Monday, November 30, 2015

Top 10 Books of 2015

Listed below are the top 10 books of 2015 that I have read. In January I will start a new list of reviews of new authors, favorite authors, and classic authors. Hope you stick around. Share with others about Rebel Book Reviews. Take a chance on a new title or new author. Enjoy the list and why they impacted me more than others. If you wish to discover more about the book or author, click the title's link. 

1) From Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard

     Bayne's journey is a very familiar one and one which I empathize and sympathize as I read the book. The emotional turmoil and growth within Bayne epitomized the strength of a woman--a woman with a Christian soul.
 2) Pirate by Night by Lisa Asenato

     With echoes of John Newton's Amazing Grace, this book portrays a two-fold love: the binding love of family and the binding love of God.
3) Hope by Josephine Walker

     " a gentle rain bringing peace in the middle of turmoil", this book gives the reader hope, too. A heartwarming and surprising mystery sure to delight readers.
4) Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso

     With original and detailed descriptions the reader will forget that these are fictional characters. So deep is the emotional river that the reader will be swept away by the story.
5) Space Drifters by Paul Regnier

     The symbolic undertone brought the biblical teachings about greed and wants, of love and sacrifice, and in what/who to place one's hope to the surface.
6) Good-Bye, Lover by Rachel Britz

     Rich Irish brogue and descriptions of its emerald beauty layered the book. Emotion and logic danced a waltz. A perfect and sweet romantic tale that I cherish.

     Intricate in detail and rich in love, this saga weaves a winding journey to glory. These books compete in storytelling with the major fantasy writers.

8) The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

     Wonderfully intricate, well researched, and remarkable in symbolism, faith, and motifs, this story is a modern day Bronte novel.
9) The Post Card by Laura V. Hilton

     This book brings to heart life, love, faith, and forgiveness, and about all following God's direction, no matter the cost.
10) The Fallen by Clay A. Kahler

      Suspenseful, edge of the seat reading, with its nostalgic style, this book packs a powerful punch.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The TOP TEN on the Bookshelf

At the end of the year, I post about the top ten books of the year. Before I do that, which will be in a few weeks, I want to share with you my top favorites from the Read Shelf of my bookshelf. These are the top books that I will keep and reread multiple of times.

I will start with the most favorite of them all and go in descending order. Hope you enjoy and maybe you will find a new book to add to your collection. 

The Blue Flower by Henry van Dyke
~This century-plus old novel holds a treasure of allegorical stories to Jesus' ministries while on earth. Rich in prose and vivid in imagination, I can never part with this book.

Tapestry of Trust by Mary Annslee Urban
~Like a tapestry where the threads weave in and out to create a picture, this book contains threads of love, forgiveness, trust, and sacrifice wove into a beautiful story.

Pirate by Night by Lisa Asenato
~To chose revenge or redemption is harder than it seems. This book tells a richly inspiring tale of love.

Space Drifters: The Emerald Enigma by Paul Regnier
~Parables, allegories, and symbolism combine in this fast paced, highly entertaining, but thought provoking space adventure.

from Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard
~Truthfully poignant and true to life, this book shows how God can heal the most heartbroken of them all.

Hope by Josephine Walker
~Mystery and faith weave a fantastic story that counters superstition and fear where only Truth wins.

Willing to Die by John Muntean
~The true history of Romania and one man's attempt to save his family and people show history repeating itself, especially in America.

Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso
~Symbolism and Faith, the Bible and its truth, demons and their lies, all combat as one man tries to unravel the dangerous mystery consuming him.

Dynamo by Eleanor Gustafson
~God equips. God leads. Such a heartbreaking story of two rebellious souls who form a bond and how each is a part of God's glory.

Good-Bye, Lover by Rachel Britz
~A sweet but deeply provoking book about ultimate sacrifice and the rewards of trusting in His love.

Tell me some of your favorites Christian books and be entered to win your choice of a Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Speculative or Thriller Christian book.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mississippi Nights (& Something Extra)

(Ambassador International 2012)

Two brothers, one death--the bond of brotherhood faces its greatest challenge against resentment and guilt.

Can the love between two brothers eventually win against pain and guilt? When firefighter David Boyette's fiance perishes in a car fire, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death. Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devastating secret. With the help of family, a woman's love, and a small child's devotion, can David overcome insurmountable odds as he and Jeremy face the bitterness that enslaves him? Together the brothers must decide if the bond of brotherhood is stronger than resentment and hate.

