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Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt review   Leave a comment

Five decades before the birth of Christ, Chava, daughter of the royal tutor, grows up with Urbi, a princess in Alexandria’s royal palace. When Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava vows to be a faithful friend no matter what–but after she and Cleopatra have an argument, she finds herself imprisoned and sold into slavery. 

Torn from her family, her community, and her elevated place in Alexandrian society, Chava finds herself cast off and alone in Rome. Forced to learn difficult lessons, she struggles to trust a promise HaShem has given her. After experiencing the best and worst of Roman society, Chava must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God’s will for her life. 

As soon as I saw this book up for review, I immediately sent in my request. I have a love for biblical fiction, and reading the synopsis alone captured my attention. And yes, the great looking cover just enhanced the appeal.

We begin the story with Chava, daughter of the royal Jewish tutor, who becomes friends with Urbi, the girl one day destined to become the famed Queen Cleopatra. The story chronicles their friendship as children, up to Urbi’s rise to power.

I will admit, the first part of the story felt slow. While Chava is intended to be the main lead, we’re more often just narrated the events that occurred in Cleopatra’s life. And Cleopatra ending being the more interesting person you wanted to know more about when you watched her go from princess to Queen and married to her ten year old brother. Her war in a game of wits to stay ahead of her enemies ended up pulling your interest more than the spoiled Chava.

Chava holds onto the promise she received from HaShem one night “Your friendship with the queen lies in my hands. You will be with her on her happiest day and her last. And you, daughter of Israel, will know yourself, and you will bless her.”

To this end, she follows Cleopatra faithfully, to the point of refusing to marry out of the devotion to her friend. And yes, Chava was a touch clingy and possessive because of it.

But then Chava’s life takes an unexpected turn, and she goes from friend to one of the most powerful woman in the world to a slave struggling to stay alive. From there, we watch as Chava is stripped of everything: home, wealth, possessions, family. And left with nothing but the bitter taste of betrayal and a broken faith.

This where Angela Hunt begins the crafting of Chava’s story and her growth from a pampered and spoiled child with no care for the rest of the world, into a strong woman. Through all the hardships, and the brutality of first century BC, you see God’s hand upon her, guiding her to that one pivotal point in history she was destined for.

I will caution readers that there are some scenes that might be a little hard for those who are more sensitive to those things. The story does not dwell overmuch on them, but it’s enough for you to feel the impact of it.

The writing was excellent, and once we got over the first part, the character development picked up drastically. If you are looking for solid, well-researched Biblical fiction with strong emphasis on faith, then I highly recommend this book.

Verdict: Buy immediately.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Review of High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin   Leave a comment

Hello, everyone! Here’s another book review from yours truly. 😀

So this time, it’s a World War I novel which, for those of you following me, know is a drastic departure from the fantasy and Biblical fiction I prefer. But I’ve always had a soft spot for those drama-filled stories of fights against the German army, so I decided to go ahead and give this one a try. 😛

High as the Heavens follows the story of Eve Marche, a widowed British nurse, in a German-occupied Brussels. Having survived the loss of her family and the horrors of Louvain from the Germans invasion, she now tends to injured German soldiers and helps her aunt as a waitress at the cafe serving the German troops. Secretly, though, she works for the Belgian resistance group known as “La Dame Blanche”.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels, Eve is the first to reach the spot and recognizes the injured pilot. And what starts is a life and death struggle as Eve risks all to save the pilot from being put to death or worse.

The story, on a whole, was fairly good. Eve Marche was very well-developed character and I admired the author for giving the character brains and a quick wit, while not making her a braggart or a showoff. Eve works for the resistance out of a desire to alleviate her own guilt over an event that happened years ago, and to help those struggling to survive under the cruel hand pressing down on them. And watching her deal with the guilt of her past, post-traumatic stress, and the despair of never being forgiven by God adds a lot of rich depth to the story.

There were a couple areas that I felt hindered it, though. The flashbacks to several years earlier, I thought were too many and too much. You would be with Eve in a game of wits with the Germans, and then we switch to scenes of her romance with Simon Forrester, followed by the events that led her to Brussels. This went on for a few chapters, thankfully not the whole book, but I felt it gave too much away. Flashbacks, I think, should be in moderation, and focus more on smaller, poignant scenes, that add mystery to the event instead of revealing the entire motivation behind the character’s pain.

Simon was another problem. Eve is a very fleshed-out character, but with Simon, we get the exact opposite. We learn that he spent time in a POW camp for several years, enduring trauma of his own, but it is lightly touched on. Not to mention, his screen time is rather small, especially for being the love interest in the story. As a result, I never really connected with the character. He was just…there.

Which brings up the romance. We bounce around too much in the story, and while we have a nice spot here and there, the romance angle is never fully developed in the story, or really focused on. So we end up in the middling there with it.

I was also was a bit disappointed with the amount of drama or “tense moments”. For a story set in a place crawling with Germans looking for any excuse to haul a person off for interrogation, it was surprisingly mild. The only action scene I can even think of was at the end, with a chase after a German spy, but that was over rather quick. Then the one flashback scene with the German takeover of Louvain. I guess in that kind of an era and setting, I was expecting some higher stakes and a more serious threat, but it never arrives there. While we have a moment here and there, most of it is glossed over.

