Biblical Fiction · Book Reviews · Books · Christian Books · featured · Historical Romance


At least once a month, I will try to post a book review.  Sometimes it will be a book I read years ago, other times I will have just turned the last page and feel like writing a review.  

My reviews will always be about a book I rated with either 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads and/or Amazon.  There are soooo many books available for readers to choose from—and to choose to buy—that I want to save you readers both selection time and hard-earned money.  I want to give you “the best bang for your buck.”  So, even though there are some 3-star books that are still “good,” I’ll only post reviews about the “better” and “best” books I’ve read. 

Goodreads’ rating system:                  Amazon’s rating system:

3 stars = I liked it                                   3 stars = It’s okay

4 stars = I really liked it                        4 stars = I like it

5 stars = It was amazing                       5 stars = I love it 

I selected Thief of Corinth for this month’s book review because I recently interviewed Tessa Afshar for an upcoming “Featured Author Interview” post on the American Christian Fiction Writers’ (ACFW) website.  I had read Afshar’s 2010 debut novel Pearl in the Sand this summer, and “really liked” it (gave it 4 stars).  It was the Book of the Month pick by my Goodreads’ Book Club, Christian Fiction Devourers.


5  STARS ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

for Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar


Back Cover Book Blurb

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption―the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future―and very lives―hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Thief of Corinth has earned starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

My November 2018 Review

You know an author is pretty spectacular when she’s able to make you really for the main character after having read only 16 pages into a book!  That’s exactly what Afshar did in Thief of Corinth, the author’s most recent Biblical fiction release set in the time of the New Testament.

The heroine, Ariadne, is a teen at the beginning of this novel, and Draco is a man her grandfather has arranged for her to marry.  Ariadne walks in on Draco right after he had brutally had his way with a slave girl who was even younger than Ariadne.  The grandfather is nonchalant about the incident and still says Ariadne must marry Draco; Ariadne is outraged over this command and says so; Ariadne’s mother is furious at her daughter! for being rude to her grandfather and she strikes Ariadne’s face so hard that later it leaves a bruise.

Oh, how I experienced Ariadne’s own disbelief, anger, and emotional hurt over that—especially since she was a young teen, at an age when one feels everything 100 times more acutely than an adult.  The author continued to make me sympathize with Ariadne, and care more and more about her, as well as several other characters, with each turn of the page.  This was most impressive because of the author’s brevity.

Afshar has the craft of writing down so well that she only has to use a few paragraphs of narrative and limited lines of dialogue for each new scene in order to make readers feel like they are right there in Corinth, experiencing the same heartbreak, happiness, loneliness, anger, love, fear, uncertainty, excitement, or remorse that each and every one of the characters feel.

The author’s beautiful and descriptive writing also helps to create scenes that evoke emotion all throughout this novel.  Afshar’s poetic voice in Thief of Corinth places her in the same league as lyrical master Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club.

Some of my favorite lines of that type of prose were:

-“My brother … enfolded Father in his arms.  They had much to say to each other, those two men.  Months of silence and hurt to bridge.  But for those first few moments, embraces did the speaking.”

-“I looked up at the sailor who had saved us, a man the size of a city gate with a complexion the warm hue of cinnamon bark.”

-“Sometimes silence booms like thunder, carrying too many revelations for the mind to absorb.  Shock had rendered us immobile.”

Depicting emotional scenes isn’t Afshar’s only talent with descriptions—she also shows skill describing setting.  Readers will clearly see the villas and buildings of Corinth, and feel as if they are right there in the first century, walking alongside the characters in this famous Biblical city.

One item to take note of, but something that did not detract at all from this fantastic story, is that the heroine Ariadne isn’t a real Biblical figure.  Several other people in this novel are though, like Dionysus, the Apostle Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila.  There also are some minor characters in the book based on true historical figures, such as a man named Hermesianx who entered his daughters into the Isthmian Games, and Luis the Butcher, who really did have a shop in Corinth.

