Spotlight: Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

It’s no secret I love Israel. Just this summer, I spent three months there and, among other places, I visited Tiberias, Acre, and Jerusalem. All three cities play a role in Ronie Kendig’s latest novel, Crown of Souls. While in the Old City, I actually went to the very cafe Cole and Haven go to and even ordered the same drink!! Purely by coincidence, I promise! I hadn’t read that scene yet, but you can imagine my excitement when I finally did.

I thought it would be fun to take a quick tour of the cities and learn some interesting facts about each one. So grab your passport!

Tiberias

View of Tiberias from the Sea of Galilee

  • Built along the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) it sits 682 ft (208 m) below sea level.
  • It is one of the four holy cities of Judaism along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed.
  • Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, built the city in 17 BC, naming it in honor of the Roman emperor Tiberius.
  • The city was erected in a beautiful location near natural mineral hot springs. However, it was also the site of an ancient cemetery. As such it was ritually unclean, and Jews refused to live there.
  • With the Crusaders’ first conquest of the Holy Land in 1099, they demolished the ancient city of Tiberias and built a new one just a few kilometers to the north, the site of modern-day Tiberias.

Acre

Acre Port

  • Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, dating back to Pharaoh Thutmose III.
  • It manufactures iron and steel, chemicals, and textiles.
  • Saladin conquered the city in 1187. Keep your eyes open, you just may meet him in Crown of Souls.
  • The city holds significance in four religions: Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Bahai.
  • Acre’s fort was converted into a jail. The same one from the notorious 1947 jail break carried out by the Irgun (dramatized in the Paul Newman film Exodus).

Jerusalem

Jaffa Gate (AKA David’s Gate) makes an appearance in Crown of Souls.

  • The city has been conquered more than 40 times including by the Persians, the Romans, the Ottoman Turks, and the British Empire.
  • More than 100 battles have been fought for control of Jerusalem over the course of its history.
  • It has more than 2,000 archeological sites and 60 museums. That’s a lot of history!
  • Jerusalem is the focal point of three Jewish holidays: Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), Pesach (Passover), and Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost).
  • In the days of Abraham, it was called Shalem.

About the Story:

Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole “Tox” Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating–he’s using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

About the Author:

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married a veteran, and together their lives are never dull with four children and two dogs–a a Maltese Menace and a retired military working dog, Vvolt N629. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have hit bestseller lists and garnered awards and critical acclaim.

Connect with Ronie through her Website, FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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Character Spotlight: Liz Johnson’s Justin and Natalie

About the Story:

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

Meet Natalie

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Jessica Chastain

Physical description: She’s a petite redhead with all the pale features of her Irish heritage. She has blue eyes and a smattering of freckles across her nose.

Age: 32

Loves: She’s exceptional at keeping track of the details and pleasing people. But what she really loves is verbally sparing with Justin, a pastime that she’s missed terribly in the last fifteen years.

Hates: Gossip—especially when she’s the one being gossiped about. And she hates being the center of attention.

Favorite flower: Purple orchids

Favorite song: One that Justin wrote called “On This Shore.”

Favorite cake: Caden’s lemon cake with raspberry filling and whipped lemon frosting.

Biggest struggle: She’s not always honest with herself about what she wants, and she struggles to tell her fiancée the truth about why she left PEI and never wanted to go back.

Background: She’s an only child with a childhood that was filled with pain and neglect. She longs to forget the past, but is stuck reliving it upon her return to PEI.

Work: She’s the concierge at a ritzy hotel in Nashville, serving many of Music City’s elite.

Meet Justin

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Christian Kane

Physical description: Justin is a stocky dairy farmer. He has black hair that he wears in a ponytail. He always keeps his sideburns long too. His eyes are a piercing blue, and he perpetually has a five-o’clock shadow.

Age: 33

Loves: He’s always dreamed of having a music career, but he’s settled for playing shows in his small PEI hometown. He spends his free time writing songs in his favorite place, an old lighthouse on his family’s property.

