Saturday, May 21, 2022

"Boulevard of Confusion" by Sandra Merville Hart -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Boulevard of Confusion

Author: Sandra Merville Hart

Genre: Christian historical romance

Release date: May 10, 2022

Boulevard of Confusion (1)In times of war, is anything as it seems?

Her aunt’s invitation to Richmond is just the change Beatrice Swanson needs after her brother’s release from a Union prison. Bea’s father agrees to the trip with a condition—one that tosses her emotions into swirling confusion.

Though Jay Nickson wants to serve his country as a Confederate soldier, his work is too important to the government. Bea’s interest in his job, which includes secrets that would benefit the Union, arouses his suspicions. Is she spying for the North? His growing feelings for her are hard to squelch.

Though she participates in activities to benefit Confederate soldiers, Bea struggles with her own loyalties and her father’s demands. Where does her cousin, Meg, go on her solitary errands? Bea’s own growing love for Jay, a Southerner, only adds to her confusion. Tensions escalate in Richmond as the Union army approaches, drawing her into more secrecy. Where does her allegiance lie? And how will she be forced to prove it?

Nothing in war is simple…especially when the heart becomes entangled.

 My Thoughts

It was nice to see characters that I met in the first book in the series. I found the book to be well written and easy to read. I wasn't sure what was going to happen and which "side" Bea was going to choose. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.


Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Sandra Merville Hart photoSandra Merville Hart, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author of inspirational historical romances, loves to discover little-known yet fascinating facts from American history to include in her stories. Her desire is to transport her readers back in time. She is also a blogger, speaker, and conference teacher. Connect with Sandra on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

 

More from Sandra

In Boulevard of Confusion, Book 2 of my “Spies of the Civil War” series, two people in love—one supporting the North, one supporting the South—struggle to rise above their differing loyalties.

In my book, the hero is a Virginian who supports the South. Though Jay hates slavery, he cannot turn against his state. His job at Tredegar Ironworks supplies the Confederate army with artillery. They develop new weapons and technology, such as submarines, that must be kept secret even from Richmond residents.

Our heroine is from the North. Bea has Southern ties and her brother, a Confederate officer, was recently released from a prison camp. Bea’s understanding of both sides of the conflict tosses her into confusion, especially in light of her growing feelings for Jay.

Part of my research for this novel involved a trip to Richmond museums. One display in particular at the American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar made me want to do a little dance. (If you followed me around on my museum visits, you’d witness my enthusiasm for historical people and events and how they impact my stories. Perhaps you share my love of history. 😊)

Anyway, this particular display was a painting of Julia Ann Mitchell, who lived in Richmond at the start of the Civil War. She was from a well-to-do family that traveled often. On one of these trips, she met and fell in love with Frederick Coggill, a New York City resident. Though they loved one another, the couple was divided in their loyalties.

Sadly, Julia’s brother, who fought for the Confederacy, was killed in battle. This probably added to the conflict between Julia and Frederick.

I’m happy to say that the couple seemed to enjoy a happy ending, for they were married in 1863.

I didn’t yet know my characters when I read this display, for the stories ferment in my imagination as research reveals the history. I tucked it away in my mind and it later inspired me.

Boulevard of Confusion isn’t Julia’s and Frederick’s love story. Not at all. It’s simply that history’s record of them overcoming their differing loyalties to marry proves that it happened. That’s all I needed to know.

Avenue of Betrayal, Book 1, is set in the Union capital of Washington City (Washington DC) in 1861, where a surprising number of Confederate sympathizers and spies lived. Boulevard of Confusion is set in Richmond, the Confederate capital in 1862. Actual historical spies touch the lives of our fictional family.

Through both real and fictional characters, this series highlights activities spies were involved in and some of the motives behind their decisions.

