Thursday, September 11, 2014

MY REVIEW OF

HOME TO 

CHICORY LANE

by

DEBORAH RANEY

In Home to Chicory Lane, Grant and Audrey Whitman have sunk most of their retirement funds into Audrey's dream of renovating the home built by her grandparents over a hundred years ago. After raising their five children, the empty-nesters have turned the stately Missouri home into an elegant bed-and-breakfast. 


What they didn't count on was that even as their open house is in progress, their children begin returning to the nest.



Each book of the Chicory Inn series will focus on one of Grant and Audrey's children, but you'll get to know the whole family, including Huckleberry, the Whitman's beloved-but-ornery chocolate Lab, in the first novel, and follow them through heartache, romance, trials, and triumphs as the series unfolds.


MY REVIEW

Empty nesters Audrey and Grant Whitman have raised their five children in a stately home just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri.  Each book in the Chicory Inn Series will focus on one of their children – the first being Landyn Whitman Spencer, the baby of the family.  This heartwarming story begins with the excitement and tension of opening weekend of the Chicory Inn.  It was Audrey’s dream of renovating the home built by her grandparents over a hundred years ago into a bed and breakfast.  Her husband Grant, now retired, had been a bit averse to sinking most of his retirement into the project, but did so without grumbling much… because after all….Audrey had grown up in this house…and he lovingly gave Audrey her way.

The Inn was completely filled by reservations and Audrey was having opening day jitters.  It did not help that Corrine arrived toting fussy baby Simone.   Simone was teething, and Corrine did not want daddy Jesse to deal with that.   Corrine cut in that her dad could watch Simone if need be.   Her excuse was irritating to Audrey and she pushed down her resentment, even when Simone wiped her nose on Audrey’s apple green jacket and Corrine laughed saying  “Well, at least it matches. “   Corrine then dabbed Simone’s nose with a tissue which made her screech like a banshee – causing the dog Huckleberry to come running and barking.   Deborah Raney’s prose is transparent and humorous initiating my attention to be held captive from the first page.

Little do Audrey and Grant suspect their stress level has only begun.  Daughter Landyn Whitman Chase is pulling a U-Haul trailer from New York City arriving home at an ill-timed moment with no explanation.  She does have valid reason – to herself anyway – as to why she has come home.  Landyn and Chase have been married a mere six months and Chase made a rash decision – without discussing it with her – no less.  He had let their apartment on the Upper West Side be sublet, rented a fleabag studio apartment in Brooklyn because God was leading him in this way to further his art career.  This made no sense to Landyn…she had much to think about – including a bit of information she was withholding from Chase.  I had better stop right here and let you read the story for yourself. 

Deborah Raney’s plot was well rounded with heartaches to joys.  I could identify easily with Audrey as a mother.  As I read through the book I could relate to each side of conflicts.  If you are ready to laugh and cry, then read this lovely story about family life based on Godly principles.  Ms. Raney writes realistic drama with deep feeling and wisdom.  This is the first book by Deborah Raney I have read…and it will not be the last.  I don’t want to hurry a great writer….she needs time to develop her stories with aplomb and eloquence.  I will be patient and wait…keeping my ears and eyes open for the next novel about the Whitman family.  Who will be in trouble next?

"I received this book from Litfuse for free in exchange for an honest review."


INTERESTING NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR.......

I've always been a very visual writer, referring to photographs of my characters and setting. Below are some of the images that inspired me as I wrote the Chicory Inn novels. The first two books are finished and with my editor. And I'm having a blast as I work on the third book, making notes fast and furious for the final two books in the series as I go.

Grant & Audrey Whitman

Home to Chicory Lane tells Landyn's story. The somewhat spoiled baby of the Whitman family, Landyn thought she was living the dream with her new husband in New York City. But after only six months, she is homesick and disillusioned with marriage. In desperation, she returns home to Chicory Lane to try to sort out her life and decide if her marriage can be salvaged.
LANDYN WHITMAN SPENCER



CHASE SPENCER


Where the Whitman's enjoy Tuesday Family Nights.


