Who’s that Hero? – A Matching Game

Who's That Hero - Sondra Kraak Guest Post Image

Happy Monday everyone! Today one of my favorite authors has come up with a super fun matching game to share with us as part of her blog tour celebrating the current sale on one of my favorite books, Two Ways Home. While it is the second book in her fantastic Love That Counts series, it can easily stand on its own…. although I loved the first book as well, and highly recommend it!

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On sale for just $0.99 NOW through May 25, 2017! Don’t miss out!

She’s about to lose her home. He never wanted to see his again. And a stalker is staking a claim . . .

Washington, 1892

Mary Smith was never one to back down from a challenge. Her father’s health may be failing, but their dairy farm was her mother’s dream, and Mary will do whatever it takes to keep her father from selling it—even if it means sneaking off to the next town to earn money by playing the piano in a questionable establishment. No one seems to understand why home is so important to her, least of all her childhood nemesis who’s just wandered back into town.

When injured Texas Ranger Luke Thomas is forced to return to Pine Creek, Washington, he’s hailed as a hero and thrust into the town’s first race for sheriff. But no one knows the secret he carried to Texas, nor the secret he’s brought home. Setting his perfect aim on returning south, he refuses to get tied down by the town’s admiration, his brother’s disapproval, or the spirited, hardworking dairy girl who’s less annoying than he remembers.

But strange things are happening at the Smith dairy and in Pine Creek, and Luke’s instincts tell him Mary is in far more trouble than she realizes. One thing is certain: “home” is about to get more complicated for them both.

Full of wit and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story sets forth the true meaning of coming home.

A little about Sondra

Please welcome the amazingly talented, Sondra Kraak! 🙂

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Who’s that Hero? A matching game for lovers of Christian fiction.

 

Challenge #1

Luke is my favorite boy’s name. Unfortunately, my husband isn’t as crazy about the name Luke, so my son is named Silas. Match these four Lukes with their historical romance stories:

 

Luke #1: is a Texas Ranger, goes undercover and wears overalls instead of his usual fancy duds, loves to bird hunt, but falls in love with a bird enthusiast, has named his guns.

Luke #2: is a twin, desires to be married and have a family, lives with his brother, Silas (another great name!), looks after his stubborn grandma, falls in love with a heroine who is hiding from danger.

Luke #3: has a “fiery” secret and an aversion to hand-holding, is a wounded Texas Ranger falsely accused, falls in love with a childhood nemesis, finds solace by his father’s grave.

Luke #4: falls in love with a woman he rescues, is falsely accused, seeks vengeance for his father’s death and to gain back his ranch.

Can you match them?

Luke Stone, Swept Away, Mary Connealy

Luke Cameron, A Place Called Home, Lori Wick

Luke Palmer, Love on the Line, Deeanne Gist

Luke Thomas, Two Ways Home, Sondra Kraak

 

Challenge #2

2) My favorite hero is the strong and steady quiet guy who carries deep wounds. Here are some examples. Can you match them with their wounds? (historical and contemporary)

 

Wound 1: His brother followed him into battle and died.

Wound 2: Grew up in a violent home, faced capture, was forced to watch a woman suffer.

Wound 3: He was abandoned and homeless as a boy.

Wound 4: His mother died after a preacher prophesied she’d be healed.

Wound 5: He disappointed his father, doubts a decision that resulted in the death of team members.

Wound 6: His wife died of cancer.

Can you match them?

Tristan Porter, Such a Hope, Sondra Kraak

Malachi Shaw, No Other Will Do, Karen Witemeyer

Daniel Ranslett, From A Distance, Tamera Alexander

Reuben Marshall, Burnin’ for You, Susan May Warren

Matt Jarreau, My Stubborn Heart, Becky Wade

Dean Watters, Raptor 6, Ronie Kendig

 

Challenge #3

And how about those outgoing guys with an edge of flirt in them (or more than an edge of flirt as is the case with some)? They’re fun, too. Match these quotes to their books.

 

Quote 1.

