Friday, April 18, 2014

FAMILY EASTER TRADITIONS


I started a tradition with my children years ago. Easter morning, after they’ve gone through their baskets to see what goodies Mr. Bunny brought, they look for eggs. The plastic kind you snap together. The kids love searching for them.

Early on, I got the idea to add money to the eggs. I had to remember how many eggs I’d hidden, so we knew if we found them all. This left a bit of wonder - how does mom know how many eggs the Easter Bunny left? Somehow, we managed to glide over the reality of that answer.

Each year I use the same coins I have in a jug in the corner of my room. Each year the kids count how much they have and trade them in for bills. Little did they know they were replenishing the supply for the next year.

 For years, the kids would open the eggs, dump out the coins, and leave me with two hundred egg halves. I’d stuff them in a bag, and back to storage they’d go. The following year, I’d spend more time then I cared, attempting to match the two egg halves. Not every egg is created equal, thus not fitting together. It wasn’t until recently I decided it was the kids job to put the eggs back together the same year, so the following year I wouldn’t have to search for the correct match to make a complete egg. Oh why, oh why, hadn’t I thought of this much sooner? It would have saved me so much time.

The Easter baskets my kids have are the same ones they’ve had for years. No matter the state they are in, they refuse to replace them.

After all, it THEIR basket … and tradition.

 
 
 
 
What Easter traditions do you have?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NEW AUTHOR TO LOVE


Title: Pine Country Cowboy
Author: Glynna Kaye
Publisher: Love Inspired (March 18, 2014)
Pages: 224

And the story goes like this …

First thing you should know, I have more books waiting on my bookshelf to be read then any person has a right to have. So, when I went to the store with my daughter, and I stopped in the book section to see if one of my favorite authors new books had arrived, I had no intentions of purchasing any others. Sadly, they didn’t have the book I was looking for.

My first mistake, spotting a LOVE INSPIRED book with a cowboy on the front cover. That gets me every time. Second mistake, I picked it up. Third mistake, read the back cover. Fourth mistake, opened it up and began to read.

Doomed. Done for.

Not done, as in no longer interested. Done, as in I couldn’t stop reading. Knowing full well I didn’t need to purchase another book, especially by an author I had yet to read, I slowly pushed my cart away from the book section – with the book in my hand, eyes focused on the words.

Yeah, I was done for.

Abby Diaz got in her car and drove to Canyon Springs, the small town her father and brother lives in. A town she has not been in for more years then she cares to admit.

Brett Marden has it all together. A ladies man, self-assured, carefree. Well, at least that’s what those around him believe. Not many know the deep dark secrets he carries, and he plans to keep it that way.

As cliché as it sounds, PINE COUNTRY COWBOY by GLYNNA KAYE, had me from the very first page, right to the last word. It now sits on my shelf of keepers. Those are the books I’ve read that are so good, there’s no way I’m giving them up.

MS KAYE is an amazing writer. PINE COUNTRY COWBOY is well thought-out, believable, engaging, the ideal pace, and superb writing. Her characters are well thought-out, likeable, with distinct personality. The storyline unique, diverse, with humor, and surprises that will have your jaw slack.

If after reading my review if it is in question if I will be reading more by MS KAYE, then I have not done my job in writing it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PAULA VINCE


 
 
A little about Paula Vince
Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.
Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.
Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.
Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.
Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014.
Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy. Check out her Amazon page at
Q&A
 
1)     What genre of books do you write, and why?
 
My books are contemporary dramas, with elements of romance, mystery and suspense.
They typically take place in my own environment. Many books have already been written to draw us in by their unusual settings and plots. Some character may have a unique occupation, such as being a missionary to a deep, dark native place. This, of course, is why we love them.
Rather than adding to these, I like to show the hidden drama and heroism of people simply living their lives in the twenty-first century in some suburban setting. There are all sorts of undercurrents calling for attitudes of valour. Sometimes the themes may resonate with us even stronger because the plights of the characters are so familiar.
 
2)     Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own?

Although I never consciously set out to do this, I like to take serious, potentially heart-breaking situations and fill them with hope instead. ‘Happily Ever After’ endings resulting from depressing and even tragic circumstances aren’t all that rare in true life, although the media may tell us otherwise. It’s good to remind ourselves of this, and I aim to do so through my writing. Readers who enquire about the themes of my novels may be forgiven for saying, ‘That sounds like a pretty heavy topic. If it’s going to make me sad, I’d like to be warned outright.’

