Wednesday, February 25, 2015

introducing the "rewinding time" series by deborah heal + giveaway

Last week, author Deborah Heal stopped by the blog to talk about what genre her books fit into. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to her new Rewinding Time series, which is set 15 years after her excellent Time & Again series. (You can see my reviews of those books here.) I'd hoped to have a review of the first Rewinding Time book, Once Again, for you today, but alas, life (and speech season) got in the way. I'm currently reading Once Again, and I'm really enjoying it. Hopefully the review will come soon, but in the meantime, check out this series for yourself, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Deborah Heal’s New Rewinding Time Series: inspirational novels of history, mystery & romance.

Deborah Heal’s new Rewinding Time Series features some of the same characters from her Time and Again trilogy, but it takes place fifteen years after that amazing summer Abby came to tutor Merrideth. (Note: You can snag Time and Again FREE for Kindle. OR get the whole boxed trilogy at a discount.)

It is not necessary to read the trilogy in order read the new Rewinding Time Series, but those who did will enjoy revisiting Merrideth Randall, who is all grown up with “history mysteries” of her own to solve. Her day job is teaching history at a small college. But after hours she turns to her first love, historical research. And she has a tool other historians can only dream of—a computer program that rewinds time!

Once Again (book 1)


Field Research Location:
Columbia and Waterloo, Monroe County, Illinois.


Discover where Fort Piggot was located on the Kaskaskia Trail, while staying clear of attractive, single colleagues (ie. Brett!) so as not to commit career suicide, while also keeping the "rewinding time" program secret, so Uncle Sam doesn't turn into Big Brother.

Merrideth makes a virtual visit to the 1780s, hoping to be the first to locate an ancient pioneer fort. Along the way, she gets a first-hand look at the lives of the courageous settlers of the Illinois Country, who withstood Indian attacks, hardship, and loneliness to settle the rich land.

One of the settlers is James Garretson, who risks his life to take the Gospel to the very tribe that wreaked havoc on his family. Merrideth is amazed that he could forgive a crime so huge. Hero or fool, James Garretson is the ancestor of her colleague Brett, a physics professor at her college.

With her findings, Merrideth is able to help Brett with his genealogy, but she can’t tell him everything she learned—like that he inherited his black hair and green eyes from James Garretson, or that his aunt’s poetry is eerily similar to the verse Garretson’s wife Isabelle used to compose at her spinning wheel.

Brett has rock-star status on campus, but amazingly enough, he seems to be pursuing Merrideth—in spite of her firm policy against dating co-workers. She would love to tell him about her amazing program, but discretion is not his strong suit. She has secrets about herself that she’d just as soon he didn’t find out either. One virtue Brett does have is patience, and he’s quite willing to wait for Merrideth to figure things out.


Only One Way Home (book 2)


FIELD RESEARCH SITE: Golconda, Illinois.

GOAL: Trace client’s Frailey ancestors—back to Scotland if possible—and get home in time for dinner.

NOTE TO SELF: Do NOT fall in love with Matthias Frailey—even though he is was quite wonderful. Remember, idiot, he’s been dead for over 175 years.

Professor Merrideth Randall’s latest after-hours genealogy consulting gig takes her and friends Abby and John to the small southern Illinois town of Golconda on the Ohio River. She expects to have to research the old-fashioned way at the courthouse. But thankfully, her client’s ancestor Matthias Frailey once hung out in Golconda’s ancient Ferry House Inn, and that means Beautiful Houses, Merrideth’s time-rewinding software, will work after all.

It doesn’t take Merrideth and her friends long to time-surf back to find out what they need to know about Matthias Frailey and his family. But when they become eyewitnesses to the arrival of the Cherokee on the Golconda Ferry on December 3, 1838, they cannot tear their eyes away from the tragedy that unfolds—nor from Matthias Frailey’s heroic response to it. The people are herded down Main Street on their Trail of Tears, bound for the Oklahoma Country, while the townsfolk only watch, or even cheer. But not Matthias Frailey. He does what he can to help them, especially a very spirited—and very pregnant—woman named White Dove who insists on walking so others may ride in the wagons.

