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Suit and Suitability: Book Review

Suit and Suitability was a pleasant surprise to me, though I expected no less from this author. After reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility earlier this year and finding it, to be blunt–with deepest apologies to Austen fans everywhere–predictable and a trifle shallow, I hope that Suit and Suitability would take the concept and storyline deeper. I was not disappointed. Kelsey Bryant’s excellent skill in weaving the storyline seamlessly into 1930s Ohio and New York combined with the rich spiritual truths and growth woven into the characters’ lives made this book a satisfying read. It started off rather slow – it took me a while to get into the story – but once the action began, I was quite drawn in. The themes of suffering for the purpose of a more intimate relationship with God, contentment, relying on God instead of one’s self, and constant trust shone forth clearly and refreshingly. Although the characters made numerous mistakes throughout the book, the story of their spiritual growth, though sometimes slow and halting, was a beacon throughout the book.

Ellen, Marion, Greta, Mother, Dad, Everett, Mr. Bradley, Wilkie, Aunt Jennie, Leona – all had distinct personalities. The author did an excellent job of portraying the feelings, thoughts, and motives of each one. I enjoyed the twists and turns as well as the refreshing and engaging peek into 1930s life – I must once again mention how flawless I found this element.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to lovers of Austen, lovers of historical fiction, and anyone who is looking for a good read in this genre.

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Interview with Kelsey Bryant

As part of the Vintage Jane Austen blog tour, I have the privilege of interviewing Kelsey Bryant, the author of Suit and Suitability. While devouring her previous series Six Cousins (Family Reunion and England Adventure), I was captivated by Kelsey’s down-to-earth style, relatable characters, whimsical everyday adventures, and depth of spiritual encouragement that ran through her books. Since Six Cousins is one of my top five favorite series, I’m quite excited to welcome Kelsey to Resting Life today.

Erika: Welcome to Resting Life, Kelsey! Could you introduce yourself to readers?

Kelsey: Hello! I’m a daughter of God who lives in Texas and works at several jobs that I love, including writing, copy editing, and teaching martial arts. I’ve written three novels, but I delight in many things—Bible study and Hebrew, keeping fit and eating healthy, reading British authors (and those of other nationalities, of course!) and seeing new places, and spending time with family and friends, to name a few. I’m a homeschool graduate and love being a daughter, sister, and aunt.

E: It’s wonderful to meet you! I share many of those interests as well. What prompted your journey into writing and authorship?

K: My parents passed their love of books on to me. I can’t remember never creating stories, so I suppose being a writer and author was always something I wanted. My grandfather was an editor and compiler of Christian books and devotionals, so that went a long way in inspiring me. After high school, I decided to seriously pursue becoming an author because that was the only thing I felt God calling me to do at that point. After several years, I finally completed a novel (Family Reunion, the first book of the Six Cousins series) and was ready to publish.

E: What a blessing to have a love of books in the family! I understand that Sense and Sensibility is your favorite Jane Austen book. Could you talk a bit about spiritual parallels in the book?

K: Sense and Sensibility has always meant a lot to me since I first read it, but by writing Suit and Suitability, I was able to more deeply appreciate the underlying spiritual themes and how they relate to me. Protagonist Elinor Dashwood (Ellen in my retelling), although imperfect, understands that selflessness is the best lifestyle. She is excruciatingly challenged by people and events, but she pulls through because she denies herself and has a strong character (in Suit and Suitability, I made sure to show she drew her strength from God). I want to be like Elinor/Ellen—someone God can use to help and support other people. I have to work on selflessness. In Suit and Suitability, Ellen also had to learn to trust God more, something I need to work on as well.

Second protagonist Marianne, Elinor’s younger sister (Marion in my retelling), has a very different personality. In both versions, she’s fun and passionate, but she carries a lot of selfishness, which she doesn’t always recognize. As I was writing her parts, I discovered how easy it is to want things your own way…and I could actually identify with her, which was a little disturbing! But that made me realize a little bit of Marion resides in all of us. We have qualities that we need to learn to use for serving God instead of ourselves. And because we’re all flawed, we need to have grace toward one another, especially with our family members.

E: Thank you for sharing that insightful perspective! What excellent reminders for us to depend entirely upon God and to deny ourselves – counting ourselves as crucified with Christ and allowing His Spirit to live within us, powering and directing every act. It’s so easy to put ourselves first!

On another note, what is your biggest challenge in the writing/publishing process and how do you handle it?

K: My biggest challenge is getting the word out about my books. I’m a reticent person, so, like many authors, I find self-promotion awkward and unnatural. But to help me handle it, I remember that I write my stories to bless other people, and if they don’t know about them, I haven’t completed my calling. Once I overcome the reticence, marketing is another steep step; for that, I watch for whatever opportunities come along that can put me or my books where other people can find us.

