What happens to love in Starla’s Christmas Conundrum?

About the Book

Book: Starla’s Christmas Conundrum

Author: Carol E. Keen

Genre: Holiday Romance

Release date: July 5, 2018

Starla's Christmas Conundrum

In the greatest conflict of her life, can she figure out who to trust?

Starla Devaroux is at the peak of her music career. Life as a popular Christian music artist is good. This Christmas she finds herself at the crossroads of several life-altering choices. It’s quite a conundrum; the path she takes this time will not only define her future but alter the lives of others as well.

Click here to purchase your copy.

Book Review:

At 97 pages, Starla’s Christmas Conundrum was a whirlwind. There was a strong theme of Christian ethics and spiritual learning which I deeply appreciated. With no info dumping of backstory, the reader is basically thrown directly into the action.

One bit did slow down the reading and give you a moment to catch your breath when a chapter was spent describing the cabin Starla was staying in. Since I’ve been to Gatlinburg several times and had the luxury of staying in a cabin there, I will say the description was spot on and took me back so I could see once again the cabin where we stayed. It is a gorgeous location for a story.

Starla counts on her spiritual discernment to keep her from going astray, but not every answer is a clear-cut ‘yes, do this’ or ‘no, don’t do that’ which makes her character relatable.

For the longest time, the story was told from Starla’s perspective in third-person with moments of omnipotent reading. Toward the end, we’re suddenly given a flash of insight from Mason or Janice, but these are not clearly formatted and made the switches confusing until I realized what happened.

Starla’s journaling was my favorite aspect of the book. It’s there that we get true insight into her character and her fears.

I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

CarolKeenauthorphoto

Carol E. Keen enjoys fresh coffee, hot tea, and a good book. She was published for several years in FAMA magazine (Freshwater And Marine Aquarium) as a contributing editor. She published her first book on CD, called Simply Seahorses.
She is the author of The Beauty Series and The Corandira Station, to name a few of her works. She currently resides in the South with her husband and family and spends her time writing, reading, working in photography, and being with her much loved critters.

More from Carol

This book started off in an anthology and now is its own ebook. Christmas and romance go well together, and so I set forth to create a book that could meet that challenge. When I started thinking about writing this, it made me want to use one of my favorite locations as the main setting for this book. When you read it, I hope you will feel like you had a mini-trip to that area. (It’s beautiful there!) I also wanted to include writing about things that I’m very involved in or know a great deal about. Music is one of those things. I hope you enjoy Starla and Mason’s story and the things that God brought about in their lives in this book.

Blog Stops

My Devotional Thoughts, July 6

Artistic Nobody, July 6 (spotlight)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 7

Godly Book Reviews, July 8

Retrospective Spines, July 9

Splashes of Joy , July 10

Simple Harvest Reads, July 10 (spotlight)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 11

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 12

Texas Book-aholic, July 13

janicesbookreviews, July 14

Through the Fire Blogs, July 15

A Reader’s Brain, July 16

For Him and My Family, July 17

Inklings and notions, July 18

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 19

Power of Words, July 19 (Spotlight)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carol is giving away a grand prize of a $10 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e53f/starla-s-christmas-conundrum-celebration-tour-giveaway

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Could you survive the aftermath of the Pulse?

About the Book

Book: Pulse

Author: Linore Burkard

Genre: Christian YA/Apocalyptic Suspense

Release date: August 24, 2015

Pulse

What do you do when the whole world stops?

Andrea, Lexie and Sarah are just ordinary teens until a mysterious event shuts down all technology. In the dead of winter, there’s no heat, no internet, no cell phones–not even a working car.
In this chilling Christian YA tale, most of the population doesn’t survive. Pitting faith and grit against a world without power, the girls and their families must beat the odds. But can they find the strength to survive when society collapses and technology fails?

Click here to get your copy.

Book Review:

3.5 stars

Post-Apocalypse Christian Fiction, yes, please! I’m always looking for a new take on the Apocalypse and Pulse did not disappoint on the care and details given to how society would react to the loss of electronics. Having to survive on instinct created a different kind of monster for Andrea, Lexie, and Sarah to overcome.

