Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Blades of Acktar: Deliver (Plus Author Interview)

Today—April 25, 2017—is a wonderful day for the book universe. Today, the fourth and final book in the Blades of Acktar series is released to the world! And today, I have provided my review of this marvelous creation, Deliver, and an exclusive author interview with Tricia Mingerink.

First off, I suppose I should warn you that The Blades of Acktar is my top favorite book series, so I will be doing my best to convince you to read the books and love them as I have ever since I found this series in January 2016. Because once you read them, you will love them. :) After all, who couldn't resist this amazing Christian fantasy series filled with action, assassins, a country torn with war, love, betrayal, an evil king, hostages, and heroes? Here is the link to my review of the previous book in this series, Defy. Now, let the fun begin! *trumpets sound as confetti erupts*

To start, here is Deliver's delightful cover and the book synopsis.



Can something broken ever heal?

Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn't belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can't lose his guilt.

Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?

The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?

They face their hardest battle yet.
Peace.
~
Do you want to read it yet? Because first you have to finish reading this post, then you have to go buy the books, then you have to read the rest of the series first. So you have a lot ahead of you. :) But first let's finish this post.

Here is my review of Deliver:
~
Deliver is a grand finale to the Blades of Acktar series. Filled with action from front to back, it doesn't let you down. Putting the book aside was like trying to hold your breath for an exceedingly long time. While I felt that the plot was slightly similar to some of the previous books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

As with all the other books in the series, the characters were impossible not to fall in love with. They are realistic and you easily find your heart attached. You are broken-hearted when they are hurting, ecstatic when they are elated, and whole-heartedly relate to all their emotions.

I also appreciated how the characters still have struggles and flaws that are realistic. After book three, everything isn't settled, and Deliver takes care of this in a well-done manner. Friendships are restored, trust is given, family is reunited, and all the characters at last find their place in the world.

I'm not even sure how to write a review that gives this book justice. I enjoyed every page, every scene, every character, every situation. I'm sad only to see the series come to a close. :) I can't wait to read more of Tricia Mingerink's writing!
~
I'm sure you want to read the series now. :) I have no doubt in my mind. Below, you will now discover the promised exclusive author interview.

Hi Tricia! Thank you for joining us here on the blog today and allowing me to ask you a few questions. I'm so excited for the release of Deliver!

1. To start off, I'm curious about the history of The Blades of Acktar. How long ago did you get the idea for it, and how? Was it your first major writing project? Did you know right away that it was going to become a series? What were your original goals in writing?

I got the idea for The Blades of Acktar in March of 2014. I started writing Dare almost immediately after getting the idea. I had the idea for the first three books in the series that first month, though some of the details changed from that first idea to the final version on paper. This wasn't near my first major writing project. I've been writing since I learned to write. But this series was the first one that I knew right away was publishable, and I wrote them with publication in mind. 

2. Along those lines of "in the beginning," how did you decide to self-publish? How is that working for you?

While I was writing Dare, I already began researching publishing options. After writing the first three books in the series and researching options for a year, I decided to self-publish. I knew a number of fellow Christian fantasy writers who were also self-published, and they helped steer me in the right direction. I enjoy it, and right now, I don't see myself changing how I publish my books.

3. Now I'd like to ask you about some of your favorites. :) Who are your top favorite characters in The Blades of Acktar? Also, do you have a favorite book that you've written, and why?

Going for the hard questions, aren't you! I adore all of them in their own special ways. While Leith is my favorite character over all (ssshh...don't tell the others), Martyn and Brandi are my favorites to write because they are so snarky. Of the books, I have to admit that Defy is my favorite. Probably because it was such an easy book to write.

Haha, yep. The hard questions are the best! Here's another.
4. What have been some of your struggles in the writing process, and how did you overcome them?

With writing Deliver, I struggled with the pressure of writing a book while knowing I had fans anxious and waiting for the book. It was a lot harder to write than the first three books where I had no one waiting for them. It took a lot of prayer to get my mind back in the right place and just concentrate on writing for God.

5. Do you have any writing tips/advice that you could pass on to aspiring authors like myself?

Don't worry about pushing yourself into publication before you're ready. Take the time to write and enjoy where you are now. Once you are published, things change. Some of those things are really good, and I wouldn't trade them for the world, but publication also brings pressure and worries that you don't have when you're unpublished. Wait until you're ready to handle them, and enjoy the journey until then.

6. Lastly, what's next? Now that The Blades of Acktar has come to a close, do you have plans for your next novel or series?

I have a few ideas, and the rest of this year will be taken up with a lot of first draft writing. I can't go into too many details since I don't know exactly what will be next, but it will probably be something more fully in the fantasy genre, it will still have Christian themes, and it still will have lots of fun and adventure that you've come to expect from me. 

Thank you so much for your time, Tricia! It means the world to me and I'm sure my readers enjoyed this—I know I did! :)
~
Now that you, my friends, are thoroughly interested in the series and can't wait for your ordered copies of the books to arrive, let me invite you to a party in honor of Deliver's release. It's a Facebook party on April 28. Be sure to stop by for live character chats and more!

Note: All the Kindle versions of the series are on a major sale right now in celebration of Deliver's release. You can easily locate them on Amazon. HERE is the link to buy signed paperback copies of the series. HERE is the link to buy paperbacks on Amazon.

