Announcement: GIVEAWAY + Instagram Challenge!

“Biblical Fiction Buffs”

Say whaaaaat?!?!?!

Jenna Van Mourik is hosting ANOTHER giveaway? No need to get your glasses prescription double-checked, you read that right! Another giveaway is in the works, in celebration of my Goodreads group and online book club, The Biblical Fiction Buffs.

This, the first week of September, I’m hosting an INSTAGRAM PHOTO CHALLENGE. If you’ve never participated in a photo challenge before, then allow me to give you this quick introduction. A photo challenge on Instagram usually takes place on certain days, and can be as short as a day, or as long as a month! My instagram challenge will be only a week long, from September 1-7. Every day of the week, there is a “prompt” for that day. You take or post a picture of a book that you think fits that prompt, with a challenge-specific hashtag, and BOOM! You’re participating in the challenge.

My challenge will be using the hashtag #BiblicalFictionBuffsChallenge and will be Cities of Refuge themed! As in, the Cities of Refuge series by Connilyn Cossette! Book #1, A Light on the Hill, just so happens to be the book we’re reading in September for the Biblical Fiction Buffs quarterly book club, so it fits perfectly. Here’s all the challenge details below:

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NOW… I bet you’re wondering what the deal is with the giveaway now, huh?

Well… Let me tell you, by participating in the challenge, YOU’RE ALREADY ELIGIBLE TO WIN THESE AMAZING PRIZES!

Each day you post for the challenge counts as an entry into the giveaway, so you have the potential to enter your name SEVEN TIMES. Five winners will be selected to win an assortment of Cities of Refuge themed goodies and swag. Notebooks, pens, bookmarks, the WORKS! Of those five winners, one will also be selected to win the GRAND PRIZE which will include all of the aforementioned prizes, plus a PAPERBACK COPY of Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette, Book #2 in the Cities of Refuge series!!! AHHH!!! Tell me I’m not the only one freaking out over how exciting this is?

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The only catch?

The winner will be announced via the discussion boards IN THE GOODREADS GROUP for the Biblical Fiction Buffs book club, so make sure you’re all set up with a Goodreads account and that you’ve joined the group so that you get ALLLL the notifications whenever that announcement goes live!

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Best of luck! And I can’t WAIT to see all of your GORGEOUS photos come September 1st! Be sure to tag me @jennavanmourik and use the hashtag #BiblicalFictionBuffsChallenge so that I can see your entry and mark you down for the giveaway!

Until then, happy reading!

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Review: In the Shadow of Sinai by Carole Towriss

IMG_8732I can honestly say that I just finished In the Shadow of Sinai moments ago, and am writing this book with a smile on my face. I really enjoyed the story and I enjoyed Bezalel’s journey.

Before I share my review, here’s the back cover synopsis in case you didn’t know what the book was about. If you did, feel free to skip ahead!

About the Book:

Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order, Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.

When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year, Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave, the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful young concubine.

When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel. But that’s only the beginning…

Of course, there were a few things that I didn’t personally connect with. For one thing, this book is, for the most part, from a man’s perspective. Most of the major characters are all men, and sometimes I had trouble connecting with them, their struggles, and their voices. That being said, I did enjoy the female characters. In particular, Bezalel’s Imma (mother) and later in the book, Meri. The relationship between Meri and Bezalel developed a little bit too quickly for my personal taste, but I thought in the end it was sweet and they were a good couple.

It took me a long time to finish this book (a week and a half total, which is long for me, as I’m typically a fast reader). I think that this is in part due to how much of the book is set in Egypt in proportion to how much of the book actually takes place after the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea. The parts set in Egypt took up a lot of the book and in my opinion lagged quite a bit. At the end, I understood why they were there for character development reasons, but it did feel like it took a really long time for the story to actually develop. Once the Israelites were out of Egypt though, that’s when it really got interesting for me.

This book had a LOT of research in it. I learned all kinds of little details about daily life during the time of the Exodus, the food, the descriptions of the land, the customs, etc. If you enjoy that in Biblical fiction, then this book is definitely for you! I usually don’t like being “bogged down” with a lot of details and historical facts that seem to just be “thrown in” to a story to make it appear more realistic, but the way Towriss writes really makes the setting comes to life.

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I enjoyed reading about Sinai, the receiving of the Ten Commandments, the manna, and all the other adventures that the characters experienced on their way to Israel. I also enjoyed Bezalel’s character development and story during this part, as it felt like towards the second half of the book he showed real growth. In the beginning, I had honestly wondered if he would ever change. However, in the end I loved the lessons he learned about peace and trusting in God. Overall, it was a good read. It might not end up in my top ten, but I would still recommend it and plan to read more books by this author.