I always reply that I’m confident they’ll end up feeling happy and uplifted with the way things turn out. I like to think my novels reflect the nature of some personal stories God presents us with in the Bible. Historical heroes and heroines such as Joseph, Ruth, Paul, Hannah, Jacob, Hezekiah and Gideon find themselves in fixes they would never dream they’d see the end of. Yet they are blessed and surprised by the wonderful things that happen. I’m sure many of us have stories of times when the same thing has happened to us. Those are the experiences I plan for my characters.    

“Picking up the Pieces” contains a date rape situation which neither person involved believes they will recover from.

“A Design of Gold” begins with a tragic drowning accident which shatters a best friend’s confidence.

“Best Forgotten” features a dysfunctional family, as a young man who has amnesia delves into his past, afraid of what he may find.

“Imogen’s Chance” is about the possibility of divine healing in the face of a diagnosis that offers no hope. I’m hoping it will prove to bless invalids who may be going through far less than my character, Asher, has to face.

I think a good overall theme for my books would be Romans 8:28, ‘We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’

3)     What is one of your favourite parts about being an author?

I love reading other peoples’ novels. There are many authors I consider friends, just because we have the same occupation and share similar values. This holds true whether we have known each other for twenty years or one day.

I love to read Christian novels of all genres, including contemporary, romance, historical, fantasy and supernatural. I love it that even though we all start with the same raw materials, such as pens and paper, computers and notebooks, what we produce are products of our own unique imaginations and experiences, and the way God has worked through them.

People who are into mathematics (which I’m not) may even be able to work this into a formula something like GS = AE + VI + DI. (Good Story = Author’s Experiences + Vividness of Imagination + Divine Input.)

I have to admit, I also love it when people discuss my own characters with me as if they’ve become their close friends too.

4)     What is one of the parts you like the least?

Much I love the support we receive from review sites such as Amazon and Goodreads, the star ranking system sometimes makes me a bit sad. After reading any story, knowing that the author has poured their heart, time and energy into it, I never like to choose a number out of 5. It’s not what stories are all about.

 I do understand why people find it handy. It’s a quick guide that busy people can simply cast their eyes down, but I still think we could function without it. Amazon’s system also asks us to write a quick sentence to summarise our reviews. In my opinion, this, along with the review, should be sufficient without forcing us to add a rating (because if we don’t, it chooses a 3 for us anyway, by default). My rant is over. I know the star ranking system is here to stay.

5)     What is ‘Imogen’s Chance’ about?

My heroine feels guilty and partly responsible for a couple of horrible events which happened when she was younger. One day, during a vulnerable moment, she vows to return and fix things up if only she gets the chance. For Imogen, back-tracking means returning all the way from America to South Australia. She finds that one of her old friends, Asher, has a problem which seems impossible for her to help with. As he’s one of the people she felt most wary about facing again, she’s unsure how she should behave around him.

 


Imogen’s Chance blurb

She has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?

Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.

A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

BEST AMISH BOOK I'VE EVER READ



Title: Love Redeemed
Author: Kelly Irvin
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2014)
Pages: 352

I have to start with a couple of confessions. First, I’m not an Amish fan. Second, I have read few Amish authors or Amish books. Now that you know the facts, I can reveal LOVE REDEEMED by KELLY IRVIN is the best Amish fiction to date I’ve read!

No other Amish novels I’ve read have come close to LOVE REDEEMED. They didn’t keep my attention the way it did. In part, that had to do with the storyline. They were mystery centered, rather than romance, and the plot - for me - weak. I also had a hard time with the use of “Amish words”.

Phoebe Christner desires to have a family of her own, but the boy she has her eyes on doesn’t seem to be interested.

Shy, Michael Daugherty, is in love with Phoebe Christner. When he decides to make his feelings known, tragedy strikes, tearing Michael and Phoebe apart. 

LOVE REDEEMED is a light romance, with a heavy dose of forgiveness. The faith element is subtle, yet strong. The writing superb. Though there were words associated with the Amish, it didn’t overpower or pull you out of the story. The plot was unique. The pace, just the right speed to keep you turning the pages, wanting more. There was a sense of romance throughout, without taking over the story.

I loved what MS. IRVIN did with the characters. They’re three dimensional, and likeable. So many things happened, yet woven together in a believable and natural way. MS IRVIN takes the story to places you wouldn’t expect. As an aspiring fiction author, I tend to rewrite lines in my mind as I read. With LOVE REDEEDED, there was no cause to do so.

MS IRVIN might just make an Amish fan out of me after all.