I suppose I shouldn't keep you any longer since you'll want to go read the books. I hope you enjoyed my excitement and the interview. Let me know how you like the series! :)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Springtime Photos



Today I wanted to share a few of the most recent photos I've taken with you since your votes said that pictures were among your top favorites of my posts. The flower pictures were all taken at a friend's house on the day before Easter. As much as I wish it was still winter, spring is beautiful! Enjoy.

I like the setting on my Fujifilm where it makes everything black & white except a certain color.



You might want to view this one in full screen—I love how it came out!



Isn't this little one so cute?

Oops, how'd that one sneak in there? My kitty!
All photos are © Bethany R. and are not to be used without her permission.

What is spring looking like at your house this year?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April Challenge

Hello again! Today I wanted to share a challenge with you that was issued at the beginning of this month by one of my blog readers.

Picture taken from the internet.
Libby shared her challenge on Andi's Blog, so please visit THIS LINK to get more information and to "enter." I found her idea to be very interesting and useful. It's actually something I've been planning on doing myself for some time now. While it is mostly geared toward a younger generation, the majority of it is also very applicable to people of all ages. Here are some of the details from the original challenge, which Libby is calling "Four Letters in Four Weeks."*

"I want you to write four letters. What you do with them is up to you, but I want you to write them. . . .
 
The first letter is to the future. Between the 2nd and 9th of April, write about things you hope for. Your dreams, your hopes, your regrets, and the things you want to grow on and fix. Write to next year, or write for you to read in ten years. . . .

The second letter is to the past. Between the 9th and the 16th of April write to yourself. Tell what you have changed. Write from your heart. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Write it out. Tell yourself how you wouldn’t believe what you are going through now. . . .

The third letter is to your parents, starting April 16th- 23rd. Do you have a grudge? Do you feel hurt? Do you wish they would change the way they train you? Tell them. Do it with respect. Accept that God has put you where you belong, and they are there because that is where they need to be. Do you feel you never thank them enough? Do it now. Thank them for everything. Tell them you love them. Express what you feel. Again, you don’t have to give the letters to them, but you should live by them. . . .

And the fourth letter is to God, April 23rd - 30th. Pray. On paper. Tell Him everything. . . . Ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and for Him to speak to you. Then go and read the Bible. Write out what you think about what you had read. Keep reading. Keep searching, Keep praying. Dedicate at least an hour to this letter. Thank God for everything you have overlooked, and for how far He has grown you. Ask Him to help you face whatever He has planned for you. . . ."
 
And there you have it. Isn't it a great idea? Thank you, Libby, for sharing your challenge and now allowing me to share it with others. I've so far been blessed by doing this. It is a wonderful way for me, a writer, to totally open up and "confess" things that I didn't even know about myself and to let God speak to me through these letters. Please consider joining myself, Libby, and others around the nation in this. Thanks, and may you be blessed! :)
 
* Libby is actually hosting a giveaway for two books if you do this challenge. To enter the giveaway, you have to follow more specific guidelines and comment on Andi's Blog. Follow the link I posted up top to get there if you wish to do this.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Writing Accomplishment!


I know this isn't much compared to many of my writer friends out there, but I wished to celebrate this moment with you. A few days ago, I reached the most words I've ever written in a story! While it is only 21,200 words that I passed, it is still a great accomplishment for me, and I'm still going strong!

It was about a year ago that I started the historical fiction story that held my record until a few days ago. That was A Pirate's Tale, the biggest writing project I'd attempted. Several months after starting it, however, I began to see how cliche it was and how many plot holes there were. So I stopped.

That was when I began my current work, Dragon Chronicles, that I'm leaning toward calling the Arkinland Chronicles. It's a very new experience for me to be writing this for several reasons.
  1. It's the first fantasy I've written.
  2. It's the first major story I've written with a male main character.
  3. It's one of my first attempts writing in first person.
Despite all the "firsts," I think it's coming along well and I hope to continue strong. My biggest writing issue in the past has been having too many ideas and not enough perseverance to push through the difficulties in the writing process. So I would greatly appreciate all your prayers as I continue to embark on this journey! Thank you for sharing with me in this exciting moment!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

March Highlights 2017

Yet another month in 2017 has come and gone. So much has occurred this March, so bear with me as I try to summarize. :)


~Summary~
Within the first few days of March, my mom began getting her dental work done, and while it will take several months yet to complete it, she is no longer in as bad of pain as she had been. Thank you for all the prayers!

Besides this, March started off with a friend coming to stay and watch our house while we took a trip to Shaver Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first day of the trip, however, my family and I spent in Bakersfield for the Christian Youth Film Society's 23rd Film Festival. This organization is the one that hosted the camp I attended last November and that has inspired me to begin my own movie-making journey with my youth group, some other friends, and family. It was a very formal event with a dinner and then the evening showing of the short movies that had entered the contest. I enjoyed my time and especially was glad to get to see some of my friends that I hadn't seen since the camp. Additionally, the couple who opened their home to us that night were involved in the festival and movie industry. (One was a judge of the movies, a producer, and an author!) Both were very sweet, and I loved spending time with them.

The following morning we headed up the mountain to Shaver, where we found several inches of snow that had fallen the previous day. It's a running joke with us and our friends up there that whenever my family comes—it snows. :) We spent the next few days sledding, cross-country skiing, and (in my case) catching up on some schoolwork.

