Monday, July 22, 2019

Experience Small-Town Refuge | Review of Welcome to Last Chance



About the Book (from Revell)

She's learned you can't count on anyone—but she didn't count on landing in Last Chance.

The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life—especially since she's on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

(through July 31, 2019)

My Rating

Spring

My Review

Last Chance is a fictional town worth visiting, populated with a caring cast of characters. While the plot isn't a big page-turner, Lainie's journey and the growth of her relationships with different people in the town are definitely engaging. There's a subtle suspense element that makes itself known now and then; the romance is a little more prominent but pretty gentle; but the faith and friendships end up taking center stage in a sweet way. :) I would have liked a little more from the ending, rather than jumping straight from the climax to the epilogue, but overall I was satisfied with the story and enjoyed experiencing the changing seasons in a small town in New Mexico—and in the life of a young woman who finds refuge there.

*With thanks to Revell for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Bright New Paperback Edition! (How a Star Falls)

Back in 2015, I revealed the new cover for How a Star Falls. (You can check out the story behind the updated cover HERE!) The ebook and audiobook editions of the book each got a makeover as a result, but because of the extra effort required to update a paperback, that edition remained unchanged for years. I just never made it a priority to pursue that update...until this year!

And truly, all the credit goes to my wonderful friend and designer, Lena Goldfinch. She's the one who did the work and took the time to make this happen, not only updating the front cover, back cover, and spine, but also freshening up the interior formatting for the paperback and ebook with shooting-star dividers and a classy look. :)

What do you think?






Each book I've published is special to me for different reasons, but this project was just so much fun! Every stage has been a blast, from dreaming and writing to working with the designer (Lena!) and the audiobook narrator...and seeing Derrick and Brielle's story come alive in new ways. :) I loved including things that mean so much to me and bring back dear memories, from my home county to the dancing to the music references to the ocean. And I enjoyed writing from Derrick's perspective!

* * *

Purchase your own copy today on Amazon!

* * *

So far, four of my six books are available in paperback format, and Lena did an absolutely lovely job on all of them. Here are the other three...

Forget Me Not (Amazon)

Bleeding Heart (Amazon)

Where Trains Collide (Amazon)

For those who prefer to hold a book in your hands—and have covers match in style, as How a Star Falls and Where Trains Collide now do—I hope you'll enjoy adding this latest update to your shelf!

P.S. I'm currently running a giveaway on Instagram for a chance to win one of two copies of this refreshed paperback, along with a cross bookmark! Check it out HERE.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Sweet But Not Simple Historical Romance | Review of Under a Blackberry Moon



About the Book
(from Revell)

Which wilderness is more treacherous--the one she must cross to find her home . . . or the one she must traverse to find love? 

Just a few days after she gave birth alone in the northwoods, a recently widowed young Chippewa woman stumbled into a nearby lumber camp in search of refuge from the winter snows. Come summer, it is clear that Moon Song cannot stay among the rough-and-tumble world of white lumbermen, and so the camp owner sends Skypilot, his most trusted friend, to accompany her on the long and treacherous journey back to her people.

But when tragedy strikes off the shore of Lake Superior, Moon Song and Skypilot must depend on each other for survival. With every step they take into the forbidding woods, they are drawn closer together, until it seems the unanswerable questions must be asked. Can she leave her culture to enter his? Can he leave his world to enter hers? Or will they simply walk away from a love that seems too complicated to last?

Get swept into a wild realm where beauty masks danger and only the truly courageous survive in a story that will grip your heart and your imagination.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

I confess this is one of the books that sat unread on my shelf for far too long. Part of me wonders if maybe I would have enjoyed it a little more if I had read it closer to the time I read the other two books in the series years ago... Perhaps a stronger memory of the characters and some of the backstory would have been nice.

Still, I found Under a Blackberry Moon to be an interesting read with a sweet (but not simple) romance! Based on the description of the book, I think I had a somewhat different idea of the main course of the plot compared to what actually happens. I wasn't expecting a secondary character to have a primary role through the first half of the book, and some of the scenes with that secondary character create an odd mood.

But I appreciate the various twists and how even when the plot changes direction, love and survival still play key roles in different ways. I also appreciate the history and what led the author to include certain elements in the story (as revealed in the author's note at the end). I like how the characters are forced to make difficult decisions about what's practical, what's important, and what's worth the sacrifice.

I feel like the story isn't quite as cohesive as I might wish... Different historical and relational elements take center stage at times, so the plot feels a little scattered in focus. But then again, real life can feel that way! While I didn't feel super emotionally invested in the characters and their choices, I still found myself intrigued by the story and eager to know how it would all unfold. It's a compelling journey!

*With thanks to Revell for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book, which I won through a giveaway. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Want More?

Check out my reviews of other Serena B. Miller books:

The Measure of Katie Calloway | A Promise to Love
Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio | An Uncommon Grace

Monday, May 27, 2019

Left with Much to Ponder | Review of Your Future Self Will Thank You



About the Book
(from Moody Publishers)

Why can't I control my anger? Or stop overeating? Or wasting time online? 

Why can't I seem to finish my projects? Or make progress in my spiritual life? 

Why do I fall for the same stupid temptations over and over again?

When we fail, its easy to make excuses or blame our circumstances. But let's face it: the biggest enemy is usually the one staring back at us from the mirror every morning.

We lack self-control.

Self-control isn't very popular these days. We tend to think of it as boring, confining, the cop that shows up and shuts down the party. But the truth is that people who cultivate this vital virtue lead freer, happier, and more meaningful lives. After all, our bad habits—from the slight to the serious—bring a host of painful consequences. Ultimately, they keep us from becoming the people God created us to be.

