Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gift Acquistitions + Birthday + Thank-Yous!

This last Sunday was, happily, my 14th birthday. My, am I getting old! (wink, wink)

Anyways, I received tons of gifts from my family on my birthday - books, books, and more books. Okay, that's not all I got. I wanted to share with you all some of the surprising (and wonderful!) things that I got this year.

First off, I got a beautiful, New Living Translation, Girls Application Study Bible from my mom. Isn't it lovely? (I needed this!) :)

Plus this pretty bookmark with my initial on it. (It will get well-used!)

The Star Wars Trilogy, by George Lucas, from Mom, in a beautifully done hardback edition.

These great movies are from different people: Love's Christmas Journey, Come Dance at My Wedding, and When Calls the Heart are from my wonderful grandparents, Beauty and the Beast (two-disc edition with special bonus features!) from my sister, Ashley, and last, but not least, Tangled (which I just watched again today!) from my amazing mom! Thank you, guys!
*Surprise* I got an amazing new HP Elitebook computer from my Dad! Awesome, right? This is going to be used - everyday. I am using it now, actually! :) Huge thanks to him for giving me something that I was totally not expecting and I've wanted for a long time.

The internet connection, those two other do-dads, and the volume and mute buttons are touch screen. So, I accidentally turned off the wireless internet without knowing it and had my sister and I confused for a bit. Yup... #mistakesweremade :P Plus, I couldn't figure out to use the volume for a while - you slide, people, slide.

My sister, Ashley, also got me this super awesome (pretty, too!) leather journal with no lines. It is wonderful (and also reminds me of Tangled, what with the gold stars and purple coloring.) I will be using this to write down ideas for future books, when traveling, and also to draw, since there isn't any lines. Thanks, Ash!
This beautiful design on the bottom and top of the pages was hand-painted!
I also got a bunch of other books from my grandparents and my dad, plus some other things, including some new Anthem Lights merchandise, a super cool new backpack/carry case for my computer (which will also be toting books) from my sister-in-law, a super cute new outfit from my mom, and awesome new rollerblades (that I love) from my little brother, Jeremiah. #Iambeyondblessed
HUGE shout out to everyone who made my day special, especially my family - Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Ashley, my little bro, Jeremiah, my big brother Jesse (who celebrated his birthday the day after mine!), Jesse's wife, Jacqueline, my nephew, Nathaniel, and my adorable niece, Stephanie - and all the people who posted on my timeline. :)
I also wanted to thank Alicia Willis for posting on my Facebook page, and sending me a free e-book copy of her book, To Birmingham Castle. That was so sweet and thoughtful! Almost brought me to tears. ;)
Y'all rock!
Now onto the weekend - which happens to be Ashley's birthday. Will they never end? :)#ItslikeChristmasinJuly

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Broken Lens Productions

Braden and his younger brother, Blaine

"Ramblings of a mostly-socialized homeschooler, short vignettes concerning the weirdness of the world we live in, and more than the occasional dash of randomness." - From the 'About' section of this totally awesome (somewhat random, I guess) YouTube Channel, Broken Lens Productions

I have recently discovered this wonderful, funny YouTube channel: Broken Lens Productions. Run by Braden Russell - a Christian, homeschool graduate, writer, musician, and the guy behind all those hilarious videos on the aforementioned YouTube channel. They are clean, laugh-out-loud funny videos that are there simply to make you smile. Some of the videos are based on things like: the dangers of homeschooling, how hugs are awkward, how to find (and give) the perfect Valentines Day gift to that fiancĂ©, wife, mother, sister, etc. in your life, and a bunch of other odds and ends that will have you cracking up laughing in no time. Seriously...just wait and see (or is that 'watch and see'?)...

Braden Russell also has a blog - The Storymonger - where he gives advice on writing based on his own experiences. He is actually in the middle of Camp NaNoWriMo... (National Novel Writing Month is known affectionately as NaNoWriMo - one month every year where people around America attempt the challenge of writing a big, fat novel in the space of thirty days. I believe they can also set goals for themselves instead of completing the whole thing (such as: 30,000 words). Yes, it has been more than one person...). I applaud Braden for tackling such a feat - it's something that I hope to accomplish in the not-too-distant future. :)

Back to Broken Lens...

