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Crimson Harvest: A Review

I was gifted a copy of this ebook by Thom Mollohan in return for an honest review.

I was very intrigued by the premise for this novel and the blurb:

Could there be more than meets the eye in the handsome and charming Gage who has won over Heather’s friend, Jillian?

Sixteen-year-old Heather is a girl who just wants to fit in and have fun. But one night of breaking the rules sets into motion a terrifying series of events that launches her into a mystery that has at its heart an ancient evil.

Pulled into a world of darkness and fear that will nearly destroy her, her family, and her faith, can light yet overcome the darkness?

I was even more intrigued when I read the sample and found the book had a Vampire sort of twist, but still had a strong Christian element. I was impressed to find Dracula had this sort of feel so on the idea that this might be a similar style book I dove in.

The story was good and had plenty of tension. I definitely found I read through it quickly and wanted to know what happened at the end and I want a sequel. Heather was a brilliant character and there was a touch of mystery to the others I still want explaining.

My only disappointment with the book was that there seemed to be a little too much Christianity. I know that sounds a little odd when it’s that element that made me want to read the book in the first place but I felt like the author was trying to over play the God and faith side of things to make up for the dark topic, especially where Heather’s uncle was concerned, but it made the story drag in places where I wanted action. I think it laboured the point a little and would have felt more natural to not keep being reminded that her uncle didn’t quite believe and have the faith Heather did. But everything Heather went through was more natural feeling.

The ending was a little cheesy, especially with the throwback to Jesus being in the fire as a white figure in the old testament Bible story, but I can’t really say more than that without plot spoiling.

Over all I enjoyed the book and I’d read more from the author, especially in this series. I’d just like all the text to feel necessary.

Character Spotlight: Anya

Anya is the secondary/supporting character in the Sherdan series. Somewhere between a third and two fifths of the chapters in the Sherdan world are from her point of view.

Anya is probably the female character of mine I like the least (of the good protagonists anyway). I don’t dislike her, not by a long way, but I don’t get many warm fuzzy moments over her. I do respect her. Life for her in the first two Sherdan books isn’t easy. She gets tortured, imprisoned, almost raped and plenty of other stuff on top.

My biggest problem with her is that she’s religious, and yes I know I’m going to have to explain that. I don’t mean religious as in, believes in God, I mean religious in the sense of someone who believes in God and then acts a certain way because they think they are meant to rather than is actively trying to follow Jesus because of a conviction and emotion or belief in something born from experience. Sort of how we all brush our teeth, because we are told it’s good for us, we do it twice a day. Sometimes I forget to do it and I feel no guilt, I just do it because my parents said I was meant to and for the most part I take their word for it. There’s no engagement on my part.

For the most part Anya is like that. She has been brought up to believe in God and it isn’t until she’s tortured that she starts to work out there’s more to God than just doing what he says. Because of this ‘religious’ attitude to her faith she lacks in the ability to understand Sherdan and his problem with her way of life and the downsides of this form of Christianity.

Thankfully she gets better during the books. There’s still a bunch of stuff she will and won’t do but she starts to get a feel for the concept that she’s on a journey with God and she has a unique purpose she’s meant to work out with Him that involves more than just going to church and being a good girl. She has to think for herself, tackle big things and seriously think about loving someone who’s not got the same faith background as her. In short she has to decide what matters to her and what doesn’t.

While she’s trying to work all this out she sort of screws things up a bit with Sherdan. They love each other and I think that’s fairly obvious from mid book 1 but she’s a bit shocked by it and it presents her with decisions she never thought she would have to make. She also discovers that being a ‘good’ Christian isn’t always black and white. She doesn’t want to allow someone to have sway to potentially tempt her out of her belief system so she isn’t kind to him and then she realises she’s being judgemental, which is wrong as well. It’s tough to find everything you’ve spent your life believing is off centre and not quite know how you’re meant to be treating people.

As a result of these problems she yo-yo’s quite a lot between being nice to him and pushing him away from her. It isn’t until book 2 where she realises it’s not right to shut him out because he doesn’t believe exactly what she does that she starts to allow him the respect he deserves. Although none of this is helped by how controlling he is as she’s well aware she belongs to God not to anyone else.

