Safe House by Kathi Macias

Safe House

I offered to read and review this historical short story and looked forward in eager anticipation to getting into the story. I was instantly hooked by the main character, 11-year-old Nathaniel Johnson. The story takes place during June 1863 when school is out on holiday. He misses his father who signed up to fight in the Civil War the previous autumn and has not been heard of since.

Nathaniel lives with his mother and grandfather who share opposite views on the issue of slaves. His grandfather and Nathaniel’s missing father are both strong abolitionists, while his mother believes Christians should obey the law and not be involved in abetting legally-owned slaves to find freedom.

The youngster is torn in his feelings, wanting to believe his mother is correct and yet horrified by some of the stories fed to him by his grandfather. Things come to a head when Nathaniel discovered a young slave couple hiding in the family barn with their hours-old infant. His grandfather is old and frail, his father is missing, and the raiding party is on its way to find and recapture slaves on the run. The boy faces a decision which could carry horrific consequences and thrust him into a manhood he is scarcely ready for.

The characters are strong and well-portrayed, and the story line gripped me from the first paragraph. The author has used her ability to create atmosphere well, and as a reader I could see Nathaniel’s favorite spot, “nearly hidden away in a sheltered cove on the banks of the Ohio River” and feel the cool water lapping around his bare feet. I felt the boy’s pain and fear at the loss of his father, and the emotional turmoil over the opposing points of view in the issue of slaves.

When the story reaches its climax, with the knowledge that a raiding party of slave catchers are on their way, the tension becomes tangible and I couldn’t put the book down until I learned what Nathaniel was going to do.

My only complaint is that the book stopped too soon! I wanted to read on and learn how Nathaniel’s decision affects his future and that of his family. Despite this, I strongly recommend this short book and give it a five-star review.

Purchase the book here.

I have not been compensated in any way for this review, and these are my honest opinions.Kathi Macias

 

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. She is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences.

She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

 

Free Books in Exchange for Reviews by Narelle Atkins

Today I want to welcome Narelle Atkins to this blog. I have asked her to tell us how a book alliance can benefit us all.

Narelle Atkins - ICFWNarelle: The digital age of publishing has provided new opportunities for authors to publish their books. No longer constrained by limited shelf space, online booksellers have the ability to list an ever expanding number of books, both print and electronic, in their online catalogues.

Readers can visit their local book stores and browse the shelves, looking for their favorite authors or a new author to read. They can purchase online and are encouraged by book sellers eg. Amazon, to post online book reviews. They can join groups eg. Goodreads, or The Book Club Network, and share information about books online with other book lovers. Online and in-person book clubs provide more opportunities for readers to discover new authors.

The increasing range of available books is good news for readers. The challenge for authors and publishers is how to make their books stand out in the marketplace. What marketing and promotion strategies can they utilize to reach the target audience for their books?

Authors and publishers provide free review copies of new releases to help promote their books. Reviewers can sign up with publishers to receive advance reader copies of upcoming releases. Authors often have ‘Influencers’ who receive a review copy of their book on the understanding they will help promote their book in a positive way.

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. We tend to listen to our friends when they talk about books they like and dislike. Their opinions can sway our book purchasing decisions.

A blog alliance is another way authors and publishers can promote their books.

Bloggers who are interested in reviewing books can join a blog alliance. Depending on the rules of the blog alliance and their geographic location, blog alliance members can request books to review in either print or electronic format. Blog alliance members choose the books they are interested in reviewing, and post a review on their personal blog during the book tour week.

Last year I co-founded the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance with avid reader Jenny Blake. We tour fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, and we welcome international members. We are looking forward to touring Shirley Corder’s non-fiction book, Strength Renewed, on April 15th – 19th.

Readers now play a bigger role in spreading the word about books. They have opportunities to receive free books in exchange for sharing their opinions online. They have the ability to tell the world about their favorite authors and books they love. I encourage readers to consider how they can become involved in the exciting new world of book marketing and promotion.

Shirley, thank you for hosting me on your blog today.

 

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She recently sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents line in a six-book contract. Her first book, Running to Love, will be a February 2014 release.
She has published Bible Studies on Smashwords and blogs regularly at http://30MinuteBibleStudies.wordpress.com

Narelle is a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA) http://www.acrba.blogspot.com
To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.

