book review: elysium tide.

After belittling a colleague in the OR, British neurosurgeon Peter Chesterfield is ordered to take a leave of absence in Maui. While strolling along the beach one night, Peter pulls a woman’s body from the surf. She survives just long enough to whisper a mysterious message to him. Determined to find the woman’s murderer and bring order back into his life, Peter ends up butting heads with police detective Lisa Kealoha. But when a sinister plot is uncovered, the two of them must set aside their differences and work together.

This was such a good novel—a tense thriller that truly kept me turning pages. It was refreshing, in a way, to read a mainstream Christian novel written by a male author. Even more refreshing was how Peter and Lisa’s relationship stayed professional. I’ve read more than one Christian thriller/mystery where the romance between the leads is treated as more important than the main plot. (Or at least equally important.) That wasn’t the case with Elysium Tide, and I appreciated that.

The main mystery was a little hard to follow at times—so many moving parts! And one surprise villain reveal just…didn’t work for me. What really kept me reading was Peter’s faith journey. He begins the book as an atheist but slowly, ever so slowly he starts to entertain the possibility of an all-powerful Creator Who cares about him. I was rooting so hard for Peter to become a believer! There was one moment where he finally decides that maybe, just maybe there might be a God. That was such a huge step for his character, and it made me tear up.

I will say that the ending of Elysium Tide was somewhat disappointing. I DM’ed James Hannibal, asking (rather frantically) if there was going to be a sequel. And he said no. 😦 However, I feel as thought the disappointing ending is a total ‘your mileage may vary’ kind of thing. (There’s no real cliffhanger, for one thing.)

I confess that the main reason I picked up Elysium Tide was because the main character was a doctor. And the medical aspect of his character/the story didn’t disappoint. Lots of nice medical details for me to enjoy. 😉 And, contrary to how it might sound, I did enjoy the rest of the story. And I would happily check out more thrillers from James Hannibal.

Overall, if you’re a fan of clean mystery thrillers, smart characters, and actually Christian fiction, chances are good that you’ll love Elysium Tide.

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


the mid-year book freak-out tag (2022 edition).

I’ve read so many good books during the first half of the year, and I’m really excited to talk about some of them in today’s post. So let’s get right into it!

Best book you’ve read so far:

In the Glorious Fields, the conclusion to the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy by Emily Hayse. This was my most anticipated release of 2022 and I’m extremely happy with how Emily concluded the series. Even though I’m heartbroken as well. 😉

Best sequel you’ve read so far:

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde was lots and lots of fun! I got so attached to the characters that I had to Google spoilers to make sure things turned out all right for them.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to:

The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray looks fascinating, as it brings together characters from several different Jane Austen novels. I’ve got it on hold at the library, but there’s a long wait list. Sigh.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

My Rock and My Refuge by Rachel Kovaciny, the next installment in her Once Upon a Western series. This one is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and a beautiful story in its own right.

Biggest disappointment:

This is always my least favorite question. 😦

There were a few self-published books that didn’t meet my expectations. And In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh was…a trial. However, I’m happy to say that I’ve read more hits than misses so far this year.

Biggest surprise:

The Great Gatsby really grabbed me! The Master Craftsman had a twist I never saw coming. And Captain Absolutely (from Focus on the Family/Adventures in Odyssey) was charming and cool, a great comic book parody.

Favorite new author:

Jenni Sauer’s unique fairytale retellings have captured my heart. ❤

Newest fictional crush and ship:

My newest fictional crush is, without a doubt, Carrigan Gibbs from Jenni Sauer’s Evraft series. He snuck up on me in Rook di Goo, and by the time I’d finished Yesterday or Long Ago he was by far my favorite character in the series. Just thinking about him makes my heart beat a little faster! If that’s not the definition of a crush, I don’t know what is.

As for a favorite ship…Thursday and Landen from Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series are pretty perfect together.

Newest favorite character:

So, Gibbs definitely. But I also love Robert Bliss from Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes.

Book that made you cry:

Several books have made me at least tear up this year. But there are two that have made me weep. And they are In the Glorious Fields and Whose Waves These Are. So. Many. Tears.

(Nadine Brandes’ Wishtress was also a real tearjerker.)

Book that made you happy:

Reilly’s Luck by Louis L’Amour was a delight.

Favorite book-to-film adaption you saw so far this year:

Of new-to-me films, Little Men (1998) surprised me with its charm and accuracy to the book.

