Shadows of Lions: Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

Friday, February 26, 2021


Catherine Kensington is in the midst of high society Regency era. She is an unmarried heiress with accomplishment, wit, and grace. But very few are aware she has recently returned from Africa in a desperate attempt to escape her murderous mother who sits far too close on the chaise. No one suspects Lady Kensington of violence, however, not even Catherine's soul mate Captain Ashmore. Sarah Hope also sits among them dizzily longing for intrigue and adventure but is soon overwhelmed when she unwittingly throws herself into the midst of the Kensington's trouble. And Mebalwe stands alert in the corner, but he is no ordinary serving man, he is an African warrior, sent to protect Catherine from all that threatens to kill her.

Shadows of Lions follows the internal dialogue of four strong characters. As their experiences swirl together it becomes more clear that the answer to all the struggle and hurt lies with a young Scottish girl named Amelia. Only by knowing Amelia can they all have what they want. Only Amelia can save them.

Author Interview 

Life Is What It's Called - What was the best part about writing a sequel to In Spite of Lions?

Scarlette Pike - The best part about writing the sequel was knowing that people who were angry about the ending of the FIRST book would finally start talking to me again! Everyone wanted to know if Catherine was going to be alright facing her demons and I was happy to share her story. There is still one major unresolved issue that we are ALL upset about still but you can see it resolved in the third book. It’s all going to be okay.
Life Is What It's Called - Will there be additional books for this series or spin-offs?
Scarlette Pike - Yes - there will be one more book in this series. Now that Catherine has faced her fears, she is much more ready to face some more.
Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write this story?

I was inspired to write “In Spite of Lions” because of a dream I had about a girl who ran AWAY from the ever popular Regency/Victorian era. I wondered where she would go if she chose to run and that’s when I found the Livingstone’s and Chief Sechele. The second book HAD to happen and I suppose it was inspired by my own journey in emotional wellness and my own trauma recovery (not involving my mother). There’s so much power and inspiration from someone facing their greatest challenge. I find it inspiring.
Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope readers will gain from Shadows of Lions?

Scarlette Pike - I hope readers gain the courage to face their demons. It may not look Catherine’s way - or anyone’s way! But it does allow our true selves to come out of hiding. I also hope they can learn that there’s no such thing as a “bad guy”. Who is the real villain of “Shadows of Lions”? Do we know for sure? Or do we stereotype?
Life Is What It's Called - What's your next writing project?

Scarlette Pike - I have several writing projects coming up. I am still working on a series of children’s emotional wellness books. “Shame Mud” is out, “Grief Waves” is in editing, and “Sticky Labels” is being beta read. Of course I’m going to work on the third book in the Lion series, though! I think Wilberforce is going to get involved and I’m really excited about that. I’m reading a biography of him right now but if anyone has a unique Wilberforce source I’d love to see it!

Life Is What It's Called - What interesting historical background facts did you learn as you wrote this story?

Scarlette Pike - I learned a lot more about the city of Bath this time around! My goodness that city has changed hands so many times. A lot of scenes are in alleyways in Bath and I wish I could have conveyed the history of the place better! If walls could talk… Also, there are scenes next to a river and they were inspired by the birthplace of David Livingstone in Blantyre Scotland. I visited there myself during the Historical Novel Society Conference! A lot of Amelia’s history comes from the area where David grew up and it was fun to weave it in. Amelia’s father was inspired by a man called Deacon Brodie and he lived around the same time David was there.
Life Is What It's Called - If you could travel into your book and meet one of the characters who would it be and why?

