Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: Finding Joy

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Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for mild romance
Best for Ages: 15 and up
Description: Sometimes, what looks like a dead end, is really a new beginning. 
A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. Unable to find solid footing in his disrupted life, he returns to his family's ranch, a place he thought he'd left behind for good. The scars on his face are a daily reminder of all he's lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, despite his mom's best intentions, and he'll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. 
Nothing short of desperation would force Chelsea Blake to work on a local cattle ranch. But if she's going to avoid her parents' judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker's efforts at forcing her to leave.  
Unprepared to discover all they have in common, if they set aside their initial dislike, they just might find joy beyond measure.

I like deep books that make me think and inspire me. However, every once in a while it is nice to take a break and read something that is just light and fun. Finding Joy is one such book. I received a copy for review and curled up on a sick day to read. It was a good companion that left me feeling happy.

The setting was one that I know well, as I live in central Texas and we actually have a longhorn farm not too far from us. The author, I am happy to say, knew her stuff and took some time to give the reader a little of an education, without making it obvious that was what she was doing.

Both Chelsea and Parker were lovable and believable characters. They each have their own issues and struggles that help the reader feel connected to them. However, none of those issues are weird or so heavy that they keep the book from being enjoyable.

The romance was very sweet and not to overdone. Personally I thought there was one scene where Parker had his shirt off that wasn’t great, but the author didn’t go overboard, so it wasn’t an issue. The kisses were not drawn out to the point I was rolling my eyes or felt embarrassed. They were sweet, and then the characters moved on.

The faith aspect was there. It was not a major part of the story, nor do I think the story would have been the same without it. It felt as if it was just part of the normal rhythm of life, which is a good thing.

Overall, I thought the book was nice. I look forward to picking up more books by this author.

I recived this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All the thoughts are entirly my own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Melanie D. Snitker on Finding Joy

Melanie, welcome back to Homeschooled Authors. Tell us what you have been up to since you were last here?
Thanks so much for the opportunity to come back and visit! A lot has happened in the last year and a half. I’ve published a handful of books, with my seventh novel, Finding Joy, coming out tomorrow. I did take several months off from writing last summer so I could focus on some other aspects of my life and family. It was a wonderful decision, and when I came back to writing, I felt refreshed and ready to jump back in.

How has writing the Love's Compass series impacted you?
Writing this series has grown into so much more than I originally imagined it would. When I wrote the first book, Finding Peace, I had hope that I’d be able to stretch the series into three books. But with each of them, the characters came alive, secondary characters begged for their moments in the spotlight, and I quickly discovered that the series had a life of its own. Finding Joy is now the fifth book with at least one more planned for later this year.
I think what keeps inspiring me to add to this series, and what keeps readers looking forward to the next book, is the connection between the characters. For example, I briefly introduced Chelsea in Finding Peace as Laurie’s sister. Now Chelsea finally gets her own story in Finding Joy, but we get all kinds of fun updates on Tuck and Laurie. We see brief glimpses of other members of the Chandler family as well.
All these characters have become so real to me and I have a hard time imagining writing the last book, because, in my mind, their stories and lives just keep building. I love it when readers tell me they feel the same way.

Were any of the events in Finding Joy based on your life?
Truthfully, who Parker and Chelsea are and where they’ve come from in life is nothing like what’s happened in my own life. lol But the setting for the book is loosely based on a place I had the opportunity to visit in person.
Parker and his family live on a ranch that includes a small herd of Texas longhorns. I’d personally seen longhorns from time to time traveling through Texas, but that was as close as I’d gotten. I’m incredibly blessed that one of my friends owns the Whining Bull Ranch and her family invited me to come by for a tour. Having the opportunity to witness the herd run together or feed a range cube to a longhorn just like Chelsea does in the book was an experience I’ll never forget.
I was thrilled to be able to take that one-of-a-kind experience and share it with my readers.

If you were given an opportunity to hang out for a day with either Parker or Chelsea which would you choose and why?
It would have to be Parker, and almost entirely because of the ranch. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to ride horses, watch the cattle, and be surrounded by that kind of beauty every day?

What is your favorite quotable from Finding Joy?
Oh, that’s a hard one! Most of my favorites might reveal too much about the story line. How about one of my favorite short sections? Chelsea is so not used to working out at the ranch and the mud took care of her fancy shoes in a hurry. Parker suggested more appropriate footwear. So she went out, purchased some, and wore those the next day.
Chelsea intended to be downstairs early, but Parker was already waiting for her in the truck. 
“Hop on in.” There was no missing his scrutiny as he checked out her footwear once she’d climbed inside. “Those are an improvement. Not pretty. But an improvement.”
She lifted one of her boots and rested it on the dashboard. “Are you kidding? What’s wrong with them?” 
“Are they cowgirl boots or rain boots?”
Chelsea studied them and finally shrugged. 
With a huff, she let her foot fall back down to the floorboard. Well, they were more appropriate, just like he’d asked. If he’d wanted her to wear a uniform, he should have specified. She could’ve sworn she heard a chuckle, but when she swung her head in his direction, his face was a stoic as ever.

