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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How to Write a Book: My First Writing Series

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WOW! First of all, a humongous thank you to all of you who have shared such wonderful responses to my first writing “series” on my YouTube Channel. For those of you who DON’T know, I started a new posting schedule. I post new book reviews here on my blog on Mondays, book-fun videos on my channel on Fridays, and writing videos to my channel on Wednesdays (Get it? Writing? Wednesdays? WRITING WEDNESDAYS? Ok. Enough fun with alliteration).

For my first few writing videos, I did a series on how to write your book. That is, how to plan to write your book. You know I’m a big outliner. I need all the details planned out! Lot’s of you guys ask me about my process, because you’re interested in outlining as well.

I finally shared it with you! The first three major steps of how I’ve outlined my book and book series, PLUS FREE DOWNLOADABLE TEMPLATES available for YOUR use! Just head on over to the RESOURCES page here on my website and you’ll find downloads for character profiles, outlines, and more!

Here’s the series all in one place, just in case you’d like to get started now, as you’re reading this:

  1. How I outline my books (video + template):
    1. Video:
    2. Template Download: Click HERE to download the FREE template for outlining your novel.
  2. How I profile my characters (video + template):
    1. Video:
    2. Template Download: Click HERE to download the FREE character profile template.
  3. How I created my series “bible” (video + template):
    1. Video:
    2. Template Download: Click HERE to download the FREE template for creating a series bible.

I hope these resources help you all, and if you have any requests for future content, please let me know. Until then, happy writing!

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You Don’t Know Me At All

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“You don’t know me at all.”

That’s what my characters have been saying to me anyways. All day, every day.

Yes, I wrote almost 80,000 words of their deepest thoughts and feelings. I spent almost an entire year in their heads, outlining and writing, and outlining again. Then I started editing after completing the most difficult draft of my life, and I realized, I didn’t know these characters at all.

I had so many questions for them. Why did they take the actions that they chose to take? Why didn’t they fight sometimes? On the flip side, why did they choose to fight at other times? What made them the way they were, and what forces influenced their decisions? As I was going through my manuscript, it was clear my characters needed more. No, they deserved more. Their stories are powerful to me, and I want them to one day reach other people with just as much power and impact on their lives.

So, I created a series bible and a character profile worksheet in order to help me better understand my characters and what I needed to do in order to strengthen their story and message.

I am no stranger to outlining. I am a hardcore plotter! So much so that I spent MONTHS outlining before I even began drafting, because I was so determined on figuring everything – every last detail – out before I even began drafting. And yet, even a draft later, I still felt like I had nothing figured out.

So I went back to the drawing board. But that’s not always a bad thing! In fact, sometimes it is the best thing you can do for your story, no matter where you are in the process. Outlining, drafting, editing, or furiously punching at the wall of writer’s block that keeps your creative inspiration at bay. That’s why the templates for both of these resources are FREE to download in my RESOURCES page here on my website.

My current draft is just the beginning for my story! And filling out these worksheets and exercises has not only helped me understand my characters better, it’s also reignited the fire inside me that burns for this story. The passion I thought would die during the long, grueling editing phase. I highly recommend doing character profiling or writing exercises to get to know your characters, even if you don’t use my resources. It can only help you!

Anyways, that’s all I have for you today. I suppose it’s sort of a “writing update” as I don’t have any reviews to share with you. Just a little bit of the behind the scenes of what’s been going on, and to make sure you knew about my new resources if you didn’t already. Thanks so much for reading, if you did, and if you have any editing tips don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!

Until next time,

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