HUCKLEBERRY















ABOUT THE AUTHOR.........

DEBORAH RANEY dreamed of writing a book since the summer she read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books and discovered that a Kansas farm girl could, indeed, grow up to be a writer. Her more than 25 books have garnered multiple industry awards including the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Carol Award, Silver Angel from Excellence in Media, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, shed light on the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. The novel inspired the highly acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title and continues to be a tool for Alzheimer's families and caregivers. Deborah is on faculty for several national writers' conferences and serves on the executive board of the 2700-member American Christian Fiction Writers organization. She and her husband, Ken Raney, recently traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb's novels––for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita. They have four children and five precious grandchildren who all live much too far away.


Deborah Raney is probably best known for her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, which was the inspiration for the award-winning film of the same title from World Wide Pictures. Her Hanover Falls Novels series and Clayburn Novels series are published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. Her newest series, The Chicory Inn Novels, will release from Abingdon Press beginning August 2014. Deb has written more than 25 novels and is thoroughly enjoying her career as a writer. However, her first and most cherished calling is wife to Ken, her husband of almost 40 years, and mother to their four children. Ken and Deb love small-town life in Kansas and being "Papa and Mimi" to five precious grandchildren who all live much too far away.

Visit Deb on the Web at www.deborahraney.com


Hi Friends, 
Doesn't her book sound marvelous?!  It really is.  I enjoyed this book even more when I realized that Deborah and I both hail from the same home state of Kansas, went to the same college...different eras of course....and are both pure sunflowers in our hearts.  It has indeed been a pleasure to  know her and give a review on this book.  So, tune in again....a bit sooner than it has been lately....and may your life be blessed.
Hugs,
Barb




.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


MY REVIEW OF 

THE BUTTERFLY & THE VIOLIN

(Hidden Masterpiece Book One)
BY

KRISTY CAMBRON


5 Stars


AUTHOR KRISTY CAMBRON

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest
corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the
altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. 

Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William 
Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the 
key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly 
unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von 
Bron.
A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and 

daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything 
when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of 
prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds 
beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in 
the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.


". . . impossible to put down." —RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 Stars, TOP PICK!

"In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’sNight, will want to read." —Library Journal, starred review

". . . debut novelist Cambron vividly recounts interwoven sagas of heartache and recovery through courage, love, art, and faith." —Publishers Weekly



MY REVIEW

Kristy Cambron’s story keeps echoing obstinately in my mind.  The double layering of two stories at once is done with artistic brush strokes of description that challenges other fine writers with her expertise and talent.  This is Ms. Cambron’s debut novel, excellently done is a contemporary and a historical romance dealing with two women with two very different stories involving one lost painting.


 

Manhattan art dealer, Sera James, excitedly enters the gallery she owns with great anticipation that the painting that just arrived is THE ONE she has been searching for – the one that haunted her since a child of eight seeing it in a Paris art gallery.  Her assistant Penny explains that an instant response to her ad had been made by a mysterious businessman – a financier in real estate named William Hanover III who was liquidating his late grandfather’s estate.  HOWEVER - he won’t sell the painting, but will pay an exorbitant fee to hire Sera and her gallery to help him look for the original painting.  Sera is soon flying to San Francisco at Mr. Hanover’s expense.


 

December 1942, Vienna, Austria.  Adele Von Bron, daughter of a high-ranking member of the Third Reich and whose mother is a concert pianist; is currently known as “Austria’s Sweetheart” as a violinist with Vienna’s Philharmonic.  Vladimir Nicolai, Adele’s romantic interest is a cellist with the Philharmonic, involved secretly in smuggling Jews to Switzerland.   Adele has enmeshed herself for the first time in the rescue of The Haurbech family, which failed tragically.  All of the Haurbech family except Sophie were shot and killed.  Adele is presently in her family doctor’s office in shock because her hands were badly cut by glass she had fallen on when she and Vladimir scattered.  Not knowing Vladimir’s or Sophie’s whereabouts, she told the doctor about the rescue attempt and shuddered over what might have happened if they were discovered by the Gestapo.   “This is not Austria, you know.  What we’ve become? This is not God’s path.”  The doctor replied.  Danger lurked everywhere.  Adele was scheduled for a solo performance the next evening and was concerned about being able to perform with her injured hands.  The doctor bandaged them and kept her safe that night.