Your Future Self Will Thank You is a compassionate and humorous guide to breaking bad habits and growing your willpower. It explores Scripture's teachings on how to live a disciplined life while offering practical strategies for growth based on the science of self-control. Whether you want to deepen your spiritual life, conquer an addiction, or kick your nail-biting habit, this book will help you get motivated, stay on track, and achieve your goals.

Sure, self-control is hard, but it doesn't have to be that hard. Get the help you need to be freer, happier, and more productive. Your future self will thank you!

Available Now!


My Review

This book has given me a lot to think about: strategies I want to implement, truths I want to remember, attitudes I want to change. It's a lot to take in, and the trick is to figure out how to apply the information in a way that will stick. Because, as this book makes perfectly clear, we are weak and prone to stay in our ruts, taking the easy way with the habits we've already established. That's definitely true for me!

I greatly appreciate both the practical guidance and the biblical perspective in Your Future Self Will Thank You. In chapter 7, there's a really great discussion about why self-control matters since we're saved by God's grace and sustained by His power. In chapter 3, the author provides some helpful insight on the temptations Satan presented to Jesus and Jesus's response. And chapter 8 sadly resonates with me as it addresses the very real issue of technology (especially social media) and its affects on our time and self-control.

The meat of this book has to do with willpower and habits and approaching those things with right reasons and a view of our need for God's strength. It's eye opening to realize just how much our habits determine our days...and to face what might be feeding those habits we wish we didn't have.

I like that these pages don't promise an easy way forward. Change is hard, and good habits aren't easy to establish (nor are bad habits easy to break). Finishing this book won't automatically change your life or make you feel like you've won the battle. But it's a great tool in that it makes you want to examine your own routines and consider what you need to change (and how you might begin doing so) in light of God's goodness and power.

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Helpful Support and Suggestions | Review of Homeschool Bravely



About the Book
(from Moody Publishers)

Quiet the voices of "not good enough" and step courageously into guilt-free homeschooling

Many homeschool parents have a long-term relationship with self-doubt. "Did I make the right decision?" "Could someone else do this better?" "Am I robbing my kids of something by not sending them to 'regular school'?"

What if there's a better way? 

Not a 3-step technique or a shiny, new curriculum, but a change in perspective that transforms the way you plan, teach, and homeschool?

Homeschool Bravely teaches you to see homeschooling as a calling, helps you overthrow the tyranny of impossible expectations, and guides you through the common bumps in the road, including how to:
  • juggle school and parenting with toddlers at home 
  • teach a struggling learner 
  • plan with the end in mind 
  • accept your own limitations without feeling guilty 
  • stay the course even in the face of criticism 
Reclaim your hope, renew your purpose, and transform your homeschool. Because the truth is: God will use every part of your homeschool, even your fears, faults, and failures, to weave good plans for your kids.

Available Now!


My Review

I'm personally not in the trenches of homeschooling right now, but I could see how this book would be like a big sigh of relief for those who are! It's full of encouragement and good reminders about keeping the journey in a far-reaching, even eternal perspective.

I was never homeschooled myself, but it's something we're considering as an option for any children we may have someday—hence my interest in this book. :) I like that Homeschool Bravely celebrates freedom: the freedom found in trusting God's sovereignty over our children's lives, the freedom to pursue education in a way that works for each family, and the freedom to let kids explore their interests and cultivate a love of learning in unique ways.

There were some great suggestions in these pages for teaching and working with kids of various ages and levels, especially when some kids are old enough for school and others aren't quite there yet. And there are some great words of advice about keeping homeschool plans focused, simplified, and meaningful.


Certainly not surprising, based on the title and topic, this book centers around homeschooling and defending its value. So while it does talk abut how defensiveness isn't needed and fighting about educational choices isn't productive, this book is definitely for those who believe homeschooling is the best choice for their family. If you're a homeschooling mom or definitely plan to be one, you'll find lots of support in these pages. If you're on the fence, you might not get a super balanced view between the various options, but I realize that's not the purpose of this book. :)

One of the appendices is titled "Questions to Ask Before You Start Homeschooling," and I confess I had hoped it would provide some sort of questionnaire for self-assessment; whereas, it's actually a list of questions to ask other people about their homeschooling experiences before you take the leap yourself. Which can still be quite helpful, for sure! Just not exactly what I had personally hoped to find.

All in all, though, Homeschool Bravely is a nice resource, especially for those who have already started on the homeschooling journey or are planning to begin soon. There are some neat tips to ponder and a lot of encouraging words about keeping the focus on God and His sovereign work in the life of your family.

P.S. The cover is really cute, and the design of the pages within is visually appealing!

*With thanks to Moody Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Looking for Audiobook Reviewers for a Short but Sweet Romance (How a Star Falls)

Hi, friends!

You might already know that How a Star Falls is available in audiobook format. :) I once had a list of audiobook promo codes that I had started to share but then lost track of in an old email inbox... But now Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) has provided an easier way to share and keep track of new promo codes, and I'd love to offer them to any readers who would like to listen and review!


Title: How a Star Falls

Genre: sweet contemporary romance

Length: approximately 2 hours

Narrator: Patrick Wilson Mahaney
(He does such a great job of conveying Derrick's character!)

How does a star fall? 
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly. 

