How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Solid Rock

I’m participating in another blog tour this week! This time we’re celebrating the release of Faith Blum’s exciting and faith-filled novel The Solid Rock, book 5 of the Hymns of the West series. Keep reading for a description, my review, and an interview with Faith Blum!


Joshua woke with a quiet groan. As his senses woke up one at a time, he cracked his eyelids open. Sure enough, there was a silhouetted form standing at the foot of the bed. From the smell, the person was either from the brothel down the street or had recently left one. He forced himself to breathe evenly and reached for the knife in his thigh holster. With as tough and evil a voice as he could imitate, he spoke, “State your intentions.”

Pinkerton detective, Joshua Brookings, is sent on a job that seems simple on the surface. His fellow detective has been kidnapped and his boss, William Pinkerton senses foul play. Joshua is sent to investigate Edward's case in hopes of finding the kidnapped detective and helping solve the case that has taken over ten years to investigate. Arriving in Cheyenne, Joshua finds much more than a simple kidnapping. Yet again, he must go undercover, something he made his boss promise never to make him do again. The only Christian in the outlaw group, Joshua falters and almost loses faith in God’s providence. Will he stand on the solid Rock or drown in the sinking sand?

Purchase on HERE!  
Or, you can preorder a paperback copy here for $14.00 plus shipping.


My Review: 
I liked this number of the Hymns of the West series even better than the one preceding, Lily of the Valley. The Solid Rock follows Ruth’s brother Joshua Brookings, one of those brave members of the pioneering detective agency – a Pinkerton detective. I really enjoyed the history in this one, as I hadn’t heard of the Pinkertons before.

I also enjoyed the mystery – Joshua had his work cut out for him in solving a ten-year-long case! Everything connected with it was exciting, especially this epic gun battle.  I thought the unpredictable romance was very well done. Besides Joshua, my other favorite character was Priscilla, a woman struggling to overcome her past. The plot was tight and well developed. The descriptions of the settings in this book seemed stronger than in the other novels, which really appeals to me. I felt very connected to the West – a good thing, because the characters did a lot of traveling!

All of Faith Blum’s works contain strong spiritual themes, and this one was no exception. It dug deep. Many of the characters had spiritual growth. In summary – this book contains a lot! Whether you like mystery, Westerns, romance, Christian themes, it has them all.  

Interview with Faith Blum

1. When and how did you come up with the idea for the Hymns of the West series?

It all started with a simple question from a beta-reader reading A Mighty Fortress. “What is the
second book in the series about?” I told him I wasn’t planning to write a series, tried to forget the question and went back to editing AMF. But in the back of my mind, I started coming up with a sequel about the main character in AMF, Joshua and how he could become a Pinkerton detective and help another detective solve a mystery. That particular sequel ended up being the fifth book in the series, but it got me started with the series.

As for the name, after the first book having the same name as a hymn, I thought it would be fun to write all my books in that series with hymn titles as book titles. Since then, I have decided to make hymns my “brand” so to speak and all my books will be named after hymns with those hymns as themes in the books.

2. That's so interesting, Faith! What are some of your favorite books? Have they inspired your writing in some way?

This is always a tough question. I guess I’d say The Holy Bible by God, Resistance by Jaye L. Knight, Ride the River by Louis L’Amour, The Sackett series by Louis L’Amour, and Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. They have all inspired my writing in one way or another. The Bible because without God’s guidance, I wouldn’t be writing today. Resistance because Jaye is so good with her inner dialogue and I tried to bring that in a little more with The Solid Rock.

Louis L’Amour has been my favorite Western author for a long time and he’s the one who inspired me to write Westerns, but from a Christian perspective. I didn’t find Karen’s books until after I started writing Westerns, but The Short-Straw Bride was a particular favorite of mine written by her. I don’t think it really inspired my writing, but the way she wove Christianity into her books was helpful to see.

3. Neat! That's a good range of books. Who’s your favorite character from The Solid Rock? How about the whole Hymns of the West series?

Priscilla Simmons is definitely my favorite character in The Solid Rock. She comes from such a tough background, but still tries to do the right thing, even if it is hard or unpopular. I think Joshua is my favorite character throughout the whole series. He’s a man’s man, courageous, daring, and so much more.

4. Priscilla and Joshua are my favorite characters from The Solid Rock, too! What do you hope people will take from reading The Solid Rock?

I hope readers will see that Christians aren’t perfect and that’s okay as long as they continue to let God guide them.

About Faith Blum:  

Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. Now that she's grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn't stop her from trying.
When she isn't writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.






