Golgotha Blog Tour: Spotlight

Today I am spotlighting Angela R. Watt’s latest release, Golgotha. Read on to learn about this epic book and for a chance to win a copy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela is the bestselling author of The Infidel Books. She lives at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, where she raises horses, dogs, cats, and snails. She’s been writing stories since she was little, and when she’s not writing, she’s probably drawing or working with her amazing clients.

Website: angelarwatts.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaRWattsauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelarwattsauthor/

Newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/v7y6r0

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeculiarAngela


ABOUT THE BOOK

Four unlikely companions must band together to escape the Realm of Bones and save their kingdom from a reign of darkness.

Prince Moray will lead his empire to glory, even if it means dabbling with forbidden black magic. But when their parents are murdered, Moray and his brother, Finnigan, are cast into Golgotha—a realm where hope is dead. Finnigan fiercely believes his god, Elohai, will rescue them, but Moray will never trust again.

Princess Ama, promised in marriage to Moray to ensure her clan’s safety from rival tribes, arrives just before a coup and becomes trapped in Golgotha with the smart-mouthed mercenary, Gunnar. Surrounded by strange monsters and ravenous demons, Ama must fight to hold on to her faith—or lose everything.

Despite Ama’s Gift of prophetic dreams, Finnigan’s Gift of energy, Moray’s magic, and Gunnar’s blades, nothing can rescue them from themselves. If they fail to escape, darkness will devour the entire kingdom.

Shadow and Bone meets Mark of the Raven in this epic for fans of faith-based young adult fantasy.

amazon | goodreads


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

April 8th

Nathan Renfroe | Spotlight

Joshua Reid | Review

Merie Shen | Review

April 9th

Laura A. Grace | Author Interview

Emily Seaver | Guest Post

April 10th – Release Day

Stephen Howard | Author Interview

Jaye L. Knight | Spotlight

Michaela Bush | Author Interview

April 11th

Ian Wilson | Author Interview

Nicole Dust | Spotlight

Madisyn Zeller | Spotlight

April 12th

Hannah Gaudette | Guest Post

Lacie Ryder | Spotlight

Yakira Goldsberry | Spotlight


GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive a signed paperback copy of GOLGOTHA, along with a bookmark, and a GOLGOTHA map.

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link

The Bear of Rosethorn Ring Blog Tour: Awesome and Obscure Fairytales – Guest Post by Author Kirsten Fichter –

Today author Kirsten Fichter is joining me to for a guest post on awesome and obscure fairytales. Kirsten’s latest book, The Bear of Rosethorn Ring, released a few days ago. You can read my review of the book and the interview with Kirsten here.

But first, a bit about Kirsten and The Bear of Rosethorn Ring.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who loves being the wife to her favorite person ever, mommy to two precious blessings, a piano enthusiast, a dragon buff, a serious bookworm, and an INFP synesthete. Fairytales have always fascinated her, and she has made it her goal to rewrite as many as possible and become known as the “Grimm Dickens” (i.e. mixing Grimm fairytales with a Dickens style). She is present in many online circles under the name “Kiri Liz” if you care about things like that. As you read this, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Author’s Pages 

BoRR’s Pages

Series’s Pages


ABOUT THE BOOK

Title:The Bear of Rosethorn Ring: A Snow White and Rose Red Story (Once Upon a Twist Tales, Book #4)

Release date: April 6th, 2021

Tagline: How far would Snow White and Rose Red go to save the man behind the bear?

About the Book: 

When their father runs away, Marita and Diamond Kadlec realize how different twins can be. Marita’s ready to forget Lucas entirely, but Diamond wants to give him the second chance she’s never been able to give before. That’s before they discover that Lucas is indebted to the ill-tempered D’vard and his traveling circus, the Rosethorn Ring. The Ring’s entertainment lacks a bear, and Lucas must play the part of the savage creature to regain his freedom.

Lorcan D’vard cares only for three things: tending to his beloved beard, promoting his Rosethorn Ring, and eradicating the assassin out to kill him. With time running out, D’vard agrees to cancel Lucas’s debt and let him go free – if Marita and Diamond can apprehend the assassin before the assassin ends the show. 

This is Snow White and Rose Red with a twist like you’ve never seen it before. 

About the Series: 

Once Upon a Twist Tales are your favorite fairytales retold backwards and upside-down, with a little bit of steampunk thrown in for fun! 

Other Books in the Series: 

Book One ~ The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story

Book Two ~ Spindle Dreams: A Sleeping Beauty Story

Book Three ~ Diamond: A Rapunzel Story


And now…for the part everyone’s waiting for.

GUEST POST BY AUTHOR KIRSTEN FICHTER: AWESOME AND OBSCURE FAIRYTALES

Question: Just how many fairytales are out there? Is it possible to know them all?

            Answer: Too many fairytales. You might be able to read a lot of them, but chances are you won’t be able to get your hands on all of them. They’re just extravagantly numerous.