I think Thief of Corinth is a novel that both believers and those who are not Christians will enjoy, because believer or not, almost everyone can relate to many of the characters in the book, and to several situations such as wanting to please a parent, longing to be accepted and loved, and desiring to do what you think is best.

I was first introduced to Afshar’s writing this past summer when my book club read her 2010 debut novel Pearl in the Sand, that is set in the times of the Old Testament.  This is a fictionalized story about the real Biblical woman Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who later married one of the leaders of Israel.  Thief of Corinth is set in the times of the New Testament.  Afshar impressed with me Pearl in the Sand, which is why I rated that novel 4 stars, but the author really wowed me with Thief of Corinth, which is why I give this book 5 stars.  I will recommend this novel to my family and friends, and I look forward to reading other books by this author.

#sale · Books · Christian Books · ebooks · featured · Giveaways & Contests · Love, Texas -- Population 2


“Yippee!  Books for free!”  That’s what my kids are clearly shouting in the photo above — and they’re excited because it’s their own mama’s novel that is FREE for the rest of the week.

I’m running a promotion on Amazon today through this Sunday at midnight, offering the Kindle ebook version of my Christian contemporary romance novel Love, Texas — Population 2 for FREE!  Yippee!  (I really like that ol’ yippee word, can you tell?)

CLICK HERE to get your free copy!


Remember!  You don’t need a Kindle e-reader or a Kindle Fire tablet to read a Kindle ebook.  All you need to do is Download the free Kindle app by clicking here. 

You can then read a Kindle ebook on any of these devices:  iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, PC and Mac.

Not only can you grab a free copy of my novel in ebook format for the rest of the week, but during this same time frame you also have the opportunity to win a free copy of the print paperback version of Love.

This Monday, I had a fun time answering interview questions by Carrie Schmidt ( @MeezCarrie ) on her blog Reading is My SuperPower .  On that interview post, there is a Rafflecopter giveaway that you can earn up to 32 entries to try to win an autographed copy of my book.

Screenshot Rafflecopter entry form reading is my superpower june 2018

Good luck on winning a print copy!  No luck is needed to get a FREE ebook copy, so get yours now!

Charity · Christian Books · featured · Fundraiser · Love, Texas -- Population 2 · Uncategorized


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so I thought it would be a prime time to tell you about a fundraiser I’m doing for a charity that serves abused and neglected children.

The charity is called My Stuff Bags Foundation.  They provide duffle bags filled with new, necessity personal care items and comfort “stuff” like blankets and stuffed animals, to young ones who arrive at crisis centers with little or zero of their own personal belongings – nothing they could call “my stuff.”

My Stuff Bags duffle bag pix

These children often have to leave their homes quickly, so they usually don’t have time to grab even their own beloved toy or clothes.  My Stuff Bags Foundation serves kids who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, and are entering crisis centers, foster care, or battered women’s shelters.

In order to raise funds to support this charity, I am no longer selling autographed print book copies of my Christian contemporary romance novel Love, Texas – Population 2.  Instead, I’m offering these books as a way to raise money for My Stuff Bags Foundation.

DSC_7473 b

So, you can still get a signed copy of my novel if you make a minimum donation of $15 per book. ( Click this link to donate via PayPal or with any major credit. )  I will then autograph the book and address the novel to whomever you want before shipping it out.  The book should arrive to your home within one week, and they’ll be no charge to you for shipping and handling.  (United States mailing addresses only, please.)

All profits, yes 100% of the profits, will go toward supporting My Stuff Bags Foundation.

Please show your love for abused, neglected, homeless, and traumatized kids by donating to my fundraiser to support the fantastic charity of My Stuff Bags Foundation.

To find out more:

Watch this informative video by My Stuff

Go to

Go to

Click this link to donate via PayPal or with any major credit.

Books · Christian Books · featured · Fourth Friday Book Review


Every fourth or final Friday of a month I will post a book review.  Sometimes it will be a book I read years ago, other times I will have just turned the last page of the novel and feel like writing a review about it. 

