Ten years after the death on the cross of Jesus Christ, disciple Matthew, the former tax collector, is excited to work with Peter, James, and John in Jerusalem. Hopeful of ministering directly to the people, he is instead set to work on the ministry financial accounts. Mary, the mother of Jesus, has been praying for the right eyewitness to chronicle the account of her son’s life on earth. When she offers this job to Matthew, he is reluctant, but then begins to see it as his destiny.
In this excellent novel, Mary works alongside Matthew and serves as editor as he writes the gospel bearing his name, ensuring he puts in only the facts and not his personal feelings. They also venture outside of their circle and seek out others who were present during significant events of Jesus’s life on earth. As when Jesus was among them, evil forces are attempting to stop their work. Nicodemus warns Matthew that “Jerusalem may be a Holy City, but a fair number of rats resides within its walls.” This is a captivating and thrilling novel that takes us into Matthew’s mind and heart as he writes about his interactions with Jesus of Nazareth. It also shows Mary as a woman of quiet influence among “The People of the Way,” someone whose influence is feared by the high priest and others.
Angela Hunt’s knowledge of the politics of the time is impressive. She also explains her research and commitment to honor 2 Timothy 3:16, which includes the phrase “All scripture is inspired by God,” in an author’s note at the end of the book. Fans of Christian fiction and strong female characters will enjoy this fictional account of the writing of the Gospel of Matthew.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With over five million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 150 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.
Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her youth-pastor husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City. Afterward, the dog gave out paw-tographs at the airport.
When she’s not home writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.
It’s time again for Self-Published Saturday, the day each week when I highlight only Self-Published/Indie authors. As I always say, self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing and more. My goal here is to just give authors a little bit of help with the marketing aspect. The book featured below is The Origin, the first in the A1 Mission Agency series. This is a Christian Children’s detective story written by new author Timothy Beavin.
This is a fun Christian detective story for the younger middle grades. When Toby and Scott learn that their cousin, Scooter, is coming to stay for the summer, they are apprehensive to say the least. Scooter is bad news and always in trouble. In fact, he’s just gotten out of juvenile detention. However, when Scooter arrives, they find he has changed in a big way. Together, the three of them soon face some local troubles of their own. A gang of bullies and thieves is after them, led by Vick Daugherty. The son of a pastor, Vick always seems to get away with his crimes. Working together, Toby, Scott, and Scooter try to find ways to end the bullying and bring Vick and his friends to justice, eventually forming the A-1 Mission Agency.
This is an entertaining Christian story for children ages 8 to 10 about trusting Jesus, standing up for your friends, and facing injustice. It is quite short at 46 pages, but it could be the perfect length for younger kids. This is the first of a planned seven books by new author Timothy Beavin. I found the Christian themes to be helpful and well described for younger readers. The way Scooter explains John 3:16 is true and easily understood, but also amusing. The book ends in a surprising way that will lead us to the next installment in the series. There is a little bit of “telling instead of showing” in places, and the book could use another edit, but overall this was an enjoyable read with a fantastic premise. Timothy Beavin has created an adventure-filled Children’s Christian Detective story that will delight young readers.
I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
I would also like to welcome Timothy Beavin to the Indie/Self-Publishing world, and there is a Q&A with him below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Timothy Beavin is a 22 year old Texan who is currently attending Bible College in California. He has been writing since he was 13 years old and has just self-published his first book in the A1 Mission Agency series: The Origin. Beavin combines events from his childhood with his Christian faith and information he has learned in Bible College to create a fun Christian detective series for kids.
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Thanks again to author Timothy Beavin for answering these questions and providing more insight into his book.
First, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live, and what inspired you to write this series?
A: I am a twenty-two-year-old man who grew up in the state of Texas. I currently live in California, attending my sixth semester at Bible College. I have loved creative writing ever since I was thirteen years old, and now I desire to incorporate what I have learned from Bible College into my storytelling.
The Origin is your first book and appears to be the first in a series. What is the inspiration behind your creation of this story/series and these characters?
