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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: Your Sins and Mine

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before: Taylor Caldwell, an extremely popular bestselling author of mid-20th century America. And what’s more, she often wrote on Christian themes. Where have I been?

I had the opportunity to be introduced to her work when I read Your Sins and Mine, recently re-published as an e-book by Open Road Media (which I received from them in exchange for my honest review). Although the apocalyptic/dystopian genre is far from my favorite, I was impressed with how “the end of the world” was portrayed in this short novel. It was different from anything else I’ve read or seen.

“The land hated us, the violated land, the faithful land, the exploited and gentle land. The land had decided that we must die, and all innocent living things with us. The land had cursed us. Our wars and our hatred—these had finally sickened the wise earth.”

The narrator, Pete, who farms with his father, George, describes the earth’s gradual, terrifying betrayal of mankind. Various phenomena occur that match the end-times prophecy of Matthew 24 – drought, disease, disasters – punishing man for his evil. Other horrors either resemble Revelation’s prophecies or spring from Caldwell’s imagination. The weeds were particularly interesting . . . but I won’t say anything else, because the uncertainty of what will strike next keeps you turning pages.

Since Your Sins and Mine was published in 1955, it is replete with Cold War and Communist concerns. I also wonder if readers of the time saw similarities between the book’s murderous drought and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The Cold War references date the book but are interesting because they provide insight into the fears of 1950s Americans. The rest of what happens on the destructive earth, however, felt close to home to me since I believe in a coming tribulation and judgment caused by mankind’s sin. I really appreciated the message of the book: repentance.

The characters aren’t developed with any great depth, but we know them enough to sympathize and identify with them. Pete, George, and their family and friends go through heart-wrenching times; I hated some of what happened but that did make the book reach deep. They use a lot of mild expletives, so if you’re sensitive to that, be aware. I liked George the best, the sturdy, masterful man of the earth who encouraged people and never lost his faith in God.

In short, Your Sins and Mine can get depressing, but it’s a fast and thought-provoking read.

To learn more about Taylor Caldwell, visit her website:

Have you ever read anything by this author?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Faith Blum: Blog Tour and Guest Post

Have you ever wondered what it was like for orphans born in the Wild West? Faith Blum has a new book that explores the life of three orphans born during that time. She’s with us today to tell us a little about her book. Make sure you read to the end to see the super fun giveaway she has going on, too!

About the Book

The ground shook and a rumble sounded through the air as the train squealed to a stop. Maybe, just maybe, I could carry someone’s bags without the porter taking notice. And then there was the even bigger maybe: Maybe I could get enough money to at least buy a crust of bread for Trevor and Tabitha to share.
I hid behind the boxes in the freight yard and kept one eye on the porter, and the other on the second class passenger car. The porter had his attention on the first class car, so I slipped into the gathering crowd.

Titus Hine has always taken care of others. First in protecting his brother and sister from the men his mother entertained. Even more so after her death, when the townspeople refused to help the orphans of a town prostitute. He’s been protector and provider, despite the hardships. He’s learned that no one will help, no one cares and if he wants to survive he’ll have to rely on his own strength not just for himself but his family as well.

Then a stranger shows him the kindness and help no one else seems willing to. Between her kindness and the lecture she gives the Christian Leaders, Titus’s life takes an unexpected turn for the better. With help and provision from the local believers things should be easier, his burdens are lifted. So why does it feel like life is spinning out of control?

Can Titus learn that while man may fail him there is One who will never fail? Can he learn to allow God to be the Shepherd of his life and lead him? Or will life continue to push him every which way?

Note: 50% of Faith Blum's income from this series will go to the World Orphans organization.

Buy now on your favorite eBook platform:

About the Author

Faith Blum is a 20-something author of multiple books in various genres. She loves to write, read, play piano, knit, crochet, sew, watch movies, and play games with her family.  She lives in Wisconsin with her family on a small family farm where they raise goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and have 2 dogs and a varying number of cats.

Faith’s goal in her writing is to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ. If you want to know when her latest book comes out, go to her website to sign up for her New Releases Newsletter so you can get an email when her next book in the series comes out. You will also find links to her other Social Media sites on her website. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her.