Pulse did a wonderful job of creating a devastated world where electronics no longer function. What happens when stores shut down, cars don’t run, and you can’t call 9-1-1 when something goes wrong? And things will go wrong. Things will go incredibly wrong.

Humans are animals at heart. Survival of the fittest. Kill or be killed. They’re all explored in Pulse.

There are a few points that will offend some readers. Pulse does have a political bend and often makes rude remarks about government. But I can overlook that.

While enjoying Pulse, you’ll read the diary entries from three different girls and see how they fare from their perspective in different parts of the city. Now, we’re talking about the viewpoint of three sixteen-year-olds who’ve grown up having everything at their fingertips, and Burkard does an excellent job of making them sound their age. Pretty much, they’re snobby know-it-all’s, which got old fast but made their character arc intriguing as they learned to overcome the trials facing them.

Lexie was my favorite character. She and her family are ‘preppers’ so they’ve been preparing for something like this for years. When they’re threatened, they protect themselves. I have no qualms with that. I would probably react the same.

Since this is a series, I’m interested to see how the story progresses. Andrea, Sarah, and Lexie show great promise in their journeys and their paths will only become more difficult as the world continues to deteriorate.

For a YA novel, it could go either way. I personally don’t believe it is too dark for the younger generation, but that’s only my opinion. There are some uncomfortable situations brought up in Pulse, so read and recommend at your discretion.

I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Linore_Smaller

Linore Rose Burkard wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, Linore home-schools her youngest daughter, teaches workshops for writers, and is the Vice President of the Dayton Christian Scribes.  Her latest  PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a “chilling possible future for America, while affirming the power of faith in the darkest of times.”

More from Linore

When my sweet historical romance series was published, I never dreamed my next would be YA/dystopian. What a switch in genres! So, how did I go from one end of the writing spectrum to another? Blame it on an idea that refused to die. I read a headline about how close the earth came to suffering a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, in 2012. We missed the worst effects of a solar flare by a hair (in space terms); but the “what if” factor had been set in motion. What if that flare hadn’t missed us? What if I was a teen raised on electronics–or an adult medically dependent on them–and it all went dead in a matter of seconds? What if the next flare doesn’t miss? PULSE, the first book in my PULSE EFFEX Series, was born.

The books shows life in the aftermath of such an event for three teens and their families. With the world plunged into a new dark age, can they keep hope alive?

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, July 13

Through the Fire Blogs, July 14

amandainpa, July 14

Genesis 5020, July 15

Real World Bible Study, July 15

Retrospective Spines, July 16

Blogging With Carol, July 17

Artistic Nobody, July 17 (Spotlight)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 18

Inspired by fiction, July 19

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 19

Mary Hake, July 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 20

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 21

Pause for Tales, July 21

Inklings and notions, July 22

janicesbookreviews, July 23

Emily Yager, July 23

Ashley’s Bookshelf, July 24

Texas Book-aholic, July 25

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae, July 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 25

A Reader’s Brain, July 26

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linore is giving away the grand prize of an eBook copy of her book and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

https://promosimple.com/ps/e683/pulse-celebration-tour-giveaway

Can you ever come back once you’ve crossed Over the Line?

About the Book

Book: Over the Line

Author: Kelly Irvin

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 11, 2019

Over the LIne

In this high-stakes romantic suspense novel where tensions mount on both sides of the border, bestselling author Kelly Irvin explores what happens when the past explodes against the present and the only person you can turn to is the one who broke your heart.

When a college student dies at Gabriella’s feet after muttering her brother’s name, vicious gun smugglers believe she knows too much. And they’re determined to make sure she suffers the same fate. With no one else to turn to, Gabriella reunites with her former fiancé, homicide detective Eli Cavazos, to investigate the dead man’s murder and her brother’s disappearance.

In a desperate race against time, Gabriella and Eli are determined to clear her brother and find him before the gun smugglers can kill them both. Bit by bit, they tear away the masks worn by men masquerading as law-abiding citizens. No one can be trusted.

Working as a team forces Gabriella and Eli to face the problems that ended their relationship. She realizes she’s the one who needs to learn to forgive, but Eli must also learn to trust her with his secrets.

This ragtag team must fight a powerful ring of criminals protected by the very institutions that should prosecute them in an all-out battle that may cost them their lives.

