Bible, Blog Tour, Book Review, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Forgiveness, The Word of God


I am so pleased to be able to commend a new Biblical fiction author, Rob Seabrook, to you. I love Biblical fiction, and am in awe of the authors who bring the stories of the Bible alive, using their God inspired imagination. Rob Seabrook recently released his debut novel Beneath the Tamarisk Tree and I am honoured to be invited to be a part of his blog tour.

Image of the front cover of Beneath The Tamarisk Tree

The Penitent Thief

How do you base a whole novel around a character that only appears for the briefest of moments in the biblical record? Someone that scripture tells us very little about – apart from a few words he spoke through the agony of his brutal execution. That is what Rob has done. He has taken for his inspiration the penitent thief, who appears Luke 23 : 39-43. His dying words to Jesus, and Jesus’ words in reply, are famous. They echo through history, and have given hope to many.

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

A story of hope

Beneath the Tamarisk Tree is a story of hope. But it is also a tough to read portrayal of a lost life. Rob does an amazing job of imaging a very believable past life for the penitent thief. He poignantly describes a boy growing up knowing that he was unwanted, and worse, unloved. Who finds himself scrabbling together a life on the streets of a dangerous city. Stealing to survive. Learning to feel nothing to protect his heart. Finally finding himself in the hands of the authorities and facing a death he actually welcomes.

Then he meets Jesus. He is not saved from his torment in this life, but a good part of the book explores his reunion with Jesus in heaven. How he is healed, redeemed and set free as he does indeed enter Paradise. It is a beautiful story.

Three crosses silhouetted against a sunrise

Love and Mercy

I particularly love the way Rob portrays Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Love is the overriding characteristic of both. Rob also describes heaven, it’s landscapes and atmosphere. It is easy enough to picture as his descriptive writing is particularly good. Whilst I appreciated his interpretation of heaven, I found his descriptions of the city life of Jerusalem most impactful. There is a warning here, the author also describes the torture and crucifixion of Jesus and His companions in great detail. Not easy reading, but relevant to the story in comparison to the peace and joy of paradise. Not to mention the glorified resurrected Jesus.

I enjoyed Rob’s story very much. I believe it can speak hope to all who read it. And it shows Jesus, His love and mercy, so clearly and beautifully. The One who in His final moments of agony opened His heart and His heaven to a penitent thief. Our beautiful Saviour.

Ask the Author

I had some questions for Rob, and he kindly answered them for me.

Image of author, Rob Seabook

‘Why did you title the book, Beneath the Tamarisk Tree?’

I mention Tamarisk trees a couple of times in the book, as they capture the imagination of the main character. In the Bible, Abraham plants a Tamarisk tree to represent peace, especially his peace with God, and one of the scenes show the main character finding Abraham’s Tamarisk tree in heaven, and discovering a sense of peace and joy from the Holy Spirit as he dances beneath the tree. So it seemed a good focus for the book – finding peace and joy under the canopy of a Tamarisk tree.

‘How did you come up with your description of heaven?’

This is a tricky area, because of course none of us will know that heaven is like until we get there, and no doubt what we imagine now is going to be far from the amazing reality that we will find. But I had to write about it somehow, so I began with the Bible, and expanded on the hints and glimpses that it offers. I also took some inspiration from the natural world that we see around us, which after all was created by God and so may be a reflection of His heavenly creations, and I then expanded on them. I tried to challenge the reader a bit and but hope that my descriptions can inspire the readers’ imaginations.

‘You chose to make the main character a street child living in abject poverty in Jerusalem. Was this something you researched, or purely from your imagination?’

A bit of both really. I was able to research what first century Jerusalem was like, for example the horrors of life under Roman occupation or the difficulties of poverty. I read that the average life expectancy for men was about 30, so it meant that many must have died in infancy or childhood, and anyone living on the streets would have had a fairly low chance of getting to adulthood. I also have some experience of childhood trauma, from being a foster carer, and have seen the impact of neglect on the mental health of young people. So I could bring in to the story some of the likely behaviours that would be seen by a child living on the streets, devoid of love. This was then coupled with me imagining the scenarios, the experiences, the difficulties and circumstances that may lead someone who was being executed as a thief, to still have just a small glimmer of faith in a Saviour, that would bring him to a point of salvation in the final moments of his life.

Beneath The Tamarisk Tree was published by Malcolm Down Publishing, Nov 2021. ISBN 978-1915046017 and is available via all good booksellers, or direct from the author himself.