She tapped the green accept button. “Hello?”

“Hey, beautiful you want to grab some coffee?”

Furrows formed between her eyes. Who in the world? “I’m sorry. You must have the wrong number.”

She pulled the phone away from her ear but stopped short of disconnecting when she heard the voice on the other end say her name. Her lips turned down. “Who is this?”

“Who do you think it is, babe? I told you I’d call.”

 

Quote 2.

He smiled. She was scared all right. But so much the better. That would make her wish he were with her. “If we were married, I’d stay and protect you.”

She stiffened. “I’ll have you know I was on my own long before I came here. I didn’t need a man then, and I certainly don’t need one now.”

 

Quote 3.

I smiled and nudged my shoulder playfully against his. “Are you ever serious?”

His fingers tightened against mine. In the darkness of the underground cave, the flickering flames of the fire cast a glow over his face and lit up his eyes. “I’m serious when I say I’d allow myself to be thrashed any day in order to see you.”

. . .

“You’re crazy,” I whispered.

“Not half as crazy as you,” he whispered back.

 

Quote 4. 

“How’ve you been, sweet one?”

“I’ve been fine, showboat.”

He grinned crookedly. “Showboat?”

“Yep.” The sizzle of meat on the stove reminded her or her spaghetti sauce. She returned to the kitchen . . . “Since you insist on calling me a nickname, I figured it was only fair to respond in kind.” She positioned herself at the stove and went back to work on the ground turkey.

[He] crossed his muscled arms and leaned a hip against the edge of the countertop. “Was showboat the best you could do? I don’t like it.”

“Good.”

“What about Maverick? Adonis?”

She rolled her eyes.

“This might be too obvious, but how about Stud?”

“Believe me. It’s not in the least obvious.”

“Well, showboat’s no good.”

She made a scoffing sound. “Tough luck. You don’t get to pick.”

 

Quote 5.

[He] pulled out and she took off her hat, tossed it on the dash, then tugged out the tie from her hair, running her fingers through the strands to work out the snarls.

Only then did she see [him] glancing t her, more than once.

“What?”

“Nothing, I’m just wondering what’s on your agenda. ’Cause we have work to do.”

She stared at him, and then he smiled. “I’m just kidding, Speedy. I wouldn’t think of hittin’ on you.”

She laughed too, because this was their game.

He flirted, she pushed him away, and round and round they went.

“I wouldn’t date you anyway.”

“Aw, c’mon. I’m fun.” He pulled into the Griz, an all-night convenience store.

“Believe me, I know. Word gets around . . . all fun, all the time.”

 

Quote 6.

He’d test how much she really wanted his help. He moved his horse beside her and offered a hand. “Climb on.”

Without looking at him, she shook her head. “Walking is good exercise. It allows space to think.”

That’s what he thought. Stubborn. Self-sufficient. “How about space to breathe, or is that unnecessary?”

She grunted, a sound so unladylike his grin shot up the sides of his face. Space between them was a good idea. He’d lost his mind offering to let her nestle in the saddle in front of him. They had enough issues with closeness. No need to encourage more.

She’d be too proper to accept, anyway. Not that sharing a ride was improper. Not out here where priorities shifted from maintaining decorum to being neighborly.

She slipped, reached for a branch, and cried out as her hand slid along a spindly limb.

“You all right?”

She paused, drew in a deep breath, and wiped her brow.

Yeah, she was fine, besides the scowl the size of Washington that settled on her face.

“I’ll take that ride.”

His heart stumbled. He’d have to dig deep for the ability to remain unscathed by her leaning against him.

Who was he kidding? She scathed him in every way. He’d have about as much hope to remain unaffected by her nearness as the sun would have of hanging in the sky longer.

Can you match them?