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

Listen to a sample:


* * *

If you're looking for a sweet little story to listen to on your next drive or while working around the house, I'd love to share How a Star Falls with you! Even if you've read it before as an ebook or paperback, it's a lot of fun to hear Patrick give voice to Derrick. :)

Interested? Send me an email (amberstokes@corban.edu) or leave a comment with your email address, and I'll send you a promo code so you can download a FREE digital copy of the audiobook and then leave your honest review on Audible. Thank you so much for considering!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Spring Adventure in Glacier National Park

In April, Josh and I had the pleasure of bringing some great friends along on an adventure in Glacier National Park. We were reminded of a few important things:

1. Just because it's raining or hailing or sleeting (or any combination of these) doesn't mean you can't have a wonderful time outdoors. In fact, sometimes it adds to the experience! So, even if the spring weather doesn't seem all that promising, there's still much joy to be had in God's beautiful creation. (But having good gear wouldn't hurt either!)

2. Going beyond where you've been before, trying a new trail, can lead to some incredible views and memories.

3. Bears are best seen from the warmth and safety of the car. :) That's how I've enjoyed watching them so far, and I'm totally fine with that!











Josh spotted this guy on the way to Polebridge, along the North Fork Road. Of course we had to stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for some treats after our hiking and wildlife sightings. :) 

Hope you have also had a lovely start to spring, full of memorable moments with friends and loved ones!

*Group photos included courtesy of Desiree Winters 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Historical Novel about Ministry and Mercy | Review of All in Good Time



About the Book (from Tyndale House)

Dessa Caldwell has a dream: to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver’s roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank.

Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he’s the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he’s built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him . . . until the day Dessa Caldwell ventures into his bank requesting a loan.

Though he’s certain her proposal is a bad investment, Henry is drawn to Dessa’s passion. But that same passion drives her to make rash decisions about Pierson House . . . and about whom she can trust. One man might hold the key to the future of her mission—but he also threatens to bring Henry’s darkest secrets to light. As the walls around their hearts begin to crumble, Henry and Dessa must choose between their plans and God’s, between safety and love.

Available now!

My Rating

Fall/Spring

My Review

While Dessa isn't a perfect character, I admire her dedication to serving those in need and the way she opens her heart to society's outcasts. She perseveres, works hard, and shows great hospitality (including presenting impressive meals!). She's also humble and willing to acknowledge her shortcomings. While her ministry grows in fits and starts, and the story is slower in nature, it's still enjoyable to see what comes of her faith, kindness, and business efforts.

After the prologue, Henry is introduced as a prickly and sober character...and he generally remains that way for a while. With his attraction to Dessa comes hints of warmth in his character, and he eventually becomes more likable, but I confess he's not my favorite fictional hero.

All in Good Time is a well-written historical novel, and in general the characters and their ambitions or growth encourage the reader to become invested. I didn't particularly love the slower pace, with not much happening for a while. But the excitement does pick up a bit more in the second half. :) Based on my lingering impressions (as well as my review/rating) of the first book in this series, Bees in the Butterfly Garden was definitely my favorite of this duology. But this second book still offers an interesting and encouraging story about reaching out, building relationships, and finding mercy.

*With thanks to Tyndale House for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Read my reviews of other Maureen Lang books...
Springtime of the Spirit | Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Monday, April 15, 2019

Hilarious Adventures and a Very Sweet Romance | Review of The Lady and the Wish



About the Book (from the author's website)

A King Thrushbeard Romance

Lady Gillian Montmorency is determined to win Prince Fidelio’s heart, but her plans are crashing around her ears. First, Fidelio’s older cousin with a beard like a bird’s nest proposes to her. Next, intimidating Prince Max insists she will be his next trophy. ​

But the worst of all, her parents reveal a financial scandal. To pay off her father’s debt, Gillian must agree to work one year as companion to an old lady at some remote and ramshackle villa. ​ Fine. She’ll go. But she doesn’t have to like it.

Coming Soon!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

I'm in love with this sweet, fun, utterly enjoyable series! I still need to catch up on the early books (I've started Ellie and the Prince, and then I need to read The Siren and the Scholar, which I'm looking forward to!). From what I have experienced, though, The Lady and the Wish is a fitting and yet unique addition the series.

Gillian's story starts off at the familiar Faraway Castle resort. But she and her father each make choices that take her far away from her family's vacation destination and her home—and bring her to a new job, crazy circumstances, a big mystery, and an unexpected romance.

While I love Faraway Castle with its gorgeous gardens, fascinating and cute creatures, and awesome amenities, it's too fun to follow Gillian to Lady Beneventi's villa. :) The modern elements of this fairy-tale world are more prominent because of this different location (well, and Gillian is also a very modern girl!). We see the use of cell phones and social media, and that—in addition to the clothing and communication—make this story almost like a contemporary romance. Except for the wishes...

The Lady and the Wish is full of entertaining and creative challenges for our heroine as she attempts to serve as a companion for the unpredictable Lady B. This particular story isn't quite as epic in scope as The Rose and the Briar, but it contains hilarious adventures...and focuses on a very sweet romance full of modern-day difficulties and fairy-tale charm.

I confess I looked up the basics of the King Thrushbeard story early on, as I wasn't familiar with the plot and was curious. Curiosity kills the surprise, so to speak. ;) Still, this retelling has plenty of its own twists, especially with all the wishes, and is relatable, adorable, and just plain happy! I love the change of seasons and the way the characters and romance develop. This is another delightful story from J.M. Stengl, and I can't wait to experience more of this series and see what she writes next!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Bonus!

You can check out my review of book 3 in the series, The Rose and the Briar, HERE. And land a FREE e-copy of The Little Siren (a series companion novella) when you sign up for the author's e-newsletter HERE! (It's a sweet story!)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Winner and Tour Highlights | Mercy Blog Tour


Happy Saturday, friends, and welcome to the conclusion of the Mercy blog tour! Come see the name of our giveaway winner and check out the tour highlights and Eniola's ebook freebie. :)

The Winner Is...