E: I can definitely relate! What’s your biggest pet peeve as an editor?

K: Maybe you can relate to this, Erika—when I discover a glaring typo on my last read-through that I missed on my first readings! But it’s also combined with a feeling of relief that I actually caught it.

E: Yes! It makes me wonder where my brain and eyes have been during all those previous edits!

What is your favorite Scripture passage and why?

K: This is a tough question! One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 31:30-36, which talks about the new covenant God will make with Israel and a time when everyone will know the Lord. It’s quoted several times in the New Testament. It ties the whole Bible together, showing the reason Yeshua/Jesus came . . . so that we may all know the Lord and have new hearts that will follow Him completely. I love that promise.

E: Amen – I love that passage! Isn’t it wonderful that the Almighty God has covenanted with us? And that through Jesus Christ, His law is within us and we intimately know Him! Praise God that Jesus is the mediator of that better covenant!

Thank you so much for joining me today – I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. Anything else you’d like to add?

K: Thank you for having me, Erika! I hope both Jane Austen lovers and those who are new to Jane Austen get to enjoy the Vintage Jane Austen series. I consider it a privilege to have worked alongside the other authors in this project. We enjoyed it so much!

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Vintage Jane Austen

What would it be like to see Elizabeth Bennet in 1930’s clothes? What if Emma Woodhouse was the daughter of a car dealership owner? What if Marianne Dashwood was seeking to become a movie star in the golden age of film? The Vintage Jane Austen series explores the world of Jane Austen, set in 1930’s America. Five authors took on Jane Austen’s five most popular novels and retold them set in the depression era, remaining faithful to the original plots. As an extra bonus to the series, there is a collection of short stories that were inspired by Jane Austen. Which of these books do you most want to read?

 

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (Emma): The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Suit and Suitability by Kelsey Bryant (Sense and Sensibility): Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

Bellevere House by Sarah Scheele (Mansfield Park): It’s March, 1937 and Faye Powell couldn’t be happier. After moving to live with her uncle, a wealthy banker, she’s fallen into the swing of life with his exuberant children–including Ed. The one she’ll never admit she’s in love with. But she hadn’t reckoned on the swanky Carters getting mixed up in that vow. Ed seems to be falling for charming, sweet Helene Carter. And when Faye’s cousin BeBe trusts her with a secret about Horace Carter, Faye is in over her head. Will she betray the confidence BeBe’s given her? Will she lose Ed to Helene? The days at Bellevere House are crowded with surprises and only time will tell how God plans to unravel Faye and Ed’s hearts.

Perception by Emily Benedict (Persuasion): Upstate New York, 1930. 

Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late…

Presumption and Partiality by Rebekah Jones (Pride and Prejudice): Coming soon…A retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice… set in 1930s Arizona.

 

Second Impressions: Jane Austen’s stories have inspired writers for generations…in this collection they inspire fiction across the genres!

From the English Regency to the American 1950s, in Houston or a space freighter, fairytale land or a retirement center…Austen’s timeless characters come to life again.

Visit these blogs during this week to find interviews, book reviews, and much more!

 

November 5

Review of Emmeline – Once Upon the Ordinary

Review of Bellevere House – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Series Spotlight – A Real Writer’s Life

Interview with Kelsey Bryant – Resting Life

 

November 6

Interview with Sarah Holman – J. Grace Pennington

Review of Emmeline – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Mini-Reviews and interview with Sarah Scheele – Deborah O’Carroll

Interview with Rebekah Jones – Livy Lynn Blog

Review Suit and Suitability – Resting Life

 

November 7

Interview with Kelsey Bryant – J. Grace Pennington

Review of Perception – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Review and Interview of Perception – Purely by Faith Reviews

Review of Second Impressions – The Page Dreamer

Series Spotlight – Finding the True Fairytale

 

November 8

Review Suit and Suitability – Once Upon the Ordinary

Review of Suit and Suitability – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Review of Perception – A Brighter Destiny

 

November 9

Series Spotlight – God’s Peculiar Treasure

Review of Second Impressions and Suit and Suitability – Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father

Interview with Rebekah Jones – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Series Spotlight – Christian Bookshelf Reviews

 

November 10

Review of Suit and Suitability – With a Joyful Noise

Series Spotlight – Liv K. Fisher

Review of Second Impressions- Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Review of Perception – She Hearts Fiction

Interview with Sarah Holman – Rebekah Ashleigh

 

November 11

Series Spotlight – Reveries Reviews

Review of Suit and Suitability – Faith Blum

Interview with Sarah Holman – Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes

Interview with Hannah Scheele – Peculiar on Purpose

Review of Bellevere House – Seasons of Humility

As part of this special blogging event, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win below:

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Earn Free Ebooks!

