NEW TO VELLA: THOSE WITH EARS, part of the Midnight Hour Series

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Arriving to Vella TODAY is Those With Ears, a serialized dystopian portion of the Midnight Hour series under my pen name, Makenzie Gray.  The first three episodes will be free for your perusal; episodes two and three will be available on Tuesday the 19th and next Friday the 22nd, respectively.  I'll be sharing new episodes twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays, with the final two episodes both available the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (consider it your one-hour season finale when stuff really hits the fan).  
Click HERE to follow the story!

What's the blurb, you might ask? Well, the Vella blurb is as follows: 

What will Takvi do when the End begins? 

In the blink of an eye, Takvi's aunt and uncle disappear into thin air, along with thousands more. The government covers it up, and she wonders about the truth. What is hidden beneath the lies? Can she make sense of the new world she's thrust into? The illegal book her aunt and uncle left the family has answers, but she must be brave enough to follow its Word. And when the newly-formed One Order tightens its grip, will any of it matter anyway?



If you enjoy stories featuring complex sibling bonds, disasters, and hope despite it all, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for updates. Plus, here are two quotes from an upcoming chapter: 





Those With Ears is the prequel/first novel to Let Them Hear, an end-times inspired novel that will, God willing, be arriving in mid 2022. If you're interested in reading Those With Ears in physical format, good news there too: I will be releasing it in paperback and Kindle formats hopefully around January of 2022.  Interested in signing up for the cover release? I'll be having it the first week of December, so stay tuned for updates. If you don't already, make sure you're following me on Instagram and Facebook (my Makenzie Gray accounts, not my Tangled Up In Writing accounts)!

JUSTREAD TOURS REVIEW: WHITE WOLF AND THE ASH PRINCESS by Tammy Lash!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Hey everyone!  Today I'm excited to share with you my review of White Wolf and the Ash Princess by Tammy Lash! I had the opportunity to review this book through JustRead Tours, and it has to be one of my favorites of 2021. Check out the info below! 


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Grace Award Finalist!

The princess was the guardian of the light of the black wolf and the grey. White boar greatly desired her light, though the boars had possession of their own. When the princess refused to give up the light, both were given to the fire to do with them as it wished.

Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she suffered a terrible trauma that left her with physical scars. Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne’s young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property’s rock wall into a world that promises possible answers but also great danger.

Gifted with claws of copper and teeth of iron, the black wolf and the grey call him “White Wolf”; for he is the greatest of them with the power of flame and ash.

While running to escape his past, Jonathan Gudwyne rescued Izzy and took her in, but who did she belong to before he became her guardian?

With the touch of the wolf’s great paw, the girl rose out of the ashes a woman—a mighty warrior armed with a copper axe.

A mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World where the Wendigo wanders and Water Panther swims. In the wilds of seventeenth-century America, Izzy and Jonathan discover the legends of the New World aren’t the fairytales of their library home in England.


GOODREADS | AMAZON 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tammy lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula near the shores of Lake Superior with her husband and three teen/adult children. Currently, they are working together on their "new" home just outside the Hiawatha National Forest she writes about in her stories. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, "hunting" for birch bark, and spotting migizis. She is the author of White Wolf and the Ash Princess, Letters from the Dragon's Son, and the short story Eagle Eyes from the Descendants of White Wolf series.



MY REVIEW
Lash's novel White Wolf and the Ash Princess really blew my expectations out of the water.  It has to be one of my favorite books of the whole year and I know it will hold a special place in my heart. She blends very hard topics and circumstances of healing, forgiveness, mental health, and how we deal with invisible scars after horrific events, in such a spectacular way. Not pushy, not overstated, not understated -- dealt with beautifully and realistically.  Plus, the novel felt very well-researched and I truly enjoyed learning more about the Native American tribes, customs, and phrases.  The characters and scenery just jump out of the pages and I seriously felt so attached to the characters by the time I finished reading the book. There were a few nifty plot twists in the mix, too, and such a beautiful message of healing and growth.  In the author's note, she mentions that she hopes readers will assess their own wounds, the scars that need to be cleansed in order to heal properly -- and I can say that this book did that for me. It's one I'll be mulling over for awhile. 