Click here to grab your copy.

Book Review:

What happens when a former DA is forced to rely on her homicide detective ex-boyfriend? Well, for one, you get tons of tension and drama. Gabriella doesn’t trust Eli with her heart but she can trust him to keep her safe. Sounds like movie material to me.

Kelly Irvin brings current issues to life in Eli and Gabby’s gun-trafficking world of corrupt politics and border walls. I had a momentary ‘uh oh’ moment where I feared Over the Line might drop too deeply into politics, but it passed quickly enough while staying relevant to current society.

Eli stated my thoughts almost word for word when he says that if you outlaw guns, the only thing you do is leave law-abiding citizens defenseless. Criminals don’t obey the law to begin with so why would anyone think they would stop buying guns just because the law says so. That earned a fist pump which led to a raised eyebrow from my husband…he should be used to it by now, but I continue to surprise him.

Anyway, back to the book. Now, there’s an interesting twist to the romance roller coaster. Not only do we have Eli and Gabby struggling to overcome their romantic angst, but we have Natalie and Deacon in the beginning stages of romance, which is different and added some much needed lovey dovey moments while Gabby and Eli continued to circle one another snarling like starving dogs.

Speaking of Eli and Gabby, I do wish their resolution had come about sooner. After over three hundred pages of anger and resentment, I prefer more than a single chapter where all the bad comes pouring out and ta-daa! everyone forgives everyone for happily ever after. Personal preference, nothing against the author or the book.

I feel like I’m rambling and not providing a true book review…so here’s the skinny. Kelly Irvin has written a romantic suspense that will leave you clutching the couch cushions and staring out into the darkness of night for fear of what has happened to Jake. You’ll want to alternately shake sense into Gabby and Eli then applaud them for learning they must lean on God for shelter and forgiveness.

Her characters are rough-around-the-edges and could walk off the page into real life at any moment. I couldn’t put the book down and I anxiously await Kelly Irvin’s next page-turner.

I recommend this book for anyone who’s a fan of romantic suspense, particularly those who enjoy Rachel Dylan, Colleen Coble, or Nancy Mehl.

I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeepers Son received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors. Visit her online at KellyIrvin.com; Instagram: kelly_irvin; Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author; Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.

More from Kelly

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin turns the heat up on suspense with a setting in Laredo, Texas. Here’s a spicy chili to pair with the book while you’re reading.

(adapted from 1979 World’s Fair Chili Recipe)

3 lbs. round steak, chopped
3 lbs. chuck roast, chopped
6 T. vegetable oil
6 T. chili Powder
6 T. cumin
6 garlic cloves minced
2 whole onions, chopped
1 T. oregano
2 T. paprika
2 T. cider vinegar
4 ounces green chilies, diced
14 oz. stewed tomatoes (one can)
1 T. Tabasco sauce
2 T. cornmeal
3 c. beef broth
Pepper to taste
Brown meat in oil. Pepper to taste. Drain oil from meat, add chili pepper, cumin, garlic, and onion. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir often.
Add oregano, paprika, vinegar, 2 c. broth, green chilies, stewed tomatoes, and Tabasco sauce. Simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Stir often.
Dissolve cornmeal in one cup of beef broth. Pour into chili. Simmer another 30 minutes, stirring often. (Chili is done when meat is tender.)

Serves 8.

Kelly’s Note: My husband loves his chili with saltine crackers. I like Fritos. We all agree that chili should NOT have beans in it. My mom always made homemade cinnamon rolls to have for dessert when she made her chili. Hmmm. That sounds good. I’m off to the kitchen! Enjoy!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 9

A Baker’s Perspective, July 9

Emily Yager, July 10

Godly Book Reviews, July 10

Genesis 5020, July 11

Bigreadersite, July 11

Through the Fire Blogs, July 12

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 12

The Becca Files, July 13

For Him and My Family, July 13

Inklings and notions, July 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 14

Living Life Free in Christ,  July 14

Moments, July 15

Daysong Reflections, July 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 16

Hallie Reads, July 16

Remembrancy, July 17

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 17

By The Book, July 18

For the Love of Books, July 18

Real World Bible Study, July 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 19

Simple Harvest Reads, July 20

Texas Book-aholic, July 20

Pause for Tales, July 21

janicesbookreviews, July 21

Ashley’s Bookshelf, July 22

A Reader’s Brain, July 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kelly is giving away the grand prize of a copy of her book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e5a9/over-the-line-celebration-tour-giveaway

Author interview with Toni Shiloh!