            But I don’t say that to discourage you from fairytales. Oh, no. Rather, I want to pique your interest. There are so many more fairytales out there than the familiar Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty. Yes, those are definitely some of the more popular ones, but Disney doesn’t have the corner market on fairytales. There are fantastic fairytales that aren’t as popular but are still really good, like Rumpelstiltskin, The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, and Little Red Riding Hood. If you recognize those, good for you. Keep reading.

Some of the lesser-known fairytales are particularly amazing and intricate, like The Wild Swans, King Thrushbeard, Jorinde and Joringel, and even Snow White and Rose Red. What about fairytales that can only be labeled as obscure? Do you know The Wounded Lion, The White Snake, The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child, or The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was? Ah, no, I thought not. You see? There is a huge world of fairytales out there, and you’ve only scratched the surface of magical tales by reading Beauty and the Beast. Keep searching out fairytales to see what you’ll discover!

Here are a few of my favorite fairytales that are both awesome and obscure.

The Riddle (link)

            One of my absolute favorite obscure fairytales is a fun one by the Brothers Grimm. Have you ever noticed how royals typically act without reason in fairytales? Well, for once, we see a decently clever royal with a slightly cleverer servant as the main characters. Their adventures take them to a witch’s house, an inn full of dangerous robbers, and the castle of a snooty princess. For those of you who enjoyed BBC’s Merlin, it’s basically one of Arthur and Merlin’s misadventures where they win the day without really meaning to. The irony woven throughout the story is guaranteed to have you guffawing outright.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier (link)

            Depending on the childhood books you grew up with, some of you may recognize this obscure Andersen fairytale. I had a version of this story in a fairytale anthology growing up, and it quickly became one of my favorite fairytales. This is the story of a tin solider with one leg who falls in love with a paper dancer; she dances with one leg tucked up, so he believes they both are missing a leg. When he’s thrown out of the house because of his love, the solider endures a long and pretty miserable journey before finally returning to his lady. When he’s thrown out into the fire, the dancer follows him, Romeo-and-Juliet-style, and they both perish together. Okay, so my children’s version of the story allowed them to live happily ever after, but still – it’s a really sweet and romantic story. I’ve been dying to retell it for years.

The Two Brothers (link)

            This is a lengthier Grimm fairytale, involving two identical brothers. They accidentally eat the heart and liver of a magical, golden bird, and then awake every morning to find gold piece under their pillows. Their cruel uncle convinces their father that the mysterious gold appearing is witchcraft, and the boys are turned out of their home. A huntsman takes them in, treats them like his own, and teaches them to hunt. When they leave the huntsman’s house to prove themselves as men, the two brothers collect a strange menagerie of animals, and then, at last, part ways. One slays a dragon and wins the hand of a princess, but there’s a lot more to the whole adventure. It’s just one of those sibling stories that I like so well.

The Dragon of the North (link)

            This is an Estonian fairytale that was included in Andrew Lang’s The Yellow Fairy Book. I discovered it while browsing the internet for fairytales with dragons, and just loved it from the first. A young hero seeks to slay the terrible dragon plaguing the land, but only King Solomon’s ring holds the answer to defeating it. Yes, it’s a ring of power, and I’ve very intrigued by rings that make their bearer invisible. *winks* The hero makes friends with a magician, betrays a witch, and then uses the special powers of the ring to defeat the dragon. But that’s before the witch gets mad and decides to get her revenge. This is one of those fairytales that begs for more details, to be fleshed out and made into an epic adventure.

Brother and Sister (link)

            Similar to The Wild Swans, this is a story of a sister saving her brother, originally a tale from Russia but retold by the Grimm Brothers. A brother and sister flee from their cruel stepmother (classic fairytale trope), but while wandering through the woods, the brother drinks from a magical stream and is turned into a deer. The sister vows never to forsake him, even when his heedlessness gets him injured in a hunt. The king who was hunting finds them and – true fairytale style – immediately falls in love with the sister, asking her to marry him. The sister and the deer are supposed to be living happily ever after in the palace, but their stepmother discovers that they’re still alive and is ready to fight to make her own ugly daughter queen in the sister’s place. This is, at its heart, a sibling story, but there’s a lot more besides that.


I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t heard of some of those fairytales ’til now. My muses are now plotting and planning (and totally ignoring the story I’m working on right now) and the plot dragons (because why have bunnies when you can have dragons?) are emerging and demanding random snippets of ideas that suddenly appeared after reading these tales be written.

Which awesome and obscure fairytale intrigues you the most? Are there any you might retell? Or, if you already knew about these delightful stories, which one do you like best? Be sure to visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

April 5th

Welcome & Giveaway @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview @ Living Outside the Lines

Favorite Fairytales About Siblings (Guest Post) @ Lands Uncharted

Book Review @ Christine Smith

Book Review @ Tower in the Plains

April 6th 

Snow White and Rose Red Tag @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview & Book Review @ Madi’s Musings

Looking Ahead at the Twist Tales (Guest Post) @ Virtual Paper

Book Review @ E. Kaiser Writes

April 7th 

Snow White and Rose Red Mad Libs @ A Synesthete Writer

Inspiration for The Bear of Rosethorn Ring (Guest Post) @ Ink Castles

Favorite Characters from the Twist Tales (Guest Post) @ Living Outside the Lines

Book Review @ Shieldmaidens of Shiloh

Book Review @ Live. Love. Read. 