When I was younger, my friend Trent Taylor and I started a club called ‘The Alert Detective Agency’. I based this series on all the adventures I wish my friend and I could have gone on. The character ‘Toby O’Dell’ is basically a fourteen-year-old version of myself thrown into a crazy adventure. The character ‘Scott O’Dell’ (Toby’s brother) was initially based on my friend Trent Taylor (who I dedicate this book to). However, Scott turned out to be very prideful and self-righteous, which admittedly does not resemble my friend at all. I did this in order for him to have a character arc throughout the series.
– The character ‘Scooter Denham’ (Toby and Scott’s cousin) was merely based on a figment of my imagination. He is the one who kick-starts the boys’ journey. Without Scooter, Toby and Scott would never have gone on the adventure. Similar to how my friend Trent and I never went on any real adventures.
– The character Holly Banks was created as a romantic foil to the character Toby O’Dell. She is the only female lead, and I find her really interesting. I look forward to where she goes in the future.
– The character ‘Vick Daugherty’, was designed to be a reoccurring nemesis for our heroes. Plus, I thought it would be really interesting for him to be a spiritual foil to the character Scooter Denham.
As a new self-published author, what are the things that you’ve found the most surprising, easiest, and hardest about writing and self-publishing your first book?
Honestly, it was super easy beginning the project, but finishing it was the most troublesome part. Figuring out all the self-publishing details was really mentally stressful, but looking back, it wasn’t nearly as impossible as I had once believed.
Based on the way this book ended, I’m assuming a sequel is in the works. When do you expect to release it or are you working on something else?
There will be (God-willing) seven books in this series. I plan on releasing the second book by at least summer of 2022. However, only the Lord knows how quickly this series will be finished, but I expect it to be a very fun time while I am doing it.
As self-publishing is still a new adventure for you, have you found help and mentors along the way?
A: There was nobody I knew personally who self-published a book before, so I had to teach myself. But the Lord blessed me with a supportive family, as well as brothers and sisters in Christ who encouraged me through the process.
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Tansy Calhoun loves her job as a Kentucky packhorse librarian during the Great Depression. At the same time, she longs for the kind of romance she finds in the books she reads. When a handsome writer comes to town, she dreams she may have found it at last. But is love actually closer than she thinks? Perdita Sweet has lived in the Kentucky mountains a long time and has become as hardened as the rocky soil. As someone who has loved and lost, she thinks she can see the best choice for Tansy. But will Tansy listen?
This is enjoyable Christian fiction about a pack horse librarian, one of the many during the Depression who brought books to those who were living in poor and hard-to-reach mountain areas. I appreciated the fact that Tansy not only brought books to people in need, but she also spent time reading to those who couldn’t read. The trials of living in isolated mountain communities are shown, but also evident is the closeness of the people in those communities. Through the life-hardened Perdita, we learn how God can open your heart by giving you the opportunity to help others. Along a Storied Trail is a heartwarming romance with strong Christian themes of reaching out to others in need and trusting God’s plan. Fans of Christian historical romance will enjoy this captivating tale.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Revell, for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. An award winning author, she’s published many books for both adults and young adults. Her books cover several genres from historical to small town family stories to cozy mysteries (mysteries published with author name A.H. Gabhart). Her ideas are sparked by events in Kentucky history and by experiences in her own family. Her first Shaker novel, The Outsider, was a finalist for the ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year. Love Comes Home won the Selah Book of the Year award, and These Healing Hills was the Faith, Hope & Love Readers’ Choice Women’s Fiction Book of the Year.
Ann lives on a Kentucky farm not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann enjoys hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. See more about her books at her website or join the conversation on her Facebook page.
Here is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight great self-published authors and introduce you to their books. As you know, self-published authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. My hope for this feature is that it helps authors in their marketing efforts. This week I am pleased to announce that Louise Bélanger has published her second book of poems. Her first book, Your Words, has been featured here before. Now I am pleased to present Louise’s second book, Your Words, Your World. See my review below. As always, if you decide to buy the book, make sure and leave a review. Reviews are very important for self-published authors, and really all authors, as it helps spread that so important word-of-mouth that can make your book a success. Please also share this post on social media by using the Twitter and Facebook buttons below. Feel free to reblog this as well. We need our self-published authors to get as much attention as possible.
