Grand Finale Blitz: Daughters of Northern Shores

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for Daughters of Northern Shores By Joanne Bischof

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops you’ll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch – Note from the Author

…As I reflect on the beautiful land of Appalachia, and these beloved characters that first met readers within Sons of Blackbird Mountain, it’s my honor once again to tell an all new tale from this region: a place that’s rich in history and full of heart. It’s my prayer that this next novel will hold the same! It’s also my prayer that it will be a blessing to all of those who open the pages, meet the Norgaard family once again, and walk the rugged and redemptive path alongside them.

— Joanne

Bringing Up Books – Review

“Just know that this book is really good. . . . I may have cried a few times, but that’s a good sign that the author gets you emotionally invested in their story. Anxiously awaiting whatever Joanne Bischof brings us next!”

Cover Lover Book Review – Review

“This story is full, spiritual, and unique. . . Thor and Aven are memorable characters and their story will stay with you.

With themes of forgiveness and refinement, this story is sure to touch your heart and inspire you.”

Hallie Reads – Review & Excerpt

“The “lyrical writing, complex characterizations, and an exquisite, I-want-to-sink-into-this-story atmosphere” I found in the first book are equally present in Daughters of Northern Shores, and I heartily enjoyed it from beginning to end; it was a pleasure to journey with the Norgaards. I highly recommend it to readers of historical fiction…”

… the Virginia sun like melted gold through the treetops, brightening everything in its warm haze and piercing through the branches of the great maple overhead. A dance of light and childhood charm where nestled within the leaves sat the treehouse that had sheltered many an adventure for the Norgaard brothers.

While Aven’s climbing days were at a standstill, if she were to scale the makeshift ladder and settle against the rough trunk, she would see the three carved names. Jorgan. Thor. Haakon. Whittled into the living wood as boys when time and distance hadn’t changed them so. ’Twas just as well that she was land bound with child. She had no desire to see Haakon’s name, nor anything that reminded her of the man who had once been her friend but had proved himself anything but.

Heidi Reads… – Review

“The writing is beautiful and evocative, not flowery, but gently and subtly painting a picture of the setting, relationships, and growing tension as the Norgaard’s prepare again to fight for everything they hold dear. I loved seeing their family grow with the birth of Aven’s first child and Haaken’s unforgettable love. Highly recommend to fans of historical fiction and sweet romance!”

Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review

“This is a truly entrancing, at times poignant, saga. The brothers and the extended families is sure to “win one’s heart”. The story is told from shore to shore, yet smoothly flows and is easily followed by the reader.”

Getting Your Read On – Review

“Joanne Bischof has such an incredible ability to draw me right into her stories and feel as if I am actually there. All of my senses become alert and aware. It’s nuts. In the best of ways. Her characters feel solid, real. They pull on my emotions. . . . Haakon’s journey . . . . is a journey of healing, forgiving, proving and loving. . . . it was still so very good.”

The Power of Words – Review

“Daughters of Northern Shores is another outstanding epic by Joanne Bischof, one for my “best of the best” list, and impossible for me to adequately review with any words of mine. This novel is filled with exquisite romance, emotion, poignancy, suspense and adventure. Anything that Bischof writes is excellent, but for me, she shines best in Appalachian settings. . . . Very highly recommended.”

Hearts & Scribbles – Spotlight

Faithfully Bookish – Review & Guest Post

“Story after story, Bischof masterfully captures the work of the Maker’s hand in the essence of life’s fullness, depth, and frailty. . . . The Blackbird Mountain series is saturated with culture, knowledge, and awe-inspiring landscapes but it’s the heart of the stories that make these books unforgettable and precious. I cannot recommend these books highly enough.”

Titling a Novel

Whenever anyone mentions this book, I immediately reflect on how it was my most challenging novels to date. From the difficulties in penning the story, to trying to get a few of the characters to behave (I won’t mention any names [HAAKON!]) to coming up with just the right title – every phase was quite an adventure!…

Remembrancy – Review

“With a slow build focusing on the relationship dynamic amongst this group—from the brother’s to Thor and Aven to the friends surrounding them—the story is engaging . And that building leads to some intensity near the end of the book that keep it going. Bischof’s beautiful prose, immersing readers in the setting, conflicts, and suspense that draw me to her books time and again.”

All-of-a-kind Mom – Review

“Just as touching and heartwarming as the first book, the reacquaintance of this sweet family is such an enjoyable read. . . . The setting and the characters are exceptional and you leave this book feeling as though you are leaving your friends.”

The Green Mockingbird – Review

I have come to expect a story from the pen of Joanne Bischof to be one that slices straight to the heart with its truth and tenderness. Daughters of Northern Shores is no exception. With its return of beloved characters and a message of trust at its center, it is one I will cherish upon recalling (and REREADING!). . . . Daughters of Northern [S]hores is a novel to treasure and one to make you think of the impact just one person can have. It is an encouraging story that reminds the reader to hope when there is no clear path ahead. And, to hold family and friends dear, always extending grace.”

Christy’s Cozy Corners – Review

“I didn’t want Daughters of Northern Shores to ever end! . . . The characters in this book are some of my favorites ever, so I will absolutely go back to book one. They are so well-written that you miss them when you reach the end. I love the way that Joanne Bischof weaves themes of remorse, reconciliation and forgiveness throughout the story. Daughters of Northern Shores made me laugh, and it made me cry. Only the best books do that.”

Wishful Endings – Guest Post

From the Blackbird Mountain Kitchen: Apple Cider Soup

Within the Blackbird Mountain novels, the heart and soul of the Norgaard family home is Ida’s kitchen. A kitchen this former-slave now shares with her “daughters-in-law”, Fay and Aven. Fresh from the kitchen of these three women springs loaves of hot bread, jars of orchard-fresh apple butter, and hearty stews that the men help provide for from wild game in the surrounding woodlands….

Beauty in the Binding – Review

“Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof engaged my attention immediately and my interest continued throughout reading the novel. The author’s flowing prose is beautiful and it carries this tale through much brokenness, struggle, and healing. As with it’s predecessor, the character development is heart-deep and avoids simplifying difficult issues. The relationships between the Norgaard brothers are complex and rich. The epilogue was stunning, a truly perfect ending.