April 8th 

The First Chapter @ A Synesthete Writer

Awesome and Obscure Fairytales (Guest Post) @ Madi’s Musings

SWRR Elements in The Bear of Rosethorn Ring (Guest Post) @ Abigail Falanga

Book Review @ Blooming with Books

Book Review @ C.O. Bonham

April 9th  

Winner & Wrap-Up @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview & Book Review @ Virtual Paper

Retelling an Unknown Fairytale (Guest Post) @ Live. Love. Read

Book Review @ Living Outside the Lines

Book Review @ Ink Castles

The Snow White and Rose Red Fairytale Tag

Hello again, dear readers/visitors. As the graphic above notes, this tag was started by Kirsten Fichter, whose SWRR retelling, The Bear of Rosethorn Ring, released yesterday (here is an interview with Kirsten along with my review of BoRR).

Here are the rules:

  1. Copy the tag questions and answer them for yourself in your own blog post.
  2. Link back to this post, pleaseandthankyou.
  3. Include the tag graphic somewhere in your post.
  4. Share the link to your answers in a comment on this post so I can read your answers!

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What’s your favorite fairytale? If you can’t whittle it down to one, give us a list!

I don’t know if Mulan is considered a fairytale, but that’s my favorite. Other fairytales I really enjoy are Snow White and Rose Red ( I don’t have four retelling ideas for this with one less than half-written at 50,000, nope, not at all), The Plain Princess, and The Riddle.

What’s your favorite fairytale retelling? Or retellings, since most of us have more than one?

My absolute favorite thus far is E.J. Kitchens’ Wrought of Silver and Ravens. I also like the retellings by Kirsten Fichter, Kendra E. Ardnek, and Tricia Mingerink.

When were you first introduced to the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red?

An old book of fairy-and-folk tales, I think. It’s still on my shelf, binding worn and tattered, and pages yellowed, but still loved and frequently referenced.

If you awoke one day, cursed and lumbering around as a bear, what would be the first thing you’d do? Do you know why you’re cursed?

I’d try to figure how to take my retainer out – if it wasn’t demolished in the change. Anyone who’s had to wear one for any amount of time knows how uncomfortable those things are.

No, I don’t know why I’m cursed. Could be that my characters really do exist, and they discovered what I have planned for them, so this is their revenge. Or it could be some random act of spite. Who knows?

Snow White and Rose Red kept a pet lamb. What would your ideal fairytale pet be?

A miniature dragon! Or a wolf. I’m not picky.

If you were to have a color-based name like Snow White or Rose Red, what would your name be — and why?

Sage Zinnia. Sage because it’s my favorite color and means someone who’s wise, and Zinnia because “Zin” wouldn’t be a bad nickname if people refused to call me Sage.

Snow White and Rose Red’s mother planted two rosebushes in front of their cottage, one with white roses and one with red roses. Would you plant roses in front of your house, or perhaps another plant? Why?

No, no flowering trees. The wasps are the worst. I would, however, plant a few birches or aspens or cottonwoods. And some flower pots along the house would be nice. Or anything that provides privacy.

A stranger knocks on your door during a blizzard, begging for shelter. Do you let him in?

Depends on if I’m home alone. If I’m not, yes, but I’ll keep both eyes on him, often as I can spare them (bad LOTR reference, I know, but I couldn’t resist).

Would you rather have your hair (or beard) caught in a tree, in a fishing line, or in an eagle’s talons?

A tree, since I’ve experienced it before and emerged relatively unscathed.

The dwarf offers his treasures to keep himself from being eaten by a bear. What would you offer the bear to discourage him from eating you?

A chance not to ruin his diet. I just finished working out, and I’m super sweaty. Unless Mr. Bear wants his sodium levels to skyrocket and put him more at risk for high blood pressure and other health issues, I highly recommend not eating me. If that doesn’t work, those annoying, smelly chickens next door should make quite a nice alternative to sweaty human.


What about you, dear reader? What’s your favorite fairytale? Would you allow a stranger into your home? And how would you discourage a bear from making you his next meal (or snack)? Let me know in the comments, or if you make a blog post of your own, be sure to post the link!

The Bear of Rosethorn Ring Blog Tour: Author Interview + Book Review

Today is the second day of The Bear of Rosethorn Ring Blog Tour. Today, I am interviewing author Kirsten Fichter and reviewing her latest fairy tale retelling, which releases today. Be sure to visit all the stops, and be doubly sure to drop by Kirsten’s website for a chance to win a book of your choice.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who loves being the wife to her favorite person ever, mommy to two precious blessings, a piano enthusiast, a dragon buff, a serious bookworm, and an INFP synesthete. Fairytales have always fascinated her, and she has made it her goal to rewrite as many as possible and become known as the “Grimm Dickens” (i.e. mixing Grimm fairytales with a Dickens style). She is present in many online circles under the name “Kiri Liz” if you care about things like that. As you read this, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Author’s Pages 

BoRR’s Pages

Series’s Pages


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

What first inspired or gave you the “spark” to write? Is there a particular author whose books or
writing style inspired you?

