Ruth’s story, one of my favorites in the Bible. I couldn’t wait to find out what Ms. Stephens did with the story and how she made it her own. Plus, an Indian woman in England after a rebellion that had happened in India makes for some page turning tension.

I loved Rena as a heroine, a woman, and just an interesting character to follow. She’s amazing and I was pulling for her through the entire story. I often asked myself if I would have that strength and dedication to another. It’s remarkable and one of the reasons I have always loved Ruth.

And that leads me to the English Lord Barric, because what’s a Ruth retelling without a Boaz? Barric is very stern but he has his moments of kindness that peek out every now and then. And although I wasn’t in love with him as a hero, I didn’t dislike him either. His standoffish mood made it difficult to fall in love with his character. Still, I continued reading to see what would happen with his thread. But about 80% in, there’s a scene that turned my opinion. In the end, I just can’t say that I think he deserved Rena. I feel like she deserved someone wholly gallant and worthy of her and all that she sacrificed. Because Barric wasn’t that for me, I would lower my review rating, but that’s the only reason why.

Because this story is rich in history. Filled with a beautiful wealth of emotion. I was invested in the story and that’s saying a lot because not every historical story moves me. I will be reading more of Ms. Stephens in the future.

*I received a complimentary copy through NetGalley. My review was not influenced nor required.
**Review first appeared at Soulfully Romantic blog.


About the Author

Naomi Stephens is a bookworm turned teacher turned writer. She received a B.A. in English from Concordia University in Ann Arbor and an M.A. in English from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. 

In bookstores, Naomi gravitates towards 19th-century British novels—the broodier the better (i.e., Jane Eyre)—but she can also be found perusing the young adult, mystery, and fantasy sections. Anything that keeps her turning pages past midnight.

Though she has called many places home over the years, she currently lives in Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a rascal of a dog named Sherlock. When not writing or having adventures with her family, she can be found drinking tea, practicing photography, and pining for London.

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Review post by contributor Toni Shiloh

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: 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.

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