So my recommendation? High as the Heavens is a decent read, and enough to keep you going, despite feeling a little bogged down in places. If you’re looking for a clean read, and something to pass the time, I’d say give it a try. It’s not a bad story, and the author did an admirable job crafting it.

Verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a clean read to pass the time.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Posted July 11, 2017 by J.M. Christian in book reviews

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Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette   Leave a comment

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Hello, everyone! Been awhile since I’ve posted on here, but I’m finally back again. And with another book review, since I’ve finally followed one of secret desires and joined Bethany House’s Blogger Review Program. *does happy dance* So without any further delay, here we go!

I’ve always loved Biblical stories. Maybe it was because I grew up with them as a kid, and even though I am a devoted fantasy buff, the nostalgia for Bible stories has never left. When I first found out about this series, I was excited. And it just exploded when I finally got this book. This is the third and final book in the series. I was initially a little concerned about starting a series right at the third book, but after a little research, found each story is self-contained so you don’t need to worry about missing anything. Without further ado, I plunged right on in.

The story covers the Israelites long awaited entrance into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. But in their path stands the Canaanites.

Alanah is bitter over the loss of her brothers and home. Feeling she has nothing left to her in life, she dresses like a man and joins one of the battles against the Hebrews, hoping to avenge herself on as many as she can before dying in the onslaught.

But Yahweh has a different plan. Instead of dying, she is rescued from the bodies of the slain and brought back to live with the very ones she planned on destroying, and her growing attraction to a certain Hebrew warrior called Tobiah.

Alanah’s feelings of hate and revenge, and her sense of low worth are all portrayed and written vividly by the author. And Tobiah, the quiet warrior, who tries to take care of everyone and lamenting over loss he feels he could have done something to prevent. Both carry deep wounds inside, and both have to learn to surrender them to the Creator guiding their steps.

It’s rare to find good Biblical fiction, let alone a good romance. This is one of those that manages to do both justice and sticks with you long after you finish reading it. The writing was smooth, the character development solid. You’ll love the sense of companionship and family when walking with the Hebrews, and cringe when you walk through the mire of Canaanite culture.

Love and loss, grace and redemption, all weave together in beautiful harmony within the pages of this tale.

If you are looking for a solid Biblical story with a core of faith and hope, I highly recommend you purchase this series. As for me, I intend to get my hands on the first two books and add them to my collection.

Verdict: buy immediately

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Epic Cover Reveal!   4 comments

And what do you know, another post without having to wait three or four months for it. Wonder if I’ll be able to do it again. 😉
But in the meantime, I wanted to share with all of you the remade covers for The Dark Wolf and Crown of Ravens. 😀
It’s amazing how far I’ve come as an artist, and I really do thank God for granting me the skill to do this stuff without having to hire someone for the job. Now The Heart of Light Trilogy is finally getting the covers it deserves. 🙂

Art below is mine and copyrighted. Full list of stock credits can be found here at my DeviantArt page: rreddvar.deviantart.com

Any who wish to buy the books, feel free to check them out on Amazon. 😉 http://myBook.to/TDW

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October Doings   Leave a comment

A happy October to you all! It’s fall time, and it’s a season I always get excited about. Everything is colorful and the scent of Christmas seems to fill the air. It’s like magic comes to life in this world. This month, I thought I’d go ahead and leave an early post instead of leaving this blog unattended for months on end. Due to being almost ridiculously busy, I never got to leave a post here on Crown of Ravens being finally published. Below is the cover I made for the book, as well as the link if you wish to check the book out.

Crown of Ravens Full Cover

http://www.amazon.com/Crown-Ravens-Heart-Light-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00VS6KRX0/ref=sr_1_1?tag=geolinker-20&s=digital-text

Gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s almost hard to believe that there’s only more book left to write in the series before the adventure is finished. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it! But all good things must come to an end, sad though it is to admit. One adventure ends, and another begins.

Currently, I’m almost a quarter of the way through the first draft of the third book, and things are looking good. The story is really shaping up into what I think is the most epic of The Heart of Light Trilogy, with a lot of surprises and twists that even caught me unawares. As I mentioned a couple posts back, I wanted to get to work on a new series to get published for next year. Good news and bad news. Good news is, most of the kinks have been worked out and I’m currently polishing things up in the first draft. What’s the bad news? I had a little over 6000 words written up for it that will mostly get scrapped, leaving me back to almost square one. Still, with everything mostly all set and ready to go, I should be able to make it up quick. I have also started two other projects, which I am super-excited about. Both are fairy tales and one of them I’m writing for this contest here.

