Thursday, August 15, 2019

Book Review: The Divided Nation by Angela Watts

Today I'm here with the blog tour for Angela Watts's new release, The Divided Nation! I'll be doing a review of her book, but first, let's learn a bit about Angela herself:

Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does. She’s a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel. She’s been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.


The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and officials of the United Nations thrive. West Johnston, heir to the most powerful ganglord in the country, refuses to continue the family legacy. But, in order to defeat his father, he must become him: bloodthirsty and willing to do whatever it takes for control.

West gains control by helping fellow gangsters, Nate and Simon, when they form an alliance with one of the last remaining townships in America. After years of surviving and winter fast approaching, Springtown is in desperate need of supplies from the two teenagers. When the town leader’s daughter, Rene’, is kidnapped by an unknown rival, Nate and Simon risk their reputations to save her and the town they now love. But without help from West, their rescue mission will fail.

Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world, and faith without courage is dust in the wind.

My rating: 

Wow. Wow, y'all. Now, that was a ride. Honestly, my first impression is that it's a replay of Angela's book Seek, but better. Is this a good thing? Yes and no. I didn't care for the fact that it seemed like she took Seek and just ballooned it up into something bigger. But the good thing was that it was better—her writing has definitely improved! (Not that Seek wasn't fabulous, but every author improves with each new book.)

The one other thing I didn't like was that it was so confoundedly confusing. As soon as I saw the glossary of characters, I knew that it'd be overwhelming . . . I just didn't realize how much so. Multiple different POVs, added to all the other side characters, was extremely confusing, and I kept mixing the characters up until I was over halfway into the book.

ALL THAT STUFF ASIDE. Now to the good stuff. *grins*

-The characters. Yes yes yes yes yes!! I know I just said all the characters were confusing—but it's the amount that was confusing, not the characters themselves. West (precious cinnamon roll!) was my baby. Probably my very favorite character (though so hard to pick!), but I also loved Gideon (why do I always love the bad guys??), and Rene' (though again, basically Angel from Seek), and Simon and Nate and Jack and *deep breath* I LOVE THESE PEEPS OKAY??

-Honestly I'm not a dystopian fan BUT this one was amazing. Probably because it only takes place 8 years into the future instead of 29128 . . . XD

-The themes of trusting God even when all else seems hopeless. Seriously, y'all, do I need to say anything else?? The book might've been a little preachy at times, but . . . I think for this story, it was good. Necessary even. In a story as blunt as this one, the salvation message also needs to be portrayed bluntly.

One more thing before you go—Angela is hosting a giveaway! 

1st place: hardback copy of The Divided Nation. A custom mug with a quote from the book, bookmark, and an exclusive snippet from The Infidel Books.
2nd place: paperback copy of The Divided Nation, bookmark.
3rd place: ebook copy of The Divided Nation.

Click on the image to be redirected to the giveaway.

Does The Divided Nation look like a book that you'd like to read? Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Book Review: The Boy Colonel by John J. Horn

The year is 1836. A mysterious young English soldier known as the “Boy Colonel” commands a crack regiment in the snowy wastelands of Siberia. No one knows his history. No one knows his name. The Cossacks want him dead—but are they the only ones? It seems his worst enemy may wear an English uniform.

The Boy Colonel strives to perform his duty, but when that duty becomes mixed he must decide which sovereign is greater — the king of England, or the God of the Bible. Treachery, intimidation, and deceit block his path. His choice of allegiance may mean the difference between life and death. Is he prepared to risk all to protect his loved ones?

My rating:

*Deep breath* Okay, um . . . I really wanted to give this book four stars. But I just . . . couldn't somehow?

I liked the plot. Really, really liked it, actually. A boy colonel with a background shrouded in mystery, loved by all in his command? And then later is injured (this may sound awful, but I *cough* like it when characters get injured. You can maim them—just don't kill 'em.), and fighting for his life, and *stops before I give away spoilers* um, yes, please!! 

But . . . somehow, I could never connect with any of the characters. The colonel was noble (pun intended, if you've read the book), likable, and an excellent leader. Edmund was the fabulous friend/sidekick. Jaques and O'Malley made me laugh more than once! Liana was super sweet.

But I could never relate to them.

