The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton: Interview + Giveaway

On Monday, I shared my review of The Wood’s Edge, which you can read here. Today I have the pleasure of hosting the author herself, Lori Benton. Keep reading to learn more insights on The Wood’s Edge and we also have a giveaway! You can find instructions to enter at the end of this post.

Please welcome Lori to the blog!

When Major Reginald Aubrey makes the decision to switch his dead baby with a healthy newborn, a piece of his soul breaks. Why, beyond the obvious reasons, do you think he took a child that was not his? And how does that moment play into the man he becomes as the years progress?

The deeper answers to those questions are woven into the story, so I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet. Suffice it to say that moment has huge impact upon the man Reginald becomes and puts a terrible strain on every relationship he holds dear.

Reginald took the child in a moment of desperation, when he was blinded by his grief and need, unable to hear God’s voice or receive His comfort. I’ve certainly experienced such moments. I’ve acted out of pain or hurt or disappointment and tried to “fix” what it seemed God wasn’t setting right fast enough to suit me. And ultimately made a situation worse. Thank God for redemption—he can even use our mistakes to bring about lasting good.

Anna was one of my favorite characters. She endures so much pain and rejection, but also experiences love and friendship. What inspired you to write her story the way it unfolds? How is her connection to both brothers the same? How is it different?

Anna’s open and embracing heart is very dear to me. I’m not sure there was anything specific that inspired me to write her story in a certain way. It’s a complicated alchemy at work when it comes to weaving together so many characters into a single story. Often the characters form in my mind so fast that it’s not unlike meeting someone in real life for the first time. They are who they are when they show up and shake your hand, and continue to show you who they are over time. While we all influence those whose lives we touch, not often are we able to drastically change a person from who they are when we met them. That’s not to say I don’t have ultimate control over my characters. Sometimes they need to be tweaked for the sake of the story, but it wasn’t that way with Anna. She showed up with a steadfast and hopeful heart, and that’s how I hope she appears. Those very qualities will be greatly tested in A Flight of Arrows, next spring’s sequel to The Wood’s Edge.

Anna derives deep friendship from both William and Two Hawks, but with William they were separated before either emerged from childhood. With Two Hawks, their friendship was allowed room to grow and deepen as they did. Anna loves them both, but in very different ways. I’ll let readers discover those differences though!

Two Hawks and William grow up separately, in completely different worlds. How intentional were you about juxtaposing the two brothers?

I had a lot of fun writing these two, in showing how the way a person is raised has such influence on the formation of character. One of the few instances where I consciously tried to give glimpses into ways they were alike despite their different upbringings was the bow shooting. That was intentional. But mostly I let them be who they became and enjoyed discovering each character individually, without trying to manipulate them into reflecting or contrasting each other to any great degree.

Overarching themes of the consequences of sin, the willingness to extend forgiveness, and the opportunity for reconciliation play a large part in telling the story of these two families. Do you think your portrayal of the emotional upheaval each character experiences is true to what we experience in our own lives? What can we learn from these characters?

Absolutely l do. I always try to write characters that readers can relate to emotionally. We’ve all sinned knowingly. We’ve all done things we wish we can undo. We’ve all grieved losses. We’ve all wished we could alleviate the pain or heartache of a loved one. We hunger for wholeness, redemption, connection, friendship, love. Whether living in the 18th century or the 21st, the human heart as God created it is the same.

I hope readers will be reminded through reading The Wood’s Edge that God does not stand afar off in times of grief and pain. It may feel like it, but I pray for readers, and myself, that we will press in closer to Him in those times of vulnerability and need, not pull away and let the walls of separation rise between us and God, and between ourselves and those who love us.

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You can connect with Lori on her blog or Facebook.

Now for the giveaway! Lori is giving one copy of The Wood’s Edge to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment and answer this question: What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?  Don’t forget to leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. No purchase necessary. Giveaway open to legal US residents only, must be 18 years of age or older. Giveaway ends on 5/6/15 at 11:59 PM PST. Winner will be selected by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Void where prohibited by law. Good luck! 

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April’s #HedlundChallenge2015 Discussion is Live!

Hedlund LogoHello everyone! April has passed us by so quickly, hasn’t it? Well, today is the day for our discussion of Captured by Love. Jamie is hosting this month so head on over to her blog to get involved with our discussion!

>>> Check out the post here! <<<

(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!)