Life slowed down a bit after the Shaver Lake trip, but was still busy as usual with youth groups, school, and other day-to-day events—not to mention the difficulties that daylight savings brings! During this time, I was also introduced to a book series, the Ranger's Apprentice, which I have really been enjoying. My church also had a breakfast last Sunday that was very fun, and I was thrilled to have one of my friends from another church visit with his family. Also, now that my family is all official HAM radio operators we have been building an antennae with one of the teachers of our class who also attends our church. In addition, one day this month my grandparents came down for a much-enjoyed visit. I've also gone on several fun horseback rides this month now that the ground is drying up a bit.

This last week has also been filled with birthdays every-other day. Literally! Last Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday had a combined five birthdays of people I know, one of which was my sister. So, happy birthday to Samuel, Abigail, Cheyene, Nichole, and Ruben! I hope you all had wonderfully special days.

For my sister's birthday, my family returned to Hume Lake for the youth pastor's retreat. It was so different than when I went earlier in the year with my youth group and the campus was swarming with high schoolers! This time, there were very few people, no snow, and no structured "activities" per se. As a family we hiked, explored, took pictures, helped work on building the summer camp set, relaxed, played games, and did a hidden-transmitter hunt. I was excited to get lots of reading done as well. Of course, I have to mention that we played Apples to Apples—probably one of my favorite games. :) The weather went from clear and sunny to foggy, cloudy, rainy, and finally hail as we were leaving and visiting Sequoia National Park and the General Grant tree.

To top off my month, I was able to go to a friend's birthday party. I had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone there and I was glad to get to know some more people better. It was a party I won't soon forget! (All for good reasons. :D) Thanks for inviting me, Samuel!

~Reading~
March was a very successful month in terms of books. I'd recommend all of them. My total number of books? Nine. Total pages? 2,633. Not bad if I do say so myself. :)
  1. Out of Time: A Time to Die, Nadine Brandes (389 pages)
  2. Circle C Milestones: Courageous Love, Susan K. Marlow (186 pages)
  3. A Seven Wonders Novel: Shadow of Colossus, T. L. Higley (384 pages)
  4. Left to Die, Ivy Rose (116 pages)
  5. Martin Generations: Martin Hospitality, Abigayle Claire (386 pages)
  6. Circle C Adventures: Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home (expanded edition), Susan K. Marlow (195 pages)
  7. Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan, John Flanagan (249 pages)
  8. Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge, John Flanagan (262 pages)
  9. Ilyon Chronicles: Samara's Peril, Jaye L. Knight (464 pages)
Every single book on this list was wonderful! However, I would like to specifically mention a few.

I have been waiting for months to read A Time to Die, and it did not disappoint me. It was a different style than I'm used to, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the plot.

Courageous Love is likely my second favorite book out of the Circle C Milestones series, and while some spots broke my heart (and there was certainly a major aspect to it that I wasn't expecting), it was a wonderful book!

Abigayle Claire did a delightful job on her new novel, Martin Hospitality, and I had a hard time putting down the book! It was well written and I found myself in love with the characters and plot.

Thank you so much to Alex and Samuel for encouraging me to read the Ranger's Apprentice series and for loaning me the books! I'm loving it so far!

And last but not least, I have to mention Samara's Peril. How could I not? It was just as wonderful as the previous books in the series and I love the new twists!

~Writing~
Again, another slow month in terms of writing. I got less than 1000 words done on my Dragon Chronicles, but did accomplish some writing on other projects. I would have certainly liked to write more, but hopefully April will prove to be more profiting with Camp NaNo and such. (Any other campers out there?)

~Photography~
With all of the trips this month, I've had plenty of opportunity to get some cool photos. I'll limit them all to a few.

This is where we stayed at Shaver Lake.
The flags hanging over the ice skating rink at Hume Lake.
My sister at Hume Lake.
At Hume Lake.
The Bakersfield orchards.
This is where we skied at Tamarack Ridge.
Hume Lake
Some of the giant Sequoia trees.
On a ride. :)
~Great Quotes~
"It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see." -Winston Churchill

 "Church isn't a museum for good people, it's a hospital for the broken." -Jefferson Bethke

"Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they're big, flashing signs that something needs to change" -Gretchen Rubin


~Blog Posts~
To visit any of my posts in March that you might have missed, here are the links:

February Highlights 2017
"Tu" v. "Usted"
Dear Readers . . . .

I also got several more followers in March, so I'm really excited about that. Welcome and thank you for joining my little community!

Another thing I wanted to point out is the poll that I ran for a week toward the end of this month. I asked what sorts of posts I did that were your favorites, and the order of which you said you enjoyed them are as follows:
  1. Life Updates
  2. A tie between Photos and Writing
  3. A tie between Reading, Books, and God
  4. Blog Tags
  5. Writing Challenges
Thank you to everyone who voted. I appreciate your feedback!

Unfortunately I haven't found much time in March to read many other blog posts, but I'd like to let you know about a cool challenge that was posted on Andi's Blog by Libby to help grow your spiritual walk. Also, since the beginning of the year I've found and enjoyed reading multiple new blogs. Give the authors a hearty welcome to the blogosphere! You know who you are. ;)

Alas, we have come to the end of this post. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my month. Now it's your turn—tell me about yours!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dear Readers . . .


Dear Blog Readers,

I wanted to take a moment and express my gratefulness for your unending support. In the midst of my irregular posting, you continue to read. Wow. By doing so, you give me amazing encouragement. You have no idea what it means to me.

I don't have a blog for the sake of getting followers, but as any blogger knows, followers and comments are inspirations for us to keep writing. In my case, blogging is almost my only means of sharing my thoughts with people, and to know that there are people out there who care to read (and enjoy reading) my writing is a great feeling. Your support encourages me to keep it up. When I remember that I have followers, I remember that what I have to say will be heard within my small sphere of influence, and maybe it will even touch some lives.