This channel is absolutely fantastic - I'm a fan. Here are some of my favorite videos:

The 72 Hour Novel

This is actually the first of Braden Russell's videos that I ever watched...thanks to Perry Elisabeth on the blog, Word Painters! 

Awkward Hugs

'Cause hugs can be awkward...I guess...

Socialized = Girlfriends

The Dangers of Homeschooling

I hope you have enjoyed all these videos. Here's a tidbit of exciting news for you: There is 'The Dangers of Homeschooling 2' in the works!

If you enjoyed these videos (there are lots more!), you can check out and subscribe to Broken Lens Productions, subscribe to Braden's blog, The Storymonger, like Broken Lens Productions's Facebook page, and go enjoy all of those videos!

And....guess who recently followed me on Twitter!? Braden Russell.

You can subscribe to get email updates about my blogposts here!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quote of the Week

"When you read, you can have every adventure. In the pages of a book you can be anyone you ever dreamed of being...They can never tell you you're too young to slay the dragon because it all happens right here - where it's safe." - Janette Oke

Monday, July 21, 2014

Do People Really Judge a Book by its Cover?

The cover of a book says a lot about the story within... 

Yes, people really do judge a book by its cover - and I should know, because, surprisingly, I am one of those people. I oftentimes don't want to read or do want to read a book based on what the front looks like. The cover is the advertisement, so to speak - it is what draws people in, makes them pick up the book and scan the back in hopes of finding one to take home with them. That old saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover' isn't often heeded advice. :)

A book cover should tell the story that is within the novel. 

So what do I look for in a book cover?
  1. Professionalism
  2. Real People
  3. Bright Colors
  4. (Nice Font is a plus too)

Here are a few of my favorite book covers:

Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride

Melanie Dickerson's The Captive Maiden

John J. Horn's Brothers at Arms

I love all of Karen Witemeyer's book covers (whoever does hers is amazing!) and John Horn's, as well. 

What do you look for in a book cover?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pride and Prejudice Review

Pride and Prejudice
By: Jane Austen
Rating: 3 stars
Ages: 13 and up 

I adore the movie inspired by this book, Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen created fascinating, wonderful characters that I really like. Pride and Prejudice has been a long-time classic loved by generations of girls like myself. What makes this story so fascinating? The enthralling romance. Tons of dialogue. Incredibly real-in-their-decisions characters - Pride and Prejudice is undoubtedly fun. I found myself anticipating the wonderful conclusion, smiling and laughing at some of Mr. Collin's rediculousness, and really wanting to watch the movie. :) 

Pride and Prejudice is quite fascinating. The story moved along easily and (if you read over a hundred pages in one day, like I did), moved quickly. The story was dynamic, sweet, and interesting.


Elizabeth Bennet (main character) was vivacious, to say the least. She was bold and showed it quite often. She's reasonable, and her actions and sentiments were very understandable. A great heroine.

Fitzwilliam Darcy ('hero' of the story) was such a different kind of male character than what I see in books today. At first, he seems proud and self-centered, and he looks down at others for inferiority of birth, lack of wealth, etc. But underneath is such a loveable character. The true Mr. Darcy finally comes out in the last third of the story, leaving you smiling. He changed so much from the first page he entered the story to the last.

Mr. Whickam (most villanious character) is eventually proven to be a blackguardly fellow, but doesn't appear to be so. He was more dimensional than most villians are created to be. Really, though, I didn't like him.

Mr. Collins (Elizabeth's cousin) was so much more annoying in the movie! In the book he was actually a tall young man. (In the movie he is short, has a nail-on-chalkboard voice, and isn't very handsome.) An interesting character who added to the plot and was memorable.

Mrs. Bennet - a most irritating and disturbing character. The only important thing in her life is to see her daughters married well-off - that is practically her only focus at all. Terrily rude, nervous, and so changing in attitude. The poor girls who had her as a mother!