I grew up with a great love for books; reading was my fondest activity, and I always thought books were
something special, came from something special. And then one day, I realized that real people wrote
books. The books didn’t just grow on trees; people created the stories and put them down on paper. That’s
when I knew that I wanted to do that, too.

The author who has probably been the biggest inspiration for me was the author who first got me hooked
on fantasy: Donita K. Paul. After I read her DragonKeeper Chronicles in high school, I knew I wanted to
write fantasy and have adventures with dragons. And there’s been no turning back since.

Every writer has a message(s) they want to impart to their readers. What is/are yours?

Family is a big theme in my books, and The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is no exception. I have always been
close to my siblings (all four sisters and one brother of them), and I’ve found that family relationships
come easily to my writing. I don’t know that I have many main characters that haven’t any siblings!
Particularly, with The Bear of Rosethorn Ring, I wanted to look at a broken family; how someone should
respond to betrayal and second chances when there hasn’t been much hope in the past. One of the key
themes I wanted to get across is that no one is worth giving up on.

How did you come to be a writer? Was this something that you always knew you were destined to
be or did you arrive at this point via another path?

Once I figured out that books could be written, I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some kind. At
six years old, my dream job was to become a librarian and write books to fill my own library. Even
though I penned a few short stories/kid stories early on, I didn’t take writing seriously until closer to high
school. I began writing a fantasy series about a half elf princess named Lianne, and I thoroughly enjoyed
working on her story (one day I intend to revisit it and complete it). But I didn’t know what I was truly
capable of until a friend introduced me to National Novel Writing Month – a writing competition during
the month of November in which a writer commits to write 50,000 words on a novel. NaNoWriMo
stretched my writing ability and made me fall in love all over again with writing epic fantasy.

Words of wisdom for those who are just starting out on the path?

Write. When you’re not in the mood to write, read. Read authors whose styles you admire, whose
characters stick with you, whose plots leave you fascinated and breathless. And then, if you’re still not in
the mood to write, write anyway. The worst thing a writer can do is fail to write.

The second worst thing a writer can do is fall in love with his/her own writing. Once you think you’ve
reached golden status as a writer, you cease to grow. Every writer always has something more to learn, something in his manner or delivery to work on. Keep looking for ways to grow as a writer; challenge
yourself to never stop learning how to be a better writer.


BOOK REVIEW

About the Book:

Title:The Bear of Rosethorn Ring: A Snow White and Rose Red Story (Once Upon a Twist Tales, Book #4)

Release date: April 6th, 2021

Tagline: How far would Snow White and Rose Red go to save the man behind the bear?

About the Book: 

When their father runs away, Marita and Diamond Kadlec realize how different twins can be. Marita’s ready to forget Lucas entirely, but Diamond wants to give him the second chance she’s never been able to give before. That’s before they discover that Lucas is indebted to the ill-tempered D’vard and his traveling circus, the Rosethorn Ring. The Ring’s entertainment lacks a bear, and Lucas must play the part of the savage creature to regain his freedom.

Lorcan D’vard cares only for three things: tending to his beloved beard, promoting his Rosethorn Ring, and eradicating the assassin out to kill him. With time running out, D’vard agrees to cancel Lucas’s debt and let him go free – if Marita and Diamond can apprehend the assassin before the assassin ends the show. 

This is Snow White and Rose Red with a twist like you’ve never seen it before. 

About the Series: 

Once Upon a Twist Tales are your favorite fairytales retold backwards and upside-down, with a little bit of steampunk thrown in for fun! 

Other Books in the Series: 

Book One ~ The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story

Book Two ~ Spindle Dreams: A Sleeping Beauty Story

Book Three ~ Diamond: A Rapunzel Story


Positive Elements:

There are strong familial bonds; characters takes risks to help family members and loved ones.


Negative Elements:

None.


Religion/Spiritual/Faith Elements:

Characters pray; there is a strong faith message.


Violence:

[MINOR SPOILER WARNINGS: FEEL FREE TO SKIP AHEAD]

It is mentioned a character was almost killed and a character burned by acid; characters are slapped and punched; characters are almost consumed by a bear.


Other:

A character gambles; it is mentioned a character gambled his daughter.


Rating:

5 Stars


Conclusion:

Fairy tale retellings, for me, are always take or leave. Either they’re marvelous or they’re mediocre. The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is definitely a take.

The characters are delightful. Marita’s and Diamond’s personalities are so well-developed, and I love the differences between the two of them. D’Vard is pill, but an amusing pill, and I’d love to see a spin-off series of more fairy tales where unfortunate characters are forced to interact with him. The character arc for Marita and Diamond’s farther is delightful, as well.

