4 Non-Fiction Books to Read Before a Missions Trip

Have you ever considered going on a missions trip? The opportunity to travel for missions usually presents itself to Christin youth sooner or later. Sometimes it involves a flight that crosses continents. Sometimes it’s a road trip to a location in your own country. Often there are a lot of questions you ask yourself before making a commitment to a missions trip. What can I really do? I’m not an evangelist, how am I supposed to tell strangers about God? I’ve lived a sheltered life and don’t even understand the issues a missions trip might address. Will my participation really help?

4 Missions Trips Books

Continue reading “4 Non-Fiction Books to Read Before a Missions Trip”

Book Review: The King’s Shadow

King's Shadow, The

“You, Shadow!” the slave master shouted, as though Evyn were deaf as well as dumb. Laughter erupted behind him. “Shadow” was what they called dogs or horses. Evyn burned with shame. Uncle Morgan had even stolen his name.

Young Evyn is a Welsh serf in the 11th century. His life is turned upside down when his uncle betrays him and his father, leaving his father dead and Evyn a mute orphan. The uncle then sells Evyn into a life of slavery and pockets the money to repay a debt. Evyn becomes Shadow, a often mistreated and sometimes pitied slave boy. But his fortunes begin to change when he learns to read and write. He becomes a squire to Earl Harold and in time, the two become close friends. When Harold is crowned king, he makes Evyn his foster son. It’s a bond that will throw Evyn into the middle of two of the greatest battles of his time.

It’s funny how some books fade from your memory within a week of reading them, while some linger for years. The King’s Shadow is one that has lingered. I read it in 2008, yet I still remember feeling furious at Uncle Morgan and deeply sympathetic towards Evyn.

What’s your favorite time period to read about? Do you like any other books set in the 11th century?

Reposted from March 28, 2014

Series Review: The Blades of Acktar

Last weekend I plunged into the world of Acktar and finally came up for air three books later. I’m not sure why I took so long to heed my friends’ raving reviews of this series! Since I read all three book in one week, I thought I’d do a series review instead of doing each book separately.

Acktar Series

Leith Torren knows much of the world’s darkness and little of the light. Since childhood, he’s been trained as an assassin. He’s good at his job. When a mission goes wrong because of a young teammate’s indiscretion, Leith’s life almost ends. Wounded and trapped in a blizzard, he stumbles upon Stetterly Manor and finds inexplicable compassion at the hands of girls he helped orphan. It’s his first taste of Christ’s love.

I loved so many things about the first three books in this series. In my reader’s heart, characters are king, so my first loves in these books are Leith, Brandi, Renna, Shad, and Jamie. Tricia does a great job of bringing them to life. Each character has a distinctive personality, struggles different from any of the others, and strengths that propel them to heroism. In fact, certain things about each character intrigued me enough that I’m planning a series of blog posts highlighting different members of the Blades of Acktar cast.

One word of caution. When you sit down to start this series (when, not if), choose a night you can start reading early. Otherwise you’ll stay up too late and be sleep deprived the following day!

Book Review: A Fool and His Monet

Fool and His Monet, ASpecial Agent Serena Jones is trying to calm her jittery nerves following a painting recovery when she receives a panicked call from her best friend. Two valuable paintings are missing from the storage vault at the museum her friend works for. Serena dives headfirst into the mystery. Getting the paintings back to the museum turns out to be a tall order. The trail is months cold, and Serena has big distractions–like a stalker who might be trying to take her out and a slew of guys trying to impress her.

I purchased this book on a whim. Usually I dismiss anything art related, but I recently spent a week going to museums with a friend of mine who loves art. After several days of geek outs over Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh, I couldn’t help but noticed this book at a local homeschool conference. It took me a chapter or two to orient myself when I started reading. I don’t read a ton of mysteries, and at first I wasn’t sure what to make of Serena’s quirky commentary on life. Turns out, it’s Serena’s unique perspectives that make this story delightful. She’s tough without loosing her femininity, observant, and delightfully clueless about guys.

If you enjoy lighthearted, quirky, fast-paced mysteries, this is a no-brainer for your to-read list.

