As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of The Red Button by Keith Eldred and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.
The Red Button by Keith Eldred is a unique work of fiction as it is written as a prequel, of sorts, to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Mr. Eldred has written an account of Ebenezer Scrooge’s life that explores his relationship with Belle, prior to becoming the grumpy miser we know from A Christmas Carol.
Mr. Eldred’s story is written in a very similar style as the classic A Christmas Carol, and fans of the original Dickens classic will be delighted to follow Ebenezer Scrooge through his meeting Belle, becoming interested in courting her to their engagement, and, of course, to the ending of the relationship, all while also following an interesting idea of Mr. Scrooge’s business dealings that made him rich. In addition, readers will follow how his line of thinking changes from the beginning of the book to the end of the book, as well as how he enters into a business relationship with Jacob Marley and becomes the grumpy miser, all of which make this book flow easily into the original Dickens classic that has become so known and loved.
Mr. Eldred has included an unlikely character that plays a part in this story, and that is the Red Button. He also created an unusual relationship between Belle and her mother. These two things make the story quite unique, adding Mr. Eldred’s original touch.
I enjoyed reading The Red Button by Keith Eldred, as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has always been, and still remains, one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time. And I will say, I read The Red Button carefully, as I looked for the connections to the original classic that I felt were important for the book to truly be acceptable to readers, like me, who love Dickens’ original classic, and I was pleased with the connections Mr. Eldred made.
If you are also a fan of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, I encourage you to read The Red Button by Keith Eldred. Mr. Eldred’s story may not include some of the most beloved characters or some lighthearted moments as the Dickens original, but if you like to explore the possibilities of literature’s best known characters’ lives, like Ebenezer Scrooge, I think you will enjoy The Red Button.
Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery is the first book of the Daiyu Wu Mysteries series by Gloria Oliver. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.
The setting of Black Jade is Texas in 1930. In Black Jade, Ms. Oliver often refers to the Yellow Terror and Daiyu Wu and her family are treated as strange and looked down upon, and to be feared. If you know anything about 1930s U.S. history, it was at that time that Chinese immigrants were coming into the United States and westerners feared that the Chinese would invade their lands. They also believed the Chinese were a threat to Western values, and the media coined the term “Yellow Peril” when referring to the Chinese.
Apparently, Ms. Oliver decided to use the term “Yellow Terror” in her story and she portrayed how it affected a Chinese family who wanted nothing but to live in the United States and run their business. They had fled China because their daughter was not accepted in the Chinese culture because she was blind.
Black Jade is both a historical mystery and an amateur sleuth mystery, as young Daiyu is quite intelligent and very aware of her surroundings, and one day while working in the family’s laundry, she stumbles upon the scent of garlic. With the help of her friend, Jacques, she discovers the source of the odor is a green ballgown. This leads Daiyu to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic.
That is the beginning of the mystery that sends Daiyu, her dog, Prince Razor, and Jacques on quite an adventure to discover who was murdered and who committed the crime.
Gloria Oliver paints wonderful descriptions that take the reader deep into the places that Daiyu and Jacques go, into a society that isn’t quite sure how to react to a clever, blind Chinese girl, into a family that has problems, and into a coroner’s lab. She has created unique characters that are very interesting and engaging, and a murder mystery that will keep you guessing.
The only thing I struggled with while reading this story was being able to see Daiyu and Jacques as adults. The way they are treated by Daiyu’s parents and most of the people they came into contact with, as well as their interactions with and reactions to each other, convinced me they were youth. However, this did not, in any way, hinder my enjoyment of the story.
Daiyu’s dog, Prince Razor, and a young man who showed interest in Daiyu were wonderful additions to the cast of characters.
If you enjoy good murder mysteries on the cozy side, you will enjoy Black Jade. I will issue one warning for sensitive readers that there are a handful of curse words scattered about the story, but they can easily be overlooked.
Black Jade is well written, educational, and entertaining.
Wolves Adalore is the debut novel of Morgan Gauthier. It is also the first book in the Mark of the Hunter series. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review or any review.