What are people saying about this novel?
"An absorbing family drama, laced with romantic elements and quirky characters" ~ Anne Hamilton on Goodreads

"Talented writer! Intense from beginning to end which is hard to do!"~ Andrea Marie on Amazon.  

"Wow! This was a gripping novel that I didn't want to put down till the final outcome."~ LucyMR1 on Barnes&Noble.

"I also loved the healing journey this book took you on, and the story of forgiveness for not only those around you, but yourself and ultimately God."~ Susan on Christian Book.

Reviews are great. Not only do they help authors, but they also help readers choose the book to read.
But what is the story behind this story?

The idea for this book start long ago when the author was 14. She had Jeremy die in a boating accident. David was reckless and living with his girlfriend, Alyssa. Darlene was married to a Tony. And the story never developed past the honeymoon of David and Alyssa at Niagara Falls. Then, the author accepted Christ and the story was all but forgotten. 

Through all the years of life: losing a child, being abandoned, losing a husband and father, and on the verge of homelessness, the author found within herself that small dream that she once had.

Although this wasn't her first story to try and have published or to write, one day she remembered. Jeremy was brought back to life and given the job of a police officer. David was still reckless. But Alyssa became Maggie, the preacher's daughter. Then the character Poppy came to life. The author took aspects of her own life, the experience of her deceased husband (who was an assistant fire chief) and her own as an EMR for the same department, and research she conducted to produce a novel that would show the deep emotional turmoil of someone who allowed a vice to rule his life.

How does one come away from that? A deep addiction, the overpowering pride and stubbornness, the condemning shame? It cannot be overcome by oneself. One would need family, friends, but most importantly, the Lord.

There are layers upon layers to this novel. Told from a Southerner's perspective and from a flawed Christian perspective, the reader will ultimately gain a better understanding of what it really means to rely upon the Lord in all things and to turn to Him...and above all, God will never abandon His children.

Tell me, what is one thing you look for in novels that deal with flawed characters? 

For an added bonus, for those who comment you will win a book. Five winners will receive Mississippi Nights....everyone else, you will get a gift, too. Comment on what you read, let me know the types of books you love to read, and leave me your favorite verse. 

For the author of Mississippi Nights, her favorite verse sums up her life and all the stories she writes: 
Mark 4:39
"Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Deadly Additive by Donn Taylor

(Harbourlight 2012)

It's all about action and momentum.
If you like Robert Ludlum or Ronie Kendig, then Donn Taylor has the book for you.

Although there are instances in the book that had the habit of explaining something that didn't really need it, those parts in no way detracted from the story. It would probably help those readers, especially younger readers, who may need just a little more explanation. The portions were handled very well without bogging down the storyline. 

When it comes to the characters, Jeb Sledge is the alpha male-don't-underestimate-how-he-looks type. He isn't your typical buffed up hero. He has the tendency to be the anti-hero at times, but that only enhances his hero personality. When the reader meets Raul Ramirez, you have to chuckle at the firm's name: Poirot, Espada, y Ramirez. Agatha Christie fans and readers of the Maltese Falcon will understand this phrase. Even the turn of cliches that the Ramirez characters spout, such as: "I am a sheep off the old black" or "taking the bull by the handlebars", add a little comedy to a fast paced action book.

Speaking of action, it may slow down, but just long enough to gain your breath, and then you are back into a fast pace reading again. 

The title really fitting the story is an added bonus. Although at times I kept calling the book Deadly Addiction, Deadly Additive gave it a clear connection with the underlying conflict of the story. And yes, the book is addictive. I really like Jeb.

To me, this is a pretty good novel to read without getting into too much political descriptions. And even the faith thread was handled in a way that came out naturally.

Definitely a recommended read. And if you have a young reader who longs for a good action, beat-the-bad-guys-up book, then Donn Taylor is the way to go.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Good-Bye, Lover by Rachel Britz

(Ambassador International 2015)

"...I was beginning to feel as though this call to adventure was more or less a quest to awaken from within." (Good-Bye, Lover, p.140)

Layered within this book are themes of awakening of spirit and love, following God's path, and trusting in Him. From a deep loss, Nora arrives at the cusp of womanhood where she finds some dreams are just that and some dreams are promises.

I enjoyed the way the lyrical prose brought to life the deep richness of the Irish brogue and its emerald beauty. Emotion and logic danced a waltz through each page. As Nora faced each day learning what it meant to be who she was called to be I felt as though I was walking that path along with her. I even cheered for her when her Irish temper allowed her to make a stand for what was right no matter the cost.