Have you read any of Lash's books? Do you plan on adding White Wolf and the Ash Princess to your TBR?

REVELL READS: HOSTILE INTENT by Lynette Eason!

Hey everyone!  You've probably guessed already that if I have the opportunity to read and review a new Lynette Eason book, chances are that I'll jump on it with both feet. So...here we are again! This one is the grand finale for the DANGER NEVER SLEEPS series, Hostile Intent.  Let's get to it! 

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Ava Jackson entered the military shortly after high school, but her mother's illness has forced her to request an early discharge. She already lost her father while deployed, and there's no way she's going to let her mother die alone. But after a visit to the nursing facility where her mother lives, Ava is attacked walking back to her car. Fortunately, FBI Special Agent Caden Denning arrives in time to help fight off her attacker.

Caden reveals to Ava that she may hold the key to the murders of three families, and he needs her help before anyone else is harmed. The hits show a pattern, and clearly the killer has an agenda. But if Caden and Ava can't discover what it is, Ava may be next on the hit list.

Bestselling author Lynette Eason concludes her latest suspense-filled series with a bang as secrets are revealed and the guilty are brought to justice.

AMAZON | GOODREADS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning, best-selling author, Lynette Eason writes for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense line and for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her books have hit the Publisher's Weekly, CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won numerous awards such as the prestigious Carol Award, the Selah, the Daphne, the IRCC award and more. Lynette is married, has two children, and lives in Greenville, SC.


MY REVIEW
This one was pretty good! I have to say that I feel like a lot more could have been done with the plot that was initially set up, but it was fairly easy to see what was going to happen next in the book -- it was really clever, but not necessarily the explosive/blindsiding plot twist that I'm used to seeing from Eason's books. That being said, the storyline was still excellent, and the characters were very easy to get attached to and relate with. Ava and Caden have a wonderful chemistry that I haven't seen in awhile in romances, so that was refreshing -- and definitely fun to read! Overall, if you enjoyed the series, you'll definitely want to pick this book up. If you're new to the series, you'll be able to read this one as a standalone, but the story does have references to prior cases covered in the first three books.  (And on that note, I loved how Eason tied up all the loose ends regarding the characters' relationships and budding family lives in this book!) 


AUTHOR INTERVIEW: JOAN EMBOLA, AUTHOR OF THE ONE WHO KNOWS ME!

Friday, September 10, 2021

 Hey everyone!

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Joan Embola, author of the brand-new book The One Who Knows Me! It just released yesterday, and I couldn't be more excited about it. Before I get into the interview, here's some info about the book. 



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IS GOD SOVEREIGN OVER TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY?

Bullies and family disasters have left eighteen-year-old Teeyana Sparks filled with anxiety and doubt. She feels pressured to believe in God, but as she embarks on her college journey in the hope of one day working at Google as a graphic designer, the only thing she believes in is controlling her own life. Things change when she meets Jayden Williams—the guy with a charming smile and kind heart.

Struggling with grief and recovering from a season of depression, nineteen-year-old Jayden is determined to help Teeyana believe in God’s goodness again. But when yet another tragedy strikes close to home, Teeyana’s response exposes Jayden’s unhealed wounds and tips him into a mental health relapse.

With the looming possibility of not getting her dream life, Teeyana is caught between holding on to her illusion of control and surrendering to a God she’s rejected. And as Jayden strives to break out of his despondency, he has to face that letting God in may involve him letting go of his friendship with Teeyana. Teeyana and Jayden must wrestle with uncomfortable truths, and the pride in their hearts, in order to face their biggest giant—God’s sovereignty over both triumph and tragedy.

The One Who Knows Me, book one in the Sovereign Love series, is a heart-warming standalone novel about hope and learning to take comfort in the sovereign goodness of a loving God who knows all things.