Back to the plot—again, I loved the plot. But it never really drew me in, y'know? And I couldn't figure this out until I realized that it was the writing style. Mr. Horn's writing voice was like G.A Henty or Robert Luis Stevenson. Now, if I go into a book knowing that it's a classic, and expecting this style of writing, I'm more likely to enjoy it. I think the problem here is that this book is not a classic, so I wasn't expecting it to read like it did. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of this style, and thus the three stars.

What little romance there was I actually enjoyed! When the two characters loved each other, they weren't constantly making out, which was fabulous. But, I mean, it was set in 19th-century Siberia, soooo I guess that could have something to do with it.

If you enjoy classics, you'll definitely want to check this one out!

Have you ever read this book before? What was your favorite part?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Camp NaNo July: Recap

July is over, and with it, of course, Camp NaNo. I knew it was a bad idea to participate; I mean, between working, preparing for my upcoming release, among other things, I was hardly going to have time, wasn't I?

Well, I did it anyway. Did I win Camp NaNo July? No. I set my goal at half of what I'd set my goal in April . . . and I still failed. But that's okay. I went to real camp for a week, which kinda threw off my schedule, and when I came back, I decided not to continue to try for that goal. Nor did I lower my goal. Why? I know that some people lower their goals so that they can conquer NaNo, but I didn't. Maybe it's the tiny perfectionist in me telling me that it'd be a lie to lower my goal. Or maybe I'm just reminding myself that sometimes I just need to say no. Or maybe I didn't really care anymore.

Orrrr (and this is probably the most accurate one) maybe it's a combination of all three.

Either way, I did get over 10,000 words written (15,000 was my goal), so I'm super happy about it! And since I've done a couple of posts in July about my WIP, I thought I might give you a sort of Camp NaNo recap.

-I named one of the characters Smol.

-Spamming my writing partner with messages like 'OH PLOT TWIST' and 'my heart hurts rn' and 'okay imagine this' and 'PRETTY SURE WRITING THIS IS EVEN MORE HEARTBREAKING THAN READING IT . . . MAYBE'

-Main love language is insults (bc I mean it's guys . . . )

-Hit block for a day in week 2, yet somehow managed to write over 800 words the next day . . . ?

-Pretty sure the thing's 99% dialogue


-Approximately 18291% of this thing needs rewritten

-Writing scenes between a married couple (from the guy's POV) is awkward. And they'll probably get deleted.

-Apparently I got some sort of writing hangover in week one bc I wrote box as 'bocks'

So, yes, my Camp NaNo July in a nutshell. 

Did you participate in Camp? What was your favorite part (aside from your WIP itself) about it?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Book Review: Living Lies by Natalie Walters

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name—but no one knows your secret. At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.

Series: Book 1 of the Harbored Secrets series

My rating:

Living Lies certainly starts out with a bang! Opening right up with a murder mystery, I knew that this book would keep me right on my toes! The writing style kept me reading just as much as the plot, though—Ms. Walters knows how to spin a tale!

So, the characters. 

Lane . . . oh my word. Right away, I wanted to jump into the book and pull her into my arms and hide her from every ugly thing life has to throw at her. She is definitely a character that will pull on your heartstrings!
Noah—hold on to your hearts, ladies, before this five-year-old steals every one of them! He was so adorable, and to see him interacting with Lane and Charlie will either steal your heart or melt it. So definitely lock your heart up in a super tough shell if you don't want one (or both) of those things to happen.
Charlie. The slightly cliche, I'm-a-gentleman-that-won't-do-anything-to-hurt-you knight in shining armor. He was easy to like, but like I said, kinda cliche. The way he understood how Lane felt, though, and the way he wanted to help her added to the story so well.

Or, at least, it added to the story until they really fell in love. I don't want to hear about the rush of electricity or heat that you get when you touch each other, 'kay? I don't want your kisses described in detail.

Honestly, I reallllllyyyyy disliked the romance. It's not that Lane and Charlie didn't belong to each other—far from it! I just didn't like the way their attraction was described so much.

The themes in the book, though—suicide awareness. Self-love and respect. Your true worth. So, so much yes. Ten thousand-star plot but, in my opinion, 1- or 2-star romance. Thus, I'll just stick with 4 stars.

The mystery definitely kept me guessing, but that could be because I was pretty confused through a good bit of the book! I'm not sure whether or not this was the author's intent or not, but I'll lean towards not. Of course we're supposed to be confused as to who the actual culprit is, but not how all the pieces are tying together. Much of the time while the detectives were discussing things, or when certain scenes played out, I was left going, "Wait, what?" All in all, though, the mystery was fabulous.

