Past Forward – A Review

Past Forward by Chautona Havig
April 19, 201

Alone without friends or family to comfort her after the death of her mother, Willow Finley’s idyllic life is over—and just beginning.

The Finley women’s lives, while rich and full, aren’t easy. Rejecting electricity and many other modern conveniences, they live purposefully and intentionally–alone and isolated from the world around them.

When Willow Finley awakes on a hot summer morning, she is unprepared for the grief that awaits her. Jerked from a life of isolation with her mother, Willow learns what alone really means when she finds her mother dead.

From the moment Willow arrives in the police station with her startling announcement, Chad Tesdall fights the friendship he knows he can’t avoid.

The Past Forward series opens with Willow’s life-changing discovery and gently guides the reader through aspects of her life–the past weaving through the present and into the future. Experience her first morning in church, her first movie, and the culture shock of her first trips to the city. A birthday party and a street faire add welcome diversion from butchering, canning, and the beating of area rugs. Disaster strikes. Will she choose to continue her simple life, or will an offer in the city change it all? Find out in this first volume.

My Review

Past Forward begins rather startling. When Willow Finlay walks into the police station, you don’t really expect her reason for being there. Not exactly. The story continues on with rapt attention from there.

This is another book that I have read more then once. Actually, I’ve read every volume. I first read it years ago and parts of it are ingrained into me, like any other good book.

I like Willow. She’s different, but that’s one of the things that keeps you wanting to find out what she’s going to do next. There are times that I find the reactions of the people around her to be a bit tiresome, but not enough to make me want to put the book down.

Chad, I quite liked, though there are a few times I want to shake him. But, since I want to do the same to Willow at times, I suppose that’s not much of a complaint. I do like his character development a good deal – though I shall never reconcile my mental picture of him to the buzz cut that he apparently has.

Overall, I found the first volume of Past Forward well written, filled with interesting characters, and worth a reread. You will likely find your interest peaked to move onto Volume 2. I would recommend this book.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize that includes a complete paperback set of Past Forward & a custom Past Forward Lavender Lemonade candle!!

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/e319/past-forward-celebration-tour-giveaway

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, May 15

A Reader’s Brain, May 15

Godly Book Reviews, May 16

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 17

Blogging With Carol, May 18

Inklings and notions, May 18

Bigreadersite, May 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 19

All-Of-a-kind Mom, May 20

Texas Book-aholic, May 20

Aryn The Libraryan, May 21

Quiet Workings, May 22

Retrospective Spines, May 22

Inspired by Fiction, May 23

Carpe Diem, May 24

For Him and My Family, May 25

janicesbookreviews, May 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 26

Rebekah’s Quill, May 27

Inspiration Clothesline, May 28

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

Tot the KING be all the glory!

War in the Wasteland – A Review

War in the Wasteland by Douglas Bond
Released 2016

“Full-scale assault,” said Sergeant Ayres.

“Another one?” said Nigel. “Boche learned nothing from the last one?”

“Not them.” Ayres shook his head soberly. “It’s a counter attack. Tomorrow morning, first light. It’s us over the top.”

Nigel Hopkins finds himself in the trenches of World War I under the command of teenage atheist 2/Lt C.S. Lewis. Nigel and his war dog must learn the source of true courage while facing a desperate enemy in No Man’s Land in the final offensive of the war.

Meanwhile, underage WAAC Elsie Fleming, working at the field hospital in Étaples, will have her idealism about war challenged by the brutal realities she sees in the broken men who return from the Front—and the many who never return.

My Review

I went into reading War in the Wasteland with very little knowledge of WWI. Not the battlefront. I had studied how the people at home coped, at least, in the United States, but I hadn’t really read much about the actual war.

War in the Wasteland kept close to Nigel as he shipped out, joined his platoon on the Front, landed in the hospital, fought battles, got to know his comrades, faced the harrows of killing the enemy… I could almost feel the mud and filth, hear the guns and explosions, see the destruction of land and the death of men. I know that my imagination still falls far short of the reality, but I left the book with a far deeper perspective and appreciation for what so many soldiers fighting in the Great War went through. Just how much those left at home lost.