Joe Denton, A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist

Ty Porter, Meant to Be Mine, Becky Wade

Sir Collin, A Daring Sacrifice, Jody Hedlund

Barrett Clarke, One Plus One Equals Trouble, Sondra Kraak

Pete Brooks, Rescue Me, Susan May Warren

Trent Carrington, Finders Keepers, Sarah Monzon

 

Challenge #4

In my interview today with Trisha Robertson, I list several guilty pleasures (I could have listed ten). Name one of them and tell me one of yours!

 

 Challenge #5

In my interview last Saturday with Katie Donovan, I shared my favorite place to read. What is it? And what is your favorite place to read?

 

BONUS Challenge

Finally, a bonus question. Can you guess my two favorite heroes of this entire game—not counting my own. And who of this bunch is your favorite?

 

Thanks for playing! Feel free to invite a friend to join the fun.

Who’s that Hero? A matching game for lovers of Christian fiction. – Click to Tweet!

Try this Matching Game for Christian Bibliophiles! – Click to Tweet!

Now check your answers and post your score below!

Answers

 

Lukes:

Luke #1: Luke Palmer, Love on the Line, Deeanne Gist

Luke #2: Luke  A Place Called Home, Lori Wick

Luke #3: Luke Thomas, Two Ways Home, Sondra Kraak

Luke #4: Luke Stone, Swept Away, Mary Connealy)

 

Quiet, wounded heroes:

Wound 1: Daniel Ranslett, From A Distance, Tamera Alexander

Wound 2: Dean Watters, Raptor 6, Ronie Kendig

Wound 3: Malachi Shaw, No Other Will Do, Karen Witemeyer

Wound 4: Tristan Porter, Such a Hope, Sondra Kraak

Wound 5: Reuben Marshall, Burnin’ for You, Susan May Warren

Wound 6: Matt Jarreau, My Stubborn Heart, Becky Wade

 

Outgoing, flirtatious heroes:

Quote 1: Trent Carrington, Finders Keepers, Sarah Monzon

Quote 2: Joe Denton, A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist

Quote 3: Sir Collin, A Daring Sacrifice, Jody Hedlund

Quote 4: Ty Porter, Meant to Be Mine, Becky Wade

Quote 5: Pete Brooks, Rescue Me, Susan May Warren

Quote 6: Barrett Clarke, One Plus One Equals Trouble, Sondra Kraak

 

Guilty Pleasures:

baths, Calvin and Hobbes comics, parentheses

 

Favorite Reading Spot:

in a cabin on a rainy day by a fire

 

Bonus:

Dean Watters, Matt Jarreau

 

How did you do? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Remember, Two Ways Home is only on sale for a limited time! Don’t miss out on this seriously fun read!

If you’re interested in following this blog tour for other interviews, character spotlights, and more, here’s the schedule:

Katie at Fiction Aficionado (interview, excerpt), Saturday, May 20
Kathleen Denly (game), Monday, May 22
Trisha at Joy of Reading (interview), Monday, May 22
Beth Erin at Faithfully Bookish (setting spotlight), Tuesday, May 23
Jessica at A Baker’s Perspective (spotlight on heroine), Wednesday, May 24
Sydney at Singing Librarian (interview, spotlight on hero), Thursday, May 25

Two Ways Home Blog Tour May 2017

First Line Friday – 4.28.17

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It’s Friday, which means I’m sharing with you the first line from a book near me and I’m hoping you’ll share the first line of the book nearest you!

Today’s book has been sitting impatiently on my TBR (to-be-read) list for months and I’m expecting to get to it in the next few weeks! It’s Under A Blackberry Moon by Serena B. Miller, author of one of the few books I have read more than once, The Measure of Katie Calloway.

Under the Blackberry Moon

Don’t you just love that cover? Here’s the first line:

Bay City, Michigan
May 15, 1868

“Whose squaw are you, girl?”

I am so excited to be reading this soon!

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

First Line Friday – 4.21.17

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What are you reading this week? Open the book nearest you and share the first line with me!

Today I’m featuring a book patiently waiting on my To Be Read list:  A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander.