Congratulations to the winner of Eniola's giveaway prize pack...

Gina R.!

She's won a signed copy of Mercy, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a journal. Woot! Gina, an email has been sent to you. :) And many thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway and spread the word about Mercy!

Tour Highlights

This tour came with thoughtful book reviews, enlightening interviews, and inspiring posts from Eniola and our team of bloggers. In case you missed any of them, here are some links to browse...

Articles by Eniola
College-life post by Carissa
  • "One lesson that I learned from my college years wasn’t learned inside a classroom." | Read more
Interviews with Eniola
Reviews
  • "I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The underlying mystery of what happened between Sola and Tayo kept me intrigued right from the beginning." | Anne's review of Still
  • "I loved that the characters were so relatable and easy to find one that you can see yourself in." | Carissa's review of Mercy
  • "Mercy was an outstanding book and I am so so excited for book three to find out what happens next in the lives of Sola, Nikky, Tayo and Ladi! If you enjoy new adult books full of mystery and real-life problems you must check out these two books!!" | Anne's review of Mercy
  • "Prentice has undoubtedly done a fine job with this one; the second installment in the Still series is a work of Art and Heart, worthy of impeccable applause." | Miranda's review of Mercy
  • "Following the life of Nikky, Sola, Ladi and Tayo in this book makes you pause in your tracks to appreciate the love of God and how amazingly thoughtful He is concerning you." | Oyinkansola's review of Mercy

Get Book 1 for FREE

Don't forget that Still, the full-novel prequel to Mercy, is currently FREE in ebook format! Enjoy the series from the beginning when you download your copy today through Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or OkadaBooks.


Buy Book 2 Today

Intrigued by all this talk of Mercy? You can purchase an e-copy through Amazon or OkadaBooks!


Eniola and I sincerely thank the wonderful bloggers who participated in this tour and all those who read the posts and commented. :) We appreciate your support of Eniola's work and hope you'll be blessed by her stories!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

3 Things I've Learned About Publishing (Guest Post by Eniola Prentice) | Mercy Blog Tour


The Mercy blog tour continues! Mercy is the second book in a series about four medical students who must face some very difficult challenges in their faith, relationships, and schooling. Today, author Eniola Prentice shares about her writing journey and what she's learned along the way...

3 Things Ive Learned About Publishing
Eniola Prentice

Five years ago, I had an idea to write a series, but I had no idea how to get my novel to readers. I knew nothing about publishing. It was like finding a needle in an enormous haystack. In some ways, it still feels like finding a needle in a haystack—but now the haystack is a little smaller. Here are three things I have learnt about publishing:

1. Do your research. While preparing for publishing the first book, I did a lot of research. I found out that self-publishing is not something failed writers do. I realized the industry had changed, and self-publishing was a viable path to publishing a book. It's not easy, and the wealth of information can be overwhelming at first. But something that helped me was studying the career of a successful self-published author I admired. Joanna Penn was one of my biggest influences.

2. Community is everything. The self-publishing world is a vibrant community of writers supporting each other within and across genres. I formed connections with Christian writers, Nigerian bloggers, and medical bloggers. It made things much easier the second time around. I asked Amber to edit the first novel in the series, but she couldn’t because of her schedule. She referred me to Rachelle Rea. The second time around I reached out to Rachelle, who referred me to Amber. Amber became such a great support for me, and I gained a friend.

3. Set your goals. I think we get bogged down in defining success as being a best seller. I think setting realistic goals unique to you as a writer is important. Sometimes your definition of success is different than another writer’s. When you reach your goals, you can be content that you met your own personal expectations, not the world’s.

How is your journey going?

Eniola and I would love to hear about your own writing journey. What challenges are you currently facing? What goals have you made or met?

And don't miss the opportunity to enter Eniola's tour giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of her new book, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a journal! Just fill out the form below to get your name in the drawing. (See the tour introduction post for the giveaway rules and details.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Embracing Faith in Medical School (Guest Post by Eniola Prentice) | Mercy Blog Tour


The Mercy blog tour continues! Mercy is the second book in a series about four medical students who must face some very difficult challenges in their faith, relationships, and schooling. Today, author Eniola Prentice shares about her own faith journey through the lows and highs of medical school...

Embracing Faith in Medical School
Eniola Prentice

My faith journey began with questions. I had questions for God right before entering medical school, so many whys I wanted answered. Why, if God loved me, had some negative things happened in my life? Why had things happened the way they had in my life? Why was I unhappy all the time? I started medical school with these burning questions in my mind.

All my questions certainly have not been answered, but I have learnt that the faith journey is a process. No matter how much I try, I can’t rush the Father through the process. Trust me, I do try to rush Him. 😊

I got answers gradually through medical school. In my first year, I struggled with who I was in the past and who I was becoming. I called all my Christian friends “aliens” because I felt I didn’t quite fit in with them, that I was different in some way. But I began to accept the picture God was painting.

My faith in God grew steadily. It wasn’t always easy, but His grace was enough for me. I held on to Him because I had no choice. I held on to His word and believed in it until it became life to me. There was a lot of pain during the journey, but His presence never left me. I always found comfort in whatever situation I was in.

Most doctors would rarely describe medical school as the most important and formative years of their lives. But God surrounded me with friends who became family. I believe the friendships God blessed me with were the second most important inspiration for writing the Still series. Of course, the first was the Holy Spirit.

I believe it is important to always grow and evolve. My faith journey will never end—until the day He welcomes me home with “Welcome, good and faithful servant.”

How is your journey going?