Lydia Bennet (Elizabeth's youngest sister) was most bothersome and...annoying. Most annoying. Really, she was a cringe-worthy character.


I enjoyed the book, but the movie will always hold first place in my heart. I would recommend it to classical literature readers.

Also, two of the quotes I like from Pride and Prejudice are:

"A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." (Mr. Darcy)

"Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion."

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer's finally here!

When I think of the word 'summer' these things come to mind: sunshine, flip-flops, going to the beach (or pool), sunglasses, good books, and music. Don't forget sunscreen (and aloe vera) - I just got sunburnt yesterday. :)
But, seriously, what do you think of when it comes to summer? What books do you like to read? What music do you like to listen to? Here are a few books I'd like to read over the summer, and a few songs that are on my playlist:

Happily ever after...or happily nevermore?

Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten - the boy she has daydreamed about for years - and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

The Captive Maiden is a Christian retelling of the story of Cinderella. I have already two of Mrs. Dickerson's novels, so I am looking forward to reading the rest of hers, but especially this one. (Isn't her dress gorgeous?)

Nothing in her cultured Eastern upbringing prepared Elizabeth for a teaching position in the Canadian West. Despite the many hardships, she cares deeply for the schoolchildren, but she is determined not to open her heart to any of the local frontiersmen. Then she meets a certain member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police...

I love the T.V. series on Hallmark, and I've heard great things about Janette Oke, so I'm excited to begin this series.

I have really enjoyed the two novels I've read from the talented author, Alicia Willis (Remembering the Alamo, and God of Her Fathers), so I'm looking forward to reading her latest novel (to be released July 18th) set in Ancient Rome. This would only be the third novel I've read set in that time, so we'll see how it goes! :)

And possibly a few other books...

But what could be on my 'Go-To Music' list? Here are a couple of amazing songs that I can't stop listening to:

Colton Dixon - "Love Has Come For Me"

Colton Dixon - "More of You"

for KING & COUNTRY - "It's Not Over Yet"

for KING & COUNTRY - "Fix My Eyes"

Anthem Lights (cover of Gavin Degraw's song) - "Everything Will Change"

I hope you like the songs, and get a chance to read those books, too.  Enjoy your summer, however hot and sunny it may be!

Tangled Review - A Disney Fairytale

5 stars
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and Donna Murphy
Release Date: November 24, 2010 
Running time: 1h 40m

When the kingdom's most wanted - and most charming - bandit, Flynn Rider, hides out in a mysterious tower, he's taken hostage by Rapunzel, a beautiful and feisty tower-bound teen with 70 feet of magical, golden hair. Flynn's curious captor, who's looking for her ticket out of the tower where she's been locked away for years, strikes a deal with the handsome thief and the unlikely duo sets off on an action-packed escapade, complete with a super-cop horse, an over-protective chameleon and a gruff gang of pub thugs. Tangled is a story of adventure, heart, humor and hair -- lots of hair. 

My absolute favorite princess fairytale from Disney is Rapunzel’s story: Tangled. I won’t say it charmed me immediately, because I first watched it when I was younger, and I hated the witch, so, naturally I had a hard time watching the movie at all. My older sister loved it, though, and I never understood why. (As you can see, Mother Gothel totally spoiled the whole thing for me).

But, not too long ago, it was on regular T.V., so the whole family agreed to watching it again. Boy, am I glad we did! I fell in love with it! Surprised? So was I!                                                        

Tangled is charming, energetic, magical, funny, sweet, and romantic. It has all the elements to make the perfect Disney princess movie. I even prefer it over Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella! *Shock* I just think it's such a great movie!

Flynn and Max
I love Flynn Rider (a.k.a Eugene), played by Zachary Levi. His humorous attitude, smolder, and the mishaps that befall him never fail to make me laugh. Disney really hit a home run when they created him. To me, Flynn is one of the most memorable Disney heroes to ever come on screen. His incredible sacrifice of giving his life to save Rapunzel from slavery showed his unsurmountable love for her. He’s definitely a ‘swoon worthy’ Disney prince. 