The title added another layer of symbolism. Giving up a dream doesn't mean giving up a life.

As Jack said, who I found to be the perfect allegory to Christ, "know this, even though you may not see me, I am always with you."

Nora learned that He would always be with her and new dreams would unfold.

Highly recommended for anyone. A perfect and sweet romantic tale written as from the days of old.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

From Driftwood to Sapphire by Kathy M. Howard

(Ambassador International 2015)

From Driftwood to Sapphire was not what I expected. Did I expect to read a good book? Yes. It delivered that. 
Did I expect to read a heartwarming story? Yes. 
Did I expect to read an in-depth look into a young woman's soul? No, not really.

This book contained powerful messages. At times it was heartwarming, but it was also heart-rendering. Soft nuances within the book tore at my emotions. Little things made me truly think and examine myself. 

In this story, the young woman, Samantha, was raised in an openly Christian environment where Christ is talked about without hesitation, where prayer is an involuntary reaction much like breathing, and where love and openness is prevalent. Every young person has a crucible that they must go through. It either tears them down, scars them, or makes them stronger. That crucible makes them look into their own souls and truly examine themselves. This book sure did that to me.

Faced with what Sam had to overcome, I honestly don't know if I could have done what Samantha did with such sophistication or forgiveness. At first I wasn't sure if this was even possible for someone to behave like this. Can a person truly forgive a horrible wrong done to them? Can a person truly see beyond the hurt of herself and accept the offending party with love? Kathy M. Howard shows these ups and downs of humanity in us all with precision and honesty.

The faith thread in the book could have come off as very heavy-handed and preachy, but Kathy M. Howard handles it with such a literary finesse that it enriches the book and the characters. This is a natural element in Sam's life and it is shown in a beautiful way.

I can definitely recommend this book to anyone and more importantly, it is a great book for any young teenager or young woman in today's society. Ms. Howard brings to life a true, honest to goodness, Christian woman who has her flaws and doubts and who overcomes two heart searing tragedies without forsaking her faith.  Very, very well done!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes

(Zondervan 2015)

I've always find myself enjoying any historical novel by Laurie Alice Eakes. Historical novels have always been synonymous with her name. It was Lady in the Mist that first introduced me to her midwife series. From the start, I read each one and proceeded to other novels written by her. With The Mountain Midwife, Laurie Alice Eakes reintroduces her midwife line and life in the Appalachians, but this time it is a foray into a contemporary setting.

And I have to say, Laurie Alice did a very good job. This book is more than a typical romance; it delves into a bit of mystery and suspense without overshadowing the budding romance between the two characters.

As usual, this author can make the reader pause and view a situation in a new light. What would I have done in this situation? What would I have felt if I found that out? How would I have reacted when faced with indecision or fear?

At first I didn't know what to think about Ashley and the decisions she would make or the way she would behave, but as I read more and more I came to understand the why because I could relate to the character. There's always a little bit in us that needs confirmation from others and sometimes that little bit grows into a want that is larger than we realize and it affects our actions.

Even the character Hunter will make the reader pause and consider "how do we see the world and the people in it". 

Laurie Alice Eakes also has a way that brings the sounds and sights of the Appalachians to life. This is one book that I found enjoyable and another book of Laurie Alice's that I truly am glad to own.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M White

The Lost Heiress
Roseanna M. White
(Bethany House 2015)

It's not often that a historical novel can pull me in so completely and unyielding. Between layers and layers of storytelling Roseanna M. White has achieved a praiseworthy and wonderfully intricate novel.

From the golden glamour of Monaco to the gilded halls of England, the reader follows the tale of not only Brook and Justin, but Deidre as well. As I delved into The Lost Heiress thoughts of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey came to mind, even parts of the Forsyte Saga with hints of Pride and Prejudice. To top it off, mystery surrounds them and a curse that is attached to the Fire Eyes, rare red diamonds, follows them.

With the time period introduced, I can almost imagine where the next story in the tale of the Ladies of the Manor (and the Fire Eyes) will lead. I look forward to discovering if my suspicions are correct!

A word of warning to the readers: this is not a light-hearted, fluff of a novel. It is well researched, remarkable in symbolism, faith, and motifs. Each scene sets the pace for the next, the conclusion pans out as it should without a hurried hand, but most importantly it entertains as a good novel should.