I really also enjoyed Nigel, the young eighteen-year-old, shipped out to war so soon after his birthday. Courageous, yet very human, seeing the war through his eyes, listening to the debates of his senior officers, and taking care of his loyal terrier.

Reading about an atheist C.S. Lewis, I found to be fascinating. In many ways, Mr. Bond kept the “voice” that I have come to recognize from reading works by C.S. Lewis intact, though his verbalized opinions were certainly not those I tend to associate with him. Knowing that the author well-researched the man, before attempting to write him into a historical fiction novel, it is truly amazing to think of the change the LORD wrought in C.S. Lewis’ life and thoughts. I knew much of this before, but seeing it in dialogue form proved to be fascinating and memorable.

I can honestly say that I never figured out for certain if a few characters were fictional or truly from history. I would have loved a complete list of historical characters, such as Mr. Bond included in the back of Duncan’s War. I can’t say that the lack affected my enjoyment of the story, but it would have satisfied my historical curiosity.

I would certainly recommend this book.

About the Author
Douglas Bond, father of six, is the author of a number of successful books. He directs the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class, speaks at conferences, and leads historical tours. Visit his website at: www.bondbooks.net

To the KING be all glory!

Haven’s Fire – A Review

Haven’s Fire by Dena Netherton
Released April 2019

When Dade re-emerges from the wilderness and settles in Seattle, intent on establishing a powerful cult following, Haven, Petter, and Jesse must protect their new friend, Thea, from his evil plans.

Haven Ellingson has been stalked, kidnapped, and beaten by Dade. After her escape, he continued to torment her through threats and constant pursuit. Again she was able to break free, thinking the man had finally perished.

But he’s back, now intent on destroying the life of another young woman and countless, misguided followers.

And Haven is having none of it.

Sometimes you hide from your attacker; sometimes you stand and fight.


My Review
I should begin this review by saying that, until I got 9/10of the way through reading Haven’s Fire I didn’t realize that I was reading a book in a series, and until I sat down to write my review, I had no idea that this is actually Book Three in The Hunted Series. (No, I didn’t look very closely at the cover, as I read it on an electronic device.)

That said, the book held together as a stand-a-lone surprisingly well. At a few points, I found myself thoroughly confused, but they were relatively small and, I imagine, would have been nonexistent had I read the first two books. The author did jump into most of the characters without much preamble or introduction, but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy the story or the people.

I must say, this is a rare instance where the title and the description of the book do not seem to match the story. I have no idea what Haven’s Fire has to actually do with the book, besides that there is a character, mostly in a supporting role, named Haven. Further, the description of the book seems to put Haven in a much larger role, doing far more then in the story. The story focused on Jesse and Thea, whose story I liked, but I never would have got that from the description.

The characters I found to be quite well done, the story captivating, and the writing style enjoyable. The visual illustration of the power of a cult, led by a seductive and enigmatic leader and the influence it can achieve, is a good message. Watching Thea get buried deeper and deeper into the net of rules and entrapment, the reader wants to pull her to safety, but almost justifies all the horrors along with her, as you see her mind twisted and led along.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint about the book, despite my enjoyment of it. While the author showed the cult very clearly, I wish that she had been more Biblically clear in her rebuttals. The leader of the cult used portions of Scripture or ideas from Scripture, twisting them in an expert and dangerous manner to mislead his followers. When, however, the Christians tried to reach the followers of the cult, they, in turn, rarely quoted Scripture themselves, which left an unbalanced argument, especially as the cult leader frequently went on for a few pages. The author frequently quoted a Scripture verse with the chapter header, but the people themselves rarely quoted any. As followers of Christ, Scripture is our authority and I left wishing that the Christian characters had quoted their Master more often, and saddened that they had not.

In conclusion, I enjoyed Haven’s Fire. I wish they had quoted more from the Bible, but I liked the characters and am glad to add them to my list of fictional friends. The story will certainly be one that stays with me.