Scarlette Pike - Oh man - just one?! I’d probably choose Motsatsi and hug him close and never let him go! But they’re all a close second. I love them all - even the “villains”. I’d meet Amelia in a heartbeat. When I was writing some of her big scenes I listened to “Lovely” by Billie Eilish and felt so connected to Amelia. I also want to hug her close and never let her go.
Life Is What It's Called - Who has been your biggest cheerleader for writing your novels and children books?
Scarlette Pike - My husband, Jon, is a champ and my greatest support. I’ll go into writing/researching hibernation and he just takes them in stride, makes me eat something, and is eager to read what I’ve written. Coincidentally he is scared of me since reading “Shadows of Lions” in full! But he still supports me even when he finds me terrifying. That’s commitment!! My kids, parents, and siblings are also all supportive and sweet about my writing.
Life Is What It's Called - How does writing children's books for True Worth Books compare to writing novels? Are the challenges the same or different?
Scarlette Pike - With both sets of work I’m dealing with being accurate. With historical fiction, I’m striving to be historically accurate and with emotional wellness I’m striving to be psychologically accurate. For my historical books I have mentors like researchers at libraries, South Africa citizens that proof read things for me, or members of the HNS. With mental health books I have a team of parents and professionals who proof read and therapists who check my work and give me research to follow up with. So in that way the writing process is similar! 

But I’d say the biggest difference is working with illustration on the children’s books. When writing a novel I am in charge of telling the entire story and making sure the reader can come along with me and I can do that all with headphones and a laptop - talking to no one, but with children’s books I have to work with Dustin to have illustration tell part of the story. Our visions have to come together! That’s tricky sometimes because I’m accustomed to spinning a story by myself. It’s a different kind of vulnerability to tell a story WITH someone. So far so good though! He hasn’t blacklisted me yet.

In Spite of Lions
is such a memorable and interesting book that I was excited for the chance to review the sequel, Shadows of Lions. The Shadows of Lions indeed felt like it was in the shadows of lions. The author takes you on a journey through some dark moments of pain, abuse, hurt, and confusion. The characters were complex and unique. There were moments where I was very surprised at some of the character's actions and the development of the story. There were twists and turns that made this book quite the page-turner. The characters needed to face their demons/lions to resolve their issues. I felt like the character Mebalwe understood the complexities of the characters and acted almost as a guide to helping the reader to sort out the experiences and journey. It was an engaging book that was full of suspense. It will be interesting to see the next installment of this series and see where the author takes it. I would recommend reading In Spite of Lions first in the series.

To learn more click, Shadows of Lions and/or In Spite of Lions.


The author has generously provided a signed copy of In Spite of Lions and Shadows of Lions for me to giveaway. To enter the giveaway, use the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use  of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Scarlette Pike for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post, however, I provided my honest opinion. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. Winner for US mainland only. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Please note that this post contains affiliate links.

Aspen Book Publishing: The Counselor and Missionary Impossible Game

Monday, February 22, 2021

 Aspen Book Publishing

Over its illustrious history, Aspen Books and its sister company, Gold Leaf Press, have published over 100 authors, including Pulitzer-prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and New York Times best-selling authors Orson Scott Card and Betty J. Eadie. It has sold millions of copies in nearly 40 languages. Now, after a decade of dormancy, the celebrated publisher of such well-known bestsellers as “Embraced by the Light,” “The Burning Within,” and “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” has been reconstituted and is publishing new works.

Aspen Books is being relaunched by Curtis Taylor, one of the original founders. The imprint is committed to publishing works from new and well-known authors for the general market as well as titles specifically for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since its relaunch, Aspen Books has published three new works: “The Counselor” and “A Grand Conspiracy” both by #1 New York Times best-selling author, Curtis Taylor, and the popular family game, Missionary: Impossible. 

The Counselor, by a #1 New York Times best-selling writer, shares the story of Travis Call. Travis Call, a financial counselor and a counselor in a bishopric, faces life in prison when his wife’s body is found in a shallow grave. He pleads his innocence, but many don’t believe him. With his best friend, Ross Keller, he begins the search for the real killer, only to find that true evil may be closer than he suspects. The Counselor establishes a new series in Latter-Day Saint fiction. Pages - 401.

Review - The Counselor is a fast action, whodunit, murder mystery filled with intrigue and suspense. The pacing of the novel was just about right. The author draws you into the story and characters. I turned page after page wondering what would happen next. The characters were well-developed, however, the main character bothered me sometimes when he was a little demanding of those around him to make him dinner or he didn't really spend time with his kids. I felt like there were a lot of twists and turns in the story that kept me engaged as a reader. It was interesting to see the character dealing with Lyme disease. Overall, this was an interesting book to read and if you enjoy mysteries, I would encourage you to check it out.