Eniola and I would love to hear about where you are in your faith journey or how you've been growing. If you'd like prayer for your current challenge or next step, please let me know in the comment section! ♥

And don't miss the opportunity to enter Eniola's tour giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of her new book, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a journal! Just fill out the form below to get your name in the drawing. (See the tour introduction post for the giveaway rules and details.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, April 8, 2019

Celebrate the Release of Book 2 in an Inspirational New-Adult Series | Blog Tour


Kick off spring with this exciting blog tour for Mercy, book 2 in a new-adult series about four medical students navigating faith, romance, and a difficult-but-rewarding career path! I'm honored to be coordinating this tour for author Eniola Prentice. :) Read on to learn more about this new book, the author's writing journey, the tour schedule for the week, an awesome giveaway you can enter, and a free ebook you can download today...


About the Book

Broken. Drowning. Desperate. Lost. 
When the lives and hearts of four friends start to crumble, can God’s mercy reach them still? 

In her second year of medical school, Fadesola (Sola) Cardoso faces an impossible choice: stay with her longtime boyfriend, the one who knows her darkest secrets and loves her anyway, or move forward with Ladi, the man who gives her hope for an unstained future. Even as she wrestles with her options, life as a medical student becomes increasingly difficult—full of endless exams, stressful social activities, and reminders of a past that continues to haunt her.

Ladi struggles with Sola’s divided loyalties while trying to maintain his perfect image as class president, promising student, and model Christian. But scandals inside and outside the lecture hall threaten to break apart the fragile peace once and for all between Ladi, Sola, and their friends Nikky and Tayo, who are fighting battles of their own.

In this epic second installment in Eniola Prentice’s new-adult Still series, the faith of these four medical students will be tested like never before. Discover their gritty troubles and grand triumphs as they navigate friendships, revelations, romance, and career goals in light of the redemptive power of the cross.

Available now!


About the Author

My journey as a writer began with an idea—an idea that blossomed into a vision for the Still series. I became fully committed to Christ around 2008 when I began medical school. Shortly after, the idea for the Still series was birthed. My time in medical school was one of the more formative seasons of my life. I made lifelong friendships and, most of all, my journey with Christ really began. Although there were challenging times, I would without a doubt relive the experience in a heartbeat!

I published Still (book 1 in the series) right before residency, and now—five years later—the next book in the series has been published. In the time in between, I was the prodigal daughter and walked away from my Father. Everything on the surface looked good, but my heart was far away from Him. His love never left me, though, and He welcomed me home when I came back to Him. I went through painful processes, but they changed me and made me a better person. The girl who wrote Still is not the woman who wrote Mercy.

I am passionate about sowing godly seeds into the hearts of young women. I know how it is to be brokenhearted and believe the lies of the devil because his version of events is all you’re told. I know how it is to truly believe that you are not loved by God because of the events of life.

My hope is that, through my writing, you’ll come to know that God truly loves you and cares about you affectionately. He is close to your broken heart and binds up every wound.

I guess the author bio should be about milestones and, like the quintessential dramatic Nigerian aunty, I have missed the mark. I am a Nigerian-born, American-educated physician who lives in Maryland—but I believe I am more than well-constructed bullet points. I am a child of God through the ups and downs of life, and that will remain constant.

Eniola Prentice 


The Tour Schedule

Monday, April 8
Tuesday, April 9
Wednesday, April 10 
Thursday, April 11
Friday, April 12 
Saturday, April 13

Giveaway!

Celebrate the release of Mercy by entering this exciting giveaway! Fill out the form below for a chance to win a signed copy of Mercy by Eniola Prentice, a $50 Amazon.com gift card, and a beautiful journal. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don't Miss Book 1...

Still, the full-novel prequel to Mercy, is currently FREE in ebook format! Enjoy the series from the beginning when you download your copy today through Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or OkadaBooks.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Discussion 4 (Conclusion) ~ Emily of New Moon Read-Along


Welcome to the fourth and final discussion of the Emily of New Moon read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 25-31. If you've already read them, you can share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emily of New Moon read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :)

Hope you enjoy the discussion!

~ ~ ~

Emily of New Moon: Chapters 25-31

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and five questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes
  • "I can pray in my mind—I'm sure God can hear thoughts as well as words. It is nice to think He can hear me if nobody else can."
  • "You look like a star—you have a radiant sort of personality shining through you—your proper habitat should be the evening sky just after sunset—or the morning sky just before sunrise. Yes. You'd be more at home in the morning sky."
  • "If everybody had always been happy there'd be nothing to read about."
  • "Teddy will paint pictures and I will write poetry and we will have toast and bacon and marmalade every morning for breakfast—just like Wyther Grange—but never porridge. And we'll always have lots of nice things to eat in the pantry and I'll make lots of jam and Teddy is always going to help me wash the dishes."
  • "Time went on and autumn passed and winter came with its beautiful bare-limbed trees, and soft pearl-grey skies that were slashed with rifts of gold in the afternoons, and cleared to a jewelled pageantry of stars over the wide white hills and valleys around New Moon."
  • "Though I may not be very good-looking now, when I go to heaven I believe I'll be very beautiful."
  • "Elizabeth Murray had learned an important lesson—that there was not one law of fairness for children and another for grown-ups."
  • "For heaven's sake, girl, don't write what you can't understand yourself."