So, yes. If you can handle heavy attraction, murder mysteries, and suicide, this book is for you!

I was given a free e-copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Will you be checking this book out? The themes are so good!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Beloved + Freedom: Blog Tour + ARC Signups

It's happening, y'all! The release date for my book, Beloved, and Faith Potts' newest, Freedom, is so close!! We want you to help us spread the word!

What is the 13 Reasons Why Blog Tour? Don't let that title freak you out! Since Netflix released the popular show 13 Reasons Why, there has been a lot of hoopla about it—both positive and negative. This blog tour isn't about the show, but about the subject: suicide. We are speaking out against suicide, both during the blog tour and in our books, while the show is portraying its opinion favorably on the subject. That is why this blog tour is called the 13 Reasons Why Blog Tour.

Not to mention that the blog tour will be overlapping Suicide Prevention Week. And that the release day is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Was this planned? *bows* Why yes, yes it was! Thank you for noticing!

So. If you have a blog, fill out that signup form! Signups close on Tuesday, August 20—two weeks from today!

If you don't have a blog, we still want you to participate! We are offering ARCs (advanced reader copies) to anyone who can have a review up on social media!

One last thing to mention! If you get a review posted by the end of the blog tour, you'll have extra points counted toward you in the upcoming giveaway!

Will you be joining us for the blog tour? We'd love to have you participate!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Book Review: Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson

Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she's discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

My rating:

I'd just like to start off by saying that the writing style was amazing! I was pulled into the story right away, even though it wasn't fast-moving, and at first I was sure that this would end up a 5-star read.

Well, it obviously went downhill.

I loved the characters of both Cassie and Gabe, and before Gabe found out that 'Turner' was actually a girl, I *really* enjoyed the book.

But then he found out her secret. And he couldn't stop noticing her perfect curves. Especially when she was in a dress—it just graced her feminine curves. And her full lips? *heart eyes* What made it all worse was that after almost every one of their detailed kisses, he had to pull back before he lost himself.

But it was quite obvious that he'd already lost himself.

Cassie and Gabe's ongoing argument about a woman's place seemed . . . I don't know . . . so *drawn-out*. She loved him. She kissed him. He said something that offended her and reminded her of her abusive father. She avoided him at all costs until an unexpected event (usually danger or injury to one of them) brought them back together. Repeat.

So what kept me from giving this book only 1 or 2 stars? When they weren't together (or thinking about each other . . . ) the story was amazing. The aspects of the civil war were so *real*. The author's writing voice was incredible. But all the romance kinda ruined the rest.

If you love historical romance and the Civil War, this book is for you! Will you try it out?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Book Haul: My TBR Pile

Ya know that huge stack of books (literally or figuratively, depending on the person) that you really want to read but just haven't gotten to it yet? I've got so many books I want to read—so many books, so little time, right?

I'm pretty sure I've got over a hundred books stashed in my room that I haven't read, so I'll list some of those here. Who knows? Maybe I'll have some for you to add to your TBR list! *devious grin*

The Boy Colonel by John J. Horn

The year is 1836. A mysterious young English colonel commands a crack regiment in the snowy wastes of Siberia. No one knows his history. No one knows his name. The Cossacks want him dead - but are they the only ones? It seems his worst enemy may wear an English uniform. 

The Boy Colonel strives to perform his duty, but when that duty becomes mixed he must decide which sovereign is greater - the king of England, or the God of the Bible. Treachery, intimidation, and deceit block his path. His choice of allegiance may mean the difference between life and death. Is he prepared to risk all to protect his loved ones? 

I got The Boy Colonel at a homeschool convention this spring, and I'm so excited to read it! Not to mention that this amazing cover looks even better in person!

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brien

It is the dawn of the nineteenth century; Britain is at war with Napoleon's France. Jack Aubrey, a young lieutenant in Nelson's navy, is promoted to command of H.M.S. Sophie, an old, slow brig unlikely to make his fortune. But Captain Aubrey is a brave and Gifted seaman, his thirst for adventure and victory immense. With the aid of his friend Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and secret intelligence agent, Aubrey and his crew engage in one thrilling battle after another, their journey culminating in a stunning clash with a might Spanish frigate against whose guns and manpower the tiny Sophie is hopelessly outmatched.

I don't even remember where I got this one. But it looked cool, and I'm curious to see what it's like!