Hates: He hates watching Natalie pretend to be someone she’s not. And he hates having to pretend not to care about her while she’s engaged to another man.

Favorite song: “Good-bye, girl,” a song he wrote after Natalie left. It’s become a local favorite and reminds him how much she’s hurt him, and somehow that pain is better than letting her memory go.

Favorite cake: The same as Natalie’s. (But, really, he’s not picky about cake.)

Biggest struggle: He can’t seem to forgive Natalie for leaving the island and him behind.  

Background: Justin is the oldest of three siblings. When his father passed away, he took responsibility for his family’s dairy farm, which he runs with his mom’s help.

Work: Early morning chores on the farm, and now he’s agreed to fix up the old barn on his property for Natalie’s wedding.

About the Author:

By day Liz Johnson is the marketing director for a radio network. She finds time to write late at night and is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. Liz makes her home in Tucson, AZ, where she enjoys theater, exploring local history, and doting on her nieces and nephews. She loves stories of true love with happy endings.

Connect with Liz through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Character Spotlight + Giveaway: Sarah Monzon’s Henry and Alice

Yesterday, we had an exciting day with Michael and Jack stopping by and learning about Sarah Monzon’s latest release, All of You. (Read all about it here.) Today, Henry and Alice have traveled all the way from 1944 ( 😉 ) to tell us a bit about themselves.

Meet Henry

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Dan Stevens

Physical description: Slightly curly blond hair and sky-blue eyes. He’s average height, but his ever-present fedora adds a few inches. The tell-tale ink stains on his fingers only slightly distract from the smart way he dresses.

Age: 24

Loves: Is observing a hobby? Whether it’s through the lens of his camera or just from a park bench, there is a lot one can learn…about people and events. He also has an affinity for sweeping Alice off her feet.

Hates: Haggis. Seriously. Why would the Scottish think cooking a lamb’s heart, lungs, and liver into a pudding and encasing it in the sheep’s stomach would be appetizing?

Biggest struggle: Balancing everything. Especially now that a certain lady has intrigued him.

Background: He’s the oldest child of a well-known family and as such has a lot of responsibilities and expectations to live up to. He tends to keep his family connections on the down low.

Work: He’s most well-known for his articles and photographs that are printed on the front pages of the newspaper. His other job? Well, he prefers not to talk about that one. Secrecy is key, you know.

Meet Alice

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: A young Carole Landis

Physical description: Soft blonde hair that is often styled in finger waves or victory curls. She’s taller than most women and used to standing at eye-level with men. Slender, but not delicate.

Age: 21

Loves: A bit rebellious, she loves anything that her father would frown upon. That includes climbing trees, racing her horse across a Tennessee meadow, and doing her part in the war effort.

Hates: That bombings and U-boats and the rising death toll is the new norm for all the citizens of the world.

Biggest struggle: Knowing who she is now that she’s escaped her father’s restrictions. But, maybe even more than that, coming to terms that their relationship will never be what she wishes…and that his calling her a disappointment doesn’t define her.

Background: Trying to stay within the confines of her father’s expectations was stifling growing up. Smile just so, wear that, befriend those people. She dreamed of wings to fly free of her elegant cage and found them behind the controls of Jimmie’s bi-plane.

Work: A pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary in England. She ferries all types of airplanes from factories to Royal Air Force pilots at the front lines.

Giveaway:

Click on the image or Rafflecopter link to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclaimer: I will be traveling this week, so I will announce the winner next week.)

Explore the world of All of You:

About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, has finaled in contests such as the Inspy Awards and received a 4 star review from Romantic Times.

Connect with Sarah through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Character Spotlight + Giveaway: Sarah Monzon’s Michael and Jack

About the Story:

Maryland, Present Day

Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.

England, 1944

With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.

Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.

Meet Michael Carrington

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Chris O’Donnell

Physical description: Dark brown hair cut military length. Ocean-blue eyes. Clean-shaven. Muscles well-toned from a regimented Navy workout schedule. Amputated right arm and leg.