I think I’ll like her more as the books progress. I’m sort of hoping she mellows out a little, actually learns to trust God and allow Sherdan into her life properly so she can show him the good sides of her faith rather than all the sucky things that an imperfect faith can exhibit. Of course, he also needs to learn to trust her.

Sherdan’s Legacy

The eBook of this sequel to Sherdan’s Prophecy was published recently so I thought I’d share a chapter from it so you could have a read. If you’ve not read the first book yet you can do so on my blog here.

Sleep was caught in snatches for Anya over the next few hours. Every hour or so someone looked in on her and woke her up. For some reason she was meant to stay alert, although no one else came to question her.

Time was impossible to keep track of. Not a single person wore a watch and the room had no clock in it. They had taken her mobile phone when they brought her there but even if they hadn’t the handcuffs would have prevented her from looking at it.

Her only hope of keeping track of time was counting the number of times someone came to check on her and assuming it was a scheduled disturbance. The same person only bothered her a few times in a row so it seemed like it might be a regular thing.

Her tenth visit revealed Mr Jeffreys again. He had both the folder and recorder with him this time.

“My, my, aren’t we serious, my file and proper documentation of what I say.” She sat down on the chair again, expecting she would be asked if she didn’t.

“So are you going to answer my questions now?”

“Not if they are the ones you’ve already asked me.”

“All right, I don’t like repeating myself anyway.” He opened the file and sat back, “So, tell me what your relationship with Dr Sherdan Harper is?”

“Not as important as the relationship I’d like to start establishing with a lawyer.”

“So you admit you know Dr Sherdan Harper?”

“Seriously? He was all over the news for months, who doesn’t know him?”

“Do you agree with Utopia’s stance?”

“The way the word looks or the ideology of a perfect society?”

“Miss Price!”

“Lawyer, remember. I asked for one of those yesterday.”

“Look, no one wants to charge you with anything. You’re not the kind of person who we feel is a major threat but we do want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with. We’re just asking for some information. As soon as we have everything we need you will be returned home,” he said.

She laughed and stuck her feet up on the table again, narrowly missing the papers.

“I did wonder when you’d try that tactic. I don’t actually believe you. I think you want more than information and I think that you would absolutely love to lock some people up just to show to the British government that you are doing something about Dr Harper.”

“That would be illegal.”

“It would be wouldn’t it, but denying me a lawyer is also illegal so we’re already past that point aren’t we?”

Mr Jeffreys reached forward and switched the recorder off.

“Miss Price. I am sure you really don’t want this to get ugly. You’re a young girl, with a bright future ahead of you. Your art work is fantastic and you could have a very happy life with the right man. We want to help you with that. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than seeing the young people of this nation free to be themselves and enjoy their life.”

“Well, if you care so much about my happy life I suggest you go fetch that lawyer now.” Anya got up and walked off to sit down with her back to the table. She heard the scrape of the chair and a little while later the opening and closing of the door. Repeating the same request for a lawyer over and over again was getting boring for her and she wondered if it was for them too.

As soon as she was sure she had been left alone she swivelled around so she could see the rest of the room again and tried to get some more sleep. Power napping would have to keep her going until something changed.

The rest of the day was a blur of attempted interviews with Mr Jeffreys. He wouldn’t tell her anything about where she was and she wouldn’t answer his questions, insisting on having a lawyer.

By the time the day had drawn to another close and she could rest again she was feeling very hungry. There had been plenty of water brought to her but no food at all. No one offered her any and she didn’t ask. Instead she focused on God and prayer. If she was fasting, even if involuntarily, she might as well make the most of it.

Night came and went, although the only reason she knew it was not day was the lack of interrogations and the regular waking from the other people on duty. Despite the lack of food and the very broken sleep she felt fine the following day. She had been working hard over the last few weeks and actually stopping and resting had made her feel less stressed.

Anya was thanking God for this when someone completely new came in to talk to her. She watched the grey haired man walk over to the table and pull a chair out. After looking at her he motioned for her to sit on it and waited.