Favorite bookish post you’ve done so far:

I had a LOT of fun writing my ‘defending Mr. Rochester’ post and I’m really, really happy with how it turned out.

Books you need to read by the end of the year:

My Rock and My Refuge, The Count of Monte Cristo, and potentially The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? Any 2022 releases you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!


a measure of the mercy: the heroism of Frodo Baggins.

This post originally appeared on Femnista.

Mercy can be difficult to offer, no question about it. Because of that, characters who show mercy to those who oppose them are some of the most heroic (in my opinion). Jean Valjean refusing to shoot Javert (Les Misérables), Rey healing Kylo (Star Wars: The Return of Skywalker), and Bilbo deciding not to kill Gollum (The Hobbit)…these are all examples of grace extended when it wasn’t required. (And, often, when it didn’t seem to make sense from an outside perspective.)

In that vein, there is one fictional hero whose displays of mercy are extraordinary at times—and that hero is Frodo Baggins. There are three major characters in The Lord of the Rings to whom Frodo shows mercy, each in a different way.

First, and most famously, is Gollum. Like Bilbo, Frodo refrains from killing Gollum even when it seems quite foolish and dangerous to let him live. On first hearing Gollum is still alive, Frodo fiercely wishes Bilbo had ‘stab[bed] that vile creature, when he had a chance!’ It is only after meeting Gollum for himself (and heeding Gandalf’s warning to not be hasty in dealing out death) that Frodo finds himself moved with pity for Gollum.

Although he never trusts Gollum wholly, Frodo extends mercy to him. Yes, this is partly out of Frodo and Sam’s need for a guide to bring them to Mordor. But Frodo’s mercy isn’t simply of the ‘tolerating’ kind. It’s not as though he thinks “there, I won’t kill him, but that’s all I’ll do for him.” Instead, he tries to bring Gollum back to some form of goodness and decency and wholeness, doing more for Gollum than he had to (and, most notably, against the opinion of Frodo’s most faithful companion and friend, Sam).

The next person Frodo shows mercy is Boromir. In a poignant (if tense) moment, Frodo and Faramir have a conversation about Faramir’s older brother. When asked if he was a friend of Boromir, Frodo responds, “Yes, I was his friend, for my part.” And, when asked if he would grieve to learn Boromir is dead, he says he “would grieve indeed.” I believe Frodo had already forgiven Boromir at this point and displays mercy in that he doesn’t reveal Boromir’s rage and violence towards himself. Faramir figures out Boromir’s slip on his own, but (as far as I remember), Frodo doesn’t speak one bad word against Boromir even though the attack obviously hurt and shook him. This might not be as obvious a display of mercy as Frodo’s dealings with Gollum, but I still admire it.

Lastly, there’s Saruman. When Frodo and his friends return home, they find Saruman has taken over the Shire in their absence and has done many horrible things there (including ordering his henchman to murder at least one hobbit). When Saruman’s power is finally vanquished, Frodo allows him to leave unscathed. As Saruman is leaving, he attempts to stab and kill Frodo (only stopped by the mithril shirt Frodo wears). But even then, Frodo doesn’t allow Sam and the others to kill Saruman in return—not even when Saruman sneers at him and insults him for his mercy. It’s an astounding thing.

Frodo’s mercy fascinates me, partly because it’s an echo of the mercy God extends towards us every day. Like Gollum, we deserve death because of our sins. Like Boromir, we follow our own pride and self-will, giving into temptation. When we refuse to believe in Jesus and accept the sacrifice that He made for us on the cross, we reject His mercy just as Saruman rejected Frodo’s.

Near the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf had this to say: ‘Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.’

God can see ‘all ends’ and yet, like Frodo enduring Gollum’s nastiness or Saruman’s hatred, He still shows us mercy again and again.


a chat about my favorite fictional character.

Portions of this post were originally published on Femnista.

Thousands of people the world over know and love Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of sisterhood, Little Women. But what not as many people know is Alcott wrote two follow-up books called Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Both books tell of the various adventures and mishaps of the students at Jo Bhaer’s country school, Plumfield. 

One of these boys, Daniel ‘Dan’ Kean, is my favorite fictional character.

Of all time.

And I’m going to tell you why.