AMAZON | GOODREADS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Joan Embola is a UK-based Cameroonian-Nigerian Christian author who is passionate about spreading God's love one word at a time. She is a Bible teacher, a blogger, a YouTuber, a podcaster, a dancer, and a poetess. Her book Outpourings Of A Beloved Heart; a 30 day poetry devotional about God's love, is available for purchase. Her debut contemporary Christian Fiction novel will be releasing on September 10th 2021. 
WEBSITE | PODCAST | BLOG | INSTAGRAM | NEWSLETTER

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

  1. What are some of your favorite themes in The One Who Knows Me?

    As I pondered on this question I realised that when I first started writing this book, the themes I thought I'd cover were slightly different to those that ended up featuring in the book. That just goes to show that we can make our plans (even while planning writing projects) but ultimately God reveals His own plans and how He wants to use that to bless others. Here are some of my favourite themes from the book.

    God's sovereignty: This was a theme I came to discover more as I wrote the book. I didn't understand it at first but with every draft I completed, God led me to understand that this book was meant to encourage others to see His goodness in both triumph and tragedy. It wasn't an easy theme to portray. I had to make sure the principles were Biblical and so writing about God's sovereign love encouraged me to read my Bible more, which in turn helped me draw closer to God. Till today, the concept of God's sovereignty comforts me,. It keeps me going through life's challenges and I hope that all who read this book will be encouraged too.

    Family and friendships: I knew I wanted to write a story which portrayed strong family bonds and friendships. The family aspect of this book was inspired by my own close knit family. We have been through so many challenging times over the past few years but God has been so good to us. I wanted to portray something similar in this book and show a family sticking together and overcoming trials together as they trust God. Teeyana and Amara's friendship was inspired by my friendship with my best friend--Adele. We have been friends since 2008 and we haven't seen each other in person for ten years, yet we continue to encourage each other through life's ups and downs. It was so fun to write Teeyana and Amara's friendship and I hope it inspires others to be intentional about keeping friends who will draw them closer to God.

    Mentorship and community: I'm a firm believer in the fact that we can't run our Christian journey alone. We need community and we need to constantly learn how to be disciples of Christ. Since both main characters in this novel are in college, I wanted to portray the idea of the importance of having mentors and having people who you can be accountable to. Choosing the right relationships will require a lot of discernment, but it is worth it and it is very encouraging.

    Faith and mental health: This theme is one I never thought I'd end up writing about. In fact it wasn't until the fourth draft that I realised this was actually a strong theme in the book. Writing about hope in depression and anxiety was so therapeutic for me because the idea for this book came after I'd been through a very challenging time in my life. God constantly used this story to remind me that He is with me through trials and that no matter how heartbroken I feel, God's love is still able to heal my ailing heart. It is my prayer that this same message of hope meets and encourages everyone who reads this book.

    Love: My mission as an author is to share God's love one word at a time, so I knew that this book had to talk about God's love for us and also our love for others. I enjoyed writing about the character's faith journeys to experiencing God's love for them, and also falling in love with each other in the process. I love romance and I think that's something that will always feature in every book I write.

  2. Which character was your favorite to write, and which one was the most challenging? I had a lot of fun writing Jayden and Amara. Amara's character was already set in my mind from the first draft. I knew the kind of personality she was going to have and the impact she was going to have on Teeyana's journey. Jayden came as a surprise to me because he was initially only supposed to be the love interest, and it wasn't until after the fourth draft that I discovered there was more to his story than I thought. I love Jayden because I feel we have so much in common and I relate a lot to some of his struggles in this book. That being said, it was also challenging to write Jayden's story because he went through a lot of dark moments which were very emotional for me to write about. I had to lean on God throughout the whole process and constantly look at the light at the end of the tunnel and focus on the hope in the darkness.

  3. If readers could gain one thing from reading your book, what do you hope it will be? That God's love for us is so much bigger than any trial we face, and even when things are bad, God is still working for our good.

  4. Can you explain (unless it’s spoiler-y!) which scene was your favorite to write? My favourite scenes would have to be all the scenes in chapters 27 and 28. It would be a spoiler to say exactly what happened in these chapters but I can say these scenes were my favourite to write because of the raw emotion expressed by the main characters. Till this day, I get goose bumps every time I read those chapters.