Danger Close by William G. Boykin

Barely into his twenties and already a highly decorated military hero, Army Special Forces veteran Blake Kershaw is now going to college, studying while recuperating from wounds received in Afghanistan, and planning to re-enter the Army as an officer after graduation. But life tosses Blake a curve when his country approaches him about using his special skills to avert a terrorist plot to detonate a nuclear device in a major eastern U.S. city. To do that, he would need to become an operative deep within Al-Qaeda’s innermost circles—changing his entire identity, even his face. A true patriot, Blake makes the journey into a shadow world that leaves friends, family and, seemingly, even God far behind. But when things go terribly wrong, and his country looks set to destroy him, it is God and God’s people who intervene.

I got this one just last week in a gift shop at a restaurant we visited. It looks so cool, y'all.

The Messengers: Discovered by Lisa M. Clark

The Message worth dying for . . .
The government tells fifteen-year-old Simon Clay everything he needs to know. Except what really happened to his mom. And why no one can go out at night. And why the Darkness is so dangerous.
By day, Simon pushes against every boundary there is. And by night, secret visitors and hidden messages make him question everything his life entails.
There's a truth out there to be discovered, a truth the government will stop at nothing to stamp out. Join Simon and the Messengers as they risk their lives to protect it.

I'm not much of a fantasy/dystopian reader, so I'm a little leery of this one. It was a Christmas gift, though, and the cover is super cool, so I'll definitely have to give it a go.

Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury

Jack and Molly Campbell are enjoying and idyllic life with their four-year-old son Joey, and the close family and friends who live in their small hometown just outside Atlanta. One phone call from a social worker, however, changes everything. Joey's biological father has just been released from prison, and wants to start life over—with his son. A judge's quick decision deals a devastating blow to the Campbell family: Joey must be returned to his biological parents. In the days that follow, Jack Campbell has a desperate and dangerous thought. What if they can devise a way out? Then they could take Joey and disappear . . . like dandelion dust.

This one I got at a thrift store (slightly addicted to bargain shopping, especially for books). I've read a couple other books by Karen Kingsbury, one of them being Angels Walking, and . . . wow. Just wow. I'm definitely excited to give another Kingsbury book a try!

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

A graduation gift . . . ahhh, I've heard so many things about A Night Divided! And the spine is seriously so gorgeous sitting over there on my shelf . . .

Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn

Marc Royce works for the State Department on special assignments, most of them rather routine, until two CIA operatives go missing in Iraq—kidnapped by Taliban forces bent on generating chaos in the region. Two others also drop out of sight—a high-placed Iraqi civilian and an American woman providing humanitarian aid. Are the disappearances linked? Rumors circulate in a whirl of misinformation.
Marc must unravel the truth in a covert operation requiring utmost secrecy--from both the Americans and the insurgents. But even more secret than the undercover operation is the underground dialogue taking place between sworn enemies. Will the ultimate Reconciler between ancient enemies, current foes, and fanatical religious factions be heard?

I don't remember where I got this one. But it looks so goooood. And that cover!! *heart eyes*

Deep in the Heart by Gilbert Morris

They came to Texas to make their family whole. They fought for the land they'd come to love. An unforgettable saga of faith, love and loyalty that will find its place deep in your heart.
In the days when Texas was the northern edge of Mexico, when Bowie and Houston and Crockett were men and not yet legends, when the Alamo was still a scruffy mission on the banks of the San Antonio River, this unorthodox family struggled to make a wild but beautiful land their own.
This is the tale of Jerusalem Ann, who is willing to take whatever life dishes out in order to make a life for her family. It's the story of Clay, who finds himself protecting another man's family - and in love with another man's wife. It's about Jake, who loves two women and can't do right by either... and Julie, who'd rather be free than respectable... and Bowie, who can handle war but might not survive his first love. It's the story of Comanches and fiestas, hunting parties and courting parties, of battles and massacres and beautiful calm nights under a canopy of stars.
Wide as the prairies, warm as a San Antonia breeze, spiced with adventure and romance, this Texas-sized saga of faith from a beloved storyteller will quickly find its place deep in your heart.. and never let you go.

Now, I think this one's a used book store find. My sister-in-law recommended it, and I've read (and enjoyed) other books by Mr. Morris, so I'm looking forward to this one!

I've got so many other books waiting to be read, but yeah, these are a few of them. ;)

Have you read any of these books? Would you recommend them? Which one looks most interesting to you?