General Impressions

Confession time: I finished Emily of New Moon about a week ago and promptly proceeded to read Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest (completing the trilogy). I was eager to see what happened to Emily and her friends and how the series ended! Don't worry; I won't talk about those other two books and spoil anything here. ;) But if anyone else reads them and wants to chat, please feel free to comment below or message me through Goodreads or via email (amberstokes@corban.edu)! I'd love to hear your further thoughts on these characters and their lives. ♥

As for the end of the first book, I definitely found it intriguing. Emily has a couple of near-death experiences: one that leads to her friendship with Dean Priest, and another that leads to solving the mystery behind Ilse's mother's death.

Dean...I'm so torn about him! In some ways, his friendship with Emily is so charming and heartwarming. In other ways, some of the things he says when he first meets her (after saving her life) are a bit...shocking. But then, big age gaps in relationships are not uncommon in my family, and there's even a story I heard about my great-great grandparents (I believe) wherein my great-great grandfather saw my great-great grandmother when she was a little girl and he was a young man, and he knew right then he was going to marry her someday. So...! It's definitely not an unheard of thing, but it does feel a little jarring, hearing Dean hint at romance with a girl who could be his preteen daughter. Especially when he talks possessively. And yet, I couldn't help but be intrigued by what might come of it all in time. Maybe, down the road...?

Speaking of romance... Again, I realize Emily is a little young yet! But there are some really sweet moments with the boys in her life in these last chapters. Teddy and Emily share a secret adventure in the Disappointed House. While Emily doesn't seem to like the idea of marriage at this point, I think their daydreams of delicious breakfasts and helping each other with the dishes is pretty adorable. :) And then there's Emily's illness and the way Perry keeps watch through the night, so worried about her and wanting to know she'll be all right. ♥

We must talk about the new teacher in town! I love that Mr. Carpenter turns the education system upside down, just like Muriel Stacy in Anne of Green Gables. And I love the way he balances encouraging and challenging Emily in her writing, even if the challenges come off more strongly than the encouragement. ;) I'm so glad that these kids finally get a different teacher who is able to joke, wants to help the students excel in what they're best at, and doesn't treat them like Miss Brownell!

I loved seeing the relationship between Aunt Elizabeth and Emily grow and mature at the end. Aunt Elizabeth recognizes how she wronged Emily and actually asks for forgiveness! And Emily hurts when she realizes she hurt Aunt Elizabeth. It's realistic to know things don't become perfect after that scene, as is said in chapter 30: "Their points of view were so different that there were bound to be clashes; they did not speak the same language, so there was bound to be misunderstanding." And yet, I'm happy that there's been such progress and there is such hope for them. :)

As with other sections in this book, so much happens and develops in these chapters. And as I mentioned earlier, the introduction of these characters and their adventures made me want to read more and finish the trilogy to see how it all turns out! Also, isn't it neat how these last chapters set up the title of book 2, Emily Climbs? :)

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all five of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What did you think of Emily's first meeting with Dean Priest (and the near-death experience that brought it about)?

2. How would you feel about having Mr. Carpenter as a teacher? Do you agree with his teaching methods and how he critiques Emily's works?

3. Were you surprised by the truth about what happened to Ilse's mother? How did this chapter ("When the Curtain Lifted") make you feel?

4. Which scene in this book was the most adorable (or romantic) to you?

5. What was your favorite part of Emily's story? What are you hopes or predictions for what will happen to her in the rest of the series?

Thank you for joining us for the Emily of New Moon read-along! I loved chatting about the book with you! 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Discussion 3 ~ Emily of New Moon Read-Along


Welcome to the third discussion of the Emily of New Moon read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 18-24. If you've already read them, you can share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emily of New Moon read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :)

Hope you enjoy the discussion!

~ ~ ~

Emily of New Moon: Chapters 18-24

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and five questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes
  • "I'm in a scrape and I've been in it all summer. You see"—Emily was very sober—"I am a poetess." "Holy Mike! That is serious. I don't know if I can do much for you. How long have you been that way?"
  • "Of course, it was trash. Father Cassidy knew that well enough. All the same, for a child like this—and rhyme and rhythm were flawless—and there was one line—just one line—'the light of faintly golden stars'—for the sake of that line Father Cassidy suddenly said, 'Keep on,—keep on writing poetry.'"
  • "A queer feeling came into me and I thought 'What would I feel like if I was stuck before a big crowd of people like this? And besides the honour of the school is at stake,' so I whispered it to her because I was quite close. She got the rest all right. The strange thing is, dear Father, that now I don't feel any more as if I hated her. I feel quite kindly to her and it is much nicer. It is uncomfortable to hate people."
  • "'I love Revelations.' (And I do. When I read the verse 'and the twelve gates were twelve pearls' I just saw them and the flash came.)"
  • "A certain thing happened at New Moon because Teddy Kent paid Ilse Burnley a compliment one day and Emily Starr didn't altogether like it. Empires have been overturned for the same reason."
  • "Everybody who has ever lived in the world and could string two rhymes together has written a poem on spring. It is the most be-rhymed subject in the world—and always will be, because it is poetry incarnate itself."
  • "The air seemed to be filled with opal dust over the great pond and the bowery summer homesteads around it."
  • "Aunt Nancy says the way to be healthy is to eat just what you want and never think about your stomach."
  • "I can bear it when other people have a bad opinion of me but it hurts too much when I have a bad opinion of myself."

General Impressions

As you can see, I had a lot of favorite lines in this section...and there are so many more I could have included! I don't know if this will horrify you, but I've been underlining and writing in my used copy of the book. (I know!) But I enjoy doing that, especially for a read-along, as it makes it much easier to find lines I liked or remember my impressions. :) Anyway, if you looked at my copy, you'd see a good amount of "Ha!," "LOL," smiley faces, and exclamation points in the margins for this group of chapters.

