Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

1543855048212I confess, I have rarely ever felt the Lord so closely when reading a book. I am drawn to Him, I find His comfort often in the words of my favorite authors, and Biblical fiction points me to His word, igniting me to dig deeper into my own personal study.

This book was different.

Something about it touched my soul so deeply, resonated with me so well, I felt the Lord speaking to me directly through this book (As I’m sure He has to many others who’ve read this masterpiece before me).

The spiritual content in this book is overwhelmingly amazing, and Tessa Afshar’s research shines in this novel. Every bit of the plot seems so well-rooted in research, that it came to life before my very eyes. Literally, as I listened to the audiobook version of this book, visions of Eliana, Ethan, and Joanna danced in my imagination as the story was narrated to me.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me share with you what this book is about:

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

This is the story of the bleeding woman, who had a bleeding heart long before her physical malady took hold. Her life is full of pain, twisted apart by misunderstandings, miscommunications, gossip, and unfortunate interpretations of the Law. Yet, through all of this, she searches for healing, first from the physical world of doctors and physicians, later from the Lord, and finally, from Jesus Christ.

I highly recommend this book to all fans of Biblical fiction and well-researched historical fiction, but also to those who are in need of encouragement and healing. That is exactly what you will find in the Land of Silence.

Until next time,

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I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT

IMG_6169 So, NaNoWriMo, that thing I signed up for? Yeah, that was a lot. Sorry I haven’t been blogging the whole experience, I was hospitalized for author related symptoms like stress and caffeine addiction (Joke. Kidding. I’m fine).

It did drain me though! There were moments where I was positive that I wasn’t going to make it. “Oh well, I thought, I’ll finish this book eventually, even if it takes my five or ten years…”

So, here’s my news. I finished my first draft! I finished the story! I typed “THE END” at the bottom of my manuscript, and it felt AMAZING.

BUT, don’t congratulate me yet. I came up 7,000 words (roughly) short of “winning” NaNoWriMo. My total word count right now is somewhere around 72,000 words (and climbing, as I do edits and rewrite some parts that were, admittedly, lacking a certain “finesse”). However, only about 40,000 of those words were from NaNoWriMo, so I’m under the 50,000 required for it to be an *official* win. I’m also shy of my original goal for my completed manuscript to be 80,000 words, but I know I’m an underwriter, and I can fix it as I edit!!!

So did I win officially? No. But I definitely won personally, and you can bet I’m buying myself a winner T-Shirt regardless! I deserve that reward, and so do you, even if you only wrote five words, five thousand words, or five hundred thousand words.

BTW: If you can write five hundred thousand words in a month, please call me. Teach me your wizard ways.

Everyone is a winner, every time they open their manuscript, write a couple (or more) words, add to their Pinterest aesthetic boards, redo their outline, get lost on Spotify finding songs that just make you FEEL like your characters are sitting right beside you. You. Are. A. Winner.

So don’t get caught up in the numbers game, celebrate your success!

I sure am!!!

Until next time,

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Gods & Kings by Lynn Austin

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The nation of Israel is governed by bloodthirsty leaders consumed by greed and overwhelmed by their lust for power. All of the hope for the nation of God rests in the young prince, who is as conflicted and confused by what to do, as he is about which gods to worship. 

Right away, the book pulls you into the horrors of King Ahaz’s reign with chilling detail. The book itself is full of passionate characters, clinging to whoever and whatever they can in order to survive in the dangerous political and social climate, and stay sane amongst the madness that they are forced to endure every single day. Loss after loss dims their world which grows darker day by day with every tragic occurrence. 

All of the characters were so entertaining to read about! Some of them (don’t worry, no spoilers) were hard to say goodbye to, but others, I can’t wait to hear more of! I’m glad that the story has only just begun, and that I have the entire series already waiting on my bookshelf just for me to binge-read!