The MYSTERY! I guessed who it was, but I did NOT see that plot twist coming. The best part, though, are the bonds between characters. The bond between Marita and Diamond is wonderful and well-written, and it really brings their own personalities to shine. And the bond between Felix and Marita is so sweet. Not many would go to such lengths to help their fiancee find her father.

With delightful characters and a unique plot, The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is definitely a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red with a twist like you’ve never seen it before. Be sure to add it to your TBR pile.

*I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

April 5th

Welcome & Giveaway @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview @ Living Outside the Lines

Favorite Fairytales About Siblings (Guest Post) @ Lands Uncharted

Book Review @ Christine Smith

Book Review @ Tower in the Plains

April 6th 

Snow White and Rose Red Tag @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview & Book Review @ Madi’s Musings

Looking Ahead at the Twist Tales (Guest Post) @ Virtual Paper

Book Review @ E. Kaiser Writes

April 7th 

Snow White and Rose Red Mad Libs @ A Synesthete Writer

Inspiration for The Bear of Rosethorn Ring (Guest Post) @ Ink Castles

Favorite Characters from the Twist Tales (Guest Post) @ Living Outside the Lines

Book Review @ Shieldmaidens of Shiloh

Book Review @ Live. Love. Read. 

April 8th 

The First Chapter @ A Synesthete Writer

Awesome and Obscure Fairytales (Guest Post) @ Madi’s Musings

SWRR Elements in The Bear of Rosethorn Ring (Guest Post) @ Abigail Falanga

Book Review @ Blooming with Books

Book Review @ C.O. Bonham

April 9th  

Winner & Wrap-Up @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview & Book Review @ Virtual Paper

Retelling an Unknown Fairytale (Guest Post) @ Live. Love. Read

Book Review @ Living Outside the Lines

Book Review @ Ink Castles

A Symbol of Hope

It’s a warm day at 75 degrees, and a slight breeze helps dispel the sudden surge in heat. Despite the trees blooming, the grass regaining its verdant color, and the unmistakable energy of Spring, there is an ominous feel lurking behind nature’s beauty.

This past year has been difficult in so many ways, and the upcoming years appear to offer no reprieve. The first blatant shows of Christian persecution have begun in our continent, and things will not get easier. The Church’s time of ease is coming to an end. We will be forced to choose between apathetic complacency and unwavering faith. We have long lived under the assumption that persecution will never reach drastic levels. We were wrong. Add this to everything else going on, and it is easy to feel smothered by terror and confusion.

At times, there is a weight in my chest, and a void, like my heart has taken sudden, unexpected, and permanent residence in my stomach.

It’s a feeling of diminishing hope.

Others must have felt this way in the past, must have grasped for something to cling to, to offer hope and peace and reassurance, for there are many objects which symbolize hope.

These symbols are as diverse as their countries of origin. From the butterfly, deer, and swallow, to the shamrock, anchor, and Ichthus (the Christian fish symbol seen on the backs of vehicles), and more.

In this myriad, three rise above the rest, and they are found in one Book – the Bible.

These symbols are the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb. Each represents love. Faith. Hope. The first symbol, the manger, is predominantly focused on at Christmastime. The second two, Easter.

Easter. A time that seems split between Jesus’ time on the cross and His resurrection. On Good Friday we remember and honor His sacrifice. On Resurrection Sunday, we celebrate how the grave could not hold Him.  And the days, weeks, and months between the time Easter is commemorated, we forget the greatest act of love that has ever been, and will ever be, carried out.

The thought of Christ’s six excruciating hours on the cross is not often thought of with joy or peace. Just hours before, Christ went through the most vile, brutal, and tortuous type of death invented during that time in history. He was betrayed and abandoned by His friends and disciples, mocked, whipped, humiliated, spit on, and struck. Thick nails were driven through His hands and feet (for an in-depth and interesting article about the nails go here). He watched Roman soldiers gamble on His clothing. The crowd, who had only days earlier proclaimed His arrival into Jerusalem with “hallelujah”, scorned Him.

Contrast this dark, agonizing time to the joy of Sunday morning. The grave is empty. Death is defeated. And, as the angel tells Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6).

We commemorate Good Friday with black, and Resurrection Sunday with white. Black for Christ’s death. White for His resurrection. What we often forget is that without the cross, there would be no empty grave. And without the empty grave, Christ’s death would just be that.  A death.

What we often forget is that without the cross, there would be no empty grave. And without the empty grave, Christ’s death would be just that. A death.

Yes, the cross does symbolize Christ’s death. But it also is as much a symbol of hope as the empty tomb is, and the two symbols are incomplete without the other – that is, they are moot by themselves. The cross is a physical symbol of Christ’s sacrifice which allows us to come to salvation, but His sacrifice would be for naught if He had stayed in the grave.

The cross and empty grave symbolize, above all else, hope.