So this post is dedicated to you, my wonderful blog followers. Your support is some of the greatest encouragement I receive in my writing, and I'm deeply touched to know that my words are affecting people's lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You keep me writing.

Love,
Bethany

P.S. Be sure to check out my new blog layout! :) Also, on the right sidebar is a poll where you can vote on your favorite types of my posts. Thanks!

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Tu" v. "Usted"

This year, I'm taking Spanish 2. But it was actually last year during Spanish 1 that I came across what I am about to share with you.


The Spanish language has two forms of the word "you." The formal term for someone who you don't know very well is "usted" and the familiar word for close friends, family, and children is "tu." If you were standing in line at Walmart and started a conversation with the person standing behind you, you would use "usted." However, if that person had a child and if you were addressing him, you would use the "tu" form of the word "you." The same goes if you are greeting a friend or family member. "¿Comó estás tu?" "How are you?" It shows familiarity between you and is a recognition of your closeness.

If you've ever read Genesis in a Spanish Bible, you may have noticed that in the Garden of Eden when God speaks to Adam and Eve, the word he uses for "you" is translated "tu." Even in the midst of delivering their punishment for their disobedience, he still says "tu."

Think about how amazing this is. The God of the universe, who spoke and the heavens, earth, and all its inhabitants were created, the God over all the angels, the God who is the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end, called Adam and Eve by such an intimate name. Later, when Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, he called them also by this name. Consider the implications of such familiarity.

Remember the cases where you use "tu?" With close friends, family, and children. When God uses this word when speaking to us, He is calling us His family, and His children. This is so amazing! Think back to the days when people came before their kings and queens with petitions. They certainly would not take the familiarity to call their king by such a term. They would instead show utmost respect and honor. They wouldn't dream of being so familiar with their king, much less to have him call them by such a name. But our King, who we also bow before on trembling knees, who is so much mightier than any earthly king, calls us "tu."

Will we live as someone so close to God that He would call us "tu?"

NOTE: Happy Spring! Stay tuned for my new blog design. :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Highlights 2017

Pauses. Sighs. Scratches head. Sighs again.

How should I describe February? It was a relatively "normal" month. At least, as "normal" as my life ever gets. :) While I didn't get half as much done as I'd hoped, I still accomplished a decent amount and I'm pleased with the overall results.

~Summary~
Okay. I figured out how to describe the biggest portion of my month—stress. For the greater part of February I have been studying like crazy for my amateur radio test to get my operator license. The test was Monday night and I had the most amazing feeling going into it. Instead of being horribly nervous like I thought I would be, I had total peace. Even during the test and while waiting for the results, I wasn't very nervous. And guess what? I passed with 97%! I'm so thrilled. Yesterday morning I got my temporary call sign but I hope to change it to something more personal. I am officially an amateur radio operator! Yay!

Besides radio classes, studying, and lots of school, I've also been continuing to attend two awesome youth groups and build stronger relationships with my friends. My younger sister went to Hume Lake at the beginning of the month and had a wonderful time. While she was enjoying the snow, I had a wonderful time staying with my marvelous grandparents. I always love sitting and talking with them, and I had plenty of time to do so!

A few weeks later we went to Pacific Grove to visit with my grandparents again for a birthday. It was a nice time, and we got several more great sunset pictures. How can you not get good ones when the sun is setting over the ocean? #beautiful ;)

That's my Dad taking a picture. ;)

It was also an interesting experience in that because of all the rain and wind storms, trees were falling left, right, and center and power was out in Pacific Grove for over 24 hours! We toasted bread and heated water for coffee over the fire and managed just fine. By the time we needed to turn on the oven for our pizza, power came back on. Perfect timing. Can't go without the pizza. :)

All in all, it was a good month despite the stress. I would ask for prayers though for my Mom, who found out yesterday that she has to have some major dental work done. Thanks!

~Reading~
February started out as a very good month for reading, I was ahead in my plan for reaching 10 books despite the short month but then it came to a grinding halt as studying grew more intense. I managed to complete only three for a total of 738 pages plus about half of the book I'm in the middle of, A Time to Die, which will be added to March's book list.
  1. Land of Shining Water: The Icecutter's Daughter, Tracie Peterson (331 pages)
  2. Chiveis Trilogy: The Gift, Bryan M. Litfin (407 pages)
  3. Ilyon Chronicles: The King's Scrolls, Jaye L. Knight (397 pages)
However, I can say that all three books were extraordinary! I'd highly recommend all of them and I can't wait to get book three in both the Chiveis Trilogy and Ilyon Chronicles. Hopefully March will enable me to get a significant amount of reading done now that the radio test is behind me.

~Writing~
While I still didn't write nearly as much as I'd hoped to, I did accomplish more than 4,000 words on my Dragon Chronicles, which is actually a lot considering everything else. I also set a record for the most amount of words I've ever written in a day—the new total is 2,612! That was a happy day. :)

I've also been continuing to edit for some friends, and I'm finding that I really enjoy editing. Another accomplishment was writing my first draft of a synopsis for my Dragon Chronicles. I'm really glad to have come up with something that I think I like for it.

~Photography~
It was a good month for photography! With all the rain, there were lots of rainbows and everything looked fresh. In addition to the sunset pictures I have above, I also got to do a brief photo-shoot with my sister and our horses.