Review: The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton
The Pathfinders, Book 1
WaterBrook, 2015

The Wood’s Edge opens with Major Reginald Aubrey holding his newborn son, who has died in his arms. In a moment of weakness, he steals one of the newborn twins another sleeping mother has just given birth to. It is that moment which carries so much weight in the lives of these characters throughout this novel.

I was deeply struck as I watched Reginald make his choice at the onset of The Wood’s Edge. And this is the question that has been turning over in my mind since reading this story: Isn’t it overwhelming to think about the implications one decision can entail? Not only does his decision change his own life forever, but it also affects multiple people around him: his family, the family he stole from, and every individual they each interact with in their day to day lives. Some are aware of the deceit while others are unknowing, however, the impact of Reginald’s choice is far-reaching. It seeps into many lives regardless of their knowledge of what he did. Pain and suffering are the result.

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*Quote on page 235

Beyond the powerful and overarching premise of this novel, Anna’s story was what I was most drawn to. From her entrance into the Aubrey’s lives and the way she is treated by the people she calls family to her transformation into a young woman, I was eager to follow her through these pages. Her meeting with Two Hawks is where I became truly invested in the outcome of this book. I loved watching Anna and Two Hawks’ relationship develop and always was eager to read more about them.

Creating a tapestry with her words, Lori brings characters alive and explores the complexities of life lived after one fateful choice. The lives of so many people are changed, and paths cross until a web that is tangled and messy can no longer be ignored.

Lori Benton weaves a story of epic proportions, provoking readers to ask themselves, how far would you go out of love, fear, revenge, and pain? Can lives be healed from the pain that has been endured? How can we learn to extend forgiveness in our brokenness?

*I am an influencer for Lori Benton. Thank you to Lori and WaterBrook for providing a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review.*

Come back on Wednesday for a special interview with Lori!

Announcing May #HedlundChallenge2015 Read | Out of the Storm & Love Unexpected

The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!

It’s time to announce our next book to read this May! I’m really excited to let you know we’re reading Out of the Storm and Love Unexpected! These two the beginning of the Beacons of Hope series and are all centered on lighthouses and their keepers.

We’re reading these this May because the following month, in June, Hearts Made Whole will be releasing and it’s the second novel in the Beacons of Hope series.

Where to Buy:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD

Discussion Date: May 26, 2015

Review: After a Fashion by Jen Turano

Clever characters, snappy dialogue, and fun shenanigans ensue in After a Fashion. With her signature humor, Jen Turano has written another fabulous novel filled to the brim with a dramatic story!

After a Fashion by Jen Turano
A Class of Their Own, Book 1
Bethany House, 2015

Miss Harriet Peabody suddenly finds herself without a job, thanks to a borderline-are-you-crazy woman who attacks Harriet in a fit of rage and blames Harriet entirely for said mishap. Like I said, crazy, right? And the woman also thinks she’s engaged to the most-eligible-bachelor-in-town, unbeknownst to him. This crazy lady sounds like a gem, right? Mr. Oliver Addleshaw promptly kicks crazy lady out of his house, and finds himself in a pickle.

How does he choose to solve his little problem? Why, he decides to hire Harriet as his companion, of course! Ya know, because being in a fake relationship is normal, right?

Shenanigans, people. It was shenanigans. Completely hilarious and outrageous and adorable.  Completely entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny.

Jen Turano is a skilled writer, infusing her stories with wit and constantly upping the ante. As Harriet and Oliver navigate the rocky waters of their ‘relationship’, they find themselves in increasingly difficult situations that propel their lies further than planned.

If you can’t tell, I absolutely adored this novel and am completely sold on Jen Turano. Her next book comes out in July, which is only a few months away. Hooray! (Also, I loved Harriet’s friends, Millie and Lucetta, so I am looking forward to the fiascos they will have to endure to get their happy endings).

And I have to mention, the surprise twist at the end is a whammy! So good, my friends! SO. GOOD.

*With thanks to the publisher for my complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.*

Update: TBR 2015

In January, I posted my TBR 2015 list of my most anticipated books of the year. Since then, more fabulous book covers have been revealed and I have to share them with you. Thus, here is my updated TBR list for the year:

July

In Good Company by Jen Turano

September

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz
A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

October

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

November

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

December

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

These posts make me so happy! What books are on your TBR list?