The Gospels recount that right after Jesus died, “[T]he curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). The curtain separated the Holy of Holies from everyone but the high priest. The tearing of that curtain illustrates the rendering of the barrier between God and humanity’s irreconcilable sin. It was a rendering that could only come about with a perfect, sinless sacrifice. The only one who could ever do that is Christ.

We have hope in salvation. We have hope in eternal life. We have hope in the power of Christ. We have hope because He is always in control. We have hope because of His unbreakable, unfathomable love for us.

Fellow Christians, because of the cross and the empty grave, we have hope.

And hope changes everything.

Liebster Award Nomination

Liebster Award

I’ve seen the Liebster Award floating around, but I never really understood what it was. I still don’t fully understand what it is, save that writers are usually nominated.

Hence the reason why I was more than flabbergasted (and honored!) to see that Airella (The Aribtrary Fairy) nominated me. She has a grand description of the Liebster Award on her post, which I recommend you read. When I began this blog almost five years ago (the blogiversary is coming up, so keep an eye out for a post celebrating it), I never imagined Madi’s Musings would go in this direction.

But here we are. And I’m quite excited about it.

Alright. The introduction is over. Let us move on.


The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, include a link to their blog, and add the Liebster Award badge to your blog and/or post.
  • Answer the eleven questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Give eleven random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 fellow bloggers with less than 200 followers.
  • Notify your nominees that you nominated them for the Liebster Award.
  • Ask your nominees eleven questions.

Thanks so much, Ariella, for nominating me! It was quite unexpected!

And as soon as I figure out how, I’ll add the Liebster Award badge to my sidebar.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Favorite book that you read as a child?

I don’t know if I had a favorite book, but I definitely had a favorite story. I’ve loved the story of David and Goliath since I was an elfling young. Mom could recited the story in her sleep she read it so often to me.

What is an “unusual” pet that you have or would like to have one day?

A miniature dragon! I fell in love with them when reading Donita K. Paul’s The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, and have wanted one ever since. They’re so cute and so tiny and I could send Scalevester to take care of the neighbor’s annoying chickens and I hate bugs so Scalevester (yes, that’s likely what I’d name the little fellow) could easily eliminate them.

What is a good nonfiction book you would recommend to everyone?

Aside from the Bible, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. A poignant and chilling look at how easily we allow ourselves influenced by evil.

Favorite day of the week, and why?

Friday, probably. That’s when we have Family Night.

Do you associate colors with words or people?

For some of them, I do. When I see deep blue-dark gray cumulonimbus clouds gathering in the West or North, Danger and Beware come to mind. Those colors promise at least a thunderstorm. Potentially hail. And one of my series is associated with colors, so when I see a particular color like silvery-blue, purple, amber, or dark blue, I think of the corresponding characters.

What is the weirdest dream you can remember?

It was simultaneously the weirdest and coolest. I won’t go into too much detail, but the dream is what sparked an idea for an allegorical trilogy. A life-or-death situation, a deadly chase, a hatchet, slamming doors, a wanted man, and a blue cloak. Three months later, the first draft of Book One was written.

Musicals—yea or nay?

Nay! I’ve never liked them.

What country or region would you like to visit one day?

I’d like to visit the War of Independence and Civil War sites. I also wouldn’t mind seeing WWI and WWII sites, along with Scotland’s and Ireland’s castles.

Dream job?

It’s a combination. A stay-at-home mom/author. I’m already a writer, so I’m well on the way to the latter part.

Favorite GIF or meme?

This is one of my favorite LOTR moments. I feel for Gimli. The pain of running. Of pulling stubborn oxygen atoms into your suffering lungs. The agonizing burn in your legs as you try to keep up with speedier runners. Like dwarves, I am a natural sprinter – quite dangerous over short distances.

Short meaning from one end of the living room to the other.

With nothing in my way for me to trip over.

Yes. Quite dangerous.

Describe your perfect day.

I think my perfect day would involve spending time with my family, exercise, reading the Bible, and logging in a decent word count. The temperature would preferably be 60 degrees and cloudy with no breeze, and the cigarette smoke-filled circus we call neighbors would be quiet for once.


ELEVEN RANDOM FACTS

  1. I arrived later than most to the writing scene.
  2. According to Myers Briggs, I am an ISTJ, which mean’s I’m supposed to be better at math and science. I’m not.
  3. People assume residents of my state still use outhouses, don’t have electricity, and know nothing about freeways, highways, and vehicles, much less electronics. I am not jesting. My family was on vacation once and an elderly Southern fellow asked us these things and thought Dad was a sheriff.
  4. I hated The Hobbit the first time I read it in fourth or fifth grade. Even then I was critical about what I read.
  5. For the world’s safety, I’ve worn glasses for thirteen years.
  6. I am an intern editor at Answers in Genesis. A few months ago, the head editor asked if I would be interested in writing a character article for the upcoming VBS. It was fun to do, and I learned a lot about flapjack octopi in the process.
  7. My favorite group is Ashes Remain.
  8. My favorite Bible verses are John 14:27 and Isaiah 12:2.
  9. An honest-to-goodness nickname of mine is “Elf Ears”, courtesy of my younger sister. The inside of my ears have an elfish-point. A shame it couldn’t be on the outside so I really could say I am an elf.
  10. Much as I love LOTR, I like the appendices in the back of Return of the King better.
  11. I have written four completed manuscripts and am working on a rewrite, which I hope to send to a publisher in June.