 

Sera stood looking at the large estate and noticed a large white tent being constructed and a van sat to the side where workers were unloading candelabras and flowers, preparing for a big event.  She questioned aloud “Just what in the world do you do, Mr.Hanover?”  “He was in real estate.” replied a man that walked up behind her – who she assumed was the gardener.  She learned that a wedding was to take place.  Sera had been left at the alter three years before and still had not recovered from the emotional scars. Thereafter she met William Hanover the Third; only to find out he was the gardener.  He was not prepared to discuss the painting until his sister’s wedding was over.  Sera decided that a small nervous breakdown was in the making for her, but finally resolved that issue when William Hanover displayed kindness and interest in her during the wedding reception.  Oh, and he called Sera “Manhattan” – his endearing name for her.


 

The only thing our four protagonists had in common is their Christianity.  Each agonized from complex issues of their own.  In 1942 I was only 4 years old, but I can relate to the reality in some ways that others might not.  Kristy Cambron delved into WW II history and brought out the unbelievable ugliness of what Adele suffered in Auschwitz.  How can any one of us relate to being branded traitors by the Gestapo?  Vladimir’s soft and lovely nickname for Adele “Butterfly” suggests how he saw her.  Omara painted her as she knew her in the concentration camp.  Adele’s only saving grace was her talent as a violinist in the Auschwitz orchestra that played for the SS Officers.  Although Sera’s story was important to Adele’s – I would have read this book on Adele’s nightmarish story as a stand-alone.    It seemed an interruption when the chapters changed from modern day to WW II unbearable Holocaust.  Ms. Cambron’s research revealed more than 1600 pieces of art discovered in the ruins of Auschwitz and brought to my mind the recent movie of The Monument Men.  Music and art cannot be erased from world culture – although some will try.  It is part of our will to survive.


 

There is so much more that could be said about this incredible book.  Your questions will be answered in the coming revealing chapters.  But I have taken liberties already and must save the uniqueness of what Ms. Cambron has accomplished for your own discovery.  Seventy-five  reviews alone have been published on Amazon, and I am sure that will not be the last of them.  So, I leave it to you – go get this book for yourself….NOW!  You will recognize this book by its beautiful cover.  Respectful congratulations, Ms. Kristy Cambron.  We look forward to your next publication.  God most certainly plans something special for your exceptional talent.


 

In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the book through Litfuse Publicity Group.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR......KRISTY CAMBRON.......

I’ve been taken with the WWII Era since I was a young girl.My grandfather was a B-17 co-pilot in the war and I remember the stories he’d so often tell. Years later, I came across the lost art of Auschwitz while studying for my undergraduate degree in Art History. I didn’t know if then, but more than a decade later, God would remind me of the heart of this book. In the wee hours of the morning in early 2013, it came alive once again.


I write WWII and Regency Era Christian fiction titles, placing first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests (Inspirational Categories)! One of those stories (which I hope will make it to bookstore shelves one day!) also became a Finalist in the 2013 Laurie contest. I’ve been a contributing author on RegencyReflections.com since 2012, and still post there with my Regency friends from time to time.

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Hidden Masterpiece #2) will release in April, 2015.


Kristy's Website http://www.kristycambron.com/


Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Violin-Hidden-Masterpiece-Novel-ebook/dp/B00I5QX61Q/ref=la_B00GRA12G8_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407351880&sr=1-1





Thursday, June 12, 2014

AUTHOR KAREN BARNETT

MY REVIEW OF

OUT OF THE RUINS

Golden Gate Chronicles | Book 1 (Golden Gate Chronicles Series) 

BY

KAREN BARNETT

5 STARS

                              

Kindle Fire HDX Prize Pack Giveaway

&
Facebook Party
(See Details Below)


While her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn’t expect, however, is for God’s answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best.