To me, Roseanna M. White is the Modern Era Bronte.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

***Warning*** Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill

Center of Gravity
Laura McNeill
(Thomas Nelson [registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc] 2015)

Two verses in the Bible come to mind when I read Center of Gravity.
Philippians 4:8
"Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things."

Colossians 2:18
"Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."

I'm not going to say that this book is good. Despite the flawed point of view of an eight year old or the lack of distinction between the characters' voices, the story is actually promising. BUT it is not a Christian book. It is NOT a clean book nor clean read. IT IS NOT an acceptable read.

I expect more from a Christian fiction book published by a large, well known Christian publishing house. To me, Thomas Nelson has foregone the Gospel and Jesus in exchange for the mighty dollar.

The library, where I reserved a copy, doesn't label this as Christian. The book scan (UPC) on the back doesn't even label it as Christian, but for it to be published under Thomas Nelson, many Christians are hoodwinked into believing that this book is a Christian book.

Below is a list of what this book contains that is expressly against our Christian faith:
I will start with the words first...

P--- (out of context. Use in the place of angry not urine):
p. 22, p. 258 (once said by the eight year old in the story)
p.32, p.279, p.291, p.300
A-- (out of context, meaning butt, not donkey):
p.44, p.65, p.110
H--- (out of context, used as a curse or oath, not as in a place, i.e. eternal hell):
p.46, p.165 (x2), p.216, p.291, p.295
 p. 47, p.49, p.132, p.146, p.164, p.189, p.204, p.205, p.215, p.216, p.264, p.273, p.276, p.297
B----d (out of context, used as a curse/oath/derogatory name, not as an illegitimate offspring):
p.95, p.104, p.105
D----d (out of context, not as a condemning nature of sin, but as an oath/curse):
p.200, p.277

There are also scenes which a Christian and the Christian market will find unacceptable.
One scene of sex that is borderline soft porn in description. 
Homosexuality is written in a way that condones this sin. This not considered acceptable in the Christian market.

Only one religious reference other than taking the Lord's/God's name in vain (3 instances):
Excerpt from Center of Gravity:
"...I send up a silent prayer. To the angels, to the heavens, to all that is good and true in the universe."

This is NOT Christianity. As Christians we are forbidden to pray to angels, the heavens, or to the universe. Our prayers are to God/Jesus alone.

As I mentioned above, Thomas Nelson is a leading publisher in Christian fiction. If it has the Thomas Nelson name and trademark, readers assume that the book is a Christian book. Now as readers we must be wary of these wolves in sheep's clothing. Check the book out thoroughly, read reviews, use the library before spending hard earned money on a book that will pollute the mind. 
Thomas Nelson should be ashamed to have such a book associated with their name.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Space Drifters by Paul Regnier

Paul Regnier
(Enclave Publishing 2015)

It's more than a science fiction story. It's more than a space rambling. It's both of those combined and thrown into a spiraling universe of misfortunes, a maybe romance, miscalculations, and sheer luck, or maybe fate, that carries the reader along on one heck of a space adventure complete with the occasional comedy.

Glint Starcrost is the captain of an alien first mate, a teenage time traveler, and a royal bloodline bounty hunter. He's forced to deal not only with his own personal issues involving the almost highjacking of his ship by a lovely beauty that muddles his thoughts, but a testy and jealous ship computer, plus a first mate that refuses to fight, an out of his element teen,  and his own desires between treasures and survival.

He hides his true character behind a false bravado of quick wit and outlandish maneuvers. When his "dreams can come true, literally" first mate encounters the Holy Bible, it sets off a whirlwind of events that never stop. Soon he will question his desires and wishes as he searches for the Emerald Enigma that will grant every wish.

This is a fast paced novel that will leave you breathless and sometimes chuckling. Glint is a mixture of Starlord (in bravado and character), Han Solo (especially with his princess quips), Arthur Dent (from the misfortunes that he didn't ask for), and a little of Captain Kirk (with his quick thinking), and yet this character is all his own. Blix, his faithful friend, epitomizes the calm, unruffled, and sometimes aggressive first officer: think Groot/Chewbacca/Ford/Spock rolled into a man with lizard characteristics. Jasette is more than royalty. She's smart, fast, vicious, and quite loyal after a fashion. Nelvan is the catalyst that starts the space adventure moving forward. 

The symbolic undertone brings to the reader the biblical teaching about greed and wants, of love and sacrifice, and in what/who to place one's hope. 