My first introduction to Dan came when my mom read Little Men aloud to me and my siblings. I remember that experience vividly. It was difficult to like Dan at first. Alcott describes him as ‘a most unprepossessing boy’ who ‘slouch[es] in’ and has a ‘half bold, half sullen look.’ Dan quickly lives up to the title Alcott gives him—he’s definitely a ‘firebrand’ in that he turns the gentle, quiet world of Plumfield on its head (and eventually, literally sets it on fire).

And yet…

…he was kinder to animals than to people, he liked to rove about in the woods, and, best of all, little Ted was fond of him. What the secret was no one could discover, but Baby took to him…Teddy was the only creature to whom Dan showed an affection, and this was only manifested when he thought no one else would see it.

Unfortunately, try as Jo does to draw out Dan’s best qualities, her efforts prove in vain. Dan’s worst offense comes when he persuades a few of the younger boys to drink alcohol, smoke cigars, play cards, and swear.  After that, Jo and Professor Bhaer send Dan away from Plumfield.

Not the greatest character intro, right? So why is Dan my favorite fictional character?

Well, to begin with, Dan returns to Plumfield. He comes back, half-lame, exhausted and repentant, and hoping against hope to find a welcome there.  After a (very slight) hesitation, the Bhaers accept him back into their midst. That is where Dan really begins to change. He isn’t perfect, but he tries to do good. Before, he constantly looked for ways to test and try the Bhaers—but that is all reversed once they accept him unconditionally.

There’s really no better way to show Dan’s change of heart and mind than to talk about the incident of the stolen quarters. The chapter that deals with this event was what first captured my interest as a child, listening to my mom read. The memory of it was what made me seek out Little Men as a teenager, read it, and really fall in love with Dan. 

Some quick context: one of the students, Tommy, leaves four of his quarters lying out in the barn. Another student, Nat (a good friend of Dan’s) is falsely accused of the crime. Nat is treated with suspicion and dislike until Dan confesses to the crime.

The only catch? Dan didn’t take the quarters any more than Nat did. He takes responsibility for the theft, even though it means disappointing the Bhaers, the only people he respects in the world. He willingly endures shame and averted eyes and scorn from the other boys. All so that Nat won’t be accused and despised anymore.

I won’t tell you the outcome of the whole thing, in case you read the book, but it is a happy one for Dan. And he continues to mature and grow and become an even better person throughout the rest of Little Men. Dan’s character development and growth was the first redemption arc I ever really knew of; through all this time it’s remained my favorite. And so has he.

But Dan’s redemption arc isn’t the only reason I love him. I think the character trait of Dan’s that places him at the very top of my list of favorite characters is how he looks out for and defends those weaker than himself. This quality of Dan’s is clearly seen in the incident of the stolen quarters, but it crops up constantly throughout both Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Consider this scene where one of the other boys in the school makes fun of a mentally disabled student.

“Why is Billy like this nut?” asked Emil, who was frequently inspired with bad conundrums.

“Because he is cracked,” answered Ned.

“That’s not fair; you mustn’t make fun of Billy, because he can’t hit back again. It’s mean,” cried Dan, smashing a nut wrathfully.


Or, during the matter of the quarters, one of the students bullies Nat in an attempt to discover who really stole the money. Dan comes along and, well…

“I was only in fun,” said Ned.

“You are a sneak yourself to badger Nat round the corner. Let me catch you at it again, and I’ll souse you in the river next time. Get up, and clear out!” thundered Dan, in a rage.

As Dan grows up and becomes a man, he never loses his compassion for those weaker or less fortunate than himself. He never loses that sense of justice and fair play, that burning need to defend those who need him—whether or not the person in trouble has an ‘official’ claim on him. All of which is extremely admirable, something to be proud of.

Or so you would think.

Unfortunately, at some point between writing Little Men and Jo’s Boys, it seems that Louisa May Alcott decided that Dan’s best qualities were in fact somehow dangerous and that he needed a good dressing-down.

“I don’t drink, or do the things you dread; don’t care for ’em; but I get excited, and then this devilish temper of mine is more than I can manage…when you pitch into a man, no matter how great a scamp he is, you’ve got to look out. I shall kill some one some day; that’s all I’m afraid of. I do hate a sneak!”

And Dan brought his fist down on the table with a blow that made the lamp totter and the books skip.

Dan doesn’t want to accidentally kill anyone because of his temper—perfectly understandable. What is not understandable, however, is how Louisa May Alcott deals with the situation when Dan does accidentally take a man’s life.

