Review of Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

I'll admit I am a great fan of Agatha Christie. I love cozy mysteries and the historical ones set in the 1920's to '50's are favorites of mine. Ms. Deering has done a fantastic job of writing a Christie-esque style murder mystery. In fact, there were times I became so intwined in the story and writing that I thought I WAS reading a Christie, and then a character would bring out some Biblical or Christian point, and I was reminded I was reading modern Christian fiction. Very well done. (By the way, the Christianity is not overdone, quite subtle overtones.)

I enjoyed the first novel of this new mystery series. Drew Farthering in the main sleuth intent on solving the double murder especially as it happened on his own estate and one of the victims was his own mother. The story included a great cast of characters who fit perfectly in this 1930's world.  Nick is his right hand man and friend while Madeline is his love interest but also at his side trying to solve the crime as well. Drew and Madeline reminded me a lot of Tommy and Tuppence in their first book together (Agatha Christie characters). I look forward to seeing all these characters in the following books and how the relationship between Drew and Madeline develops. 

Overall I found it to be a riveting novel, well-researched, with a mystery and writing voice perfectly suited for the time period. 5 stars. 

Review of Courageous by Dina L. Sleiman

This is the third book in the Valiant Hearts series by Ms. Sleiman. I thought the entire series was fabulous and throughly enjoyed my time reading about this time period and all these characters. It is a Christian series set in the medieval period of England when the country was Catholic. There are some supernatural elements in the books but nothing overly done that detracts from the story. 

Ms. Sleiman has a way of writing that I have found with other authors at Bethany House publishing which pulls you in and you find yourself reading page after page  without realizing how much you've read. Signs of a great book!

This third book in the series is different than the other two as the characters move from England to the Holy Land. This brings in new characters and situations which were dangerous indeed for these crusaders. 

From book 2, we met Rosalind of Ipsworth and Sir Randel  Penigree who became the lead characters in this last book. I enjoyed the redemptive story for these two characters who find love when they didn't expect it. If you enjoy Christian romantic tales of women in non-traditional roles, then I recommend reading this entire series. 

**I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman

Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman is probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. This is book 2 in her Valiant Heart series. Although I did enjoy, book 1 (Dauntless), I loved Chivalrous. 

I connected so much more with these characters and the conflict. The writing is fantastic.  I love those authors whose prose just pulls me out of the present and draws me into their stories. Although, I did wonder if an unknown knight (lacking a noble line) would actually be asked by a council to marry their Duchess, but then again there was much superstition during this time. Of course, some reviewers can be so harsh on authors if small little anachronisms, etc. occur in a historical 'fiction' novel. This is fiction after all not a history lesson. (And this is coming from a trained historian.) 

I for one enjoyed this book very much. These books are marketed for YA or teens, but I wouldn’t call these Teen Fiction, to be honest. They are set in the medieval period so of course the unmarried were still quite young. But these books can be enjoyed by those from 16-96. Looking forward to reading Book 3.

**I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Being Intentional

A week ago, I attended a homeschool mom's retreat in the North Carolina mountains. It was beautiful! That sounds a bit lazy for a writer, doesn't it?  I'll try again...The scenery was awe-inspiring and magnificent. The feeling of peace and contentment surrounding me filled my weary soul.

I was blessed to get away with a good friend and to hear the wonderful Heidi St. John who you might know as The Busy Mom. Check out her website. Follow her on social media. Download her podcasts. You won't be disappointed. 

I've heard Heidi speak before and I've followed her online for a few years, but this time more than ever she was so incredibly encouraging. That didn't only relate to us as homeschool moms. In fact, she spoke to us more as Christian women than anything else. We have to keep our walk with Christ strong for us to be successful in anything else we do--whether it be homeschooling our children, being a good wife, a productive writer, etc.

She encouraged us TO BE INTENTIONAL. That is so important in this day and age. We are busy people. Look at Heidi's online handle (The Busy Mom). Let me repeat, we are busy people. So more than ever we need to be intentional about the things that are important to us. Do you want to get into God’s Word everyday? Then be intentional. Do you want your children to be in God’s Word everyday? Then be intentional about making that happen. It won’t happen otherwise. We have way too many other things that can slip into our day and before we know it, we’ve missed opportunities to spend with the Lord.

So, now, readers, I want to encourage you to be intentional. One way you can do that is to switch up your morning routine. What do you do first thing in the morning? My kids are getting older. They don’t bother me at first light like they used to. In fact, I think they hope if they are quiet enough I might forget they live here and won’t put on the teacher hat and start school. (Not Happening Kiddoes!)

Now my morning routine usually consists of me grabbing my phone or iPad and checking my calendar, email and other social networks to help me wakeup and get my day started. I’ve made a switch over the last week to open up my Bible app and read several chapters of the Bible instead. I’m using the Olive Tree Bible Study app. The basics of the app are completely free and you can set up a reading plan for yourself. It has really helped me. I’m also taking part in Heidi’s monthly Scripture Writing Plan. Download it and start writing scripture. I do this with fiction when I am trying to prepare myself to write a new story/new genre. It fills my brain with good words. What better words are there than God’s Words? Do it. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make in your day.

I hope I’ve been an encouragement to you. Be Intentional Today!

Dauntless (Valiant Hearts Book #1) by Dina Sleiman

Dauntless by Dina Sleiman is a delightful Christian fiction novel filled with adventure, love and redemption. Ms. Sleiman is a new author for me, but I am excited to read and review the other books in this series. I picked up the first book in this series because I love Robin Hood and this looked like a version of that iconic story. I was pleasantly surprised that this book was so much more than what I expected.

The writing is fantastic, characters memorable and the historical details will pull you into this story and hold you captive to the very end. It is a novel of faith and the characters accomplish this without the story becoming preachy. However, there is one scene which seemed a bit too supernatural for me toward the end when a small child is miraculously healed. Other than that, I absolutely loved this book!  You definitely will want to read this one before the others in the series as the characters introduced in this book will show up as the central characters in other books in the series.

It's free right now. Grab yourself a copy.

Author Showcase

Had a wonderful time at the author event at the Wilson Library on Saturday. I must have spoken to about 100 people about my books. And I even took part in a live Facebook interview of all the authors. Here are a couple screenshots from that interview. Which expression is your favorite?

I met a lot of great people, but the most poignant moment had to be when a middle aged man in a wheel chair approached my table. He picked up a copy of my YA novel and appeared to be reading the back cover blurb. Looking at him, I couldn't imagine he would enjoy my teen girl coming of age novel, but I began to engage him in conversation and I asked him the question: "what kind of books do you like to read?" He looked me right in the eye and replied, "Actually, I can't read." That started a whole other conversation about trying to help him figure out a place locally he could receive adult reading classes. Before he left my table, he told me, "I'm not giving up." He so dearly wants to learn to read and he's not giving up. I took away much from that conversation. Immediately after he told me he could't read, my heart hurt to see that shameful look in his eye but by the time he left I felt as elated as him. He wasn't going to give up. Learning to read was so important to him and he wasn't going to let it defeat him. I wished him well and he continued on his way. Of the hundred people that I spoke with that day, I will never forget him.