I gave this book a 3/5 stars because I liked it, but I think there is room for improvement, which is exactly why I will be reading more books by Towriss in the future.

Happy reading everyone!

 

Inside the Museum of the Bible: A Biblical Fiction Lover’s Dream!

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As many of you may know, I have had the privilege of visiting the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., not one, but TWO times. My first visit was in the summer of 2018 when I went with my mom, and the second was with Alysha from the blog For The Love of Christian Fiction during our trip to CFRR (Christian Fiction Readers Retreat) this past April of 2019. Both times have been amazing, powerful, and truly life-changing experiences, both for myself as a Christian, and as a Biblical fiction reader and writer.

So for today’s blog post (since I’m constantly talking about this wonderful museum anyways) I thought I would take you guys “inside” the museum and show you some of my favorite aspects of it. You’ll see pictures from both of my trips (the red dress/denim jacket combo is from 2018, and the OTHER red dress is from 2019 – and no, I didn’t do that on purpose. Total coincidence!).

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I never did manage to get a good picture of the OUTSIDE of the museum, mostly because if I backed up any further I would have fallen into the street, but I have to admit, even from the small bit of the entryway you can see, it’s a striking building. The golden “pages” on either side of the door are stunning if you catch them in the right lighting.

The museum itself is SIX floors, plus a basement which houses their temporary/traveling exhibit. Before I go into further detail about each of the floors I would like to point out that this museum is non-denominational, and strictly a museum on the history of the Bible (how/when/why/for what reason it was written, how it was translated, and how it came to be in our hands today). It is not a museum on Christianity itself, the spread of Christianity, or even about the ancient Israelites. This is something the employees will tell you and explain very nicely when you visit. One of the biggest criticisms that I’ve heard about the museum is that people were “waiting for the moment when they would show exhibits on how the Bible saves lives, has impacted Christianity, etc.” It’s not that the people behind the museum aren’t Christians or don’t support Christianity, it’s that their desire is to draw people in to learn about the history of the Bible itself without turning people off or away based off of denominational beliefs. They may even hope to reach people who aren’t Christians or who don’t know the Bible, merely by inviting them in to study the history of the Bible itself, and allowing God to speak through the history.

And trust me you guys, the history alone is enough to make you shed a tear or two and turn your eyes heavenward to say to God, “Wow. All of this – for Your glory.” Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to walk away from the exhibits without thinking anything else, and without praising Him for all He has done and for the miracle that the Bible is so widely accessible today, even when historically people tried to destroy it, hide it, or keep it from those who needed it most. Every time I visit I feel so blessed afterwards to live in a country where I can read the Bible, purchase one in a bookstore, download one on my phone, and worship God in church freely. It’s an incredible blessing and one I don’t think we should ever take for granted.

Now, onto those six floors I was telling you about:

  1. The Grand Hall – this is where you purchase tickets, see a traveling exhibit or two, and pick up a souvenir shirt or theology book from the gift shop (Yep. You can bet I’ve spent LOTS of time in the gift shop).
  2. The Impact of the Bible – This floor’s exhibits focus exactly on that, how the Bible has impacted nations, cultures, countries, and people of all different backgrounds.
  3. The Stories of the Bible – Here we are! Getting to my favorite floor! More on this one later, since I have LOADS of pictures.
  4. The History of the Bible – Pretty self explanatory, but as you can probably guess, this floor’s exhibits show the history of the Bible; how it was written, how it was shared, how it was translated, and how it became the Bible we know today.
  5. Special Exhibits + The World Stage Theatre
  6. Manna Restaurant + Views of D.C. – The top floor of the museum is pretty much a full side of windows which gives you an INCREDIBLE view of the Capitol mall, which is great if you just want to see it all and aren’t super into walking (more like hiking) to each monument, plus a restaurant where you can grab a meal or two. This museum is huge so you may need a snack break at one point – LOL!

All that, plus the basement, and you can see why it would be fairly easy to spend an entire day just at this one museum! Even though I’ve been TWICE, I feel like I’ve still only scratched the surface of what the museum has to offer.

I’ve spent the most time on floors 3 and 4, because that’s just what I’m typically the most interested in. Because of that, that’s where all my pictures are from, and what I’ll be talking about in this post.