In a "normal" year of rain, this river is half the size. (Taken in January.)
This is one of my favorite pictures I've taken! Isn't it gorgeous?



All the above pictures are © Bethany R.

~Great Quotes~
A found a few cool quotes this month that I thought you might like too.

“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” -Annie Dillard

"If you ask me what book I'm reading I'll either go into a long winded and enthusiastic summary of the entire thing or just lift the book to show you the title and keep reading." -I can't find the author


I don't think this counts as a quote but . . . here it is. :)

~Blog Posts~
I managed four posts in February, the most popular of which was my January Highlights post, followed by A Question of Honor Cover Reveal and Faith Leads to Understanding. I was delighted to find that I got several new followers this month as well—welcome to the blog! I'm so happy that you found me. You helped me reach 40 google followers!

As far as other blogger's posts, I'll just mention two things here. The blog tours for both A Question of Honor and The Princess and I have begun! Both books release March 3, so if you are interested, be sure to check those out! Click on the book title to view each author's first post of the blog tour. I've been too busy to participate in either, but know that if I could have I would have! Congratulations Jesseca and Rebekah! I'm so excited for you both!

Wow, I guess a busy month calls for a long post but I didn't anticipate this being THAT long. Well, if you read all of that, thanks! I hope you had a great February and have a delightful March!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Faith Leads to Understanding

Have you ever watched the children's movie, Polar Express? For years it has been one of my family's favorite fun Christmas films. For awhile, it became an annual tradition to watch it. A theme throughout the movie is belief in Santa, and the characters in the movie couldn't hear his sleigh bells ring until they first believed in him.


A few weeks back, I read in Mark 4 about Jesus explaining His parables to His disciples. It reads, “With many such parables He spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to His own disciples He explained everything.” (ESV)

Today, in Luke 8, following Jesus' parable of the Sower, I read a sort of continuation to this. “And when His disciples asked Him what this parable meant, He said, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that “seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” ' " (ESV)

I found some very interesting insight into this and I thought you might find it fascinating as well. In the Mark 4 passage, where it refers to “He spoke the word to them,” it is saying that Jesus taught the multitudes in parables. Who are the multitudes in Jesus' day? Unbelievers. Who are the multitudes in today's world? Unbelievers. Who are His disciples to whom Jesus explained His parables? Christians. Non-Christians will not be able to understand the full meaning of God's words as written in the Bible. Only the Christians who take the time to ask God and listen for His answers will be given true knowledge. Faith leads to knowledge and comprehension of the truth that is otherwise unable to be attained. By faith the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in believers and it is of Him that Jesus says, ". . . it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. . . . When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth . . ." (ESV)

As my family and I were discussing this, we came up with another level to it. What is a name of Jesus? The Word. Just as non-Christians cannot understand the Bible—God's Words—until they believe, neither can they understand the Word, Jesus. When non-Christians have so many questions concerning things in the Bible, and Christians try to explain them, with this knowledge it makes much more sense that the unbelievers cannot understand it and tend to keep pressing the same issues. It is impossible for them to comprehend these things until they first believe.

I keep thinking about the bell in Polar Express. They couldn't hear it ring until they first believed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Princess and I Cover Reveal

I know what you're thinking. Wow, two cover reveals in a single month? That's right. Today, I'm joining with several other bloggers in releasing the cover for another book I beta-read, The Princess and I, by Rebekah Eddy.

The Princess and I is an enchanting story of adventure, danger, romance, and heartbreak. Rebekah did a delightful job crafting the plot, and her characters each have unique personalities. I'm so happy to have been one of those privileged to read this before it releases March 3rd. (Rebekah is co-releasing with Jesseca Wheaton's A Question of Honor, which was the other cover reveal I participated in.)

Here is the fantastic cover!


Synopsis
Megan is content with her life, despite her parents' death and her brother Malcolm's job that keeps him busy at the King's castle. But when she is offered the position as Princess Christine's lady-in-waiting, Megan is glad of the change in scenery and accepts it with the hope that she can spend more time with her brother. The promise from Malcolm of lessons in swordsmanship only adds to her enthusiasm.

However, helping keep an eye on the emotional and excitable young lady proves to be much harder than becoming her friend. As rumors of war circulate the castle, Megan strives to encourage her new friend even as she tries to settle the doubts and fears in her own heart when her responsibility in protecting the Princess is put to the test. Follow the unwanted adventure which serves to teach her that loyal friendship, true love, and God's amazing grace will always triumph over revenge, greed, and hate.

Author Bio
Rebekah grew up surrounded by family members who appreciated and read good literature. First, she fell in love with the stories her parents read aloud to her from the Bible and books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Great Expectations, The Hobbit, and Anne of Green Gables. After learning to read on her own, she discovered other fantastic books which helped to build her ever growing imagination.

She completed her first written work at the tender age of eight and now uses it to humble herself whenever the need arises. The story did serve to show her that God had given her a desire to write, however, and from that moment on Rebekah has never looked back or regretted picking up her pencil and becoming an author.

This eighteen-year-old homeschool graduate lives in rainy Western Washington and is currently working on receiving her BA in English in order to further her passion for creating worlds on paper.

Congratulations, Rebekah, for completing another fine tale!

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Question of Honor Cover Reveal

(In advance, I apologize for the odd formatting at the bottom of the page. It does that when I copy and paste certain things.)