NOMINEES

I know some of you have already been nominated, but I’m going nominate you anyway. Because you deserve it.

Joy @ Joy Caroline

Jen @ Living Outside the Lines

Sarah @ Homespun Tabby

The ladies at Teen Writers Nook


NOMINEE QUESTIONS

  1. What author has influenced your writing?
  2. What first sparked the desire to write?
  3. Which literary villain/antagonist is your favorite?
  4. Which literary hero/heroine is your least favorite?
  5. If provided a choice, which fictional world would you live in?
  6. Who is your favorite Bible character, and how have they impacted your faith/life?
  7. What is your favorite classic? Alternatively, who is your favorite classic author?
  8. Where is your favorite spot to read?
  9. What is a popular series/movie/other everyone but you likes?
  10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  11. If you could visit one period in history, which would it be?

Welp, there it is. How would you answer? What is your favorite LOTR moment? Favorite non-fiction book? Or what is an unusual pet you’d like to own or have for a companion? Let me know!

Cover Reveal for Golgotha by Angela R. Watts

Today is the cover reveal for Golgotha by Angela R. Watts and Blade of Truth Publishing.

And guys…I can’t WAIT for this book to come out. It. Looks. AWESOME.

First, though, the cover.

Doesn’t it just portray a sense of danger and mystery?


ABOUT THE BOOK

Four unlikely companions must band together to escape the Realm of Bones and save their kingdom from a reign of darkness.

Prince Moray will lead his empire to glory, even if it means dabbling with forbidden black magic. But when their parents are murdered, Moray and his brother, Finnigan, are cast into Golgotha—a realm where hope is dead. Finnigan fiercely believes his god, Elohai, will rescue them, but Moray will never trust again.

Princess Ama, promised in marriage to Moray to ensure her clan’s safety from rival tribes, arrives just before a coup and becomes trapped in Golgotha with the smart-mouthed mercenary, Gunnar. Surrounded by strange monsters and ravenous demons, Ama must fight to hold on to her faith—or lose everything.

Despite Ama’s Gift of prophetic dreams, Finnigan’s Gift of energy, Moray’s magic, and Gunnar’s blades, nothing can rescue them from themselves. If they fail to escape, darkness will devour the entire kingdom.

Shadow and Bone meets Mark of the Raven in this epic for fans of faith-based young adult fantasy.


See? See why it sounds so fantastic? Golgotha releases April 10th, so be on the lookout for more posts about it.

The Sword In His Hand

“One is an opportunity. Two is a threat. Three is an invasion.”


Title: The Sword In His Hand (The Darcentaria Duology, Book One)

Author: J.J. Fischer

Publisher: Ambassador International

Genre: Historical Fantasy, though it could be considered Urban Fantasy

Beginning Reading Age: 17, 18+ (Reviewer’s suggestion; the book is targeted at 16 and up)

Length: 547 pages


About:

“One is an opportunity. Two is a threat. Three is an invasion.”

For hundreds of years, strange things have been washing up on the shores of Darcentaria. But when a young foreign woman named El is found unconscious on the beach amidst the burning wreckage of a strange metal craft, the villagers of Odessa are immediately suspicious—is she an agent of the Dalriadan Empire, their cruel oppressors for as long as they can remember? Or does she come from the Outside, the vast and legendary lands beyond their borders from which no man or woman alive has ever returned?

Torsten Eiselher, a talented young swordsman, has spent the last nine years of his life wrongfully imprisoned by his uncle, the Empire’s ruler. Betrayed and deceived at every turn, Torsten has survived by keeping a firm grip on his sword—and by staying well away from anything to do with the Outside. But when his young sister is murdered, Torsten finds himself irrevocably drawn to El despite her Outsider heritage—and he begins to question everything he has been told about her world.

Intrigued by the existence of a powerful and dangerously advanced world within his reach, the Empire’s ruler, Jurien Arminius, launches a hunt for El and the two Outsiders that arrived with her—the ones who could help him win his war against Torsten and the rebellion that threatens to topple his Empire.

Suddenly, Torsten is forced to choose between defeating his long-term enemy or saving the woman he has come to love. . .


Positive Elements:

Characters are determined to protect each other; a character grows in her faith; the importance of faith and trust is shown.


Negative Elements:

None.


Religion/Spiritual/Faith Elements:

A character prays to God; false gods are mentioned and sworn on; idols are mentioned; God’s faithfulness is questioned; Scripture is quoted; God is discussed; Christ’s life and sacrifice is told in the form of a story; a character grows in faith.