A Lasting Impression cover image

FRENCH QUARTER, NEW ORLEANS,
LOUISIANA
SEPTEMBER 1, 1866
Claire Laurent studied the finished canvas on the easel before her, and though masterpiece hardly described it, she knew the painting was her best yet.

This novel has an interesting preface written by the author explaining how there are bits of actual history woven throughout the mostly fictional novel. I am looking forward to reading it as it creeps closer to the top of my TBR list.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Andi @ Radiant Light

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

First Line Friday – 4.14.17

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It’s Friday! Yay! I love sharing these first lines with you all and reading the lines you share with me. It’s so fun to discover new books and authors together.

Today I’m sharing the first line from a book by an author I have recently come across and sincerely enjoyed. The author is Nerys Leigh and the book is titled A Hope Unseen. It’s the second book in her Escape to the West series, but can easily be read as a stand alone (the references to her first book/characters in the series will simply pass unnoticed).

A Hope Unseen

 

June, 1869
Sara crept down the staircase, carefully keeping her stockinged feet to the edge where she knew none of the steps would creak.

I know I listed mail order brides as one of the things I was tired of reading back in January of 2016, but as I stated then, there is a reason this premise is so popular. It’s fun, it’s adventuresome, and there is just something romantically thrilling in idea of it. More importantly, Nerys Leigh managed to add a unique element to her plot which I hadn’t read before in a mail order bride story. Not saying it hasn’t been done (I haven’t thoroughly researched to figure that out), just that I haven’t seen it done, so it was new to me and I enjoyed it.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Andi @ Radiant Light

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Author Interview – Sondra Kraak

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Today we are in for a special treat! Sondra Kraak has kindly agreed to share a little about herself and the behind the scenes of writing her latest release, Such a Hope the first book in her Paths of Grace series.

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Such a Hope

Washington Territory, 1871

Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.

When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.

Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.

If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of Such a Hope by clicking HERE

A little about Sondra

Sondra KraakA native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain, but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015).

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Hi Sondra! Thanks so much for joining me today. Since you’ve already discussed much of the spiritual side of your novel in an interview with Toni Shiloh, I thought we’d stick to some fun, getting to know you and behind-the-scenes type of questions today.

I know that when I write I can often get munchy so I keep a bag of pretzel sticks on hand, along with some candy to reward myself at the end of a writing session. I’m curious, what’s your favorite snack to munch on while you write?

Chocolate chips. Peanut M&Ms. Gummy candy. It’s hard to write and eat at the same time unless it’s something I can pop into my mouth, like chocolate. Popcorn is my favorite snack, but I don’t eat it as I write. Sometimes I eat is as a distraction from writing.

Oooh. I love popcorn. My favorite is air-popped white popcorn with tons of salt.

I know some writers use different pen names for a variety of reasons. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Nope. It never crossed my mind, but it’s unfortunate I have a last name with a double vowel since most people don’t know how to pronounce double vowels. Kraak is pronounced crock, like crock pot. If I open a restaurant, I’m going to call it The Kraak Pot, and cook everything in crock pots. But if people pronounce my name like they usually do (crack), that name could be misleading, and I could get some interesting customers.

Ha ha ha! Oh I love that! I think I’d show up either way it was pronounced if only out of sheer curiosity. 

My love of writing definitely began with my childhood love of reading. What was your favorite book as a child?

I have many fond memories of my parents reading to me. My dad read Hardy Boys mysteries to me, and my mom read the Ramona Quimby series. But picture books are my favorite, and my children now use some of my old books. (See the picture below.)

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I had a few of those on my childhood bookshelves, too! It’s so special how the love of reading gets passed from one generation to the next. My parents read Wilder’s Little House series to me and my grandmother read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books to us whenever we spent the night at her house. I still have both sets. 

I have read some very different ways that various authors come up with the names for their characters. How do you select the names for your characters?

I don’t have a fancy process. I use what names come to mind or what names I like. I love the name Luke (hero in Two Ways Home). Tristan is named after my husband’s favorite movie hero (Tristan from Legends of the Fall). Claire sounds sophisticated to me, which fits my schoolteacher (One Plus One Equals Trouble). Barrett . . . that was random.