To set the scene: on a trip west, Dan comes across a young man named Blair who reminds Dan of Teddy. (Side note: Dan and Teddy’s special bond is only strengthened during Jo’s Boys, and I do love that.) Dan keeps a careful watch over Blair and finds him in a gambling hall one night, playing with men who are “bound to have his money.”

…by the look of relief on Blair’s anxious face when he saw him Dan knew without words that things were going badly with him…

Eventually, Blair loses all of his money—and his brothers’ money—and Dan begs him to leave the gambling table before he loses even more. But Blair is determined to keep playing. Dan stays and watches the game closely.

Seeing Dan’s resolute face, keen eye, and traveled air, the sharpers were wary, played fair, and let [Blair] win a little; but they had no mind to give up their prey, and finding that Dan stood sentinel at the boy’s back, an ominous glance was exchanged between them, which meant: “We must get this fellow out of the way.”

Dan saw it, and was on his guard; for he and Blair were strangers, evil deeds are easily done in such places, and no tales told. But he would not desert the boy, and still kept watch of every card till he plainly detected false play, and boldly said so.

One of the cheats fires back with insulting words and a drawn pistol. Dan’s anger flares; he knocks the man down. The man falls back, hits his head on a stove, and dies.

A wild scene followed, but in the midst of it Dan whispered to the boy: “Get away, and hold your tongue. Don’t mind me.”

And for this, for standing in defense of Blair, hitting a man who drew a gun on him when Dan himself was unarmed, not meaning for the man to hit his head and die, Dan is branded (by the author, if not all the other characters) as a murderer with blood-stained hands. The narrator (so, Louisa May Alcott) says “Yes, Dan was in prison…his own bosom sin had brought him there, and this was to be the bitter lesson that tamed the lawless spirit and taught him self-control.

*takes a moment to calm down because I am Literally Infuriated on Dan’s behalf*

I just…it doesn’t make sense to me!

How is it a sin to defend yourself and another person for whom you feel responsible??? The man had a gun! Dan only had his fists! And as to Dan being angry…yes, being angry can be a sin. But there is such a thing as righteous anger. Dan had caught the men cheating. They insulted him. One of them drew out a weapon (still can’t get over that). So Dan punched him. And I would even go so far as to say that Dan was following Biblical principles (though I’m sure that wasn’t on his mind in the heat of the moment). After all, the Bible has this to say in Psalm 82:

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Which is all exactly what Dan was doing. So take that, Louisa May Alcott.

I’m calm, I’m calm…

Anyway. Yes. Dan goes to prison for a year. He endures many trials, but at the end he is even more mature and wise and wonderful than before. And at the end of that year, he strikes out on his own again, not wanting to go back to Plumfield until he gets “the haggard look out of his face.” (Feeeels.) While out in the wide world, he ends up saving the lives of twenty men during a mining accident—and almost at the expense of his own life. Laurie and Teddy bring Dan back to Plumfield for rest and recuperation.

I’m not going to get into all that happens at Plumfield. Suffice to say that, during his time in prison, Dan fell in love with someone unattainable. Because of the hopelessness of that situation, he goes into the west (“he was eager to be off, to forget a vain love in hard work, and live for others, since he might not for himself“). Eventually, he dies out there in the exact way you would expect of Dan—in defense of those who need his help (a Native American tribe). And alone, but with “a smile on his face which seemed to say that [he] had fought his last fight and was at peace.”

And you know what? The travesty that is Jo’s Boys might actually have increased my love for Dan. After all, defending a fictional character is one of the best ways to get me to adore them. I’ll still even read snippets of Jo’s Boys because, although Louisa May Alcott does terrible things to Dan, Dan is still Dan. I can filter out the narrator’s censure of his actions and form my own views. And that’s just what I do.

After all, he’s my favorite. I have to take what I can get.

TL;DR—Dan is my favorite fictional character because 1) he defends those who need him and 2) he gets an amazing redemption arc. Also, Louisa May Alcott seriously messed up with Jo’s Boys.

Have you read Little Men and/or Jo’s Boys? Do you like Dan? What do you think of how Louisa May Alcott handled his story throughout both books? Let me know in the comments! I’m excited to hear from y’all.


‘kiera’ re-release blog tour: interview with author Kate Willis.

Today, I’m proud and excited to share my interview with Kate (Willis) Hoppman, the author of Kiera and one of my dear writer friends.