Your Words, Your World is a beautiful collection of poetry, photographs, and story poems about God and the world He created, and the second book of poems by Louise Bélanger. It helps the reader look at the world in a new way.
Among my favorite poems is Ordinary, about how God can take something ordinary, like a star or a body of water, and make it do extraordinary things. I also loved Dust, which reminds us that God created us all from something we don’t really like–dust. A War Erupted paints a beautiful and tumultuous picture of a thunderstorm. The Contest is a thought-provoking story poem about a conversation between flowers. Zoom to Heaven is probably my favorite of all, as it talks about what it would be like to have a Zoom conversation with a loved one in Heaven.
Your Words, Your World takes a unique look at God and the world He created, and it makes me appreciate Him and this world all the more.
The photographs of nature throughout the book are gorgeous and mesmerizing, and they make perfect companions to the poems.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(In Her Own Words)
I am a Canadian poet and the author of Your Words and Your Words Your World. I started writing poetry in the spring of 2020. Pouring my emotions on paper, describing beautiful scenery and stories that came to life in my head was quite new to me. With the encouragement and help from many friends, my dream became a reality.
Photography and music are also dear to my heart. I am an avid reader and a big screen movie goer.
My relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the most important relationship in my life. It’s the foundation for everything.
Quality time with loved ones is precious and essential.
Love’s Mountain Quest is the second book in the Hearts of Montana Series. It is 1867 in Settler’s Fort, Montana. Joanna Watson’s son Samuel and Laura, the woman caring for him, are missing, and the sheriff is dead. In order to find them, Joanna enlists the help of the reluctant Isaac Bowen, a man who would prefer to stay in the shadows. Joanna and Isaac pursue the kidnappers on horseback, dealing with dangers from wildlife and the rugged terrain as well as from the kidnappers they are chasing.
This book has a positive message of God’s forgiveness, no matter how grievous the sin. The description of the Montana wilderness is beautiful. However, there are some unrealistic and downright baffling situations. For instance, Joanna is distracted by romance and desire, and gets all hot and bothered over her traveling companion. This is improbable for a mother trying to rescue her kidnapped son! A mother would be frantic and single-minded in her pursuit, not distracted by the muscles of the neighbor! Then in another insane moment, a horse injured in a wolf attack is left to bleed temporarily while two characters share a kiss!
I appreciated the strong message that you can start over, no matter the circumstances. However, that could not overcome the nonsensical idea that a mother would be engaged in kissing and flirtation while her son is in danger. It is possible to write a romance where romance does not rise in importance to ridiculous levels, but the author does not do that here. In this book, romance is king, and life and survival are secondary. The message of God’s forgiveness lifts this to two stars from one, but I cannot recommend this book.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.
She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family—both immediate and extended—is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream.
I decided to give away two copies, so Cathy Westrich and Louise Bélanger are the winners! Cathy and Louise, I will be contacting you by email.
The Divine Adventure: Spiritual Practices for a Modern-Day Disciple contains 12 chapters that will help you get closer to God. The chapters dig deep into embracing God’s Grace, demonstrating Grace to others, adventuring with God, forging hidden strength, giving, fasting, and more. At the end of each chapter are exercises for the reader, entitled Your Turn, which helps you examine your own thoughts and experiences in each area, and Spiritual Practice, which gives the reader a task related to the topic.
This is a very helpful and meaningful guide that shows the reader how to dive deeper into every area of your Christian life. In fact, the chapter on Searching the Scriptures talks about “getting wet,” when it comes to reading the Bible. As the author says, dive into the scriptures instead of just “lounging on the beach,” and the Bible will come alive for you. The chapter on Pilgrimage: The Lost Art of Adventuring With God, really spoke to me because I’ve been a bit of a traveler all my life, mostly for work. The author talks about her own travels and how she would seek to go on an adventure with God, and the people, events, and places He brought into her life a a result. Her travels sound much richer than mine.
