Friday, March 27, 2020

Review: Star of Persia by Jill Eileen Smith

To Purchase

In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness.

In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes's wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther's adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.

With her impeccable research and her imaginative flair, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the romantic, suspenseful, and beloved story of Esther, queen of Persia.

My Thoughts:

I have read a lot of Esther retellings and have enjoyed pieces and parts of each one. I have really never considered Esther a romantic love story, though the Bible does say the king loved Esther. I guess it may be because I didn't care for King Xerxes and the way he handled his kingdom- let too many choices (big and small) be made by his advisors. And these choices carried with them some hefty costs.

What made this story stand out? I liked how author Smith gave us the point of view of Vashti, the first wife and queen, and what she may have been feeling and thinking. Here is a woman that is only briefly mentioned and yet due to her one decision she is banished from her husband and Esther then will eventually take her place. I have read some novels where she is evil, but not this one. I liked how her story is told in Star of Persia. She was more than a backdrop, she was a woman living in a tumultuous time, and though she was queen she had her enemies. Then there was her husband...

I also like the handling of Xerxes. Scripture does not paint him in the best light nor does this story. In this story we get to see the vices that actually catches him into a trap and ultimately maybe due to this he learns a little bit of a lesson? 

Overall I really liked this retelling with the historical background along with Xerxes and Vashti's as well as Esther's points of view. 

I received a copy of this novel from Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Spotlight, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Byrd's-Eye View by Chautona Havig

About the Book

Book:  Bird’s Eye View
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre:  Fiction / Christian / Historical / Mystery
Release Date: February 18, 2020

If everything looks so perfect, how does she know it’s all wrong?

Madeline just wanted to learn to develop her own pictures. It seemed an innocent enough pastime until she sees something in the developer’s tray that piques her meddlesome curiosity.

Now she’s on the hunt for clues to spare a man’s life, and she might just land her father in hot political waters while she’s at it.

The fifth book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series, Byrd’s Eye View sees Madeline back at home in Rockland and determined to stay out of trouble, although that’s not likely to happen, is it?

Click here for you copy!

My Thoughts:

Author Havig is an author that both my daughters and I have enjoyed immensely. Whether it is her contemporary, fantasy, historical, or her mysterious- she has proven time and again she can write.

Byrds-s-Eye View is the fifth in the series called Meddlin' Madeline, and we are looking forward to its release. For more information on our thoughts about the other books, click on the links below. (please note these are older posts and giveaways no longer valid- please check at the end of this post for the current giveaway)

I was provided the first five chapters for my reading enjoyment by the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own. 

Sweet on You

Such a Tease

Fine Print

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.

More from Chautona

It’s Like This Book Didn’t Want to Be!

It’s an hour and a half from my mother’s old house in Missouri to the Springfield airport—a perfect distance for plotting out a book. So, when I had to drive back to swap out rental cars, I decided to work on the early 2020 books.  Up first… Madeline #5.

Often when I’m plotting out a new book, the first few minutes are kind of jumbled messes as I consider this plot point or that and get into a work flow, and that day was no exception.  However, by the time I hit the interstate again, I’d done it. Madeline would learn how to develop pictures in this one. The plot would revolve around that new skill.

By the time I hit Noel, I’d really come up with a cool book idea. I was so excited.  You have no idea. Then, as I passed Noel on my way to the hospital in Gravette, Arkansas, I stopped on the side of the road so I cold turn off the voice recorder and start working on another book.

The recorder was off.  All my “brilliant ideas” were gone.

Sometimes, I wish I was a crier. It would have been appropriate right there.  Just sayin’.

Determined to record the ideas all over again before I forgot them, I started the first few things, watching the recorder bars rise and fall with the inflection of my voice. It worked great.
The only problem was I couldn’t remember anything I’d come up with.  Photography. That was it.

That’s when I called my friend and wailed. 

Look, it had been a hard couple of weeks, a rough day, and now this. But, complaining about it offered enough catharsis that by the time I went back to Springfield the next week, I was able to record most of it again.  Some of it was actually better.

Little hint:  it usually is the second or third round of ideas.

By the time I’d finished, I knew what happened and what havoc it would cause, but not to whom or why. Enter Clark.