At first she just stared at him but he met her gaze and held it for some minutes. She grinned at the boldness of this new person and decided to see what he had to say.

Once she had sat down he even helped her tuck the chair in. He then poured her a drink, added a straw so she wouldn’t need her hands and sat down opposite.

“Good morning, Miss Price, I’m Jacob Schmidt.”

“Good morning.” She took a gulp from the water, pleased her voice worked after being unused all night.

He clasped his hands together on the desk and sat waiting, but she couldn’t figure out what for. When she raised her eyebrow and he still did nothing she assumed he must be waiting for her.

“Are you a lawyer?”

“No, I’m a psychiatrist.”

“Oh, do the government think I’m insane?”

“No. You appear rational enough.”

“Good. I may well be an artist but that’s not full blown psycho territory.” Surprisingly, he chuckled at this statement.

“I’m here out of concern for your well being, that’s all. I want to make sure you are emotionally well and functioning normally. I take it you are a Christian?”

“Yup, born and bred a Jesus Freak.” She grinned again. Having a psychiatrist sat opposite her had tickled her somewhat and coupled with the rebellious attitude she’d felt like, so far it was having interesting results. So much so she was talking without really thinking.

“Jesus Freak is an odd term.”

“It’s in a song by a Christian band.”

“Interesting.” Mr Schmidt started making notes as he nodded his head up and down a few times, “And do you ever question your faith?”

“Sometimes, I mean who doesn’t in their darkest moments but mostly God gets me through stuff. He’s pretty awesome like that.”

“You’ve been through things where you’ve needed God then?”

“Of course, I think all Christians do.”

“Like being held a prisoner in another country?” he asked.

“Smooth. I like how you slipped that in there. I assume you’re referring to Utopia?”

“You tell me? Were you trapped there?”

“You’re assuming I was ever there.”

Mr Schmidt put down his paper, pen and took his spectacles off, also laying them down on the table.

“I think it’s acceptable of me to say that we know you were there, Miss Price.”

“Can you prove it?”

“I’m sure we can or you wouldn’t be here.”

“I’d like to see that proof then.”

“Did you enter of your own free will, Miss Price?”

“Mr Jeffreys already asked me a very similar question. I told him I wouldn’t answer without a lawyer.”

“Well thank you for everything you’ve told me so far, Miss Price. May we continue this discussion later?”

“You can try.”

Mr Schmidt left her alone and oddly no one came to see her at all for the rest of the day. No food or water came and no one checked up on her. After a few hours she settled down to get some sleep but found she couldn’t.

Before sleeping she always said a prayer of thanks to God, for whatever she thought she had to be thankful of that day, and she found as soon as she started talking to God that she felt wide awake. Instead of sleeping she paced the room, talking to Him and pondering over the conference she was missing.

The people would have all flown in by now and be staying in the church’s accommodation. None of them would realise she had vanished until the meeting she was meant to lead and that was sometime this afternoon.

She prayed that their journey wouldn’t be wasted and hoped they would all stick around so she could meet with them when she did get back. For the first time since being locked up she felt tempted to use her ability and escape. If she left in the next few minutes there was a chance she could get back in time to see everyone and do a later conference.

As time went by, however, the idea faded from her mind. Using her ability and going back home would arouse suspicion and then take that attention right back to the people she was trying to help. Staying put would be best for now.

When her legs grew tired she sat and rested but continued praying. Somehow she kept finding things to pray about, despite nothing changing in the immediate vicinity of her world.

She remained in a cycle of pacing and resting for longer than she could estimate, until she saw and heard the door handle rattle. Despite the movement, the door didn’t open. After a few minutes she got up and walked towards it.

She stood only four feet from it when it opened a crack and a head appeared around the edge.

“Julie!” Anya rushed forward and squealed. Julie wrapped her up in a big hug, letting her see the others who had come to rescue her. Nathan stood there, as well as four other men she didn’t recognise. She smiled at them all.

“Can you get the handcuffs off?”

“Not yet, we’ll get them off in the car, we’ve got to hurry.” Nathan ushered her into the middle of the group.

“Thank you for coming to get me.”