 

Tangled Secrets by Carol Preston

tangledsecretssmall
In tragic circumstances Beth and her brothers are left in England to grow up without their parents. When Beth’s childhood dream to be reunited with her father in Australia finally eventuates she finds that dreams do not always come true.The reality she faces is a tangled web of disappointment, deceit and mistakes. Further abandonment follows.
Will she ever find true love? And will she discover she doesn’t have to be alone before it is too late?Set in the early colonial days of New South Wales and based on real characters in the mid-1800s.Revisit Charlotte and Thomas from Charlotte’s Angel and Mary’s Guardian, and meet new characters in this new novel by Carol Preston. Mary’s Guardian was a finalist in the fiction section of CALEB 2011.
carol-photo
 Carol lives in Wollongong, NSW with her husband, Neil. As well as writing novels based on her family history, Carol has a private counselling practice and enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with her four grandchildren and bushwalking. She has pursued with great admiration the lives of her ancestors in Australia and has greatly enjoyed writing novels based on their stories and the inspiring history of the Australian people.
 
For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website.

Soul Friend by Jo-Anne Berthelsen

Soul Friend
Soul Friend is an honest and intimate portrayal of the author’s own journey with her wise, spiritual mentor and the warm, life-giving relationship that developed between them during their fifteen years of meeting together.
This story is written in the hope that it will inspire many not only to seek out such a spiritual friendship for themselves but also to provide such a friendship for another.Beautifully written, this honest and insightful memoir is an inspiring celebration of the ancient art of spiritual companionship. Dr. Rick LewisSoul friendship is a very under-emphasised resource of Christian discipleship, particularly for Christian leaders. Jo-Anne has written honestly, beautifully, sensitively and powerfully. Read an interview of the author by Shirley.
Jo-ANne Berthelsen
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor, and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word.
She is the author of five published novels – Heléna, All the Days of My Life, Laura, Jenna andHeléna’s Legacy, with a sixth, The Inheritance, due for release in 2013. Her first non-fiction work Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey was released in October 2012. Jo-Anne loves music, reading, mentoring younger women, and sharing with community groups about writing. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren.

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

Unexpected Christmas Hero

What a delightful read! I hated to put it down, even to eat.

By using a young woman and her two children as the main characters, Kathi Macias immediately draws her reader into their desperate situation. I ached for them to have a warm meal, or a proper bed to sleep in. I felt quite cross with Josie at times when she turned down offers of shelter, even though I understood her point of view. I don’t think I could have been that brave. The idea of this young woman and her children curled up in her little “spot behind the cleaners” terrified me, especially with the approaching winter.

I ached for them to have a warm meal, or a proper bed to sleep in. I felt quite cross with Josie at times when she turned down offers of shelter, even though I understood her point of view. I don’t think I could have been that brave. The idea of this young woman and her children curled up in her little “spot behind the cleaners” terrified me, especially with the approaching winter.

Despite it having a Christmassy title, this is a book for all year round. As I followed the story, I became increasingly aware of the tragedy and despair of homelessness. Josie had done nothing to deserve this, and it made me realise how often this is probably the case. I will never look at a homeless person in quite the same way again.

It also made me aware of the even more helpless situation for the homeless person in South Africa, where we do not have the regular soup kitchens and shelters that are described in this book. Oh, that Unexpected Christmas Hero will come to our country so I can encourage people here to buy it. Maybe someone somewhere will catch a vision and start a new work.

The real-life miracle that occurred at the same time as the book’s release was so very exciting, and made to an even more thrilling read. For those who don’t know, the man the publishers chose for the book cover was indeed homeless. As a result of this book’s promotional material, friends of the family recognised him, and today he is reunited with his own family. This book has already brought change and transformation into the lives of many, and I believe it will continue to do so.

Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. She is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

 

The Greenfield Legacy by Rose Dee, Amanda Deed, Meredith Resce and Paula Vince

Greenfield
Mattie was in love with Billy, but she was too young to wed. When Billy was conscripted to fight in Vietnam, they made a decision that affected their lives and their future. But so much pain resulted that Mattie never really healed. Every turn Mattie made affected her daughter and her granddaughter in ways she didn’t even realise. But forty-six years later, is it time for things to be set right?

Navy is a young woman who has never known her family. But what could be a wonderful opportunity is met with jealousy and apprehension from her cousin Brooke and her aunt Connie, especially with handsome Aidan around. Each must look past their struggles and find forgiveness and trust and perhaps even love.

This absorbing family drama, set in South Australia’s beautiful McLaren Vale wine region, is written by four of Australia’s outstanding Christian fiction authors who have brought you best-selling and award-winning novels.

My Review

This is an unusual book for two reasons. It has been written by four authors, and it has four main characters. Each character is written by one of the authors, and the four stories are brought together in a skilful way. The story is clever and clearly shows the impact one foolish decision can have on future generations. A harsh, judgemental father triggers turmoil that disrupts the lives of four women and their families. The story reveals the hardship and bitterness than can occur as a result of unforgiveness and family secrets.