Spending so much time inside Matthias’ head, Merrideth has no doubt that he is the kind, selfless man he appears to be. It’s impossible not to fall a little in love with him—despite the fact that he’s from another century. Meanwhile, in the here and now, handsome Golconda historian Aaron Landis is doggedly pursuing her. And back home her colleague Brett Garrison keeps calling while he waits for her return. But are they—or any man—worthy of her trust? Too bad there isn’t a way to time-surf in their heads. Now that would be a dating tool she could really put to good use.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Deborah Heal is the author of the Time and Again "History Mystery" trilogy and the Rewinding Time Series, which have been described as "Back to the Future" meets virtual reality with a dash of "Seventh Heaven" thrown in." She was born not far from the setting of Every Hill and Mountain, and for many years she lived near the setting of Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy. Today she lives in Monroe County, the setting of Once Again. Deborah Heal is married and has three grown children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout. She enjoys reading, gardening, and learning about southern Illinois history.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

"twisted innocence" by terri blackstock

Terri Blackstock's Moonlighters series comes to a satisfying conclusion in Twisted Innocence.

Holly Cramer's past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.

Though Holly's stumbled through most of her adult life as a party girl, she longs to live a more stable life for her daughter. Then police show up to question her about the whereabouts of Creed Kershaw, Lily's father. She has kept his identity a secret from friends and family---she never even told him about the pregnancy. Now he's a person of interest in a drug-related murder case.

Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller-the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he's innocent and that Miller is after him too. His gentleness with Lily moves her, but she can't trust a man who has held her at gunpoint . . . even if he reminds her so much of herself.

Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

When I began Twisted Innocence, I was so lost. "Who's Holly?" I thought. "Why is Michael in prison?" So I went back and read my review of Distortion, which helped a bit. I still felt a bit off kilter, but I kept reading ... and then I hit Chapter 6. In Chapter 6, Blackstock gives a nice recap of the major events of the first two books in the series through an entry on Cathy Cramer's blog, effectively reaching out to her readers who, like me, can't quite remember the events of the previous books. This recap would also bring new readers up to speed—though I do think the series is best read in order!

Twisted Innocence surprised me in a good way. While bad things definitely happen in the novel, the good things far outweigh the bad. In fact, after one pivotal plot point was resolved, I kept waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop. It never did, and I'm so happy about that! (Maybe I've just watched too many prison movies ...) That's not to say the suspense isn't there—I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. But the terrible things that I expected to happen never did. Also, the Leonard Miller thread that weaves through all three books is resolved in a satisfying manner, and it was nice to see Cathy and Michael's story continue. I also enjoyed watching Holly and Creed find redemption in Christ.

Twisted Innocence is suspenseful and intense, and it makes a great read. Fans of suspense will love this series. 4-1/2 stars.

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my review of Distortion (5 stars).

Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of "Intervention," "Vicious Cycle," and "Downfall," as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, Restoration, and Moonlighters.

Find Terri online: website, Facebook, Twitter

In Terri Blackstock’s third and final book in her Moonlighters series, Twisted Innocence, readers are in for a story of suspense and redemption. Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

Celebrate the series' final release by entering Terri's Nook giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Nook GlowLight
  • The entire Moonlighters series
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 8th. Winner will be announced March 9th on the Litfuse blog.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, February 20, 2015

"sabotaged" by dani pettrey

Get your copy of SABOTAGED by Author Dani Pettrey!

Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series ends as it began—with romance, mystery, and family.

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now paired together on Yancey’s search-and-rescue canine unit, they begin to put aside old arguments as they come to see each other in a different light.

Then a call comes in from the Iditarod that will push them to their limits. Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing. Frank’s daughter has been kidnapped. In order to save her, the man must use his knowledge as a mechanical engineer to do the kidnapper’s bidding or she will die.

Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life, but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

I was hesitant to read Sabotaged for one reason, and one reason alone: I didn't want the books about the McKenna family to end!

Sabotaged kicks off with intense action, and that intensity carries throughout the novel. I didn't think the romance was quite as heart-tugging/sigh-inducing as in some of the previous novels (especially Shattered, book 2 in the series), but it was still nice and moved at a good pace. As an added bonus, we got to check in with all the other McKennas to see the progress in their love lives!

What I especially loved about Sabotaged was the suspense. I mentioned this in my review of Silenced (book 4 in the series), and it's true here, too: Pettrey is becoming a master of romantic suspense. The first three books in the series were suspenseful, but I wouldn't call them nail biters. Silenced and Sabotaged take the suspense to new levels!

Sabotaged is a fitting conclusion to the Alaskan Courage series, but I hope that Pettrey will give us the opportunity to check in with the McKennas again! 4-1/2 stars.

Note: This is book five in the series, and the books really should be read in order.