“We couldn’t have left you, but why did you not escape yourself?”

“I didn’t want to give your secret away. If I had just disappeared they would be even more suspicious. At the moment they appear to think Utopia is some kind of cult.”

“Well thank you for being so careful. But quickly now, let’s go.”

“Lead the way.”

Anya smiled and jogged along, flanked by the bulky Utopian security guards. Her heart felt light. Sherdan had sent his men for her and that meant he still cared.

They led her down many corridors, always checking if people were coming when they got to a junction or corner, but no one disturbed them. After several minutes of this process Nathan and Julie stopped. Everyone else ground to a halt behind them.

After a brief pause Julie beckoned for them to follow her through the nearest door. As soon as they were all inside the store cupboard she shut the door as softly as she could. They huddled in silence as the sounds of footsteps came closer.

The small room soon felt claustrophobic and hot as she had to stand stock still to avoid awkward contact with the men around her; a task made more difficult by the handcuffs still holding her hands behind her back. She wished Nathan had removed them already so she could rub the aches out.

To try and keep quiet she inhaled her breath and held it, counting past the seconds and listening to any and all sounds from outside as the person came closer and closer. Just as Anya thought she could stay silent no longer the sounds receded down the corridor, the way they had come.

After a few more minutes Julie opened the door and everyone hurriedly filed out. They led her to the elevator and strapped a harness around her waist.

“What’s this for?”

“We came down a maintenance shaft by the elevators to avoid the cameras. We need to climb back up so you’ll be strapped to Nathan to help you. We have to go quickly before they notice you are gone and lock down the building.”

She nodded and gulped. Her harness was attached to Nathan’s so she hung below him and he climbed up the rope first, using ascenders.

“Use your feet to steady yourself against the sides and stop the spinning,” Nathan said when he noticed her flailing and twisting around. She did as he suggested and he pulled them both up the fifteen floors. All the other men came behind and then Julie last.

They paused at the top before emerging from a hatch and packing away the equipment. Rather than going out the very obvious front door right by them Julie and Nathan led the group down another intricate maze of corridors, many of which were dark and empty. Whenever it got too dark to see well enough, one of the extra men lifted a hand and a faint glow emanated from it, lighting the way for everyone.

Eventually they halted outside a fire door. Another of Anya’s guards crept forward and after fiddling with something she couldn’t see for a moment they pushed the door open. There was a pause as Julie listened for something.

“All clear.” She led them out the door and down a dark alleyway. Right near the end, two of the men pulled on black masks and rushed off into the night.

“What are we waiting for?” Anya whispered in Nathan’s ear.

“They’ve gone to get the cars.”

She stayed right by him while they waited, shivering in the cold air. As soon as he noticed her reaction to being outside he shrugged off his jacket and wrapped it around her. She muttered her thank you and moved even further behind him to use his body to block the wind that whistled past them down the alley.

The cars weren’t long in pulling part way up the alley, one after the other. Right away she felt Nathan’s hand on the small of her back, guiding her towards the back of the nearest car. He opened the door for her, helped her inside and followed after her.

As soon as every door was shut the cars reversed back out of the alley and set off towards home.

“Thank you very much, Nathan. You all risked a lot coming to get me.”

“Don’t mention it, Anya. You’re important to us.” He grinned and ran his hands through his hair, something he often did when she thanked him or made a fuss over something he had done, “Here, let me get those handcuffs undone now.”

She turned so he could access her hands and waited as he pulled out an odd looking instrument and picked the lock.

“These are much easier than those room doors,” he said as the cuffs slide open, only a few seconds later.

She rubbed her wrists to try and stir some life back into them. They hurt as blood reached the places that had been restricted, but it was a bearable pain and she knew it would soon fade.

“So, is Sherdan here somewhere or are we meeting him in Utopia?” Anya’s eyes lit up with the idea of seeing him after so long.

“He couldn’t leave Utopia and we’re taking you home.”

“Oh. I’m not sure home would be safe for me. Whoever took me did so less than two-hundred metres from my flat. I expect they know where I live. Surely Utopia would be the best place for me?”

“I can’t take you into the country without orders. Sorry, Anya.”