There is also chapter on Meekness, which is described a “Forging Hidden Strength.” I need to read that one several times, as I’ve never been known as “meek.” This is obviously the most important chapter in the book for me, and the area I need to work on the most. Meekness is more than just avoiding confrontation. It’s about letting God step in and solve conflicts or problems instead of trying to solve them yourself. The author’s example of this shows how she stepped back from something she very much wanted and ended up getting something better. The chapter on “Fasting” is interesting, as it goes into the history of and different approaches to fasting. There are also chapters on Giving, Worship, Community, and more, and each one is a helpful resource for anyone seeking enhanced relationship with God.
I received two free copies of this book from Baker Books. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In 2004, Rebecca Friedlander moved into a garage apartment, set up her potter’s wheel in a little room below, and started to seek God and pursue art. Her motivation was simply to have a life completely offered to God, and capture whatever flowed from that space. Nearly two decades later, she’s still a full- time artist, finding joy in using a variety of artistic mediums to tell stories about God’s love.
Whether booking a one-way ticket to Ireland to film about Celtic history, shooting makeovers with 50 women around the world to tell stories of transformation and hope, or interviewing Christian music pioneers about their life lessons, Rebecca is passionate about telling stories that bring identity and truth in Christ.
Rebecca is a published author with Baker House Publishing, and her films have been shown on every major English speaking TV network in the world, including TBN, Day Star, GOD TV, Pure Flix, and more. Her recent project includes renovating a log home in Texas for spiritual retreats and workshops, and starting a non-profit called The Potter’s House Creative Ministries where she speaks and ministers weekly at the cabin. She has a BA in Creative Christian Arts and a master’s in Celtic Studies.
Mother Evelyn needs to solve a major problem, and Hannah, a young nun fresh out of college, is the one for the job. Joining the Inner Circle of the Abbey of St. Margaret is an eye-opener for Hannah, to say the least. Travel with Hannah and her Vatican Intelligence cohorts on a roller-coaster ride around the world as she discovers many secrets including . . .Did Cain ever die? The death of one of the prime characters in Genesis was never mentioned. Is he still alive?Who are the Elohim? How is Mother Evelyn always prepared for what is going to happen?Journey into a genre rarely touched—Christian science fiction
My only comment prior to the review below is a question. Am I allowed to use the word “badass” in a Christian book review? Because I did.
This surprising novel starts out with a group of nuns in an abbey, and the reader has no idea they are about to enter a world of intrigue, spies, aliens, extrasensory powers, space travel, and cyber technology. Biblical characters, scriptures, prophecies, and events are woven through it all. The author keeps us in suspense as he expertly unveils one surprise after another. I was absolutely kept on the edge of my seat as a group of nuns revealed themselves to be badass operatives, bent on saving the human race. This book is so imaginative and well written that I was completely riveted to each page. The characters are complex and layered, and the layers are slowly peeled off as they reveal their true identities. The plot is so creative and the story itself is fast paced and hurtles forward to a shocking conclusion. There appears to be plenty of opening for a sequel, and I sincerely hope we get one. Fans of Christian fiction, Science fiction, Thrillers, and the Paranormal will enjoy this enticing, multi-faceted thriller mashup. In this well-written, imaginative novel, Dean Sparks shows us that Christian fiction can be bold, exciting, astonishing, and unexpected.
I received a free copy of this book via Reedsy Discovery. My review is voluntary.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dean Sparks is first and foremost a Christian. He loves his wife abundantly. Four of his children, all daughters, were born in one year! Dean is thrilled to be a father and grandfather to the family’s six children and five grandchildren. He loves his job as a Chick-fil-A franchisee and has been with Chick-fil-A since 1978. Dean is an out-of-the-box thinker who is worth reading. You can contact him at authordeansparks.com or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, it’s time to feature a great self-published book. I really enjoy this feature because it helps independent authors with the monumental task of promoting their books. If you decide to read this book, please write a review and post it on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites where you talk about books. This helps authors so much. I can’t stress that enough. Your review makes a difference.
Today’s book is the first in a series that captivated me from the beginning, The Hamelin Stoop series by Robert B. Sloan. In fact, I have been known to drop everything and ignore my giant TBR list in order to read the next installment. See the review below.