I chose My Heart Remembers for this month’s book review because it was the pick of my Goodreads Christian Fiction Devourers Book Club’s Buddy Read for March.  I’m so glad I’m part of this book club, as being a member is a great way to discover new authors and new books.

My March 2018 Review 

Who knew a phrase as simple as “Take care o’ the wee ones” would cause a lump in my throat and the need to fight back tears every time I read it?  Each of the 16 times I read it!  According to my Kindle search, that’s how often “wee ones” is used in reference to this directive given by a father to his 8-year-old daughter in Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Christian historical novel, My Heart Remembers.   If a phrase repeated that often seems like overkill, just wait until you read this book – “wee ones” will make you get all verklempt too!

It’s not only that phrase that will do you in, as there are multiple scenes throughout this novel that are sad or touching.  Kim Vogel Sawyer is a master at both dialogue and description that will grip your heart.

“Just as she had Molly, Maelle kissed her brother’s cheeks and forehead.  She whispered, ‘I’ll always be loving ya’, Mattie Gallagher.'”

Oh boy!  That second sentence is one that got to me the most.  Once you read the scenario regarding it – you might need a tissue.

My Heart Remembers is a story about three Irish immigrant children living in New York City in 1886 who, after their parents die in a tenement fire, are then sent on an orphan train to Missouri.  Maelle at age 8 is the oldest sibling; her brother Matthew “Mattie” is a few years younger; and then Molly is a baby.  Each child winds up being taken-in by a different caregiver at the beginning of the book, and Maelle promises her brother Mattie that when she gets older she will find him and their sister Molly and they’ll all be together once again.  The rest of the novel covers about 20 years of Maelle trying to search for her siblings.

The story is told by the point of view of all three siblings, with chapters going forward in time, and switching from one POV to the other within chapter changes.  I usually like the use of only one POV, but in this novel it worked really well to show the lives of all three children growing up.

Each sibling walked very different paths on how they were raised.  Maelle was a traveling photographer’s assistant and lived in box wagon, and once the photographer died, Maelle took pictures mostly of homeless children who were being over-worked and under-paid.  Later in the book she meets up with a man who will try basically to make laws against child labor.  Maelle’s photography skills come into play helping this man with that goal, and she once again feels the pull to take care of those “wee ones.”

Mattie does live with a nice family for a couple of years, but the majority of his young life is spent working as an unpaid ranch hand for an abusive cattle rancher named Jenks.  Mattie is later able to escape this mean man and find a job on a ranch tending sheep, but Jenks comes back into the picture at the end of the novel.

Molly lives a comfortable life growing up under the care of a wealthy family, but when she’s 17, those parents die, leaving behind Molly and her older brother.  Turns out though the older brother was always jealous of Molly, and he finds out about her biological parents, and he disowns Molly and pretty much throws her out on the street.  Molly then has to figure out how to survive on her own.

Maelle, Mattie, and Molly all came to know God in different ways because of their dissimilar home environments, but all three of them did eventually love Him and come to rely on God and trust Him in their darkest moments of need.

I loved learning new things from this historical book, such as I had never even heard of orphan trains.  I also didn’t know about child labor being abused too much in the late 1880s / early 1900s.  It was also pretty cool to read about the old-time cameras and photography equipment.

I had not read any of Kim Vogel Sawyer’s books before, but I enjoyed My Heart Remembers, and I look forward to reading the sequel, In Every Heartbeat.

Authors · Books · featured · Fourth Friday Book Review


Every Fourth or Final Friday of a month I will post a book review.  Sometimes it will be a book I read years ago, other times I will have just turned the last page of the novel and feel like writing a review about it. 

I chose Odd Mom Out for this month’s book review because Jane Porter is one of my favorite authors.  I also chose this novel because books for Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) 2018 RITA contest are currently being judged, and I just discovered this book was a 2008 RITA Award Finalist, in the category of Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.  RWA describes the RITA as “the most prominent award given throughout the genre of romance novel and some other romantic fiction.” 

I read this novel over six years ago, and I rarely read books twice, but I will read this one again sometime, I know it, which means I have placed this book in my “keeper” pile, and not my “donation” pile.