“Will you let me grab some stuff from home and take me to a friend’s house then?”

“Of course, anything we can do to help you stay safe.”

“Except take me to Sherdan.” Anya didn’t phrase it like a question.

“Except that.”

She knew it wasn’t Nathan’s fault Sherdan didn’t want to see her but it felt like all her relief from being rescued and crushed it under the weight of a thousand elephants.

“Does he hate me, Nathan?” She asked a few minutes later.

“No, I don’t think so. But he’s hurt, very hurt. Give him time, I’m sure he will talk to you again.”

“I didn’t want to leave but I had stuff to do. One day, I think I’d like to come back. Bath… well… It’s just not the same any more. Sherdan and Utopia changed something and I’m not sure it can change back.”

“I know, I understand. You had a duty to do for your church, but he loved you, he loves you. That’s important too.”

“Thank you, Nathan. That helps, I think.”

 

If you enjoyed that and want to read more, the book is on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazon eBook stores.

Character Spotlight: Sherdan

This is one of my special characters. I love all my characters but a few always stick out in my head and this is one of those. He’s my first male leading character and although he’s far from perfect he’s still one of my favs.

I have two books out with him in now and I’m putting together the plot for a third, which feels kinda nice. I really like writing sequels. I suspect I’ll get bored of the characters eventually but for now starting a sequel feels a lot like visiting old friends. I just pick up where I left off.

Sherdan comes across as a complete meglomaniac at the start of the first book. He doesn’t care who gets hurt in his quest for the greater good. Has people tortured on almost a whim and is more than happy to bribe people or even blackmail them to get what he wants. He also even plays God a little with his enzyme and the people he gives it to.

Despite all that though, there is a softer side, he just tries to push it aside, thinking it’s weaker. He’s a scientist who, until recently, bought into the idea that we evolve and life is purely survival of the fittest. Compassion, love and mercy are often considered to be weaknesses by people in those schools of thought.

However, I love throwing my characters curveballs and seeing how they react. Sherdan soon falls in love, as all my MC’s often do. This is a really good thing for him and softens him in all the right ways.

Through Anya he does also get challenged about the idea of a God and what that might look like as well, which is a new thing for him. Whatever he decides he believes in it starts making him think about what he’s doing and whether he wants the destination he’s heading towards.

Overall Sherdan is one of those characters people love, despite all his many flaws and imperfections. You just can’t dislike him, even though you know you ought to. And no matter what he does I think he’ll always be one of my favourites. Maybe because he’s my first male lead. He’s just… rather special.

Good, Clean, Murder: A Review

I’ve read a couple of books by this author and when I saw she was releasing another book I just had to pick this one up and help support her launch.

I picked this book up in the morning and didn’t put it down again, except to fix some breakfast, until I’d read the whole thing. Jane was gorgeous in every way and I totally adored her from the first moment.

The mystery was great and I was left guessing until the big reveal at the end. I also felt every moment of Jane’s confusion in what to do with her life. Trying to follow God’s calling is never easy and combine that with crime solving and you’ve got quite a recipe for a headache.

Just like the other books I’ve read by this author, this keeps the lighthearted feel to it with the moments of humour and general awkwardness, while still feeling tense enough to keep you page turning.

On top of all that I really liked the snapshot of US living. For someone not from the UK instead I still felt like I could picture the book and what things were like from how everything was described. Sometimes I read books by US authors and they take for granted that the reader knows certain things that are actually locational. I didn’t find that was the case with this book and it made it so much easier to get into it.

Foreclosed: A Review

This is a Christian mystery book about a woman called Mitzy who runs her own estate agents and gets involved in some crazy stuff when a house she wants to sell gets tangled up in Russian history.

I’ve had this book on my tbr for ages and finally got around to it. I’m so glad I did.

The book was cute, quirky and I really liked Mitzy even though she did seem a little too sure of herself. She was well portrayed and althought very feminine I decided I liked her. She had guts and was a self made woman and that really earnt my respect. I like Christian women who aren’t afraid to be a bit different.