Forty-three authors and counting are banding together on Black Friday to offer independently published Christian books at a discount, but we need your help! We’re putting together a blog tour to promote the sale. Choose a book to review, interview an author, and/or just post a general announcement about the sale. As a thank you, at the end of the sale, we’ll provide a list of ebooks offered by participating authors, and you’ll be free to pick five.

If you’re interested, sign up here

I’ve participated as a blogger the past few years and have been introduced to some of my favorite books this way. This year I’m a participating author as well, and I’m excited about the scope of this event. 

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Book 4 Title Reveal!

It’s October! My favorite month of the year and my favorite season… 


Besides enjoying autumn leaves and apple crisp, I’m also deep in the outlining stages of my next book. 

Book Four in Truth from Taerna. 

As you may be aware, Promise’s Prayer was published this March. Victory’s Voice and Surrender’s Strength are both receiving rewrites. 

And now… it’s time to pen Book 4. I’ll be writing it during the month of November. (If you’re also writing s novel next month, add me on the NaNoWriMo website!)

This book is near and dear to me already. The issues it will address occupy a tender place in my heart. I don’t expect to be able to write this book with dry eyes. My little four-year-old Liliora from Promise’s Prayer returns as the main character, and now she’s grown up and facing challenges of a magnitude that I can only imagine. Yet the message of this book is one that is so desperately needed. Vulnerable barelt begins to describe how I feel in writing this story, but it’s my prayer that God will use the message and the story to touch lives in a way that will tangibly impact the rising generations. 

Working Synopsis:

A helpless newborn…that’s exactly how twenty-four-year-old Liliora Ellith feels in her efforts to speak up on behalf of the youngest members of Taerna’s pleasure-driven society. Her tender heart for the defenseless and deep aversion to conflict throw Lili’s soul into turmoil when tragedy opens her eyes to the quiet yet heartrending war on Taerna’s babies – both born and unborn. Adon Olam’s word coupled with a secret in her own past fuel her determination, but the challenges ahead of her threaten to send her spiraling into hopeless depression. At the very end of herself, can her own utter insufficiency be anything less than the catalyst for complete disaster?

And now for the title…

Sustainer’s Smile!
(cover photo is temporary placeholder and not the actual cover)
Any thoughts? Would you be excited to read this book?

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Six Cover Reveals

Author Kendra E. Ardnek is doing an extensive overhaul of all six of her books, and new covers are part of the bargain. Today is the grand reveal of all six shiny new covers!

Who’s Kendra?

If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you’ve read my posts on Kendra’s books and probably know all about Kendra already. If not, stick around and you will!

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She’s been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. “Finish your story, Kendra,” is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that glorify God and His Word.

Also, she has a website. Check it out. She has a blog where she knits stories and posts all sorts of interesting tidbits on life, writing, and other creative plain sense and fun imaginative nonsense. She has a shiny Amazon page, a Goodreads Author page, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

What’s being overhauled?

(in the words of the author)

Sew, It’s a Quest. I sent this book to my kindle, tore it to shreds, then retyped the whole thing, making every word fight to stay in the book. I completely rewrote one chapter, and added/expanded several scenes, focusing on character development and pacing, in particular Robin’s character.

Do You Take This Quest? This book has one added chapter, a few (potentially) added scenes, and a severe edit. Again, focus is going to Robin’s character development. I hadn’t the maturity to completely handle her emotional situation when I wrote this book, and now I intend to fix that.

My Kingdom for a Quest. This book was mostly clean … but it’s getting a part two. AKA, book 3.5, The Quest for a Quince, AKA, Casperl’s story. There will be an edit to part one, though.

The Ankulen. Mostly just a thorough edit. I don’t foresee any great changes.

Water Princess, Fire Prince. Again, mostly a thorough edit, but there will be a few continuity fixes, and I’ll be adding a bonus scene to the extra stuff at the end.

Lady Dragon, Tela Du. Edits mostly.

Where can I get more information on these books?

Goodreads: Sew, It’s a Quest ~ Do You Take This Quest?My Kingdom for a Quest ~ The Ankulen ~ Water Princess, Fire Prince ~ Lady Dragon, Tela Du

Createspace (paperback) and Smashwords (FREE ebook): So far, only Sew, It’s a Quest has been rereleased; the others will be available at intervals throughout the coming months.

Can I get free stuff?

Yes. Reread the above paragraph for a free ebook. Then go enter this giveaway for a chance to win a full signed collection of Kendra’s books in paperback. Comments on any blog post of mine regarding Kendra’s Overhaul count towards the giveaway (including this one), so comment below for more chances to win!

Is this a party?

Yes. All the following blogs have interesting and unique Cover Reveal posts today:

www.elvishpensfantasticalwritings.blogspot.com

Www.morganhuneke.blogspot.com

www.thefloweringvales.blogspot.com

http://briedonning.com

https://thepagedreamer.wordpress.com/

http://dreams-dragons.blogspot.com/

www.writtenrest.wordpress.com (You are here.)

http://jenelleschmidt.com

http://agwerff.blogspot.com

http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Where are the new covers?

You have been most patient. Here they are. (Unless you skipped everything to get here. In which case you missed the free stuff.) The first three covers were designed by the author herself, and the last three were designed by the amazing Alea Harper, whom I wholeheartedly recommend for cover design. (Promise’s Prayer also owes its cover to her incredible skills.)

And now…the covers. Click to enlarge each one and read the tagline underneath.

Aren’t they so interesting? Here are a few of my favorite elements:

Sew: the title with the needle and sword wrapped together. If you’ve read Sew, you know the needle and sword are both key elements of the story.

Take: the painting on the easel, which is actually basically the old cover refined, toned down, scaled down, and incorporated into the new cover

Kingdom: the color scheme; the green is gripping.

The Ankulen: the pen hidden in the title

WPFP: the colors and how they blend together in the sky

LDTD: the faces and colors. You’ll have to read the book to understand how fitting these elements are and how well the theme is captured through this cover.

Why should I care about these books?

The Bookania Quests (Sew, Take, and Kingdom): if you like whimsical fairy tales turned on their head combined with imaginative and lighthearted adventure, you’ll like these books. Also, if you like puns even slightly, you’ll love these books.

The Ankulen: If you’re a writer or a reader with an imagination (or if you wish you had an imagination, or if you admire the imaginations of others), you will find this book clever and interesting. It’s light and fun, but the stakes still run high. It’s unique in that it can be taken both lightheartedly as a fun and simple fairy story, or philosophically with complex and deep questions, issues, and real-life struggles wrapped in a fantasy setting.

The Rizkaland Legends (WPFP and LDTD): If you enjoy light fantasy with spiritual meaning, you’ll like this series. If you normally don’t read fantasy, you still may enjoy this series (*raises hand*). It’s complex, colorful, deep, and riveting, with so many unexpected and clever plot twists and richly satisfying endings. I highly recommend these books to young adult readers.

 

What are your favorite elements of the six covers? If you’ve read any of these books, what do you like about them? If not, what interests you about them?

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Bookshelf Overhaul Tag


Kendra E. Ardnek is editing and creating new covers for six of her books, and she’s created a tag for us to have fun with while we’re waiting. 

1. How long have you been following Knitted By God’s Plan and how did you find me?

Oh my. I don’t know. Years and years…I believe you were the first person I followed that I hadn’t met first. I probably found you through the blogs of Jessica Greyson and Elizabeth Ender. I stalked you privately for quite some time before following publicly or commenting. 😛

2. If you’ve read any of my books, which? And which are your favorites? If you haven’t read any, which are you most interested in?

All of them. Rizkaland, specifically LDTD. 

3. If you could redesign any of my covers, how would it look? Feel free to photoshop something, or just describe it.

I’d redesign WPFP in bright, vivid reds, water-blues, and rich purples – somewhere along the lines of one of Alea Harper’s fan covers. 🙂

4. Of my WIP’s, which are you most eager for me to finish and publish?

Currently, Love and Memory. Though I’m also looking forward to Worth of a King. 

5. Which of my Pinterest Storyboards do you find the most intriguing? 

The Laura board. 

6. Pick a fairy tale and tell me how you would like to rewrite it. 

No matter what I pick, you’ll probably say you’ve done something like that. Little Red Riding Hood, only the wolf is a hero, and Little Red is actually Big Bad Blue, a man with a mysterious past, an identity hidden under an enormous blue cloak and hood, and whom the villagers whisper about behind their hands. 

Wow, maybe I should actually write that…

7. Recommend a book for me to read. 

Martin Hospitality, Abigayle Claire

8. If you and I were stranded together on a desert island, how long do you think that we would survive?

Depends. If I was in charge, I have a hunch we wouldn’t work together well at all. So I’d put you in charge and help you catch a vision for a survival plan, and then we’d be super creative in carrying it out. If it’s only surviving until we attract the attention of a rescuer, I’d say our chances are pretty good. If there’s danger from wildlife or people, I can’t say. 

9. What is a project that you’re working on that you can’t wait to release into the world?

So many… but right now, Life in the Son, a six-book series of Biblical meditations. 

10. What is a burning question that you have for me?

How do you do so much at once in life?

Thanks for the fun tag, Kendra! Readers, feel free to do this tag on your own blog or in the comments. (It counts as an entry to Kendra’s six book giveaway!)