You see, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been looking at my physical bookshelves every now and then, thinking about early Spring Cleaning, starting in my office.  Why?

One, I want to continue to try to get rid of all this clutter in my house (although most of that clutter has been accumulated not by me, but by my husband and two kids).

Two, I was thinking how it might be nice for people to have access to free books, and be able to choose from a wide variety of genres, when they are temporarily staying at a host location, such as females at a women’s shelter or women and / or men at homeless shelters, or people dealing with say natural disasters who lodge for some time at Red Cross shelters.

Starting this weekend then, I’m going forward with that early Spring Cleaning plan, beginning with the “billion” of physical books on my shelves.  I’m going to try cut my physical collection in half, narrowing down the space it occupies from 20 bookshelves to 10.  Yup, I seriously have that many bookshelves.  That’s why I am sooo grateful for my 32GB Kindle Fire – who knows how many more physical bookshelves I would have to put in my house if not for my tablet being able to store like 3,000 ebooks! 


My January Review

In Jane Porter’s novel “Odd Mom Out,” the author did a terrific job of succinctly illustrating two main points: the struggle working moms have as they try to balance a satisfying career and a happy family life, and the fierce desire many women have to remain uniquely individual instead of turning into a cookie-cutter version of the stereotypical PTA mom.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed “Odd Mom Out” so much was due to the “I can relate” factor.  There were so many issues in this book that either I have experienced on one level or another, or I’ve had friends or family who’ve also struggled with the same challenges characters Marta and her daughter Eva faced.

Some of the issues Marta dealt with were: balancing a successful career and a happy home life; struggling to do everything herself as a single mom; questioning how much, if any, of her unique personality and style to give up in order to not hurt or embarrass her 9-year-old daughter; fearing romantic involvement with any man again because she’d been hurt so bad in the past; and watching her dad’s spirits decline as her mother’s mental health deteriorated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Some of the issues Eva coped with: adjusting to regional lifestyle and personality differences after moving from the East Coast to the West Coast; trying to make new friends; struggling to become a part of the “popular” girl crowd; not having as much money as the other kids who lived in her neighborhood; convincing her mom to act and dress more like a “normal” mom; not having a dad around; not looking as pretty as the other girls; and needing her mom to stop giving so much time and attention to her job and instead give it to Eva.

Another main reason I liked this book was because I think the author really has a gift for description.  Some examples I highlighted in my book were:

  1. Her funny descriptions, such as:

“Outside, the late morning sun shines on the … luxury cars parked on the side of the half-circle driveway – Lexus, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW … and then there’s my car. My restored 1957 Ford truck.  Okay.  So it’s a little like Sesame Street’s ‘one of these things doesn’t go with the others.’”

  1. Her poetic descriptions, such as:

“Eva can be so serious, and then when she smiles it’s like the full moon at midnight.  So big, and wide, glowing with light.”

  1. Her spot-on descriptions of how a lot of women feel, such as:

“I believe women fall in love and begin relationships with great hope and expectations, but then we somehow go wrong. Women end up giving too much, yielding and bending and compromising until we’re worn out, worn down.”

Although most of my favorite novels contain a sort-of “long-winded” sentence structure, I admit the consistent 10-or-less-words-per-sentence writing style in Odd Mom Out was pretty refreshing.  I thought it particularly fitting to convey the way a woman like Marta (and hottie manly-man Luke) would talk.  (The author didn’t use this style just in dialogue, but throughout the whole book.)

Usually my busy lifestyle wins out over a little down-time enjoying reading a good book, but I read this 408-page book in a week because I liked it so much!  I look forward to reading more of Jane Porter’s books, and I was surprised to learn that her novel “Flirting With Forty” was made into a movie I enjoyed a while back starring Heather Locklear.

I definitely will recommend this author to my family and friends.

featured · Word Wednesday · Writing


Word Wednesday is sharing my love of words with you!  I like to build my vocabulary by doing things such as: subscribing to receive a daily notification from the app; flipping randomly through my physical Webster’s dictionary; playing Words With Friends 2 on my cell phone; and doing crossword puzzles.