Read an excerpt.
Buy the book: AmazonBarnes and NobleIndieboundBooks-a-MillionChristianbook
Enter the Heart of Adventure Sweepstakes! (Giveaway runs through 2-22-15.)
Read my reviews of the other Alaskan Courage novels: Submerged (4-1/2 stars), Shattered (5 stars), Stranded (4-1/2 stars), Silenced (5 stars).

Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged,Shattered, Stranded, and her latest release, Silenced. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their daughters, son-in-law, and super adorable grandson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

guest post: "what genre are your books, anyway?" by deborah heal + giveaway

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Deborah Heal's Time and Again trilogy and hosting her on the blogShe recently released books 1 and 2 in her new Rewinding Time Series, and I'll be reviewing them soon. Enter the contest at the bottom to win a copy of one of them.

Today, I'm pleased to host Deborah again. I love her books, and I think you will, too!

What Genre Are Your Books, Anyway?
by Deborah Heal

“Please Choose the Genre that Best Fits Your Book.”

Publishers, agents, editors, promoters—virtually everyone in the publishing industry—always want to know what genre label to past onto an author’s books. I would tell them mine are Contemporary Historical Romantic Sci-fi Christian Mysteries but that is never one of the available categories.

I used to feel guilty that my books didn’t fit neatly into a single genre. But now I mostly concentrate on just writing a good story. That seems to be what readers care most about, but still, they need to know what kind of critters they are, so I came up with the subtitle History Mystery for my original Time and Again trilogy. And then with my new follow-up Rewinding Time Series I give each book the long but self-explanatory subtitle: Inspirational Novels of History, Mystery & Romance. It seems to be helping, but still, reviewers often scratch their heads. Here’s a recent review for Time and Again:
If you like history, you will enjoy reading this book. If you like contemporary fiction, you will enjoy reading this book. I found it intriguing to observe how smoothly she connected the contemporary story with the historical. And even though this was book was hard to categorize (age group of readers), I thought it would easily fit in the young adult category, however it is a great fit for any age reader. I would recommend this for older teenagers, young adults, teachers/tutors, and those who love suspense, time travel and history.
She’s right. My books don’t fit neatly into a single category in terms of audience age either. Even though I aimed the Time and Again trilogy at young adults, most of my readers have turned out to be adults—many are even senior citizens. I think that is because I didn’t talk down to the teens I imagined would be reading them. I wouldn’t dare. They’re a smart, savvy bunch. Other reviewers posted these:
“It was such a good book from start to finish. I’m not sure how to classify the book. historical, Christian, science fiction, or young love but it is everything and more.” 
“This is so much more than your standard time travel story, and the book spans so many genres that I think it will appeal to a wide variety of readers.”
(By the way, Time and Again is perma-free on Kindle. Why not try it out to see what YOU think.)

Perhaps you’re thinking I should just settle for the general category of Christian Fiction and be done with it. It came as a surprise to me that some readers don’t think my books qualify as Christian fiction because of the whole time-travel thing. One blogger labeled the concept occult, as if fantasy is somehow unchristian. I could understand her concern if my characters actually had the power to change history, but they don’t. They are only able to view it via Merrideth’s amazing computer software. And I agree with Brother Greenfield who says in Every Hill and Mountain, “Our God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. If he wants to give us a gift like that he can.” And for some reason, God has seen fit to give this gift to Merrideth and her friends. Time and again as they watch people’s lives unfold on their computer screen they see God working out his plan amidst the pain and suffering of this sinful world.

If what is required to be labeled Christian fiction is a Pie-in-the-sky world where life is always rosy, or at least one where you can always count on God to step in and deliver a happy ending, my books don’t qualify. In my stories bad things often happen to good people. Sometimes they never even get to know why. And the main characters are not Super Christians who have all of life’s questions already figured out, ready to spout Bible verses or prayers at a moment’s notice for the edification of everyone they encounter. Personally, I find books like that annoying. I’m always thinking, hey, get on with the story already. Perhaps you’re thinking I’m not a very good Christian to think such a thing. You’re right. I’m not. I’m a fallen, imperfect person, and that’s the way I make my characters.

I want my stories to resonate with real people living in their real worlds where life is not always nice, or even understandable. I believe for Christian authors to portray anything but a realistic view of life is unhelpful to readers hungry for the truth. Actually, it is downright cruel.