Crispin and Salome have been raised by Zophar after their parents died. Now they must prepare for battle with their sister, Niabi, who has been ruling Adalore from the White Throne. She is responsible for many deaths. She was ready to turn her rule over to her son until tragedy struck and brought out her cruel nature once again.
It has been about 200 years since a hunter has been seen in Adalore or its surrounding lands, so no one believes a hunter exists. However, Zophar, Crispin, and Salome are assured, by a Seer, Harbona, that it is the Year of the Hunter and there is a hunter, and it is one of them.
As the four begin their journey to Adalore, they come under attack twice. Then they separate into pairs and later reunite.
Wolves of Adalore is a very well written fantasy novel. It has also been well edited. There are many characters, but it is easy to follow the characters. Morgan Gauthier made clear connections between the characters as well. It is a novel of good vs. evil.
I enjoyed this story and I love Zophar, Crispin, Salome, and Harbona, as well as Salome’s guardian, Adonijah. Morgan Gauthier not only created lovable characters, a story that kept me turning pages, and an interesting setting, but she writes engaging dialogue between characters, especially Adonijah and Salome, which adds some light-heartedness to the story.
My only disappointment in this novel is that just as they are about to enter into the battle the story has been leading up to, Ms. Gauthier brings the story to a close. However, it was not a complete cliffhanger, and I am grateful for that. I will look forward to reading the next book in the Mark of the Hunter series by Morgan Gauthier for I want to know who wins the battle and what happens to my favorite characters.
For my sensitive readers, I will mention that there are a few profane words within the story.
If you enjoy an engaging fantasy story with very likeable characters, I encourage you to read Wolves of Adalore.
Have you written a great story but see that it needs some improvement before you publish it for the world to see?
Writing a great story is hard work. It requires time. The best writers continually study the writing craft by reading great books about writing and by attending writing conferences either in person or online. This enables a writer to keep up-to-date on any changes in the writing world as far as writing styles, suggested rules, and what agents and publishers are looking for.
“But I’m an indie author,” you may say, and many indie authors think they can do anything they want. They don’t have to follow rules or try to please anyone with their writing except themselves.
However, indie authors also want to sell books, so if they aren’t considering an audience, how will they sell their books?
Hence the need for not only studying the craft of writing, but also, the need for editing your work yourself, as well as hiring a professional editor.
“Professional editors are expensive! I don’t have that kind of money,” you may protest.
That is why I am going to write some articles to help you do a good job of writing as well as self-editing before seeking a professional editor. Granted, there are expensive editors out there–expensive because they charge so much per word or per page, thus including the properly written words and pages in your manuscript. However, I, the Thrifty Editor, charge per hour, which saves a self-edited writer money.
How? Because if you can get your manuscript in good technical shape by finding the majority of the typos, spelling and grammar problems, and usage of the wrong word in a sentence, you’ll save the professional editor a lot of time. Therefore, if that editor charges by the hour, it will cost you less money. Take me, the Thrifty Editor, for example; I charge by the hour, which saves a self-edited writer money. I only have to stop reading when I find errors I need to correct. The less errors and stopping I do, the faster I complete the job, thus saving you money.
Now you say, “Tell me more.”
Okay, I will. Here are my suggestions for self-editing upon completing your manuscript:
Set your manuscript aside for at least two weeks, a month is even better. Then when you pick it up again, you will approach it with fresh eyes.
Now, when you pick it up. Read it out loud. Most often, you will find many errors while reading out loud because you will be able to hear if a sentence includes a misused word or if the sentence sounds awkward and needs to be tweaked.
Also, try not to read too quickly. As the writer of the story, you know what you want it to say, but as you were writing, your mind was probably moving faster than your fingers were writing or typing. This is where typos and misspellings happen. Therefore, if you read slowly and carefully and look at each and every word, you can catch most of your typos and misspellings on your own. You may even have used a proper spelling but have the wrong word and so your “spell check” feature won’t catch it, (i.e. you meant to use there but mistakenly typed their).
Last, but not least, do your best to know as much proper grammar as possible. Read a book about grammar or articles about proper word usage, especially words that are most commonly misused, like lie and laid. This will help you avoid grammatical errors.