This book is a phenomenal story that shows that there are more sacrifices that the characters need to make than the sacrifices which according to the Law require bloodshed. As if rising from the ashes, the ending of this story is triumphant and a riveting end to the first part of Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series. I look forward to reading the rest of this series, and as a long time fan of Lynn Austin’s writing, I have no doubt that the next books will be just as exciting and heart racing as this introduction was!

Although I haven’t finished the series, I would highly recommend this book to everyone and especially fans of Biblical fiction. Nobody writes it like Lynn Austin writes, and she writes it BEAUTIFULLY! Be sure to subscribe to this blog for more book reviews like this, and don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel where I post videos discussing all things bookish and my Instagram, where I post book recommendations and other things related to books and writing, every. single. day. As always, happy reading!

Until next time,

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The Christmas Remedy by Cindy & Erin Woodsmall || Review

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Nothing heals the soul better than a good book, and that’s exactly what A Christmas Remedy is. A little bit of medicine for the soul!

This new-to-me co-author duo have crafted a story so unique, and full of so much hope – perfect for the impending holiday season! The story follows Joshua Smuckers and Holly Zook, Holly being a young woman who doesn’t quite fit in to her very traditional Amish community.

Holly has a deep calling to bring health care to her people, but it’s taken her a lot to get to a point where the people trust her and the local pharmacy. When a horrible health-scare mysterious incident occurs at the pharmacy, the doubt of her people and the doubt of the Board of Pharmacy threaten to undo all of her hard work.

To get to the bottom of it all, Holly must team up with Joshua, the young man who’s offer of a relationship she’d denied some time before believing that there was no way she could have a relationship and fulfill God’s calling for her life, given the strict rules of her faith.

As they work together, their feelings for one another only grow stronger, but there are still old wounds that need to be treated. Misunderstandings about matters of the heart need strong medicine, and there’s no better place to fulfill that prescription than Greene’s pharmacy. In the end, the characters have more to celebrate on Christmas day than just good tidings and cheer!

Personally, I’ve never really delved into the Amish fiction world. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this book which blended both the Amish community and the outside world so well. I very much identified with Holly’s feelings of being a misfit and not knowing where she belonged. Throughout the story she wrestles with conflicting emotions and messages about God’s will for her life, and I think that’s something that we can all relate to at some point or another.

The novel deals with themes of trust, brokenness, grief, and fear in a way that is so hopeful, and so perfect for the magical holiday backdrop of the story! Christmastime is a time where we celebrate the hope that is Jesus Christ, who is a light of hope for all of the characters involved in this story. I loved how each arc blended together to create a timeless tale of forgiveness, the Amish way!

* Note: while I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, that has in no way affected my opinions or rating of the book itself. Thank you.

This is one book you’ll want to have on your reading list for Christmas vacation! Until next time,

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NaNoWriMo: It’s not you, it’s me!

IMG_6170Oh, NaNo! I had such high hopes for us together, but I promise, it’s not you. It’s me.

It’s only day two of NaNoWriMo, and I’m already wayyy behind. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing everyone else’s progress reports, encouraging posts, and check-ins… But for me? Well. I really don’t have any progress to report!

I said from the beginning that I was only “loosely committing” to NaNoWriMo, but it’s hard not to feel discouraged when I haven’t put any words down on paper. But you know what? I physically can’t put any words down on paper right now.

Before I go on, I guess I should probably explain to you all just exactly WHAT #NaNoWriMo is. NaNo or NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which happens EVERY year in the month of November. People all over the world commit to writing an entire novel in a month. Sounds great in theory, right? Yeah. That’s about where it ends. Once you’ve signed up for NaNo, you’ve signed up for a whole month of stress, sleep deprivation, and eye strain from staring at the blinking cursor for far too many hours in a row.

Okay, I’m probably over exaggerating a little bit. NaNo is a great thing! I love that so many people love books and writing so much that we’ve dedicated an entire month to it! And I love how this event really brings the writing community together… For reals! There’s an entire official website for NaNo where all of the NaNo participants to chat, connect, and track their progress until they “win” (winning for most people means writing 50,000 words in thirty days) at the end of the month! People have even created Facebook groups for a similar purpose. Others do live videos on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. It’s a big deal! And like I already said, I love it!