Rapunzel, played by Mandy Moore, is beautiful, sweet, spunky, independent, and absolutely charming. She’s a brilliant Disney princess, with a huge heart, big dreams, and a head full of hair - lots and lots of hair. Again, she is one of the most memorable, and best, Disney princesses of all time. Plus, Rapunzel has one of the prettiest voices - I’ll enjoy getting to go back to the movie time and time again to listen to the music. (Or YouTube works too…)

Tangled has the feel of a classic Disney princess movie - the characters, the setting, the story, the songs. The bright colors and wonderful animation make it a really fun movie to watch over and over again. 

Tangled is a beautiful masterpiece - one of the best Disney movies I’ve seen yet! I adore it and the characters therein. 

But, sadly, they just can't get Flynn's nose right... :)

Quote of the Week

In honor of July 4th - Independence Day - I have decided to do three quotes this week instead of one. One from General Douglas MacArthur, the others from President Ronald W. Reagan - both great men who fought for great causes.

President Ronald Reagan
"It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. So with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our
determination, our courage and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams...And, after all, why shouldn't we believe it, we are Americans." - Ronald Reagan

"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free." - Ronald Reagan

Douglas MacArthur
"Duty - Honor - Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you can be, what you ought to be, what you will be. They are your rallying points; to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn..." - General Douglas MacArthur

Thursday, July 3, 2014

John J. Horn - Author

John J. Horn
Who is John J. Horn, you may ask? John J. Horn happens to be my all-time favorite author. How do I know of him? I came across his adventure novel, The Boy Colonel: A Soldier Without a Name, while flipping through a book catalog. The cover and description drew me in. I ordered a copy - and, I have to say, that was one of the best decisions of my book-life I have ever made. :) Ever since then, I have been captivated by his gritty historical adventure stories. They amaze me, inspire me, touch me - and, I absolutely adore and recommend them. Pick up one of his books. You will not be sorry. I honestly am unsure of how to describe how much I love the Men of Grit series. Simply put, this author and his books are amazing. Any new novels of his are immediately put on To-Read list on GoodReads. Now, I could go on and on about how much I love John Horn's novels, but let's get the story rolling here...

John Josiah Horn is a homeschool graduate and a Christian, no exceptions. He grew up on the East Coast and transplanted to sunny South Texas - San Antonio, to be more precise. He works in the retail and publishing industry by day, and pounds on a keyboard by night. He has currently released three of his own novels (which I will tell you about in a minute), and adapted three of the Jonathan Park radio dramas into full length books (with help from Pat Roy).

John Horn grew up reading the adventure novels from great men such as G.A. Henty, R.M. Ballantyne, Jules Verne, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and Robert Louis Stevenson (I can really see some similarities between him and Ballantyne). He also became the sole editor on the blog, Ballantyne the Brave, at sixteen. He posted on Ballantyne the Brave from 2009 until 2012, when, in September of 2012, he released his first two novels through Vision Forum. Yes, not just one, but two novels. Inspiring, wouldn't ya say? He has since then released the third book in the Men of Grit series in October of 2013. I was actually fortunate enough to get a signed copy of the third book from John J. Horn himself. 

John J. Horn writes hair-raising, Christ-centered Historical Adventure Fiction set in Victorian Era England (1837 - 1901) - a time brimming with mystery, unexplored territories,  burgeoning technologies, Old World fighting tactics, and the ever present need for manly men of honor and courage...

His novels: 

Brothers at Arms: Treasure and Treachery in the Amazon

Lawrence and Chester Stoning are twins, but like Jacob and Esau of old they have little else in common. Lawrence is a realist, fascinated by the study of science, mathematics, and history, while Chester longs for knightly adventures of chivalrous times past - hard-fought battles, gold-filled caves, damsels in distress.