Author website

Rob is also kindly offering a free giveaway of a copy of his book to five people who subscribe to his newsletter here

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here

Book Review, Books, christian fiction, Christian publishing, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness

BOOK REVIEW: The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, by Ruth Leigh

The book, The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, displayed with scented candles, flowers and soft material as background.

Image of author, Ruth Leigh

I am thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, the third book in Ruth Leigh’s Isabella M Smugge series. Thrilled because like many others I have been longing to read another witty, well written book from this author’s extraordinary imagination, and to catch up on Isabella’s progressing story.

But I am also thrilled because now that Ruth has become a dear friend, I have been privileged to watch from the side-lines as this book was written. She herself would admit that it has been a hard book to write, and only exists because God enabled her. With the help of lots of prayer and encouragement from others. I have seen some of the pain this book has caused in being birthed. So to see it delivered safe and whole has brought joy to my soul!

Laugh out loud funny

As in her previous books Ruth has done an amazing job in creating Isabella’s world. She has spent hours researching what things are trending in the world of those who care about these things. The book is funny. There are laugh out loud moments, with hysterical hashtags and clever references to things ‘on trend’. Like this dig at the ever developing trend for giving paint colours pretentious names, that made me giggle,

‘We are staying in a smart twin ensuite room painted in Belle Peinture’s top selling shade, Gauzy Gutter’

Gauzy Gutter’? Perfect nonsense. Brilliant!

Deeply Moving

Apart from being funny, this book is also deeply moving and the story engrossing. There is no doubt that Isabella M Smugge is changing. Oh, she is still a renowned social media influencer, with a bestselling book series, and blogger awards galore. Her elegant home is still being featured in magazine photoshoots and she has numerous companies clamouring to engage her to endorse their products – from teething rings to self plumping pillows.

Back cover of book with blurb description

But her life in reality is definitely less glamourous. Now she is a single parent to four children, including hormonal pre-teens and a teething infant. Issy’s mother, with whom she has a fractious relationship, is now also residing with them following a stroke. Add to that a cheating husband trying to wheedle his way back in, her arch enemy Lavinia Harcourt still causing trouble, and a plethora of other family dramas and secrets coming to light. Life is far from dull, and not always in good ways. Our heroine has to admit she can’t do perfect anymore – not alone anyway.

Thankfully the village community she once looked down her nose at has now become her place of refuge. Her fellow school mums, the vicar and his wife, the church community, they are all there to help, support and understand. What’s more Isabella has found the joy of giving and serving. The scenes where she shepherds a flock of nit-ridden angels for the church nativity, and runs around with hairspray and bun nets as a dance show chaperone were hysterical, but also strangely moving. This is a new and more selflessly genuine Isabella, doing things she would once never have dreamt of doing.

Changed by Love

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this third book is Isabella’s growing personal experience of God. The church draws her, the Holy spirit touches her, and prayer becomes more natural. Isabella finds herself learning to forgive, wanting to rebuild broken relationships, becoming a much more empathetic and insightful person, and even finding the strength to address some of her own past demons.

‘At church… I once again found myself a sobbing mess, just because they sang a hymn we had at Daddy’s funeral. Honestly! I tried to pull myself together but I was as if something huge and slippery and uncontrollable had risen from the very depths of my being and was calling out for attention…’

Front cover of book against a background of cut flowers

I have had the pleasure of being able to blog review all three of Ruth Leigh’s ‘Issy’ books. The first, my first ever book blog review, on The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, you can read here. The second, on The Trials of Isabella M Smugge, you can read here. Do you have to read the first two #Issy instalments to enjoy the third? No. But why wouldn’t you? The books are so funny, so entertaining, but also so relatable. I would encourage you to read them all. But for me the third is definitely the best one yet. Why? because I really love what Ruth has done with Isabella’s character, turning her from a self absorbed snob into a open hearted, kind and generous individual. Can a person be changed like that in real life? Actually yes. Faith- filled friends and a loving God can do that for a person.

I have to admit I didn’t like Issy much at all in book one. By book two, I had warmed to her considerably, but still wouldn’t have had much in common with her. By the end of book three I loved Isabella. I wanted to spend time with her, laugh and cry with her, and get to know even more of the real person beneath all the fluff. Which is why I really hope there will be a book four. Over to you Ruth!

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power.

Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

Image of Joy Margetts

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here

Bible, Blog Tour, Book Review, Books, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Forgiveness, Medieval Fiction, pilgrimage, The Word of God

A Pilgrimage of Forgiveness

Image shows a stained glass window depicting medieval pilgrims, with a copy of The Pilgrim book in the foreground

Today is day 8 of the blog tour to celebrate the release of my second novel, The Pilgrim, on Friday of this week. Our dear writer friend LIZ CARTER was due to post a blog today, but sadly is not well enough to do so. Liz had asked me to write a guest blog on how the subject of forgiveness is explored in the book. So here is the text of the blog I wrote for her. I hope it blesses you.

Understanding and accepting forgiveness

The idea for my second novel The Pilgrim came from a scene in my first, The Healing. In it, Brother Hywel reveals to Philip a bit of his own history, his secret guilt. How a youthful indiscretion set into motion a series of devastating consequences for people he cared about deeply. He does so to illustrate to his younger friend how powerful forgiveness is in bringing about transformation in our lives.

So in fleshing out Brother Hywel’s story, The Pilgrim inevitably became a story of one man’s journey to understand and accept forgiveness. Fairly early on in the story he is offered forgiveness by the man he has hurt and betrayed. At this point in the story Hywel is still Hal, not yet having entered monastic life.  As his friend, Cenred, is dying, he tells him that he has forgiven him, but then goes on to say this:

‘I have but one thing to ask you in return.’

Hal lifted his eyes to meet those of his friend. ‘Anything! I will do anything. Tell me what I must do.’

The desire to put things right, to somehow negate the pain and grief his actions had caused this man, was so overpowering.

‘Forgive yourself.’

Hal was confused, and also disappointed. Was there not something else he could do? What Cenred was asking was impossible.

He felt a squeeze on his hand again. Cenred had closed his eyes, but seemed determined to say more.

‘I must commend myself to God’s forgiveness soon. You will find God will forgive you also, if you come to Him truly repentant. But, Hal, accepting that you are forgiven and forgiving yourself… those are the only ways that you will be able to walk free… of the guilt and pain you are bearing now.

‘You are so young, Hal, and there is so much good you can do with the rest of your life. But to do so you must be free. It is what I desire most for you. What I long for.’

The grace gift of God

Image of a large cross, dark against a blue sky with sun rising above a cloud

Although he struggles to embrace the enormity of those words when they are spoken, Hywel does eventually come to understand them. It takes an encounter with God at the foot of the Cross, and a personal revelation of God’s mercy and grace, for him to realise the extent of the forgiveness on offer to him. Still he has to accept it for himself, receive it as the grace gift it is – a gift still offered freely by the cross of Christ for each one of us who willingly responds to Him. 

Hywel’s journey continues. For to truly know freedom, to truly become the man God has called him to be, he must forgive himself. He hears the stories of two of his travelling companions. Both have experienced the burden of living with guilt, and both in their own ways have come into a new understanding of the power of forgiving self. As Hywel struggles to come to that point himself, so I believe we all can struggle with forgiving ourselves.

Forgive, as you have been forgiven

In His story of The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18 : 21 -35) Jesus taught that we ought to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiving others is not always easy, but perhaps we feel more inclined to do so when we understand how much we have been forgiven by God. But what if Jesus meant His words to apply to forgiving ourselves also? Forgive yourself, as you have been forgiven.

I think we sometimes feel we have to continue to carry the guilt for the things we are ashamed of, long after God has forgiven us. That somehow we are serving some sort of penance by doing so. But that is not living in the grace of God. If He has forgiven us then there is no more to pay – the Cross has done it all. Guilt and shame can continue to keep us burdened and bound, and self-condemnation is a favourite tool of the enemy to keep us from living in the freedom that God’s forgiveness offers us.

Scripture says if I belong to Christ, then I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1) If God does not condemn me, than neither should I condemn myself. We need to be truly repentant for our mistakes, of course, but once we have come to the Cross and received His forgiveness, it is a done deal. Accepting and receiving God’s forgiveness means letting go of our guilt and self-condemnation once and for all. Whether it be in a small stone church, or a wind- swept mountain top, or in a monastery guest house – there will come a time when we, as Hywel and his fellow pilgrims did, need to forgive ourselves and walk free of our burdens.