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Beginning with floor 4, the history of the Bible, this exhibit is so interesting because of all the artifacts, replicas, and informational videos that it has to offer. It’s expansive, honestly, and as many of my friends and family have said, it’s the kind of place that I could move into and be perfectly happy living in for the rest of my life.

And you want to know what my favorite part of this floor is?

OK, I’ll tell you. 🙂

Have any of you guys ever heard of the Drive Thru History documentaries? Well, if you haven’t, you should click that link and look them up because they’re pretty incredible. They’re hosted by Dave Stotts, and he discusses all kinds of Biblical history as he literally drives around places like Rome, The Holy Land, the Middle East, stopping at historical sites to explain the significance of them. They’re full of humor, nuggets of information, and are super easy to understand – pretty much designed to give you a basic summary and tour of all the sites mentioned in the Bible (He also has a series on the East Coast of America documenting Revolutionary American history if that’s something else you’re interested in).

Well anyways, my grandma used to show me his documentaries *ALL THE TIME* growing up. They’re perfect for middle school and high school students because they’re so engaging, entertaining, and don’t get too bogged down with details, dates, and the other typical history-book stuff that might make a kid fall asleep in class. I was low-key David Stotts’ biggest eleven-year-old fan.

Not. Even. Kidding.

SO – when I found out about the Drive Thru History theatre at the Museum of the Bible I screamed. Literally. I think I scared the person giving us a tour.

Because I have to, here’s some pictures of me trying not to uncontrollably squeal in front of the giant poster of Dave Stotts, my unofficial middle school history teacher, and THE FAMOUS Drive Thru History jeep. Because. Reasons.

Basically, Dave Stotts did a, what I believe to be an exclusive for the museum, mini-documentary guiding you through all the significant locations to the history of the Bible. If you go to the museum and are on the fourth floor, I highly suggest you start your tour of this floor with this experience, because it really is an intro to what the rest of the floor is all about.

Ok… *CUE THE DRAMATIC MUSIC*

Here’s where the REAL fangirl in me comes out.

Floor 3.

The Stories of the Bible.

So, here’s the thing, as a huge fan of the Bible (I mean, obviously) and of Biblical fiction, my biggest dream has always been to visit the Holy Land and other significant Biblical locations (that’s probably why I liked the Drive Thru History documentaries so much, now that I think about it). I loved The Prince of Egypt movie as a kid, and longed to go to Egypt to see the pyramids. I adored listening to the character “Mr. Whitaker” from Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey series tell the Bible stories about Jesus’ life, crucifixion, and resurrection, and always wanted to visit Israel and see those places for myself. I would read my children’s Bible version of Paul’s life and ached to see the Roman cities where he preached the gospel. While I plan to visit there someday, it’s just not the most accessible place to get to. Air fare, travel costs, planning an overseas trip like that, isn’t realistic for me right now, nor was it when I was eight-years-old.

If the Museum of the Bible had existed then, I would have been the happiest kid on the planet.

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The person who gave us a tour called the “World of Jesus of Nazareth” experience a “Christian Disneyland” if you will, and that’s exactly what it is. They took the third floor of the museum and built a replica of what Nazareth might have been like in Jesus’ day.

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You walk in and you are instantly transported to another time, and another place.

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Lights, ambient sounds, and actors dressed in Biblical garb really sell the experience that you actually are walking around in what could have been a first-century Palestinian village.

You can enter a house and see what a typical kitchen looked like, learn how food was prepared, and see what kinds of foods would have been served at a meal or feast.

You can visit the sheep in the “fields” or pose for a photo-op doing hard manual labor.

And what may be my favorite part of all – you can visit a synagogue and see how the Torah might have been read at assemblies, and pose in front of a scroll yourself (although historically, I probably wouldn’t have been the one reading from the scroll!).

As you can see, the reason I love this experience so much is because it makes the Holy land “accessible” if you will, to those who might not have the means to travel overseas, but are in the area of Washington D.C. or can afford to make a trip a few states away. I am still looking forward to the day I get to visit the Holy Land, but for now, this experience will satisfy me.

And for real, you guys, it’s basically my version of Disneyland!!!

Finally, my last favorite experience that I want to share with you guys is called “The Hebrew Bible Experience” – but I can’t share any pictures because they are prohibited in this exhibit. This is a walk-through attraction which uses video, audio, fog, special effects, music, lighting, displays, and more to quite literally walk you through the Old Testament. You begin in the garden where you learn about Adam and Eve and the Fall of mankind, you are taken to Egypt to experience the pain of slavery, you walk in between the waters of the Red Sea as Moses leads the people to freedom, and so much more.

