Monday, June 26, 2017

Bread of Angels- Tessa Afshar

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant's daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances--along with her father's precious dye--help her become one of the city's preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

My Thoughts: When I saw that Tessa had a new book coming out, I was extremely excited. Her book, Land of Silence, was probably my favorite of last year, and with this telling the story of Lydia, I couldn't wait to start it.

Unfortunately, it didn't live up to her last book. The catalyst for Lydia's move to Phillipi is rather similar to what happened to Elianna, what with both their fathers being injured by horses which led these women to picking up their fathers' trades. But for Lydia, rebuilding the business takes years, most of which is spent listening to others tell about their back stories, summarizing various characters past hurts in a few pages.

Now, I might have liked the novel better had I not read Land of Silence first. After reading that book and finding it nearly perfect in every way, I couldn't help but compare this one to the other and wish that it were just as unique and impactful. However, there are those who will probably like this better than her last, since the previous was particularly heart-jerking where as this one is more cozy, with Lydia finding numerous friends to bolster her courage along the way.

I still intend to read everything Tessa writes in the future, and I'll keep this on the shelf alongside her others. But I probably will not read it as many times as I have the rest.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, June 19, 2017

52 Amazing Things That Became True of You the Moment You Trusted Christ- Stephen Kuhn

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: The Bible uses many different words to describe what happens to people when they trust Christ. The most common phrase is "in Christ." But what exactly does that mean? This compact book unpacks 52 key verses from Scripture that reveal God's answer to the question of a Christian's true identity. Here is a unique, one-of-kind collection with in-depth commentary and life application insight to help readers discover the full depth of what God has already changed in believers. Changes that are already done.

My Thoughts: The nice thing about this book in the chapter lengths. Most are two-two and a half pages, making each one manageable and easy to get through. This makes it a nice gift for those who don't normally read non-fiction.

Personally, I did not find anything earth shattering in this book. The 52 Amazing Things are facts I have been aware of all through my life, having grown up in church. This might be perfect for the newly saved, or even teens who may need a reminder of what Christ has done for them, but it was only okay for me. But there were also a couple chapters which I was not 100% sure that I agreed with his conclusions.

Some chapters were really great. Kuhn used personal examples and analogies in those which I thought were more powerful than the rest of the book because they were his own lived experience with the truth of Christ. If all 52 chapters could have captured that, I think the book would have been a lot more impactful.

I have provided an honest review after receiving an copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race- Mike H. Mizrahi

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: Chattanooga society is turned upside down as a young woman has the audacity to ride a bicycle--in bloomers!

It's 1895. Anna Gaines, 19, struggles to conquer her insecurities after a horrible fall years ago from her beloved horse, Longstreet. On a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn, she's drawn to the new pastime of bicycling. But back at home, cycling is a scandalous sport for a proper lady. Southern women did not engage in activities meant for men.

Anna has her eye on Peter Sawyer, president of the Cycling Club. As community outrage grows, an unexpected turn of events pits Anna against Peter in a race between the sexes.

Will Anna prove that women deserve the same right as men to ride "the wheel?" Will she choose to live a quiet, traditional life of a housewife and mother? Or will she pursue college and become one of the "new women" emerging into the twentieth century on the seat of a bicycle? What will become of the spark between Anna and Peter? Faith, patience, and courage help Anna to become the person she was meant to be.

My Thoughts: What drew me to this novel was the title. Something about the idea of a bicycle race caught my imagination and, since I also live only two hours away from Chattanooga, I thought this would be an enlightening read. It did turn out to be enjoyable, thought it took a while to get there.

The writing in this book is not the best. Information was repeated far more often than necessary and certain comments by the characters would later be contradicted by either the characters themselves or other circumstances. There were also quite a few scenes that could have been easily combined without any lose of pertinent information. This was what made if difficult for me to initially immerse myself in the story.

What changed my perception of the story was the amount of research that had clearly gone into it. There are quotes from actual papers during that time period as well as a wide cast of characters who all added to the historic feel. While some of the characters tended to melodramatic, it still reflected the views of individuals in the past.

