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!

 

Book Review: One Summer Note by Cleopatra Margot

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Hey everybody! Today I’m bringing you a NEW book review for Cleopatra Margot’s latest release in her Faith to Love series, One Summer Note. This is the sequel to Christmas with Cocoa, which was a charming contemporary Christmas story that I reviewed earlier on my blog. Before we get into THIS review however, let me share with you a little bit about the author.

IMG_1495About the Author:

Cleopatra Margot resides with her family in a small, rural Nebraska town. She and her two siblings are homeschooled, and they consider their dad as the substitute teacher. Since Cleopatra was little, she has loved to write. She has written four full novels, and One Summer Note marks the third to be published.

Times spent with family to play cards/games, eat yummy food, and laugh ’til you cry are held near to her heart.

All of Cleopatra’s novels follow the “criteria” of 1 Corinthians 13:13— “Faith,

Hope, Love. The greatest of these is Love.”

And now for a little bit about the book (because I know that’s the reason you all came here)…

About the Book:

Raelynn “Rae” Masey is moving to Believe, Nebraska, to open up a new coffeeshop. Luke McKay has experienced a devastating loss, and put the Closed sign on his heart for good. But as they work together to bring Rae’s coffeeshop to life, they realize just how much common ground they share. Will the bond Rae and Luke forge be able to overcome past hurts, withstand a father’s questioning and, ultimately, heal both of their hearts?

If this sounds like the kind of book that you would enjoy, then read on for all of my thoughts! And also don’t forget to check out the book trailer for One Summer Note:

Now, finally for the review!!!

One of the things I really loved about this book was the main character of Luke McKay. His sense of humor, wacky metaphors, and gentleman-ly personality was fun to read about. Sure, he’s got some troubled times in his past, but he really grows from those experiences and you can tell how they’ve shaped him into the man he is by the end of the book.

Raelynn was new to me! The McKay siblings previously appeared in Christmas with Cocoa, and I grew to love their family. Just like Rae is skeptical in the book of whether or not she’d be accepted in the fictional town of Believe, I was skeptical of how she’d fit in with the family I’d adored in the previous novel. HOWEVER, Raelynn’s character was such a “Rae” of sunshine in the story, and she was a great addition, as well as a great character to balance Luke’s character. The two characters pushed each towards growth in their faith, and it was interesting to read how their relationship developed.

FrontCoverI’m not going to spoil the ending, but Hallmark movie heroes beware! They have serious competition with Luke McKay. He knows how to pull off a huge surprise and sweep a girl off of her feet, and I think if you enjoy cute, clean, contemporary fiction, there’s a good chance this story will sweep you off of your feet too!

While Christmas with Cocoa is still my favorite of the currently released Faith to Love novels, this was a fun sequel. Not only did I enjoy getting to know Luke McKay and Raelynn Masey, but I also enjoyed seeing how Nate and Robin’s lives have changed since the first book. My personal rating for this one is 3.5/5 stars, because I would have enjoyed reading more about Raelynn’s backstory and how she manages to be so positive all of the time, as well as learning more about her family. Overall, it was a good book and even though contemporary isn’t always my genre of choice, I think fans of the genre would have a good time reading it.

This is a great book to have in your beach-bag this summer as you take your vacations, curl up under the hot summer sun and escape reality for a while to the fictional town of Believe, Nebraska. Those looking for sweet inspirational romance, a little bit of mystery, and a happy ending will find it in One Summer Note.

You can purchase One Summer Note at this link.

You can also find Cleopatra Margot on Instagram and her website.

Happy reading everyone!

Until next time,

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Author Interview: Eliza Noel, Author of Dawn Chandler

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Hey everybody and welcome back to the blog, Reading, Writing, and Living for Jesus! Today I am super excited to be bringing you an interview with author Eliza Noel, whose debut middle grade novel, Dawn Chandler, is releasing THIS WEEK. I had the opportunity to send Eliza an e-mail and ask her about all-things-Dawn, but before we get into that let me give you an introduction to the wonderful author and share all the details about the book and where you can pre-order it!

