Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Review: Black Tiger by Sara Baysinger

Purchase HERE

Title: Black Tiger

Author: Sara Baysinger

Series: Black Tiger #1

Genre: Dystopian/Science-Fiction

Audience: Young Adult - Adult


When the fire goes out, supposedly dead, the embers still remain, tiny specks of deadwood and ash that have the capacity to start a fire large enough to burn down an entire city.

Ember Carter is a sixteen-year-old farmer’s daughter who wants nothing more than to stay close to her family in the Community Garden when Career Day approaches. Unfortunately, all farming careers are given to boys, and besides, as of the past two years, all students have been drafted to the Line of Defenders to fight in a war no one seems to know about. When she meets Forest, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a bit too much about city life and the way the government is run, she’s even less eager to leave the safe haven of the Garden.

On Career Day, the future couldn’t look brighter when Ember is the only student assigned the career of a Farmer. But all hopes come to end when she attacks a Defender to save her best friend. Suspected a rebel and sentenced to death, she’s transferred to Frankfort Prison where she will carry out her sentence.

But Frankfort is full of surprises and snotty Patricians. While in prison, Ember learns a dark secret about Forest that makes her question what little she knew about him. And then there’s Rain,the carelessly handsome boy who enjoys instigating her just a bit too much. If that's not enough, the world learns something about Ember even she doesn’t know. A secret that brings her character into question, enlightens her on her mother’s true identity, and ultimately, gives her the power to affect the rise or fall of Ky.

With the handsome Forest tugging at her heart, and the rogue Rain whispering treasons into her ear, can Ember make the right decision that will redeem the corrupt government of Ky?

**5 stars**

This book. Deserves five stars. Fans of dystopian fiction, if you're searching for another thrilling read of that genre, look no further than Black Tiger by Sara Baysinger!

It's set in a fascinating futuristic world, akin to the DIVERGENT series, but unique in its own ways. Sixteen-year-old Ember Carter questions the ways of the government of Ky, (once known as Kentucky), but she can hardly speak out about it, because outside her home in the Garden, Defenders prowl, arresting anyone for words against the chief.
So as Career Day approaches, Ember stubbornly holds on to optimism, hoping that somehow she'll be chosen as a Farmer, and life will stay the same.
But she is Ember. And embers are meant to start fires.

Oh, how I love dystopian! After discovering Christian dystopian books, such as Nadine Brandes's OUT OF TIME series, I am constantly on the look out for more. And Black Tiger did not disappoint! The writing was fantastic - the words just grabbed a hold of me; pulled me in. It was so easy and intriguingly enjoyable to read. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, with surprising twists and turns. I thought the plot was great, having you wondering throughout the book ... breathless at the climax ... satisfied at the ending ... yet dying for Book Two! Very well done, Sara Baysinger! I loved this novel!

Something about Ember struck me as different from the mainstream fiction YA characters. She was more feeling; more soft inside. She was a blend of fieriness and fear. Determination and vulnerability. Anger and sensitivity. I really liked her, and look forward to reading the rest of her story!
Forest was first introduced as every YA hero seems to be. Breathtakingly handsome. (haha). I like him, but at the same time, I'm not sure I like him. (view spoiler)
Don't ask me why, but Rain is my favorite character. He came across as very real somehow; mysterious, but real. Passionate. Perhaps torn inside. Just a very complex character. I am really, really, really intrigued to see what happens next with him.

The romance-y stuff got a little frustrating for me, personally at times. But in the same breath, most of what happened was understandable. I am very interested to see where things go in the next book! (view spoiler)

The black tigers. EEEEE! They were simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. I literally felt the dread of them rushing through my veins.

Yes, the action, the thrills, the sheer adventure! There were royal balls, and there were prisons. Farmland holding apple trees and poor folk, and wealthy cities full of the powerful and proud. The characters were amazing. Intriguing. Black Tiger had/has me captivated.

The budding faith theme has my rapt attention. I'm excited to watch these characters discover their Creator. One quote I loved: "You are the Garden. God is the Sower."

A few cautions. I do recommend this book to about 18 and up, depending on what you're used of reading. There was a bit of mild language, and one or two crude phrases. Some things are mentioned and scenes described that are not suitable for a younger audience; (view spoiler). Also, the majority of the people of Ky have drinking habits that were a little uncomfortable for me. So yes, some of the content in Black Tiger was edgy, and demands a mature audience.
However, most of the characters in this book don't know God (yet); but even so, still see that what Ky calls "acceptable" and "entertainment" is truly evil and corrupt.
Some of the characters are confusing, but you have to keep reading to understand their actions.

I cannot wait for the second book to the BLACK TIGER series! Enthralling! Can hardly wait to see what's going to happen next! Ember, Rain, Forest, Elijah, and Jonah are on my mind and I'm thoroughly intrigued!

For those who love dystopian, Sara Baysinger has written a work of fiction that you do not want to miss!

(And isn't that cover fabulous? I need to get this book on my bookshelf!)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Guest Post: Gift List

I'm so delighted to have a "guest writer" on A Writer's Heart today, who happens to be my own lovely mother! Take time to read her fabulous post! I hope you enjoy! ^_^

I am extremely pleased to introduce myself to you as Shantelle's Mom!  She is a gem and I love her to pieces!
I am a wife of almost 22 years, homeschooling mother of 8 children, whom I cherish more with each passing day.

Christmas is approaching, and if you are from a large family like ours, so are some birthdays and perhaps some weddings and other family events. I am excited to share with you our favorite, tried and true items we have discovered over the years that we think may help you in your gift giving.

Gift Ideas from our House to Yours


Our doll has made it through many moves, being left outside in the dirt and stuffed at the bottom of the toy box over the last 10 years and her hair is still nice!

High-quality animals for display or pretend play. These are some of the favorite gifts my kids have received. You can find these at Walmart and other farm supply stores too.

Spot It is a fast and fun game that the whole family can play together! It's one we like to pull out when we have new families over.

One year we bought these neat cars as a family gift. Big and little kids alike enjoyed them. Unfortunately ours got stolen and we haven't splurged on new ones yet.

Although we bought these Science DVD's for schooling, all the younger siblings like to watch them too! Wes makes science interesting, even for those of us who don't have much interest. He also has Chemistry and Physics.



I love that these are just pure Maple wood and made in the USA! Our last baby loved these and they still look new!

Another one of ours liked this teething ring.

A friend gifted us Burt's Bees Organic PJ's when our last baby was born. Very soft and very much a favorite. I have found several pairs of these at TJ Maxx.

Relaxing, Soothing, Comforting CD. Jesus Loves Me sung, by Kristy Nockels', on this CD is simply beautiful!


  • DADS, MEN and BOYS

After seeing such rave reviews, I bought my Dad this for Father's Day. It really is a great massager and helps relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. I will definitely gift again!

We found one of these at a garage sale and love it for hauling wood into the house. Handy and keeps everything clean!!

Every year our son would request a toy dirt bike for his birthday, and every year it would soon be broken. Until he found this one online. Not only is it sturdy enough for his toddler brother to play with, it can be taken apart, has suspension and looks really cool!

The men in our home are always happy to open a bag of good old beef jerky! Walmart carries this brand, which seems a little healthier.

We have an Alaskanite lantern like this, but they are out of stock. Here is one that looks a lot like it with great reviews.

This is seriously the coolest little flashlight I have ever seen! Our oldest son gave this with his Father's day gift and it's perfect as it fits in your pocket (or purse, ladies!) and is unbelievably bright! Takes only 1 AA battery. Hubby uses it for hunting all the time. Just keep an extra battery in your pack. ;)

We have several of these bright flashlights and highly recommend them. Ours were purchased at Costco.

A great tool to help diagnose what is wrong with your car.  A couple men in our family have these.

Gourmet coffee, and one of the healthiest ways to make it as well! Works perfectly for steeping loose-leaf tea too.



Super fun to journal and get creative with! I like that they don't bleed through the paper like other colored pens do.
I bought a small pack of these at Walmart during their back-to-school sale.

I love this beautifully illustrated and well directed prayer journal! Whimsical drawings throughout are meant to be colored.

Adult coloring books are wildly popular right now and I like to give them as gifts. This one has inspirational saying amidst fun coloring.
Not too detailed.

This is another item that is on my list to buy! Love this one!

Great for older girls up to adults! (this one's on our "to buy" list)

I tried every other cheaper sharpener there was before buying the same one my mom has had for years. It's the best! Break out the colored pencils, girls!

Traditional hymns that you can sing along with! Did I mention their lovely voices?!

What woman doesn't like chocolate? This bar satisfies my chocolate craving while boasting a mere 7 grams of sugar per 1.7 oz. serving!
If you have an Aldi's near you, it's cheaper there. In fact, I was just in Aldi's today buying a bar and another woman points to it and says, "The best chocolate you can find".  Warning: The 85% is  for the woman who likes really dark chocolate or can't have much sugar.

I bought this several years ago after a lot of research on ways to clean up household air. I love the soft and relaxing light it gives off and have even used it as a night light.

This is a great diffuser that won't brake you budget. I have been using mine for many years. Use a well-review essential oil as there are cheap ones that are not always pure.

We like Eden's Garden's JOY.

NOW brand is also known to be good. And Ylang Ylang has a lovely floral smell and is known for balancing homones.

Another brand I have been told, by Naturopaths, is Aura Cacia. Tea Tree oil is something I grew up using for infections, bacteria, viruses, and cleaning. It's something we always have in our house.

Purchase from JCPenny HERE

The best bath towels I have ever came upon. Soft, absorbent, Not too bulky, perfect size, 100% cotton. Maybe I'm weird, but I'd love to receive these towels for a gift! You can find them on Amazon, but JC Pennys always seems to have a sale on them.

Thanks to our son, who has a degree in computer technology and did a lot of research for us, we bought this SLR camera and our blooming photographer has taken some gorgeous photos with it! Great camera!


  • CHEFS          

This has been our all-time favorite peeler. It works well on everything from sweet potatoes to kiwis.

Another favorite utensil.

Every chef needs some "tea towels". These are great for personalizing, decorative stitching, or a child's hand-print.

We received this Bosch mixer for a wedding gift 22 years ago and it is still going strong! In fact, I just made a huge batch (22 cups flour) of french bread.

I bought my Vitamix blender used and love it! This is an amazing blender that will last you years! I know someone who bought one 20 years ago and still uses it every day!

I was so excited to find this great cookbook that my old neighbor authored on Amazon! Mine is just as much a display piece as a recipe book, with extra-extra thick pages full of scrumptious looking dishes and their recipes.


Do you have a favorite item that you would buy again in a heartbeat? One that makes you so excited to give? What was the best gift you have ever been given?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Doings of 2016 Thus Far

My dear readers, it's been a long time since I've done a "doings" post, so I thought I'd bring you one today! A little update on my life in the year of 2016, thus far.

Well. I suppose we can go back to April, which was when my older brother and I stuffed his car with some of our belongings and headed out into the great unknown. Okay ... not the great unknown, but actually our childhood home - the state we grew up in. Which happens to be across the country from where our family currently resides.
(Found on Pixabay.com)

So I moved out. It was about a three-day road trip. It wasn't bad at all, considering we stopped at our aunt & uncle's house the first night, and a hotel the second night. By the third evening, we had reached out destination! (Wow. Was it really that long ago? It seems like just yesterday, that road trip ... or many, many years ago.)

In July, a family reunion was scheduled to happen at my grandparent's lovely home. So my whole family flew out and it was so good to see them after being gone for three months (the longest I'd ever been away from them!) I got to hug everyone and talk to them face-to-face, and snuggle my two-year-old baby brother! <3 It was the most fantastic time, having my mom and six younger siblings out here for a whole month! (My dad came out for a week before flying back for work).
(This is me and my little brother at a beach)

Oh, I should note that I finally got my first car, and have a small cleaning job! (Still searching for a steady job!)

It was a good summer. Lots of family time. Meeting new people. Making friends.

The day before my family left to go back home, in August, I headed out to a young people's gathering with a bunch of other people. My sixteen-year-old sister was able to come along instead of flying home! *grins* It was great! Except ... the road trip was EXTREMELY long. 30+ hours? No hotel stops. A couple breakdowns. Yes. We had a few fifteen passenger vans, and two of them decided now was the time to break down. 
Nevertheless, we still made it there and had a fun time (despite being exhausted). More meeting new people! ^_^
(Wandering around the grounds)

I did lots of canning, drying, freezing, and pickling this year! *grins* We froze strawberries, canned peaches, dried plums, pickled cucumbers, froze blueberries, canned pears, dried herbs, pickled beans ... Oh, and made applesauce. Etc. It was rather enjoyable. And I remembered how much I LOVE strawberries ... *wistful sigh* There's nothing like freshly picked strawberries.
(Found on Pixabay.com)

The month of October, I did a "healing-your-stomach" diet, which required me to eat simply meats and vegetables. After about four days, I was able to add in a fruit.

Now that it's November, I'm finally able to add in things like eggs, almond flour, almond milk, honey sunflower butter, CHOCOLATE (just a little!), and things like that. Yay! *smiles* I'm trying not to add in too many things at once, but Thanksgiving is coming, you know, and I want to be able to eat all that yummy food! ^_^
Well, most of it. I still can't have wheat, dairy, or peanuts (and trying not to have cane sugar), "healing-your-stomach" diet or not!

Are you excited for Thanksgiving? Take time this week to think of the blessings in your life! Praise the Lord! ^_^
(Found on Pixabay.com)

What else?

  • Every Monday, from August 1st until yesterday, I did my Hidden Gems: Authors You Need to Discover blog series. If you missed any of the post, click on the link to review! *smiles*
  • I finished my rewrite of Silver Rose! It's now 161,569 words. (Considering its word count used to be 187,233, I'm pretty pleased.) SUPER excited about the possibility of publishing in the near future. I sent it off to some people to read ... if you are interested in beta-reading Silver Rose, email me at swordmaidenofthelight (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will consider you! Otherwise, I can contact you for advance-reading later.
  • I've cautiously starting working on Diamond's Quest {Called to Light #2} again. This is my third time starting over with writing it. Hopefully I got a plot that will stick finally!
  • I won a lot of books these last two months! From authors such as S.D. Grimm, Lisa Tawn Bergren, Connilyn Cossette, Lena Goldfinch, etc.! Check out my Youtube channel for more on that!

  • What am I currently reading?
A Lady Unrivaled {Ladies of the Manor #3} by Roseanna M. White. I love this Edwardian series!

And planning to read Anomaly {Anomaly #1} by Krista McGee, Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay, and Dawnsinger {Tales of Faeraven #1} by Janalyn Voigt next.

  • What am I currently watching?
Hmm. Nothing much. I've been watching season two of Poldark (which has some skip-worthy scenes, just so you're aware); but the last episode infuriated me so much! Not sure what to do about this.

I'm very much looking forward to Beauty and the Beast {2017} and Ballerina {2016}
(Note: If you have any clean dance movies to recommend to me, please do!!)

  • What am I currently listening to?
I usually wait until after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music, but yesterday I started listening to Lauren Daigle's Christmas album on Youtube, and she has a couple gorgeous songs on there (such as 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas')! This isn't part of her album, but I love this song she sings called Noel (perhaps by Chris Tomlin?). It's absolutely breathtaking.

Anything more to say ... ? Nothing much, I suppose. But I have some exciting new blog posts coming up, so stay tuned! ^_^

Has the Christmas season feeling hit you yet? 
How has the year of 2016 been for you so far?
Do you do canning?
What are you currently reading?