You guys, I can’t even begin to describe this experience. To prove it, I even texted Alysha seeking help:

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She’s telling the truth. The entire walk-through experience had me whispering ALL ABOUT my emotions. I had chills up and down my spine. Several times I was moved to tears. AND I’VE SEEN IT TWICE!!!

It doesn’t get old… I’m quite literally speechless. The only thing I can say is…

Powerful.

It truly is powerful.

The entire museum really is powerful.

So that sums up my Museum of the Bible experience! If you ever get the chance to visit this museum, are ever in the D.C. area, I highly recommend that you do. Even if you’re not a fan of Biblical fiction, it’s still a wonderful experience that truly brings the Bible to life.

Until next time,

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Book Review: Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

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I have been waiting on PINS and NEEDLES to finally share this review with you guys. Okay, well, maybe not pins and needles (more like couches and pillows, because… Comfort). But you guys! I am finally sharing with you all of the thoughts on Until The Mountains Fall, the latest installment of the Cities of Refuge series by Connilyn Cossette, and it was so good I’m not even sure if I can accurately describe it. Nevertheless, I shall try!

Plus, stay tuned until the end of this post for some exciting updates about videos I will be posting to my YouTube channel in celebration of the Until the Mountains Fall release on July 2, 2019.

About the Author:

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out from Egypt and Cities of Refuge series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award, INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives with her husband of twenty-one years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Now, if you don’t already know what this book is about, then be sure to catch the summary. This is a wonderful Biblical fiction release and a fantastic series that you should definitely check out!

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Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

You guys. One of the things that I love about Biblical fiction is the hopeful thread of God’s faithfulness which is almost always woven throughout the story. If hope is a thread, then this book is a magnificent tapestry. This is by far one of the most redemptive, uplifting, powerful Biblical fiction novels I have ever read.

Copy of We Love You A Latte!-2If not the most.

This book really showcased the power of love; familial love, a father’s love, romantic love, and the love of God. I so enjoyed watching Malakhi mature from boy, to young man, and to hero. His maturity and honor, even when his honor and respect were not deserved, was refreshing in a main male character.

Although it took me a while to grow to love Rivkah, a few chapters in I was fully invested in her character and in her plight. Her struggle with submitting to God’s will even when His plans were unknown, and later, her struggle with guilt and resentment towards herself when she realized all she had lost by relying solely on herself and not on trusting others and having faith were incredibly relatable.

No Matter that Rivkah had fled Kedesh, lied, ... and who knows what else,AND YOU GUYS. THAT TWIST ON THE VERY LAST PAGE THOUGH.

*I would highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest that you read A Light on the Hill BEFORE picking this book up if you don’t want a major spoiler. Just saying.*

Finally, the story and plot of this book showcased redemption and healing like none other. I enjoyed how this book was a loose re-inventing of the Prodigal Son parable, a story which I have often related with and in different times of my life, have identified both with the son himself and with the jealous brother. While this book is not a Biblical fiction retelling of that story, the parable remains an influence on the plot and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Seriously you guys, this series gets better and better the more books that are released. The first two books in this series are called A Light on the Hill and Shelter of the Most High, both of which I have reviewed previously on the blog. Until the Mountains Fall was a beautiful story, and my favorite in the series by far. I am already marking my calendar for Like Flames in the Night, which will be the final book in the series. I’m expecting an EPIC conclusion!

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Until the Mountains Fall releases on July 2, 2019 and you can pre-order/purchase it by clicking THIS LINK.

You also still have time to read this AND all the other books in the series before Like Flames in the Night releases in 2020. If you’re looking for something to binge this summer, this series is it! Fast-paced, action packed, and FULL of powerful narratives of God’s faithfulness even in the darkest of times.

Now, on to the fun stuff!

You guys, I have TWO fun videos coming to my YouTube channel in celebration of this exciting release! Both are pre-recorded, so if you hear me talking about how my “review will go up soon” just know that I filmed these before I wrote this review!

The first super fun video coming is a READING VLOG! You all loved my last reading vlog for Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, so I had to bring you one for Until the Mountains Fall! This video goes live on June 21, 2019, so if you’re reading this that means that you can already click over and watch it!