Welcome Toni Shiloh to Thoughtful Thursday!

Today, I’m grateful to have accomplished author Toni Shiloh on the blog. If you’ve not read her books yet, I highly encourage you to pick one up. You won’t be disappointed. Toni has graciously given her time for an interview, and I know you’re anxious to find out a bit more about this fabulous author. So, here we go.

Do you have a favorite book that you have written? If yes, tell me about it.

            Oh it’s so hard to choose. I’ve loved each one for one reason or the other. But I will have to say that Risking Love has my favorite hero I’ve ever written. Shorty’s gentleness and steadfastness win me over with every line!

What do you find motivating when you’re deep into a story?

            Usually my characters’ transformation. When I’m in the middle and entrenched in the story, the characters give me the most heartache but it’s because they’re working through their issues. Knowing their transformation is coming keeps me pushing through.

If you could sit down with a few favorite authors, who would you invite?

            That’s so hard! I usually pick ones I haven’t met yet but it would be also great to have ones I consider friends as well. I’d love to meet Becky Wade in person. She’s still an author I have yet to meet in person. And my friend writers would be Andrea Boyd, Jaycee Weaver, Mikal Dawn, and Sarah Monzon.

Was there a specific moment when you knew you were meant to write?

            You know I think I knew when I wrote a few books and had them published. I started getting notes from readers who really understood the heart of the story. That’s when I knew for sure I was doing what I was called to do. Before that, it was a want and dream that I prayed God would bless.

Are you a pantser, plotter, or a mixture? Can you give some insight into your writing style?

            I’m so a pantser it’s not even funny. It surprises some people because I’m so structured in my other activities. However, I love the surprise that comes with reading and not knowing where the story goes. If I plot, that’s taken away and I no longer want to write the story.

As you can see, Toni has quite the lineup of books for your reading pleasure. Please go check them out and visit Toni’s wonderful settings and unforgettable characters.
There’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.

Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.

As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.
Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?

Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Freedom Lake to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise. 

Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken?
Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings. 

Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker. 

Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from?
A Proxy Wedding

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.

Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?


Hope Beyond Savannah

Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?
Previously seen in the Making Spirits Bright boxset.

Sidelined with a career-ending injury, wide receiver Jahleel Walker is forced to return to his hometown of Peachwood Bay, Georgia to heal. Nothing shocks him more than running into his high-school sweetheart, Lucille “Bebe” Gordon.

Bebe Gordon returned to Peachwood Bay three years ago with a divorce certificate and her daughter, Hope. When Jahleel returns, all the memories of the past come rushing back. She can’t decide if he’s changed or if her heart is holding onto past hurts.

Will Jahleel and Bebe take a chance on love or let life sidelined them at Christmas?
Mia is headed to the famed Nottingham for a month long vacation. She never imagined she’d run into her high-school sweetheart thousands of miles away from her home town. Why would God throw them back together?
Caleb always regretted the way things ended with his high-school girlfriend, Mia. After a chance encounter in the streets of Nottingham, Caleb feels God is giving him a second chance to right the wrongs he committed. Unbeknownst to him, Mia has secrets that may require his forgiveness. Will her past overshadow his wrongs?
As Mia and Caleb work through old hurts and broken hearts will they let the blessing of forgiveness redeem their relationship?
Previously seen in the Comfort & Joy boxset.

Kendall Jackson is the proud owner of Heartfalls’ bookstore, The Cozy Shelf. Her life is one straight out of the pages, except she’s missing that leading man. Although she has a crush on the handsome auto mechanic, Quinton Hendricks, Kendall wants an old-fashioned type of romance—the stuff swoon-worthy romance books are made of. But Quinton seems to need a little prodding.

Something about Kendall sparks hope in Quinton Hendricks that love could be his again. Only being abandoned by his ex-wife has made him cautious to the point of non-moving.

Can two people hesitant on second chances find love as they Deck the Shelves?
Will money ruin everything?

