Tuesday, September 30, 2008


One of my favorite review blogs is having a fabulous contest this month. Be sure to head over to Deena's "A Peek at My Bookshelf" (click the logo above) for the lowdown on the contest and be sure to check out her great reviews while you're there.

Monday, September 29, 2008

FIRSTWildCard: THE MIRACLE GIRLS by Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and their book:


(FaithWords - September 8, 2008)


Anne was born in San Jose, California, where she wasted her childhood playing Nintendo and watching The Facts of Life. Eventually, she went off to Princeton where she learned many important things, including how to recognize a kumquat. Four years and a useless degree later, she landed a job at Random House, where she promptly got bored and applied to graduate school, trained for a marathon, and reminisced about her days as a competitive finswimmer. A few years later, a blond guy showed up at her door with power tools and gazpacho. They live in Brooklyn. An editor by day, she enjoys bad horror movies, good cheese, and Count Chocula.

May grew up in Panama City, Florida, otherwise known as the Redneck Riviera. She graduated from Baylor University in Waco, TX and went on to get earn her MA in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. After living in Brooklyn for four years and working at Random House as an Assistant Editor, Vanderbilt moved to fabulous San Francisco, putting an end to her long tour of undesirable cities. May is a Southern girl who is always on the search for decent grits in the Bay Area and makes artisanal cheese at home.

Together, they are the authors of Emily Ever After, Consider Lily, and The Book of Jane. Their next book, Breaking Up is Hard to do (Miracle Girls Series #2), will be released soon.

Visit the authors at their website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (September 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446407550
ISBN-13: 978-0446407557


I'm not even surprised when Mr. Mackey announces a pop quiz in Algebra 2. That's just the kind of day I'm having. No, scratch that. It's the kind of life I'm having.

I was happy in San Jose. It's a real city. I had friends there. But this summer my dad moved us to Half Moon Bay to open his own law practice, and my early conclusion is: this place is lame, lame, lame. The people here wouldn't know a decent person if she walked right up to them and said, "Hi, decent person here." Trust me, I thought about doing it.

And even though I've been going to school here for three weeks, I can feel in my bones that today is going to be my worst day yet. I mean, look how it all started out. This morning I overheard Maria telling my mom she has lupus, and that's why she's been sick so much. I wasn't supposed to hear, but the walls in our brand-spanking-new Easy-Bake Castle are so thin you can fall through just by leaning against them. That's what Mom and Dad get for buying a McMansion in Ocean Colony. (It's really called that. I gag every time I see the sign at the gates.) I don't know what lupus is, but I'm pretty sure it's deadly.

Maria may be just the housekeeper to my parents, but to me she's like a second mother, the non- crazy one, the one who doesn't spend her life decorating and redecorating our house, the one who actually gets what I'm going through in this town.

Then, when Dad dropped me off, I noticed a run in my tights, which only got bigger when I had to take them off and put them back on again in PE. (It's not like we really needed to suit up to be herded into the gym, sit still, and learn the rules of volleyball anyway, so the enlargement was entirely pointless.) Next, I found out my Key Club meeting at lunch had been canceled because the adviser, Mrs. Galvin, was sick, which means I didn't have to spend all last night drawing up proposals for service projects after all. Instead, I could have taken a little extra time to make sure I understood polynomials. But, of course, I didn't do that, so naturally we're being tested on them today.

Mr. Mackey begins to write the first problem on the whiteboard, and I copy it onto my paper carefully. The soft click of the clock hands sweeping around the face is almost drowned out by the furious scratching of pencils.

My dad's colleagues seem to think it's impressive that I'm in Algebra 2 as a freshman. I used to think so. Back in San Jose, I was always a year ahead of everyone else in my class in math and was even given a special tutor last year to learn geometry in eighth grade, but it turns out here in Half Moon Bay there are a lot of freshmen who took geometry last year. It was a lot more fun being in advanced math when it made me special. Now it's just a lot of work.

Math has always been hard for me. I can breeze through a novel in an evening and remember history timelines until my eyes roll back in my head, but even though I like numbers, they don't like me back.

Which, I guess, I should be used to. I glance at Tyler, but he's already crouched over his paper, his curly blond hair falling over his forehead. Tyler's a sophomore, and he's the lead singer in a band called Three Car Garage. He doesn't know I'm alive.

I sigh, then lean over to start working when I hear rustling behind me. I shoot a quick glance over my shoulder in time to see Riley McGee shove something into her purse. She sees me watching her and gives me a big fake smile, then pulls out a mechanical pencil. Sketchy. I turn back to my test, shaking my head. She wouldn't really . . . would she?

Okay, Ana. Focus. You're just trying to solve for X. I stare at the problems, trying to figure out the first step. The tricky thing is that X is different every time. And I don't like change. I like things to happen when and how they're supposed to.