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The other is inspired a lot by the movie Maleficent and a fantasy book from the ’90s called Children of the Night by Harold Mrya. This one I’ve probably made the most headway in. Over fifteen thousand words and growing. Not too sure where it will finish at, but I’m hoping for something over the twenty-five thousand mark.
Anyway, that’s about it for now. Feel free to like or comment. Next Friday, I will be giving a sneak preview of one of my fairy tale novels, so make sure to tune in then. 😉

Writing Updates for 2014   Leave a comment

So I finally decided to take a rest from work long enough to write this and give all of you a head’s up on my next project and some other news. As you all know, I am writing a fantasy trilogy of which the first, The Dark Wolf, I got published. Not willing to leave all you eager fans of mine waiting for long, I got started on the sequel, Crown of Ravens. Currently, only two more chapters remain to be written before I can finally start work on editing it. Hallelujah for that! Thank God I have a lot more experience now than I did a year ago, and I am very happy to announce that the editing process will not come even close to the lengthy amount of time The Dark Wolf did, so I will be able to publish this book sooner.

What is more, I have been acquiring a great deal of tutorials from Youtube in order to learn how to create fancier and better art for my books. While it has definitely been a learning process, it has not been in vain and I certainly have more options in what images I can use now than I did when I published my first book. The paperback will be published first, of course, and due to the success of The Dark Wolf as an e-book, I will be doing the digital formatting for Crown of Ravens as well.

I opened up a Facebook author page awhile ago and if you wish to check it out (and maybe give it a like?) you can find plenty of news and fresh updates on my progress with Crown of Ravens, as well as a variant cover I made for the book. https://www.facebook.com/pages/JM-Christian/1413797125535009?ref=hl

Also, I currently have the digital version of The Dark Wolf enrolled with KDP select on Amazon, which apparently allows you to borrow the digital book from them for a certain amount of time. I am not exactly sure how this works since I have never borrowed digital books from Amazon before, but I figure a great deal of you are into e-books and probably do that on a regular basis. So if any of you are looking for an exciting summer read, hopefully none of you will mind giving The Dark Wolf a go. If you’re not sure you will enjoy it, Amazon allows you to preview the first two chapters for free (I know, nice feature) and they also allow you to download a free sample to try out: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Wolf-Heart-Light-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00HSTAVIM/ref=la_B00IIVCHTA_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398813874&sr=1-1

And one more thing I thought I would mention. I am not sure if I will be doing this or not, but I have been thinking of posting interviews with other Christian authors and showcasing their works. There is a lot of good stuff out there from many Christian authors that are clean and wholesome reads that don’t bore you to death (like a great many do) and I have long wanted to see more of that stuff out there on the market. The only thing is, I am not sure if I will have the time to get into the whole author interviewing thing and all that because of how busy I am. Right now, I am running it over with God to see how He works it all out, so we shall see.

Posted July 3, 2014 by J.M. Christian in My Books

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Formatting tips for your e-book on Kindle   Leave a comment

My apologies for the long delay in posting. I meant to have this up sooner, but my internet was down for awhile and then I just got swamped with playing catch-up. Anyway, like I promised, here are tips for formatting your own e-book. Because the process is slightly lengthy, I’m only listing a few essentials here. To get full, detailed instructions I am providing a link for you that will allow you to download them.

First, make sure your story is assembled in Word. The majority of you probably have already done this like me, but for those of you who haven’t, you better start transferring. If your story is done and finished editing, it is recommended you download Word from Microsoft and use their thirty day free trial.
Second, if you’re planning on submitting your e-book to Amazon, register with their e-book site, https://kdp.amazon.com

Once you get that done and submit your title, either click on your book or simply press the link on your right that says “edit book’s details”. That will pull up a window where you can adjust your book’s information and preview it using Amazon’s online previewer. DO NOT use the online previewer. I found out that it has quite a few bugs and makes you think your story has a ton of formatting issues when in reality it is fine. It gave me quite a few frustrating and panic filled moments until I found this out.
So instead of the online previewer, make sure you’re still on the window where you can edit your book’s details and go to the bottom of the page where you see “download previewer” I chose the one for Windows. This allows you to download a program from Amazon that allows you to preview how your book will look as an e-book on multiple devices without having to go on the internet and also has fewer bugs in it. Believe me when I say that it is a life saver.

Third, you’re going to need a few instructions on how to format your book properly in Word. This link here: https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=9978&start=0&tstart=0 takes you to a thread on the Kindle forum. Click the link the user provides on the very first post and that will allow you to download step by step instructions on how to format your book properly and which you open using your downloadable Kindle previewer.

Fourth, once you get your e-book all done with, make sure you do not upload your story as a Word Doc. I have been told that this corrupts the manuscript, leading to several errors, and I can easily confirm that. Using Word, convert your story into an HTML file (save it as web page/ web page filtered) and then load it on to KDP.

Let me say once again that when you use Amazon’s “click to view inside” feature, it will not show any page breaks unless you use very complicated formatting. I talked with several authors about this, and even the instructions I gave you the link for warns about this. That is because the feature has bugs in it. My own theory on the matter is that Amazon hopes it scares you enough to make you pay them the money. But anyway, your book does possess those page breaks, and you can make sure by downloading your converted book off of KDP for free and using the downloadable previewer, and even download a free sample off of Amazon.com itself.

And there you have it. Hopefully, the information I have provided will be of some help to any new writers out there and save you some of the headache and frustration I went through. If any of you have any questions about the links I provided or any other questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Posted April 12, 2014 by J.M. Christian in Random Thoughts

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