I highly recommend Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof to anyone who loves deeply-layered fiction with complex issues and authentic characters.”

By The Book – Review

“Fans of Joanne Bischof’s Sons of Blackbird Mountain will not be disappointed in the return visit to the Norgaard family farm in Daughters of Northern Shores. . . . there is much, much more of the story left to told, and as always, Bischof does it with beautiful prose that sets the scene and reveals the fears, sorrows, hopes, and dreams of her characters. This book is another winner!”

Fiction Aficionado – Review & Excerpt

“…this story held me in its thrall from beginning to end. If you’re looking for a compelling family saga with well-developed characters, lyrical storytelling, and a whole lot of heart, I have no hesitation in recommending this series.”

…Haakon didn’t keep a journal. If he did, he would write that they’d hoisted sail and caught a breeze from west-southwest. A gust that was shouldering them away from southern Norway. He’d try to find the words to described how hard it was to see that shoreline grow fainter. If they lingered, they’d watch the birches begin to open their leaves. He was yet to see Norway in the summer and had only heard of its splendor.

The practical side of him would note that there were eight hundred tons of crystal ice in the hold bound for London. That’s if they survived the North Sea. If so, they would land in England four days from now.

It would take great effort to cap the inkwell then, but if he lost the battle with himself, he would add that it was getting harder and harder not to think of home.

Genesis 5020 – Review

“The setting for this book is beautiful and the I loved the character development of Thor and Aven. . . . I really had no idea what was going to happen or how things would play out and I think that is what I loved about it most of all.

If you enjoy historical romance that is more than that you will enjoy this book.”

Colorimetry – Guest Post

Setting Sail with the Prodigal Son

…At the very end of Sons of Blackbird Mountain, Haakon Norgaard sets sail on an all new adventure. One all his own. As the youngest of three brothers, it’s the first time he is ever outside of their shadow—a freedom he’s certain he’s ready for, yet many lessons and matters of the heart await him during Daughters of Northern Shores

Being Brooke Capper – Excerpt

Aven watched him through the window as he stood there, speaking to Sigurd, who was helping. In this moment, she could see a trace of the kindness she’d once known was in him.

“It be trust he need to earn, and that’s what sin does. Forgiveness . . . it pure and good, but it just the start of it. Offering one don’t mean the other be remedied as well. When a person be hurt, there need be a minding to both hope and sense.”

Uplifting Reads – Excerpt

While words were potent, a man’s caring ran through deeper waters. It dwelled right there in what he was willing to do. Haakon knew all too well that Peter had once taken a beating for Tess. A way to protect her from his own kin. If anyone was ready to face an uncertain future against Jed and Harlan, it was Peter.

Haakon belted his knife sheath around his hip. “Come an hour before dark.”

“I’ll be here.”

Peter ran a rough hand up and down his forearm, chafing at an old scar. “I also came to tell you that my sister . . . Sibby . . . She’s married.”

A Baker’s Perspective – Review

“I was so happy to be back at Blackbird Mountain. The setting, the characters, the plot lines – I could go on and on. Joanne Bischof has created a beautiful series here, with a lovely picture of forgiveness – something we could all learn from. Highly recommend reading this book, but make sure you read Sons of Blackbird Mountain first!”

Tell Tale Book Reviews – Excerpt

The air inside was dim and stagnant. Ripe with the scent of musty wood. A fresh leak had blossomed in the far corner, and sunlight hadn’t been kind to the curtains hanging on the windows. Aven stepped to them and fingered a hem just as she’d done when Haakon had stood beside her. He’d raised the curtain rod into place, giving her that boyish smile as he did. Just before the back of his hand had touched her arm. A coaxing—a pleading—for her to choose him.

A would-be lover who had lost her to Thor, losing his own way in the aftermath.

With a shuddering breath, Aven set the map on a wobbly table and turned away. Not wanting to linger, she stepped out and bolted the door before pressing the key back from sight.

The Becca Files – Review

“…I was more intrigued with Haakon’s character. In the first book he was easily my least favorite character, but I appreciated seeing him mature more in this story and express genuine remorse for the actions in his past. . . . I still consider it worth the read.”

Labor Not in Vain – Review

“Ms. Bischof manages to always find the right words to elicit the heartaches and pain of the characters, painting a picture with words one of the best examples of showing rather than telling. . . . Daughters of Northern Shores is an appalachian epic of family, the bonds of blood, the ties of friendship, anchors of love, and the human condition. . . . Highly recommend, and an absolute must read if you enjoyed Sons of Blackbird Mountain.”

Kelly Goshorn @ Romancing History – Review

“Daughters of Northern Shores is so well-written that the Norgaard’s Appalachian farm comes to life with beautiful descriptions the reader can see and smell vividly. Filled with the type of rich historical details, my history-loving, nerd girl heart was filled to the brim. The author’s beautiful prose sing like the melody of a well-written symphony and will leave you desperately wanting more from this writer and the story world she has created for us.”

Locks, Hooks and Books – Review & Guest Post

“Daughters of the Northern Shores is a powerful story of forgiveness and grace. It is full of faith and inspiration. I know so many readers will relate to the characters and will find that it is okay to forgive yourself and move on.”

Pinterest Story Boards for a Historical Romance

One of my favorite aspects of the writing process is storyboarding. There’s something about an image that can bring a scene or character to life in my mind. For both Sons of Blackbird Mountain and Daughters of Northern Shores, I created two boards for each novel—one private and one public…

Britt Reads Fiction – Review

“Daughters of Northern Shores was a beautiful, captivating tale that, once again, reminded me of how much I love the characters from this series. . . . The author does such an amazing job of writing in a beautiful style that captures the pace of life on the mountain. I loved seeing what was happening in all of the brothers’ lives and witnessing again the deep love between Thor and Aven. This book left me feeling a deep happiness as I turned the last page.”

Jorie Loves A Story – Review

“This series is #unputdownable and is going to stay inside your heart long after you put down the pages you’ve just read. Her characters are as real as any of us and their story is such a realistic account of life being lived through grace and leant on faith it is a refreshing glimpse into the past with a bridge of hope for our futures.”