Next time, I’ll talk about bigger writing issues and how to find them.
I have made some updates here on my website. I have updated my editing services page and given it a new name. If you are a writer and want to be sure your writing is the best it can be before you publish it, having it professionally edited is the best way to do that, and I can help you without breaking your bank account. You can hire me for your editing job, but even before you do that, you can read my upcoming posts (starting tomorrow) that will give you tips to do “self-editing” to save you even more money.
I have also added a new page and service for authors. All authors are now responsible to promote and market their own books. One great way to do that is to do author interviews, and I worked as an interview writer for a magazine for a year and have done several author interviews on my blog. Now I am offering this as a service for authors. This is a great way to let readers know a little about yourself, as well as a little about your latest book or book series. If this sounds like something you’d like to do to promote and market your book, click the “Author Interviews” tab at the top of the homepage to find out more.
The last update I made is in the “My Books” tab. I added the latest devotional book that one of my devotions is published in. So, if you like to read daily devotions or know someone who does, check out this latest book.
Now, about a new blog I’d like to encourage you to check out. But, wait… first, I mentioned here before, that I left Facebook and am now on MeWe, but here’s another great announcement for writers: if you are interested in being part of a fun, active writing group, I have just the group for you–it’s called “Christian Writers Write Now” and it’s only on MeWe. We announce a word prompt everyday and encourage everyone to write something, including that word, without going over 60 words! It’s a fun and great way to practice writing tightly, using only the most necessary words to create a great short piece of writing! We also offer other occasional fun writing exercises, encouragement, help and tips of all kinds in writing and marketing on the group page and in the group chat. So, check us out!
Okay, so now the new blog. You may wonder why I got side tracked about MeWe when I mentioned the new blog in the last paragraph. Here’s why. This new blog is a “group blog”. It is a collaboration of six different writers from my “Christian Writers Write Now” writers group on MeWe. Three fantasy writers and three romance writers (from different romance genres) have joined forces to share articles that will appeal to both readers and writers. So, check out Hope, Hearts, & Heroes today!
As a Book Reviewer, I received a free pdf copy of The Spring Bride (The Masons of Brightfield Book 3) by Claire Sanders. This is my honest review, though I was not required to write any review of this book.
Once again, I was engaged in the lives of the Mason family. The main characters from the first two books of The Masons of Brightfield still made appearances, though this book focused mostly on George Mason and a woman named Greta.
Greta was known in Brightfield as Greta Franklin, married to a traveling salesmen who never seems to come home to Greta. As George’s other siblings find their special someones and begin to marry, he wonders if he’ll ever find the right woman. Then he meets Greta and hires her as his part-time bookkeeper for his new business. He becomes very attracted to her.
The story continues as the mystery of Greta’s husband becomes part of the main story line. The Spring Bride is another wonderful clean romance by Claire Sanders, whose Mason family characters are so endearing, as I read each book, I feel like I know these characters personally. They are wonderful characters and the Masons of Brightfield stories are wonderfully crafted and well edited.
The Spring Bride is an unusual romance story with a very unique premise. The mystery, suspense, and unexpected twists and surprises kept me turning pages from the first page to the last. There is also a sprinkling of humor in the book, which adds to the fun of reading it.
However, there was one thing I found a bit disturbing, and that was in regard to a minor character named Damir. Ms. Sanders’ characters are usually very forgiving and fair in dealing with one another. Therefore, near the end of the book, in a discussion between Greta and her father, I found it disturbing that there was an unforgiving attitude in regard to Damir due to a circumstance involving Damir and another character. The unfairness came in Greta and her father’s attitudes that the other character involved in the circumstance was completely innocent in the situation which is what disturbed me, as in any argument or wrong doing involving two people, each person or character is responsible for their own choices and actions.
The disturbance, though, in no way makes the story less enjoyable. I still love the Masons and their spouses, and I still look forward to reading the next book in the series when it becomes available. Also, I think the Spring Bride is my favorite of the three already written because it is so unique, and, in my opinion, goes to a deeper emotional level than the first two books in the series.