As they work together toward a cure, Abby’s feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?




MY REVIEW


Karen Barnett’s story is charged with high voltage emotion encircling factual detail of the historical San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Although the characters and story are fictional, the realism rings authentic. Be prepared to experience heart jerking responses during your tour through this shocking event. Expect to audibly gasp and feel the need to pray for the situations described as seen on a wide screen movie. This is a sensational writing.

We tune in on the Fischer family near San Jose, California at a difficult time. The eldest sister Cecelia suffers from leukemia with little hope of surviving, but younger sister Abby will not accept Cecelia’s pending death. She tries to make a deal with God, but quickly loses faith as He does not answer her prayer as demanded. When cousin Dr. Gerald Larkspur and his assistant Dr. Robert King arrive at the Fischer family orchard, Abby grabs onto hope when the doctors feel their new found cancer cure can help Cecelia. Consequently, the entire family, including little brother Davy travel the distance to San Francisco where Cecelia is hospitalized. The Fischer family stays with cousin Mae Larkspur in San Francisco. Mae is one of my favorite characters throughout this story, as she is loving, full of faith in God, and a teacher of the Word.

Prior to the doctor’s assessment of Cecelia’s situation, handsome Dr. Robert King, is taking a walk through the orchard and first meets Abby hanging upside down from a fruit tree. Nope, I am not explaining that! He becomes immediately and irrevocably attracted to Abby. Abby is a strong minded, strong willed, immature 19 year old who doesn’t understand the word “no” and God made boundaries. Is this a case of striking the obvious match? Could be!

Soon to experience unmeasurable sorrow, their lives are further disastrously turned to chaos when the infamous earthquake hits San Francisco. Ms. Barnett’s unique gift for description so vivid is one of her most favorable assets with the written word. Her story is uniquely imaginative based on real facts. She writes well of the longing of a romance interrupted by of all things, a major earthquake. I repeat, be prepared for many surprises and shocks as we follow Abby through her journey of searching for loved ones and meeting new acquaintances while San Francisco burns. Karen Barnett gives us a hint of human prejudice that remained existent even during tragedy. Some incidents are merciless, however plausible during such a time as this. God’s presence is there for all – will Abby find her way to Him in her journey? Will the Phoenix show it’s courageous head out of the ashes when the flames are gone?

Since this book is part of a trilogy, I am anxious to learn of who and what survived Out of the Ruins in the next two novels. I am certain it will be as exciting as this story. I see a remarkable future for this impressive writer.

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

About the Author
Karen Barnett is the author of Mistaken and several articles that have been published by Guideposts and other national magazines. She lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband, two children, and three cats. For more information, visit her website KarenBarnettBooks.com.
http://www.KarenBarnettBooks.com


About Karen

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever--and yet our human story changes daily. As a writer of historical romance, I love to explore my characters' faith and how their experiences impact the way they view God.

There's nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful love story and God's devotion to His people is the best one of all. It even ends with the hero riding in on a white horse! (Revelation 19:11).

My first novel, Mistaken, released in July 2013 with Abingdon Press and my next novel, Out of the Ruins (Book 1 of the Golden Gate Chronicles) will hit store shelves in May 2014.

I was blessed to be named the Cascade Awards Writer of Promise in 2013 from Oregon Christian Writers (OCW).

Back in 2010, Guideposts Magazine printed "Birthday Wish," a story I wrote about my son and a very special prayer. I am represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

I grew up in Washington and went to college at Valparaiso University in Indiana, followed by graduate study in Geosciences at Oregon State University. Fueled by a fascination for God's creation, I worked several years in outdoor education--as a naturalist at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, a seasonal ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, and as Park Naturalist at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.

I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband, two children, three furry felines and an attention-hungry dachshund. When I'm not writing and blogging, I enjoy playing guitar, hiking, decorating bizarre birthday cakes, and dragging my kids through boring history museums.