*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

ACFW APRIL NEW RELEASES

April 2014 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:



A Plain Man by Mary Ellis -- When a man returns to Amish ways after years apart, rigid district rules, a judgmental father, and his own pride conspire to separate him from the woman he loves. Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left. All grown up now, she gives Caleb hope for the future and reminds him that while his faith may have wavered, God never left his side. But will past mistakes end up destroying their fledgling romance before it really has a chance to begin? (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert -- After ten years in the fashion industry, twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark has learned a sacred truth-appearance is everything. When it starts to unravel, she'll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal wear line-an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white. If only her tenuous future didn't rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Is it possible that God sees her-a woman stained and broken by the world-yet wants her still? (Contemporary Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Rescued by the Firefighter by Gail Gaymer Martin -- A firefighter who has saved many lives except his own meets a woman with a surprising secret who could save him if she would allow him to save her first. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Unexpected Wedding by Carla Rossi -- In a wheelchair since a fall in college, Rocky Lionakis plays guitar and shares his testimony every week with the campers at Towering Pines summer church camp. At peace with his chair, he has settled into a boring but successful career in technology...but then stunning camp counselor, Gia Rinaldi, enters his life and turns it upside down. Giavanna Rinaldi, with a trail of bad choices in her wake, has finally grown up and found her niche as a student of Christian child psychology. She returns to Camp Towering Pines where she's worked since high school, but unsettling dreams and an unexplained illness lead her to a harrowing discovery. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Rodeo Song by Shannon Taylor Vannatter -- Jenna Wentworth found the man of her dreams. But when silken-voiced Garrett Steele set out for stardom, he left Jenna-and his cowboy past-far behind. A chance encounter at one of his concerts propels him back into Jenna's life. Once upon a time, Garrett vowed he'd be a success, no matter what. But that path shattered his soul. His reunion with Jenna makes him long for things he once took for granted. Now he must show her that he's found what he was looking for all along...right here in his hometown. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical Romance:

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin -- A young, bitter, Jewess-in-hiding must send her own people to Auschwitz in order to survive, or put her trust in God by giving her heart to the man responsible for their doom. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Rainy Day Dreams by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith -- When the Burgert family moves to Seattle in 1852, Kathryn is convinced her father has destroyed her life. The backwoods settlement offers none of the comforts and culture she loves in San Francisco. She cares nothing for the new sawmill the townsfolk are so excited about. That is, until she meets Jason, a lumberjack with dreams for a bright future. As she comes to know Jason, Kathryn can't help catching his vision. But the future they hope for is anything but secure. There are some who see Seattle as a threat and will stop at nothing to make sure the sawmill fails. A gripping story of love, tenderness, and survival in the rugged Pacific Northwest. (Historical Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

The Preacher's Bride Claim by Laurie Kingery -- For the Thornton brothers, the Oklahoma Land Rush is the perfect opportunity to finally put down some roots. A new start, a new community-what more could preacher Elijah Thornton need. Not a wife-not after losing his fiancée. But something draws him to the pretty nurse whose eyes are clouded by trouble. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sincerely Yours by Ann Shorey, Laurie Alice Eakes, Amanda Cabot, and Jane Kirkpatrick -- Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path toward a changed life--and perhaps lifelong love. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote and controversial hospital, readers will love being swept into the lives of four young women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

The Pelican Bride by Beth White -- It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Genevieve knows life won't be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker PublishingGroup])

Circle of Spies by Roseanna M. White-- Baltimore, 1865--Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy...but espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unbeknownst to her, a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union she loves has been meeting in her basement. When she discovers the plots and papers covering her walls, she feels as though she is losing her world. Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to help end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn't just their inner workings that baffle him--it's the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet...somehow not an enemy of the Union. Can he trust her? (Historical Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

Contemporary:

Dynamo by Eleanor Gustafson -- Jeth Cavenaugh trains both show jumpers and the 5-gaited stallion Dynamo, but God, in extraordinary ways, is training Jeth-for what? (Contemporary from Whitaker House)

Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox -- After the tragic death of Butch Browning's wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious-and fleeting-their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O'Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they've forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way? (Contemporary from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Women of Valley View: Pam by Sharon Srock -- Pam's divorce broke her heart. The cruelty of her ex-husband broke her spirit. A bottle of sleeping pills almost took her life. Four years later the scars of Alan Archer's emotional abuse are beginning to fade under the love of her new husband. When Alan returns to Garfield, Pam must learn that buried secrets and carefully cultivated indifference do not equal forgiveness. (Contemporary from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Medical Thriller:

Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry M.D. -- It was supposed to be a quiet dinner party with her colleagues. Not the scene of a murder. Dr. Frasier couldn't save the gunshot victim on her front lawn. Now she's fighting for her own life. With a sister suffering from addiction, and her own fear of commitment to her "almost-fiancé" causing guilt, she turns to her pastor-father for help, only to learn he's just been diagnosed with leukemia. Shannon thought it couldn't get any worse. Then the late-night, threatening phone calls begin, the rough voice asking, "What did he say before he died?" With everything around her in a critical state, simply staying alive will require all the resources and focus Shannon has. (Thriller/Suspense from HarperCollins [Thomas Nelson & Zondervan])

Romantic Suspense:

Perilous Waters by Sandra Orchard -- On an Alaskan cruise, an undercover FBI agent, seeking evidence of art crimes, befriends an heiress trying to convince her twin to sell their gallery, except an assassin has different plans. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BROTHERS WALKER - THE LIFE

I'm so loving this song. It should be number one.