At long last, my good friend Jesseca Wheaton is releasing the cover for her latest book, A Question of Honor, the first in her series “Questions of War.” This book captivated my heart with the first words and enraptured me throughout its pages. I quickly found myself lost in the tale, in love with the characters, and lamenting with them in their trials. I'm so happy to be apart of her cover reveal! Without further ado, I present . . .


Isn't it powerful? And here is her book summary:


A man. A child. A war.
When German soldiers invade France during World War II, young Joyanna's perfect world is shattered. In the hands of those who hate her, she battles to comprehend why people can be so ruthless and cold toward those whom they have never met.
David Sullivan, pilot in the Royal Air Force, was certain he would never hate, but a painful loss forces him to either reconsider or do the inconceivable—forgive. He is suddenly challenged by the realization that doing God's will is not easy, but most important. With the lives of freedom-fighters relying on him, he must learn the difficult lesson that he is not in control, but merely one who must surrender his heart of obedience to One greater.
A sudden turn of events lands Joyanna and David in the same country—but for far different reasons. When their paths cross, David finds he must make a decision that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.
Will he chose vengeance, or will he let his life be ruled by a higher standard? A standard of Honor.


I'm absolutely in love with A Question of Honor, and I can't wait for it to be released March 3, 2017. That's right! Just one month away this delightful tale will be revealed to the public. I'm so excited! Congratulations, Jesseca, and thank you so very much for allowing me to be a part of the process of your book.


Author Bio:


Jesseca is an 18-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

If you have ever been fascinated by this time period, be sure to order A Question of Honor the moment it comes out! I guarantee you won't be disappointed with it. Remember, March 3!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Hightlights 2017

Wow. I can't believe that the first month of 2017 is already over. It doesn't seem real. Wasn't just yesterday Christmas? Despite the speed which with this month flew by, January was a very good month.

~Summary~
I kicked off the year with a trip to Hume Lake Christian Camps again with my youth group. That was my best trip there so far! Plus I earned lots of bragging rights because we went during Hume's biggest rain storm in ten years. Despite the pouring rain, I loved every minute of my time up there. The tube run, coffee shop, and band were wonderful, and the speaker was excellent. My favorite parts were simply the great conversations I had with my friends and getting to know them even better.

I mustn't forget the ice skating! All my friends agreed that this was the highlight of our trip. I had the honor of teaching yet another friend (or two, or three) to skate. This year, instead of always being the teacher, I also got a chance to improve as I was challenged by another friend (you know who you are :P). I finally decided that I didn't care how often I fell, and I had a blast! I attempted skating backward (a disaster but fun nonetheless), and did my best to keep up.

Due to the excessive amount of rain, the Boxsled Blitz was cancelled, at least, the normal one. The Hume staff came up with a sort of obstacle course that we did on the ice skating rink. We didn't even place, but I'm pretty confident that our sled would have won had we raced down the hill. Our design was a pirate ship.
In the coffee shop.
Skating.
 
With the rain, the lake filled in a day.
In chapel.
Our pirate ship boxsled.

The river was less than half this size before rain.
This was one of the best weekends of my life! Thank you so much to my dad for taking the youth group, all the counselors, and my wonderful, amazing friends who made this trip so perfect! You guys are the best friends I could have! Thanks.

January also meant back to school, which really isn't so bad. I found myself actually looking forward to starting again.

In addition, the youth leader's wife from the other youth group I'm apart of had me and a few of my friends over to her house for an amazing sleepover.

A new experience for me this month is taking classes every Monday to get my amateur radio operating license. It's time consuming, but I know that it will be worth it to get my HAM license in a few more weeks.

Other than these, January didn't hold very many big events. It was nice to slow down a bit after Christmas and my birthday and enjoy the rain that we so desperately need out here in CA. We've gotten far more rain than all of last year combined and I'm getting to see ponds filled and rivers flowing strong. It's been so long since we've had this much water that I don't even remember seeing most of these as full as they are now.

~Reading~

I didn't quite make my goal of 10 books this month, but I came relatively close. Seven books for a total of 1,894 pages.
  1. Red Rock Mysteries: Hollywood Holdup, Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry (208 pages)
  2. Out From Egypt: Shadow of the Storm, Connilyn Cossette (346 pages)
  3. The Blades of Acktar: Destroy, Tricia Mingerink (165 pages)
  4. Adventures of the Northwoods: The Vanishing Footprints, Lois W. Johnson (156 pages)
  5. Dragons in Our Midst: Tears of a Dragon, Bryan Davis (363 pages)
  6. The Staff and the Sword: A Cast of Stones, Patrick W. Carr (428 pages)
  7. Red Rock Mysteries: Wind Chill, Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry (228 pages)
Every one of these books was wonderful! My favorite was probably Destroy. (Of course! It's by Tricia Mingerink!) I also read my first book by Patrick W. Carr, and I was really happy with his writing. If it's any indication, I want to buy more of his books. :)

~Writing~

After a long an unintentional break from writing, I finally started again on my dragon novel. I didn't get too much done, but I'm so happy to be writing again! I ended up writing a little over 1,500 words. I'm also in the process of editing a friend's story.

I think this pretty well sums up my month. I've been really absent from the blogging world lately, but I'm hoping that will change very soon. I hope you had a wonderful month! God bless you all!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Bookish Recap Tag

Welcome to 2017! I can't believe it's already here. Kaitlyn from Twin Thoughts tagged me for this marvelous book-related tag started by Faith P. at Stories by Firefly. You know me, always ready to write about books. Thank you, Kaitlyn!
Rules
  1. Include the above button in your post.
  2. Answer the 11 questions.
  3. Use as many book covers as you like.
  4. Tag 5-10 people and notify them that they've been tagged.
 Questions
1. How many books did you read in 2016? (Exact if you know, or approximate if not.)
I do have an exact for this. I know what you're thinking: BOOK NERD! And you're right. :) The answer is 85 books.