Guest Post

My Kind of Romance

Everyone has their own views on many things, including romance. How much is too much in a book? How much is too little? Should you even read romances? It’s something I’ve thought about a few times and as a writer, it is also something I’ve needed to think about.

As a reader, I like a good romance, but I’m very picky about what I personally consider a good romance. As an author, I’m also very picky about what I write as a romance.

Just what is that? I’m so glad you asked. If you read my books and there is a romance/love story in them, most of them will have the following characteristics:

  • A sweet, clean romance with no “pink” parts
  • A romance that develops naturally and without some sort of crisis happening that makes them suddenly realize “I really did love him/her! And now s/he’s dying! My life is over!” Then at the last possible second the lover miraculously gets better and all is well. (purposely exaggerated)
  • The kissing is all G-rated or lower with simple descriptions like “He pecked her on the lips” and other such phrases.
  • So far in my books, each couple has gotten to know each other through a courtship since that was the way it was done back then. I may eventually delve into other methods such as dating, but that will depend on many things.

I know many authors, Christian and secular alike, write more “spice” into their stories, but I have come to the personal conviction that a good romance is one you can believe could really happen, that doesn’t create premature feelings (or feelings you should only feel about your spouse), and is something God wouldn’t mind you reading.

As an author, that is what I endeavor to do. If you disagree, I am 100% okay with that. You can either choose to read my books or not. I will not be offended in any way. If that is what you’ve always wanted to read in a book, great! One of my slightly more romance-y books is free February 23-27, 2017! (Note: This story inspired Savior, Like a Shepherd! Click HERE to find it.)


Faith is giving away EIGHT prizes! She has two paperbacks and two eBooks of Savior, Like a Shepherd up for grabs as well as one paperback and three eBooks of her Hymns of the West Novellas: Volume Two. The novella collection contains the novella that inspired her latest series as well as her new novel. Fill out the rafflecopter for the chance to win one of the prizes:

Tour Schedule

Bonus Post from February 10
Petticoats and Pistols – The History of Paint (Note: the giveaway on that post is closed)

February 16
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
Peggy's Hope 4U- Character Spotlight of Titus

February 17
Leah's Bookshelf- Book Spotlight
Rebekah Lyn Books- Character Spotlight of Tabitha

February 18
Zerina Blossom's Books- Guest Post – About the Town

February 20
Sarah Allerding- Author Interview

February 21
Tara Ellis Author- Book Spotlight
Melanie D. Snitker, Author – Character Spotlight of Trevor

February 22

February 23
Reveries Reviews- Character Spotlight of Titus Hine
Kelsey's Notebook- Guest Post – My Kind of Romance

February 24
With a Joyful Noise- Book Review

February 25
Writing Dreams- Guest Post – Why Orphans?
Zerina Blossom's Books – Book Review

February 27
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae- Character Spotlight of Trevor Hine

February 28
Homeschooled Authors- Author Interview
Rachel Rossano's Words- Guest Post – What’s the Inspiration and song connection?


Monday, February 20, 2017

Emmeline: The Vintage Jane Austen

You may remember me talking about my upcoming novel, Suit and Suitability, and the series it belongs to, the Vintage Jane Austen. Well, this weekend marked an exciting event for the series: the publication of the first novel of the series, Emmeline, by Sarah Holman!

What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?
The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.
Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely?  Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

My review:
I highly enjoyed this remarkable retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Ms. Holman did a wonderful job of transferring the story to 1930 America, when the differences between social classes still mattered so much. The Great Depression setting added a special tension to the story that’s not in the original, but combined with the original’s entertaining, character-driven plot to create an un-put-down-able novel. The cast were delightful; Ms. Holman’s appreciation for Jane Austen’s characters really shines through, making this Austenite love their 1930s counterparts.

This book has humor, realism, and Christian life lessons. I loved how Emmeline’s spiritual life developed; it fit so naturally with the plot. I’m reminded of Grace Livingston Hill novels, which is yet another plus to this book!