Karen Barnett's
OUT OF THE RUINS
"Hope" 
Kindle Fire HDX Prize Pack Giveaway & Facebook Party
Don't miss the debut book, Out of the Ruins, in Karen Barnett's new series, The Golden Gate Chronicles. Set against the backdrop of early 20th century San Francisco, Out of the Ruins will remind readers that no matter who we are or what we've done, God is still as close to us as our next breath.

Karen is celebrating with a fun "Hope" giveaway and Facebook author chat party.

outofruins-400-click


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX

  • Out of the Ruins by Karen Barnett

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 19th. Winner will be announced at the Out of the Ruins Facebook author chat party on June 19th. Connect with Karen for an evening of fun book chat, fun games, and prizes. Karen will also be answering audience questions and giving an exclusive look at the next book in The Golden Gate Chronicles series!

Find out what readers are saying about the book HERE.

Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.

**By entering, entrants agree to opt-in to receive promotional emails from Karen Barnett. If at any time you wish to unsubscribe you can do so through the unsubscribe instructions on one of the emails.**

Have you entered to win a Kindle Fire HDX and a copy of OUT OF THE RUINS? Winners announced at my live Facebook party on 6/19. Enter and RSVP here: http://prmo.me/Y7Vh50


Thursday, May 29, 2014



MY REVIEW OF
SURPRISED BY GRACE
BY ELIZABETH SHERRILL

ELIZABETH SHERRILL
God intends fulfillment for us. Yet it’s easy to forget that truth in our daily life. For fifty years, Elizabeth Sherrill cowrote life-changing books: The Hiding Place, God’s Smuggler, and The Cross and the Switchblade. Now for the first time, in Surprised by Grace, she shares her personal discoveries of God’s unfathomable love and strength while battling chronic depression and self-doubt. “When God created you, do you think He meant to make someone else?” a friend asks Sherrill. Faced with questions like these, she learns she’s infinitely valued and cherished by God. In vivid episodes, Sherrill takes you through the three stages of her awakening joy, from the thirty-some years when the idea of God was elusive to the years since then when she’s reveled in breathtaking moments in God’s presence and to her inspiring vision of eternity. In Surprised by Grace, you’ll discover that God loves you individually and infinitely. You can find real peace, for you are God’s amazing creation. Let that truth echo forever in your own life.



MY REVIEW
FIVE STARS


Upon reading excellent reviews already written and published about Elizabeth Sherrill’s Surprised by Grace, I pondered about what I could add sufficiently unique to draw reader interest. When I received the query to read and review Elizabeth Sherrill’s biography, I excitedly recalled her authoring a favorite story I read years ago about David Wilkerson; and subsequently seeing her book The Cross and the Switchblade, made into a movie starring Pat Boone as David Wilkerson, a young Assemblies of God minister moved to action when he witnessed the devastating effects of delinquency and drugs on teenagers in New York City. Hence, this story was about the ministry of Teen Challenge, born in 1958 in the heart of David Wilkerson, My love and devotion to this organization resides deep in my heart, as it was through Teen Challenge that my daughter found her life once more.


The above paragraph is merely mentioned in passing, as my reaction to Ms. Sherrill’s beautiful testimony hit so deeply in my emotions, that I am again reading her book to reap further joy and knowledge. The preface and the forward so impressed me that I decided to share parts of those. It is a small novel; however seems to grow broader in wisdom by the wonderful stories and tid bits Elizabeth Sherrill shares about her life, marriage, and deep faith in God. Her catchy titles before each chapter were captivating to my interests and followed by words sensitively respective of the memories she wrote about. One of the intimate facts I learned - Elizabeth has a nickname – Tibby.