You know, the guy who made me split the first book into two separate books (you can read about that HERE), and the guy who tried to make things get really gruesome in book four (you can read about that HERE—halfway down the pageish—and be assured that I didn’t do it).

So, just as I was getting into Byrd’s Eye View, Clark and I met up at Denny’s to figure out how to make all the elements I had work.

My one issue became another one. Why became totally different from anything I’d considered. Who became a great reason for it to make things tough on Madeline’s father, and a previous thing I’d thought was a bit excessive became more so… and more believable at the same time.  How cool is that?

There was still one problem, though.

I wasn’t done with the book I needed to finish before I could immerse myself in this one.
And this book needed to be done yesterday.

Look, I had actually considered not doing this book until later in the year. For a few minutes, I wished that I had. But Madeline always comes out in February/March and I’d kind of like to keep it that way.  So…

Despite losing my notes, having plotter’s block, having Clark upset everything I’d planned and making it better… again.  It’s here.  And I think it’s my favorite one yet.  Who am I kidding?  Of course it is!

Blog Stops

Mary Hake, March 15
Back Porch Reads, March 16
Betti Mace, March 19
Carpe Diem, March 23
Bigreadersite, March 24
Lots of Helpers, March 25
Pause for Tales, March 26


To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of all five paperbacks in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal

To Purchase

A CIA case officer gets her plum assignment—Russia. It's the future she's dreamed of—but an attempted kidnapping, a traitor in the agency, and a crime syndicate involved in the worst forms of evil pull her back into the ragged edges of her past.

My Thoughts:

If you are looking for a thriller with plenty of espionage and secrecy in the government, and thrills and chases, then this is a read for you.

In a time of human trafficking and big money and coverups, CIA officer Talia is bent on getting to the truth: on who is trying to kill her, protecting her family, and saving a little girl and her classmates whom she has not event met- but she is willing to risk her life just the same. 

This series puts me in the mind of the TV show Covert Affairs. Yes mainly because of the CIA, but both have a young woman as the main character. I enjoyed that show when it was on and I have really been enjoying this series as well. The big difference, and the one I like the most, is that Talia has faith in God. In fact she even gets baptized in this story. What could have turned into a preachy lesson did not. The author handled the faith dimension well by showing it as the basis for everything Talia does. It is intriguing to me to read about a spy that has that solid bedrock faith in her God. 

I do wish their was more of a romantic aspect in this story. I am kind of wondering if certain things are being hinted at yet. I am not sure. So I will wait and see.

I received a copy of this novel from the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Review: One Little Lie by Colleen Coble

About the Book

Book:  One Little Lie
Author: Colleen Coble
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 3, 2020

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.
After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?
Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

Click here to get your copy.

My Thoughts:

Starting off with a dramatic prologue, we are instantly on the scene as a young girl of fifteen is about to give birth. Her parents are there rooting for her and all of this is part of a cult that her family is a part of. From those first few pages I was hooked.

The story picks up 15 years later and that girl is now a woman and a cop. And she's very smart and a tough cookie. Watching her work you would hardly guess her background. But others know, some good some bad. 

There is a lot of moving parts in this story. There are what appears to be vigilante murders. Police officers who seem to be hiding things. A father who will not open up to Jane about their past. And a really good looking but annoying documentarian by the name of Reid who will just not leave her alone.

I admit as I was drawn into the intricacy of this well thought out mystery, I had my guesses. I really hoped I was right with some of them. It just made the story deeper and more complicated, in a good way. This is a really good read by author Coble and it was an experience. I am looking forward to the next in this series and seeing how the larger story arc plays out. 

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. You can visit her website at

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, March 10
The Avid Reader, March 11
By The Book, March 12
Older & Smarter?, March 12
Remembrancy, March 12
Betti Mace, March 13
Emily Yager, March 13
Bigreadersite, March 14
CarpeDiem, March 15
Robin’s Nest, March 17
Stories By Gina, March 18
Mary Hake, March 18
Empowermoms, March 18
Hallie Reads, March 19
Quiet Quilter, March 20
Simple Harvest Reads, March 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Splashes of Joy, March 21
Moments, March 21
amandainpa, March 21
Pause for Tales, March 22