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dena is giving away a grand prize of a $75 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/de85/haven-s-fire-celebration-tour-giveaway



Blog Stop

A Reader’s Brain, April 20

Carpe Diem, April 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 22

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, April 23

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 24

Blogging With Carol, April 24

Godly Book Reviews, April 25

Multifarious, April 26

For Him and My Family, April 27

Texas Book-aholic, April 28

Rebekah’s Quill, April 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 29

Through the Fire Blogs, April 30

janicesbookreviews, May 1

Inklings and notions, May 2

The Becca Files, May 3

About the Author
Dena Netherton has always loved the thrill of suspense-filled fiction. One day it dawned on her she could actually put down on paper her own action-packed stories and life-threatened characters that had been knocking around inside her head for decades.

When she’s not writing, Dena loves to play piano and guitar, read good books, spend time with people, and hike the Cascade Mountains.

Dena is active in her church as a musician, leader in Women’s Ministry, and director of a women’s prayer ministry. She also volunteers at a Crisis Pregnancy Center.

She and her husband live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Find out more about Dena’s books through her website and newsletter: denanetherton.me

To the KING be all glory!

What I Learned in Oxford – Part I

The view from atop St. Mary’s Tower

My love of telling stories began almost in babyhood, coursing on through childhood, high school age, and my early twenties. However, as adulthood lengthened to my late twenties, I became increasingly disillusioned. My published books, though received fairly well when they were actually read, didn’t sell particularly well. I struggled with marketing and building an audience, and as I tried to begin learning it, so many voices began to clamor at me.

Write more. Change your style. Change what you write about. Change how you write. Change your writing speed. Publish more often.  

And I started to shift with the voices. Every time I sat with my pen, I thought of the reader. The market. Could I get this book done fast enough? Would it be well received? Would it fit within my brand? Could I publish quickly enough? Would it sell?

The more I tried to push speed, the more I tried to listen to the clamoring voices, the less I enjoyed my craft. I rewrote and rewrote, trying to like my manuscript and only partially succeeding. I would learn to love my characters, but never reached a proper level of satisfaction with how I told their stories. Then, the other questions started. Should I dial back on the message of the book? Write books that might sell better? My books weren’t selling; almost subconsciously, I began to shift with the clamor. I still enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t the same as it used to be. Perhaps, it wasn’t supposed to be. Maybe writing should change when you become an author with six books published.

Then, the LORD sent me to Oxford.

I say sent, because every single step of my heading off to the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class, I could see orchestrated by God. When the year began, I had no plans of heading to Britain this Spring, but He did and I never had any doubts that the LORD sent me there.

As I spent a week walking the same streets as C.S. Lewis, hearing and nearly seeming to witness the fiery end of the three martyrs, singing hymns by Newton and Cowper, listening to C.S. Lewis’ written thoughts on writing, becoming immersed in church and literary history, Scripture and hymns, a light seemed to break in my mind. Listening to Douglas Bond speak on writing, read from those gone before, and lay out the meaning and the joy of being a Christian Writer, the passion that I could remember, the excitement that I all but rarely experienced anymore, began to burn brightly again.

I had come with the hope of improving my craft – I left with so much more.

In that week, I re-analyzed my reasons for writing, helped on by discussions with Mr. Bond and my fellow students, who soon became my friends. Long ago, I chose my writing motto; what I wanted all of my books, no matter what they were, to reflect. I spent much time and thought coming up with a sentence that would remind me of it. I wanted to write Bible Centered, Modern Literature.

During my week in Oxford, I regained that vision.

I want to write stories, so well told, that God willing, they will stand the test of time. That, if our LORD tarries, in one hundred, two hundred years, my books might be read and seen as literature, crafted with words and cadence, characters and story-lines that still draw people in.

I want them to have a depth beyond a good story. A richness. I don’t want to merely tickle the fancy of the reader; I want to reach them.