Among the Reads – Review & Guest Post

“Daughters of Northern Shores is a riveting continuation of the story of the Norgaard family of Blackbird Mountain that was difficult to put down. . . . I was again swept away as author Joanne Bischof poured out her heart on these pages with tender and hopeful melancholy. . . . Daughters of Northern Shores is a story of changed lives, of love of family, of good versus evil, and of forgiveness. Though I classify it as a romance, it is so much more…”

A Heroine and Her Home

Having grown up within a workhouse in Ireland in the late 1800’s, Aven Norgaard, one of the heroines of the Blackbird Mountain novels, has never known open spanses and freedom. Now, having voyaged to rural Virginia, she’s discovered a whole new world of wonders. While her days in this new and rugged land are far from easy, they’re rich with blessings that she savors with her whole heart. And now as the bride of one of the men of this mountain, a Deaf cider-maker by name of Thor Norgaard, she’s discovering all new facets of life only once dreamed of….

Redeemed Hope Dweller – Review

“With Daughters or Northern Shores, be prepared for heavy emotions, heavy thoughts, heavy situations, but know there’s a steadfast hope and quiet beauty in each one. I still feel as though I haven’t accurately captured this book with my words, but I’ve done the best I can, and I hope you’ll take the time to read it for yourself and find the beauty in it.”

The Barefoot Reader – Review

“Daughters of the Northern Shores was everything I was hoping it would be and more. The characters were raw and real, the bond of brotherhood was inspiring, the themes of grace and forgiveness were beautiful, and the deep trust they all had in God through their trials is something I hope to have. . . . this book was absolutely amazing.”

Note: All excerpts referenced above were taken from “Daughters of Northern Shores” by Joanne Bischof. Copyright © 2019 by Joanne Bischof. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post, if you haven’t already…

Daughters of Northern Shores (Blackbird Mountain #2) By Joanne Bischof Christian Historical Romance Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages March 12th 2019 by Thomas Nelson

“The Norgaard brothers and their families will steal your heart.” —Catherine West, author of Where Hope Begins

Heartache and regret, boldness and sacrifice. What will restoration cost the beloved Norgaard family?

Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.

Having fled the farm after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s which is already at stake through a grave illness brought to him as the first prick of warfare.

Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

From Christy Award–winning author Joanne Bischof comes Daughters of Northern Shores: the highly anticipated sequel to her moving novel Sons of Blackbird Mountain.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookTNZ Fiction

Bookstagram Tour

March 3rd: @prismbooktours March 4th: @wishfulendings @bringingupbooks March 5th: @heidireadsblog @TheChronicFangirl March 6th: @betherin02 @all.the.lovely.pages March 7th: @suziewaltner @amongTheReads March 8th: @h.szott @beautyinthebinding

Other Books in the Series

Sons of Blackbird Mountain (Blackbird Mountain #1) By Joanne Bischof Christian Historical Romance Paperback & ebook, 339 Pages July 3rd 2018 by Thomas Nelson

From the bestselling award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart

“Beloved author Joanne Bischof doesn’t disappoint with her latest beautifully written, heartrending tale . . . a quick favorite for historical romance readers.” —Elizabeth Byler Younts, author of The Solace of Water

A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

Praise for Sons of Blackbird Mountain:

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a quiet gem of a historical romance. Refreshingly real and honest in its depiction of flawed but lovable individuals, it introduces characters readers will want to meet again.” – CBA Market

“. . . the novel provides an interesting glimpse of the time period and some complex social issues among neighbors in an area still recovering from the Civil War.” – Historical Novels Review

“VERDICT Christy- and Carol Award-winning author Bischof (The Lady and the Lionheart) creates endearing characters and a heartwarming story line in this unforgettable novel about the power of family, love, and the true meaning of home. Fans of Kristy Cambron, Julie Klassen, and Susan Meissner will love this one.” – Library Journal

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookTNZ Fiction

About the Author

Picture courtesy of https://joannebischof.com.

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of DAUGHTERS OF NORTHERN SHORES and a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan custom tote bag (book and bag shown are examples, not actual prize) US only Ends March 20, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!

Spotlight: A Great Light


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
A Great Light
By Jennifer Ball

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops

you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch – Note from the Author

Welcome! I’m so excited to bring you my new series “The Kingdom to Come”. This first book “A Great Light” will introduce you to Prince Karhiad, a humble prince next in line to the throne, and his band of close loyal friends who live in the low social status of his kingdom. The crown prince respects his royal family, loves his parents and brother dearly, yet doesn’t align with their views of ruling the kingdom. He appreciates the authenticity that is found in his friends and the lifestyles of the lower and middle class…

My Devotional Thoughts – Inspiration for A GREAT LIGHT

This book was inspired by my favorite non-fictional person who was a humble king. Although, he was never a prince and had no royal bloodline, he was (in the plans of God) next in line for the throne — King David. The extreme trials that David faces in his lifetime are so immense, yet he stays faithful to a God he’s never laid eyes on. He never allows his status as king to make him arrogant or materialistic…

Stacking My Book Shelves! – Excerpt

“You came out here at night?” she asked with excitement. “Did you see these lit up in the dark?” She held her jar filled with lucent flutters towards him.

“Uh, no. I didn’t see those.”

“What was the woman’s name you met last night? Maybe I know her, although I doubt I do. A Trinicitian woman wouldn’t travel out here at night. We really aren’t supposed to travel outside without a companion anyway. I think I may be the only adventurer,” she said as she got into a standing position.

“I don’t know her name. I didn’t ask. I saw this magnificently beautiful light from my balcony. The curiosity of what it could possibly be drew me out here to find it. But it…” — he looked up towards the sky where he had seen it before — “it was gone.”

Remembrancy – The Kingdoms of A GREAT LIGHT

In this first book, A Great Light, you are introduced to 3 major kingdoms — Merrhius, Trinicity, and Ananias. There is also a few other minor kingdoms mentioned, however their focus will play out in future books…

Rockin’ Book Reviews Review

“This book is full of fascinating adventure. I like the way Jennifer separates the lands with distinctive differences. They are close in proximity but so far apart in their beliefs and the way they live…

This is an awesome story and I highly recommend it to other readers.”

Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt

“Where is Trinicity?” he blurted out. She stopped her antics, and looked up at him. She didn’t respond. “I don’t mean to be intrusive. I was… I was just wondering how long a journey it is for you to get here.”

“Not long.” They kept their deep gaze with one another.

“Do you know…” He stopped, he couldn’t possibly ask, but he just felt so comfortable with her.

“Do I know what?”

“Do you know… why do people say they can’t find it?”

Wishful Endings – Why We Read Fantasy

Why do people read fantasy books? Because the human imagination is far more creative, compelling and fascinating than reality. If all books available only had a non-fictional theme, our minds would explode with the constant mental state of reality we’d always be in. Fantasy takes a person, even if for a brief moment, into a realm of excitement at the thought of “Wow, what if…?”…

The Barefoot Reader – Excerpt

“Could you ever show me your city?”

“Oh, no! He asked it!” Faith tried not to let her anxious feelings show on her face. Karhiad just longed for this mysterious place so eagerly. He knew this place was real, irrespective of what his father believed. He was confident this fascinating girl he met in the woods wasn’t lying about where she was from. The way she spoke about trivial matters and important issues was so alluring to him. The idea of visiting Trinicity, the place she came from, was very appealing to him. Besides, he never believed it to be a myth, and now eagerly just wanted to see it all with his own eyes.

My Life, Loves and Passion – Review

“Over the time they spend together they share about their homes. How they differ and what they share. They call for each other. Then tragedy stricks. Secrets and lies and manipulation take over…

…I like the story though and am curious what happens next.”

Declarations of a Fangirl – Good vs Evil

People are drawn to good vs evil because everyone can relate to such a battle. Even if the storyline is fantastical, everyone can relate to one of the characters in the fight. If it isn’t obviously painted out who the villain is and who the hero is, such as in Stars Wars with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, then who is good and who is evil can be a matter of opinion. An interesting aspect of good vs evil stories is that it allows the reader/audience to see redemption in someone…

Among the Reads – Excerpt

“Rhaevaehyn. Do you know of it?”

“Vaguely. They have a monarchy.”

“Yes. We have a monarchy.” He couldn’t tell by her tone when she said ‘monarchy’ how she felt about royal dynasties. He wasn’t sure if he should follow his statement by telling her he was a prince in his kingdom. He didn’t want to appear as if he was boasting. Besides, he was still a little shocked they had never even discussed where he was from until now.

“I know.” Faith’s lack of interest let him know that this actually was not the right time to let her know his inheritance.

Reading On The Edge – Excerpt

“An old man in my city died this morning,” Faith said as she and Karhiad stacked twigs and leaves up into a pile. They wanted to see who could start a fire first without the common essentials needed to cause a spark.

“I’m sorry. Did you know him?” Karhiad wasn’t sure what level of comfort to provide her yet, so he kept gathering the driest leaves he could find.

“Yes. He was an elder that I would deliver dinner to.”

Tell Tale Book Reviews – ​Prince Karhiad’s Survival Checklist

√ Don’t fear anything… ever

√ ​Loyal friends in my circle who value me unconditionally

√ Physically train harder than what is expected of me as the prince

Locks, Hooks and Books – Review

“I enjoyed this Christian Fantasy. Prince Karhiad is lead to Faith by a light. She was my favorite character of the book. The story is full of inspiration with the battles of good versus evil.”

Colorimetry – Excerpt

“So, um, where…” She was eager to change the subject. “Where else have you traveled? Do you journey outside your kingdom walls often? Have you met people from different cultures?”

“I’ve traveled many miles on the outer stretches of my kingdom. It was part of my training to know all the terrain. The most interesting culture I’ve encountered would have to be those living in Ananias. They don’t have walls, so I guess they are considered just a village.”

“Oh, yes. I’ve read about them. How did you find them?”

“I don’t know the details of it. When I was a young adolescent, there was a man in our military who said he found a unique culture and wanted us all to meet them. My father took me out with him and the rest of the traveling troops to encounter them.”

SilverWoodSketches – Review

“Jennifer Ball does a fantastic job of painting this world with compelling characters and vivid colors. There is some very lovely prose to immerse the reader into Karhiad and Faith’s worlds. The writing style harkens to Robin McKinley’s and other epic fantasy authors. Some readers may be put off by the heavier religious elements, but fans of more allegorical works like C.S. Lewis and Anne Elisabeth Stengl will love the message of faith behind The Kingdom to Come.”

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven’t already…

A Great Light
(The Kingdom to Come #1)
by Jennifer Ball
Young Adult Christian Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 298 Pages
June 28th 2018 by Revelation Publishing Company

Love and war are often the same thing.

Prince Karhiad is a humble king-in-waiting. His father, King Vilsig, rules the Kingdom of Merrhius with an iron fist. While the king dreams of endless conquests, his son only wants to conquer the hearts of his subjects through love instead of fear.

Meanwhile, a dark and sinister force threatens every kingdom around. And if King Vilsig and Prince Karhiad can’t put aside their differences, an ancient sinister beast and his supernatural army will lay waste to the Kingdom of Merrhius.

On the night of Prince Karhiad’s 17th birthday, he is mesmerized by a radiant light and makes a decision to learn of its origin. That choice will force him towards answers he wasn’t seeking, a woman he wasn’t planning to fall in love with, and a destiny that will bring him great suffering yet an even greater reward. But in this gripping tale of good vs. evil, the power of love isn’t just a shield to ward off the darkness — it’s also the strongest weapon of all.

GoodreadsAmazonB&N

About the Author

I am a friend of Jesus who at times fails at making this is my most important relationship. I am a wife who forgets at times this is my primary job. I am a mom who at times didn’t get it right. I take lots of pictures that annoy everyone in my family except for my dog. She loves it.

I began writing short stories when I was a child. I would sit in my room for hours writing as fast as I could to keep up with my thoughts. We didn’t have a typewriter and certainly no computer. Too often my writing would turn to scribble. I ended up with lots of loose paper with many short stories written on them in half scribble that made it too difficult for others to read. Thanks to technology, I went back to my childhood passion and wrote a story that I turned into a readable book.

That’s me, to make a long story short.

WebsiteGoodreadsAmazon

Tour Giveaway

1 winner will receive a $20 Amazon eGift Card
– Open internationally
– Ends September 19th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!