I suppose it would make sense to start with Father Cassidy, as chapter 18 is all about Emily's encounter with him. I absolutely love his sense of humor, which is balanced so well with his kindness and respect for Emily. Yes, he does poke fun at her, in a sense, but he encourages her and speaks her language (as the narrator notes on page 194 in my copy). He listens to her and appreciates the gravity of her request to save the bush and of her passion for poetry. And he even writes her a letter, which means so much to her! He serves as an example to me of caring for children and their interests. :)

I also enjoyed seeing Lofty John humble himself (to some degree) and Aunt Elizabeth laugh some more and stand up for Emily at the Christmas gathering. Progress!! Speaking of progress, it's lovely to see Emily growing and maturing in her perspective of others (like in that third quote above regarding her archenemy Rhoda). But Emily still has plenty of growing left to do.

In the Teddy vs. Perry competition, I found it funny that Emily noted in one of her letters, "Teddy's [Christmas gift] was a little the nicest." She seems to be aware whom she favors of the two at this point in time. ;) Which explains why she really doesn't like Teddy complimenting Ilse (fifth quote above). LOL.

But oh my goodness! Perry's aunt Tom asking Emily to marry him when they're older...that scene was both unnerving (at the beginning) and hilarious (when Perry shows up). Perry telling Emily, "Ilse is better looking of course, and I don't know why I like you best but I do"...oh boy! But Emily's retorts are great, capped off by Perry's threat to knock Teddy's head off again. ;)

And then we end up at Wyther Grange. When Aunt Nancy asks Emily for a visit, it totally reminded me of Anne (in Anne of Green Gables) winning over Diana's great-aunt Josephine. (I confess that even though I've read the book, the images from the 1980s adaptation are ingrained in me!) Anyway, Aunt Nancy is quite a character, as is Caroline. Aunt Nancy says some absolutely hilarious things, like "The Murrays have keep-your-distance eyes" and "I never held with inflicting kisses on defenseless creatures simply because they were so unlucky as to be my relatives." LOL.

But as funny as Aunt Nancy can be, I don't really see her being a good influence on Emily, and I don't really care for how she treats poor Caroline, even if Caroline dishes it back some. While Emily notes the similarities between their friendship and hers with Ilse, I feel like there's an extra layer of meanness with these adults. Still...they do keep each other company and stick together, so there's that, I guess! I'm not sure what to think about Emily breaking the Jacobite glass... It was an accident, so I'm glad she wasn't punished severely, but perhaps there should have been some consequence? While Aunt Nancy's response isn't really instructive, it is funny, and I can't blame her for being relieved! ;)

One last note: It was interesting to see the reference to Gothic romances at the beginning of chapter 23. Yep, there seems to be a flavor of that in Emily's story, and it's fun to see the author mentioning that genre!

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all five of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What are your impressions of Father Cassidy? What do you like or not like about how he interacts with Emily?

2. If you could pick a line from these chapters that resonates with you the most—that makes you think, That's me!—what line would it be and why?

3. How did you feel about the Murray Christmas gathering described in chapter 20? How is it different from or similar to some of your own family Christmases (from childhood or more recently)?

4. What was something fashionable when you were younger that you really wanted, like Emily's desire for bangs? Have your tastes changed since then?

5. If you were invited to visit Wyther Grange for a while, would you want to go? What might you think of the place and its occupants?

Join us next Sunday for our last discussion! 
(Chapters 25-31)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Maya's Story: A Hiatus



Hi, friends! I just wanted to pop in really quick and let you know that I haven't forgotten about Maya's story. I really wish I had another chapter ready to post, but I confess I don't at this time. :( However, I do hope to write another four chapters soon to complete the story! If you haven't read the first four chapters, here are the links:
For the moment, I guess you can consider this the intermission halfway through the project. ;) Thank you so much for your patience, and I hope it won't be too long before I have the next set of chapters ready to share! ♥

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Discussion 2 ~ Emily of New Moon Read-Along


Welcome to the second discussion of the Emily of New Moon read-along! ♥ If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 11-17. If you've already read them, you can share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emily of New Moon read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :)

Hope you enjoy the discussion!

~ ~ ~

Emily of New Moon: Chapters 11-17

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and five questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes
  • "I should not write fassinating again because you told me I must not use the same word too often but I cant think of any other that deskribes my feelings so well."
  • "The call always had an odd effect on Emily; it seemed to her that it fairly drew the heart out of her body—and she had to follow it. She thought Teddy could have whistled her clear across the world with those three magic notes."
  • "Ilse glanced happily around her—poor little neglected Ilse, who found in Emily's companionship what she had hungered for all her short life and who was, even now, being led by love into something of her rightful heritage."
  • "Old Kelly thought that the surest way to please a female creature of any age was to tease her about getting married."
  • "Perry was away with Cousin Jimmy all day and when he came home at night he said to me, very feerce, Who has been making you cry. I said I had been crying—a little but not much—because I was not let go to the party because I had laughed at prayers. And Perry marched right up to Aunt Elizabeth and told her it was all his fault that I laughed."
  • "There is a beautiful fringe of isikles along the cookhouse roof. But there will be much more beautiful things in heaven."
  • "Spring is such a happyfying time isn't it, Father."

General Impressions

For a sweet but emotional coming-of-age story, these chapters sure seem action packed! We get to know Ilse much better, and we also meet Teddy and Perry. There are lovely scenes with the children playing and spending time together, and then there are scenes full of excitement and horror—like when Emily thinks she's been poisoned, or when the teacher decides to be very awful (and completely unprofessional) and reads Emily's poetry aloud to the class in a mocking way. (Just...ugh!!)