The second video in my series honoring Until the Mountains Fall‘s release is a BOOKS & COOKS video and the second episode in my BOOKS & COOKS series. It’s a series I occasionally do on my channel trying to re-create historically accurate recipes based on or inspired by books. For this episode, I’m attempting to recreate a Lentil Stew inspired by the stew Moriyah made, (and later a stew made by Rivkah) in the Cities of Refuge series. This video will release next Friday, June 28, 2019. Subscribe to my channel to make sure you don’t miss it.

If you’d like to watch the first episode in the BOOKS & COOKS series, making crepes inspired by The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel, then you can certainly watch that in the meantime.

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WHEW!

We finally made it to the end!

That’s all for reviews and announcements this week, you guys. I really hope that you enjoyed reading this review and that you’re as excited about this book as I am. Don’t forget to pre-order/purchase Until the Mountains Fall if you’re interested or add it to your Goodreads TBR.

Keep an eye out here on the blog for more book reviews (subscribe via e-mail if you’d like them delivered straight to your inbox!) and don’t forget to check out those super fun videos as they release as well.

Congratulations to Connilyn Cossette on her release! And until next time,

Happy reading!

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Reading, Writing, and Living for Jesus

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Today I felt like it was time for a “proper” introduction post… More than a year after I started blogging!

*Technically* I’ve done an introductory post, but I think that’s just a “blog” thing in general. Your first post you introduce yourself and your blog and what its going to be about, despite the fact that your blog isn’t really about anything yet because you haven’t written it! Yep, I did one of those posts. While it served it’s purpose then of being THE FIRST BLOG POST, I don’t think it really captured the essence of what I want my blog and my platform to be about. So why not do an introduction now, now that I actually have something to introduce?

And if you’ve already been following me for a while, then stick around and read on anyways! You might learn something new about me or the history of my blog that you didn’t already know!

Here goes nothing…

In January of 2016, a lot of things happened to me. I got my first job, I realized that in a matter of months I’d be going away to my first semester of college, I had to start *actually* trying to learn to drive because when I moved to Arizona I was going to need to be able to get myself from the college campus to the nearest Starbucks, preferably legally and without accident.

More importantly however, I began to seriously develop my love for writing. And when I say develop, I mean hone my craft. Start learning and absorbing everything I could about drafting, editing, the publishing industry. I even started writing my own book that year, but it was merely a side-project that I was somehow still convinced would never be more than a hobby.

Well, well, well… A little over a year later, in the spring of 2017, I typed “THE END” on my first novel – if you can even call it that. I’ll spare your the boring and even gruesome details of its plot (it wasn’t good). But that feeling of finishing it was exhilarating, and I knew I wanted to write more. More importantly, I wanted to be published.

I started following “Authortubers,” which are, as the name implies, authors who are also YouTubers and make helpful tutorials and videos about the writing and publication process. Of course, one of the first things that many of these author tubers will tell you is that if you want to be noticed, you need to have a platform.

So, in the summer of 2017 I was even busier. I was getting married, moving to a house in Arizona, getting ready for another year of school, and in the midst of all of this, I made the crazy decision to buy a domain name because there’s no time like the present to start pursuing your dreams.

I didn’t actually launch my blog though. I bought a notebook and started writing down all my ideas, goals, hopes, dreams, anything that came to mind when I thought about “my platform.”

The first thing that I actually did, was create an instagram. I started posting mini book reviews and bookstagram photos, and making friends in the community. Then, after a few months in the spring of 2018, I finally felt confident enough to “go all in.” I set up my website, drafted some blog posts, filmed some YouTube videos – the whole package!!!

When it came around to creating a “brand” I’d always heard that your brand, your tagline, your blog name, whatever it is, should be to the point and specific. It should tell people who you are, what you do, and what makes you unique. I tried to come up with all kinds of crazy names. Stuff that rhymed, stuff that had alliteration, stuff that was catchy.

I felt like I didn’t have a “specific” enough brand. I didn’t want to be just a book blogger. Just a writer. I also wanted to share personal things as well. But every “rule” seemed to say that you had to pick one to be your niche. That’s when I realized… Jesus was the one theme that ran throughout all aspects of what I wanted my brand to be. So that’s what my brand became.

Reading, Writing, and Living for Jesus by Jenna Van Mourik.

So I’d like to introduce you to my blog, which serves exactly that purpose. To share the books I love, Christian Fiction mainly, that contain stories which share and spread God’s love. To write and promote my writing, in which I hope people will also find that same theme of God’s love running throughout. And finally, to share my life, whatever adventures it may contain, and to share how I do my best to live every day according to the way the Bible tells me.

If you like Christian Fiction, this is the place for you.