Learn more here or here

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It... Be the first missionary or companionship to complete 100 weeks of missionary service! But standing in your way are Trials ranging from Dog Bite to Dear Johns - while Blessings, Transfers, and Golden Contacts are there to help you along. Missionary: Impossible combines simple strategy and a measure of luck for a fast-paced, easy-to-play card game for 2 to 6 players, ages 8 and up. Amazon reviewers agree it's a FUN, CLEAN, game for the ENTIRE family! 

Review: I played this game with my 5 year old and 7 year old, but we play a lot of games and they were able to handle this one. The game is fun and easy to play. The colors and the pictures on the cards were fun and engaging. This is a fun game for the whole family.

Learn more about the game here.

Please note that I received a free book and game to review, however this is my honest opinion. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links to Amazon that help support this blog.

Lamb of God Spotlight

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

In partnership with Excel Entertainment and Purdie Distribution, Rob Gardner announced the release of a new concert film adaptation of his acclaimed oratorio, Lamb of God. The new film opens in theater nationwide on Friday, March 12, 2021. The film features acclaimed performers, never-before-heard song and narration. 

The film tells the story of the last week of Jesus Christ's Mortal ministry. It's told entirely through music from the perspective of those who loved Him and followed Him including Peter, John, Thomas, Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene and Christ's mother, Mary.

“I’ve dreamed and planned for years to create a concert film of ‘Lamb of God’ and I am thrilled to bring this new cinematic, can’t miss experience to long-time fans and newcomers alike,” said creator Rob Gardner. “We brought together a world-class, once-in-a-lifetime cast and crew to create this film. And I am absolutely overjoyed that we are able to release it in theatres in time for Easter, and help bring light and hope so desperately needed at this time.”

Rob Gardner began his musical career in high school as a member of and arranger for the a cappella band Two Five Nine. The group recorded 5 albums together and, while in college, toured around the country. From there, Rob began composing original works for film, theater and the concert stage. He is the author of a handful of stage musicals, including Blackbeard, The Price of Freedom, and 12 Princesses. Rob has also composed several sacred music oratorios. Rob is an accomplished producer and conductor and appears regularly on the concert stage conducting his works.

Rob has a bachelor's degree in Management and Entrepreneurship from Brigham Young University. He also attended the University of Southern California, doing graduate studies in the prestigious Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program. He currently resides in Gilbert, AZ.

To learn more, check out the website here and the trailer here.

Forever Phoebe Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

Monday, February 15, 2021


Summary: At the dignified age of eighteen, Phoebe Jamison knows she should behave in a manner befitting her station, as her three loving elder brothers often tease. Unfortunately, the lively young woman has a personality every bit as fiery as her red hair, a fact brought to her attention in the criticism from the gentleman she has long pined for. But not every man is of the opinion that a woman should be decorous above all else. The newest resident of Somerset, Mr. Franklin Everly, is considered a most eligible bachelor, and he is immediately drawn to Phoebe’s spirited nature as he becomes acquainted with the delightful Jamison siblings of Primly Park.

Franklin embarks on a friendship with Phoebe that quickly deepens into a warm and thrilling connection. But even as he fights for Phoebe’s attention, a very real danger is revealed: girls in neighboring villages have gone missing, and the kidnapper is moving ever closer to Primly Park. Despite the guard of her fiercely protective brothers and Franklin, Phoebe must rely on her own strength when she finds herself in the sights of the Bride Snatcher.

Excerpt: Phoebe Jamison huffed and folded her arms. Would William Mason ever see her as more than the younger sister of her brother Peter? She’d been out for nearly eleven months, and while she’d danced with William at several dinners and the annual ball in the Assembly Rooms, he’d spent the entirety of this particular dance chastising her for allowing Mr. Baldwin to hold her too closely during the previous set. She’d thought Mr. Mason’s concern meant something. If he was worried for her reputation, surely, it meant he cared. 