In Three Words and a Kiss (this year’s release), my hero Cam experiences an identity crisis. His safe, routine life is turned upside down when the owner of his blacksmith shop, Samantha Klein, comes to town. Samantha’s nickname is Sam. I wanted their names to rhyme so that Cam feels like even something as fundamental as his name is being stripped from him (she doesn’t like how their names sound alike and asks him to change his. What?! He’s not going for that).

Hmm. She doesn’t like their names sounding alike? Seems a little persnickety. I’m trying to picture the kind of woman who asks her employee to change his name for a reason like that. Also, the kind of woman who takes ownership of a blacksmith shop with a male employee in that time period. Sounds like Cam is going to have his hands full! 🙂

BTW – As Luke is my husband’s name, I’m kinda partial to it, too. 😉

Can you tell me something about your story that you think only a few people will know?

Speaking of names, here’s a little secret about Such a Hope. Anna’s name wasn’t Anna to begin with, and in my mind, she’s still not Anna. Her original name was Ruby, but then another indie author released a historical book Healing Ruby about a young girl named Ruby with the gift of healing. Even though the time period, voice, and story is so different from Such a Hope, I wanted to respect that author by not also releasing a historical romance about a girl named Ruby with the gift of healing. That might get confusing to readers. So Ruby became Anna.

Wow. That must have been difficult to adjust to. I’ve heard stories of publishers telling authors to change their character’s names and it always makes me shudder. These characters become so real to us as writers, it’s almost like someone asking me to change the name of one of my children. That said, I can definitely see why you made that tough decision and I applaud you for it. 

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In a previous interview with Toni Shiloh you mentioned that you “edited out a bunch [of history] that ended up unnecessary to the story.” Can you share some of what you edited out?

A lot of that editing meant shortening scenes, for instance in the beginning when Tristan is talking with President Hall (who was a real person) from the Territorial University. I needed enough about the Morrill Act and farming inventions to show Tristan knew his stuff and was passionate, but not too much, else readers get bored. Same thing in other scenes where Tristan talks to farmers.

Also, I had to not get distracted by all the real people and places in my story. I didn’t want to inundate readers with extra information. One example is Conklin House, which is briefly mentioned several times. It was a beautiful building shipped from Georgia and had an internationally known proprietress who was rumored to cuss in seven languages. She even chased off some government surveyors once by throwing sticks and stones at them. Though it was a hotel and served as the courtroom and town hall for a while, it was also a brothel. The history is so interesting. The house will show up much more in my second book in the Paths of Grace series, but in Such a Hope, readers didn’t need to know all that history. I had to delete some descriptions and commentating.

In case readers are curious, these people and places that show up (or are mentioned) are real: Arthur Denny, Doc and Catherine Maynard, Dr. Smith, Carson Boren, Rev. Bagley, Thomas Mercer, Dexter Horton, Henry and Sarah Yesler, Captain McRedmond, Skid Row, Yesler Hall, Matthias and the Railroad House, Brown Church and White Church (yes, they were distinguished and called by their exterior paint colors). And all the towns, cities, and universities referred to. However, all words and actions in the story are entirely of my own imagining.

Wow. You have clearly done your research and I certainly appreciate the restraint you showed in deciding what to include and what to leave out. I think you did a great job giving me just enough information to understand what I needed to without ever feeling like I was being educated instead of entertained. Also, that is a long list of real people to include in one story, yet while reading the novel I had no idea so many of the characters were real. They blended in seamlessly with your fictional characters. Good job!

What’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Well, other than the relationships I’ve made with other authors (more on that in the next question), my favorite part of being a writer is creating stories. I like to think about characters and their wounds and desires and how Jesus will heal those wounds. And I love making two people fall in love because that’s such a beautiful process of coming to see another person in a deep and honest way (and being known in a deep, honest way). I often take notes during sermons through the eyes of a character, like “oh, that’s just what Lorna’s struggling with. This can be a break through moment for her!” Which is a bit funny to sit in a pew and apply the Word of God to imaginary people, but really, applying truth to my stories is a way to process that truth and apply it to my own life. That’s what fiction is about for me.