Hello, Kate! It’s great having you here on the blog, in celebration of Kiera’s re-release. What made you decide to re-release Kiera?

Great question, and one I think I’ll be getting a lot. 😉 There were a couple of factors—one, that I’d been dying to try my hand at publishing a hardcover edition, and two, that I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with some minor content in the story. Just some needlessly controversial topics and clumsy wording that could detract from the main message of the story.

What was the most fun part of getting Kiera ready for the re-release? The most difficult?

Honestly, the new cover! 😍😍 I had a clearer idea of my genre and the vibe I wanted this time, and I couldn’t be happier. 🤩

The most difficult was the edits. I fought with myself about how much to do and if I was gonna end up ruining the story, especially if I added a new typo. 😂 I really felt God’s calling to improve the book in this way though, and that helped me on tough days.

Who is your favorite character in Kiera?

I really love Jade, and Brennan is the sweetest man, IMHO. 😉 I’ve also always loved Aric, and I need to write something about him…

What books, movies, songs, etc. kept you inspired as you wrote Kiera?

Great question! There are two different stories that come to mind. The first one is when I needed to write the road trip scenes. I’ve always adored the road trip in October Baby, so I definitely think I took some “vibe inspiration” from there. ❤️

The other one is when I wrote my pivotal scene where Kiera talks with God. My alpha reader mom read it and said that it was too logical and devoid of emotion. I tried writing it again. No good. This was a time in my life when my spiritual leadership had a very cold, clinical view of the Gospel and while I believed in more, I struggled to express theology and emotions together. So I went to the master of these things. I read Janner’s scene in The Warden and the Wolf King (by Andrew Peterson) and listened to The Rain Keeps Falling (also by AP) until the tears came and I understood our struggles and our questions of God can be the most beautiful thing of all.

What are you hoping that readers will take away from this story?

Just how deeply and entirely loved they are, even when it doesn’t make sense. 💙

Any chance for a sequel?

For the first time in four years I can say, YES! Mercy’s story has a first chapter and concept, and I hope to begin writing it before the year is over.

Can you tell us anything about your next writing project?

There are two in the works right now, actually. The first is revisions for “Awake”, a fantasy novel about a queen, a guard, a dog, and a baby on the world’s worst “roadtrip”. And the other is drafting a contemporary novella for a very secret project. 😉

What’s some advice you would give to writers looking to self-publish?

Don’t be afraid to talk about your work! Your future readers, hopefully the current audience of your blog and social media, love hearing about what you’re writing, how much you love it, and when it’s coming out.

Don’t be afraid to share your work with people who can help you make it better. For me, that was taking the huge (rather painful!) leap to get beta-readers for the first time. For you that may be showing it to a trusted family member or friend, finding a copy editor, or sharing it with a teacher. Right now that might seem scary, but you won’t regret it later. 😉

Thank you for answering all my questions, Kate! This was a lot of fun.

Thanks so much for having me, Eva!

Kate (Willis) Hoppman is a follower of Jesus and lover of words. She enjoys quiet afternoons reading or watching movies with her nerdy husband, baking tall cakes, and hanging out with her family.

In her author time, she writes contemporary and fantasy, and sneaks in Doctor Who references and deep themes whenever possible.

Check out her other books Sincerely, Jem, The Treasure Hunt, and The Twin Arrows series.

Blog ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

Here are more details about Kiera!


Kiera’s life is pretty simple—garden, hang out with her best friend, babysit little Jade, and finish up homeschool highschool. But a global war and mandatory draft turn her eighteenth birthday into a nightmare.

Brennan, Jade’s adoptive dad, offers his last name and exemption status, leaving Kiera to question everything she’s ever thought about love. Even worse, she might actually be starting to have feelings for him.

Life settles into a routine before shattering again, and Kiera is left with only one question… If God truly loves her, why is this happening?

Limited edition hardcover includes The Least of These and a new exclusive short story Operation Robin.

Buy the hardcover

Buy the ebook

Add Kiera on Goodreads

Until next time!


book review: MAMMOTH by Brian McBride.

After the death of his father, misfit and aspiring paleontologist, Tommy Rhodes, seeks refuge in the ramshackle lighthouse that stands guard over the city of Mammoth, Washington. Left in disarray by years of bad weather, it’s the perfect place for Tommy to hide from everything that’s gone wrong with his life – and to party with his band of friends, the Jailbirds – the only family he has left.