The plot flowed nicely and although I could see all the twists coming it didn’t detract from the entertainment of the book as it all felt real and believable. Considering the plot after reading I’m mildly surprised it felt so real because it’s quite a mash up of things I wouldn’t expect in one book but it was well done.

I especially loved the puppy but I won’t say more about that. If you like fun girly reads this is the perfect book and for anyone else wanting to pick up some easy going Christian fiction that’s more about telling a fun story than trying to push some massive Christian message.

I’ve just picked up the sequel and added it to my TBR.

Being in an army

I’ve been watching a lot of Sharpe films lately and I’ve been very struck with the structure of the army and all the rules they have. I found myself realising that the way the British army works is actually pretty similar to the way God’s army works or God’s church if you want it in plain terms.

It says very clearly in Ephesians 6 that we’re a group of people fighting spiritual forces for God. There’s a battle and we’re in it. Wouldn’t it help a lot if we knew the rules? If we knew how our own army needed to work to function best?

To start with everyone knew they were being paid. Well in God’s case our promise was a reward in heaven, while this isn’t much like your army today (they get paid monthly like the rest of us) the older armies used to go several months without getting paid and would often have to wait until the war was over and they got home to get their rewards, medals and pay. (Much like Christians waiting until Heaven to get their reward).

You’re going to do things now and wonder if it’s been recognised and you are going to have to wait until the war is over before you will get all the recognition for your hard work. There’s no point moaning that you’ve done lots of hard work and it’s gone unnoticed. God noticed and He’ll be the one making sure you get any pay left over that’s owing to you when you get to heaven. Do you want your reward now or do you want it in heaven?

Secondly being in the army means you have tasks to do. These tasks are whatever you’re skilled at that helps the army plus whatever the army needs someone to do, regardless of skill. There are times when your talents are meant to be used to serve the church and there are times when the church will ask you to do something you like less or are less good at. Do it anyway because you’re helping make God’s army work.

That means we have to do crappy tasks sometimes as well as the things we love. I don’t know many people who would consider themselves talented at cleaning loos or making sandwiches but an armies got to eat, stay clean and be healthy to fight effectively. When the heat of the battle comes we want a fighting fit army. Do you want to sneak out of cleaning duty or win that major battle and the glory that goes with it?

There are rules you have to obey. In slightly older army times if you were caught stealing, plundering or anything else like that (basically anything naughty) while in the army, you were sentenced to death. If you ran away from a battle and the squad you were called to fight in, you were sentenced to death. If you were caught asleep while on guard duty, you were sentenced to death. And if you disobeyed a direct order, you guessed it, you were sentenced to death.

These days you wouldn’t be sentenced to death for any of these but they would lead to what we’d call a court martial, the expulsion from the army and potential other punishments like prison time. Being kicked out of God’s army is to be spiritually dead. So if we sin and let our spirits go to sleep we run the risk of spiritually dying. Thankfully there is forgiveness but it’s always better to not do the wrong thing in the first place and to keep our spirits awake to the dangers around us. Do you want those weeks of comfortable easy going church life where no one asks you to do anything you don’t want to or do you want to live?

Finally the army has ranks. There’s nothing democratic about it. If you’re given an order from someone of a higher rank than you then you were expected to obey it, that instant, without question. In God’s army there are also ranks. Each church has a leader or two who sit at the top of that church’s part of the army. Sometimes they have people above them too if part of a movement but not always, and God sits above everyone.

That Church leader is your main commanding officer. They get all the information. They usually have a team around them who help them gather the information they need, people who specialise in particular important aspects of decision making, information gathering and organisation. The team below the leaders often give out orders too and report to the commanding officer, they’re often the ones that hear complaints as well. Below that there are often smaller groups led by officers and within those smaller groups small companies of people led by another officer or two (much like the small group structure in church). These companies/groups/regiments did as they were told by their officers, who got their orders from the team or commanding officer, usually in separate meetings where information was passed down that isn’t passed to everyone below.