That’s awesome. Now I want to sit behind you in church and peek over your shoulder at your notes! 😉

Sondra Kraak Interview Promo Image

What other authors are you friends with and how did they help you become a better writer?

Jennifer Rodewald is probably the most influential author for me because she helped me choose the indie path (independent publishing). Watching her indie publish was the main reason I became interested in it. She’s also my critique partner, and her input into my stories and writings is invaluable. I’m also in a critique group with several other aspiring authors, and their friendship and encouragement is beyond compare. The people I’ve met through conferences, ACFW loops, and social media have enriched my life so much. The act of writing is done solo—others can’t write your story—but being a writer is not a solitary endeavor.

I love what you said at the end, there. That is so true. It’s like the saying about iron sharpening iron. In a healthy writing community, we all work together to make each other better and stronger. 

I’m always looking for new authors to read and one of the reasons I do so many book reviews and interviews is because I love sharing the news when I find a great one. Can you share another new or new-to-you author whose book you read this year and are excited about?

I’m reading Crystal Walton’s Write Me Home, and I love her voice. It’s sharp and witty, and she writes in deep point of view. You feel like you’re right there in the character’s mind. I’m also looking forward to reading Tammy Gray soon. I have some of her books on my kindle but haven’t gotten to them yet. My reading time is limited, so mostly I stick to authors whose voices I love and identify with and can learn from: Ronie Kendig, Susan May Warren, Denise Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, Tamera Alexander. After growing up on historical, I find myself reading way more contemporary now days. Interesting, huh?

I haven’t read anything by either Crystal or Tammy. Now I’ve added them to my list! 🙂 I do think it’s interesting that you are reading more contemporary lately. I find I naturally go through phases where I read just historical romance or just contemporary or even just dystopian or fantasy/sci-fi for a while and then I switch. 

Okay, that’s all the questions I have for today. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Sondra! It’s been fun getting to know you a little better.

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Well readers, Did you enjoy the interview? Do you have any additional questions for Sondra? What was your favorite book as a child? Let me know in the comments below!

 

TWEETABLES

“The act of writing is done solo…but being a writer is not a solitary endeavor.” @SondraKraak #AuthorInterview – Click to Tweet!

The secret habit Sondra Kraak practices in church.  #AuthorInterview @SondraKraak ~ @KathleenDenly – Click to Tweet!

Why you might think twice before entering Sondra Kraak’s imaginary restaurant. #AuthorInterview ~ @KathleenDenly – Click to Tweet!

First Line Friday – 4.7.17

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I recently shared with you my (raving) review of The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch and how eager I was for the next book in the Hearts at War series to come out. Well, guess what? Today is RELEASE DAY for The Patriot and the Loyalist!!! To celebrate, I’m sharing the first line:

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Daniel Reid slowed his horse and sucked air into his lungs as he reined to the road’s grassy edge.

I seriously cannot wait to read this book! Daniel was such a strong character in the first book, I’m sure he’ll make an excellent hero and I’m excited to meet the heroine who steals his heart.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Andi @ Radiant Light

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

My Review – Such A Hope

My Review Such A Hopeabout-the-book-2

Such A Hope is the first book in Sondra Kraak‘s Paths of Grace Series.

Washington Territory, 1871

Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.

When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.

Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.

Why This Book:

I first discovered Sondra’s writing when I happened upon her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble. It turned out to be the first in her Love That Counts series and I eagerly awaited the next installment. After reading Two Ways Home, the second book in her Love That Counts series, I knew I’d found a new favorite author. So when I learned that Such A Hope would be releasing soon as part of a new series, I immediately added it to my TBR (to be read) list.