I invite you to read both Avenue of Betrayal and Boulevard of Confusion. And please watch for Book 3, Byway to Danger, which will soon follow!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 10

Texas Book-aholic, May 11

Inklings and notions, May 12

Betti Mace, May 13

Books, Books, and More Books, May 13

For Him and My Family, May 14

deb’s Book Review, May 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 16

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 17

Connie’s History Classroom, May 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 20

Blososms and Blessings, May 21

Pause for Tales, May 22

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 23 (Author Interview)

Of Blades and Thorns, May 23

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sandra is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1d738/boulevard-of-confusion-celebration-tour-giveaway 


I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

"If You Really Knew Me" by Alison Cheah -- Author Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveway

 

About the Book

Book: If You Really Knew Me

Author: Alison Cheah

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Release date: December, 2021

Cover full 1101 - If you really knew me_FrontTommy is glad of friendships which make him forget the situation at home. His father’s illness makes his behavior so unpredictable that the whole family must tip-toe around him for fear of becoming the butt of his anger.

Elise wishes her twin sister didn’t think being champion swimmers was an adequate goal for their lives. She has her own dreams to fulfil.

Carrie hides a secret, avoiding other students so nobody will ever find it out. But Tommy and Elise both look to Carrie to save them from their situations.

Until she disappears.

Tommy’s protective instinct kicks in, and Elise reassesses her priorities so she can help keep Carrie safe.

 Author Interview

  1. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

The first long story I wrote was one I had been mulling over for twenty years. I used to lie in bed and tell it to myself while I waited to fall asleep. However, when I finally sat down to write it, it ran away with me. I met some characters who had never appeared in the original telling and whose presence created new plot twists.    

Subsequently, I have realized that without a twenty-year incubation, I need careful plotting to make sure I know where the story is going and how it is going to get there. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t serendipitous moments when a character says or does something that takes the action down an unexpected path. 

  1. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

 

As a child I used to experiment with writing stories, and I told my fifth-grade teacher I wanted to be an author. But the physical act of handwriting began to steal my joy in the creation process. 


I made a few false starts in my adult years, and then on February 28th, 2007, I flew home from a visit to my parents in England, knowing that I was leaving my mother in poor health but confident that it was only a matter of time before she was well again. On the plane, something urged me to start writing down that story that had been twenty years in the making. 


My mother passed away nine days later, and in the period of grieving, I came home from work each day and sat down at my computer to pour out my story. When I finished it, I knew this was only the beginning for my writing. 


  1. Where do you get your ideas for your books?


My stories often begin by having a purpose. When a friend commented that she couldn’t find many books with Christian values for her grandsons, I promised to write one for her. Over time, two basic characters emerged—"A Boy and His Dog”—to which, in a flash of inspiration I added “in Alaska.”

If You Really Knew Me and No Longer Orphans grew out of a request for a story about missionaries, but I was anxious to create main characters to whom students could relate. Consequently, the teens you will read about, although not based on real people, were inspired by accounts in prayer letters written by two of my missionary friends. And then I gave my friends small roles as themselves. 

No Longer Orphans and “A Boy and His Dog in Alaska” (working title) are still works in progress. 


  1. Do bits of yourself/friends show up in your characters?


The book I wrote while grieving my mother has one character who is as like her as I could make her given a different set of circumstances of their lives, and the protagonist behaves much as I would have done in the same situation. However, since then, I have tried to remember that not everyone reacts as I would. 

I want to be able to say that my characters are not based on real people, but I’m aware that my whole understanding of humanity depends on what I have encountered, either personally or in my reading. So, I am not surprised when I discover something turning up which reminds me of someone I know.  


  1. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?


My favorite time to write is over breakfast with my bowl of oatmeal and multiple cups of tea. In front of me is a bank of windows looking out at the fence which separates us from our neighbor’s house—but not just any fence. This one is a mass of trees and creepers and is beloved by birds, who at that time of morning are singing their morning praises. 