Age: 28

Loves: The Navy and flying is his life. Or was. He’s still getting used to his new normal.

Hates: Being called a hero.

Biggest struggle: Accepting what his life looks like now. Being okay with not knowing what the future holds.                                      

Background: He comes from a strong Christian family and used to win prizes at memorizing scripture. He’s really close to his family and has two older brothers and a younger sister.

Work: He’s in between jobs. After the freak accident that left him an amputee, learning how to walk again with a prosthetic and looking after his best friend’s sister pretty much takes up all his time. Doubt Jackie would like to be called work though. 😉

Meet Jacquelyn (Jack) Rogers

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Emma Watson

Physical description: Petite with long brunette hair that is usually pulled back in a ponytail and hazel eyes that look almost golden. She can usually be found in mechanic coveralls with grease under her fingernails.

Age: 26

Loves: Everything vintage, be it airplanes or cars. And if she can get a look at the engine, even better. Follow that up with a large pizza and a game of air hockey and it would be a gold star day.

Hates: Abusive and controlling men. Feeling out of control. Being looked down upon because of her size and gender.

Biggest struggle: Trusting herself.

Background: Her mother died when she was very young and was raised by her single dad and two older brothers. Maybe that’s why she’s always been “one of the guys,” and more at home with a blow torch than a tube of lipstick.

Work: She restores vintage aircraft. Both engine and body work. She’d love to work with real war planes for museums.

Giveaway:

Click on the image or Rafflecopter link to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclaimer: I will be traveling this week, so I will announce the winner next week.)

All of You is a dual timeline story. Come back tomorrow to meet Henry and Alice the 1944 characters, and to explore the world behind this novel.

About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, has finaled in contests such as the Inspy Awards and received a 4 star review from Romantic Times.

Connect with Sarah through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Character Spotlight + Giveaway: Patricia Beal’s Ana, Peter, and Claus

About the story:

Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.

Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.

Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?

Meet Ana

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: You – I would love for each reader to feel like the star of the story.

Age: Late twenties.

Loves: Ballet, her aging dog, the Chattahoochee River, Callaway Gardens, the Rhine.

Quirk: Counting when she doesn’t want to cry (trees, bricks, anything).

Favorite place to explore/visit: Callaway Gardens.

Biggest struggle: Finding joy, balance, and success.

Background: She’s been dancing forever and does well, but not as well as she’d hoped, and time is running out. She’s engaged and is happy, but her first love’s return to Georgia after a mysterious disappearance shakes her up.

Work: Second best at the Allen Ballet.

Meet Peter

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Blake Shelton.

Age: Late thirties.

Loves: Ana, his ranch, and country music.

Quirk: He knows a lot about ducks and hawks.

Favorite place to explore/visit: Anywhere Ana is.

Biggest struggle: Trust.

Background: His first wife left him for another man. He believes that with Ana he can be happy again.

Work: Landscape artist at Callaway Gardens.

Meet Claus

Image Credit: Pinterest

Resembles: Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Age: Late twenties.

Loves: Ana, ballet, picnics by the Rhine, and his Mercedes.

Quirk: He’s an old soul.

Favorite place to explore/visit: Anywhere in his native Germany.

Biggest struggle: To get Ana back.

Background: Claus was born in Germany and met Ana when they were both starting their careers. After a mysterious disappearance and 10-year absence, he returns to Georgia to dance with her and win her back.

Work: He’s now one of the world’s most famous dancers.

Explore the world of A Season to Dance:

Giveaway:

Click on the image or Rafflecopter link to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Patricia Beal is from Brazil and immigrated to the U.S. in 1992. She fell in love with the English language while washing dishes at McDonald’s and soon passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). She put herself through college working at a BP gas station and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature.

Patricia writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Les Stobbe. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, just came out May 9 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.

You can connect with Patricia on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

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