When Chester's impetuosity engages the unlikely pair as bodyguards to a Spaniard and his beautiful ward, Pacarina, the twins quickly realize that the 19th century calls for a chivalry of its own. Protecting Pacarina's secret leads all of them into the steaming jungles and dizzying mountains of Peru, a foreboding territory made all the more dangerous by Lawrence and Chester's strivings against each other. Can the twins learn to trust God and work together before it's too late? Or will they fall prey to the mysterious schemes of Pacarina's enemy - an enemy they know nothing about?

The Boy Colonel: A Soldier Without a Name

The year is 1836. A mysterious young English solder known as the "Boy 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 decided 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?

Secret of the Lost Settlement: The Duty of Warriors

Colonel Nobody (The Boy Colonel) and the Stoning twins (Brothers at Arms) are back! Outlawed for a crime he did not commit, the "Boy Colonel" must seek pardon by finding witnessed to his supposed crime in the whaling fleet off Greenland's coast. But his plans go awry when his search amidst the fjords and shifting ice-mountains leads him into a hidden valley peopled by descendants of a Roman expedition lost during Nero's reign.

When twins Lawrence and Chester Stoning arrive with news of Queen Victoria's ultimatum, Colonel Nobody must decide whether to stay and protect the colony's persecuted Christians or venture to escape with the proof needed to save his best friend from hanging. Or will he survive the settlement's horrors long enough to do either?

You can check out Mr. Horn's website, become a fan of his on GoodReads, and read this cool interview with Sarah Holman on the blog, Homeschool Authors.

Oh! And don't forget to read and review all the amazing books of John's listed above! Vision Forum (his publisher) shut down as of late 2013, though, so his books aren't being printed right now. But let's keep praying he'll get a new publisher soon so many more readers can enjoy his books! (You can also scour the internet in search of copies of his novels, but many of the prices are pretty ridiculous!)

I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about John J. Horn! Be looking out for more posts on authors and their books. (And each book in the Men of Grit series I will be reviewing soon.)

Now, I have some books to finish reading... :)

Well, (as John J. Horn would say!) until next time...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Family Reunion Review

Family Reunion 
By: Kelsey Bryant
Rating: 3 stars
Ages: 10 and up

Every word, every moment matters...

Welcome to the Austin Family Reunion! 14-year-old Marielle Austin's parents and grandparents are hosting family for a week in the Texas hill country, and Marielle's five girl cousins are staying at her house. Emma and Caroline are her best friends - like her, they're homeschooled and passionate about the Lord, the past, and books. Abby, Kailey, and Reanna are from Wisconsin and just as far away in background and interests - what's hot in the world now is what matters to them. 

Grandpa Will Austin has devised a series of projects for the six of them to complete. There's a shed to fix up, a missionary to interview, and a trail of clues to solve, leading to a treasure. If they finish by the end of the week and work together with love and understanding, they'll earn a prize beyond anything they could imagine! But difficulties surface right away. Bad attitudes and work ethics seem all Abby, Kailey, and Reanna can offer. Marielle, Emma, and Caroline are at a loss - what can they do to push the projects through? And more importantly, what can they do about their cousins, who won't welcome their friendship? How can they show love when it's hard even to feel it? Will the mysterious prize slip away, and with it any chance of relationship?

Family Reunion by Kelsey Bryant was a fun, clean read. It was light, but it also had some deeper points that teach lessons. It had a simple storyline, but a strong underlying message - forgiveness, loving others, and seeing what we have in common with those around us. This book showed how real life is! The three girls from Texas - Marielle, Emma, and Caroline - have to overcome their differences with their three girl cousins from Wisconsin - Abby, Kailey, and Reanna. And, boy, what a ride it is! 


Marielle Austin isn't your typical teenage girl. She's a very relatable character to someone like me. She's homeschooled, a strong Christian, and enjoys history, books, classical music, and spending time in nature - all things I enjoy. I was actually instantly surprised with how relatable she was. Her sentiments toward and struggle with Abby, Kailey, and Reanna was so realistic. It would have been extremely hard in her situation. I can honestly say that all the characters were very realistic. 

Caroline Austin  - I could relate to Caroline more than I could all the others. Maybe it's because we're the same age - thirteen. She was dynamic and bold. Her reactions and feelings portrayed throughout the book were so understandable (with all the other characters as well). 