2. Did you set a reading challenge for yourself and, if so, did you meet it?
 I had set a goal of 10 books a month, so 120 all year. But, life interfered.

3. What was your most read genre this year? Least read?
Most read: Fantasy (about 24) and historical fiction (about 20-25)
Least read:  Biographies (1) and romance (3)

4. What's five of your favorite books from 2016?
This is a terrible question. So I'll just pick my five top series. haha.

The Makilien Trilogy by Molly Evangeline
The Pirates and Faith series by Molly Evangeline
The Blades of Acktar by Tricia Mingerink
Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight
Dragons in our Midst by Bryan Davis
Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers

What? I'm certain you counted wrong. There's only five series listed! :) Anyway, if you haven't heard of or read these series, you really need to. They're wonderful!

5. What's five of your least favorite books from 2016?
 Nobody kill me as I know these are some favorites.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
Silas Marner, George Eliot
Shane, Jack Schaefer
Seal of the King, Ralph Smith

I personally wouldn't recommend any of these books to anyone. These were pretty much my only disappointing books throughout the year.

6. What new favorite author did you discover? (Not necessarily that the author is 'new', but that they became new to you this year.)
This was a very good reading year. I found my new favorite author—Tricia Mingerink, and for all intensive purposes I found my second-favorite author—Jaye L. Knight/Molly Evangeline. I actually found MANY new authors but these two are by far my favorites.

7. What's five of your favorite book covers from the year?
There were some really good ones! Here are a few.
Resistance, Jaye L. Knight
Courage, Molly Evangeline
The Pirate Daughter's Promise, Molly Evangeline
Deny, Tricia Mingerink
Defy, Tricia Mingerink

What? I'm not biased! Why would you say that?

8. How many books did you purchase for yourself in 2016? (Exact if you know, approximate if not.)
I bought more books for myself this year than any other year prior. That being said, I'm not sure. I got several of them free on Kindle and bought all my favorites in paper-back. Still, many of them were given to me for Christmas and my birthday. I'd have to say that I bought at least 20.

9. What's the longest book you read in 2016?
Unfortunately, it was also one of my least favorites. Ironic, I know. Seal of the King by Ralph Smith was 749 pages. Yes, you read that number correctly. The longest book I've ever read!

10. What's the shortest book you read in 2016?
Probably Jesseca Wheaton's Beyond the Horizon at 72 pages. I also read a few others that might have been slightly shorter.

11. What's your reading goal for 2017?
I'm not going to push myself since I have a super busy schedule, but I'm going to aim for last year's goal of 120. We'll see how I do!
I Tag
You! If you are reading this and have done the tag, leave me the link to your post and I'll go read it. If you haven't done this and don't have a blog, go ahead and leave me a comment with your answers! I love learning about your reading adventures!

I would say that this year, most of the books I read ranged from 300-400 pages, and I'm very happy with that number. So, while I didn't read quite the number of books I'd hoped to, I read plenty of pages. Here's the complete list of what I read if you are interested. Before you go, be sure to either answer the questions or recommend a book to me. Thanks!

My Reading Year
 
January (2,946 pages total)
  1. Makilien Trilogy: Courage, Molly Evangeline (478 pages)
  1. Makilien Trilogy: Trust, Molly Evangeline (331 pages)
  2. Circle C Milestones: Heartbreak Trail, Susan K. Marlow (166 pages)
  3. 'Nama Beach High: New Girl in Town, Nancy Rue (170 pages)
  4. Pirates and Faith: The Pirate Daughter's Promise, Molly Evangeline (217 pages)
  5. Pirates and Faith: Every Tear, Molly Evangeline (458 pages)
  6. Circle C Milestones: The Last Ride, Susan K. Marlow (175 pages)
  7. Red Rock Mysteries: Instant Menace, Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry (234 pages)
  8. Red Rock Mysteries: Escaping Darkness, Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry (218 pages)
  9. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (499 pages)

February (2,010 pages total)
  1. Daughters of the Faith Series: Shadow of His Hand, Wendy Lawton (148 pages)
  2. What About Cimmaron?, Lauraine Snelling (84 pages)
  3. Sierra Jensen Series: In Your Dreams, Robin Jones Gunn (140 pages)
  4. Forbidden Doors: The Guardian, Bill Myers (170 pages)
  5. Red Rock Mysteries: Windy City Danger, Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry (234 pages)
  6. Adventures of the Northwoods: The Disappearing Stranger, Lois W. Johnson (142 pages)
  7. The Black Stallion: The Blood Bay Colt, Walter Farley (307 pages)
  8. The Island Stallion: The Island Stallion's Fury, Walter Farley (190 pages)
  9. Pirates and Faith: A Captain's Heart, Molly Evangeline (365 pages)
  10. Golden Filly: The Race, Lauraine Snelling (123 pages)
  11. Golden Filly: Eagles Wings, Lauraine Snelling (107 pages)