In the Time and Again trilogy, Abby and John don’t spend a lot of time quoting Scriptures or remembering to pray (which of course they should), but they do face what I think are realistic challenges as they struggle to fulfill the biblical command to “love thy neighbor” even though the Old Dears’ frailties and foibles are driving them a little crazy. They struggle to maintain sexual purity in a world where that is rare (and their attraction for each other is driving them a little crazy, too). Some readers have been nervous about the fact that Abby and John experience actual sexual desire and temptation. One person was horrified that the word “sexy” appeared in one of the books. I think these readers are confusing temptation with sin and missing the whole point that my characters are struggling to live godly lives in spite of the pressures the world puts on them.

And the Old Dears struggle too, as they attempt to understand what family means in view of the skeletons in their closet. And Franny’s friend lives in a dysfunctional home where her worst enemy is the man who is supposed to love, cherish, and protect her. And poor Reuben faces the injustice of…well you’ll just have to read Unclaimed Legacy to find out what.

And then in my new Rewinding Time Series, which is a fifteen-year-later follow up to the Time and Again trilogy, the main character Merrideth isn’t (shock of shock) even a Christian at all. She not only doesn’t spout Bible verses, she doesn’t even have a very accurate world view. But as she interacts with her Christian friends and experiences the lives of Christians from earlier centuries she begins to understand the Gospel’s message.

My books might not fit in a publisher’s standard genre, but I hope you will find room for them in your To Be Read Stack. And then when you’ve had the chance to read them, I hope you find that they fit your definition of quality Christian fiction.

Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance is the first book in the Rewinding Time Series. Read a complete description of it here. And get chapter one FREE here.

Only One Way Home: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance is book 2 in the series. Read a complete description of it here. And get chapter one FREE here.

And do enter the contest below. Winners may choose which book they want and whether they want it in Kindle or paperback. (Sorry, only one per winner.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit my website for information about the real people and historic events depicted in my books.

Monday, February 16, 2015

"return to exile" by lynne gentry

Lynne Gentry's fabulous Carthage Chronicles continues with Return to Exile. But do yourself a favor—if you haven't already read Healer of Carthage, stop reading now and go get yourself a copy. (Not sure if you'll like it? Then check out my review.)

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.

Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He's lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian's true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.

Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spell-binding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.

After I read the last page of Healer of Carthage, I couldn't wait to tear into Return to Exile. And once I finally did, it did not disappoint.

Though six years have passed since Lisbeth returned to the 21st Century, only a year or so has passed in the 3rd century. Lisbeth plans to reunite with Cyprian and save him from the fate she has read about in the history books, but when she returns to Carthage, nothing goes as she planned. I don't want to be more specific than that because this is a plot twist best discovered on your own!

One thing I really loved about this book is that Lisbeth was able to spend more time with her family, and the scenes with Lisbeth's daughter Maggie and brother Laurentius were precious. It was also nice to see Lisbeth's mother "free" and working with Lisbeth to fight the measles and typhoid epidemics.

While I did think that part of the conflict separating Lisbeth and Cyprian resolved too conveniently (thought it was heartbreaking), and I wanted to force the truth about the slimy slave trader out of Lisbeth's mouth, I greatly enjoyed Return to Exile. This novel ends with an even bigger cliffhanger than the last, and I wish I didn't have to wait to read Valley of Decision! 4-1/2 stars.

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my review of Gentry's Healer of Carthage.

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer. She loves spending time with her family and working with her medical therapy dog.

Find Lynne online: website,Facebook, Twitter

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"wrong place, right time" by brooke williams

As soon as I finished reading Brooke Williams' delightful Accept This Dandelion, I purchased Wrong Place, Right Time—I wanted more of Williams' writing!

As the bumbling town TV traffic reporter, Kate Covington is a constant source of entertainment, but Kate sticks with her dead end job because of her love for news anchor Brian Schaffer. When Brian spontaneously runs off to marry his high school sweetheart, Kate panics and quickly follows. She finds herself in a Las Vegas wedding chapel, desperate to tell her best friend how she feels before he makes a huge mistake and marries the wrong person. The mistake, however, is all Kate’s. 

As the scorned bride runs back down the short aisle, Kate quickly realizes she just interrupted the wrong wedding. The would-be groom, Chad Leida, explains the predicament Kate has caused him…he needs to marry before turning 30 in order to inherit his family fortune…and he no longer has a bride. 

When Chad asks Kate to marry him and promises her a million dollars for a year of her time, Kate isn’t sure what to do. She has a great deal of debt to her name due to caring for her ailing grandmother, but she also doesn’t want to let go of the idea of love and marriage going together. 

Kate’s impulsive decision changes her entire lifestyle…and her ideas about love. From Las Vegas to San Francisco and even to the Midwestern city of Omaha, Kate learns that even when she turns up in the Wrong Place, sometimes it is at just the Right Time.

