The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen (Book Review)

A girl will go to any lengths to help her tutor father, but she might fight more mystery and drama than she had bargained for when they move to a cliff-top home of a baronet and his sons.

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Title: The Tutor’s Daughter
By: Julie Klassen

ISBN: 9780764210693 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781441261090 (E-book)

You can watch a video trailer or read an excerpt.

My Review: Four Stars
After leaving the boarding school and their only family behind for a live-in tutoring position, Emma and her father are dismayed at their less-than-warm welcome in their new cliff-top home. The Westons have their share of secrets and Emma still can’t bring herself to trust the oldest son Henry after his cruel pranks when he attended the boarding school. Still, she is glad to find a friend in Mrs. Weston’s ward, Lizzie. Philip Weston seems to be happy to resume their friendship where it left off when he left the boarding school years ago. But who mysteriously plays the piano and enters Emma’s room at night? Who is responsible for the theft of her journal and threatening picture left in her room? Why are members of the community and some of the Weston family not interested in Henry’s project to make it easier to save lives during shipwrecks? And how is it that Emma finds herself letting her guard down in Henry’s presence?

The Tutor’s Daughter has a distinct traditional gothic novel feel, with mystery and suspense woven through each chapter. It’s easy to empathize with Emma as she copes with the turn her life has taken and learns that God does indeed answer prayers – just not always in the way we might want or expect. Even when her circumstances are frightening and she doesn’t know what will happen, God is still in control and she needs to trust in Him. In the people around her she can see the dire consequences of not following God. While she is learning these important lessons, she is able to find love and happiness along the way in a place she didn’t expect to find it.

Julie Klassen’s stories are written in the spirit of Jane Austen. The issues are real, the characters are believable, and the settings are vividly described. She is one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend all her books for anyone who enjoys historical romance and drama.

Visit JulieKlassen.com for more information. The book is available from Bethany House, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Be on the lookout for her new novel releasing July 2015, Lady Maybe.

 

Cover of The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Cover of The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

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Visit Carnelia with Cheryl Koevoet (Book Review)

A young woman is swept right into the middle of political turmoil in another dimension.

Title: The Carnelian Legacy
By: Cheryl Koevoet
ISBN: 978-1-4497-8089-0 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-4497-8090-6 (hc)
ISBN: 978-1-4497-8088-3 (e)

My review: Four Stars

Marisa is still reeling from her father’s death when she is sucked into another dimension and flung into the political turmoil of the land. Her new friends are trying to preserve an ancient law commanding that whoever holds the crown be of a pure bloodline, and in doing so prevent the kingdom from descending into war. The young man who is challenging them and attempting to claim the throne takes a fancy to Marisa as soon as he meets her. His interest complicates the situation, and soon it is up to Marisa to decide the fate of the kingdom. She wants to do what’s best for everyone…but can she do that and still be happy? More importantly, can she learn to trust in the Creator to guide her?

The Carnelian Legacy contains monsters, swordfights, flowers, beautiful landscapes, a ring, good guys, bad guys, a handsome prince, and tough decisions. The excitement doesn’t stop. The reader feels the struggle along with Marisa as she tries to find her place in this new world and cast her cares on the Author of the universe. Geared toward young adults, this book will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered what another dimension might be like. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Visit TheCarnelianLegacy.com for more information and to buy the book. Also available from WestBow Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

The Carnelian Legacy

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Disclosure of Material: I can, and do, think for myself, therefore all opinions here are my own. The <a href=”http://booklookbloggers.com/” target=”_new”>Book Look Bloggers</a> book review bloggers program was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the book to review. Because the government thinks it has to control everything, I am disclosing this in accordance with the <a href=”http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html” target=”_new”>Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”</a>

When There is No Peace

Early this week, a well-known, self-professing atheist killed himself.

Cue the plethora of Facebook posts, memes, tweets, and comments about his now being at peace or at rest or free or “in a better place.” When bad things happen, especially suicide, we look for comfort. It’s only natural to want to make ourselves feel better. Death is hard enough to deal with, but at least natural death we can understand. Even then unbeliever can understand death. It’s a part of life, after all (the “Circle of Life” for those of us who grew up with Disney movies). Suicide we can’t understand; the people who are left behind cannot make sense of it and the only person who might be able to explain things a little bit is gone. None of us likes to be sad or confused or frustrated or upset. So we look for comfort.