On random Wednesdays, I’ll post a word that either I had to look up its definition when I first came across it, or I simply like the way the word sounds or its meaning.   Some related items I may post on Wednesdays might be: a picture that represents Wednesday’s word; a scene or character from my book that illustrates the meaning of the word; or a quote from my novel that contains that word. 


-verb (used with an object)

  1. to withdraw one’s feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, object), as in anticipation of future loss.

Have you ever heard this word before?  Nope?  Me neither! 

Decathect came up on my app for the Word of the Day yesterday.  I thought to myself, “How ironic.  I just posted Sunday about an emotionally devastating event, and now this word pops up on my cell phone screen.”

I could use this word in a sentence dealing with that heartbreaking situation this summer: A little bit each day, Melinda finds it easier to decathect from the loved one who hurt her so. 

Even though I could use it in a sentence, I probably won’t ever use this word again.  Why? wrote this is an “extremely rare word in English.”  It’s used mostly in Freudian psychology dealing with bereavement.  Of course, if you want to use the word to stump others, go ahead.

Christianity · featured · Scripture Sunday

Scripture Sunday: Prayer to Grant Thee & Romans 8:28

Scripture Sunday is … simply a post I’ll make on a Sunday that involves something about Scripture!  Some examples would be: how reading the Bible helped me handle a particular situation in my life; or what is a favorite Bible verse on a particular subject and why I like it; or what section of Scripture relates to / or is mentioned in one of my novels. 

Today’s Scripture Topic: At Peace With Grief For Good

This summer, one of the most heart-breaking moments of my life occurred.

No one died; I know most people probably assume death would be the cause of the greatest emotional pain.  Death is devastating, but it is a certainty, we will all die someday.  So, for me, part of death’s sting is taken away because my heart is already anticipating hurt to come from that.

What happened this summer was totally unexpected.  It was something that I never, ever, ever thought would happen.  I know that’s half of the reason the sorrow was so profound—unlike death, I didn’t think this event was ever a possibility, so I was totally unprepared for this strike to my chest.

Unexpected, Unwarranted, Unjustified, Unimaginable.  That’s what this incident was … and over six months later I’m still Unable to Understand why it took place.

Even though I’m still unable to understand it, I’ve recently been able to accept it.  There are two reasons for this: the Serenity Prayer and Romans 8:28.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

(American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr)


Although I had heard the Serenity Prayer before, I never thought about praying it for this situation until a family member told me it is a prayer she says often.  She texted the prayer to me, hoping it would help.  Well it did; it most certainly did.

I’ve been praying this prayer since about November, keeping my particular heart-breaking circumstance in the forefront of my mind when asking God for serenity, courage, and wisdom.  I believe God has granted me these three things in this situation.

In addition to the Serenity Prayer, another writing that I had read before suddenly really hit home just this last week as I was doing my homework for my Bible Study Fellowship class.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail of our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

(Romans 8:28 MSG)

This passage brought additional serenity to me, when I applied it to my emotional situation that happened this summer.  I thought to myself how even though I don’t understand it, I do know that everything, even bad things, are worked into a good end result by God.  For me then, I’m accepting this bad thing happened as part of God’s plan that will result in something good in the end.

I’ve incorporated the ideas from both the Serenity Prayer and Romans 8:28 into my list of New Year’s Resolutions.  That is, one of my resolutions will be to look at every difficult situation in light of the words from these writings; in simple form, my resolution is to not let the emotional upsets of this world affect me so terribly.  Instead, pray the prayer hoping it will be granted, and say the lines of Scripture, knowing that even bad things can be used for good

Questions For Readers:

What is a similar situation you’ve went through that it would have been helpful to have this prayer and / or Scripture verses handy?  What is your favorite Scripture related to this subject?  Do you like the NIV translation of these verses, or a different translation, and if so, why?

Please answer in the “Leave a reply” box below.  (Note: Replies will not immediately post, so don’t won’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away.)