Upon Review: Rescuing Liberty by Amanda Washington

December 16th, 2013

I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites: Book CrashBook Rooster and The Bookplex just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.

Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:

  • One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
  • Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
  • Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
  • Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
  • Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy

Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!


Rescuing Liberty (Perseverance) by Amanda Washington

Four Cup Must Read



Six months ago Liberty Collins was advancing in her career at a prosperous marketing firm and dreaming of a bright future. Now the only thing darker than her nightmares is reality.

In a socially, and economically, collapsed America, Liberty struggles to find the courage to endure, and the strength to protect herself. Her faith, constitution, and sanity are challenged as the lines that separate right from wrong grow increasingly blurry.

Connor Dunstan was a thriving personal injury attorney with a comfortable life and a deeply-buried past. As the country crumbles and provisions dissipate, the survival of Connor and his unforgiving niece, Ashley, rests on his ability to trust someone other than himself.

The Good…

When I first started reading Rescuing Liberty, I wasn’t positive that I would be able to finish it, but I’m so glad I pushed on. The dark beginning firmly sets the reader in a dystopian fantasy world where what’s expected and what’s reality is completely turned around. It’s a fantastic setup for the rest of the story as we are continually thrust into seeing every situation from multiple points of view.

I loved how flawed the characters were and how God didn’t answer all their questions or give them what they wanted. Needs were met, but often in unexpected ways that sent the characters in a tail-spin. While most of us don’t hear the Call like Liberty, it was perfect the way Washington mimics the way God’s instructions come to God’s chosen in the Bible.

Even the romance in the story was well done. It was refreshing to see two characters come together in the midst of such horrible struggles and have neither one come off as whiney or stereotypical romance characters. I was pulled into their personal struggles first and the romance simply bloomed as naturally as a flower planted by a bird in the wild. By the end of the story I was fully invested in seeing Connor and Libby become a couple.

The Not-so-good…

I’m not entirely convinced telling the story in both first person from Libby’s viewpoint and in third person from other character viewpoints was the best choice for the overall story. It jarred me out of the story at first. The further on I read, though, the easier the switch back and forth became until it was almost natural.

The only other problem I had with the book was that there were a few sections that could have used just a little more proofreading. In general, those areas weren’t so bad that I couldn’t automatically make the corrections as I read. There were, however, a couple places that I had to stop and re-read a sentence more than once to figure out.

The Overall…

Rescuing Liberty (Perseverance) by Amanda Washington is second only to Frank Perretti’s Piercing the Darkness as my favorite Christian novel. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys delving past the darkness that hides beneath the surface of us all into the Light of God.

Seed Savers: Heirloom Official Blog Tour

November 16th, 2013

THE STORY SO FAR (Brief Summaries of the first two books.)blog tour

Book One, Treasure:

In a future where processed food is king and gardening is illegal, three friends secretly study about seeds and growing food. Afraid of being caught by GRIM, siblings Clare and Dante run away one night leaving behind their friend Lily and mentor, Ana.

Book Two, Lily:

After Clare and Dante leave, Lily sets out to discover why. Along the way she makes new friends and struggles inwardly when a family secret is revealed. Lily must decide what to do and whom she can trust.

Book 3 – Heirloom Summary & Book info
(scroll down to read an excerpt)

In a futuristic U.S.A. where gardening is illegal, siblings Clare and Dante have escaped to Canada and are living with a host family, enjoying farm life and learning to grow their own food. Attending Garden Guardian class, they meet other refugees and unearth the  history of how they lost their choices about food.

Their friend Lily, who was left behind when they escaped, searches for a father she grew up believing was dead, but whom she recently discovered is alive. To succeed in her quest, Lily must elude GRIM, look for the secret Seed Savers symbols, and find the friends who can help in the search.

Heirloom is book 3 in the Seed Saver Series. The first two books are Seed Savers: Treasure, and Seed Savers: Lily.


Chapter 33

 Clare and Dante

heirloom front final At last, midway through March, the cold fingers of winter were pried loose, and sunny, warmer weather heartened the budding gardeners. By the third cloudless day, the beds were dry enough to start the early plantings: cole crops such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and kale, and other cool weather plants like peas, lettuce, carrots, and the onion starts. With most of the class working, it didn’t take long to plant the seeds. Clare was disappointed she had only gotten to help with a few kinds; she wanted to gain as much experience as possible. Dante, however, managed to run around to all of the beds and peek at the seeds, excited at how large or small or round they were. He charmed the adults, who let him put a few seeds in the soil before he dashed off to the next bed. Clare, meanwhile, stayed put, dutifully poking their onion transplants into the ground.

She inhaled deeply, smelling the rich, moist soil. Until her life in Canada, Clare had never realized soil had a scent. It was intoxicating. One of the teachers told the class it was a scientific fact that fumes from good fresh soil, caused by certain microbes, have an effect like antidepressant pills. That digging in dirt makes you feel energetic and happy. Clare wondered what that meant for a country whose citizenry had been deprived of the opportunity to dig in the dirt.

After everything was planted, the students spent the remainder of the day weeding the perennial beds and the berry patches where the ground had grown lusciously green.

“I feel kind of bad pulling out these weeds knowing that some of them are eatable,” Dante said.

“The word is edible,” Clare corrected.

“Why?” he asked. “I like eatable better.”

Clare smiled. She had no answer.

Pulling weeds was hard work, but for the kids the difficulty came more in the monotony than anything else. Their smaller stature, energy, and flexible joints allowed them to upturn the unwanted plants with relative ease, while the grownups often groaned, standing and stretching, or taking multiple and lengthy breaks.

At the end of the day, though, Clare and Dante were tired—a good, worn-out, physical tiredness. Marissa had suspected they would be and greeted them in a kitchen smelling of freshly baked cookies.

“Cookies!” Dante yelled as he smelled and spied the fresh cookies cooling on the rack.

“Thought you might like some warm cookies with milk,” Marissa said.

He helped himself to the cookies and poured a glass of milk. “I’m never going back,” he said offhandedly as he stuffed a morsel into his mouth.

Clare’s heart skipped a beat. “Of course we’re going back,” she said.

“I know. Mama misses us.”

“That’s right,” she said. She knew there was more to say but decided to let it end there. For now, anyway. He probably hadn’t meant it. It had just sort of slipped out in his admiration and excitement over the milk and cookies. And yet … wasn’t this sometimes when people spoke what they really thought—those careless moments of joy or heartbreak? Clare tucked his sentiment carefully away. She would take it out and look at it later when no one else was around.

 Information Amazon page for paperback/kindle:

List Price: $12.99/$3.99
314 pages
Sandra L.\Smith
ISBN-13: 978-0615906737
ISBN-10: 0615906737
BISAC: Juvenile Fiction / Dystopian

Safe in Canada, Clare and Dante attend Garden Guardian classes while living with a host family on an apple farm. In the Guardian classes they learn about gardening and the history of food politics in the United States.

Their friend Lily continues the quest to find her father, a former leader in the Seed Savers movement who was arrested and jailed before she was born. Along her journey she meets a host of interesting characters, and more surprisingly, herself.


smith 5x7 authorS. Smith grew up on a farm with a tremendously large garden. She maintains that if you can’t taste the soil on a carrot, it’s not fresh enough. Although she now lives with her husband and three cats in the city, she still manages to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyard garden.

A licensed ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Ms. Smith has enjoyed teaching students from around the world.

Ms. Smith is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and an OSU Master Gardener. She gardens and writes at her home in the beautiful and green Pacific Northwest.