Although the book ended on a cliffhanger, I look forward to see how Glint and crew escape this next bout of the Enigma's charm/curse.  And I can say, even with his red plaid "jammy" pants, Glint Starcrost is a swoon worthy hero in my book.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pirate by Night by Lisa Asenato

(White Rose Publishing 2015)

"He came with dark intentions and instead discovered the light."
This portion on the front sums it up. This is no shallow read or light-hearted romance. This book delves deep into the heart and the story of forgiveness.

Pirate by Night has the echoes of John Newton and his song Amazing Grace.
It is Grace who brings Nicholas into the light and shows him a better life to lead.

Pirate stories are the absolute love of my reading. It's the rooting for the underdog that I enjoy. And although there are many romantic tales of pirates out there, most are not a clean read. But Lisa Asenato brings not only a clean read, but an inspiring read.

Each character is fleshed out perfectly and their growth throughout is done slowly, building upon one another. One may believe that his or her life holds too much to ever be forgiven or blessed, but that is not so. The faith is strong throughout this story, and although I wished for a not so convenient ending, the epilogue brought tears to my eyes.

Pirate by Night portrays a two-fold love. The binding love of family and the binding love of God. This is a definite recommendation for romance readers!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Not By Sight by Kate Breslin

(Bethany 2015)

It's not often that a book will pull me in and even wrench an emotional response from me. It's even tougher if the book is a historical novel, which isn't at the top of my list in genres.

Kate Breslin does more than a wonderful job at telling the story of Grace and Jack. Set in 1917 during WWI, the main character, who is a suffragette, is determined to do her duty for God, King, and Country. A young nobleman, who seems more of a rake than a gentleman, plays a dangerous game of intrigue to apprehend spies for Germany. In this book, these two well developed, and perfectly flawed characters, are entwined. Their lives collide, first through an act of shaming, then through an act of grace.

I loved how Grace Mabry discovered her pride was her downfall and grew stronger from it. Jack Benningham learned that his lack of faith in God didn't not keep God's blessings from falling upon him, no matter the long and tough road it led him on.

Although the insertion of two other characters' point of views threw me out the of story a couple of times by actually having to back up and reread the start of the scene to figure out whose head I was in, this story still had an impact. It isn't a story about WWI or a story about German spies and those who were blackmailed to do their bidding. This was a story of God's redemptive love and amazing grace. The faith was strong throughout, but not overbearing. The title alone gives insight to the major theme of the book.

The writing was tight and flowed from scene to scene, chapter to chapter. The words stirred pity, anger, frustration, and happiness. It was a true whirlwind of a read.

I could envision the scenery, the landscape, the clothing style, and motorcars. Not By Sight will truly sweep you away to another time period. This is a highly recommended book.

***I received this book from Bethany House via in exchange for an honest and complete review***

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Post Card by Laura V. Hilton

the Post Card
Laura V. Hilton
(Whitaker House 2015)

It's not often that a book will surprise me.

I usually will not read any book Amish, but I took a risk on this one. And I am so grateful and blessed that I did. It was wonderful (wunderbaar). This isn't a typical Amish romance or even a typical Amish story. Characters dared to do things against Old Amish Order.

Laura V. Hilton broke away from the norm. The Postcard brings to the heart life, love, faith, forgiveness, and about all following God's direction, no matter the cost.

Characters would irritate me, make me want to smack them across the head. Others I would cheer on or my heart would break for them. And still another I would silently plead that forgiveness would come and attitudes would change. Of course there is foreshadowing for a future story (at least I hope). The writing was concise and flowed so well that I actually forgot that I was reading a book.

The Postcard surpasses anything written by Beth Wiseman and others. This is an excellent read. Although some might think of the spattering of German language throughout the book as a distraction, I found it to be a tool that drew me deeper and deeper into the story.

There was one prevalent theme throughout and I think it applies to everyone in every walk of life: God cannot be put into a box, ain't so?

Laura V. Hilton is an author that I will readily put on my shelf and I look forward to grabbing more of her books.

**I received this book free of charge through courtesy of Whitaker House in exchange for an honest review**

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Clay A. Kahler's The Fallen

I am normally hesitant about self published books, especially those produced through CreateSpace. Usually because very few writers who use CreateSpace spend the time to edit or polish their manuscripts. Not so with Clay A. Kahler.

The story holds the suspense and edge of the seat reading as watching the movie Silent Hill. The narrative of the story is reminiscent of the down to earth, nostalgic style that one would find while watching Secondhand Lions and The Sandlot. Author Clay A. Kahler has a style that ranks along side with Stephen King and Thomas Harris.