But is there comfort to be found in lies? Is it okay to tell people, “This atheist, this person who utterly rejected God, is now at peace in a better place because he killed himself so don’t worry about it”? Maybe I will come off as harsh or mean but my answer, and I believe the Biblical answer, would adamantly be most absolutely not.

Here’s why:

1 – Someone who rejects God does not have peace. He might find temporary comfort in this life, but that is not peace. Peace only comes from God, and an atheist has rejected God and so rejected peace.

2 – This life on Earth is the best thing an atheist has. When an atheist leaves here, he is not in a better place. He is in hell.

3 – This is not what I want to address directly, but it’s still a fair point: Suicide is never the answer. Just because a person has killed himself does not mean he is at peace.

In short, it does much more harm than good to comfort people with empty assurances made up of lies – lies, moreover, that go completely contrary to the Word of God.

This is the verse that keeps coming to mind in this context: “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly [a.k.a. superficially], saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14

We are strongly cautioned against false teachers and false prophets, and I believe this kind of thing falls under that category – which is why I so strongly believe it is important to contradict this false teaching when it arises, rather than allow it to continue simply for the sake of not offending or upsetting people. If people aren’t confronted with the reality of sin and death, they will not understand why they need to turn to Christ. Therefore, simply telling them to “turn to Christ to find peace,” and ignore the part about hell and sin (as more than one Christian has told me to do) is not fulfilling our responsibility as Christians, in my opinion. Especially when the rest of the world is telling them a multitude of other places they can go for (empty, meaningless, fake) peace, including suicide.

So, in a situation like this, when people are claiming there is peace/rest/hope/something better in anything other than Christ, let’s correct them. Let’s tell them, “No, actually, that’s not true. What you’re pointing to is utterly hopeless. But I can tell you where to find hope.” We are to treat people with love. Isn’t it more loving to show them the Truth than to encourage them to continue following a lie that would ultimately lead to their destruction?

(Please note: I am not judging an individual’s heart, because only Christ can do that and Christ has the power to save anyone He pleases. But anyone who goes to his death an atheist will not find peace or rest in eternity.)

Angie Brashear – Christian fantasy

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the beautiful cover of Never Let Go by Angie Brashear!

Never Let Go

Never Let Go

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In celebration of this cover reveal and in anticipation of the release of the novel on June 3, Angie is posting today with a little more information about the story, the reason she writes fantasy, and (of course!) how we can get our hands on our very own copies.

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Christian Fantasy: A Life-Saving Genre

Definitions of literary genres can be…well, complex. Even tricky. Attempts to define Christian fantasy vary, though I’ve spent little time fretting over an official definition. I mean, Christian fiction typically illustrates a Christian world view within its plot, characters, or both. And the fantasy genre commonly uses myths and legends as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. So, in my opinion, Christian fantasy embodies fantastical elements in an internally consistent setting all the while reflecting aspects of the Christian world view.

But the debate (at least for some) surrounds who writesChristian fantasy. Writers who are Christians, writers who claim to be Christians, or writers who believe Christianity is a fantasy to begin with? It’s not a debate I choose to enter, for the truth lies outside the discussion: the genre influences nonbelievers. My path to salvation began with a classic fantasy, told to me in the midst of my secular world.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher readThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis aloud to my class. In doing so, she opened my eyes to adventure and possibilities, all the while helping me escape a world of darkness for a short time. At its conclusion, I wondered, Is God real? He couldn’t be, right? For if He existed, innocent young girls wouldn’t suffer the wrath of drunken addicts, or the torment of abandonment.

I continued to speculate. Each time God placed believers in my path—a high school teacher, a college friend, and a college coach—my fascination with the possibility grew stronger until the truth stunned me like a slap to the face. God indeed lives in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He rescues. He saves.And He waited for me. Then He embraced me. It all started with a little seed, planted in the empty heart of the girl I once was. A love for reading expanded to a love for writing. A desire to know God became a desire to serve Him, to reach nonbelievers.