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

Image shows a garden table and chair, with the view of the sea beyond. On the table is a copy of the book, The Pilgrim, and a vase of mulitcoloured flowers.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here

Book Review, Books, Children's fiction, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness


I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the blog tour for the latest book from my prolific author friend Maressa Mortimer*. Burrowed is a full – length novel, designed primarily for teens and young adults, but equally suitable for all adults to read.

Front cover of Burrowed. Black text on an image of red tulips floating above a grey sea

Daydreaming in words

Maressa describes her stories as daydreaming in words. She writes because the stories in her imagination just have to be put down on paper. As a result we get to have an insight into her extra-ordinarily imaginative brain, and to read stories that are told with an immediacy that keeps you gripped. You live each moment with the characters, wondering what is going to happen next. Wondering if the author knew when she was writing it!

Burrowed is an fantastical adventure story. It has two main characters, teens who live on the imaginary Island State of Ximiu. The island has being going through major changes, and those changes are still happening, perhaps too quickly. You get the sense that things are quickly getting out of control, so much so that when more sinister things start to happen the people in charge don’t know what to do about them. In fact they seemingly are doing nothing.

Believable characters and topical issues

Apart from telling a good story Maressa has done a great job creating characters that are believable and empathetic. Jasira is the bold and brave, inquisitive and questioning daughter of the Island’s female leader. Her male friend Ilori, is wheelchair bound, a more sensitive soul prone to poetic outbursts, but with a genuine faith in God. Together, with two new unexpected allies they set out to solve the mysteries of the things that have been going missing from the island – cars, asphalt, energy – and some things that are much more precious.

It is an engaging tale, and you are definitely drawn in. Towards the end it becomes harder and harder to put down, as the action becomes increasingly dramatic. But Burrowed is more than a good fantasy adventure story. It deals with topical issues such as climate change and the costs of going green, and autocratic government dangerously tainted by lies and deceit. It also describes a state religion that has become increasingly godless. All things that resonate with the reader.

Image listing the blog sites on the official blog tour

Emotive and dramatic

The book also sings with hope – woven throughout are references to faith, and the power of God to answer prayer. Themes of loss, grief and sacrificial love are also beautifully handled. As is the growing relationship of trust and dependency among the main protagonists. It is heartbreakingly emotive at times, edge of the seat dramatic at others.

Burrowed is a great book. And it needs a sequel. What happened to Jasira and Ilori next? Will the Island’s government survive and change for the better? What really happened under the surface and did anyone survive? And where on earth did Xandra’s sister go?

Time for some more ‘burrowing’ I think!

Image of Maressa Mortimer

*Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, with her husband and four (adopted) children. Maressa is a home-school mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published in December 2019,  followed by two self-published YA novels, Walled City, and Beyond the Hills, and a novella, Viking Ferry.

Burrowed was released on 22 April 2022.  All Maressa’s books are available from her website,, Amazon or through local bookshops.

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here

Belonging, Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, christmas, Faith, Forgiveness, Grief, Seasons of life


Christmas is coming! I know, I’m beginning to panic a bit too – it’s less than a month to go and I don’t feel in any way prepared for it! I am however praying that this Christmas will be a good one; a celebration of family and fun, a ray of light in the dark winter days, a time full of joy and hope. It will be wonderful, yet again, to tap into the true meaning of Christmas and look beyond the festivities to the One who came to bring the joy and hope, and dare I say it, fun!

I love Christmas. I treasure the memories of Christmases past and truly look forward to this one, especially as it is my first as a grandparent! But for many, Christmas isn’t a time for celebration, and may not carry those happy memories. For many, Christmas is a stark reminder of loved ones lost, of childhood traumas, of heartbreak and of the relentless passing of the years. It can be an acutely painful and lonely time.


Front cover of the book, Talking to Calippa Cumberland

Chick Yuill has drawn on that reality in his latest novel, Talking to Calippa Cumberland and I am absolutely thrilled to have been included in the blog tour. It all starts one Christmas Eve in 1976. A small child shopping with her mother in a department store hears the tannoy announce that there is a little girl lost and crying for her parents. For 3 year old Lori Bloom that lost child stays in her heart and imagination. The name she thinks she has heard is ‘Calippa Cumberland,’ and Calippa becomes her imaginary friend, someone she can talk to and confide in, someone who perhaps understands her. Because the truth is that Lori Bloom is herself lost.