Out of all the reviews you have received for your books, which one has touched you the most?
I’ve received many reviews that put a smile on my face and some even brought tears to my eyes. But I think this review by L. Johnson for Finding Hope is a favorite:
Having lost a Mom and a brother to cancer, it's not a subject I normally continue reading when it comes up in a book, but the author blended such dynamics of humor and hope into the storyline that I could not stop reading. She shows great talent in making the characters true to life, with all of the complex fears and strengths that people often carry, allowing them to be "real" to us and not just characters on a page. That is a real gift as a writer. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

So what is next for you as a writer?
Now that Finding Joy is on its way to my readers, I’m working on the second book in the Life Unexpected series called Someone to Trust. This is Chess and Brooke’s story and it should be out in May. I’m also participating in a boxed set this fall (more details to come in a couple of months). And, of course, the sixth book in the Love’s Compass series this winter. I’ve got a full schedule and I’m excited about every project!

Where can people keep up with your writing?
I always love to keep in touch with readers and fellow authors. You can follow me at:
Website –
Facebook -
Twitter -
Instagram -
Pinterest -
Amazon -
Goodreads -
Bookbub -

Any final words of wisdom?
One quote in particular struck me a few weeks ago:
"A year from now, you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb.
That’s something I’m trying to keep in mind this year. If there’s something I want to learn how to do, or a change I want to make in my life, I want to start now instead of procrastinating. And that’s what I encourage everyone to do.
Don’t wait to eat healthier, learn to knit, or start writing the next great American novel. If you start today, just imagine where you’ll be a year from now!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Clair St. Claire on Some Must Fall

Clair, welcome to Homeschooled Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
When I was born in my mother's home of Minnesota, my parents decided to leave the suburb and take my older brother and I to the country to homeschool us. We moved to the Virginia countryside where my father built a log cabin, and two years later my younger brother was born. I have been homeschooled in that log cabin for sixteen years and have loved every moment. I have written stories for as long as I can remember, and, when I was thirteen, began my debut novel, Some Must Fall. I graduated from high school two years later and have been working towards my dream of becoming an author. 

Everyone’s homeschooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
I think the most unique part about my homeschooling was being so far out in the country. My playmates were my brothers, my horse, dogs, rabbit, cats and lamb. It developed an amazingly close family life that I wouldn't trade for the world.

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
Being homeschooled is what made my writing possible in every way. It gave me time to imagine and read about different worlds than our own. It taught me a creative way of thinking. It allowed me to dream. Without that upbringing, I never would have had the hours to be alone with just my characters in my head and get to know exactly who they were.

What caused you to start writing?
I have always loved to write so I can't really say exactly what inspired it, but my mom certainly encouraged me to keep going, especially when I was feeling down about it. 

What inspired Some Must Fall?
What really made me think that I could write a book was when I heard about Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Cycle, who was homeschooled all his life. Before, I had never really considered that being a writer was plausible or, honestly, possible, but his story really inspired me. I have always loved everything medieval so it wasn't a stretch when my characters started unfolding in my head. It was really them writing the story; I just had to keep up.

Would you give us a synopsis?
Some Must Fall is the story of Prince Istus as he fights to defend his father's land from the tyranny of a rebel king. His life in the castle of Corin is ripped from him, and he must find his way through tangled webs of disaster, despair and confusion until his path is unexpectedly guided by the light of a Grey Falcon. 
The book is available on amazon on kindle and paperback. It is also free with Kindle Unlimited.

Who will enjoy Some Must Fall?
 It is categorized in the YA genre, but I think anyone who likes fantasy would enjoy it; and even people who don't like fantasy but prefer action and adventure say that it is a great read. Also, those who are looking for a teen book with more traditional values instead of much of what you see in modern day young adult novels should definitely take a look. It's getting increasingly difficult to find wholesome books for teens today, and I would like my book to offer an option to people in search of fun but moral stories. 

Do you plan to write more books?
Some Must Fall is the first installment in The Coming Crown, a series of, hopefully, three books. I'm working on the second now so it should be released before long.

Where can people connect with you online?
My website is People can contact me through the website, but I'm also available on 
I love to connect with my readers and want everyone to feel free to contact me.

Do you have any final thoughts?
I always want to thank my parents for everything they have done for me. They gave up their own lives to form their children's, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you Mom and Dad!

Win a copy of Some Must Fall!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Abaddon's Eve

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Description: The prophet's name is Kol Abaddon--the Voice of Destruction. To Alack, a young shepherd boy, Kol Abbadon's visions of coming destruction fascinate and disturb. But when Alack begins to see visions of his own, the course of his life changes as he treks into the wilderness to become a prophet in training. Left behind, Rechab, a trader's daughter whom Alack loves, must choose to change her own life when a pagan god claims her for its own. Salvation can only be found on the run, in the friendship of an infamous merchantwoman with a checkered past, and under the eye of another God. The stars tell the story of a terrifying doom, a war between gods, and the fates of Alack, Rechab, and all they love. But the end of the story--and whether they can change their own future--is a mystery they must journey to discover.