Emma Austin - sweet, sensitive to those around her, and sensible! I would say she was the wisest and most sensible girl in the book.  

Kailey Austin was, frustratingly enough, probably a good portrayal of a typical fifteen-year-old girl. I have to say I was annoyed with her throughout most of the book. I wish she would've stopped saying 'like' all the time! She did get better in the end, though.

Reanna Austin was by far my favorite of the Wisconsin girl cousins. She actually had a good head on her shoulders. She was shy, quiet, sweet, loved music, and was friendly to Marielle. It would be hard not to like her.

Abigail "Abby" Austin, the elder sister of Kailey, was a good character. I say that honestly. She was realistic. Her character made for some obstacles, but she was so much better in the end!


I was so happy with the end when Reanna finally came around! That was one of my favorite parts. It was so refreshing after all of the trouble everyone was having with each other when she admitted she had been wrong and accepted Marielle, Emma, and Caroline's apology. I was also really happy with Abby in the end. She was so much better than she was when the book first started! I enjoyed the references to classical and Celtic music, and also the references to Narnia and C.S. Lewis - I love The Chronicles of Narnia!

Two things I want to say, though, is that, for a book of its genre, with no action, it was a bit long. And, also, I really felt all the while that the girls should have talked to their grandfather about the hard time they were having and that he would have completely understood - but their not wanting to upset their chances at getting the prize and their wanting to deal with it themselves and be responsible was understandable.

I enjoyed and liked Family Reunion. It was a very godly book! I would recommend it to any Christian girl looking for a read with real-to-life characters and a strong Christian message. It teaches some good lessons that we need to hear.

Fiction Releases I'm Looking Forward To!

The Princess Spy - Melanie Dickerson
(November 4, 2014)

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha  - one of the few who speaks his language - understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin's message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself "Lord Colin" is just and addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. 

Margaretha knows she could never be a spy - not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgement about not only Colin, but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook's wicked plot.

(August 5, 2014)

In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

(I was really taken with the beautiful cover!)

Decadent Rome, 61 Anno Domini. The masters of the universe have crushed the Iceni rebellion with an iron hand, slaughtering and enslaving her people. For Philip, his existence as a captive means living to hatred. He despises his rich, young master, resenting his life of servitude and the wrestling feats Marcus forces him to perform. Bitterness engulfs his soul until he only lives for the day when he will crush the might of Rome. 

Then Christianity enters the picture. Taught by a Jewish bread maker to know the man called Christus, Philip begins the struggle to forgive and honor his master. But forgiveness is not easy towards one who lives for himself. 

Marcus Virginius knows nothing but power and pleasure. Destined to a successful career serving Nero in the Praetorian Guard, he wants no part of Christianity. And he is determined to crush Philip's newfound faith - no matter what it takes. 

Join Philip and Marcus in their journey of redemption, faith, and forgiveness. Is love enough to conquer hate? And will the light of the Gospel ever surmount the darkness of Rome? Persecution abounds - will the two young men survive its terrors and live to experience the bright hope of a new dawn? 

Where Trust Lies (Return to the Canadian West #2) - Janette Oke
(February 3, 2015)

Beth Thatcher returns home from her first year as a schoolteacher in the mining town of Coal Valley and steps into a whole different world. Her life back among her wealthy Eastern family is a stark contrast to her primitive life in the West, and Beth isn't sure where she belongs anymore.

She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday - a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the U.S. Wishing to reconnect with her mother and sister, Beth agrees to go but quickly finds herself at odds with her mother's expectations. After enjoying complete freedom in the western wilds, Beth isn't sure what to make of her mother's ongoing efforts to direct her life - and her heart. 

Beth keeps in touch with her Mountie beau, Jarrick, even as young men more of her station catch her eye. Is she ready to fully give her heart to Jarrick, knowing it will mean saying good-bye to her family and her life of privilege once again? And when Beth trusts the wrong person, will Jarrick be able to help her despite the distance between them?


              Any new fiction releases you're excited about?