THE BRIDE WORE SPURS, OH YEAH!


Title: The Bride Wore Spurs
Author Janet Dean
Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals (April 1, 2013)
Pages: 283
 
THE BRIDE WORE SPURS is the first time I experienced reading JANET DEANS work. A classic case of the perfect combination to win over a potential buyer. The title captured me, then the cover, the back blurb, and the last piece to seal the deal, reading the first pages. WOW! What a way to start a story.

Hannah Parrish needs to come up with a plan to keep her family ranch and quick, and Matt Walker seems to be just the man to put a plan into motion.

Matt couldn’t have been more surprised if Hannah Parris had asked him to marry her. Wait, she just did. With a ranch Hannah refused to lose, and Matt not wanting to give his heart to another, it was a match he couldn’t deny might just work.
 
MS DEAN is a gifted writer and storyteller. I loved the characters, as well as the plot. A marriage of convenience is one of my favorite scenarios. It’s not always easy to pull off a believable storyline, but MS DEAN managed to do just that.
 
I spotted THE BRIDE WORE SPURS on facebook, and thankful that I had.

 

 

 

Friday, March 14, 2014

READER AT RISK

 
Title: Rancher At Risk
Author: Barbara White Daille
Publisher: Harlequin American Romance (Book 1484)
Pages: 224
 
As an aspiring author and Christian, it is my goal to not lash out at authors. Today’s world screams the opposite of what I was taught as a child, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” For too many, they don’t seem to realize there’s a human behind the words that lay on the pages of a book. However, I do believe that constructive criticism, with a careful choice of words, can be helpful. I also realize writing is subjective. I review because I like to share with others my thoughts and feelings so they may enjoy something as much as I may have, or steer then away from what might not appeal to them as well.
 
The RANCHER AT RISK by BARBARA WHITE DAILLE did exactly what it was suppose to do. It caught my attention on the shelf at the store. I mean, what cowboy-loving girl could resist the cover, let alone the title? After reading the back cover and the first page, I was convinced I needed yet another book, and headed to the checkout.
 
As I sat in the waiting room for an appointment and read, I jolted. What? A swear word! Oh, yeah, I’m not reading Christian fiction. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book from “Harlequin” that wasn’t Inspirational, so long I’d forgotten the familiar size paperback in my hand was secular, which could be in part why I wasn’t able to fully engage in the story.
 
At page 80 I made the difficult decision to stop reading. Not that the writing wasn’t good, because it was fine. Not even because there was too much foul language, but rather because I wasn’t able to connect with the characters.
 
I really loved the concept/storyline (The final decision maker to purchase the book.), but there just seemed to be something missing. For me it was the deep point of view. What there was of it, seemed to be surface and repetitive. I admit when I got to the part where the hero was eyeing up and down the heroine, I started to wonder what I got myself into. I’m not a prude, yet being a Christian fiction fan, I’ve grown to love a great story/romance without the need for explicit scenes and bad language. To be fair, the swearing was kept to a minimal and a better choice of words then the author could have gone with. I appreciated her selection in words and that the cowboy used them, and thus far, the heroine had not, identifying their character traits. I had not read far enough to see how far MS WHITE DAILLE had taken the romance aspect.
 
I think for the most part, I will stick with my Christian fiction.
 
 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

YOU CAN REUNITE ME WITH A COOPER MAN ANY DAY


Title: The Cowboy’s Reunited Family
Author: Brenda Minton
Publisher: Love Inspired (January 21, 2014)
Pages: 224
 
I’m a huge fan of BRENDA MINTON. Can’t get enough of those darn cowboys. The Cooper Creek series has been especially fun.           THE COWBOY’S REUNITED FAMILY, was no exception. What a great storyline, a first for me. Very unique, and not an easy topic to pull off, but pull it off MS MINTON did.

Blake Cooper held out little hope of ever seeing his child, again. Until an unidentified car pulls up to the ranch. His brother told him he might need to take a deep breath. Heck, he may just need his heart restarted.

Jana Cooper is hesitant to face the man she walked out on over a decade ago, and with good reason. But it’s no longer about her. She’d do anything for her daughter. Even face the man she feared could take away what matter most to her.  