And Never Let Go was born.

In all things, I’m grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for embracing a lost, lonely girl. That He died for me…there is no greater gift. My prayer is that I’ll never let go of His truth.

Back Cover Blurb:

Captured by the Rendow Clan, who seek to slaughter those with faith in the Maker, Laila Pennedy awaits death. Moments before her execution, she is rescued from the gallows by Lars Landre and his dragon. Marked as The Chosen by his blue eyes, Lars is destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution.

Lars guides Laila on a harrowing race across The Woodlands to Tuveil, where the Faithful are preparing to fight a rebellion. But the secret location of the village is betrayed and the RendowClan’s army will soon be at the gates. Faced with this impeding peril, Laila trains for battle, but the struggles in her mind and heart may be as overwhelming as the war to come. Will she prove herself an asset or is she condemned to forever be a burden to those she loves?

Pre-order Never Let Go here.

Angie Brashear

Angie Brashear

Author Bio:

When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s an avid reader and runner, both of which perplex her husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children. Follow her at http://facebook.com/AngieBrashearAuthor, https://twitter.com/AngieBrashear, and http://angiebrashear.com.

Coming tomorrow – cover reveal!

Through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) I have had, and continue to have, the opportunity to meet and connect with other writers. Everyone is in a different stage of their writing career, and it’s always exciting to hear how people have gotten where they are and where they plan to go next. One of my favorite things to talk to people about is their ideas – where they got the ideas they have already written and what ideas they have for future projects.

One author I have had the privilege of speaking with is Angie Brashear. She writes Christian fantasy (right up my alley!) and her debut novel Never Let Go is making it’s appearance in June. I’ve heard a little about her novel and I am already excited to read it!

I’m also excited to tell you that tomorrow is the cover reveal date! Wrong or right, I readily admit that I judge books by their covers, and the cover of Never Let Go is beautiful. Can’t wait for you to see it. It would entice me to pick the book up, even if I knew nothing about it.

The cover will be here on my blog tomorrow, February 18th, along with a guest post from Angie herself so you can get to know her a little more and get some more information about her new book. Please check back tomorrow!

And if you are like me and have a hard time being patient, you can browse her web site while you wait.

Escape from Pompeii with Tracy Higley (Book Review)

Book: City on Fire by Tracy Higley
My rating: 4 stars

A young slave woman escapes, disguises herself as a boy, and fights with the gladiators, all the while longing to be free. A politician moves to the city and seeks justice in a place where the people live in fear of what will happen if they do not remain loyal to those already in power. A powerful idolater wants nothing to do with God, practicing his pagan religion in the heart of the city. Their lives crash together in Pompeii. Some people learn true freedom and justice can only be found in the Lord. Others remain hardhearted and turn their back on Him. All will have to face the destruction of the city and try to survive the disaster to come.

As someone who has always been fascinated by the account of Pompeii, I was not disappointed. Higley did her research and describes the city in such a way that made me feel as if I were there and that the characters’ struggles were my own. The unlikely romance that develops between Ariella, the woman gladiator, and Cato, the young politician, left me wondering what would happen next – and my knowledge of the city’s impending doom lent even more suspense. It is a good reminder that even in a society as depraved as the Roman Empire, God is still in control and still working in the lives of His people.

An excellent read for adults. The utter depravity of the Roman Empire is necessary to the story and is incorporated tastefully and not explicitly, for which I commend the author. However, I would still recommend an adult previewing the book before allowing a young person to read it.

Available on Amazon: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii

I would love to hear your thoughts about the book, as well!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:

I can, and do, think for myself, therefore all opinions here are my own. The BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the book to review. Because the government thinks it has to control everything, I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

15 Things Jesus Did Say

A friend recently shared with me a blog post by Jim Palmer titled “15 Things Jesus Didn’t Say.” While the things listed in the blog post were truly things that Jesus did not say, it left me wondering what exactly he was trying to say with the post. And it made me curious why he would focus so much on things Jesus did not say when we have access to things Jesus DID say. Shouldn’t we rather spend our time focusing on that? There are myriad things Jesus did not say, but we can learn so much if we spend our time thinking about what He did say. On that note, in response to the above referenced blog post, here are 15 things Jesus said.