But I also said earlier, right now, I currently can’t put any words down. Yes, I’m aware, you’re reading a blog post full of words, but these words are… More like a therapeutic journal for me than anything else. It’s easy for me to write here because I know I’m writing to all of you! My fellow book-loving, writer friends! You guys understand me and I don’t have to worry about structure here, meeting a word count, or whether or not I’m using the right tense verb for an action or the appropriate dialogue tags… Ah, the writer’s life.

The reason I’m having such a hard time is that I’ve been SO BUSY. If you follow me on Instagram you probably know from my stories that I spent all of last week in California for some family things. I went to a celebration of life for my grandma who passed earlier this year, I spent a lot of time with my cousins, parents, and loved ones, and I was otherwise just busy all of that week! I came back the day before Halloween, and I could already tell that all of the flying and running around had gotten to me. The next day was Halloween, which is a whole sugar rush of a different kind of craziness, and Piper (my toy Australian Shepherd) just started obedience school so training her has become kind of a priority. Still think I’m not busy? I’ve also got college work that just needs to be done, house stuff to take care of, and of course time that is reserved to be spent with my wonderful husband who loves me and supports me in everything I do and I couldn’t do any of it without him.

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So, I’m busy. You get the picture right? Well, all of that business has caught up to me and now I have an awful head cold. I guess you could say I’m literally not in the “head-space” for writing! My eyelids feel like the way about five million pounds and when I’m not sniffling, I’m sneezing! The thought of trying to write something for my WIP right now is just… too much.

So, these first few days of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been taking it easy. I told myself when I committed to this that it would be low-key, but it’s still difficult to see everyone else “running” this marathon so to speak, and me just sitting on my couch curled up under a blanket.

An AuthorTuber that I love recently did a video. Actually, she’s doing an entire NaNoWriMo series of videos on her YouTube channel, where she talks about comparison. When it’s NaNoWriMo, and everyone you know is posting how today they wrote thousands and thousands of words, and you’ve barely written a hundred, it’s easy to be discouraged. Yes, NaNo is a great opportunity to write 50,000 words. But more importantly? NaNo is just an opportunity to write! Something, anything. The whole point of this month is to celebrate writing, not to stress yourself out over making a word count. Even though I’ve been saying that all along I still need to remind myself.

Here is Bethany Atazadeh’s video (the one that I mentioned above) about comparison and getting discouraged during NaNoWriMo:

Actually, here is my own video that I also did recently sort of tackling the same topic:

I guess I need to take a bit of my own medicine! LOL!

Basically, I just wanted to send a message to everyone participating in NaNo. If you didn’t write 2k today, if you didn’t write 2k yesterday, and you don’t think you’ll write 2k tomorrow, that’s okay! That doesn’t mean you’re failing at ANYTHING. You are still an author. You are still a writer. Your word count does not determine your validation. Use this month for what it’s meant to be used for! Celebrating your love of writing! Not stressing yourself out so much to the point where you hate writing with the fiery burning passion of a thousand suns.

I’m still going to try to write this month! I’m still going to keep encouraging all my other friends who are also participating in NaNo! But I’m also going to stop when I want to stop, not push myself if I just don’t have it in me, and give myself a break when I need one. Because my success is not defined by a little digitized number at the bottom left hand corner of my screen. Sure, I want to write 50k, but at the end of the day, whatever I have written is still a success! Even if it was only ten words, that’s still winning in my book! And for all of you participating in NaNo as well, remember that you are working at your own pace. Nobody’s life is the same as your life! Nobody’s schedule is the same as yours! Don’t compare, just enjoy the ride and enjoy the process.

(And maybe spend a lot of time in December editing! Haha!)