The soldiers in the groups were expected to obey because they didn’t have all the information. Informing everyone of everything is an impossible task and often takes too long. In battle there isn’t time so orders need to be obeyed and it’s far too easy to think a decision or order is wrong without all the facts and experience of leading an army. If orders weren’t obeyed battles were lost or more people were wounded or killed in the mayhem that ensued. The enemy doesn’t stop attacking just because you’ve decided not to follow an order, if anything you’re attacked more because you’re out on your own or a small group and an easy target. If the order was wrong then it was the officer who gave it who was punished not the people who obeyed it. Do you want to act entirely on your own decision making or do you want to fall in line and  help keep yourself and those around you safe during the battles?

If God’s church is God’s army then it’s our responsibility to make sure we act like soldiers who know who their superiors are and get on with the tasks given them by any of the officers above them, including God. Not to question and dither and fuss because we’re not 100% comfortable or happy with the orders being given.

Author Interview: Shaina Cilimberg

Today’s guest is Shaina Cilimberg

Tell us about your latest project.

Crowded (Deep River High) is about three teens trying to live for God and the mistakes they’ve made along the way. There’s a rivalry between Josh Summers and Cole Martin. Cole made a mistake that cost his girlfriend, Emily Davis’ trust. Josh is the new kid at school and he has a crush on Emily. So, Cole is trying to win Emily back and Josh wants her for more selfish reasons. Cole gets abused at home and Josh bullies him. Josh has a great home life, but a tragic past. He used to be popular, then became unpopular at his old school. You find out why in the book. The boys are such grey characters. Cole is a genuine, sweet guy and probably the guy you want as a boyfriend. He regrets what he did and he is sincere in his apologies and tries really hard to be kind to others. Josh just gets  under his skin. Cole doesn’t get how someone could be so conceited and still be a Christian.  I prefer Josh, but I totally get where Cole is coming from. In Josh’s defense, he never lies to Emily about Cole. He has good qualities. He loves his sister, who’s a year younger than him so much.

Emily is torn between all of this. She knows it’s wrong to enjoy having two guys fight over her, but she still does and is conflicted by that. She’s not so sure what to think of either boy.

What inspires you?

Tv shows, books, movies, personal experience, curiosity, my love for God, teens and writing, music, reading about past events, Youtube (Hey, don’t judge me. They have videos with good info on there!!!)

Which do you prefer, paper books or ebooks and why?

Ebooks because you can read them when it’s dark out if your in the car at night.

Do you intend to bring your ebook out as a print book as well at any point or just stick with ebooks?

I think I’ll stick with e-books for now.

When did you start writing and why?

I started at eleven as pen pals with my aunt, then it came as enjoyment. I was like half this girl who’d do anything to be popular (except for sex and drugs lol) and half this girl who wanted to write plays to do with my cousins and I wrote one. Then I decided I wanted to write to bring people closer to God or to God and kind of express how I felt and questions I had. I also wanted to show ppl that the bad things the characters do is not the way to go but there’s always forgiveness. That’s not saying sin is ok because you’ll be forgiven anyway. I’m saying for people who truly want to turn from their sins, they can. I also wanted to touch on topics that are relatable to other teens.

Well at 21 I realized baptism is required for salvation so I was baptized for the forgiveness of sins and gift of Holy Spirit at 22. I still write for the reasons above and I write based on past personal experiences and what I’m curious about.  It was that way as a teen and that way now. I also put a little of myself in every character. I think ear to shoulder length hair is short on a guy. If you read the Bible as a whole, go to the Greek, then Biblos.com you will see that it’s not saying guys should have crewcuts. It’s saying it shouldn’t hang loosely around the shoulders like a veil. So, that’s probably an inch past the shoulders and when you look at different versions some say “no such custom neither do the churches of God” which means its okay for a guy to have long hair. I think the verse was more about a woman’s hair and it was just saying for men to not wear their hair like a woman’s. Nothing wrong with long hair on a guy in and of itself.

I love Christian rock music, so I mention some bands in there. I like to stay relevant. None of my characters are gonna be anyone’s stereotype of what a Christian is. My characters have a goal of being more Christlike and better people. They have questions, they make mistakes, they get mistreated, they laugh, they cry, they can be clumsy and aren’t always the brightest.  I write to convey a message too. I write about how people should treat others as opposed to the way they are being treated, I write how people should act. I feel like my characters are real people.