Violence:

Characters die in an explosion; characters are roughed up; a character is drugged; slavery is mentioned and discussed; a character mentions his experiences in work camps; a minor character is assassinated; characters are threatened with some of the threats being carried out; an unborn child is stillborn due to violence; a minor character is hanged; characters are whipped; a character is strangled; characters are shot; characters are unjustly killed; there is an attempted rape (tastefully written and not detailed); characters are kidnapped; innocent people are slaughtered; a character is tortured to insanity; there is what a character calls a mercy killing; a battlefield is bombed.


Other:

It is indicated children are conceived out of wedlock (no details); Hell (the place) is mentioned; characters kiss; infidelity is mentioned.


Rating:

4.5 stars.


Conclusion:

The Sword in His Hand is different, not quite like anything I’ve read before. It’s urban fantasy in that characters from the “real world” cross into a fantasy land. We know how they arrive, but there is no mention of a portal or anything similar, which intrigued me. Perhaps this will be explained Book Two, as this is a mysterious aspect of the book. This book is also listed in the Historical Fantasy sub-genre; the year and date is not mentioned, but characters experiencing racism and wars in our world is mentioned, which makes me think it takes place in the 60’s or earlier.

The author does quite well illustrating how dangerous and deadly revenge is, and how it is toxic can cloud our judgement, life, and heart. This is something I think authors either portray in mediocre or do well with, and The Sword in His Hand is definitely the latter. I also loved El’s faith. The fluctuations of faith and doubt were so realistic. Though she wavers, she never gives in, which is something to emulate in a character.

My favorite character is Jonathan/Aspen. Don’t get me started on how what happened was so unfair. Such a sweetie, doing everything he could to protect his sister, and then that happens. Not fair. Not fair at all.

The Sword in His Hand is a good story, with solid characters and a strong faith element. I recommend a slightly higher starting age due to violence and some of the other things that happen (again, everything is done tastefully). This book is one to consider adding to your bookshelf.

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Rogues Trilogy Relaunch

Today is the relaunch for the Rogues dystopian trilogy by Kristen Hogrefe. They are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

The adventure begins with book one, The Revisionary:

Nineteen-year-old Portia Abernathy accepts her Revisionary draft to the Crystal Globe with one goal: earn a Dome seat so she can amend the satellite rules and rescue her exiled brother. Her plan derails when Head Gage Eliab brands her as a suspect in a campus Rogue attack, and in her quest to clear her name, she questions if the vigilante Brotherhood responsible might not be the real villain.

Her shifting loyalties pit her against Luther Danforth, her Court Citizen ally who believes in reform, not revolution. Joining the Brotherhood makes a future with him impossible—and Portia must decide if it’s better to rewrite the rules or to break them.

Aren’t the new covers wonderful?

You can find my reviews of the first two books here and here.

The Revolutionary

Title: The Revolutionary (The Rogues, Volume 2)

Author: Kristen Hogrefe

Genre: Dystopian

Age level: 15 and up

Publisher: Write Integrity Press


Revolutions run on sacrifice … and blood.

Three months a satellite prisoner, Portia wonders if the Brotherhood has left her to die—until she plunges into the domain of a smuggler contacted by her brother. But her rescue comes with a price tag, and now, she must forfeit her identity to act as a spy. She learns that her enemies want the Dome to approve mass satellite executions, though no one knows why. Worse, they’re using her friend Luther, now a Court Citizen intern, to sign the short-term orders. She wants to confide in Luther, but can she still trust him with the company he keeps?

Plagued by shadows and guilt for leaving her protector Gath behind on the satellite, Portia must find a way, not only to rescue him and the other prisoners, but also to destroy the slave camps once and for all.


Positive Elements:

Characters are willing to sacrifice themselves for others; characters are determined to find the truth; the importance of familial ties are shown.


Negative Elements:

“hellhole” = 2; “hell” = 1


Spiritual Element:

A character prays; the Bible is quoted; there is a strong salvation and redemptive message; a character learns more about God.


Violence:

REVIEWER’S NOTE: There is a lot of violence, but nothing is graphic.

A character is literally fried to death; it is mentioned that characters are slowly starved to death; characters are beaten; torture is alluded to; battle is briefly described; a shooting happens; there is an assassination; it is mentioned that a village is burned and villagers taken; characters are shot; buildings explode; a character is burned to death; characters are whipped.


Other:

Characters kiss.


Rating:

5 Stars


Conclusion:

As I mentioned in my review of The Revisionary, this series is what turned me from a skeptic of dystopian to someone who couldn’t get enough of this series. In fact, my sister and dad enjoyed The Revisionary so much that I had to hide the kindle so I could read The Revolutionary before them.

The Revolutionary is the continuation of an exceptional series, with a well-woven plot and sub-plots, superb characters, chilling settings, and a wonderful path to salvation. I would not consider myself an emotional reader, but I had chills, and definitely felt emotion during certain scenes. The author is brilliant at infusing the characters’ emotions and making the reader feel as though they are right there, experiencing everything the characters are. My only complaint is the three instances of language. I would remove a star from most other books in cases like this, but The Revolutionary is so well-written otherwise that it cannot be rated below a 5 star.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.