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One of the galleries at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Stay tuned for an interview with author Sandra Orchard.

P.S. Please take time to pray for Sandra’s grandson who had a bad accident and is fighting for his life.

Book Review & Giveaway: Samara’s Peril

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Are you ready for an influx of posts about Samara’s Peril? I’m so excited to talk about this book because the more of the series I read, the more of a favorite it becomes. Dear readers, if the Ilyon Chronicles books aren’t on your read-as-soon-as-possible list, they should be.

Back Cover Blurb

When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!

My Thoughts

Every once in a while, you meet a fictional character that completely captures your heart. When they’re part of the series, you find yourself grinning when you begin the next book because you’re happy to be “hanging out” with this character again. Jace is one of those characters. There is something about his dogged integrity despite a crippling past that makes him compelling.

While past books in this series have caused me to contemplate broad issues like faithfulness in the face of persecution, Samara’s Peril was a very personal story. The majority of the narrative clung to Jace’s perspective, struggles, and eventual … well, let’s not give that part away. 😉 The moments of joy are bountiful, relieving joy because they’ve been hoped for and anticipated for so long. (One scene had me stumbling around the house with a grin on my face for half-an-hour.) The stretches of pain and doubt are heart wringing.

The bottom line is: the storytelling is amazing, the story itself is meaningful, and the characters will make a home in your heart and never leave.

Stay Tuned! Next Wednesday we’ll be featuring an author interview with Jaye, and next Friday I’ll share some practical, real-life takeaways inspired by Samara’s Peril.

About the Author

JayeAuthor2015Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Giveaway!

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

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Book Review: Lydia

LydiaThis is my third Lois T. Henderson book, and I think it’s safe to say that she’s become one of my favorite Biblical fiction authors. (You can read my previous reviews of her books Ruth and Pricilla & Aquila.)

Our church has been studying Acts, and we reached the portion containing Lydia’s story just as I was finishing this book. It’s always neat to listen to teaching on a Biblical portion and compare it to an author’s imagined tale.

What gripped me most in this book was the scene where Lydia is converted to Christianity. It’s been a while since a salvation scene made me cry, but this one definitely did. The author managed to paint a word picture of the sheer beauty and joy of a soul opening to Christ.

Lydia was aware of no one and nothing but her own need for this gift which Paul promised. Eagerly, she pushed through the crowd until she reached the edge of the water. She dropped her stola and stood waiting in her simple tunic.

Like Henderson’s other stories, Lydia is not an action packed book. It is compelling in a quiet, every-day way.

What are some of your favorite, fictional conversion scenes? What type of scenes make you cry (or get your heart beating fast … whatever your reaction is)?

 

Espionage Cover Reveal

Nothing like being fashionably late to the party! The cover reveal for Morgan Elizabeth Huneke’s upcoming book was this Monday, but I was sick in bed and not thinking about anything besides sleep. 😛

Here’s the cover now!

Espionage

Author Interview

Which of your “bad guy” characters would be most likely to show compassion to a homeless person? Why?

I only have two bad guys in Espionage, “the stryte” and Sir Roland. Between the two, probably Sir Roland, but more from elimination, because the stryte is too gleeful in his misdeeds to show compassion. Sir Roland’s not really much more likely.

If one of your characters could teleport to the 21st century and drive a car, which of them would most enjoy the experience?

My mom said Kyle when she saw the question. Other than the fact that he’s twelve and so it would technically be illegal, he probably would enjoy it the most. It’s something normal for our world, and he craves normal.

What did you learn from writing Espionage?

Not every book is as hard as Time Captives. Also that worldbuilding can be fun, but when my worldbuilding backs my characters into a corner, it makes sequel plotting exceedingly difficult. That even bad guys should be shown mercy. And that a girl from church actually looks exactly like my main character. (She’s the girl on the cover.)

About the Book

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”

As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?

Release Date
Espionage, A Companion to Time Captives, will be released on May 16th, 2016. Stay tuned on Morgan’s blog and Facebook page for more information and sneak peeks.

Preorder on Kindle now!

About Morgan

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Read the story behind the cover