The Fallen is a short read, but it packs a powerful punch. Even with a few minor errors within the book, the overall plot and passionate storyline quickly takes over the reader. From heartache to hope, from anger to praise, Clay Kahler wrote a really wonderful story.

My favorite line, taken from Scripture, and one that brought me to tears when I read it and realized the full effect of what I had read: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends". Of course, I have always read it from the King James and New King James where it said "lay down one's life for his brother". Either way, it still holds the same effect on me.

The impact this book leaves on the reader is one that is so profound, so passionate, and so pulsing with truth, that you cannot view the world the same.

I highly recommend The Fallen. And I am glad that I was directed to this wonderful story.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Author Spotlight: Amy C. Blake

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to read Whitewashed by Amy C. Blake; and I was not disappointed (see review "here"). Not only is the book well written and highly detailed, it kept my attention from page one to the very last turn of the final page. To me, she rivals Terri Blackstock and other Mississippi based writers. Recently I contacted Amy with a few questions. Read below to learn more about her book, Whitewashed, and her as an author. Plus, at the end of the post you can enter for your chance to win a copy of Whitewashed.
 RBR: You live in Columbus, Ohio. Why choose a fictional deep South Mississippi town?
AB: My family moved to Grenada, Mississippi, when I was 12, and I graduated from Grenada High School in 1991. My husband (whom I met in Argumentation class at Mississippi College) and I moved out of the state after I received my MA in English from Mississippi College. All that to say, Mississippi fills a large part of my personal history and so was a natural choice for my fictional setting. While I enjoy living in Ohio, part of me will always be a Mississippi girl, a fact that becomes quite evident to my kids when we go South to visit family and my dormant Southern accent flares up.

RBR: Hades is behind in technology and other conveniences, which is a sore reality in many states. Why did you choose to have Hades, MS still locked in the pre-tech decades?
AB: I thought locking Verity College in the pre-tech age would create an intriguing problem for Patience, an 18-year-old girl steeped in the computer era, as she has to wade through decades of handwritten records to solve a mystery rooted in a past that so deeply colors the present.
RBR:  You bounced from 1st person to 3rd. Normally this isn't a conceivable style, but you pulled it off well. Did you at any point doubt your writing style?
AB: Sure, I doubted at times. I played around with different points of view, but I chose first person for Patience so the reader would closely identify with her. Also, to help facilitate skipping between centuries for the reader, I wanted a clear distinctive between Patience's pov and the historical Simon's pov. That's why I pulled back to third person for him. Then, of course, there's Vengeance's first person plural pov, which I chose to mask identity and add weight to the character's mental instability.  
RBR: In the book, you delved deep into the mind of a deranged person. Explain how you were able to accurately portray this person.
AB: I researched mental illness and psychological patterns and tried to think through what shaped Vengeance's personality and the childhood/historical issues that contributed to the character's mental state. For Mabel's character, I researched Alzheimer's so I could portray the way the disease affects its victims, their loved ones, and their caregivers. In both cases, I tried to imagine how I'd feel in their shoes and to present them in a compassionate light. 
RBR: This is book one. How many more On the Brink books do you plan? Are they set in the Deep South or varied places?
AB: There are two more books in the On the Brink series, which follows three homeschooled friends--Patience, Christy, and Natalie--as they step out into adulthood. Book two, Colorblind, is about Christy and is set in Buckeye Lake, Ohio. It is due to release in February, 2016. The third book is about Natalie. I haven't begun writing it yet, though it's tentatively set in the Washington DC area. 
RBR: Thanks for the spotlight, Amy. And I look forward to future books by you. 

Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor's wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College. She has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. Her Christian suspense novel, Whitewashed, released in February, 2015. The Trojan Horse Traitor, the first book in her Levi Prince YA fantasy series, releases in November, 2015. Colorblind, the second book in her On the Brink suspense series, releases in February, 2016. She'd love for you to visit her website at

Connect with Amy C. Blake through the following links:

AB: I'm giving away 3 paperback copies of Whitewashed. Enter now until June 22nd on my website:  Whitewashed Giveaway
Whitewashed Giveaway
I'm giving away 3 paperback copies of Whitewashed, my Christian suspense novel about 18-year-old homeschooler Patience McDonough. For more information about...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Heir of Hope by Morgan Busse

Heir of Hope
Morgan Busse 
(Enclave Publishing 2015)

Daughter of Light, Son of Truth, and Heir of Hope are books that lead the reader down a winding journey to glory.