Nina Warrenton is ready for the next step in her life plan—marriage, but no one has proposed. Taking matters into her hand, she places an ad in the newspaper hoping to entice a willing stranger. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money.

Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant. When he sees Nina’s monetary offer for a husband, he goes for it. He’s determined to save the legacy his dad left him, but can he let it go to prove his love for her?

Can Nina and Dwight find true love, once money has entered the equation?
Delaney Jones has finally started to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after the death of her husband, Parker. Just as she adjusts to a new normal, in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. When she finally makes the decision to trust him, the world deals her a heavy blow.

Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson can’t get over his part in the death of Delaney’s husband. Hoping to assuage his guilt, he offers to lend a hand. He never counted on the feelings she evokes with just a smile. Will his secrets widen the gulf, or will he finally find absolution?

Praise for Finding Love:

“This second visit to the quaint community of Maple Run is even better than the first! Mouthwatering food, a swoon-inducing hero (complete with dimples and military uniform), adorable children, and a compelling heroine (complete with a great family and a yummy restaurant) – just one of those elements would be reason enough to love Finding Love. All of them together, plus a tender story of second chances and trusting God? Yes please!” 
~ Carrie Schmidt, Reading Is My SuperPower

“Toni Shiloh’s Finding Love is a sweet tale of overcoming fears to find not just love, but trust in the Lord. She weaves a powerful tale amid some beautiful romance and a few giggles, bringing a satisfied, swoony-sigh at its conclusion. I already want to revisit Maple Run to catch up with its sweet residents!” 
~ Mikal Dawn, author of Count Me In


“Ms. Shiloh has put together a compelling and heartwarming story that will make you smile One minute and hold your breath the next. Her attention to military details opens a window for the reader to take a glimpse into the private life of our service members. She sheds light on the struggles as well as the fears of their families here at home. My hats off and deepest gratitude to all who serve and prayers for those who make that sacrifice.”
~Melissa Wardwell, Author of Finding Hope in Savannah
“There comes a point in every woman’s life where she must decide what to believe: the truth of the past or the circumstances of the present.” 

Belle Peterson is hiding a secret. Seeking sanctuary in the small town of Maple Run, she’s intent on starting her life over—one she hopes honors Christ. The plan was going great until an undeniable attraction to Micah has her wondering if she’s changed at all.

Micah Campbell can’t understand why Belle is so uptight and wants nothing to do with her until the gentle whispers of God tell him to befriend her. He didn’t count on the feeling of protectiveness to rise up or that spark of attraction.

When Belle’s past is revealed, Micah prays that his love can endure it.
Nikki lives with a perfect trifecta of noes. No guys. No dates. No way. After years of keeping men at bay, Nikki Gordon has it down to a science. No one, not even the sweet, hunky Shorty Smalls can change her mind. Period. So if she’s got it all figured out, why does her heart sink to her toes when she sees Shorty with another woman? Read Risking Love today and see what happens when you risk your heart to the care of a good man.

What happens when Hadassah’s dreams and God’s plans don’t match?

About the Book

Book: Hadassah

Author: Diana Wallis Taylor

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: July 2, 2019

Hadassah

One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.
She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request.

Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen.

Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing.

Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia imagines what life was like for the woman who saved her people—and perhaps found love in the process.

Click here to grab your copy!

Book Review:

We’ve likely all been there at some point. You know what you want for your life, but then it all gets blown to smithereens as God’s plan comes into effect. I feel that’s how Hadassah’s story went. She had dreams of marrying a nice young man, raising a family, and living out her years near Mordecai.

Instead, she becomes Queen, has no children but becomes responsible for saving the Jewish nation. God’s plans are always better than our dreams.

Biblical retellings are always complicated to review, at least for me. I give the author credit for sticking to the Bible’s version of events. I also applaud her use of creativity in filling in the gaps of Hadassah’s early years and her years after saving the Jews. Dianna Wallis Taylor built a lifetime of events for Hadassah, ensuring the reader would not be left with a half-complete story.