IMG_1489About the Author:

Eliza Noel is a home school graduate with passion for Jesus, people, and literature. Growing up, her favorite books were always Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and Pride and Prejudice. Around age twelve she wanted to read something with positive values in a modern setting, but couldn’t find what she was looking for. So she wrote it.

When not doing something book-related (reading, writing, blogging, bookstagramming), Eliza works at her day jobs, spends time with her many younger siblings, longboards, has coffee with friends, eats chocolate, and listens to music. California is home, but she would like to travel more and feels she could learn to be content anywhere.

You can follow her writing journey and see snippets of her everyday life on elizanoelauthor.blogspot.com or by following @elizanoelauthor on social media.

Alright, blogging Jenna has to interrupt here because those were some of my favorite books when I was growing up too!!! 😀 Anyways, back to your regularly scheduled programming…

About the Book:IMG_1490

Dawn Chandler likes the way her life is— or was. She liked going to the mall with her best friend, excelling at middle school, and attending church with her family. Typical life for a twelve-year-old in the city of Fresno.

When Dawn’s parents announced they were going to homeschool her, on her birthday no less, she felt like her world was falling apart. Normal kids are supposed to go to school, not read books at home. To make matters worse, they may be leaving the only home she’s ever known.

What are her parents thinking?

Before making the final moving decision, the Chandler family visits Lone Pine, a small town between Mt. Whitney and Death Valley. While there, Dawn and her siblings become acquainted with their eccentric great uncle, explore the new area, and meet a large homeschooling family. All of this makes the ‘vacation’ more bearable. Still, Dawn isn’t sure if she can make the move and leave everything she’s familiar with behind.

Can Dawn learn the values of faith, family, and contentment?

Okay, now for the fun part! The interview!!! I hope you enjoy the questions and answers! Since I know I have a variety of people who follow my blog (both readers and writers) I tried to balance out some reader-questions as well as some writing-questions. Without further ado, *que the fun intro music* here is the interview!!! You’ll find my questions in bold, and Eliza’s answers in italics.


 1. Tell me about the title character, Dawn Chandler. Are you similar to her in any ways? Different? Dawn is a twelve year old girl who loves her friends and isn’t a fan of change. I’ve been told that she’s the sassier version of me, hahaha. I personally don’t think we’re that similar, but our life experiences are. Kinda. Dawn lives in Fresno and is possibly moving to Lone Pine. I lived in Lone Pine then moved to Fresno around the same age. I think I took the change a bit better than she did 😉 I’m also very much a people-person and I don’t see that in Dawn quite as much. Aw, haha! Well it’s super cool that the story was partly inspired by some real-life experiences, even if you and Dawn do react differently to those! 

2. What made you choose to write her story and set it in Lone Pine? I guess I chose to write Dawn’s story because I wanted to look at my situation (moving from a small town to a big city) from a different viewpoint and see what would happen if I changed things. It’s set in Lone Pine because, like I said, I used to live there. After moving, it took me years to stop missing the charming small town atmosphere and the fond childhood memories I had made there. Writing this book helped me deal with my homesickness and it also came quite naturally because I know the town so well. That is such a great story, and I think it’s incredibly inspiring that your writing helped you work through those emotions. I’d like to think that your book might fall into the hands of a girl experiencing the same thing, and hopefully bless her as much as writing it blessed you!

3. Your book cover is GORGEOUS! Can you tell me about the cover design process? Thank you, I think so too! I messed around with different cover ideas on my own way before I was ready to publish. When it came time to have an official and professional looking cover I messaged a few different art accounts on Instagram. The three things I knew I wanted were a cute drawing of Dawn, at least some Lone Pine scenery, and beautiful hand-lettering. I found several talented artists who could do one or two of those things, but not all three. Eventually, someone recommended Liza Proch so I texted her to see if she was interested in doing it- she was! After that I chose what size the cover needed to be, wrote a description of what I thought I wanted, and sent Liza pictures I found on Pinterest for inspiration. She sent me about a total of three different drafts. Each draft had slight changes, hair color, mountains, fonts…eventually, it was perfect! I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s definitely PERFECT and truly represents the genre.