To enter a giveaway for ALL the Hymns of the West, fill out this form to earn entries to the giveaway. Each entry gives you one point, plus there are opportunities for bonus entries!

Follow the rest of the tour!

March 26 Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Tour Introduction 
Writing Dreams-Excerpt and Spotlight 
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae-Spotlight 
Tee Garner-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview
March 28 George’s Shorts-Spotlight, Review, Interview 
Karan Eleni-Excerpt, Spotlight, Review 
Rebekah Lyn Books-Excerpt 
Zerina Blossom’s Books-Excerpt, Spotlight 
Life is a Four-Letter Word-Spotlight
March 29 In the Bookcase-Excerpt, Review 
Ruth’s Real Life-Excerpt 
Kelsey’s Notebook-Review, Interview 
Shire Reviews-Review 
With a Joyful Noise-Excerpt, Spotlight 
Melanie D. Snitker, Author-Excerpt, Spotlight 
Wildflower Acres-Spotlight
March 30 Clean Indie Reads-Spotlight 
Jaye L. Knight-Excerpt, Spotlight 
Stories by Firefly-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview 
Chess Desalls-Excerpt 
Kendra’s Thoughts-Excerpt, Interview 
Frances Hoelsma-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview
March 31 Prairie Dust Trail-Review 
David Todd-Interview 
The Overactive Imagination-Excerpt 
Reading in June-Excerpt, Spotlight 
Rachel Rossano’s Words-Excerpt, Spotlight 
Trust and Obey-Guest Post, Spotlight
April 1 Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Tour Wrap-up, giveaway announcement

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Journey to Love

Today I’m excited to join in the blog tour for Amanda Tero’s newest book, Journey to Love!

Journey to Love (Marie’s Story, 1901)

The Orphan Journeys Series

By Amanda Tero

About the Book:

Now orphaned, Marie is swept miles away from the only life she knew to be sheltered by unknown guardians. Caught in the challenges of a new life, she cannot prevent changes from happening, but she can keep the Bowles and their friends at arm's length. Or can she?

While things appear to transition smoothly on the outside, Marie struggles against the turmoil she faces on the inside. She sees something in the Bowles and her new friends that she had never experienced before...but should she trust what the preacher is teaching when it goes against everything she had accepted as truth? Is God really a God of love? If He is, then is Marie willing to accept it?

Follow Marie as she begins the journey to love.

About the Orphan Journeys Series:
Imagine yourself as an orphan, struggling for survival on the filthy New York streets, where disease and crime run rampant. Journey from these wretched streets to a temporary lodging in an overcrowded orphanage and then to the train station. After riding the train for hours, picture yourself lining up with other children, waiting as adults look you over. Would you be chosen—or would you have to hold onto the hope that maybe, at the next station, someone would want to bring you home?

Minister Charles Loring Brace had a vision for New York orphans that brought them through this journey from streets to homes. He began his orphan work in 1853, then in 1854, because of lack of orphanage space, Brace sent the first orphans by train to Dowagiac, Michigan, where the children could be sheltered by local families. The "orphan train" continued until 1929, bringing at least 150,000 children to new homes where they were fostered and, occasionally, adopted.

Brace desired to place children in good, Protestant homes. Many orphans experienced Brace's desire, but some orphans had different stories: siblings were separated, and some couples took orphans to use for cheap labor. Though many orphans ended up as successful men and women, not all of them turned out to be trustworthy citizens.

Orphan Journeys is a fictional novella series based off of the American Orphan Train saga, following orphans not only as they adjust to a new life, but also as they embark upon a spiritual journey.


My Review: 
Journey to Love is a touching story of transformation. Painfully shy Marie Dixon, an orphan with a terribly unhappy past, is sent from New York to Illinois farm country on the Orphan Train. God has directed her path—in her new home, she encounters many people who introduce her to His love. We get to follow her on her journey to accept that love.

Though perhaps hard to identify with at first, because of her difficult attitude, Marie grew on me. She was totally believable as a twelve-year-old who wasn’t raised in a true Christian home, lost her parents, and was uprooted from all she’d ever known. I wanted to see her open up to the bountiful love of Mr. and Mrs. Bowles, Mary and Celeste Thornton, and the others. Amanda Tero did an admirable job of tracing Marie’s spiritual journey. It felt like God could really have changed someone that way. One part that I particularly appreciated was that Marie, even after she was saved, wasn’t completely transformed right away—she still had to struggle to forgive someone. That’s realistic. Sometimes newly saved characters are portrayed as immediately getting the whole Christian picture and becoming perfect, and that always takes away something from a story. But it wasn’t the case here! Marie’s realism added to Journey to Love’s impact.