Promises, Promises

Let’s talk about promises. To narrow the field, let’s talk about the promises the producers of culture make to us regarding their shows and movies and books.

Now, I don’t mean advertising slogans (BEST OF THE YEAR), which are not promises so much as exercises in hope and hype. I mean the implicit promises of genre, or brand, or whatever label under which a work takes up residence. These promises are made (of course!) in the interest of profit; if they get us to believe, they get us to buy. But once we believe and buy, they end up bound to their brands. The power of brand is a conservative force and resists change – including from readers and writers wanting something new in Christian publishing. (Incidentally, that is a preview. We will end at Christian publishing, but we’re taking the long way around, like they did before the Federal Highway-Aid Act.)

A brand is identity in shorthand and infinitely useful in this capitalistic world of choices. When you are so unfortunate as to be driving cross-country, do you stop to eat at small, unknown restaurants in small, unknown towns, thus exploring the rich variety of our great country and supporting hard-working small-business owners?

Of course not. You might get disappointed. You might get lost. You might get salmonella. What you do is, you watch the FOOD signs and get off the interstate when you see the logo of a chain restaurant that strikes you as good or, at any rate, acceptable. I’ve seen critical social commentary of this, but it’s only good sense. The selection off the highway sign of corporate logos is a selection based on knowledge, and if you’re not thrilled about getting a mediocre hamburger from McDonald’s, you won’t really be disappointed, either. Because you knew what to expect.

To teach people what to expect is the triumph of brand, and quite profitable when the expectations are good. What follows such triumph is an effort to preserve the brand and fulfill expectations. Disney, for example, has released most of its PG-13 fare and all of its R-rated fare under its Touchstone label. The more auspicious Disney label is reserved for gentler, kinder movies, movies fit for children. This is not a moral decision or an expression of values. Disney knows that its brand is a promise of movies that, while rarely without a dose of pathos, will never be too edgy or dark. Violate that too often or too egregiously, and see how many parents will be buying theater tickets on no other grounds than “it’s Disney”.

The same principle is manifest in publishing. Del Rey isn’t going to be releasing cozy mysteries with titles like Lemon Meringue Madness, and if you’re waiting for Harlequin to publish a six-hundred page literary novel with allusions in the original French and a textured analysis of symbolic-interactionist theory, I hope you’re a patient soul. That’s not what they’re about, and their readers know it.

And what is Christian publishing about? What promises does it make? To many readers, one of its most crucial promises is that it will be clean – that they can get the story they want without the unsavory content they don’t. All such readers could doubtless find books in the secular market they would enjoy, but the finding is so much easier in the Christian market. They expect that Christian publishers will adhere to certain standards, and depend on it.

Readers who want different standards, or even exceptions to the old ones, may be asking for more than they know. New standards and too many exceptions do something dangerous. They break the brand. They break the promise.

The Distinctive Pearl

I have occasionally had the thought that modern Christian fiction has not so much departed from mainstream publishing as stayed where everyone used to be. The idea was first prompted by the Clayton Standard, which promised clean stories and “intelligent censorship” to the people – more than two million a month – who read the romance, western, sci-fi, and detective stories published in Clayton Magazines. I don’t have the evidence to support the thesis, but periodically, I read something that resurrects it.

This happened, most recently, with Pearl, a poem dating to the fourteenth century and attributed to the author of Sir Gawain and the Green KnightPearl tells of a father who, grieving for his dead little girl, meets her on the shores of paradise and even sees heaven. The poem is filled with scriptural allusions and theological discussion and is only slightly less religious than the Bible. It sounds like a modern Christian novel, maybe even a bit The Shack meets 90 Minutes in Heaven.

In justice to the author of Pearl, his premise is moderated in a way that The Shack – and many other stories, Christian and secular – are not. For reasons J.R.R. Tolkien explained in the introduction he wrote to his translation of the poem, Pearl is almost certainly based on the author’s real-life loss of a very young daughter. Such losses were sadly common in his time, and the tragedy of Pearl feels grounded in life (unlike the faintly lurid melodrama of The Shack, which feels like someone was trying to think of just the worst thing). Still, the premise of Pearl holds a familiar ring.

Ultimately, Pearl is set apart by its execution rather than its premise. In two significant ways it stands apart from, and perhaps above, most fiction of our own day. First, its visions of heaven and of God are strictly bound by orthodoxy, by the teachings of Scripture and the doctrines of the church. Here is no imagining of God as a woman, or even of a chatty, casual Jesus; the grieving father’s brief sight of Christ is made up of imagery from the Apostle John: Christ dressed in white with a wound in His side, the elders bowing before Him, the angels offering up incense. In its vision of heaven, Pearl is even more indebted to the Apostle John, employing his descriptions of the New Jerusalem. (Most of the poem takes place beside a river that symbolizes death – in other words, at the border between this world and the next; the father never enters heaven and is only permitted a glimpse of Jerusalem across the river.)

Secondly, Pearl distinguishes itself – from both secular and Christian fiction – by the limited ground it gives to emotion. There is no treacle here, no sappiness. The emotion is very real – the image of the father dropping his precious pearl and losing it in the grass is a painfully beautiful allegory – but it does not consume the work. In part, this is because the father’s grief is mature; he has had time to think deeply as well as feel deeply, and the poem seeks to answer him with scriptural exposition. The calm, clear-eyed debate of these passages changes the air of the entire poem.

More importantly, Pearl never goes the way of tears and warm hugs and joyful reunions on the hither shores. Father and daughter remain separated by the river, never crossing to the other. His consolation lies in other, sterner things – in the conviction that God’s way is right and his own duty is patient submission. His father’s love must be satisfied by the knowledge that his daughter is a queen in heaven, redeemed and glorified; he must resign his pearl to God.

In its reverently orthodox imagery and restraint of emotion by reason, faith, and duty, Pearl distinguishes itself from the typical Christian novel. In its unabashed religiosity and theological exposition, however, it exhibits one of the most distinctive traits of traditional Christian fiction. Mainstream fiction has moved on from such things. But whether that is due to an evolving attitude toward art or an evolving attitude toward religion is a matter for debate.