Did anyone else think the scene where Emily gets locked in the spare room as similar to the red-room scene in Jane Eyre? There does seem to be a bit of Gothic flair to this story!

Overall, I'm really enjoying getting to know Emily's new home, family, and friends. The moment when Aunt Elizabeth actually cracks a smile over Emily's dramatic near-poisoning suggests there might be hope for her to grow more tender in time. (A very, very small ray of hope, but still!) As always, Aunt Laura is a dear, and I absolutely love when Cousin Jimmy speaks up and reminds Aunt Elizabeth and Miss Brownell that no human should kneel before anyone but God in that way. (Go, Jimmy! And I'm so glad Elizabeth listened and changed her mind.)

I'm pretty sure I would be like Emily in having to adjust to the constant tantrums and fights with a friend, but I must admit that Ilse is hilarious and charmingly genuine in all she thinks and feels. I love how her friendship with Emily is helping her grow and opening her eyes to truths beyond her dad's opinions.

As for Teddy and Perry... Goodness, I like both of them. ♥ I love Teddy's gentleness and sweet friendship, and I love Perry's forthrightness and protective nature. Perry standing up for Emily makes my romantic heart happy, even though I realize they're a little young to be thinking too romantically yet. ;) (This is making me want to find out what happens in the rest of the trilogy though!)

There are so many humorous lines and scenes in this section of the book, and it's really fun to get some of Emily's point of view through her letters to her father. I'm looking forward to reading more and seeing how Emily's friendships and writing develop!

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all five of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. If you could have Ilse, Teddy, or Perry as your friend, which one do you think you would get along with the best? Which one do you think would help you grow the most?

2. What did you think of Emily's response when Lofty John suggests she's eaten poison? How might you have reacted similarly or differently?

3. Which scene did you find the most humorous in these chapters? What part particularly made you laugh or smile?

4. Imagine yourself as a student in the classroom when Miss Brownell is reading Emily's poetry—or in the house when Miss Brownell comes to speak with Aunt Elizabeth. How would you feel, and what might you do to come to Emily's aid during or after the incident?

5. If you lived at New Moon, which season would be your favorite to experience?

Join us next Sunday for our third discussion! 
(Chapters 18-24)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Discussion 1 ~ Emily of New Moon Read-Along


Welcome to the first discussion of the Emily of New Moon read-along! ♥ Before we get started, if this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 1-10. If you've already read them, you can share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emily of New Moon read-along tag.) If you still need to catch up, you're welcome to check in whenever you're ready. :)

Hope you enjoy the discussion!

~ ~ ~

Emily of New Moon: Chapters 1-10

Discussion format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and five questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes
  • "Darkness and hobgoblins were nothing when you had plenty of company. But to be alone—ah, Emily shivered with the delicious horror of it!"
  • "It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music."
  • "Your mother thought Emily the prettiest name in the world,—it was quaint and arch and delightful, she said."
  • "Everything we had was small except our love and our happiness."
  • "One couldn't be afraid or bitter where love was—and love was everywhere." 
  • "Nobody who was loved as much as he was could be a failure."
  • "Books were Emily's friends wherever she found them."

General Impressions

I'm fairly certain this will be my first time reading through Emily of New Moon... (Unless I'm forgetting something!) I think it's felt familiar so far because I might have tried starting it when I got this copy and especially because I watched some of a mini-series based on this book with my uncle and grandparents when I was younger. (Not entirely sure how far we got through that!)

Anyway... ;)

Some elements remind me of Anne of Green Gables: the fact that Emily is orphaned, her love for nature and describing it through lovely words, and the way she feels different from everyone else. But Emily definitely seems to be her own character, and I appreciate her love for cats, her passion for writing, and her desire to honor her father's memory.

Her three new guardians are also quite different from Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (from Anne of Green Gables), although Emily is still getting a mix of strict upbringing and secret kindness. I really hope Aunt Elizabeth softens and starts to see what a blessing she has in Emily. I love Aunt Laura and her gentle ways! And Cousin Jimmy... I do like the thoughtfulness and generosity he shows Emily, although I'm not sure what to think about the times a switch seems to flip and he frightens Emily with his intensity (not meanness, though, thank goodness!).

New Moon itself seems charming, if a bit dark with the stories it holds and the fact that they only use candlelight at night. I hope Emily will come to love the sound of the sea. :) And I'm eager to see how this place, with the nearby fairy path and Jimmy's beautiful garden and the property's dear quirks, becomes home to her.

Of course, there's also school and making "friends." The back cover description assures me there are more true friends to come on the scene, which gives me hope! It's not all that fun to read about how "children can be the most cruel creatures alive" (a quote from chapter 8). Ugh! Makes me think of Lord of the Flies by William Golding (thank goodness things aren't that bad in Emily's story...but still!), which is a book I had to read for school once upon a time that I really, really didn't like. But I guess all this serves as a reminder that we humans are sinful beings from birth and in desperate need of God's grace and mercy.

Chapter 10 ends with a sweet little poem and a promise of great big trouble to come...

Discussion Questions

Answer any or all five of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What did you think of Emily's life before her father passed away? What stood out to you as wonderful or sad?

2. Which of Emily's Murray relatives has made the greatest impression on you so far in either a positive or negative way? What is it that makes their character so striking?

3. Are you a cat person? What did you think of Emily's choice between Saucy Sal and Mike?

4. Are you a fan of poetry like Emily? If you enjoy reading it, do you prefer blank-verse or rhyming poetry? What's your favorite poem you've read or written?

5. What are your thoughts on Emily's school experience so far? If you could step in and make changes to the system, what might you do?

Join us next Sunday for our second discussion! 
(Chapters 11-17)