After a storm uncovers a secret hidden in the walls of the old lighthouse, Tommy unravels a mystery beyond his wildest dreams and the deadly conspiracy that surrounds it – and Tommy’s entire life seems tangled at the heart of it all.

Tommy and the Jailbirds – Jude, Maya, Mars, and newcomer Lydia – are thrust into the middle of a deadly hunt for the truth that will challenge their bond, uncover the secrets that lurk beneath the surface of Mammoth, and test just how far they’ll go to set things right.

Mammoth is one of those stories that I didn’t even know I wanted until I read it—it’s also unlike any other novel I’ve ever read. The vibes of Mammoth remind of Indiana Jones, The Outsiders, all the Enid Blyton adventure books I read as a child, and Mystery Lights of Navajo Mesa (a Last Chance Detectives story). But Mammoth is also its own, unique story. Although there isn’t even a hint of magic in the story, the phrase that keeps popping into my mind when I think of Mammoth is ‘urban fantasy.’ There is a heightened sense of reality about this novel, one that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. Storms rage, the sea churns, and adventure awaits.

At the heart of Mammoth is its cast of characters. Tommy, grappling with the sudden death of his father. Maya, growing up well-to-do, but at odds with her life and her mom. Jude, doing everything he can to protect his little brother and break the generational cycle of violence and hatred. Mars, a sometimes unwilling—yet always loyal—participant in his friends’ adventures. And Lydia, whose heart breaks for the injustices committed by her brother Reid. These characters grabbed me and I was surprised to find myself tearing up over some of them—mainly Tommy and Jude. (Surprised, because I didn’t expect an adventure/treasure hunt novel to evoke such emotion. XD)

There were a couple things I didn’t love about Mammoth: the villains’ motivations and plans didn’t always make total sense to me (and neither did the events that happened a hundred years in the past, specifically why a certain horrific slaughter took place). Part of my confusion was probably because I read Mammoth so quickly, but I do think certain things could have been explained with more clarity. And then, I had a certain expectation for the last few chapters of the book that didn’t come true. (Basically, there was an antagonistic character that I expected/hoped would turn out to be an ally after all—and it didn’t happen.) That’s a purely personal thing, of course, and most of you guys probably won’t even think of that character the way I did. 😉

Mammoth sucks you into a world of treasure hunts, class divides, salt seas, brave characters, and secrets—so many secrets. Highly recommended to those looking for a gripping, high-stakes adventure novel.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


interview with author Emily Hayse.

Today, I’m very excited to join in the book release tour for In the Glorious Fields by bringing you an interview with Emily Hayse herself. Read on for behind-the-scenes details of how Emily brought the world and beloved characters of the Western Territory to life!

Congratulations on the release of In the Glorious Fields! How are you feeling now that all three books have been published?

Relieved? Lost? Nervous? A little bit in awe? This was such an undertaking and to have it be over definitely feels strange.

Did you plot the whole trilogy before you wrote the first book, or did you only have a rough idea of how it would all end when you started writing These War-Torn Hands?

I had a rough idea of how it would go. Lots of little things in place and general directions. I knew what the overarching storyline was going to look like, roughly, and I knew the smaller things would fall into place as I started fleshing out the world and the characters.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing In the Glorious Fields? What was the most fun/enjoyable?

Definitely the emotional aspect. I actually gave myself writer’s block simply from dreading a couple of the plot points that I knew had to happen but I didn’t want them to happen. It was probably one of the hardest books I’ve ever written, emotionally speaking. I think what I enjoyed the most was just getting one more book with these characters. Not everything goes right for them, but at least they live well.

What books, movies, TV shows, and/or music did you turn to for inspiration while writing In the Glorious Fields?

I read bits of favorite Louis L’Amour novels, particularly Sackett ones, I watched some Bonanza and Rawhide, and I watched The Magnificent Seven, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Conagher, Gettysburg, and various films with members of my cast in it. Music was all over the place, but I do have a playlist I’ve posted on my website you can check out. It’s a mix of soundtrack, folk, pop, country, and sacred.

Who are your top three favorite characters from the whole trilogy?

Oh man, don’t ask this! Raymond Lacey, Alan Swift, and then Kate Carnegie.

Which Knights of Tin and Lead character do you relate to the most?