If you love good clean romance stories with wonderfully developed characters and a plot with unexpected twists and surprises, you’ll enjoy The Spring Bride. And, though, each book can be read as a stand alone, I highly recommend that you read them all.
I give The Spring Bride (The Masons of Brightfield Book 3) by Claire Sanders 5 stars.
Glad Tidings: A Flash Fiction Advent Calendar by Angie Thompson is a unique book. It is a collection of Flash Fiction stories, each based upon the very first Christmas – the time of Jesus Christ’s birth. Oh, none of the stories actually retell the Biblical account, but each of these Flash Fiction stories tells a story that has something to do with Christmas or the themes of Advent, Christmas, and what we receive when we accept and know Jesus Christ – hope, faith, joy, peace, and Christ.
The stories include a variety of characters, just like you and me, in different environments and different circumstances who experience the themes of Christmas, from the young man who had been adopted into a family in the old west and feared he’d never marry because of the possibility he came from “bad blood” to the family that struggled to make ends meet but loved each other and did their best to also take care of an older sibling with special needs, to the family with a child dealing with cancer, and many others – all real life situations, written into fictional stories, told from the perspective of an author who took the time to look at each situation through the eyes of Christ and Christmas to offer readers hope, faith, joy, peace, and Christ.
I will treasure this book of Flash Fiction stories and I look forward to reading them through the upcoming Advent season this year (2021). I encourage you to consider doing the same, or just read the book in one sitting and let it warm your heart and give you hope in whatever you might be dealing with right now.
I give Glad Tidings: A Flash Fiction Advent Calendar by Angie Thompson 5 stars.
As a Book reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of Strangers and Pilgrims by Kristina Hall. This is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.
Strangers and Pilgrims is set in the late 1860s West. Harry Reiner left home to fight in the Civil War. The war has been over for three years when Harry returns to his hometown. But Harry doesn’t receive the warm welcome he was expecting. Everything’s changed, and one evil man controls the town. When Harry’s life is threatened, a young woman, and the girl she took in, drag him into their home to nurse him back to health. Another man the town tends to look down on is also a frequent visitor to this home. These four characters bond and do their best to survive ten miles outside of town, but soon find that even there, the threats plague them.
Strangers and Pilgrims is a well written book. The reader is immediately drawn into the story and the characters’ lives and has no problem choosing sides between the majority of the town and the four characters at a ranch not far outside town. The story is filled with conflict and suspense that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. There is a lot of action, a touch of romance, and descriptions and dialogue that take the reader back to the 1860s west. There are a couple twists and surprises before the story comes to a resolution and end.
This is also a story of faith and includes some Scripture passages from the Bible and occasional one or two line prayers.
This is the first book in the A Better Country series by Kristina Hall.
If you enjoy suspenseful stories that keep you reading til late in the night or love old western stories, you’ll enjoy Strangers and Pilgrims, as I did.
I give Strangers and Pilgrims by Kristina Hall 5 stars, and look forward to reading the next book in the A Better Country series.
For Better and Worse is the fourth book in the Shards of Sevia series by E. B. Roshan. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review or any review.
The Shards of Sevia series by E. B. Roshan is a series of stories that take place in a country that is very much like a middle eastern country in our world. The country is Sevia and there are towns and cities in Sevia. Sevia is war-torn and two people groups are constantly fighting: the White Horses and the Tur people.
Caught in the middle of the fighting are Boris and Anna Merkovich, a sweet couple, who are just trying to live their lives. They do not wish to have anything to do with the fighting. Boris works hard and Anna is expecting their first child. Anna’s fear of the fighting in their town of Dor causes her to plead with her husband to move to a safer place, the town, Dovni, where her family lives, but Boris does not want to close the business that has been in his family for many years.
Boris has a temper, and soon his temper brings danger to their door. Will Boris and his family survive? Will Boris and Anna be torn apart? Will Boris live to see his firstborn child?
E. B. Roshan has traveled in the Middle East and it is clear, in the Shards of Sevia series, that she has knowledge as to what living in the Middle East is like. She has created characters that the reader comes to know deeply and cares about. The reader experiences their struggles, and hopes to see them, not only survive, but thrive.