There are hardships.

There are loss and pain.

There is forgiveness.

There is rebirth.

More importantly: there's hope.
No corners were cut in the novels. It's truth and adventure bound together in a whirlwind saga.

The journeys of Rowen, Caleb, Nierne, and Lore were complete with the ebb and flow of faith that we all find ourselves experiencing.

Even though I wished for more of Caleb's story and to see more of his gifts and I felt the ending seemed too rushed, the deep plots, symbolism, and spiritual truth embedded within the story enhances the reader's enjoyment.

This is a saga that competes with George R.R. Martin and Tad Williams. Morgan Busse wrote an outstanding fantasy story.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fearless by Mike Dellosso

Mike Dellosso
(Realms 2013)

If you can believe that the universe was created from nothing and a sudden bang, then why not believe in God? He is the God of the supernatural and surreal; the God of miracles; and the God of love.

In a very intense, dramatic unfolding of Virginia Mills' occupants, the story centers around one miracle child, nine-year-old Louisa. Gifted with healing, and in an allegorical retelling of Jesus' healing of the populace, Louisa's gift is a blessing and curse because others will seek to abuse that which is freely given.

But it isn't only Louisa's story, but a deeper tale of Jim, Amy, and Alicia's spiritual healing.

Within layers and layers of storytelling, Mike Dellosso weaves a heart-thumping thriller that peels back the preconceived notions of who people really are.

He's a killer, evil--but there's more to him and he has a choice.

She's a batter woman--but there's more to her and she has a choice.

They're a torn couple--but there's more to them and they have a choice.

Fearless is a novel that requires multiple readings to glean the majestic impact it tells.

As always, Mike Dellosso hasn't disappointed me with a story--superb!

Hope by Josephine Walker

Josephine Walker
(Ambassador International 2015)

I watched this novel grow form first line to its final. It's not your typical mystery. It's not your typical romance. It's not your typical novel.

Jessica needed a new life. What she received was a new hope, a new love, a new chapter, basically a renewing of spirit.

Jo Walker has a way that sucks you into a story. This was no cozy mystery. I was surprised to discover the "ghost"; but looking back the clues were there. This was no simple romance. Jessica finds love in the most surprising places, most of all from God. The budding relationship between Jessica, Clint, and Timmy was heartwarming.

A line from the book: "like a gentle rain bringing peace in the middle of turmoil", Hope gives the reader just that, hope. Hope for a future. Hope fro a new beginning. And hope for healing.

Jo did an excellent job and I've already read the book twice and plan to read it again, and again!

Whitewashed by Amy C. Blake

Amy C. Blake
(Mantle Rock Publishing 2015)

Not many books can bridge the gap between young adult and contemporary genres; but, Amy C. Blake has written such a novel.

Whitewashed is a story set in a small, Deep South town of Mississippi called Hades, and there are dark secrets lurking beneath the college.

There are mysterious things happening.
There are spiritual soul searchings.
There is one family's lineage tied to one college, Verity.

This novel is everything but typical. All plots are delivered neatly and with satisfying results. The characters are well developed. The pace and setting written with exquisite detail.

I found that Amy C. Blake wrote a great example of Deep South culture. To me, she rivals Terri Blackstock at her best and has quickly made a fan of me.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Author Spotlight: Morgan Busse

Morgan Busse brings together an excellent saga with Daughter of Light(2012), Son of Truth(2013), and Heir of Hope (April 2015-Enclave Publishing). To read more about the first two books in the Follower of the Word series, click here.

Read below for more about Morgan Busse and her books. Follow the link to connect with the author. And definitely click on the Goodreads link to enter the giveaway for Daughter of Light and Son of Truth.

Thank you, Morgan, for being a part of Rebel Book Reviews and allowing me the opportunity to read your books.

Morgan L. Busse writes fantasy for the adult market. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives on the west coast with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at

RBR: 1) What became the driving force to write an allegorical fantasy novel, much less a trilogy?

MB: When I first began writing, I didn't know anything about themes, allegories, even genre requirements. I would just write as the story came to me. So I never planned an allegorical fantasy, or even planned on my book becoming a trilogy. Daughter of Light was originally a stand alone until I was halfway through the book and realized there was a lot more to the story. Many of the spiritual aspects of the Follower of the Word series just came to me as I wrote. I didn't plot any of it, which is why I think the themes and spiritual components come across as organic and not preachy.