BOOK REVIEW: THE EAGLE, THE CAVE, AND THE FOOTBRIDGE
Hamelin Stoop is an exciting young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure series in the vein of the Chronicles of Narnia and even Harry Potter.
In The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge, Hamelin’s mother Johnnie is on the run from evil trackers, so she places him, still a little baby, on the stoop of an orphanage in a tomato box. One of the only legible words in the note she left was “Hamelin,” and since he was found on the stoop, he was named Hamelin Stoop by the orphanage staff.
Upset and frustrated, Hamelin runs away from the orphanage when he is 8 years old. That’s when strange things begin happening. He is drawn to a cave by a talking eagle, and then he begins to learn more about his parents and his true purpose. There is a related story about three princesses in another land as Sloan begins to weave this tale together.
This is a “good vs. evil” adventure series which drew me in immediately, and I am always excited to see the next book. This book has everything–talking creatures, evil overlords, distant lands, and lost princesses. So far, there are three books, and I’m anxiously awaiting the fourth. I see definite nods to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which is always a good thing. I would recommend this to anyone over 10 years old who enjoys fantasy, adventure, and good vs. evil stories. As C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” And this is a great children’s story that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
I received a free digital copy from Booksirens. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Robert B. Sloan is President of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He is also a former President of Baylor University. Dr. Sloan and his wife Sue have seven adult children and more than 20 young grandchildren. He is an author, communicator, educator, and leader—all hats he has worn many times for a variety of reasons. These four areas represent life experiences that have provided him and his family with many memories. It is in the experiences of life that memories are made and lives are shaped.
Robert Sloan has a passion for Christian higher education and the spiritual formation of young people for the glory of God, which can be seen in both his professional and personal life.
Lizzie James is just 8 years old when she is told her mother and brother have drowned. She is taken to her father’s “palace” in Belize and her name is changed to Eliza. She soon learns her father is in the sex trade and trafficks young girls. She is always told she is being saved for “something special,” which turns out to be a forced marriage with another drug and sex trafficking family. Then an FBI agent enters her life, someone she has met before, although she does not remember him, and he does not realize she is a child he rescued from drowning the same day his brother died.
I have read many books by Karen Kingsbury, but this one goes to a whole new level as it exposes the horrors of the sex trafficking industry. The characters are well written and the despair of Eliza and the younger girls is palpable and real. Kingsbury shows us the depths of evil in the sex trafficking industry, the laws that sometimes hinder rescued victims from surviving even after escape, and the hearts of the people in and out of law enforcement determined to rescue every single child. She shows us how God is present, even in desperate, cruel, and wicked situations from which there seems no escape. This is a well researched novel that everyone needs to read in order to know the evils that exist in our world.
I received a free copy of this book from Atria Books via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
A Distant Shore will be releasedon April 27, 2021.
As many times as I’ve heard the crucifixion story, and I’ve heard it all my life, I never could grasp the magnitude of the torture and pain Jesus went through. I went looking for descriptions written by others, and I found this, written by C.S. Lewis, that really helped me see everything Jesus went through.
Lewis was replying to a letter and talking about some people at the time who had objections to one of Jesus’ statements from the cross. Lewis said: “What do these people want? Do they actually visualize Him for 3 hours nailed to a stake–flayed back glued to unplaned wood–Palestinian sun–cloud of insects round head, hands, and feet–the face mask of bruises, pus, spittle, blood, tears & sweat–the lungs gradually tearing owing to the position and then complain–“This doesn’t hurt enough?” This excerpt was taken from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III.
This description really hits home to me the absolute pain and torture Jesus endured. Add to that the fact that He was the Son of God and he could have ended it instantly if He chose, but instead He endured it all, and gave up his spirit after all prophecy was fulfilled. Imagine having the will to continue being tortured even though you could end it at any time! Imagine asking God to forgive His torturers, even though He had the power to instantly end their lives if He wanted. He endured it all because He was here as a sacrifice for us.
John 19: 28-30 New King James Version: 28 After this, Jesus, [a]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.