Her dance with Mr. Mason ended, and he escorted Phoebe from the floor. “Proper young ladies do not pout, Miss Jamison.” He looked across the room, and his dark-brown eyes lit as he spied Miss Judith Benson. “You would do well to follow Miss Benson’s example. See how her smile affects those she’s conversing with? It is rather pleasing.” He led Phoebe to Peter’s side. Phoebe wanted to grab the lapels of Mr. Mason’s jacket and shake him. Why couldn’t he find her pleasing? For years she’d tried to be the perfect lady, conforming to everything she thought he wanted yet continually falling short.

Hannah Vane, Phoebe’s dear friend and confidante, walked to where Phoebe stood. “I’ve just heard the most delightful bit of gossip.” Hannah swayed her shoulders. “The new resident at Ravencrest has agreed to make an appearance this evening.” Mr. Mason scoffed. Hannah leaned close and whispered, “The supposedly handsome single gentleman from Ravencrest.” She covered her giggle with her hand.

Butterflies fluttered through Phoebe’s stomach. No matter her admiration for Mr. Mason, a new arrival was always cause for excitement. “You ladies should discuss topics of greater import,” Mr. Mason said. “Seeking out a handsome husband is of great import,” Hannah said, dismissing Mr. Mason’s comment. “The benefits far outweigh the effort exerted in making elaborately embroidered pillows.”

“Miss Vane speaks the truth,” Peter said. “Besides, I’ve never cared for embroidered pillows.” Phoebe shook her head at her brother’s teasing. Mr. Mason shifted, and a section of black hair fell across his forehead. He brushed his hair aside as his gaze once again wandered to Miss Benson, and Phoebe watched a myriad of expressions wash over his face. He looked back at her, quickly scooped up her hand, and bowed over her fingers. “It is always a pleasure dancing with you, Miss Jamison.” His eyes met hers. “I do hope you’ll remember my admonition.”

Phoebe yanked her hand free from his grasp. Conversations between her and Mr. Mason always seemed to end in the same manner. She had hoped that perhaps his perception of her as a silly girl had shifted to respect or even admiration, but Mr. Mason was nothing if not consistent. He chastised her behavior, corrected or quietly rebuked her opinions, and never offered a glimmer of hope. Phoebe oft wondered why she thought their relationship could ever change. Perhaps pining for William Mason had been part of her life for so long she knew no other option.

Review: Forever Phoebe is a fun, wholesome romance. The characters and the story line are engaging and interesting. I liked that there was a bit of mystery added to the romance. It added a subtle depth to the story. I wished the author delved a bit deeper into it, but she kept me guessing throughout the story and wondering what was going to happen next. I felt like the character, Phoebe, grew in the book as she learned to figure out her feelings and what she wanted out of life. Her brothers also added an interesting element to the story, and it was fun to see her relationship with them. Franklin's character also seems to grow in the story. He seems to figure out where he fits in his inheritance and how to stand-up for what he wants. The only part of the story that I didn't like was when the author described Phoebe as "fiery." That descriptor tends to be applied to redheads a lot in media and books. I always cringe when it's used, since that trope often causes misconceptions about redheads. Other than that, it was a fun read. To learn more about Forever Phoebe, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book to review, however, this is my honest opinion.

The Secrets of a Scoundrel Review

Monday, February 8, 2021


Lady Isabel Palmer is crushed when her best friend and fellow adventurer, Marcus, leaves without even a good-bye. As years pass, tales of his rakish lifestyle reach her, and she buries any feelings she ever had for him. But when Marcus shows up years later in the middle of her father’s hunting party, old feelings and bitterness surface, placing the once close friends constantly at odds.

Marcus Tierney left Essex years ago, hoping to return eventually for Isabel. However, a tarnished reputation put an end to any dreams he might have harbored for a love marriage, keeping him from Isabel and his family estate for far too long. When a visit to the Palmer’s estate becomes necessary, Marcus hopes to find forgiveness but is instead met with disdain by those he once called friends.

As Marcus and Isabel increasingly find themselves together, they begin to realize their previous judgments do not hold true. Is it possible to leave the past behind and forgive each other? Or do their resentments run too deep, destroying all hope for a future of love and happiness?  

