Monday, December 1, 2014

Kregel Blog Tour: The Heretic

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Pacificus, is the central character throughout The Heretic--a monk with a past he has worked hard to keep buried. The monastic life seems the perfect place to enjoy peace and isolation as a painter of sacred figures and scenes. Those goals are set aside the fateful day he is asked to hide five children whose parents were arrested on charges of heresy. An eel catcher and his maiden sister open their home to the children and Pacificus thinks his job is done. But he feels compelled to follow up on the outcome of their parent's trial and thereby stays connected to their lives, becoming increasingly entangled in their future.

Pacificus' brother lives in a nearby leper colony with secrets of his own--even from his brother. Feeling as though his affliction is God's punishment for past wrongs, Simon lives under a weight of guilt and regret.  Grappling with his faith and trying to navigate the ripples of reformation prove a daunting task.

When a fellow monk gets murdered, Pacificus feels compelled to make inquiries; which unfortunately puts him in the spotlight of suspicion. On top of this, he gets tapped by the bishop to be his inside man in a game of which the rules and alliances are not what they seem.  His life of peace and solitude is quickly evaporating.

This book is a mix of mystery, church history, theological debate, adventure, political intrigue and chivalry.  The story takes a bit of time to get moving and for those (like myself) who have forgotten much of European history, the political figures and loyalties are a bit tricky to keep straight. There were a few anachronistic parts of the story but many readers may not even notice.

Like an elaborate game of chess--complete with pawns at the mercy of bishops and kings--The Heretic is a book that will hold you in suspense through each move and countermove.  And just when you think the king is in check, the tables are drastically turned. I found the book to be an exceptional read with plenty of twists and turns and a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to an epic adventure.

Read an excerpt of the book. You can purchase The Heretic directly from Kregel Publications for $16.99 (a steal for this 608-page book!).  Grab one for yourself and the history lover on your gift list!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Heretic from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith


I have to say that the cover of The 13th Gift immediately grabbed my attention and the subtitle "A True Story of a Christmas Miracle" sounded like my kind of book.

The book takes place in the weeks leading up to the first Christmas the author would face as a widow. Having said good-bye to her soul mate just months prior and now facing the loneliness, the daunting role of single parenting, and the angst of teen conflicts, the author isn't sure how her family will survive this Christmas.

Then one day, a gift is left at the author's front door with a note about the first day of Christmas and what their "true friends" gave that day.  That unexpected and beautiful reminder that someone cared about their family allowed the first ray of light to penetrate their suffocating grief.  Each day a new gift is delivered--nothing expensive or fancy just something that puts a smile on their face and helps them start to see some hope. Little by little, these small acts of kindness begin to work their magic.

Check out the author's website for more information about her and her family. She also has some great advice on how to reach out to others any day of the year, not just at Christmas.

The 13th Gift can be purchased at the following retailers:


This was one of the most beautiful books I've ever read and it offers a really wonderful idea for ways to encourage and enrich others who may be experiencing a difficult time over the holidays.  Go out and get your copy and go make a difference on someone's life this season.


Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of The 13th Gift for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.