Three Rules for Biblical Novels

It is natural – perhaps even inevitable – that the Bible inspire its own small genre of literature: biblical fiction, novels based on the people and events of the Bible. This idea has always appealed to me, but in reality, such novels have usually left me disappointed. I have read only two biblical novels that struck me as truly superior, and perhaps two others that came close. All the others I have read – and I read a fair number, before I conceded to the odds and gave up – ranged from poor to forgettably good.

As a genre, biblical fiction has its own peculiar challenges. And perhaps, as a reader, I make more demands of it than others would. Here, after reflection, are my three rules for biblical novels.

Fidelity to the Bible. The definition of fiction is that it is fictional; in accepting biblical novels, I accept their fictional element. I know the difference between a historical novel and a biography, between a movie based on a true story and a documentary about a true story. It doesn’t bother me that someone should write a historical novel of scriptural events, a story based on the true stories of the Bible.

But the fictional element should consist in elaborating on the true stories, not in changing them. Biblical novels should remain true to the Bible – not just in facts or events, but in its whole spiritual tenor.

Convincing and compelling elaborations. A biblical novel takes a story told in a few pages – sometimes only a few paragraphs – and tells it again in a few hundred pages. This requires significant elaboration. The elaboration must be true to the story, as I already said – keeping with the spirit as well as the letter. But it must also be compelling.

I have read biblical novels where characters stiffly act out their parts, without the sense of life and independent animation that, while always false, is the art and pleasure of the novel. Sometimes the elaboration falls flat, and of events as well as characters.

This is one of the peculiar difficulties of biblical fiction (though a similar one is found in, of all things, franchise novels). When writing a novel about the great men and women of the Bible, your portrayal must ring true with what we already know, and yet go beyond it. You must give life to characters you did not invent, rhyme and reason to events you did not choose.

When I read a rare excellent novel about King David (and what rich material his life provides), I thought to myself, “I don’t know if that’s the way David was. But it’s the way he might have been.”

So may all biblical novels impress us.

Fidelity to history. Biblical fiction must be regarded as a kind of historical novel, and therefore must be written with an eye on history. Canaan at the time of Gideon is a sketchier region of history than, for example, first-century Jerusalem, but do the research anyway.

I once read an author describe how she quit reading a novel about Joseph because of the appearance of steel knives. I wouldn’t go that far, and anyway it’s not relatively minor anachronisms that principally concern me. It’s the failure to make characters – inhabitants of places and of cultures so alien – children of their times.

One example: It is hard to find a novel about King David where a character does not outright state the superiority of monogamy. Now, David’s life does demonstrate the griefs of polygamy, and I yield to no one in condemning the selfishness and injustice of that form of marriage. But I always wonder at the casual condemnations of characters supposedly living in David’s world – would it really be so easy for them to see?

“It requires a fine effort of the imagination,” G. K. Chesterton once said, “to see an evil that surrounds us on every side.” And the evil of polygamy surrounded such people on every side. I don’t say it is impossible for one of them to see it as an evil, but I want to know how a flower like that grew out of such thin soil. At least I want the impression that it did grow out of thin soil.

These, then, are my three rules for biblical novels: fidelity to the Bible, fidelity to history, and compelling and convincing elaboration of both. I know it’s a tall order, but there are novels that deliver.

Such as the two I referenced earlier. These are The Miracle Maker, by Murray Watts, and The Stones, by Eleanor Gustafson. Just in case you were curious.

Prism Tours Grand Finale: The Cloak

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

We’re blitzing the Grand Finale for THE CELTIC TOUR for
The Cloak
By Sarah Jennings

Did you miss any of the tour? If so, go back and check it out now:

Launch

What do you hope readers take with them when they read your book?

Of course, I hope they want to hear more stories, but as for a takeaway it’s my desire that readers are able to connect with Kellan and close the book feeling encouraged.

My Love for Reading Keeps Growing – Excerpt

Later that evening, with everyone’s attention on the dying king, Kellan managed to sneak out of her room. Her objective was to find Osma and Master Hewitt and get out before anyone reported her missing. The place was just huge, and she didn’t know where to start.

I Am A Reader The Deer’s Cry

The McKensie family in The Cloak is depicted as being Spirit-filled. It’s a regular part of their lives, as it was for many in the early church and as it still is for many today. While that specific teaching can quickly become a hot button topic, it truly serves no good purpose to condemn anyone on either side of the fence. Instead, we can most likely all agree to this excerpt from “The Deer’s Cry”, also known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”:

Mythical Books – Céad Míle Fáilte: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Welcome to Errigal! What would a Celtic themed setting be without green hills and a castle? Featured on the cover of The Cloak is Lismore Castle, a beautiful structure in the town of Lismore in County Waterford, Ireland.

Classy Cat Books – Excerpt

Five months flew by in Paris. Kellan didn’t go home for Christmas or to celebrate the new year, choosing instead to immerse herself in the surrounding local festivities. Although she corresponded frequently with Osma and the teacher, writing only of her job and ignoring their attempts at engaging her in conversation about Errigal, she refused to return to the castle and made up all kinds of excuses to back it up.

Mary Terrani – Excerpt

Arriving at the castle, she stepped through the great wooden doors and immediately yanked the cloak off, exposing the blue jeans and black T-shirt she had changed into on the plane, a definite rebellious act to defy Errigal’s traditional dress and thereby match her frame of mind.

My Life Loves and Passion – Review

This was a great book. Kellan is a very amazing main character. . . . Kellan steps up and takes on a responsibility that she doesn’t want. It is a book that young women need to read. Kellan is such a good role model.

Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Excerpt

The fencing instructor was very amused and surprised the king was acting this way toward a lady. What is he thinking trying to enlist a woman into a sword fight? Look at her. She was wearing a blue, fitted bodice gown that reached all the way to the floor. Her dark hair was up in pearled pins, and ringlet curls fell down the nape of her neck. Attending a tea party would be more appropriate.

Zerina Blossom’s Books – Interview & Review

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

The most fulfilling part for me is when Kellan comes home for the last time. I feel good knowing she is finally going to have the happiness she deserves.

“Overall, The Cloak is a sweet clean romance with some interesting twists and good character growth.”