As chapter follows chapter we follow Lori’s life through a snapshot of subsequent Christmas Eves. We journey with her into her teens and into adulthood, as she discovers painful secrets, faces betrayal, suffers heart-breaking loss, and makes life choices with complicated consequences. All the time she is confiding in her faceless friend, Calippa Cumberland. All the time searching for someone who understands and someone she can finally, fully trust.


Back cover of the book, Talking to Calippa Cumberland

The book is utterly compelling. I read it in almost one sitting. Chick draws Lori’s character so well, and describes the things she goes through sensitively and convincingly. It is not a maudlin book, but it is real and raw in places. The story brings tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat, but also the odd smile and nod of understanding. It covers subject matters that are not uncommon, things that many of us can relate to in some degree. You find yourself rooting for Lori, hoping that she will ultimately find what she is looking for.

She does find good friends, and one in particular has a lasting and positive effect on her. Not to divulge any spoilers. Let’s just say things definitely get better for Lori, and she comes to terms with much of what life has thrown at her in a deeply pleasing way.


I was unsure at first of the device Chick used to let us hear Lori’s deepest thoughts. Is it strange to have an imaginary friend, even in adulthood? Is it strange to write notes to them pouring out your soul? Well as one of the characters in the book says…

 ‘every night before I sleep I have a conversation with someone I can’t see, who many people tell me is a figment of my imagination and whose existence I can’t prove…’

What Lori is doing, is what many of us do in praying and journaling. Except of course, for those who know Him, Jesus is no imaginary friend. Talking to Calippa Cumberland is Christian fiction, and the message of the gospel is there subtly throughout, but is never forced down your throat. I found myself yearning for Lori to meet the one person she could completely trust and pour out her thoughts, fears and feelings to. The One who could make the lost child feel found again, and forever secure.

The book set against a Christmas scene


I loved this book, and Chick writes so well, especially as he convinces us that he knows what it feels to be like a woman with definite female issues to contend with! And I salute his encyclopaedic knowledge of Christmas Number Ones! I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially seeing as Christmas is just around the corner. This book would make a fabulous gift to anyone who loves a well written and beautifully told story based around Christmas. And perhaps is also a book not just for Christmas…

photo of the author


As a special offer, Chick is offering readers of this blog, a signed paperback copy of the book for the discounted price of £9.00. To avail yourself of this kind offer, and to bless the author, contact him via  before 4th December and quote the code joysblogg

Talking to Calippa Cumberland by Chick Yuill, was published by Instant Apostle (22 Oct 2021), ISBN 1912726483, RRP £9.99, and is available from all the usual places.

Belonging, Book Review, Books, Christian Marriage, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, God's faithfulness, Healing, Lessons from life, Seasons of life, Thankfulness


I love reading new books by new writers, who like me have been brave enough to put their writing out there. Which is a very scary thing, believe me. I especially love books that are very definitely inspired by God, with a great faith message, that is lightly handled and wrapped up within a gripping fictional tale.

All Saints? Is one of those books and I am very happy to recommend it. I’ve seen it described as Christian chick lit, but I wouldn’t label it such, as it is such a good observation of everyday life, that I think it would appeal more widely. If you have ever been involved with church, if you have ever had to deal with real life challenges and heartbreak, if you are a man or woman with questions about faith, then you will find things to relate to in this book.

Clever Title

All Saints?’ is a clever title. It refers to the Parish Church that sits at the centre of the tale, but as the story also follows three Christian women connected to the church, it explores just how saintly each really is. Of course the Bible might describe all believers as ‘saints’, but how we live out our lives is often far from deserving of the title, and that is normal! Sophie is the church minister’s wife, juggling handling a difficult adopted toddler and also trying to support her husband in his role, whilst being a good friend to the others. She also has deep wounds related to her struggle with infertility that resurface when her friend Hayley announces that she and her husband are also unlikely to be able to conceive naturally. Hayley is desperately unhappy and makes a decision that has devastating effects for all of them.  Lucy is single, and feeling bypassed, calling out to God for a man to love her. It seems God has answered her prayers. Her journey is heart-breaking.