Then I attended the Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference and met someone who ACTUALLY KNEW SONDRA!!! I totally fangirled out! And if that wasn’t bad enough, you should have seen my silly grin the first time Sondra contacted me directly! Not only is Sondra a wonderful writer, she is a wonderful person whom I am honored to be getting to know.

I am so super excited to announce that my interview with Sondra will be next Monday’s post! If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it!

All of that said, the following review is my sincere and honest opinion. Also, for the record, I purchased my own copy of this book.

Opening Line:

Seattle, Washington Territory
September 1871

Anna Warren breathed the crisp air that hinted of salt.

First Impressions:

Such A Hope began with a sensory-filled description of Anna’s return to Seattle that pulled me back in time to the swiftly growing bayside city of 1871. Like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day, Sondra welcomed me into Anna’s world, letting me know exactly who this young woman was and what she hoped to achieve with her return. Things seemed to be moving along smoothly until Anna discovered a surprise waiting in her old cabin.

Such A Hope Quote 1

Characters:

Anna – Despite the official blurb for this book, I don’t think it is exactly true to say that Anna “desires” to pray for healing. In fact, she spends much of the book almost dreading the next urge to do so. Not because she wishes people to remain ill, but because she dreads the reactions others will have to the miracle God may perform. Anna is clearly called to pray and she has an earnest heart to obey God and bless others, but she struggles with the worldly consequences of following God on a path few understand. Her sincere desire is for God’s glory, but obeying His call is far from easy for her and even interferes with some of her own goals for her life.

Tristan – Tristan’s traumatic past has clearly shaped much of who he is and what he does. It’s difficult to comment on his character without giving away too much. He is definitely an interesting hero with a unique character arc. Watching his choices and seeing how he grows was one of my favorite parts of the novel.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

Such a Hope is not a wild ride. There are definitely no gun fights, no fisticuffs, and no wild chases through the countryside. This just isn’t that kind of book and it doesn’t pretend to be. Yet there is danger. There are riled up crowds, abuses of power, and severe illness and injury. At its core, though, this book is all about the characters. As such, its true power is in the emotional depths to which it takes you. It is raw and it is real in ways few other books dare to be. Such a Hope made me cry, laugh out loud, and sigh in contentment.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I admire a novel which dares to include any sensitive topic which other books rarely include. Sondra Kraak does exactly this in Such a Hope by boldly creating a heroine who feels the calling to pray for healing. That said, I admit that even as a HUGE Sondra Kraak fan, I was rather nervous to read this book for exactly the reason that I admire it.

The topics of intercessory prayer and miraculous healing are not black and white issues, and are topics which can be quite divisive within the Christian community. I wasn’t sure how Sondra would handle these issues. Still, I was determined to give her a chance and I’m glad I did. Sondra doesn’t back away from this divisiveness but tackles it head on in her story in a way which I found refreshing.

These topics are not handled in a way which feels at all preachy. They are handled in a way that feels very personal and real to Anna and Tristan. Nor are they topics added in for the sake of themselves, but instead they are intrinsic to the story itself and to the internal journeys of both the main characters.

Themes:

Such a Hope asks the reader to define true community. What does it mean to be part of a community and how should Christians behave in relation to one another, particularly with regard to theological differences or things we don’t completely understand? Such a Hope also addresses faith in the face of tragedy and suffering, as well as the struggles of discerning God’s purpose for our lives.

Ending:

I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion to Such a Hope. Unlike many other novels, the trouble doesn’t all come to a swift and tidy end, with every problem resolving at once. (Not that, when done well, those types of conclusions aren’t also enjoyable.) In Such a Hope, Sondra trickles in solutions here and there over the course of time, steadily moving everything along to the end of the story. That which can plausibly be wrapped up, is, but that which would realistically take more time to work out, is left to do so without the reader feeling at all unsatisfied. I especially loved the realistic denouement of the romance between Tristan and Anna.

Additional Thoughts:

Sondra has clearly done a ton of research in preparation for this novel and it shows in the details she sprinkles throughout the story.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Have you read any of Sondra Kraak’s books? What do you think of authors handling such sensitive topics?

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