That being said, I do wish there was more depth to the characters. I felt feelings were glossed over, or ignored, for the sake of moving forward on the timeline. While I enjoyed the rich details of the surroundings, foods, and journeys, I wish as much detail had gone into showing the motivations and thought processes of Hadassah. God gave Hadassah a mission, but we never see her struggle with the decision. She knows she’s risking her life, she should be terrified. I do have to take notice of her graceful acceptance though. Just because my inner monologue would be frantic doesn’t mean Hadassah felt the same.

I took away a moment of clarity from Hadassah. We are created for a purpose. There is no ‘set it and forget it’ when it comes to God’s plans for our lives. Yes, we have a choice, and Hadassah’s story might seem like she got the raw end of the deal. But give yourself a minute to think about it. She became queen and saved an entire nation of people. Every moment in her life led her to that point.

Diana Wallis Taylor created a beautifully scripted plot of intrigue around a beloved Bible character and offered a story that had me grabbing my Bible in a desire to learn more.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys Biblical retellings. The writing voice is crisp, strong, and rich with detail. You’ll get lost in the surroundings as you fall in love with her characters.

I requested a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to leave a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Wallis-Taylor, Diana

Diana Wallis Taylor was first published at the age of twelve, when she sold a poem to a church newsletter. After receiving her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University, she was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. Diana has also sold real estate, opened two coffeehouse/used book stores, and was a conference director for a private Christian college.
She has an extensive portfolio of published works, including a collection of poetry; an Easter cantata, written with a musical collaborator; contributions to various magazines and compilations; and several books, including Lydia, Woman of PhilippiMary, Chosen of GodRuth, Mother of Kings; and Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business?

Learn more at www.dianawallistaylor.com.

Read an Excerpt

Besides the usual vendors, there were strange, sweaty men with beady eyes who were looking to get rich from the additional population.

In the wee hours of the morning, while Mordecai sat with his head in his hands, silently praying, Jerusha stopped breathing, slipping away so quietly that Hadassah thought she was still sleeping.

One day, to the people’s relief, the news was spread that the unwelcome banquet guests had been ordered back to their provinces—to prepare for war.

Instead of bowing, Hadassah smiled unabashedly and gazed directly at the king, who at that moment had turned his head.

“Do not give your name as Hadassah, but tell them it is Esther, which is a Persian name. I would have you hide your Jewish heritage for now.”

She felt their eyes silently appraising her; some with open interest, some with sympathy, and others with calculating shrewdness.

Esther asked each maid gentle, innocuous questions about her homeland, favorite foods, culture, and the like, listening attentively to their answers and making sure to speak to them by name both to let them know they were important to her and also to help her remember who was who.

“If you maidens help me to be my very best when I am called to the king’s chambers, if he honors me by selecting me as his queen, I will not forget you, who helped to put the crown on my head.”

Esther had seen some of the women pass her quarters so laden with jewelry they could hardly walk. She wanted to laugh out loud, but suppressed even a smile.

Recognition came. “Ah, the maiden in the crowd. I thought about you many times.” He moved closer. “I remember your hair, like a cloud around your face.”

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, July 4

Retrospective Spines, July 4

Hallie Reads, July 4

My Devotional Thoughts, July 5

Through the Lens of Scripture, July 5

For The Love of Books, July 5

Fiction Aficionado, July 6

The Becca Files, July 6

For Him and My Family, July 6

EmpowerMoms, July 7

Madeline Hope, July 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7

A Baker’s Perspective, July 8

Godly Book Reviews, July 8

Moments, July 8

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 9

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 9

Emily Yager, July 9

Aryn the Libraryan, July 10

Purposeful Learning, July 10

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 10

Through the Fire Blogs, July 10

Lights in a Dark World, July 11

Mary Hake, July 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 11

Splashes of Joy, July 12

Simple Harvest Reads, July 12 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 12

Bigreadersite, July 13

Pause for Tales, July 13

Texas Book-aholic, July 13

Creating Romance, July 14

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 14

janicesbookreviews, July 14

Older & Smarter?, July 15

She Lives To Read, July 15

A Reader’s Brain, July 15

For the Love of Literature, July 16

Just the Write Escape, July 16

Inklings and notions, July 16

Henry Happens, July 17

Hebrews 12 Endurance, July 17

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 17

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks card and a surprise book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e5a0/hadassah-celebration-tour-giveaway