THE COWBOY’S REUNITED FAMILY has a few different subject matters it addresses. Topics I haven’t read in prior books. MS MINTON’S writing isn’t in question, one of the best. The ending was amazing, with some of the best lines ever! So cute. So clever. Can’t wait to experience the next Cooper Creek journey.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

HER COWBOY MAY BE UNEXPECTED, BUT THE FACT THAT IT WAS A GREAT BOOK, ISN'T


Title: Her Unexpected Cowboy
Author: Debra Clopton
Publisher: Love Inspired (December 17, 2013)
Pages: 224

 What can I say? I’m a HUGE DEBRA CLOPTON fan. When I spot one of her books, I don’t hesitate to get it. Actually the opposite. I’m constantly on the lookout for the next.

Rowdy McDermott lives up to his name, but no more. No, he’s a changed man. The last woman he hooked up with shocked him into realizing he didn’t like the man he’d become.

Lucy Calvert moved into her uncle’s place, hoping to live a secluded life - for the most part. One that didn’t involve men. The last thing she expected was to fall into the arms of a handsome cowboy from the ranch next door. Literally!

 I could read the beginning pages of HER UNEXPECTED COWBOY by DEBRA CLOPTON, over and over, again. It’s that good. As soon as I began to read, I knew I was done for. It wouldn’t be long before I found myself reading the last page. MS CLOPTON’S books have that affect on me.

I could go on and on about her incredible writing. Her ability to deliver an amazing story, with three-dimensional characters. How her books always capture my attention to the point, it makes it nearly impossible to rip myself away from them. How all the character are likeable. That I fall for the hero every time. But then I’d be just repeating myself from one review to the next. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

EACH IN THE WESTWARD WINDS SERIES GETS BETTER


Title: With Autumm’s Return: A Novel (Westward Winds)
Author: Amanda Cabot
Publisher: Revell (January 21, 2014)
Pages: 416

Wow, wow, and WOW! WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN is the third and final book in the Westward Winds series, and what a series it is. I can’t recall a single other author that I’ve read where each book I’ve read of theirs in a series has increased so greatly in how well it’s written.
 
The first book in the series, SUMMER OF PROMISE, caught my eye due to the location the story revolves around. Not long before discovering the book, I had gone to Hartville, Wyoming, and visited Ft Laramie. As I read the story, it wasn’t hard to imagine the location where it all took place, having been there. If I return one day, I will now do so with thoughts of AMANDA CABOT’S story.

With the second book in the series, WAITING FOR SPRING, I loved the characters, as well as the plot even more than the first. MS CABOT’S writing and storytelling had noticeably improved.
 
That brings us to WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN. Elizabeth Harding, the youngest of the three Harding girls, moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to open her own medical practice. Not an easy endeavor for a woman.

Jason Nordling is not a happy man, in spite of having just won a case. When he goes next door of his law practice to meet his new neighbor, it doesn’t sit well that the new doctor in town is a woman.
 
WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN started out with a bang. Wow, talk about a great beginning, with intense tension between two characters. But it didn’t stop there. No, the entire novel was remarkable with wonderful humor, great pace, interesting information, and superb writing. Before reading WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN, I had placed AMANDA CABOT on my favorite list of authors. She has now moved up on the list.
 
I was in awe of her writing, the lines she came up with, as well as how she delivered every word. The plot was refreshing, and intriguing.  Romance with a mystery, neither too much nor too little. WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN, there was not one story, but three. I loved how she so easily incorporated two other couples lives. So natural, not one of them any less engaging then the other.
 
If there was any questions that I’ll be looking for more books by AMANDA CABOT in the future, wonder no more. I will most definitely be keeping my eye out for new arrivals.

*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

 

 

 

Friday, January 31, 2014

A MUST READ - WHETHER OR NOT YOUR AN ADDICT


Title: God Loves the Addict, Experiencing Recovery On the Path of Grace
Author: Eddie Snipes
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 4, 2013)
Pages: 74

At only 74 pages, this little book packs a powerful punch. Wow! What a blessing to have come across GOD LOVES THE ADDICT, EXPERIENCING RECOVERY ON THE PATH OF GRACE, by EDDIE SNIPES. I was interested in reading GOD LOVES THE ADDICT for two reasons. One, being involved in the prison ministry, I run across many individuals that struggle with addiction. I thought it might be a great resource to share with them. The second, I fell in love with MR SNIPES writing after reading his novel, I CALLED HIM DANCER, which I see a correlation between the two. Little did I imagine there would be a third reason, and that is hope and inspiration for me, as well as others in my life.