Check it out on Amazon HERE.

Go to Sarah Holman's website HERE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Jane Austen Week Blog Tag

Love Jane Austen? This is for you! Hamlette’s Soliloquy is hosting an I Love Austen Week blog event this week, February 11-18. I’m absolutely thrilled to participate in the blog tag, as Jane Austen is one of my favorite topics. Check out Hamlette’s master post to explore all the other activities for the week.

The Tag:

1. Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?
An audio book of Pride and Prejudice. I was young (maybe about twelve) and I didn’t understand it all that well, so it didn’t make much of an impression. But in my teens I read the novels and fell in love before I saw all the movies.

2. What is your favorite Austen book?
Sense and Sensibility. I love the characters, especially the sweet relationship and personality contrast between the sisters Elinor and Marianne. They go through so much together. When the opportunity arose for me to participate in a new series retelling the Jane Austen novels in the 1930s, there was no question which one I’d pick: Sense and Sensibility. My love and appreciation for the original has grown even more.

3. Favorite heroine? Why do you like her best?

Elinor Dashwood. The other Austen heroines are all wonderful, but there are so many reasons why I like Elinor best, I don’t know where to start. She’s a picture of the ideal woman, who’s sweet and kind yet strong, capable, level-headed, and resilient. She puts other people’s needs over her own. I tend to favor quiet, unassuming characters like her. I also see aspects of myself in her—I try not to let my emotions show overmuch, and I’m more of a listener than a talker. She’s a role model for me . . . if I’m somewhat like her already, maybe I can be more like her in other admirable ways.

4. Favorite hero? Why do you like him best?
Edward Ferrars—to go with Elinor, of course! I know he’s not a popular hero, but I think he’s extremely sweet. They’re good for each other. He’s quiet and unassuming as well, but not so sure of himself as Elinor is of herself. Even though he’s not bold, he has the courage and principles to make hard, honorable choices.

5. Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen’s work?
So far, I would have to say either Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility or Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth’s Pride and Prejudice. I think S&S is a delightful and well-made movie, even if it leaves out much of the book, and I find P&P to be an accurate and completely entertaining version.

6. Have your Austen tastes changed over the years? (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better? Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind? Etc.)
My tastes have changed somewhat. I listened to a couple of audio books first and thought them a little dry, but that changed when I read the books myself and found them lovely and fascinating. She used to be hands down my favorite author, one who could do wrong, but as I’ve gotten older, other authors have joined her at the top (namely Elizabeth Goudge and Elizabeth Gaskell) and I can acknowledge that she’s not perfect. Her books seem lighter than they used to since I’ve matured. But I haven’t ceased to thrill over her whenever she’s being discussed, and reading her books are like coming home in winter to a warm cup of tea.

7. Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)? (Feel free to share photos if you want.)
Um . . . I’m a bit of a collector, so yes, I do. Some of my favorites include a shoulder bag with her profile printed on it and quotes about all her heroes; a book about the Jane Austen House Museum (Chawton Cottage) that I bought when I visited there; greeting cards with Hugh Thomson’s illustrations; a piano book; and playing cards with quotes and pictures.

8. If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?
Only one? Well, I suppose she’d be busy answering a whole line of us if she were open to querying at all! I love the questions that other bloggers in the tag have asked, but I’ll choose: “Can you give me some tips on analyzing human nature and using that knowledge in fiction?”

9. Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads. What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?
I want to see a version of Mansfield Park that I can unequivocally like. The 1983 version, with Nicholas Farrell and Sylvestra Le Touzel, comes the closest, but I have issues with some of the characters. As for who I would cast . . . I must apologize, but I have no idea! I don’t know my actors and actresses that well.

10. Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!
“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.” - Anne Elliot, Persuasion

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” - Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

“Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility

“My being charming is not quite enough to induce me to marry. I must find other people charming – one other person at least.” Emma Woodhouse, Emma

“We all have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” - Fanny Price, Mansfield Park

Jane Austen Watercolor, public domain
Make sure you go to Hamlette’s Soliloquy for more Jane Austen merriment! What would you say in answer to any of these questions above?