March (2,047 pages total)
  1. Silas Marner, George Eliot (202 pages)
  2. Golden Filly: Go for the Glory, Lauraine Snelling (126 pages)
  3. Golden Filly: Kentucky Dreamer, Lauraine Snelling (130 pages)
  4. Golden Filly: Call for Courage, Lauraine Snelling (122 pages)
  5. Dear Enemy, Jack Cavanaugh (288 pages)
  6. The Kingdom Series: Kingdom's Dawn, Chuck Black (145 pages)
  7. Blessed Child, Ted Dekker and Bill Bright (349 pages)
  8. Left Behind: Desecration, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (405 pages)
  9. The Kingdom Series: Kingdom's Hope, Chuck Black (138 pages)
  10. Adventures of the Northwoods: The Hidden Message, Lois Walfrid Johnson (142 pages)

April (2,016+ pages total)
  1. The Blades of Acktar: Dare, Tricia Mingerink (334 pages)
  2. Golden Filly: Shadow Over San Mateo, Lauraine Snelling (119 pages)
  3. The Anne of Green Gables Novels: Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery (308 pages)
  4. Song of the Desert, Katie Grace (307 pages)
  5. Christian Heroes: Then and Now: Jacob Deshazer, Janet and Geoff Benge (219 pages)
  6. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (330 pages)
  7. The Blades of Acktar: Deny, Tricia Mingerink (328 pages)
  8. Kressler Kids Mysteries: The Mystery of the Midnight Tresspasser, Hosanna Emily (_ pages)
  9. Golden Filly: Out of the Mist, Lauraine Snelling (116 pages)

May (1,428+ pages total)
  1. The Oneness: Hive, Rachel Starr Thomson (__ pages)
  2. The Oneness: Exile, Rachel Starr Thomson (230 pages)
  3. Pirates and Faith: Finding Faith, Molly Evangeline (277 pages)
  4. The Blades of Acktar: Defy, Tricia Mingerink (__ pages)
  5. Shane, Jack Schaefer (151 pages)
  6. Ilyon Chronicles: Resistance, Jaye L. Knight (478 pages)
  7. Bonnets and Bugles Series: The Gallant Boys of Gettysburg, Gilbert Morris (168 pages)
  8. Golden Filly: Second Wind, Lauraine Snelling (124 pages)

June (388 pages total)
  1. The Revelation Chronicles: Will's Purpose, Randolph Kay (388 pages)

July (2,314 pages total)
  1. Cedar River Daydreams: Unheard Voices, Judy Baer (140 pages)
  2. Mark of the Lion: A Voice in the Wind, Francine Rivers (507 pages)
  3. Golden Filly: Close Call, Lauraine Snelling (128 pages)
  4. Mark of the Lion: An Echo in the Darkness, Francine Rivers (442 pages)
  5. Golden Filly: The Winner's Circle, Lauraine Snelling (127 pages)
  6. Mark of the Lion: As Sure as the Dawn, Francine Rivers (473 pages)
  7. Adventures of the Northwoods: The Creeping Shadows, Lois Walfrid Johnson (160 pages)
  8. Out from Egypt: Counted With the Stars, Connilyn Cossette (337 pages)

August (1,230 pages total)
  1. A Seven Wonders Novel: City of the Dead, T. L. Higley (380 pages)
  2. Cedar River Daydreams: Trouble with a Capital “T”, Judy Baer (139 pages)
  3. Cedar River Daydreams: Journey to Nowhere, Judy Baer (126 pages)
  4. Cedar River Daydreams: More Than Friends, Judy Baer (122 pages)
  5. A Question of Honor, Jesseca Wheaton (150 pages)
  6. Ilyon Chronicles: Half-Blood, Jaye L. Knight (130 pages)
  7. And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity, Dannah Gresh (183 pages)

September (1,707 pages total + X)
  1. The Seventh Dimension: The Door, Lorilyn Roberts (231 pages)
  2. The Lost Girl of Astor Street, Stepanie Morrill (345 pages)
  3. Failstate: Failstate, John W. Otte (426 pages)
  4. Dragons in Our Midst: Raising Dragons, Bryan Davis (371 pages)
  5. Dragon Keeper Chronicles: Dragon Spell, Donita K. Paul (334 pages)
  6. X (Courtship book)
October (1,319 pages total)
  1. Follower of the Word: Daughter of Light, Morgan L. Busse (376 pages)
  2. Light of Loian: A Light in the Darkness, Heather Sutherlin (215 pages)
  3. Dragon Keeper Chronicles: Dragon Quest, Donita K. Paul (349 pages)
  4. A Seven Wonders Novel: Guardian of the Flame, T. L. Higley (379 pages)

November (2,271 pages total)
  1. Montana Skies Series: McKenzie, Penny Zeller (314 pages)
  2. Dragons in Our Midst: The Candlestone, Bryan Davis (388 pages)
  3. Dragons in Our Midst: Circles of Seven, Bryan Davis (434 pages)
  4. The Wanderer Series: Seen, Heather Sutherlin (139 pages)
  5. Thrilling Action and Adventure Fiction Book: Seal of the King, Ralph Smith (749 pages)
  6. Cedar River Daydreams: Never Too Late, Judy Baer (121 pages)
  7. Cedar River Daydreams: A Special Kind of Love, Judy Baer (126 pages)

December (1,077 pages total)
  1. Madman, Tracy Groot (316 pages)
  2. Men of the Saddle: The Drifter, Lori Copeland (279 pages)
  3. Beyond the Horizon, Jesseca Wheaton (72 pages)
  4. Chiveis Trilogy: The Sword, Bryan M. Litfin (410 pages)

    Thanks for reading! Have a blessed week!