Welcome to Book City – Irish Chocolate Mint Brownies

The next morning Osma tried again, bringing a tray filled with an incredible array of pastries and fruits, beings sure to include some of Kellan’s favorite food that she rarely received growing up, chocolate covered anything.

Christy’s Cozy Corners – Excerpt

Turning around, Ian went to reach out for Kellan’s hand, but she wasn’t there. A feeling of panic overcame him.Where is she? And where are those new bodyguards of hers? He turned back to the crowd to see their uplifted faces staring back at him. They had been hanging on every word, and the silence was immense.

Letters from Annie (Douglass) Lima – Visit Errigal with Sarah Jennings

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

In The Cloak, characters are essentially living in the past while also living in the present. Walk past Errigal’s borders and the modern world exists in every manner. Stay within, and a society steeped in Medieval traditions and methods still exists. The landscape is characteristic of Ireland with green, rolling hills, villages and marketplaces dotting the countryside, and hot, soothing mineral springs.

Once Upon a YA Book – Meet the Characters

Kellan – Princess and Daughter of the late Princess Seanna McKensie and late Duke Barend. Kellan is the true heiress to the throne of Errigal, if she can be convinced to take her place. Beautiful, wise, and very skilled with a broadsword, she exudes leadership when on listening terms with God. Kellan’s propensity to be headstrong, combined with hidden self-doubt, often lands her in troublesome situations.

Mel’s Shelves – Review

This is a quick read with a good message about prayer and the importance of relying on God. It also shows the difference one person can make when they’re willing to step into the role they were born to fill.

Books and Ashes – Review

If you’re looking for a different kind of fantasy, or want something fantasy-esque but not too heavy then this would be a good read for you!

Addicted Readers – Excerpt

Kellan stood facing the great stone fireplace. Its dancing flames matched the ones in her eyes. After what seemed like forever, her breathing finally began to slow down. The king had been about to say something to her once he heard the duke ride off, but Master Hewitt had stepped forward and held out his hand to stop him. She needed a moment more to settle down.

Paranormal Books – Interview

How did you come up with The Cloak?

Like many Americans, I have a great appreciation for my Irish ancestry and I love Celtic music. I think those things combined with my predisposition for a strong female lead who overcomes difficulties and weaknesses to do great things led to a story that just played out itself.

Mommabears Book Blog – Excerpt

The fallen warrior staggered up, bowed to the princess, and made his leave. She always felt rotten when they walked away, or in some cases, were carried away. At least now she was done for the day. Directing her eyes away from the departing man, Kellan looked ahead to see another suited contender. What is this? She turned and walked over to the teacher.

Pieces of Whimsey – Excerpt

“What are you mumbling about down there, dear sister,” said Slone, “No one here’s going to answer your call for help…not even your honorable king. Where is old lover boy anyway, huh?” Slone just rambled on.

Fictionally – Excerpt

That night’s sleep was hard to come by. Kellan tossed about with fitful dreams and kept waking up, a few times wet with sweat. It wasn’t nightmares from the war, though she had had plenty of those when she first moved in. It was tranquil scenes from Errigal’s landscape, the faces of Osma and Master Hewitt, and the library walls. Feeling like she was going insane, she finally gave up and got up from bed.

The CloakThe Cloak
Sarah Jennings
Inspirational YA Romantic Suspense
Paperback and ebook, 194 pages
November 2014

Kellan McKensie, Princess of Errigal, is set on leaving for another world before being thrust into a plan of God’s choosing that includes learning of her past, embracing her future, and finding her forever love.

Among a lost line of beautiful, wise queens and a conquered country still clinging to medieval traditions in today’s world, can Kellan be convinced that now is her time to act? Why should she? To the entire country, she doesn’t even exist. Ever the reluctant leader, Kellan is pressured to use her incredible God-given abilities to bring back the glory of her homeland. To do so, she must fight her own will, overcome fears, and control her temper. It’s a lot to ask of a girl hidden under a cloak her whole life.

Amazon

Sarah Jennings is an American storyteller living in the hills of North Carolina with her husband, four children, and escape artist hound dog. Her stories often revolve around strong willed heroines who find their way with God’s help during their adventures and in the process find their soulmate too. The Cloak is one such story now available in print and ebook format.

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterYouTube

Tour-Wide Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card – Open Internationally
Celtic Prize Pack: Paperback of The Cloak and Celtic Music CDs – US Only
2 Paperbacks of The Cloak – US Only
2 ebooks of The Cloak – Open Internationally
Ends March 22nd

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prism Book Tours

CrossReads Book Blast: Service Station Angel

Screenshot (102)

Service Station Angel
By Lisa J. Schuster

About the Book:

Sometimes God places you in a situation of great perplexity, but you perceive His intentions are premeditated and purposeful. Do you trust His lead?

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” – Psalms 37:7 (NIV)

Ernie Price is a middle-aged, humble-hearted man who owns and operates a service station in a rural Midwest town in Upper Michigan, back in a time when full service was the only service, and you got your windows cleaned and your tires pumped for free.

Ernie’s life has been a reflection of God’s love, giving of himself fully and graciously to people in the community and his church. As music director for the children’s choir or hosting the yearly Christmas party for the less-fortunate children in town, Ernie impacted lives and was loved by many.

When trouble rocks the small town and Ernie is physically incapacitated to offer his help, the community is left to pick up the pieces, mourn, and move on, while Ernie wrestles with the spiritual questions of his accident:

My glimpse of heaven is for what purpose on earth?

Why do I feel compelled to help this stranger know the love of the Lord? Who is this stranger anyway?

This heartwarming story of love, faithful forgiveness and following God’s perfect plan, will inspire and delight!

LINK to KINDLE | LINK to PAPERBACK

80c6dd3e31f90a82390bef.L._V366868119_SX200_Faith, family and friends inspired Lisa J. Schuster to write again and God nudged her to publish her first novel, Service Station Angel. She believes the words in this book are her service to others, so that they may find joy and comfort during a season of time when they need it most. “May your hand reach up towards His so that you may touch another with Jesus’ abundant love,” prays Lisa.

Lisa lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado with her husband and two children. She enjoys creative writing, traveling, working with inner city youth, bible study groups, singing and theater.