For Better and Worse is full of struggles and conflict between Boris and people in the neighborhood as well as between Boris and Anna. It is a heart-wrenching story and it is a fast, easy read. Boris and Anna, as well as one of Boris’s employees, face many dangers in this book that also keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat, hoping they will all survive.
One thing that stuck out to me in this story, is that Boris begins to show proof of learning that he needs to change his life, or at least his reactions to things, and he offers short prayers to God for help.
Also, the book is, not only well-written, but well edited.
After four books, I thought this might be the completion of the story, but, though this book has a solid ending with resolution, I believe Ms. Roshan could still offer us more of Boris and Anna’s story. I know I will be watching for more.
If you haven’t read the Shards of Sevia by E. B. Roshan, I highly recommend the series, especially if you like to experience stories of a different culture in a different country and if you enjoy suspenseful stories.
I give For Better and Worse by E.B. Roshan 5 stars.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing author, D. Richard Fergusson who wrote a great 2-book series of Christian allegorical adventure stories that I highly recommend, Escape From Paradise and At War With the Wind (The Fight For Abigail). My review of At War With the Wind posted here yesterday, and my review of Escape From Paradise can be read here.
Me: You are the author of “Escape From Paradise (Walk With the Wind Book 1)” and it’s sequel, which will be out soon. I believe it was at the beginning of this book, that I read that you wrote this book about the things you’ve learned and decided to write about so that you would not forget them. Do I have that information correct?
D. Richard Ferguson: Correct. I read Thomas Watson’s little book titled The Doctrine of Repentance, and I wanted to make sure I remembered the insights I gained from that book. So I thought I’d make up a little story that dramatized those principles. I thought it would take an afternoon. It took over four years. The more I wrote, the more I realized how much I needed to learn about writing fiction. So I took classes, read books, and hired editors. And each time I learned something new about writing, I re-worked the book to incorporate what I had learned. Definitely the least efficient way of learning how to write!
Incidentally, the Watson character in the book is named after Thomas Watson, as he is the character who dramatizes the principles about repentance.
Me: You also mentioned learning a lot by studying John Piper’s teachings. Was that through both books and videos?
D. Richard Ferguson: Mainly through his sermons. That’s my favorite mode of learning. And I believe Piper is one of the greatest preachers of our age.
Me: Which of John Piper’s books would you suggest for others to read?
D. Richard Ferguson: His most important book, without question, is Desiring God. The material in that book has had an influence on my life, and on the Christian world in general.
Another extremely helpful Piper book is Future Grace. The video series is also fantastic. He does a great job teaching how to overcome specific sins through faith.
Piper says there is one of his own books that he reads over and over: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. It’s a wonderful little book.
Me: Have you ever met John Piper?
D. Richard Ferguson: I have. I visited his church and caught up with him after the service and asked if I could have a meeting with him. He invited me to dinner at his house that evening. I think they just make extra food every Sunday afternoon so they can invite people over. He’s an amazing man. He really lives what he preaches.
Me: According to your Amazon profile, you have “25 years of pastoral ministry and biblical counseling, formal seminary training, and a deep, lifelong passion for God’s word”. How has all of this helped in writing Escape From Paradise and your soon-to-be-released sequel?
D. Richard Ferguson: Most Christian novels are designed to dramatize biblical principles. But to make the entire story a biblical allegory, so that all the details represent truths from God’s Word, is difficult. It takes a fairly thorough knowledge of Scripture to keep the allegory consistent throughout.
Also, my training and experience in biblical counseling was very helpful. I didn’t want to merely illustrate points of systematic theology, but also practical theology—showing the “how-to” of Christian living.
For example, I have helped many counselees overcome addictions. Each of the steps I take them through are dramatized in At War with the Wind. Each step the characters take to rescue Abigail illustrates a biblical principle for escaping the bondage of enslaving sin.
Me: On Amazon, “Escape From Paradise” is noted as a Christian Adventure novel. I have read it and can certainly agree with that description, but I also see it as an allegorical story, reminiscent of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”. How does it make you feel to have someone equate your book with a book that has been around since the 1600s?