This is my magic time. If I don’t get the creative ink flowing then, it’s much harder to start later. If I do manage to write then, it is likely that I’ll be able to snatch more time during the day, and then it doesn’t matter where I am.



Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

alison-cheah-high resolution 1Alison Cheah worked at Youth for Christ for five years and volunteers with her church youth group. One of her favorite activities is preparing Bible Studies and seeking how to connect the stories of the Bible with her students’ own stories.

As a child she was always to be seen with her nose in a book, and nothing has changed. One of her favorite authors was Patricia St. John. Her characters are people you want to know, and you are rooting for them to overcome their problems, but for Alison, the added dimension was that each person discovers their answers in Jesus. She saw that the faith she had grown up with had applicability in real life.

Her prayer is that this story has the same result for you.

 

More from Alison

I spent five years working at Youth for Christ with middle school students like Tommy, Carrie, and Elise. They are not based on kids I met, but they are inspired by my experiences then.

My friend and mentor in youth ministry was Anna-Marie Valles who is also a character in Tommy, Carrie and Elise’s story helping them to make sense of some of the questions they have.

We don’t get to know her well in the book, but I had a chat with her recently about youth ministry and here is an extract from that conversation. I think you will enjoy getting to know her better.

 

Alison: In the story, Elise shares her problems with you. Do you find teens want to talk to an adult about their problems?

 

AMV: Kids are hungry to be able to unload their stories on people who are willing to listen. I remember in one club a student said that all day, adults were telling him what to do. But club was a space where people were asking him, “How are you feeling? “What are your thoughts on this?” He was shocked.

 

Alison: You were only eighteen when you started in youth ministry. After all these years, how do you stay current so kids still want to talk with you?

 

AMV: If you come to kids with a willingness to learn, you become relevant. Say to them, “Tell me what’s going on?” Don’t pretend you have all the answers. I find that has worked for me. “I don’t know your culture like you do. But I’m willing to see through your lens if you’re able to share that with me.”

Age is interesting. I always worried I would age out. At my application interview for seminary I said, “I always thought if I aged out of youth ministry, I’d be a chaplain.” And the professor called me out on that. You never age out because kids still need that safe place where someone is willing to listen.

 

Alison: The profits from this book will be used to send kids to camp. Why is this important to you?

 

AMV: Youth ministry is all relational. But trust can take a while to build. The beauty of camps is that you can create a bond in one week that could take two years without.

 

And at camp they hear the gospel presented in different ways by different speakers. Other people’s creativity and presentation may reach my students in a way that I haven’t been able to.

 

What saddens me is not everyone can go because camps are costly. My desire is that every student who wants to go will have the opportunity to do so.

 

For more of this conversation, see alisonrcheah.com

(Interview transcribed by https://otter.ai )

My prayer is that the story of Tommy, Carrie and Elise will be one of those different speakers Anna-Marie talked about, helping kids to begin their own relationship with Jesus.

 

Thank you.

Alison

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 14

Texas Book-aholic, May 15

Beauty in the Binding, May 16 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, May 16

For Him and My Family, May 17

Inklings and notions, May 18

Blossoms and Blessings, May 19 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, May 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 22

Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Author Interview)

Vicarious Living , May 23

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 25

Guild Master, May 26 (Author Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Alison is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1db4d/if-you-really-knew-me-celebration-tour-giveaway


Saturday, May 14, 2022

"Light of Mine" (audiobook) by Allen Brokken -- Author Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

 

About the Book

Book: Light of Mine

Author: Allen Brokken

Narrator: Stacey Bradshaw

Genre: Middle grade Christian Fantasy

Release date: November 10, 2021

LightOfMine-AudioDarkness is spreading through Zoura. Beyond the borders of the heathlands, innocent animals are being turned into monsters, and good men into pawns of the Dark One. Father has vanished after joining the Mighty Mercenaries and mother has gone missing in search of him.