Kate. She’s maybe a little bolder than me, but she speaks my language. I love being in her head because she sees the beauty in the land the way I do, and she has hopes and dreams that make her almost giddy with happiness sometimes.

Any hints about your next project?

It’s a shorter standalone novel, and it’s sort of Roaring 20s style mixed with The Illusionist or The Prestige. You can look forward to that releasing at the end of the year, probably.

The Prestige is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I’m even more excited for your next novel now. Thanks so much for this interview!

EMILY HAYSE is a lover of log cabins, strong coffee, NASCAR, and the smell of old books. Her writing is fueled by good characters and a lifelong passion for storytelling. When she is not busy turning words into worlds, she can often be found baking, singing, or caring for one of the many dogs and horses in her life. She lives with her family in Michigan.

Website ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

Today is the last day you can receive awesome, free merch for ordering In the Glorious Fields! Check out Emily’s Instagram post for more details.

My review of These War-Torn Hands ~ Buy it on Amazon

My review of The Beautiful Ones ~ Buy it on Amazon

My review of In the Glorious Fields ~ Buy it on Amazon

That’s all, folks!

If you’ve read and enjoyed any of the books in this trilogy, who is your favorite character? Let me know in the comments! (My favorite is Archer Scott. <3)


my favorite book series.

source: Chris Lawton.

Just like the title says, today I’ll be listing my favorite book series and talking a bit about why I love each one. So here goes! (This list is in no particular order. I love alllll the books.)

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

All hail the queen of fairytale retellings. XD This series features excellent, engaging, and clever retellings of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. My favorite characters are Winter, Cress, Jacin, and Kai.

Knights of Tin and Lead by Emily Hayse

Still not over this trilogy. The writing is beautiful and the characters in particular have stolen my heart. (Plus, I love books that make me cry…as one does.) And in other news, I have an interview with Emily Hayse coming on Monday—pretty excited about that!

Once Upon a Western by Rachel Kovaciny

I love these comforting, thoughtful western fairytale retellings! Once Upon a Western is the only on-going series on this list. It’s also probably the most ‘unconnected’ series, as each book is a standalone. However, there are little connections between the books, especially when you read the short stories that Rachel releases semi-regularly. (Check out the Goodreads series list for a full run-down.)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I used to reread this series every year. While I don’t do that anymore, that doesn’t mean my love for The Hunger Games has gone anywhere. Suzanne Collins really knows how to create a gripping plot and fascinating characters. And that extends to her prequel novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

Honestly, I think I love this series even more than The Hunger Games. It’s not so dark, and there are so many truly likable characters. Middle grade fiction for the win!

Songs in the Night by Jack Cavanaugh

This series, spanning the 1930’s to the 1980’s, is special to me for many reasons. I have reread it so many times and the characters truly feel like family. If you’re a fan of well-written historical fiction, I highly recommend Songs in the Night!

Little Women by Lousia May Alcott

Still super annoyed by Jo’s Boys, but other than that…what a wonderful series. Heartwarming and uplifting.

Out of Time by Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes created something truly special with this trilogy that chronicles Parvin’s journey to live a life that glorifies God, a life that actually means something. As someone who wastes far too much time, Out of Time will always be a needful series for me personally.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I doubt that Lucy Maud Montgomery knew that Anne’s story would span from childhood to motherhood when she first started writing Anne of Green Gables. But I’m so glad we got eight wonderful books about Anne and her family. (Technically nine if you count The Blythes Are Quoted—which I don’t, not really.)

Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer

Still have yet to see the film, but I adore the books. Enola is a fun heroine, the mysteries hold up well during rereads, and Springer’s portrayal of Sherlock himself is just lovely.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Did I save the best for last? Possibly. Narnia is my happy place, my homeland. Each individual book may not rate five out five stars from me, but the series and mythos as a whole are pretty close to perfect. For Narnia and for Aslan!

Did you spot any favorite series on this list? Any new ones that intrigued you? Do let me know in the comments!


five reasons you should read the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy (+ ‘In the Glorious Fields’ review!)

Today’s the day! In the Glorious Fields, the third and final book in the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy, is now out in the world. I was privileged to receive an e-ARC a few days ago, and I’ll be reviewing it a little later on in today’s blog post. But since the review probably won’t mean as much if you haven’t read the first two books, I thought I’d start out by convincing you to read the whole Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy. I hope I can! ❤

Reason #1—The KOTAL trilogy retells King Arthur legends in an Old West setting.