5. You reference a particular Bible verse throughout The One Who Knows Me -- a favorite verse of one of the characters’. What significance did this verse have to you while writing this book?
            This verse is Job 23:10 and it is my favourite Bible verse. I mentioned earlier that the inspiration for this story came after I'd been through a dark time in my life. This Bible verse brought me a lot of comfort and it still helps me to keep hoping and trusting God through challenging times. In other to write a story about hope in suffering, I had to relate to it myself. This verse taught me so many truths about God's love for me which gave me the confidence to write this book.

For He knows: God is omniscient, He knows all things, and He knows my story.
The way that I take: He knows my path, He knows where I'm going because He planned it from the beginning of time.
When He has tested me: Trials will come. They are part of the process and I can't escape them in this life. But these trials are a test and God remains the Good Teacher who has my best interests at heart.
I will come forth as gold: God is constantly working on me. The trials He allows are purifying me and helping me to be more like Christ every day. God is with me through it all. He will never leave me, and when I get my eternal reward, it will all be worth it.




Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Joan! This was such a fantastic interview, wasn't it?! I loved hearing about the thought and consideration she put into this book, and I really truly recommend reading it. The One Who Knows Me is easily in my top 10 list of books I've read this year (and I've been reading a lot so...). 


What did you think about the interview? Do you want to read The One Who Knows Me, or have you already preordered it? Sound off in the comments! 

FHL Vol 1: TOUR SPOTS OPEN!

Sunday, September 5, 2021



 Hey everyone!  I just wanted to share a quick announcement that I've still got open applications for the social media/blog tour for Faith, Hope, and Love Collection: Vol 1! If you'd like to participate, please fill out the form HERE!  There's also the option to become an ARC reader if interested. I'm keeping it super laid back just because I'm pretty busy and it's a re-release, so participating can be as easy as copying the basic info and snagging a premade pic or making one of your own!  These will mostly be book spotlights, but there are also opportunities to review the book as well. I appreciate it SO much! Applications will be closing in mid-September. 

Questions? Please feel free to let me know anytime. 


REVIEW: THE SECRET KEEPERS OF OLD DEPOT GROCERY by Amanda Cox!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Hey everyone!  Today I'm sharing a review of The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox!  This book is releasing September 7th (Tuesday!) and it's so wonderful. I'm so excited to have had the opportunity to read and review this precious story, and I've been recommending it to basically anyone who will listen because it's just that good.  Make sure to check out the review below! 

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Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons--but she'll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she's pregnant with her deceased fiancé's baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.


AMAZON | GOODREADS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. She holds a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology and a master's degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. 
WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS 




MY REVIEW

 The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery is Cox's sophomore novel and it definitely does not disappoint. There are a few interesting twists and turns that slowly build for a grand finale, and it keeps you on edge waiting for the secrets to come out. There are also several layers of issues that the characters work through; three generations of secrets that unravel after the newly-widowed main character arrives back home.  There are a lot of great themes and thought-provoking lines that really stop you in your tracks. It's a book that you'll read all at once and then have to go back and read again, just because. It's true to Cox's style, presenting stories from the past and present in a dual timeline sort of situation, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite things about Cox's books. Definitely a must-read if you're a fan of contemporary Christian fiction that doesn't shy away from difficult truth, from opening old wounds to heal them, and characters that are deeply compelling and relatable. 


Have you read any of Amanda Cox's novels yet? Do you plan on reading The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery

FHL Vol 1 PREORDERS NOW OPEN!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 Pssst! 
Hey guys! 
The Kindle preorder is now open for Faith, Hope, and Love Collection: Volume One!  
And if you preorder and you have a U.S. mailing address, you'll get a cute little goodie package in the mail.

Click HERE for preorder goodies, and click HERE to preorder! 

If you'd rather preorder a signed paperback just in time for Christmas (unless USPS is the actual GRINCH), click HERE to reserve your copy! 

Have questions? Lemme know!