I can't say that the book was great, but sometimes a story can be fun despite that.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through Litfuse.

The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race Mike Mizrahi

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Coiled Blog Tour and Giveaway

Welcome to the Coiled blog tour: a collection of posts celebrating the release of the new YA Mythological Romance from Uncommon Universes Press and author, H. L. Burke. Via the links below you will find interviews, informational and entertaining posts about the story behind the story, and of course, sneks.
Seven stops on this blog tour contain special Scavenger Hunt Clues, presented by #TheodoretheDragon and #PistachioSnek. Look for a photo of either or both of those little guys holding up a note. Each note is part of our secret phrase. When you have all seven pieces of our secret phrase click here and tell us. All correct entries will be put into a random drawing for a signed paperback of Coiled. The winner will be drawn at our Facebook party on June 23rd.

I am so excited to host this author on my blog today. I love Greek myth and can't wait to see what comes of this novel.

In the vein of Eros and Psyche, two cursed souls find each other on a forsaken isle and together must shed the darkness inflicted upon them–or else live as monsters forever.

About the Book 

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

The Gods of Coiled
H. L. Burke

“Do you not pray to the Olevan gods?” A voice as smooth as spiced wine made Laidra jump.
She whirled around to face a tall woman in a gray cloak and veil. Laidra dropped her chin towards her chest, hoping her hood hid her face. “I do not prefer them.” 

The woman tilted her head. “And why not?”

Laidra swallowed. No one had ever asked her opinion on anything of such weight before. She closed her eyes long enough to gather her thoughts. “In the stories, the gods behave much like humans. Jovan seduces maidens, betraying his wife, Mira. In turn, she is spiteful and cruel. The goddess of love is vain; the goddess of the hunt, cold; the god of war, arrogant. Even Ethna, our patron goddess, has been known to incite war over mild insults to her beauty.” She sighed. “I have experienced enough pettiness at the hands of people; I don’t need it from the gods.” 

“Interesting. Do you believe the gods exist?”

She hesitated. “I don’t know.”

“Well, they do, but perhaps ‘gods’ is not the best name for them. So you choose to believe in other gods?” 

“I believe that something put a desire for good in my heart in spite of people trying to train it out of me.” She bit her bottom lip. “If that something is out there, I would worship it.” 

One of my favorite books growing up was D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. The book was beautifully illustrated, and it had a lot of stories in it, all the classic Greek myths (though most made a little more PG. Greek gods are a raunchy bunch). I absorbed those stories. I can't spell or pronounce most of the names, but I can tell you the tales backwards and forwards.

The decision to put Coiled in a world similar to ancient Greece both gave it an aesthetic unlike my other books (which are kind of all over the place anyway. I have some Steampunk tales that are very Victorian in setting, several fairy tales set in that familiar “faux-medieval” world we see so often in fantasy, and of course Cora and the Nurse Dragon is set about 1920s as far as culture/technology go … but with dragons). However, it had an unintended consequence of opening up some interesting philosophical questions.

Because Greek gods are nothing like the traditional Judeo-Christian God, who I believe to be the true God, that I know so well. They are fallible. They are occasionally foolish. They are vindictive. They get drunk, they cheat on their spouses, they throw temper tantrums … it's kind of a mess. They're less like “gods” and more like nuisances. What would it be like to live in a world where they aren't just rumored, but all too real? Where mortals interact with them? Would some of them be good, some of them bad, and some indifferent? Or would they still be petty creatures, taking sides in mortal squabbles based on who gave them the best sacrifices or built them the prettiest temples?

I don't know about you, but faced with that sort of being, I might feign deference (just to avoid being turned into a spider or something), but I wouldn't feel much like worship. I'd be searching for more.

Laidra, my heroine, also looks for more. Having been treated with cruelty her whole life, she feels called towards kindness and healing. She'll need all her strength, for her journey will not only take her through hardship but into direct confrontation with the gods.

If you'd like to find out more about the gods of Laidra's world, definitely pick up a copy of the book, but I also recommend reading up on your Greek mythology. I think you'll enjoy the parallels and references I sneaked into the story. 

Author Bio  
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Follow her personal blog at

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