How cool is that? My limited knowledge of King Arthur’s story stems from the Great Illustrated Classics abridgement of Howard Pyle’s take on the legends, so I caught very little of the retelling aspect of the KOTAL trilogy. (You can definitely enjoy it with no knowledge of the original legends!) But the vibes, people. Chivalry, courage, and the tiniest bits of magic—all wrapped up in a vivid Old West setting. I’d gladly read a dozen books written in this story world.

Reason #2—The characters are lovable, and there’s someone for everyone.

The Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy has a large cast that only expands as the series progresses. The final book has something like ten different POV characters (with several more that don’t get POV chapters). If that thought is intimidating, don’t worry—it’s actually quite easy to keep everyone straight, once you get into the story. (There are also helpful character lists at the beginning of each book.)

And like I said above, there is a character for everyone: upright heroes, antiheroes, complex villains, three sets of awesome siblings, married couples, younger kids, a wise, old mentor…and more! I love them all. (Or nearly all.)

Reason #3—The writing itself is beautiful.

Emily Hayse has a gift for writing beautiful, evocative prose that lands you squarely in the world of the Western Territory. (Or any other story world she happens to write about.) I may or may not have felt a bit of writer’s envy while reading the trilogy. 😉

I’m inches from death, and yet all I see is the poetry of it: the dust from the spent bullets rising in the golden light of morning; the smoke from the guns hanging on the air over the rocks like mist; the green, beautiful land cut down the center with a golden stream.

The Beautiful Ones

Reason #4—The stories are truly epic in scope.

With each book, the scope of the world and the series itself expands. The characters travel hundreds of miles, going all over the Western Territory in their attempts to stop the curse on the land from taking them all. Months, then years pass. Relationships that will last until death (and beyond) are forged. Friendships are shattered, then built back up (or not). Our heroes deal with the curse on the land, the monsters within it (human and otherwise), and their own flaws and failings and fears—all against the backdrop of towering mountains, soaring blue skies, and dusty trails.

Reason #5—The entire trilogy is out now.

It was torture waiting for In the Glorious Fields, I tell you. I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated a book more eagerly—and I’m not just saying that! (The fact that I read my e-ARC in four hours flat kinda speaks for itself.) But now, you can have the entire series on your Kindle in seconds. No more waiting—just binge-reading. 😉

And with all that said, here is my review of In the Glorious Fields!

Series finales can be tricky to pull off in a stakes-raising, reader-satisfying way. But Emily Hayse has done just that with In the Glorious Fields, the final volume of the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy. Even with the large cast of characters, so many different POVs to juggle, and a dense plot that covers much ground and many months, In the Glorious Fields moves along at a brisk pace (the short, snappy chapters really help). Every beloved character gets a chance to shine and show what they’re made of—reminding us why we fell in love with them in the first place.

Because this trilogy is a retelling of the King Arthur legends, In the Glorious Fields does contain much tragedy, death, and darkness. At one point in the story, I began thinking “If this [specific, spoilery situation] isn’t resolved, the previous two books will be ruined for me as well.” But I shouldn’t have feared. In the Glorious Fields ends well—with hope, goodness triumphing over evil, and new beginnings. I truly couldn’t have asked for more.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Have you read any of the books in the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy? If you have, I’d love to fangirl about the stories and characters with you. If you haven’t, you can find the entire series for sale on Amazon—and add it to your shelves on Goodreads.


mini book review: in search of a prince by Toni Shiloh.

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells–Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing.

Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring.

I love The Princess Diaries, so when I read the synopsis for In Search of a Prince, I was excited to read it. (Plus, the cover is beautiful!) Sadly, In Search of a Prince did not live up to its potential. The main character Brielle is twenty-five, but she acted much younger (I think Prince might have worked better as a YA novel, truth be told). I didn’t root for the main couple, especially since Brielle thought about Tomori almost obsessively–not fun to read! The romance was awkwardly handled and, in my opinion, somewhat inappropriate (near the end of the book).

In general, the writing style was not my favorite either. The political aspects of the novel were interesting at times, but it also felt a bit surface-level. I would have much preferred an in-depth look at what learning to lead a country is like, with a tasteful, mature romance on the side. But that’s not what I got. Overall, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend In Search of a Prince–though I truly wish I could!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


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