Review:  The Secrets of a Scoundrel is a fun, light-hearted, escape romance. The story moves quickly and the characters were engaging. Several themes ran throughout the book: the damage that gossip can cause, finding forgiveness, seeking love rather than expectations, being yourself instead of what others want from you, the damage of holding onto resentment and bitterness. The different themes made the story interesting and engaging. The author gives you enough clues in the story that you can guess some of the plot, but I also found that there were a few surprises that I wasn't expecting. This book is part of a series, but I felt like it stood fine on it's own. You didn't need to read the rest of the series to understand the story. The story was clean and wholesome romance that both teens and adults would enjoy.

To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free e-copy of this book, however, this is my honest opinion. This post also contains Amazon affiliate links that help support this blog.

February Giveaways to Enter

Monday, February 8, 2021



I like entering low to moderate entry giveaways and I share each month some of the blog or social media giveaways I've entered, thought someone else might be interested in entering or that have been submitted to me through bloggers. Check back often throughout the month to see if I have posted more giveaways. If you are hosting a family-friendly giveaway on your blog and would like to see it listed here, please contact me (via email). If you have a won a giveaway that I posted, please leave a comment and share that you won.

Sesame Street Elmos World (ends 2.4.21)

After the Thin Man (ends 2.12.21)

MicroGreen Kit (ends 02.14.21)

Kira Bailey American Girl Doll (ends 2.24.2021)

Books and Resources for Kids for Come Follow Me 2021

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is studying the Doctrine and Covenants for 2021. The following are ideas for kids books and resources that go along with this year studies. Additional resources can help engage your kids and help increase their understanding.

1. Felt Scripture Figures: Felt scripture figures can help tell the stories found in the scriptures. On the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint website, there's a page for Scripture Figures found here. Print out the scripture figures for church history onto t-shirt transfer paper and iron on to white felt. Felt boards can be made easily by hot gluing felt onto canvas or cardboard. Felt scripture figures are a great resource for young children.

2. Picture Books: Kids love having picture books read to them and they can help reinforce principles that you're trying to teach at home. Here are some picture books that go along with the Come Follow Me curriculum this year: 


  • Oh How Lovely Was the Morning by Kevin Klein: This book shares Joseph Smith's experience in the sacred grove. Learn more here.


  • Pillar of Light by Andrew G. Knaupp: Pillar of Light is a graphic novel about on Joseph Smith’s First Vision. You can also find my review here or learn more here.


  • Standout Saints by Sierra Wilson: Tells the history of 20 saints (women and men) from many different countries around the world. This will be a great companion to your Come Follow Me studies this year. To learn more click here and to find my review click here.

    The First Vision
      •  The First Vision by Val Chadwick Bagley: Tells the story of the First Vision with fun illustrations and flaps. Click here to learn more.

      •  Joseph's First Prayer by Scott Hoopes: An easy-to-read board book for young children. Click here to learn more.


      •  Prophet Joseph's 1-2-3s by Kristena Eden: A counting board book of the first vision for young children. Click here to learn more.

      Good Morning, Grove - book

      • Good Morning, Grove by Jedd Nelson Platt: Shares the story of the First Vision in a careful cadence filled with fun illustrations. Click here to learn more.


      3. Virtual Tours: Many of the church historical sites are doing virtual tours. This is an excellent way to tour some of the sites mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants. I set up a virtual tour for my youth Sunday school class and we're also going to be doing a tour with our family. To learn more about the tours that are available, check out this article from LDS Living here.

      4. Coloring Pages: You can also look at coloring pages that correspond with the lessons and materials for your kids to do throughout the week. Click here for some that are available online on the Church of Jesus Christ's website.

      5. Music: Download music that goes along with the Come Follow Me program for this year and burn it onto a CD. Play it in your car and home. Music can be a great supplement for the Come Follow Me Program. 

       6. Missionary Message: Have the missionaries come visit and share the message of the Restoration with your family. This will be a great way for your family to feel the spirit and share some of the teachings in the Come Follow Me program for this year.

      What are some of your tips and ideas?

      Please note that this post contains affiliate links.

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