  1.  John 3:14-21 – I think most Christians and many non-Christians are familiar with the verse that says “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). And what a beautiful verse that is! But we also need to remember the context of the verse. Those who do not believe are condemned. Yes, God sent His Son, and that’s wonderful. We need to remember that doesn’t mean a free pass for every single person on the planet. A person has to believe on Him, or else face condemnation – something we all deserve and willingly choose without God’s grace.
  2.  John 10:9-11 – Jesus came that His people might have abundant life. How does this come about? By His sacrificing HIS life through the death on the cross. It goes back to my first point – we have to believe on Him and make Him Lord of our lives or we do not have life, only condemnation. And if we do believe on Him and claim Him, we need to show that forth in our lives. He has given His people instructions on how to conduct their lives – a set of beliefs to which we are called to hold. Definition of religion: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” He did not bring us a new religion, rather established a new covenant in the religion He had already created.
  3. John 13:34-35 – All men will know we are disciples of Christ if we love each other as He loves us. By teaching and ministering. In order to do so, we need to be studying God’s Word and adhere to it. It is of important to believe the correct things, otherwise why would God have given us His Word?
  4. Matthew 16:21-28 – Jesus sets the example for us. As Christians we are to be living for the Lord. Do not give way to Satan. Deny yourself. Any “religion” not of God is either of self or Satan, so we need to beware false prophets and speak the Truth.
  5. John 14:15 – Jesus said if we love Him we are to keep His commandments. One of the things we are told to do is not to forsake the assembling together. But do not forget about my fourth point – we need to steer clear of false religion, even if it is disguised as Christianity.
  6. Matthew 5-7 – Read it. Yes, all three chapters because why not? Pay special attention to chapter 6 where Jesus says, “When ye do alms.” As God’s children we are expected to serve Him. Giving alms (tithing) is expected of Christians.
  7. Matthew 6 – Seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done.
  8. Matthew 5:43-48 – Christians are called to set the example and treat everyone with love. We are to be perfect, living according to the commands we have been given, and in so doing show the world Christ through us.
  9. John 14:1-7, Matthew 7:13-14 – Jesus said He was going to prepare a place specifically for His people. In Matthew, He makes a point of explaining there are few who will travel the way that leads to life, but many will go in the way that leads to destruction.
  10. Mark 1:15 – The time is now to repent, turn our lives over to Christ, and live for Him. Repentance is a complete change, a complete turn-around from living in sin to living for Christ, according to how He has instructed us to live in His Word.
  11. John 8:28-36 – As a result of following Jesus, we will know the truth and be made free. Being free does not mean we are allowed to do whatever we want. It means we are no longer in bondage to sin, but we belong to Christ. Now we need to live like it.
  12. Matthew 5:14-16 – We are to show forth Christ in the world. We need to live like it. We are commanded to live like it. Not to hide Him or be ashamed of Him, but to proclaim it.
  13. Matthew 11:27-30 – Notice He says He will place His yoke on us. A yoke was used to guide the ox in the way it was supposed to go. As Christians, we have been told the right way to live, so we have a guide in the way we are supposed to go. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
  14. John 3:12-21 – Context is hugely important. God sent His Son into the world to save His people. Anyone who does not believe on Him is condemned. There are two groups of people – those who follow Christ and those who do not. Those who do not follow Him are not going to receive the love of God and the eternal life He gives to His people.
  15. Matthew 28:18-20 – The act of going into the world and teaching all nations can come in many different forms for individuals. We aren’t all the same. Some of us teach one on one, and some people have huge churches. Some people are called to go far away, some minister close to home. Some form organizations, some are little known. What matters is that each of us individually is obeying the command to the best of our ability, so that collectively the church can obey the command of teaching all nations.

We should take care to be more concerned with sharing the Truth than with trying to make other people feel better about themselves. Thoughts?