Raw and real, and relatable

All Saints? is raw and real in places, shocking even, but it is also heart-warming, as the bonds of friendship, and the love of God, see these three friends, their partners and families work through their issues together. That it is set around a church, works brilliantly.  For anyone like myself, who has grown up immersed in church life, the different (odd) people that make up the congregation, the funny little incidents, the frustrations and the joys are all so recognisable. The green cup/blue cup mix up made me laugh – I’ve seen something very similar happen myself, and can even picture those ‘church’ cups and saucers. The open day where half the village come because it’s free – and none of them actually then come to church as a result, had echoes of many ‘failed’ outreaches I’ve been part of. The rich parishioners who think they should run everything, including the minister, but would rather raise money selling jam than donate money themselves to repair the pot-holed driveway, also made me smile knowingly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, reading it in a couple of days, and becoming quite invested in all of the main characters. It does cut quite close to home at times, but also talks about faith matters in a gentle and non threatening way.

Well done Ellie Carter on your debut!

*Romans 1:7

Ellie Carter has walked the path of infertility. She and her husband are now blessed with two adopted children. If you would like a personally signed copy of All Saints? please bless the author by contacting her direct at

She is offering the book at a discounted price of £7.00, including postage, to anyone who contacts her as a result of this post.

All Saints? was published by Instant Apostle on 19 June 2020, ISBN 1912726211, RRP £8.99

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, God in control, Lessons from life


In February of this year I wrote my first ever blog book review. The book was The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, Ruth Leigh’s debut novel, and it had me gripped from page one. At first it seemed Ruth had created a monster; Isabella M Smugge was not an entirely likeable character, with her self absorption, and seemingly shallow, artificial Instagram- ready life. But the book was funny, easy to read, and so well written. And Isabella was actually a much more complex character than first thought. The book had some real poignant moments amongst the funny one-liners and ludicrous scenarios, and not to give anything away, as Isabella’s perfect life began to disintegrate around her, I found myself truly sympathising with her.

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge picks up from where The Diary left off, with it’s frustratingly clever cliff-hanger ending. Isabella is now faced with the reality of a very different life to the cosy one she was used to. Yes she still has the sprawling Georgian house with extensive gardens, the indoor swimming pool, the paid help, designer wardrobe, writing success and an increasing Instagram following. But personally her life is not so rosy. And as her year progresses it doesn’t get any easier. Isabella learns the hard way, that the people you really need around you are the ones who genuinely care about you, not necessarily the people who you thought added value to your life.

This book is funny on almost every page. There are laugh out loud lines, clever hashtags, and cringe- making observations. For me the subtle funny lines were the best…

Would the world stop spinning if I didn’t write the long awaited piece on spontaneity?’

And the new mum observations…

‘…he (the baby) responds well to hoary British rockers Deep Purple, likes a bit of early Led Zeppelin, and has even nodded off to AC/DC. I made the mistake of trying a bit of Coldplay last week, which led to frenzied howling. You can’t win them all.’

Amongst all the humour this book is also authentic. Isabella’s thoughts and emotions, her heart-breaking real-life challenges, her sheer exhaustion at juggling the needs of family, friends and work demands – are all well written and relatable. The author takes us with Isabella on her journey of rediscovering her true self. She shows us her growing emotional vulnerability, and describes her increasing awareness of a God she can believe in. I loved this aspect of The Trials, and I think for me this makes it even more of a triumph than the first book; which was certainly a hard act to follow. Well done to Ruth Leigh for weaving matters of faith, real love and forgiveness so seamlessly into a compelling contemporary work of fiction.

‘It’s been two years since we upped sticks and left everything we knew to come up here. Two years of ups, downs, joys, sorrows, gain and loss. Sitting in church on Sunday morning, I closed my weary eyes and drank in the peace all around me. I find restoration and healing in the kindness and compassion that waits for me here.’

If you enjoyed reading The Diary of Isabella m Smugge I encourage you to get your own copy of The Trials as it does not disappoint. If you haven’t yet met Isabella M Smugge then do yourself a favour and get hold of both books! You can order direct from the author at or find the book for sale in all the usual places. Keep writing Ruth; we need Isabella #3!

The Trials of Isabella M Smugge is published by Instant Apostle, 22 Oct 2021. RRP £9.99.

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, New Author, The Word of God


Joy Vee and I met online. As a new author who had been through the same process as I of having her first book unexpectedly published by Instant Apostle, we made a connection. We shared so much in common, most especially our desire to write fiction that carried the message of the Kingdom. To produce books that not only entertained, but spoke deep into people’s hearts, revealing the love of the Father, and drawing them to Him. From this first contact we have developed an open, loving and prayerful relationship that has strengthened us both. So it is a great delight for me to recommend her book to you.