Ultimately, at the end of everything, I want to point my reader to Christ. I want His followers to leave my stories encouraged and blessed in their walk. I want the rest to leave convicted or, at the least, with some knowledge of my LORD and His words. I don’t ever want anyone to question whether I could be called a Christian Writer, because that is exactly what I am.

That does not mean that I won’t still try to navigate the confusing world of marketing. I can’t reach anyone if my books are never read. I’ll still learn what I can, hopefully implement it, and, LORD willing, both gain a growing readership and not lose my sanity completely. It really just means, that I’ve re-shifted my focus.

It also doesn’t mean that I have nothing else to learn about writing. Goodness, do I! I don’t believe the day will ever come when I don’t have something to learn about writing. I shall always be learning.

Since returning home, despite jet lag, getting back into a nannying schedule, and a few others things, I have written more then I did in the two months previous. I began my current manuscript over again and have passed the previous point that I stopped at, and it is better then it ever could claim to be before. I have not had this much joy and inspiration to write in some time, and the LORD used my trip to Oxford to bring that about.

To the KING be all the glory!

Thirty Days Hath – A Review

thirty-days-hath

Thirty Days Hath by Chautona Havig
Revised Edition Released February 26th, 2019

Blind Dates Are for Wimps!
At least, that’s what Adric Garrison thinks.
Can you blame him? Thanks to his sister and brother-in-law, Adric is about to embark on a year of month-long, chaperoned, blind dates. Awkward.
He didn’t ask for it. But Adric still finds himself living what seems more like a bad TV reality show than a new life in Fairbury.
Once an ordinary (if prematurely gray and vertically challenged) guy, Adric is now Fairbury’s newest “most eligible bachelor,” and dreams of permanent bachelorhood loom on the horizon. Will he call it quits before the year is out, or will one of his “girls of the month” change his mind?
One man, twelve women, one happily ever after.

My Review
I’ll be honest; this is not my first time opening up this book. I have readThirty Days Hath probably 3-4 times in the last seven years or so. For some reason, the more I read a book, the more difficult it is for me to write up a review. Maybe because I’m too familiar with it?

The evidence that I do enjoy the book, is shown by the fact that I do reread the book every while.

I enjoy reading about Adric and following his adventures, so to speak, with all the women who come stay in his house. I find his character, specifically with watching his temper, fascinating.

Further, watching all of the different types of women who Adric gets to know in a year, is actually an intriguing study, both in the differences between people, and in the abilities of the author. It’s easy to fall into making your characters very much alike – Chautona Havig had to write up twelve women and make us believe that they were all – different. She accomplishes that well, and it makes for a fascinating personality study as a bonus.

Fairbury is possibly my favorite of Mrs. Havig’s towns, as well, so the fact that Adric lives there is a bonus.

The story is fun, intriguing, and has just a touch of mystery to it. It also rarely makes me squirm, despite being a romance, which is always a lovely thing. There’s a reason why Chautona Havig is one of my favorite modern authors and this book is one of those reasons.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a paperback copy of Thirty Days Hath, book cozy, and a $25 Starbucks gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into to the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
https://promosimple.com/ps/dee7/thirty-days-hath-celebration-tour-giveaway

Blog Stops
Quiet Quilter, April 15
Through the Fire Blogs, April 15
For Him and My Family, April 16
cultivating us, April 16
Godly Book Reviews, April 17
mpbooks, April 17
Among the Reads, April 18
Multifarious, April 19
Inspired by Fiction, April 19
EmpowerMoms, April 20
SusanLovesBooks, April 20
Remembrancy, April 21
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 21
Rebekah’s Quill, April 22
Texas Book-aholic, April 22
Aryn The Libraryan, April 23
janicesbookreviews, April 23
Lots of Helpers, April 24
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 24
A Reader’s Brain, April 25
Bigreadersite, April 26
Inklings and notions, April 26
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 27
The Becca Files, April 27
Real World Bible Study, April 28
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae, April 28

About the Author
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

To the KING be all glory!