It is almost like reading four novellas interwoven to make one story. I found this book difficult to get into as the story jumped back and forward between the characters, and I battled to figure out who the characters were and how they related to one another. Once I discovered the Character List at the end of the book, I found it easier to follow. As the characters developed in my mind, I began to relax and enjoy the story. Being from South Africa, I appreciated the Australian descriptions and context, and I wondered how often the same story occurs undiscovered in our own country.

I would definitely recommend this book for an intriguing read although I would like readers to know about the Character List before they started reading. Thank you, ladies, for a brave idea cleverly implemented.

About the Authors
Writer's get away. 006

Left to Right: Rose, Meredith, Paula, Amanda.

ROSE DEE was born in Ingham, North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel. Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, decided to try her hand at writing two years ago. The result of that attempt is her first novel, ‘Back to Resolution’. Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. ‘Beyond Resolution’, and ‘A New Resolution’ are the second and third books in the ‘Resolution’ series. Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband, young son, and mischievous pup, Noodle.
 
South Australian Author, MEREDITH RESCE, has been writing since 1991, and has had books in the Australian market since 1997. Following the Australian success of her “Heart of Green Valley” series, an English Publisher has taken the first three books in this series, and has released them to the British and American markets. ‘The Greenfield Legacy’ is her 15th novel published. Apart from writing, Meredith also takes the opportunity to speak to groups on issues relevant to relationships and emotional and spiritual growth. Meredith has also been co-writer and co-producer in the 2007 feature film production, “Twin Rivers”. With her husband, Nick, Meredith has worked in the ministry since 1983. Meredith and Nick have one daughter and two sons.
 
Award winning Australian author, PAULA VINCE, loves to evoke tears and laughter through writing fiction. She has a passion to provide inspiring stories that highlight her own beautiful country.
 
AMANDA DEED grew up in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne in a Christian home, and found faith at an early age. She has followed her passion to serve the Lord through music and literature since her teen years. Now married, with three children, Amanda enjoys the variety of being a mother, finance administrator, musician and historical romance writer. Her debut novel, The Game, won the 2010 CALEB Prize for fiction, and Ellenvale Gold was a finalist for the same prize in 2012.
 

Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle

Author Jeanette Windle grew up as the daughter of missionaries in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now a hot-bed of hostility and political unrest. She is therefore the ideal author for a suspense thriller like Congo Dawn, with its international intrigue, corruption, and unforgiving brutality. read more

God’s Poetry by Anne Hamilton

Book God's Poetry

Short Book Description:
What’s in a name? Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But is that true? Are names simply labels to be swapped around indiscriminately? Or are they more significant? God’s Poetry is about identity and destiny as well as the ancient concept of the power of names to body forth purpose and meaning. It’s also about why most of us never come into the calling prophetically breathed into what we are called.
Genre: Non Fiction

My Review: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” claimed Shakespeare. Anne Hamilton would not agree.

God’s Poetry is in no way a book of poems, and it took me a while to understand where the author was coming from. The book is an extraordinary mix of historical facts, astonishing revelation and mind-blowing research woven together with what at first appear to be unrelated anecdotes. Yet the message is clear. The author believes that as we understand the meaning of our names, so we are able to find our true identity, and pursue our true calling as children of God.

On one hand, I found this book extremely well written, and therefore easy to read. On the other hand, I found it to be extremely deep, with some complicated examples that had me reading and re-reading as I tried to follow the author’s reasoning.

Anne is clearly passionate about names, and has been since a young age. I therefore think this would be a wonderful book for a person with a similar interest. If I had the time, I would like to take each example and thoroughly research it for myself. The author has done a great amount of research and presents her information in an unusual but appealing way.

I’m not sure I’m totally convinced by some of her hypotheses, but her point of the importance God attaches to names is a valid one—and she’s done the research, not me. I would recommend this book for someone with an interest in the topic, who is prepared to spend time digging into the many fascinating facts and theories Anne has to offer. And the cover is gorgeous!

Anne Hamilton
About the Author:
Anne Hamilton, a longtime writer and mathematician, has a number of publications to her name. Anne has a trilogy of short books about how maths integrates with God’s great creation called The Singing Silence The Winging Wor an The Listening Land. She has just had published her 27 year project a young adult fantasy Many-Coloured Realm.

 

Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby by Ray Hawkins

In 31 daily devotional meditations Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby takes you out of a sentimental nativity scene and into a contest with eternal significance.It walks you through God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 of Someone coming and the clues to His identity in the old Testament. You become aware that in the Christmas event that ‘Someone’ has come. read more