GOD LOVES THE ADDICT provides a Biblical perspective to addiction. Not only what one would typically think of when they hear the word “addiction”, but what each of us encounter in one form or another. If I were to note every highlight, underlined, asterisk, and notation in my copy, I might be better off copying the entire book. It’s that poignant.

Quote from GOD LOVES THE ADDICT that I found impactful:

“This is very significant, for when you wallow in guilt and shame, you are denying that Jesus paid your debt. While you are crying out, “Please forgive me,” Jesus has already declared, “Father forgive them,” on the cross. And it was Jesus who said, “The Father always hears Me.” That prayer was answered when Jesus spilled His blood for your sins.

One thing we must allow to sink into our hearts is that forgiveness is not dependent upon our abilities to measure up. Forgiveness is a gift of God that is received by faith. Your sin was paid 2000 years ago. Believe this truth and when you sin, thank God for what He has done. Certainly we are sorry for our sins, but we must not allow shame and guilt to take root in our hearts.”

So many of us are hurting, struggling with past and present sins. One of the toughest things we face is forgiving ourselves so we can move on. Addictions are often the results of our inability to let go of our regrets. GOD LOVES THE ADDICT shows us how through Jesus Christ, we can do exactly that.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of GOD LOVES THE ADDICT, even if you don’t struggle with an obvious addiction. It will change your life. I look forward to reading IT IS FINISHED! Steps out of condemnation and into the completed work of Christ, and THE PROMISE OF A SOUND MIND, God’s plan for emotional and mental health, by Eddie Snipes.

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

A MATCH MADE FOR ME


Title: Match Made in Texas
Author: Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (January 7, 2014)
Pages: 384

Novellas are not my preference in reading, but if one of my favorite authors is part of a collection in a book, then I’m all in. That is the only way I’d purchase one. Yet I have to say it can have a benefit, and that being every now and again I’m introduced to an author I have yet to have read, and enjoy.

THE COWBOY UNMATCHED by KAREN WITEMEYER

To date, I have read every book KAREN WITEMEYER has written. She is the reason for requesting A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS - without hesitation, I might add. If you have not read the previous novels about the Archer brothers, you simply much. After reading the first, I couldn’t wait to read about the remaining clan.

Though THE COWBOY UNMACHED was not long enough – novella rarely are – MS WITEMEYER did an amazing job. A novella is one of the hardest things to write, to be able to accomplish a complete story that is believable. As the case with all of MS WITEMEYER’S stories, the writing is beyond great, the characters fully developed, believable, and likeable. Maybe a more accurate word then “likeable” would be in love with the hero, and thoroughly enjoy the heroine. The storyline is believable and captivating. She does an amazing job of bringing a story with so few words, to life. If I had to name a weakness, it would be that it left me wanting more.

Neill Archer comes faced to face with a shotgun when he answers a mysteriously ad left in his Bible while attending service. The old widow he expects to find in need of help is not what he anticipates.

Clara Danvers isn’t about to trust any man, and that includes the one who showed up on her doorstep, claiming to answer an ad in the paper she has no recollection of placing. When she discovered that an undisclosed person sent the man to repair her roof at their cost, she doesn’t have much choice but to allow him to do so. 

AN UNFORESEEN MATCH by REGINA JENNINGS

Reading an authors work for the first time can be either a disaster or blessing. If not for making the decision to read A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS because of one of my favorite authors, I may not have encountered REGINA JENNINGS writing. MS JENNINGS style is what I seek. Her pace and storyline are well done. The hero was a bit standoffish, hard to warm up to in the beginning, but a great character just the same. I love the storyline, unique and captivating. MS JENNINGS did a wonderful job with the realism of the romance blossoming over a short period. My only complaint would be it ended too suddenly, yet that’s expected with a novella.

Clayton Weber’s past has shaped him into a man that prefers to keep to himself. He slipped into Dry Gulch, Texas, with no intentions of staying much longer then to meet his current need and move on. When a mysterious ad lands in his hands, it’s an answer to his prayers for a chance to earn some money so he can be on his way.

Grace O’Malley’s life is turned upside down, as her eyesight begins to decline. Left with limited vision, knowing that will soon be taken away, she has no choice but to leave the job she loves and move into seclusion. What she doesn’t expect, is to encounter a man who is willing to love her in spite of her failing sight.

NO MATCH FOR LOVE by CAROL COX

CAROL COX is another author I may not have had the pleasure of reading if not for the collection of novellas in A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS. Her writing is wonderful. The plot intriguing. I loved the characters storyline, though I would have liked a deeper point-of-view for both the hero and the heroine. The romance was not as believable as in the previous two stories, one of the greatest challenges of pulling off a novella.