4. I believe you are self-publishing (correct me if I’m wrong), what are some challenges you’ve faced? Yes, I am! You’re correct. Underestimating how much time various aspects are gonna take, silly formatting mistakes that took me forever to figure out the easy fixes, and the fact that the whole process can feel a little lonely sometimes. I’m still glad I chose this route though! That’s great! I think we’re all a little guilty of underestimating how much time something will take, even outside of writing and publishing, but it’s lovely that you have such a great perspective on it.

5. What are some advantages about self-publishing? What have been some of the best parts of the process? An advantage would be being in control. I hired an editor (Abigayle Claire) who made it so much better than I could have ever made it, but ultimately the decisions were left to me. Same with the cover. I was able to get exactly what I wanted. One of the best parts of the process has been reading the advanced reviews! It’s so rewarding to know people are actually enjoying my story now. Woohoo for great reviews!!! It sounds like the self-publishing path was and is perfect for you.

6. How did you decide that you wanted to write inspirational/Christian fiction? I typically categorize it simply as children’s fiction, but Dawn is a Christian and she grows in her relationship with God. As a Christian I want everything I do (writing included) to glorify my father in heaven. I can’t imagine writing a story without God in it. That’s a great answer! I definitely feel the same way. 🙂

7. How did you incorporate faith into Dawn Chandler? This was something I struggled with a little bit. In an earlier draft, the reader didn’t know much about Dawn’s faith until towards the end when she was suddenly acting like a fairly mature Christian. I did want to show growth, but I didn’t want it to be so sudden. I ended up going back through the beginning and adding a few prayers and thoughts about God here and there to help fix that. I don’t know if that necessarily did, but I hope it answered your question! Oh yeah, definitely! It’s especially interesting hearing about your writing process and how those aspects changed in the various drafts. 

8. Finally, what is your favorite chapter that you wrote in Dawn Chandler, and without spoilers, why is that your favorite? What should readers be looking out for? Any funny/endearing moments? Sweet scenes or surprises? I can’t wait to hear what people say about it! The prologue is actually one of my favorites. It’s the only part not told from Dawn’s perspective. It portrays the craziness of a Sunday morning in a large family. Several of my beta readers said it was truly relatable. I was happy to know my family wasn’t the only one like that, haha! I also especially enjoyed the playful banter that takes place between the main characters and the good old-fashioned fun they have in a chapter about sledding. You can actually read an earlier version of it on my blog here: https://elizanoelauthor.blogspot.com/2019/01/snow-daydawn-chandler-series.html Ooohhh I can’t wait to read it! Yep, you’re definitely not alone! XD I’m ALL FOR the relatable, big family moments!!!

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Jenna! I loved answering all your questions and I’m honored to be featured on your blog ❤ Of course! Congratulations on your upcoming release! I hope we get to see you here on my blog again someday!!!


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Alright, y’all! If you’re ready to pre-order Dawn Chandler, then here is the link to do so!

You can also enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win!!!

I hope you guys take the time to check out this book and support an indie author. If you or someone you know (a mom, a sister, a friend) may enjoy reading this book then please consider sharing it with them. This truly sounds like a wonderful story and a charming start to a great new series for young girls.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and if you’re new here (referred from a friend, or heard about my blog as a part of the blog tour for Dawn Chandler) then it would mean the world to me if you’d pop your e-mail address into that subscription box and subscribe to my blog so you never miss a new post. I’m an inspired writer and an inspirational fiction reader who posts about all things reading, writing, and living for Jesus. If that sounds like your thing, then I’d love to have you a part of the RW&L family.

Until next time,

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