Until my next post,

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Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer – Review

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This book combined my love of book-loving characters and the old West days! I mean, come on, doesn’t that cover just scream Belle from Beauty and the Beast? However, I’ve got news for you – the love interest in this book is certainly no beast, but together, they face a few!

A bit from the back cover, to give you some context:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America’s wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn’t uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon–and intrigues him at the same time. But he can’t afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella’s uncle comes to claim the child–and her inheritance–Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man’s evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

Bookish, day-dreaming school teacher, and a well-bred Englishman who runs a Texas ranch and looks after a five-year-old little girl. These two characters are an unlikely match, but in my opinion, they’re absolutely perfect for each other. The humor I’ve come to know and love in Karen Witemeyer’s books was present from the very beginning. The unconventionality of the way the two characters meet is adorable and made me grin from ear to ear. Even with all of those heartwarming conversations and giggle-inducing encounters, there’s still a good amount of drama and depth.

A murder plot is the most abridged version of this story’s conflict, but there’s so much more happening between the lines. I was deeply moved by the growth of both of the main characters, as well as the spiritual content weaved throughout. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of sweet romance, historical fiction, and just good reading in general! It’s pages are full of smiles, tears (both happy and sad), and inspiring faith messages!

This book is easily going down as one of my favorite love stories! It’s going on my bookshelves to be displayed proudly for all to see. Although, my collection of books is probably nothing compared Adelaide Proctor’s, whose own collection of books I’d love to explore and obsess over with her anytime!

What is your most recent add to your book collection? Have you read Head in the Clouds? I’d love to hear what you thought of it, or what other books you’d recommend!

Until next time,

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Fall Favorites – 2018!

A few of my favorite things from this Fall, the best of them all! Books, candles, and ALL of the things!!!

IMG_7344 There are so many things to love about this season and time of year. Now, hear me out, I know that this is completely insane. Fall is what really? A time where pretty much all plant life dies and decays by turning into various shades of red, orange, and brown until ultimately the leaves wither into nothingness in preparation for the coming harshness of winter. Still, there’s nothing more magical than the latter months of the year in my opinion. As crazy as it sounds, fall to me means rebirth and rejuvenation! Those darkening leaves and cool breezes? I find them beautiful.

Maybe it’s because of my allergies that I associate springtime with a general feeling of death, but we’ll save that for another post!

As you can see, I LOVE fall. Or have you not gotten that message yet? Here are a few of the things that have been making my fall-time even more beautiful!

  1. Karen Witemeyer Books – Every fall, I normally settle in with my blankets, a candle, and the entire When Calls the Heart collection (AKA, the Canadian West series). Something about Canada and historical fiction just screams fall to me. While I haven’t gotten around to my annual reread of When Calls the Heart, Karen Witemeyer’s books have been a great alternative for filling all of my historical fiction needs!
  2. Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette – One of my favorite things about this fall has been being apart of the launch team for this book, getting to read it and promote it! It’s a fantastic read and I’d recommend it to anyone! Conni is, and probably always will be, a Biblical fiction queen!
  3. CANDLES – Ok, we’re book nerds. We love reading. But you know what makes reading instantly better? Every. single. time.??? Reading near an open flame. A cozy candle, bonus points if it’s pumpkin or cinnamon scented, makes reading all the more enjoyable during these cold, rainy evenings. Just make sure you read a safe distance away from your candle. I shouldn’t have to say this, but JUST IN CASE, this is your friendly reminder that books are made of paper, and they can and WILL burn if they come into too close of contact with fire!!!
  4. WRITING – True. I write all of the time. But there’s something about falling back into a chair, staring pensively out the window watching the storms ensue, and tapping a pencil on the crisp, blank pages of a notebook. In those moments, we authors have ultimate power.

Of course, there’s more. Isn’t there always more? Be sure to watch my Fall Favorites YouTube video on my channel for even more wonderfully fall-ish recommendations! Tis the season to be… fall-y? Whatever. Just watch the video! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a single update or bookish review/recommendation! Until then,

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