Follow Lisa J. Schuster

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Lisa J. Schuster!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

CSFF Blog Tour: Sci-fi and MLP

And so the CSFF blog tour begins again. This month’s book is Numb, written by John Otte and published by Marcher Lord Press.

Numb is science fiction, a distinction in Christian speculative fiction these days. At some point fantasy became the dominant subgenre, trailed by apocalyptic fiction, dystopians, the angel/demon stories, “supernatural thrillers” (basically horror, people), and, yes, science fiction.

With an abundance of fantasy to enjoy, I am always happy to come across Christian sci-fi. I like well-done sci-fi as much as well-done fantasy, and I don’t often find it in my wanderings through Christian fiction. I was glad to receive Numb for review, and I will be glad to write about it these next two days.

Numb is, as far as I know, the first book released by Marcher Lord Press to be toured by the CSFF. But then, my knowledge of CSFF tours is not exactly exhaustive, so you probably don’t want to quote me on that. I won’t even mention any speculation that this month’s tour of Numb is somehow resultant of MLP changing hands at the beginning of the year. So you shouldn’t quote me on that, either, unless of course we learn someday that it’s true, in which case you can tell everyone you heard it here first.

But enough rumor-mongering. On to the links:

Numb on Amazon;

John Otte’s website;

and the blog tour, so that you may see what our tourers made of this sci-fi offering:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White


Review: Greetings From the Flipside

Hope Landon has had a hard time. When she was a little girl, her father disappeared mysteriously; when she was a teenager, her unique mother left her wondering if it was possible to drop dead from cringing too often. As an adult, she’s been stuck in the nothing-town Poughkeepsie. And now, just when she thinks she’s about to escape her life, her fiance jilts her on her wedding day.

Then somebody steals her car. There’s a hospital involved soon enough.

And Hope is about ready to give up on hope.

Greetings From the Flipside is the second collaboration between Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay. I read their novel Never the Bride a few years ago and loved it. So as soon as I heard about Greetings From the Flipside, I wanted to read it.

There’s a lot of humor in this novel, as I had hoped; Hope is an entertaining narrator, and there are many funny moments. At the same time, an undercurrent of seriousness flows through the story. The characters seem, most of them, to be struggling.

Greetings From the Flipside has an unconventional structure: The beginning and ending chapters are in the third-person past tense, but the majority of the chapters only begin that way; then they flip to first-person present tense.

Here I am going to plunge into what I believe, after looking at the reviews, is the most controversial part of the book. I think the spoilers are light, but those who want to be spoiler-free should probably skip to the end of the review. Now, here we go:

Hope spends the majority of the book in a coma, and the third-person narrative at the chapters’ beginning takes place in what we call the real world, and the first-person narrative is the dream-world of Hope’s coma. Briefly, the main character spends most of the story unconscious. Some people disliked this.

I think it worked, and for several reasons. Due to the medical fact that comatose people can have some awareness of what is happening around them – and perhaps also to the suggestion of another realm – the two worlds do interact. The same drama plays out in each of them. Hope’s adventures, in one sense, never happened, but the central question of the story – Will she come back? – was answered in them.

Another reason it worked is that the authors made it fun. Sometimes it was funny to see the real world breaking into Hope’s dreams; sometimes it had the fun of a mystery. (I knew those random letters added up to something.) I came to look for any cross between the real world and the coma-world; their overlap fascinated me.

The novel’s overall theme is one of hope: Jake holding onto hope, though he sometimes doubted, and Hope ready to bid a snarky good-bye to hope, although she had, deep down, a scrap she couldn’t let go. True and false hope both take their turns on the stage.

Greetings From the Flipside executes a unique concept with deftness, all the while mixing its serious questions with humor. The style is engaging, the writing is skillful, and the characters are sympathetic – altogether an original and compelling romance.

CSFF Blog Tour: Imagining Angels

One sometimes wonders – on these tours where we debate angel books and angel characters – what angels make of it all. Possibly they don’t make much. Heaven has more important business. Anyway, they have surely noticed by now that gaps in human knowledge are often filled by human imagination.

God has set limits so that, though angels are always seeing us, we can hardly ever see them. Our knowledge of angels is so slight that Christians have had a diversity of views on them. Even staying within biblical parameters, we can imagine angels many different ways. Here is a brief sampling of angelic portrayals from literature written by Christians – two from our modern era, two from the era just before.


We’re close now, so close than I can see that touching a Sabre’s wing may be the fastest way to lose an arm. I set to examining the nearest one. He’s gigantic, like Jake said. And his eyes are pure white, trademark white. Like Canaan’s. Like Helene’s. He has the celestial gaze of one who’d lay down his life for another. His skin, too, is white, so white it looks almost silver. His muscled arms and chest make Canaan look trim. But as much as I can find things to admire about his physique, it’s his wings that so separate him from any other angel I’ve seen.

Their beauty is staggering, their design inexplicable. Where I expect to see rows and rows of snowy white feathers, one blade lies on top of another – thousands of them – sharp and glistening silver. Shannon Dittemore, Broken Wings

Love, we have looked on many shows
As over lands from sea to sea
Man with his Guardian Angel goes
His shining shadow more than he.

– G. K. Chesterton, “Love, We Have Looked on Many Shows”

In a graceful, fiery spiral they drifted down behind one of the college dormitories and came to rest in the cover of some overhanging willows. The moment their feet touched down, the light from their clothes and bodies began to fade and the shimmering wings gently subsided. Save for their towering stature they appeared as two ordinary men, one trim and blond, the other built like a tank, both dressed in what looked like matching tan fatigues. Golden belts had become like dark leather, their scabbards were dull copper, and the glowing, bronze bindings on their feet had become simple leather sandals. Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness

But Thou, Lord, surely knewest thine own plan
When the angelic indifferencies with no bar
Universally loved, but Thou gav’st man
The tether and pang of the particular,

Which, like a chemic drop, infinitesimal,
Plashed into pure water, changing the whole,
Embodies and embitters and turns all
Spirit’s sweet water into astringent soul

That we, though small, might quiver with Fire’s same
Substantial form as Thou – not reflect merely
Like lunar angels back to Three cold flame.
Gods are we, Thou hast said; and we pay dearly.
C. S. Lewis, “Scazons”