Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart by Chuck Black

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Title: Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

Author: Chuck Black

Series: The Knights of Arrethtrae #3

Genre: Fantasy

Audience: Children (11+) - Adult


The shadow of doubt can destroy the most noble of men. Can Sir Dalton rediscover his allegiance before it's too late?

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished. 

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes–life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

**5 stars**

An intriguing journey of faith set in a non-magical fantasy world and lived out by a young knight, Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart is a Christian allegorical novel not to be missed! Eleven-year-olds and up should definitely check out THE KNIGHTS OF ARRETHTRAE by Chuck Black. My older brother and I, adults, also really enjoyed it!

This book is the third in THE KNIGHTS OF ARRETHTRAE series, which follows the KINGDOM'S DAWN series. The first series is an allegorical journey spanning Genesis to Revelation (or so I hear). And the second series follows individual knights and struggles. Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart centers on doubt, and how it cripples Dalton in his most dire battles.

I loved the spiritual tone of this book. Such a beautiful allegory ... such a grand fantasy world, filled with impacting adventures. Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart is the first book I've read by Chuck Black, but I'm so excited to read about all the other knights and their stories! And also the KINGDOM'S DAWN series! As I mentioned above, my older brother and I both really liked this book, and my teen sisters and eleven-year-old brother are planning on reading it too. It's a meaningful Christian book for the family!

That being said, there are some violent/gruesome parts and dark scenes. I thought it was all pretty tastefully done, and drove the point home. But it'd definitely be a bit scary for younger children. So yes, I think 11+ is a good audience! *smiles*

The end of the book left me happy and satisfied to a certain extent, yet so wanting to get my hands on the next book and start Lady Carliss's journey! These characters have found their ways into my heart. ^_^

I don't know what else to say. Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart was a quick but deep tale. I loved it! If you want a poignant and adventurous fantasy/allegorical story, then pick up these books. I highly recommend!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Beautiful Easter

Happy Easter, my dear friends!

31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:31

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her,“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. John 20:10-18

Do you know how much God, your Creator, loves you? He sent His Son to die so that you wouldn't have to perish in darkness. And that Son, Jesus Christ, rose victoriously, conquering sin and death!

We no longer have to be ashamed. We no longer have to be afraid.

We can step into faith, believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and be made new.

Our sins can be washed away! I know I'm a sinner. Some days, I look back on all the selfish, cruel, and vile things I've done ... and I don't want to live with myself.

But the good news is, Jesus Christ's sacrifice has the power to make me a new creation. Different. Wash away that past and give me a sparkly clean future in which I can hold His hand as I journey through.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

And I accepted that. My soul belongs in heaven. So now I can remember that my sins have been atoned for. I still mess up. But I'm a sinner saved by grace. And in God's Word, He says nothing can snatch me from His hand!

28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” John 10:28-30

You can accept Christ's sacrifice too. Jesus Christ died and rose from the grave to redeem all of mankind. All you have to do is believe and reach out and take the gift.

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

He loves you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Lord, for all You have done for us! May we understand Your love more each day, and joyfully and freely love You back!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

You Are Invited: TBAP's Easter Fiesta!

About the Event

TBAP’s Easter Fiesta is a social media event where the professionals of the literary and the entertainment industries give back to the audience that has supported them over time, by chatting with the audience that will appear on TBAP’s social media on a set date/time. For 2016, it’s TBAP’s facebook! The professionals are drawn from the categories: authors/actors/alliances/music artists.

Meet your Host!

Miranda A. Uyeh is the author of To Die Once: Child of Grace #1, a book/entertainment blogger, and a Mogul Global Ambassador. She’s passionate about all these and even found herself to be shortlisted as one of Inspy Awards’ Judges in 2014! You can connect with Miranda on twitter, facebook, google+, YouTube and Pinterest or visit her corner of the web, TBAP!

Meet the Guests of 2016!

Julie Lessman (Author)
Cheryl McKay (Screenwriter/Author)
Rene Gutteridge (Screenwriter/Director/Author)
DiAnn Mills (Author)
Michelle Griep (Author)
Rich Swingle (Actor)
Kirk Fernwood (Film Critic/Entertainment Blogger)
Heather Manning (Author)
Melica Niccole (Author)
Bill Ewing (Producer/Director/Screenwriter)
Doc Benson (Director/Producer/Actor)
Rebekah Cook (Actress/Casting Director/Script Supervisor)
Francine Locke (Actress)
Jody Thomae (Author/Music Artist)
Juli Tapken (Actress/Producer/Director)
Katie Pavao (Actress)
Bronwyn Angley (Actress)
Apolonia Davalos (Actress/Filmmaker)
Irene Santiago (Actress)
Sharon Wilharm (Director/Producer/Screenwriter)

Dates/Time You Can Chat with the Guests!

March 17th, 2:00-3:00pm Pacific Time – Julie Lessman, Cheryl McKay, Rene Gutteridge

March 18th, 2:00-3:00pm PT – DiAnn Mills, Michelle Griep

March 19th, 3:00-4:00pm PT – Rich Swingle, Kirk Fernwood

March 20th, 2:00-3:00pm PT – K. Victoria Chase, Brenda Anderson

March 21st, 2:00-3:00pm PT – Heather Manning, Melica Niccole

March 22nd, 2:00-3:00pm PT – Bill Ewing, Doc Benson

March 24th, 5:00-6:00pm PT – Rebekah Cooke, Katie Pavao

March 25th, 2:00-3:00pm PT – Jody Thomae, Juli Tapken

March 26th, 2:00-3:00pm PT – Francine Locke, Bronwyn Angley, Apolonia Davalos

March 27th, 7:00-8:00pm PT – Irene Santiago, Sharon Wilharm

Talk About This with Your Friends!

You can tweet to @Rini_MAU and use this hashtag #TBAPFiesta, and I’ll find you! You can also update your facebook status by using the hashtag #TBAPFiesta and tagging your post with Miranda Afa Uyeh or Miranda’s To Be A Person, and I’ll find you! Also, you’re more than welcome to post on TBAP’s facebook!

Finally, watch the lovely inspirational messages sent your way by some of the guests, on TBAP’s Official YouTube Channel. I, too, was blessed by their messages!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review: Not By Sight by Kate Breslin

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Title: Not By Sight

Author: Kate Breslin

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


Gripping Sophomore Novel from a Rising Historical Romance Talent

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack. 

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them - or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.

**5 stars**

I won Not By Sight by Kate Breslin in a giveaway, and I'm oh so happy to add this gorgeous book to my five-star-reads-list! I loved it! It is simply one of those historical novels that sweeps you away to another time and tells a delightful story - with dashes of danger and intrigue!

Set in Britain, during World War I, this novel introduces us to the lovely patriot, Grace Mabry; and the roguish heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, Jack Benningham. They speak not a word to each other on their first meeting, but never forgot that day. Months later, they are pushed into each other's lives, and are in for quite the beautiful, and bumpy, ride.
     Where secrets abound and masks are intact, is there any room for love and new beginnings?

I love books set during WWI and WWII ... the historical detail is so wonderful! In Not By Sight, we attend balls, learn about the white feather cowardice, witness bombings from enemy planes overhead, and travel to a farm where a group of young women work hard to aid the war effort. It was all so interesting to read about.

I really liked Grace. There was something about her personality, both fiery and sweet. And she's a writer! ^_^ Jack frustrated me sometimes, but you definitely could understand where he was coming from. Overall, it was a perfect delight to get to know these two. They had some fun, kind of summer day, adventures.

Oh! And did anyone else feel like there was a fairytale-ish thread going on? Yes, this is certainly a Beauty and the Beast tale! ^_^ While I was reading, I kept thinking Jack was kind of like the Beast. And now as I'm thinking back over all the scenes, I'm seeing all kinds of nods to Beauty and the Beast! I just love it!! *hugs book* What an enchanting idea to incorporate that classic fairytale into this World War I romance story. It's so lovely, my friends.

It was also great getting to know the young ladies Grace worked with. They each had a little secondary storyline filled with secrets and mishaps. I loved watching the friendships develop.

It was just a fabulous story that kept me captivated from beginning to end. I loved the plot, and all the different little things that happened. And the fairytale thread. And the bit of suspense and mystery. Wonderful, wonderful book. The little faith theme was also beautiful.

The only concern I had was while Grace was a faith-filled woman and strived to help others find healing, physically and spiritually; she failed to take a step back when she realized she was falling for a man who wasn't very interested in following God at that point. The man did find his way back to the Lord in the end ... But that doesn't always happen in real life. I don't think women should believe that they can date a guy who isn't a strong Christian and somehow they'll lead them to Christ. It doesn't always work that way.

But other than that, I adored this book. If you are a fan of Christian historical (especially set during WWI or WWII), or if you love Beauty and the Beast stories, you must give Not By Sight a try!

I can't wait to read more by Kate Breslin!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Review: The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea

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Title: The Sound of Silver

Author: Rachelle Rea

Series: Steadfast Love #2

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One is fighting for faith, the other for honor …

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?

**3 stars**

So after quite enjoying The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea, I was looking forward to continuing on with The Sound of Silver! As you can see from my three-star rating, I didn't like this book as much as the first ... but don't let that stop you from reading this series! If you enjoy romance, of the Christian historical genre, then you should definitely give the STEADFAST LOVE series a try.

It's set in the medieval/renaissance era, and follows characters Dirk and Gwyneth on various journeys of danger and faith.

The Sound of Silver starts where the first book leaves off. Our main characters are at Dirk's family's home ... and there's tension between the couple. I felt like this book focused mainly on the romance between Dirk and Gwyn. There definitely wasn't as much action as Book One. And if you know me, I personally prefer action and excitement with a generous dash of sweet romance ... haha. Anyway, it was just a slower story; not necessarily a bad thing, just not my taste as much. I usually don't choose to read books that are solely romance, but if that's your cup of tea, do pick up The Sound of Silver.

Once again, we had a theme of faith, which is always wonderful to find! We found some saddening troubles and tension between a beloved secondary couple; and meet a man named Anders, (who, I must say, I didn't really like!)

Ultimately, though The Sound of Silver wasn't my favorite book, these characters have found their way into my heart one way or another, and I find myself eagerly awaiting to see how their story finishes in The Sound of Emeralds!

I received a copy of The Sound of Silver from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell

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Title: Flirtation Walk

Author: Siri Mitchell

Series: Standalone

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


West Point History Comes Alive in this Warmhearted Romance

Trying to escape the shambles her con-man father has made of their reputation, Lucinda Curtis arrives in West Point, New York, determined to land a husband from the military academy. Campbell Conklin is first in his class and preparing to embark upon a storied career in the U.S. Army. Lucinda thinks Campbell will make the perfect husband . . . as long as he does not find out about her father.

Seth Westcott also has taken a liking to Lucinda. He's kind, smart . . . and working extremely hard to graduate last. Tradition states that the worst cadets are assigned to the cavalry out west. And west is where Seth must head to track the swindler who stole all of Seth's mother's money. Seth is smart enough to vie for the top spot, but life isn't fair and this is his chance to catch the man who ruined his family. It's too bad Campbell is all shine and no substance, but Lucinda will surely see through all of that, won't she?

**3 stars**

Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell is about the daughter of a con-man and a soldier about to head down an unlikely path in order to take care of his sister. It follows their escapades, and tells a story of change, forgiveness, and truth.

Well ... as much as I've loved some of Siri Mitchell's other books (especially for their rich historical detail), Flirtation Walk wasn't so much my style. Not enough action. I wasn't very fond of the characters. The storyline was rather strange to me. Seth, one of our main characters, annoyed me time and again because he constantly gave in and listened to the bad advice of his annoying friends and did stupid things! *ahem* Lucinda, living under the shadow of her deceased con-man father, also frustrated me sometimes with her attitude. Other characters that were supposed to be good, I guess, acted in ways that were unimpressive to me. All in all, this is simply my personal opinions and likings. This book may be just the thing for you because we have different taste in books! *smiles*

It still was an enjoyable read, ultimately, just not a favorite. It does show two people rising above their circumstances, no matter what people said, no matter the pressure to do otherwise, and changing for the better. A good message. It didn't have a very noticeable faith theme, as I remember; but there was some talk of God. Ultimately, a sweet, though unusual, historical romance.

I received a copy of Flirtation Walk from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: In the Shadow of Lions: A novel of Anne Boleyn by Ginger Garrett

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Title: In the Shadow of Lions: A novel of Anne Boleyn

Author: Ginger Garrett

Series: Chronicles of the Scribe #1

Genre: Historical/Speculative Fiction

Audience: Adult


"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here, and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book . a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible—Scriptures the common people could read for themselves. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the same book, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew.

**2 stars**

In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett is a historical novel with a generous splash of speculative-fiction-ishness. Following Anne Boleyn (one of the wives of King Henry VIII) and a peasant woman named Rose, plus cancer-victim Bridget, who lives in the modern world, this book makes for quite the interesting story. And strange. For a while, I got really into it. But it never became what I was hoping it would be. Hence, the two-star rating.

Let me explain. While, yes, intriguing and well-written, the storyline of In the Shadow of Lions was lacking, to me personally. For one, I felt it maybe took too much liberties with real people in history. Did it really happen like that? Were certain well-known historical figures that extreme? I've studied the Tutor history a bit in school in whatnot, and some of the happenings in this book felt off to me.
Two, Christianity was so mixed up, it rather overwhelmed me. I know that at that time in England, the Church was quite misleading people. But in this book, Anne Boleyn, a mistress of the king, basically a husband-stealer, is portrayed as someone bringing God's Word to people, while King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine, (who was cruelly cast aside) is quite against the Bible and Truth. Thomas More, Henry VIII, and other men are always crying and praying and saying their doing God's work when they're killing people or that God has blessed them after they committed adultery and their mistress is pregnant ....... It was sickening! Anne Boleyn is created to be a victim, the next prey of the king. She says she won't become his mistress; they must be married. And so sets on this mission to become queen. It seems she sort of uses spreading word about William Tyndale's translation of the Bible as a means to become queen - to get what she wanted. And, in the end, she decides she tired of waiting and goes to the king without the blessing of marriage. It seems she doesn't care truly about spreading God's word, but what she can get out of it. She doesn't know God at all. She blesses Him when she's getting her way, and accuses Him when she's not. She never feels remorseful for her sin. But in the end, some angel-like person tells her she's going to heaven.
It was all confusing and strange to me, and I wasn't sure what the message of the book was.

Also, with the "intrigue" between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, there were some unnecessary things added in. I felt some of it was inappropriate in the way it was written. (Definitely adult content.) What is the point of telling this story - telling how Anne felt? What happened between them was obviously wrong. The Bible speaks clearly against adultery, divorce, and flirting with sin.

I don't know. I don't exactly understand what the point of the story was. This book was just not for me - a little too edgy for my liking. (And I felt the author took some historical details a little too far out of context, which is frustrating to me.) Hmm. I guess you can decide that for yourself if you want to read In the Shadow of Lions.