It seems Ms. Sherrill had repeatedly refused Van Varner, a Guideposts editor’s suggestion to write a book telling her own story. She felt her faith was a private matter. “I know now that my emphatic “Never” to Van was part of the door between me and the world that I write about in Surprised by Grace. My whole world was constructed on the insistence that I was different. Since I “wasn’t like others,” how could my experience interest anyone else?” It wasn’t Van, however, who’d finally changed my mind, but people I’d never met. Over the years I’d written, always reluctantly, three or four short articles about my own life. To my surprise, the articles drew responses from readers, ‘You’ve written my story!’ the letters said, over and over. The article that brought the most mail was about my struggle with depression. All of us, apparently, in the black pit of that blackest place, had felt that no one else had ever experienced what we did. And the relief that these correspondents felt in recognizing themselves in my story was stunningly evident.” Ms. Sherrill received two letters ten days apart relating to the help others had received from her Guidepost articles. It was then she went into action and allowed her word processor to put the words in order that produced this wonderful story. Elizabeth “Tib” Sherrill said her book is about the discovery of a secret. It’s the story of how heaven, which I used to think of as an imaginary realm-in-the-sky, has become more real to me than the ground beneath my feet. Real in the past, real for the future, and best of all, real right now. And this book is also an invitation. An invitation to us all to look back, to look ahead, and to look around, and keep being surprised at what we see.



“She is a writer of extraordinary gifts who truly practices what she preaches. With honesty and unflinching self-examination, Tibby peels back the layers of her life to reveal an astonishing journey of faith, from nonbeliever to believer, from itinerant journalist to the influence behind some of the greatest inspirational writing of our time.” Edward Grinnan, Guideposts Magazine Editor-in-Chief

Now, dear reader, you can get this fantastic little book for yourself and I know you will be as impressed as I am with this endurable and lovely lady writer. God bless you, Tibby!


This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from Litfuse Publicity.


ABOUT AUTHOR ELIZABETH SHERRILL.........

Elizabeth ("Tib") Sherrill has published some 1500 articles and authored more than 30 books, with sales in excess of 50 million. Book titles, many co-written with her husband John, include The Hiding Place, The Cross and the SwitchbladeGod's SmugglerThey Speak with Other Tongues, and Return from Tomorrow.  For over sixty years, Elizabeth has been a writer and editor for Guideposts Magazine.



John & Elizabeth Sherrill
John and Elizabeth met aboard ship on their way to Europe and were married in Switzerland in 1947. In 1970, they founded a publishing company, Chosen Books,* dedicated to developing new Christian writers. Their first title was Born Again by Charles Colson. The Sherrills' work has taken them on year-long assignments in Africa, South America and Europe, as well as numerous trips to the Near and Far East, and to each of the 50 US states. Elizabeth has taught writing workshops on five continents. Their writing still keeps them on the road, here and abroad, about half the time. The Sherrills have three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchild, and are occasionally at home in Hingham, Massachusetts.



NOTE FROM BARB.....

Thanks for dropping by today, please pass it forward so that other readers can drop by and join our follower friends. Sorry I have been gone for so long, much is happening in my life and still continuing to happen. Please include my family in your prayers once in a while - I would return a prayer in kind for you and yours. Until next time.....enjoy your summer!
Blessings Forward,
Barb


Monday, April 7, 2014

AUTHOR TRACY L. HIGLEY

BARB'S REVIEW OF
THE QUEEN'S HANDMAID
BY
TRACY L. HIGLEY


Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC



From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled. 

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

BARB'S REVIEW

FIVE STARS

This story is a stunner!   Stopped in my tracks, I pondered over much that I read.  Astonished that factually, this was shortly before Christ's birth, a fact I had not fundamentally grasped about Cleopatra and the cast of real characters’ existence in ancient history (i.e. Caesar, Antony, Herod to the Ptolemaic family).  Author Tracy Higley wrote with intense acumen of the murderous politicians, their zealously for power causing turmoil and punishment for the citizens and royalty beyond imagination.   I wish my history classes in school and college would have been so clarifying, they would have been much more fun.