What book do you wish you had written?

Narnia

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Well, I am working on the next book in the series. I also am doing schoolwork and studying.  I also read the Bible and would like to be more active in church.

Do you intend to stick to the Christian genre or try other genres as well?

I think Christian.

You can check out Crowded on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

How to create something people care about

I have had several discussions lately with people talking about Christian artwork and books. Most people who don’t particularly follow the Christian faith avoid anything labeled Christian at all costs. We discussed why.

Our first reason was that most of Christian artwork tends to depict one of a very few things. On the art side of things it tends to be pictures of Jesus on a cross or fish. In writing it’s poorly disguided preaches on what is considered morally acceptable to God.

Even when this is not the case the art work tends to only speak of lightness and happy things. Most seem to avoid all of the darker subject matters. They focus on the light of God and the good things that result in being a follower of Jesus.

The problem with both of these is that they mean very little to a person who hasn’t experienced them. Telling someone that life for someone else is amazing doesn’t make them feel any better.

To show someone faith and the light of God it requires something more. People relate to pain and suffering much quicker and more easily than happy things.

If Christians truly want people to understand how God can make a difference in their life they have to show that they understand the persons life before God, that their pain is understood, and their grief. It’s no good showing them the bandage but not what it can do.

For the help God can give and the light of God’s world to show it needs to be contrasted with darkness. Pain is there before healing. Loss before regain. Real life isn’t just answers. There are questions too. If we are intent on showing people the things God can do surely it helps to show them the situation before God does his thing.

On top of that being a Chrisitian isn’t always light and fluffy. Crap things happen in life regardless of who has a God to help them or not. Too many Christians seem to think they need to show an outside look of perfection and a happy life because otherwise it will make their God look bad. It doesn’t. It just makes it difficult for anyone to relate to what their saying.

In short people need to be real with the things they create. To create it out of real emotions, passions and situations. Not out of some preach they have in their head. To not be afraid of taking their work to darker places simply because that’s how they felt the day they created that part.

When viewers and readers can relate they begin to care. Caring is only the first step in the process but it might just gain back some of the reputation Christian artists have lost.

Her Daughter’s Dream: A Review

Her Daughter’s Dream is the second book in the series by Francine Rivers. This book follows Marta from the first book until her death, Hildemara from the first book until she’s in her 90’s, Hildemara’s daughter Carolyn, Carolyn’s daughter May Flower Dawn and then finally, her daughter, Faith. As you can see that’s quite a lot of daughters and the book pretty much brings everything up to the current age.

It leaves off exactly where the previous book ends so I’d actually recommend making sure you’ve got this book sitting in the tbr pile when you start the first one. Francine Rivers seems to be the kind of person who likes doing that with her series books. I had the same problem with her Mark of the Lion trilogy.

I actually prefered the sequel in this case as well. I don’t know for sure if it was because the more modern lives of Carolyn and Dawn were easier to relate to or they just made more mistakes growing up similar to mine but I found I empathised with the two of them more than I had with the previous two. This book also managed to make me cry at several points, very suddenly at one point too. Having a box of tissues handy while reading may well be very wise.

With the conflict between the first two women and the resulting conflict it causes between the next two I admit I was expecting some kind of working through or a resolution at some point during the two books and I wasn’t dissapointed. Although it wasn’t possible to entirely resolved everyone with everyone, (five generations can’t all easily live at once) they did manage to sneak in a few well thought through plot points to make sure Hildemara understood Marta did love her.

While both books focus more on the females of the family than the males there is still some story around the relationships each woman has with their husbands. Some of those men sure had to put up with a lot as well. I felt sorry for them on more than one occasion. They didn’t help either though in some cases. A lot of them had quite the desire to sign up for the military in some way or another. With all the other issues the girls faced it made quite a few of them worse.

Over all I’d be very surprised if Francine Rivers didn’t manage to touch on at least one issue most daughters have with their mothers. There were quite a lot of relationship struggles and misunderstandings and with any luck readers will be able to look at their own relationships in a fresh light. Misunderstandings are sometimes so easy to form and so hard to get rid of.