If you like writing, writing advice, and all the fun creative things that come with that hobby, then this is the place for you.

If you’re interested in my life, love pictures of cute puppies and ranting about little things like crunching leaves in the fall, blowing dandelion dust in the spring, going swimming in the summer, and playing in the snow in the winter, then this is the place for you.

If you love God, this. is. the. place. for. you.

I would be thrilled if you would subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already, and if you are subscribed, would you mind sharing this blog with a friend you think would also enjoy reading? It would make my day.

Of course, if blogs aren’t necessarily your thing, then let me remind you of all the other ways you can keep up with me and my “reading, writing, and living.” If you enjoy watching fun and sometimes humorous videos (i.e. vlogs, book reviews, challenges, and writing tutorials), then you might love my YouTube channel.

For artsy bookstagram photos featuring books you love and probably one to many props leaned up against a monochromatic background, you’ll love my Instagram.

And to keep up with me on a day-to-day basis, then check out my Twitter and my Facebook.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for taking the time to read this ramble-y and somewhat long-winded introduction, even if it did come a little late! I really do appreciate each and every one of you.

Until next time,

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Review: Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

F5428F3A-D9A6-4497-9686-CE80768E57A9This past week I was captured. I was a stranger in a foreign land. I was scared. I had my heart broken a few times. I found myself trapped in a fiery furnace, with no way of escape before me. I was thrown into a den of lions, terrified for my life. I was angry. I was bitter. I was in denial. And, in the end, I was restored and filled with hope. All between the lines and within the pages of Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, her newest release, coming out on March 5, 2019.

Let me share with you the synopsis of this book before I get started with my review:

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?

Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

As usual, one of the things I love most about Mesu Andrews’ writing is how detailed and well-researched it is. She truly makes history come to life! From the horrors of Jerusalem under siege, to the city bursting with people that is Babylon, I felt as though I was with Belili (the female lead) every step of the way. No, I was Belili. That’s how much the writing drew me in.

Daniel’s faith is matchless. How could he have doubted? He had seen the Lord deliver men from fire, and he would one day see himself delivered from lions. Could you go there? Even in the lion’s den, would you have faith in God? This book showcases total faith, absolute surrender to God, and the undeniable grace that covers all things, that only He can give. Full of deep emotion, passion, intrigue, and mystery, this is one Biblical fiction book you won’t want to miss!

Be inspired to deepen your own faith and pre-order Of Fire and Lions today!

I vlogged my reading experience for this book! Watch my reactions to Of Fire and Lions here:

Did I mention I’m also hosting a GIVEAWAY to win a copy of this book?  Head over to my Instagram to read all the details and enter! One winner (U.S. ONLY!!!) will be chosen at random on March 5th, 2019 at 8 PM EST. Best of luck! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this book!

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Special thanks to Waterbrook & Multnomah. I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review of this book, all opinions are my own and I do not receive compensation for leaving a positive review.

Until next time everyone, happy reading!

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Review: In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

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The best endings are only the beginning! And the ending may have been my favorite part of this novel, because it wasn’t an ending at all.

You all know the familiar tale of Ruth and Boaz. One of the great love stories of the Bible, the story of a kinsman redeemer who honored his duty and the story of a faithful young woman who refused to give up in times of hardship. These two figures come to life layer by layer in Tessa Afshar’s skillful writing, revealing deep spiritual truths that anyone can relate to.

And for real, I mean anyone! I listened to the audiobook version of this while my dad and I were working together on some home renovations. Even he enjoyed listening to the story, the writing, and the inner monologue of each character (Also, hi dad!!! I heard you read my blog posts sometimes! 😀 ).

There’s a little surprise in this novel as well for those who have read Pearl in the Sand, also by Tessa Afshar. It’s an “Easter egg,” if you will! Those who are “in on it” will thoroughly enjoy the message it carries over from Afshar’s previous work.

I meant what I said however, the ending of this book was only the beginning. Spoiler alert, but God used Ruth as one of the few recorded women in the lineage of Jesus Christ. The ending of this book was the beginning of a chapter in history, a part of God’s glorious plan to bring His people back to Him. Like all of Tessa Afshar’s books, this book points you back to Him in a way that leaves the reader feeling fulfilled, inspired, and hungry for more.

As I’ve said before, Tessa Afshar was my favorite discovery of 2018 which is when I first came across her books. If you haven’t already had the chance to read any of her work, then let 2019 be the year that you discover her books, and devour them all, as I am slowly but surely doing! You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time, happy reading!

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