Alone on the farm, twelve-year-old Lauren and her brave little brothers, Aiden(9) and Ethan(5), must guard the Tower of Light that will guide both parents home. But when a hooded stranger is caught trespassing the farm, and a new bishop claims the church, confusion pervades their close-knit community. Will the children be able to recognize who is a threat to the Tower and who is there to help them protect it?

With little else but the aid of a trio of blessed pets, three holy weapons, and their growing faith, Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan find it is up to them to stop the agents of The Dark One from putting out the Light and dooming the heathlands to Darkness.

 Author Interview

  1. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?


Editing.  I hate having to leave really cool scenes, dialog or world building concepts on the “cutting room floor” so to speak.  Some of my best ideas have been completely cut out because they didn’t advance the plot or were too slow and ruined the suspense.


  1. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?


Coming up with ideas of fun and novel situations.  They usually just flow.  So many ideas that I really can never do them all. That coupled with my generally fast writing speed lets me power through composing a story really easily.


  1. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I can write anywhere.  I used to write while I was traveling for work and have composed most of the books in my series at least 25% on my cell phone.  I prefer to work in my office now because of the setup I have, but I’ll sit down just about anywher to write.


  1. How long does it usually take you to write a book?

I’m blessed in that I can compose about 1000 words an hour.  So I’ve had a number of 7000 word days. My books are between 50,000 and 65,000 words so the first draft is usually about 50-70 hours.  Then it takes about that same amount of time to rework it after I get it back from a conceptual edit.  Then the final copy-edit takes about half that time.  So all up around 120-150 hours.


  1. What is your work schedule/routine when you write?

I don’t write full time so I have to fit it in.  Usually when I’m composing I write 1-2 hours every morning before work.  When I get close to a deadline I may take a day off from work and write all day.  But for the most part it’s a daily dose of writing.


Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

AllenBrokken-AuthorAllen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. He began writing the Towers of Light series for his own children to help him illustrate the deep truths of the Bible in an engaging and age appropriate way. He’s dedicated 15 years of his life to volunteer roles in children’s ministry and youth development. Now that his own children are off to college he’s telling stories and sharing clean humor on social media @allenbrokkenauthor, and through his blog https://www.allenbrokkenauthor.com.

 

More from Allen

When my kids were young there was really nothing better than getting out of my car at the end of a long day at work and having my three little kiddos run up to me and give hugs because Daddy’s Home!  As a Father of three young children I was very concerned about the direction society was taking.  I wasn’t sure that with how things were going that I had the knowledge or the skill to train them up in the way they should go, as the Bible directs.

Then in 2008 I took a new job that had me traveling four days a week.  It was one of the hardest times of my life, the stress of a high pressure job, the loneliness of being on the road, and uncertainty of being a young parent really brought me to the end of myself.  However, all of the travel gave me a lot of time to study the scriptures and learn from the writing of great bible teachers.

It was during this time that I began to write stories for my children.  At first I brought my children’s stuffed animals to life for silly adventures.  But then one day while we were putting together a play fort in our back yard I saw a sunrise pattern in the wood in the top of the tower.  I thought:​

 

“What if there was a Tower of Light shining God’s goodness over the children and their animals?”

 

“What if the children experienced the indwelling of the holy spirit in a real way like Sampson or David?”

 

“What if the full armor of God was physical armor they could use to defeat the darkness?”

 

As I shared my story with my children, they loved it.

 

I believe you and your children will love it too.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, May 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 3

Guild Master, May 4 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, May 5

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 6 (Author Interview)

For Him and My Family, May 6

Vicarious Living, May 7

Vicky Sluiter, May 8 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, May 8 (Spotlight)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 10

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 11

Artistic Nobody, May 12

Simple Harvest Reads, May 13

Blossoms and Blessings, May 14 (Author Interview)

Cats in the Cradle Blog, May 15

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Allen is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1d3be/light-of-mine-celebration-tour-giveaway