Lucy Benson, is left with only a few dresses after her father passes away, taking with him everything they owned. With her best friend about to marry, it’s time Lucy moves on. An ad for a live-in companion for an elderly widow seems to be an answered prayer.

Andrew Simms mothers mind appears to be failing. With his own business taking off, he needs someone to watch over her on the ranch. Little does he expect that person to be a beautiful, refine woman. One who can’t brew a pot of tea.

SPOILER ALERT – kind of.

MEETING HER MATCH by MARY CONNEALY

Again, I’ve been introduced to a “new” author in reading A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS. Before reading MEETING HER MATCH, I had not read any of MS CONNEALY’s writing.  She has woven a unique story, with interesting characters.

Hannah Taylor, unbeknownst to others, has been meddling in their lives.  Yet, in good a way. After all three parties married as a result of her interfering, she never imagined that the tables would turn, and she would be a “victim” of a matchmaking scheme.

Marcus “Mark” Whitfield, shy banker, is anything but graceful when it comes to being in the presence of Hannah Taylor. She has no idea his feeling for her, and not able to put them into words, what does he do? - He kisses her. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

FAMILY LESSONS THAT WILL WARM YOUR HEART


Title: Family Lessons (Love Inspired Historical)
Author: Allie Pleiter
Publisher: Love Inspired (April 2, 2013)
Pages: 288

I have read just about every book ALLIE PLEITER has written. If I were asked her strongest attributes, it would have be plot and witty lines.

With eight orphan children yet to be placed, Holly Sanders fears for their lives as bandits attempt to rob the train they are on, bound for Evans Grove, Nebraska.

Sheriff Mason Wright is alerted to a situation on the train by a young boy. When Mason discovers the beautiful Holly Sanders is right in the midst of a robbery, his heart drops to the pit of his gut.

With the trauma of the train robbery behind them, Holly works to place the remaining orphans in Evans Grove. Will she be able to find each of them the loving home they deserve, or will they be sent to the last scheduled town - or worse - back to where their journey began?

MS PLEITER is known for her brilliant storylines, deep and meaningful, if nothing else, unique. FAMILY LESSONS started out with a bang, right in the heart of the drama. As the story unfolded, we get to know the characters. I especially loved Mason’s story, and the connection to the orphan boy’s history, Liam.

Every part of a story is important, and the ending is no exception. A writer can have everything right up until the point of the conclusion, but if they don’t get it right, it can diminish everything before. This was not the case with FAMILY LESSONS. MS PLEITER did an amazing job wrapping up the story. Heartwarming in a way that will have you cheering for the characters.

Monday, January 6, 2014

MORE THAN JUST A GIFT


Any way you look at it, it’s a lot of mail. Willow Creek Community Church recently had an amazing service geared towards those that are incarcerated. They sent out 20,000 gift packs to each and every inmate in Illinois! This is a huge task, not only financially, but logistically. Each pack contained two faith-based books, a Bible correspondence course, blank holiday cards to send to loved ones, a journal for notes, a cookie, and a chocolate bar. To the youth facilities, warm PJ’s were added.

In just a four-day span, Willow received 200 letters, most of which were thank you letters, expressing their deep appreciation. They felt Gods love as they realized someone cares about the forgotten and often look down upon. Some of their words nearly broke my heart, as they expressed this being the first time they've received a gift since their incarceration, many having been incarcerated for years. 






Several sent homemade cards in appreciation, and even a drawing. What a blessing.







Sunday, December 22, 2013

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Each Christmas we have two traditions I’d started with my children. One of them is purchasing them an ornament for the tree each year. But this isn’t just any random ornament. No, it’s one specially picked out for each child for that particular year. Something that represents something they did that year, or liked.

Some years, the idea came quickly. They played a sport for the first time or started an instrument, started Brownies, like a certain famous person. Though at times it’s been challenging to find the right ornament when I knew exactly what I wanted, other times it was hard to think of something special, something that stood out for that year.

One year when my youngest daughter was very small, she copied EVERYTHING her sisters said and did. Not able to think of anything for her that year, I finally decided on the perfect ornament.

A cat! That’s right. A cat…a copy cat!

Another year I knew exactly what I wanted to get my girls but for the life of me couldn’t find it. That was the first year they were into Webkinz. I looked everywhere, including their site, willing to pay any price at that point. So after realizing it just wasn’t going to be, I decided to make them myself. That’s right, I took a picture of them, laminated them, punched a hole through the top and tied a ribbon on it and there you have it. A Webkinz ornament. And the best thing was it cost me nearly nothing, and I was able to put two of their favorites on it as well as their names and the year it was given like I always do.

Once the girls move out and establish a home of their own, their ornaments will go with them. Each year they have such fun unwrapping them, and remembering why they received that specific one before hanging it on the tree.