I am not often in the mood to read fantasy, but I was on the day I picked up this book. I wanted to read a fantasy book, and I was happy to find I had a book by Thomson on my Kindle. It has been too long since I read her excellent The Seventh World series. I knew that I would be in for a treat.

Thomson has a rare quality to her books that just makes them sparkle and come alive. It isn’t something that can be taught or copied, some authors have it and others don’t. Her characters leap from the page. In this one you felt like you know each of them. You could taste the desert sand and feel the wind. It was so realistic feeling that I felt as if I was there.

Each character was so dear and real – Alack answering the call to be a prophet was awesome, Rechab tugged at my heart strings, and Kol Abbadon felt so much like a biblical prophet. My favorite character though was Flora. I cannot wait to see what happens with Flora, and I really hope she has a happy ending.

The story kept me reading; in fact, I read most of it in one sitting. It was fast paced, and I could not believe it when I came to the end. It left me very, very tempted to break my vow of not buying any books this year. I stayed strong but the next two books will be at the top of my list to buy in 2017.

As always, Thomason weaves biblical truths into her stories as well as real struggles that everyone can relate to. As with her other series, I found myself encouraged and pointed toward God.

I highly recommend this book for those who love non-magical fantasy, relatable characters, and lyrical writing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Coffee Cake Days

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Description: Meg has finally graduated and has the time she’s dreamed of for months: time to “sit at the feet of Jesus” and soak up His Word as she seeks what future plans He has for her. 
She soon runs into a problem: her family. Unwanted interruptions and household duties tear her away from the time she longs to spend in the Bible. Journey with her as she strives to learn the balance of spending time in God’s Word and applying it to her daily life.

This is the best type of story: one that you can see yourself reflected in and which causes you to ask some hard but important questions. In the space of these few short pages, Tero pulled me into Meg’s world and made me feel what she felt.

Meg felt so real, and her struggles quickly draw you in. I found myself getting upset with her and then realizing that I am often guilty of the same mistakes that she is. It was one of those stories. The rest of her family, although we don’t spend much time with them, is still well written.

Many of the emotions and issues facing Meg are things I think a lot of home school graduates face who are staying home, to varying degrees. The story and the setting I think many will find easy to relate to.

I highly recommend this to teenagers in large families, home school grads living at home, and anyone who likes a good short story.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book Review: Fitting In

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Description: Newly married, Elizabeth Leffler moves with her husband to his farm in the foothills of the western mountains. Eager to be a part of the town and community, she is disappointed by the cool welcome she receives. In her eagerness to fit in and find a place for herself, Elizabeth does the unthinkable.

I loved this sweet short story about the power of one person standing up for what is right! Elizabeth's enthusiasm and passion were spreading to me even as I read, and it was a great reminder to be a friend. I especially enjoyed their charitable preparations, and Isaac's attitude as man of the family. ;)

Best quote: Rising and picking up her basket, Elizabeth asked one more question. “Would Jacob go if you went?” “Sure,” Isaac replied with a shrug. “I’d make him.”

Altogether, I found this to be an enjoyable, light read! (Oh, and I love how Elizabeth stayed a little bit city girl.) ;) 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review: Brother-in-Arms

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Description: Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first-hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high. 
With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they've always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet's heritage a secret. Taking his best friend's safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations.
With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can't be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.

When Baillot asked if I would be an advanced reader for her book, I said yes, because I like most Christian historical fiction. I was not prepared to be totally blown away by the story. It is by far the best book I have read that captures the emotions within Germany during World War II.

Right away, this book sets itself apart from most because both of the main characters are boys (one Jew, one non-Jew), and the story is about their friendship. Love interests are almost non-existent throughout the whole book. The friendship between the two boys is so deep, the characters so real, that it carries the story to the very ending.

The setting and plot of this book made it a heart-pounding gut-wrenching book. I am pretty sure there were a couple of places where I cried, it was such an emotional journey. I had to stop reading it at least an hour before I wanted to go to sleep so that I had plenty of time for my emotions to right themselves. Yes, it was that powerful.

The Christian message seemed to be absent from the book in the beginning, and in the middle I felt desperate for it (as the characters were). When it finally appeared, it was that much more powerful. It packed a punch not only for me, but for the characters. It was yet another aspect of the book that I was amazed at.

The writing was strong, as strong as any book I have ever read. I can tell that Baillot spent many hours researching because it showed in the story. Everything from major events to tiny details of everyday living in Berlin seemed to make the time come alive.

I cannot say enough good about this book and highly recommend it for history lovers, those who love powerful stories, and World War II buffs.