Wrong Place, Right Time is a sweet romance with the added bonus (at least in my eyes) of being a marriage of convenience story—my favorite! It's pretty short at around 150 pages and can be read in an hour or two.

I loved Kate's story and her courage to pursue her dream. I do have to say, though, that I think this story would have been better served in a full-length novel. I would have loved more time to see Kate interact with Chad and his family. The ending especially felt a bit incomplete—everything wrapped up really quickly. But overall, I really liked Wrong Place, Right Time, and Williams is quickly becoming a must-read author for me! 3-1/2 stars.

Buy the book. (It's FREE as of 2-14-15—don't know how long that will last!)
Read my review of Williams' Accept This Dandelion.

Brooke Williams writes in a sleep-deprived state while her daughters nap. Her romantic comedy is best read in the same state. Brooke has twelve years of radio in her background, both behind the scenes and on the air. She was also a television traffic reporter for a short time despite the fact that she could care less about hair and make-up. Today, Brooke stays at home with her daughters and works as a freelance writer for a variety of companies. When she isn’t working for paying clients, she makes things up, which results in books like “Accept this Dandelion.” Brooke is also the author of “Wrong Place, Right Time,” “Someone Always Loved You,” and “Beyond the Bars.” And she looks forward to the upcoming released of “Mamarazzi” and “Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut.” Brooke and her husband Sean have been married since 2002 and have two beautiful daughters, Kaelyn (5) and Sadie (nearly 2).

Connect with Brooke:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself. The opinions I have expressed in this review are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, February 13, 2015

"the first principle" by marissa shrock

Forced abortion, a "sanitized" Bible, and governmental control of all aspects of life are just a few of the troubling ideas found in The First Principle.

In the not-too-distant future, the United Regions of America has formed. Governors hold territories instead of states, and while Washington, DC, is gone, the government has more control than ever before. For fifteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins, the daughter of a governor, this is life as usual. High school seems pretty much the same--until one day, that controlling power steps right through the door during study hall.

When Vivica speaks out to defend her pregnant friend against the harsh treatment of Population Management Officer Marina Ward, she has no idea she's sowing the seeds of a revolution in her own life. But it isn't long before she discovers her own illegal pregnancy. Now she has to decide whether to get the mandatory abortion--or follow her heart, try to keep the baby, and possibly ruin her mother's chances at becoming president.

A rebel group called the Emancipation Warriors, who are fighting to restore freedoms once held unalienable, offer her asylum. Can Vivica trust these rebels to help her or will they bring everything crashing down around her? Accepting their help may come with consequences she isn't ready to face.

Marissa Shrock's debut novel crafts a chilling story of what may be to come if we allow the economic and moral crises currently facing our country to change the foundations on which we built our independence--and of the difference one person can make when they choose to trust God's lead.

The world presented in The First Principle is scary ... yet feels all too familiar. As I read, I thought, "This could really happen here." Not all of it, of course, but the disregard for life and hatred of God's Word are already present in our society—The First Principle just takes it to another level.

As teen dystopian fiction goes, this is really good. I appreciate Shrock's willingness to tackle tough issues like abortion and tolerance, and those issues are wrapped in an engaging story. I do have to say that the events near the end of the novel didn't keep my attention nearly as well as those at the beginning, but that may have just been me.

While romance isn't a main focus of The First Principle, Ben (Vivica's ex) and Drake (her "handler," so to speak) both make intriguing romantic partners for Vivica. If there's a sequel, and I truly hope there is, I'd love to see those relationships develop. I'm definitely "Team Drake" for now!

I have to be honest: I'm not a fan of the cover. I never would have picked up this book based on the cover alone. I'm glad I didn't let the cover influence my decision to read this book, but I'm afraid it will keep some teens away, and that's too bad. This is a thought-provoking novel that our teens should be reading. 4 stars.

Content note: In a world where teens (and younger) are reading The Hunger Games, Divergent, and TwilightThe First Principle is quite tame. There is some discussion of sex, which is natural considering the main character is pregnant. Nothing is graphic or inappropriate, however, and I would think this novel is appropriate for ages 13 and up.

Buy the book. (It's on sale for $1.99 until 2-15-15.)
Read an excerpt.
Download the discussion guide.

Marissa Shrock is a middle school language arts teacher and works with her audience every day. She's a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild courses, and is a member of the ACFW. Her articles for teens have been published in Evangel and Encounter. This is her first book. Visit her at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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