Here’s what I picked for 2010:

Callie, who plays drums in band and jazz band at school, and was excelling in it received a drum set ornament.



Bryanna, who adopted her very own dog, Hammie from Collie Rescue of Greater IL, received a dog ornament that looks a lot like him. I was astonished to find such a likeness.



MacKenna, who discovered the Titanic that year, and was fascinated in watching clips of it on Youtube, received a ship that looks surprisingly like the Titanic. What a find that was.



I must say God definitely had his hands in that year’s pick because they were quite the find.

So, what kind of traditions does your family have during the Christmas Season?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

SHOW ME A SIGN by SUSAN MIURA - NOT JUST FOR TEENS


Title: Show Me A Sign
Author: Susan Miura
Publisher: OakTara (October 14, 2013)
Pages: 144

Several years ago, my teenage daughter got me hooked on YA (young adult fiction). Since then I've been repeatedly blown away by not only the content of the stories, but the writing, and SUSAN MIURA'S, SHOW ME A SIGH, is no exception.

Right from the start, I was drawn in. I love MS. MIURA'S voice, her humor, and her spot on accuracy to capturing a male teen character. I'm a mother of four, three girls and a boy, and it's not uncommon when reading a novel that I cringe when an authors secondary character is a child of any age. More times than not, they were not successful in capturing the true essence of a kid, whether that be a two-year old or a seventeen-year old.

Nathan Bolivan attends a high school for the hearing as well as the non-hearing. He's had his eyes on Haylie Summers, who's both beautiful and deaf. His excitement of their upcoming first date is quickly turned upside down when he discovers Haylie has gone missing ... and he's a suspect.

Haylie Summers is abducted, tie-up, and blindfolded. Frighten, and not able to hear her captors only adds to her uneasiness. As she remains imprisoned, she wrestles with the answers to the questions swarming around in her head. Why is she being kidnapped, and by whom? Would she make it out alive, or would she never see her family and friends, again?

SHOW ME A SIGN is wonderfully handled in first person between the two main characters. There's just the right amount of suspense, mystery, love, humor, and faith all wrapped up into a believable and powerful story. The flow is natural, with a captivating pace and plot. The humor is refreshing, the characters are three-dimensional, and the writing brilliant.

Though I enjoyed all of the characters, I'd have to say that aside from Nathan, his best friend Alec, is my favorite. He's fun and likeable. MS. MIURA did an incredible job incorporating a teen British boy. With the One Direction craze going on in the teen world today, her timing could not have been better. I loved the interaction between Nathan and Alec. Natural, funny, and entertaining.

Start to finish, there wasn't one thing I'd change in SHOW ME A SIGN. As an aspiring author, I tend to edit as I read. A true sign to a brilliant storyteller is the ability to incorporate all the aspect of what goes into writing a great story, and that MS. MIURA has accomplished. I may be long past my teen years, but you can bet I'll be looking for her next book.
 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

THE REDEMPTON OF CARALYNNE HAYMAN by CAROLE BROWN

WELCOME AUTHOR CAROLE BROWN

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?







Connect with her here:
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

I also am part of several other blogs:
Stitches in Time: http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/


The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

About the book: How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance. This novel was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest and is receiving raving reviews! Release date was October 21, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

The link for the book which is
on SALE NOW is:
Kindle: http://amzn.to/17gf97c
Print: http://amzn.to/1btCwrg





 
The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

Carole Brown

Chapter One

 

Twenty years earlier

The shadow creatures on the wall shook their wings and legs. Heads with horns nodded. Scary, dark faces watched.

The little girl clasped her floppy-eared rabbit against her chest and stared into the dark.

“Mmm …” Mommy’s murmur reached to her through the walls, and the giggles from her mother tiptoed in, shooing the fear away.

Whoosh. She blew out a breath and squeezed her rabbit tighter. “Mommy has a friend with her, Ramsey. She loves me just like I love you and will give me hugs in the morning after the man leaves.”

Ramsey said nothing. She ran her fingers over his face and could feel his black button eyes staring at her, trusting her to protect him.

“And she’ll read to us and I’ll sit on her lap and we’ll snuggle—all of us together.” She nodded and tugged on Ramsey’s left ear then rolled over.

Real live whispers and laughter floated into the room.

Opening her mouth in a wide yawn, she patted Ramsey’s tummy and whispered again, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”

“Please. That hurts.”

“Mommy?” The little girl frowned but her eyes wouldn’t open. Just like they did when she and mommy put cucumbers slices on their eyes. 

“Stop it—”

             Rubbing at her eyes the little girl sat up. Mommy had never sounded like this before, and neither had any of the men—the men who brought flowers and candy and money.