 RBR: 2) At any point did you become afraid of the unbridled truth that you were displaying through your characters?

MB: Yes! Many times I would fall to my knees and pray, "God, help me write this!" When I first started writing, I shied away from the stronger, more emotional scenes. To write those scenes would be to open up my own heart and share hidden parts of myself. It was Jeff Gerke, my editor at the time, who encouraged me to go deeper. And as I grew as a writer, I knew that to really tell the story, I needed to expose those dark corners of my characters: their temptations, their fears, their weaknesses. But I couldn't have done it without God and without people like my husband and editor pushing me toward the next level.

RBR: 3) Each character has a role to play, each plot a thread in this tapestry; how did you keep it all straight to prevent gaps or repetitions?

MB: I've had the luxury of working on this series for almost ten years, so there is something to be said about letting a story marinate with time. I also keep a lot of notes, maps, and time tables. I am also a logical person, so as I write, I am constantly comparing the scene to the bigger picture of the story: does this scene add to the theme? Develop the character? Add to the plot? Foreshadow a future event? Plant a clue that will be revealed later on? Sometimes I don't even realize I am doing that until I'm reading a later draft and realize how one thing ties into another. That is the magic of writing!

RBR: 4) Any kind of speculative novel requires a certain breed of writer, we have to have a love for this genre. Have you always known that this would be your first kind of novel? Do you consider any authors as inspiration?

MB: I have been making up stories for as long as I can remember, stories about unicorns, and magic, and other worlds. I would have my toys enact my stories or I would get my brother and sisters to act out the story starting with the words, "Let's pretend..." And considering I was raised on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, and other such writers, it's not a surprise that a seed for that kind of story was planted inside of me.

However, I never thought about being a writer. It wasn't until after the birth of my second child that I needed a creative outlet. My husband said I should write and after walking into a Christian bookstore and discovering there were hardly any Christian fantasy or science fiction (they had one Frank Peretti book), I started seriously thinking about it. Then on a trip to Seattle, I had this idea about a woman who could see inside people's souls when she touched them and started writing Daughter of Light.

I have such a creative imagination that I don't think I could write anything that didn't have some kind of fantastical element to it. That inner child inside of me still whispers, "Let's pretend..." and off I go, although the stories I write now are a bit darker than the ones I came up with as a kid.

RBR: 5) Your novels show that God can and will use a variety of people for His purpose. At any point did you falter in your choice of characters? Because I have to tell you, many things dealing with the families of these characters made sense once the truth was revealed. Was it emotional writing about their decisions to follow the Word?

MB: When I write, it's almost like these characters are real and telling me their story. When I started writing Daughter of Light, this man stepped out of the shadows after assassinating another man and shared with me his story. Caleb was cold and evil, but deep inside had this fear that he would pay for what he had done. At first I was shocked. Was I really going to write about a man like him? But I had to write about Caleb just so I could know what happened next!

Then Nierne stepped onto the pages. She shared with me her childhood (which you will find out more about in Heir of Hope), and how she became a scribe and secretly desired security and love. I saw her storyline and knew she would experience anything but security and love.

I sometimes wonder if that is how God works with us. He sees our entire story and knows what is best for us, what will make us stronger, and how we can have the most impact on the world. But it's not what we would do with our lives. In fact, I think we would run the other direction if we knew what God had in store. But in the end, all the pain and all the hurt actually brings about peace and love, not just for us, but for all people God brings into our lives.

So yes, it is very emotional to write those scenes where the character has to make a decision to follow the Word. Every scene that moves the reader I have probably cried over. And Heir of Hope is full of scene that are going to make the reader cry (so have your tissues ready!). 

I asked Morgan for some favorite quotes from her books. Here they are and to me, they contain such impact, especially after reading the books.

~"Because...Nothing worthwhile in life is free. When it costs something, that item becomes much dearer. Yes, the Word could have saved all of mankind by just His words, but instead He chose to heal mankind in a different way, by taking on the hurt and darkness Himself. And in doing so, we realize just how dear we are to Him." Balint, Daughter of Light.

~"Love gives, despite the cost." Son of Truth

As promised here are the links to connect with Morgan Busse and the links to enter the giveaway for her two books. This is a trilogy that I highly recommend for young teens, young adults, and adult young at heart! Thank you so much, Morgan, for sharing your story.

Twitter: (@MorganLBusse)

 Goodreads Giveaway: