The Revolutionary – A Book Review

The Revolutionary
Liberate The Captives
Rogues, Book II, by Kristen Hogrefe

After being sentenced to a labor camp in Rogues Book I, The Revisionary, Portia Abernathy’s story continues three months later, in a coal mine. [You can read my review of The Revisionary here]

The Revolutionary—I was hooked by the opening paragraph. The rest of the paragraphs kept me turning pages far into the night. Like this one:

“Get your cart, idiot,” he says. “We need you to clear the coal from a new tunnel before we can move forward. It’s tight, but you’ll fit.”

These days, there’s not much I won’t fit through.

What happens afterward starts a romp that doesn’t quit, even as the book winds up (on a high note, leaving a smile on my face). I can’t wait to read the next one.

Hogrefe mixes suspense, espionage, angst, pain, and anxiety into the pages, along with a hint, and sometimes more than a hint of romance. Her characters are real and flawed. They fit smoothly into the story line; well balanced and fully told.

The protagonist, Portia Abernathy, may be small, but she’s tough, and keeps moving forward with a strong purpose throughout. Though fear and doubt threatens, she holds hope in her heart to see her loved ones again. She keeps secrets trapped in the steel vault of her mind and heart, while chasing after an elusive dream she stumbled upon in the words of an ancient Bible—a promise of freedom for the oppressed.

Rogues is a young adult (YA) dystopian series that presents a dark and dangerous world without God in it. The powers that be have managed to enslave most of the population and put them to work for the benefit of the ruling class. Hogrefe weaves in historical facts as the students in book one make discoveries about their once proud nation.

Book I, The Revisionary, has won several awards to date, including the Grace Award, and the Selah Award. Though I’m not a young adult, and usually don’t care for dystopian stories, The Revisionary intrigued me. It was so well written and kept me turning pages. Often, book two of a series can be a let-down, but The Revolutionary was anything but. I liked it even better than the first.

Why? Maybe because the first book was laying the groundwork. Even though there was constant danger, the reader is just getting to know Portia and her friends and the world Hogrefe created. And why her friend Luther calls her, “Cotton”.

In Book II, we “hit the ground running”, already familiar with the main character and her friends. As they enter unfamiliar and very dangerous territory, we hold on for an exciting ride. This is my new favorite. I loved it so much, I bought the print versions of both books to give to my favorite young adults—my lovely granddaughters. I know they’re going to love this series.

A little about the author / Kristen Hogrefe’s byline on her website is: Think Truthfully, Live Daringly. She goes on to say,

My fiction stories develop characters that young adults can relate to and that a person of any age can identify with in some way. The choices they make, the situations they face stretch them relationally, physically, and yes, spiritually.

The bottom line is not what happens to the characters, but what the characters do with what happens to them. That’s where the characters grow–and where we can grow right along with them.

This is an author you can feel good about. Maybe, like me, you’re hesitant to read a new genre. But I encourage you to take a chance on this one. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Click to Tweet: In The Revolutionary, Hogrefe mixes suspense, espionage, angst, pain, and anxiety into the pages, along with a hint of #romance. Her characters fit smoothly into the story line; well balanced and fully told. #dystopian

The Revolutionary—Liberate the Captives

Revolutions run on sacrifice … and blood. Three months a satellite prisoner, Portia wonders if the Brotherhood has left her to die—until she plunges into the domain of a smuggler contacted by her brother. But her rescue comes with a price tag, and now, she must forfeit her identity to act as a spy. She learns that her enemies want the Dome to approve mass satellite executions, though no one knows why. Worse, they’re using her friend Luther, now a Court Citizen intern, to sign the short-term orders. She wants to confide in Luther, but can she still trust him with the company he keeps? Plagued by shadows and guilt for leaving her protector Gath behind on the satellite, Portia must find a way, not only to rescue him and the other prisoners, but also to destroy the slave camps once and for all.

Next Week – Hello, Thursday Morning! continues…

That Special One – a funny thing happened

coffee, cup, laptop, memeby Nike N. Chillemi

A funny thing happened…on the way to releasing my New Adult Christian Romantic Suspense novella, THAT SPECIAL ONE. I got hit by Hurricane Irma. Well actually the entire state of Florida did, and the Caribbean Islands as well. This put a real dent in my ability to release my novella on deadline, so I took it very personally. See what a toughie I am.

I live in Jacksonville, and nearly the entire city lost power for several days. I’ve tried to imagine what that must’ve looked like at night to airplane pilots flying over the city to another destination…blackness where there had been city lights just a few days before. For me, that meant no power, no WiFi, no use of my laptop. Grrr. No ability to download the manuscript to Amazon’s program. No release. Grrr!

THAT SPECIAL ONE opens in September with the beginning of the college year for heroine Ivy Chalmers. I so wanted to release the novella in early to mid-September and praise the Lord, although I had a delay, I was able to.

THAT SPECIAL ONE in a nut shell…

College freshman Ivy Chalmers moved in with her aunt and uncle in Arroyo, Texas. She needed to get away from her alcoholic and weed smoking mother.  Ivy longed for a different life than the revolving-door-men in her mom’s life. Making a one-eighty, she vowed not to make a serious dating commitment unless she knew it would be that really ‘special relationship ‘.

Corey Jones had been the man in his house since age twelve, when his alcoholic dad abandoned him and his mom. Once in a while, his dad showed up trying to extort money from them using threats. Then his blue-haired, self-centered cousin Ava came to live with them and the way she treats his mom enrages him.

Ivy is thrilled when she meets an upper classman from a neighboring college and thinks he might be ‘that guy.’ When she is horribly betrayed, her world is thrown upside-down, and she plunges into a depression.  In a steady and kind of clumsy way, Corey is there for her during her worst moments. But his family is plagued with alcoholism, the life she had with her mom, the life she ran away from. What’s wrong with her that she attracts the wrong guys? As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s an arsonist terrorizing their tiny village.

About Nike Chillemi~

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started at a very young age. Her first major work was a Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned as a little girl (colored might be more accurate) about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista with a humorous side. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMRUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.

One Amazon reviewer says:

Chillemi has nailed the angst and hopelessness many feel. My heart sank at Ivy’s trauma, and I grieved along with her when life delivered the opposite of what she expected.

coffee, cup, laptop, memeFrom Betty Thomason Owens: Thanks for joining us today at Hello! Thursday Mornings. I hope you’ll be encouraged to follow Nike and check into her fiction releases, if you haven’t already. [Click the book photo above for more info at]

I was one of her critiquers on this novella, along with several of her earlier books, including the entire Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy, so I’m an “established” fan. I love her stories and look forward to more from Nike Chillemi.

And, please say a prayer for those suffering the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes this season. It’s far from over for them. And if you can help in any way, please do so.–Thanks!




Featuring: Virginia Smith, Author

My featured author this month is another native Kentuckian, though she spends part of her time in Utah. Virginia “Ginny” Smith was my first real writer friend. We met at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference when I “happened into” one of her classes. Though there by mistake, I was so entertained I decided to stay, then returned for the repeat of the class. I wrote pages of notes. I not only learned a great deal that day, but also gained one of the most important things you can receive at a writer’s conference–friendship.

I think a good story begins in the author’s heart. It grows and matures there, nourished by love and imagination, until it is strong enough to emerge into the world through a skillful pen. When others read the story, it seeps into their hearts and settles for a while. That’s what I strive to do – tell stories that connect us heart to heart. Stories that slip from my heart to yours. The styles of my books vary, just like my tastes as a reader – some are funny, some thoughtful, some suspenseful, some deeply moving. In every one you will meet new friends so real you’ll miss them when they’re gone.–from her website here.

She has certainly succeeded in doing that. Her characters are well-grounded and real, and her stories are varied. Whatever your preferred genre, you’re likely to find it among the books she’s authored.

Her newest release is The Amish Widower, (The Men of Lancaster County, Book 4).

Is It Time for This Widower to Give Love One More Chance?

After the devastating loss of his second wife, Seth Hostetler believes a lasting love is beyond all hope. A year has passed, and his mamm and sister are determined to see him happily married once again. But how can he open his heart to another woman when their relationship could end in tragedy?

On an outing with his family, Seth comes across an Amish potter hard at work and jumps at the chance to take a seat at the wheel. He takes quickly to this creative outlet, pouring his long-buried emotions into each piece he shapes. Unfortunately, the fancy nature of his art draws the disapproval of his district’s leadership.

His work puts him in the path of Leah, an Englisch woman employed by the Amish to sell their wares to tourists. Despite her aloofness, something about her speaks to Seth’s wounded soul. But what is he to do when the things he wants most threaten to pull him away from the life he’s committed to live?

A compelling novel of second chances and the power of God to redeem hearts and dreams, set in the inviting Amish community of Lancaster County.

One reviewer said about The Amish Widower–“Master storyteller, Virginia Smith, weaves a painful and poignant tale of twice-widowed Seth. On a whim, Seth takes a free pottery lesson from a local Amish artisan and discovers a measure of peace–and finds he has a talent for the craft. I appreciate an author who does her research–in this case, in the art of throwing pottery–and guides us through the eyes, make that the hands, of her characters. So tactile are Smith’s descriptions, my own fingers twitched to feel the clay…”

Ginny and me at the 2016 ACFW Conference

VIRGINIA SMITH is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels (and counting!), an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in many prestigious awards, and two of her novels received the Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Learn more about Ginny and her books at

Click here to check out her Amazon author page for more information and a complete offering of her books!




Featuring: Ann Gabhart, Author

Welcome to my brand new, once-a-month feature page. First up, is fellow Kentucky writer, Ann Gabhart. Ann lives a life that some of us dream about. Her vistas include fields and woods instead of privacy fences and garages (my view right now). Ann GabhartShe often brings her Facebook followers along on her walks with her dog, Oscar. We get  the occasional glimpse at her heavily-populated bird feeder, or a lovely flower garden. You can follow along too, by “liking” her author page at

Ann’s writing voice is often quiet and peaceful, like the land that surrounds her. But she has plenty of grandchildren to keep her young and vibrant. I love to check in with her, read her latest blog post, newsletter, or Facebook status. These often include pictures from her morning walk.

But enough about that. Ann Gabhart made a name for herself writing a different sort of “bonnet book”–Shaker novels. If you know anything about the Shakers, you might be surprised that she found a way to add romance to their lives.

anng-1I’m a big fan of her Rosey Corner books, and also the Hollyhill books. And the local historical novel, Words Spoken True, holds a permanent spot on my bookshelf.

But I am intrigued with the new cozy mystery novels she’s writing. Called “The Hidden Springs Mysteries”, these novels are also set in Kentucky. The first of those, Murder at the Courthouse, was published in October, 2015. [By the way, it’s free on Kindle right now–click the picture of the book to go there!]

About the book: After a few years as a police officer in Columbus, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried–after all the man was a stranger–until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street.

As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep readers guessing.

anng-2I love the cover of the second book, Murder Comes by Mail — this one is on my TBR (to be read) list!

A Cozy Mystery Complete with a Small Town Full of Charming, Quirky Characters

About the book: Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn’t particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses–a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn’t last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs’ concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves–because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

Readers will love racing along with Deputy Sheriff Keane as the clock ticks in this page-turning mystery.

Next up, Murder is No Accident (available now for pre-order). This book’s official release date is March 14, 2017. From the back of the book: One body may be an accident. A second body means murder.

anng-3About the book: The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn’t realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she’s not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky–with a dash of sinister–you’ll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.

You’ll find Ann Gabhart’s books available at many outlets, including bookstores, Walmart, and Meijer. If you’ve never read one of her books, I urge you to get one today. Grab that free one on Kindle. I think you’ll be pleased.

Ann H. Gabhart is a bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs, but she is happy to report nobody was ever murdered on her hometown’s courthouse steps. Ann and her husband still live on a farm near that same little town in Kentucky. Learn more at

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog.


Annabelle’s Ruth – Grace Award Winner

Just in case you didn’t hear the news, Annabelle’s Ruth won a Grace Award!

Click here to see the announcement on the Grace Awards website.

I am humbled and proud at the same time. Is that even possible? Well, when you’re a writer, it’s a huge blessing to know someone actually likes your stories. Writing is hard work. You never know how it’s going to be received.

Along with Annabelle’s Ruth, which won in the General Fiction/Women’s Fiction category, five other books won their categories. I’ve read a couple of these, and they’re excellent. I’m humbled to be mentioned alongside them. Congratulations to all the winners!

(Click the title to read about the books)

51KUaSnb2cL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_BRIDGE OF FAITH by Catherine West – Romance/Historical Romance

41cywFsPezL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_TRIAL BY TWELVE by Heather Day Gilbert – Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense

518t7jxgg1L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_STORMING by K.M. Weiland – Speculative Fiction


Saving Eric front cover

SAVING ERIC by Joan Deneve – Action Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction

51htPiby5tL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_TO GET TO YOU by Joanne Bischoff – Young Adult




reading-925589_1280So if you’re looking for a good read this summer, these are a good place to start. And you can order Annabelle’s Ruth by clicking the bookcover over there ⇒ ⇒ (in the side margin). And don’t forget my latest release, Carlotta’s Legacy, Book 2 Legacy Series. Now Available on Kindle! Both books are only $4.99 each on Kindle.

NEXT UP – Stop back by next Tuesday for an update on our mission trip to Cuenca, Ecuador. There are some exciting things in the works for this trip. I can’t wait to tell you about it…