D. Richard Ferguson: Honored! I pray the Lord would be pleased to use these books to touch lives the way he has with Pilgrim’s Progress!
Me: What do you hope people will get out of reading “Escape From Paradise”?
D. Richard Ferguson: My two greatest wishes are these:
That readers would gain a deeper understanding of the gospel than they had before. The story is designed such that a child or an unbeliever with no knowledge of the gospel at all should be able to understand how a person comes to Christ. But at another level, a seasoned Christian or pastor will gain deeper insights into gospel truths than they had before.
That readers would be moved emotionally by the mercies of God. We hear all the time, “Jesus died for your sins.” The statement is so common that it hardly registers. My goal was to portray truths like that in a way that will bring the reader to tears, deeply moved by gospel truths.
Me: Will you share the title and a short blurb about your upcoming sequel to “Escape From Paradise”
D. Richard Ferguson:Title: At War with the Wind: The Fight for Abigail
A journey of faith. A fight for redemption. Can they conquer external and internal forces to follow the way to freedom?
Watson is stunned that his sister abandoned her family and joined the enemy. So even as she accepts defeat, he’s determined to overcome every obstacle and stage a daring rescue. But as he and his friends stride forth, powerful foes send epic floods to drown all hope.
Abigail knows she made a terrible mistake and fights to escape the tainted paradise strangling her soul. But just when freedom seems within reach, the rescue effort takes a catastrophic turn. As Abigail struggles to find her way back to the light, she is pulled even further into the enemy’s iron grip.
Her last hope is her brother. But as Watson forges ahead to liberate Abigail, he battles twisted spirits, deadly attacks, and crushing failure.
Can Abigail free herself from her own lethal cravings and restore her joy?
At War with the Wind: The Fight for Abigail is the thought-provoking second and final book in the Walk with the Wind Christian fantasy series. If you like stalwart characters, action and suspense, and deep themes, then you’ll love D. Richard Ferguson’s allegorical conclusion.
Buy At War with the Wind and take your own adventure in faith today!
Me: I have read both, “Escape From Paradise” and “At War With the Wind: The Fight for Abigail” and enjoyed both books. They both have powerful messages. There is a scene in “At War With the Wind” that really resonated with me. Many people ask, “If God is a loving God, why does he let bad things happen?” “If God is a loving God, how can he send people to hell?” And I believe this quote from the a scene in At War With the Wind is a fantastic answer to these questions. The quote is: “For a man (I insert “God” here) of love, anger toward that which destroys good is a moral necessity. One who loves cares. And one who cares can never be apathetic about that which threatens the object of his love.” Did it cross your mind, when you wrote this scene, that this quote answers those often asked questions?
D. Richard Ferguson: Yes, it’s exactly what I had in mind. The Santa Clause concept many people have of a God who never gets angry at anyone is a horrible conception of God. Such a God could have no love, because love isn’t apathetic.
Me: What do you want people to get out of reading “At War With the Wind: the Fight for Abigail”?
D. Richard Ferguson: My hope is that they would gain insights about how to win the war against sin. Especially people who find themselves enslaved by some besetting sin or addiction.
I also hope that readers would be deeply moved by the scenes of forgiveness by the Ruler and Father.
And, of course, I hope they will be thoroughly entertained in the process!
Me: Where can people go to learn more about you and your teachings? Where can people purchase the Walk With the Wind books, “Escape From Paradise” and “At War With the Wind: the Fight for Abigail”?
For those who enjoy in-depth preaching in bite-sized segments, I have a daily podcast called Food For Your Soul. Each day has a message anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes in length, with an application for that day.
And under the Resources tab is the Sermons page. There listeners can download over a thousand sermons for frees. They can be searched by Scripture passage.
Me: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
D. Richard Ferguson: I’d like to invite readers to download a free short story I wrote titled Hannah’s Prayer. It’s biblical historical fiction from the early chapters of 1 Samuel. They can download their copy here.
By downloading it, they will be joining my Readers List, which means once a month they will get my “Goodies for Your Soul” newsletter. It includes my book reviews, sermons and articles I’ve found especially helpful, most popular podcast episodes, and other resources.
And members of the list are the first to hear about my new releases.