Ms. Higley begins this entrancing story about Lydia in 39 BC   Orphaned at birth, and given to serve the palace in Alexandria, Egypt at a young age, Lydia is now a handmaid to the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.   Herod is about to make his first visit to meet the queen and everything is nervously aflutter in preparation; while Cleopatra is plotting manipulatively to seductively charm Herod politically into her power.  Lydia has been summoned by her friend and mentor Samuel.  She finds him bleeding and dying from unknown attackers upon her arrival,  With only just enough time, he charges her with secret writings of the Prophet Daniel stored in a chest  that must be delivered to Jerusalem watchers for the promised King of Israel.  Lydia’s journey is long and dangerous and through action-packed events, ultimately becomes the handmaiden to Herod’s bride Queen Mariamme. 

Twisting and turning real historical events and people into gripping intrigue made A Queen’s Handmaid one of the best writings I have read.  Spiritual mystery combined with the actual coming of Christ kept me glued to the story until finished.  Ah, then there is the hint through a simple amulet that could reveal Lydia’s parentage.  Whose head will roll next in the line of royalty?  Which empire will be shaken next?  Drama is highly described.  Lydia has many frightening experiences and secret thoughts about all happening around her.  Does romance figure into this story?  Perhaps, however you will need to read for yourself this incredible book.  Trauma is an everyday event in the royal palaces among the royalty and servants…..and that part of the book is not fiction and the players were real people.

I enjoyed the questions at the end of the story and the answers to many questions I had about the research the author ensured before writing the book.  Tracy L. Higley gave the reader a wonderful synopsis of information about the political kingdoms’ histories, which was personally greatly appreciated.  Beautifully placed before the most important event in life, that remains the whole point of this remarkable story.  Thank you Tracy Higley for the greatest history lesson I have ever had.  I look forward to catching up with all your previous books before The Queen’s Handmaid.  You are blessed!


I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion by the Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased.


MEET AUTHOR TRACY L. HIGLEY.......

From her earliest childhood, there was nothing Tracy loved better than stepping into another world between the pages of a book. From dragons and knights, to the wonders of Narnia, that passion has never abated, and to Tracy, opening any novel is like stepping again through the wardrobe, into the thrilling unknown. With every book she writes, she wants to open a door like that, and invite readers to be transported with her into a place that captivates.

Tracy started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After attending Philadelphia Biblical University, she earned a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University. She then spent ten years writing drama presentations for church ministry.

A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past.

She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy to research her novels, and looks forward to more travel as her writing continues. Click on the link Tracy’s Travels, to explore some of the fascinating locations of her books.

Tracy is thrilled to bring readers adventures set in the ancient past, and it’s her hope that in escaping with her, readers will feel they’ve walked through these deserts, explored ruins, felt the white sand and blue sea under their feet, and met with the Redeeming God who is sovereign over the entire drama of human history.


What I believe about our relationship with God –

I believe that each of us is born separated from God, a separation that we can do nothing to rectify on our own. No amount of right living will make us perfect, which is the standard a holy God requires.

We are in need of a Savior for our salvation, and this Savior was provided in the person of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, who gave His life to purchase our freedom. His death broke our bondage. His resurrection gives us victory.

Our lives are to be about two things: Loving God and Loving Others, and both of these are accomplished through our intimate relationship with God, who lives in us from the moment that we apply His offered gift to ourselves.




Escape the everyday with me! Get a Free Short Story--> http://bit.ly/1hKOFhK


Friends, 
Aren't you happy now that you didn't pass by PASSING IT FORWARD!!  This book is a definite five star recommendation from me.  I sincerely hope you will visit your favorite book store or library now and get Tracy Higley's grand book for your library.  Be sure and let us know what you think of her story!  That's it for today - please invite your friends to my blog so we can build up viewers.  Enjoy this spring April.
Passing Forward Many Blessings,
Barb


Saturday, March 22, 2014

THE THIEF

AUTHOR STEPHANIE LANDSEM

by

STEPHANIE LANDSEM


My God, my God, 

why have you abandoned me?




ABOUT THE STORY.......

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Abandoned by the God she once loved, her only recourse is to depend upon Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, to keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and the landlord satisfied. 


Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure and is desperate to escape the accursed Judean province. Accepting a wager that will get him away from the aggravating Jews and their threats of revolt, he sets out to catch the thieves harassing the marketplace. 