I liked the historical setting, though I would have welcomed more detail (I love detailed settings, so other people would probably be just fine with the amount!). The Bowles’ house was lovingly described. I think I personally would have liked a little more story, but the focus on spiritual things does set this book apart from others of its genre. In the back, there’s a handy list of Bible verses used in the book!

Journey to Love would be great to read with kids. While being intrigued by the Orphan Train, they’d learn about love—both the love of God for us and how our love as humans should reflect it!

4.5 Stars! I received this eBook in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author: 
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again – starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda:



Get Journey to Love from Amazon HERE


Follow Journey to Love's Blog Tour!

3/14 - A Pinch of Faith
3/14 - The Window Friend
3/14 - Willowy Whisper
3/15 - Honey Rock Hills
3/17 - Faith Blum
3/19 - Meagan Davenport
3/21 - His Princess Warrior
3/22 - Kelsey's Notebook
3/22 - In the Bookcase
3/22 - The Truth in Sea Glass
3/24 - A Brighter Destiny
3/28 - Alisha in Progress
3/29 - Elisha Press

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Books They Read

Sorry to have neglected my blog last week…I was meeting with my characters from Suit and Suitability, and since we’re editing their novel, they took all my writing time. They only let me post today because I’m writing about them. (Who knew that even classy, polite people like them could be rather pushy?)

Since I began the Dashiells’ story in Suit and Suitability last year, I’ve dug into what they and other people of the novel would have read for leisure. You can tell a lot about people from the books they like, so knowing what my fictional characters read is a vital tool for characterization. It’s always fun to look back on what was popular and available during a certain historical era. I’ve read some vintage books expressly for the purpose of getting to know the 1930s (I enjoyed all of them but The Good Earth). 


Here’s a sampling of what some of the S&S cast particularly enjoyed in 1935:

Ellen Dashiell - 

Ellen…preferred classics like A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Letter, heavier fare that withstood decades of opinion. Maybe she was a snob, but why read unless one expanded one’s mind? That was her idea of enjoyment. Entertainment came from cinema and radio.

Nineteenth-century classics make you mull over deep things in life, like right and wrong, human psychology, and purposeful living. Ellen values these books because, as a secretary, it’s easy for her to get lost in the finicky details of a single office. She has a searching mind and needs the “heavier fare” to feed it. Some contemporary novels catch her interest, too, but classics are her favorite. She also finds great things in books on Christian living.

Marion Dashiell - 

[S]atiating herself with a swashbuckling adventure novel put her in a happier state of mind and gave her sweet dreams.

Though Marion reads a wide range of fiction (and only fiction), her top picks are historical romance and adventure. Rafael Sabatini is her favorite author. Captain Blood (which I just read!) and his other novels frequently visit her mind because they sweep her out of the mundane. She dreams of being the lead lady in ever-popular historical romance movies. She catches wind of a new dramatization of her best-loved book, Captain Blood, starring Errol Flynn, so you can imagine how wild she’ll be when it comes out later in 1935…her only regret is that she wasn’t able to play Arabella Bishop herself!

Augustine Dashiell - Although we don’t see Mrs. Dashiell taking the time to read in S&S, she’s always loved the sweet, faith-building, Christian romances of Grace Livingston Hill. I’ve read four of these novels so far myself for their lovely 1930s atmosphere. They’re just the thing to soothe a woman who worries about her imprisoned husband and maturing daughters.

Greta Dashiell - Greta loves adventure, so she often turns to the kids series of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Nancy Drew is by far her favorite, like many girls of the 1930s. I confess I’ve read only one of the originals that Greta would have known, The Secret of the Old Clock, but Nancy Drew is one of my favorite fictional characters as well. Her detective work thrills both me and Greta.

Frances Lundberg - Frances doesn’t have a whole lot of time to read, since she works full-time as a secretary. She devours popular mysteries like those by Agatha Christie, her absolute favorite author. With a bent for mysteries, she does a little investigating herself when her employer Oliver Dashiell is accused of embezzlement.

Do you ever give your characters favorite books, or portray them reading in your stories?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sarah Holman's Newsletter

Hey everyone! This is just a quick note to let you know about Sarah Holman’s newsletter:

Click here to sign up! I've read several of Sarah's books and enjoyed them all. Check them out!

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of five published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.