I was delighted when Joy announced that she had written a follow- up book to her first, The Treasure Man. Whilst my books are aimed at adults, Joy writes for children. And does it so very well. Love from Sienna is a beautiful book, dealing with powerful spiritual truths in an accessible and meaningful way. As a  sequel to The Treasure Man it continues to tell the story of Sienna and her family as they learn those truths through everyday experiences. The storytelling is wonderful, the scenarios believable, and the biblical teaching handled so well, particularly for the age range it is intended for. It is aimed at 7 -11 year olds, but I read this as an adult and it spoke to me. I know it will speak to children just as powerfully. At the end of the book are questions relating to each chapter, a great aid for family discussions perhaps.

Keeping it real

I love that Joy does not shy away from dealing with difficult life situations, or painful emotions in her books. Even writing for children has to be honest and real. Sienna and her family know from experience that not everything is wonderful in life, that people can hurt and disappoint, and situations arise that cause fear and grief. But they come to see, in all of this, the need to forgive. They learn that forgiveness is powerful, freeing, and can be a means of blessing to all concerned.

As the title hints, in Love from Sienna, Sienna also learns how to communicate with God by using a journal, writing down her thoughts and asking difficult questions. It becomes a real help to her. To encourage other children to try it for themselves, Joy Vee has produced a Love From Sienna Journal. This can be purchased separately through her personal website. I have a copy and it is great. Bible verses and quotes from Joy’s books head up ‘bullet’ style blank spaces for writing and drawing.

Love from Sienna can be read as a standalone book, but if you haven’t read The Treasure Man, I encourage you to buy both. They would make perfect gifts, especially with the Journal thrown in. All three are available from the author at

Happy Launch Day!

Love from Sienna launches officially today,17th Sept, and is published by Broad Place Publishing. It retails at £ 6.99 and the journal for £5.99.

The book is available to purchase via Amazon and Eden Books, but why not bless the author by visiting her website and buying direct.

Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Lessons from life, New Author, Seeing as God sees, The Word of God, Uncategorized


Last Sunday I stood up to preach in front of a real life congregation for the first time in a very long time. It felt like a milestone moment, and it was a joy – gazing out at those lovely faces, half- hidden by masks, and seated in their socially distanced seats. Except that I could not see them. Yes, some of them were a long way away and I definitely felt the distance standing on my own at the far end of the hall, with just the lectern for company. But I couldn’t see their faces (or their reaction to my message!) not just because of the masks, but because of my glasses. I have reached that age where to see the words on the page in front of me requires glasses. That means that when I wear them I see very little else in focus. So then started the little dance – glasses on to read the Bible, glasses off to see my listeners, glasses on to check my notes, glasses off…. You get the picture. Finally I gave up and put the glasses down, choosing to rely on my memory and the prompting of Holy Spirit, rather than my notes, so that at least I could interact with those dear people who had made the effort to be there, sanitised and all.

I was preaching from Luke 5, the story where four friends bring their paralysed friend to Jesus for healing, and have to make a hole in the roof to lower him into the crowded house, so as to get him to Jesus’ feet. I have always loved that story; I can remember hearing it in Sunday school and always being very concerned about the hole in that poor homeowner’s roof, and whether they minded? And who fixed it after? In a lovely book that I am reading to review at the moment, the author uses this story as a beautiful picture of how much we need our friends when we find ourselves unable to help ourselves, or even to pray for ourselves. (More on that next week!) For today I wanted to bring another message from the story.

That man had an obvious problem that everyone could see. His friends knew it, the crowds knew it, anyone who had ever known him knew it – he could not walk. Nobody needed glasses to see that. Yet when Jesus looked at him He saw something that nobody else could see. The paralysed man had a greater need; he carried a greater burden than his disability – he carried the burden of guilt. Jesus looked into that man’s eyes and told him that his sins were forgiven, and then, and only then, He addressed the more visible problem and healed the man physically. That man went away whole in more ways than one.

On Sunday I only had to put my glasses on to see, and be able to read the Word of God clearly. How wonderful if it were as easy as putting on glasses to be able to read people and situations in the same way as Jesus did. To see in clear focus what was really going on below the surface. The truth is, that it is possible to see as Jesus sees, because as His believers, His Spirit lives in us. I just have to remember to ask Him to show me how He sees, and not rely on what my flawed human eyes can perceive. As the words from this song put it….

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love Like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am For Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

*from ‘Hosanna’, by Brooke Ligertwood. Hillsong UNITED

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here