When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Nissa hopes for freedom from her life of lies. But the supposed miracle brings only more misfortune, and Longinus, seeking to learn more about the mysterious healer, finds himself drawn instead to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures. 


Cedron, Longinus, and Nissa are unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. As danger closes in on them from every side, they must decide if the love and redemption Jesus offers is true or just another false promise. How can the so-called Messiah save them from their shackles, when he cannot even save himself?



BARB'S REVIEW.......



Exciting and compelling, the scenes written so realistically that moments of holding my breath during the tense drama of this saga were literally “breathtaking.” My personal reading appetite for Biblical fiction mixed with fact was satiated upon complete digestion of The Thief by Stephanie Landsem. My imagination needed no help as the characters leaped into my mind lucidly through Ms. Landsem’s colorful word paintings describing ancient Jerusalem in a wholly distinctive approach during the most life changing events to ever occur.



Nissa, a shrewish unmarried Jewish woman feeling abandoned by God, was pressed to provide for her household and blind younger brother Cedron. Their uncaring and abusive parents were sinful addicts, her mother to wine – her father to gambling. There are the usual traits peculiar to human nature at all times, it seems. Nissa has a secret about her relationship to Mouse and the Greek Dismas, both talented thieves. Cedron could be a depiction of the blind man healed by a mysterious healer in the Pools of Siloam. One might think the parents would be overjoyed over Cedron’s healing, however their unwarranted shame caused their complete abandonment and disowning of Cedron and Nissa, again left to fend for themselves. Longinus, a Roman centurion was a bystander at Cedron’s healing and for the first time noticed Nissa, to whom he was strangely attracted; as well as questioning the new mixed emotions and amazed curiosity about the miracle he had just witnessed. Could the Hebrew belief of there being only One God be true? Who is this miracle worker called Jesus? Longinus has problems of his own having just lost his best childhood friend and comrade centurion to murder; and assigned the duty to arrest the thieves before Passover to earn a transfer out of Judea. The breed of personalities encapsulating the Roman soldier’s brutality and unmerciful violence was compulsory to author this story to its paramount finality. The supporting cast is spectacular and many surprises and shocks are yet to come.



Ms. Landsem’s research into Biblical history, layout of Jerusalem’s city streets and alley ways, study of religious laws and holy commandments were only a few of the facts that drew this fictional story together as a sensational read. I deeply appreciated the background she drew into each character adding more depth to the story’s significant consequences from the actual incidents. Stephanie Landsem’s narrative brings the glory to God as each character is brought to the foot of the cross to recognize the Messiah. Ms. Landsem’s pen was indeed guided by the master author of the universe. It touched my heart and soul. Well done!


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.




ABOUT AUTHOR STEPHANIE LANDSEM.......


Stephanie writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s backpacked through Germany and Eastern Europe, studied in Salzburg, enjoyed gelato in Italy, rode a camel in Morocco, and floated in the salty Corinthian Sea. Her favorite cities are Rome, Berlin and Budapest. Her travels kindle her imagination, fuel her love of history and foreign culture, and introduce her to one-of-a-kind characters.
Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about her next adventure - whether it be in person or on the page.

Author, The Living Water Series: The Well, The Thief, The Tomb. Authentic, fast-paced Biblical fiction from Howard Books. Introvert. Traveler.

Favorite Books

Jane Austen, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, The Book Thief, The Hunger Games, Terry Pratchett, Dean Koonz


Awards

2011 Genesis Finalst
2010 SCBWI mentorship award 






Hi friends, 
The Thief is a great read, and I hope you will honor Stephanie Landsem by reading it.  This is the first of her books that I've read and reviewed, and I intend to read others soon.  I hope you are all coming out of our nation's deep freeze and seeing spring begin to blossom.  Please invite your friends to my blog....the traffic needs desperately to grow on my blog, or I won't be able to continue posting - so I need help.  As many of you know, blogging and reviewing is hard work for which there is no compensation except to bring interest and joy to others.  Thank you for visiting and I'd love to hear any comments you might be kind enough to leave.
Blessings,
Barb