I make a tentative mark on my paper, then hear a soft thud behind me. I sneak a peek under my arm and see that Riley has knocked her pencil onto the floor. I watch as she picks it up, then peeks into her bag. She grabs something, frowns at it, then shoves it back into the bottom of her bag and quickly sits up and starts to write.

She really would. Huh. I wondered how she got such a good grade on the last test. I should have known.

Riley McGee is a cheerleader and the most popular freshman in school. In my short time here, she's been rumored to be dating two different first-string football players. That's almost one upperclassman a week. Not exactly the kind of freshman you'd expect to find in Algebra 2. Thankfully, I've totally got her beat because for one thing, I've got a brain. Math may not come easily to me, but I work my butt off to get good grades and so far that has worked pretty well. I intend to walk out of this dump in four short years as valedictorian.

Riley peers into her bag again and smirks at what she finds. Isn't cheating hilarious?

What do I do? I didn't exactly see her cheat, but that's definitely what she's doing. I say a quick prayer for wisdom, then turn back to my paper. It wouldn't be nice to call her out in public. I'll just hang around after class for a minute and mention something quietly to Mr. Mackey. It's kind of sad, considering that I saw her at church on Sunday. I would have expected her to have a little more integrity, cheerleader or not.

"Five more minutes, my little mathletes," Mr. Mackey says, looking up from The Big Impossible Book of Advanced Sudoku. Old Mackey. He's almost as big around as he is tall and has the bushiest eyebrows I've ever seen. He's very weird, but I kind of like him.

I look back at my paper. Is it possible that X is zero? That always seems to be what happens when something doesn't make sense. It's like this joke the universe has—it's this little squiggle that means nothing (literally), and it makes everything around it meaningless, too. I resist the temptation to make another comparison to my life and move on to the second problem. Maybe this one's easier.

"Three minutes," Mackey says from behind his book. I quickly scratch out as much as I can on the rest of the quiz. It's not going to be pretty. I'll have to see if Mr. Mackey will let me do some extra credit to make up for this or it's going to seriously drag down my average. And I have to get an A. I just have to.

That's when I hear it again. Riley is looking at something in her bag, and she is definitely smiling about it. I turn around and stare at her. She writes something quickly, then looks up at me, rolls her eyes, and looks down at the quiz. Okay, that's it. Youth group or no, she can't get away with this. It's not right. Jesus would stand up for what's right. I raise my hand.

"Ana, do you have a question?" Mr. Mackey nods at me.

"Mr. Mackey—" I take a deep breath and slowly lower my hand—"I saw someone cheating on the pop quiz." I turn around to face Riley, righteous indignation washing over me. Someone behind me coughs, but it sounds like they're saying something under their breath.

"I did not cheat!" Riley screeches, her blue eyes wide. Riley is only a few inches taller than me, but it's enough to make her kind of intimidating.

"Oh really?" Mr. Mackey asks, cocking his eyebrow at me, then looking at Riley. "That's a serious accusation to make, Ana."

"I know, sir," I say as calmly as I can. I look around and notice that everyone is staring at me. I feel my face turning bright red. I hate this school. "But I saw her do it. She has the answers in her purse." Even as the words come out of my mouth, I'm wondering if maybe this wasn't the best way to handle the situation. Maybe this isn't what Jesus would do after all. It's hard to tell sometimes.

Someone coughs again, and this time I think I hear what they're saying: "God Girl." Who are they talking to?

Riley is looking at me like she could tear out my eyeballs. I lean back just in case she decides to go for it.

"I don't have anything in my purse!" she says, placing her hands on her hips and flipping her long blond hair over her shoulder.

Well, now I look like a fool. I have to show Mr. Mackey I'm right or I'll always be that girl who accused Riley. That'll do wonders for the friend search. I reach toward her chocolate brown bag. The nerve.

"Get away from my bag," she yells, grabbing it and hugging it to her chest as she stands up.

"Mr. Mackey, if I could just look in her bag, I could prove it," I say quickly, but Mr. Mackey is already walking toward us with anger in his eyes.

"Ladies, that's enough." He steps between us. "Riley, return to your seat." He looks at her, and she reluctantly sits down again. "For this little outburst, you'll both be in detention this afternoon."

"But—" Riley starts, but Mr. Mackey holds up his hand and continues.

"Ana, I'd like to see you after class."

"Just me?" What about her?! I glare at Riley, and she rolls her eyes at me. Mr. Mackey nods. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Tyler smirk.

"Now, please pass your quizzes to the front and open your books to page seventy- three," he says, turning away, indicating that the subject is closed. I take a deep breath, trying to hold back tears. She's the one who cheated!

I try to pay attention as Mr. Mackey goes on and on about factoring polynomials, but I can't focus on what he's saying. Detention. I've never had detention in my life. Does that go on your permanent record? I bet Princeton doesn't let in people with detentions on their records.

This never would have happened at my old school. Teachers there loved me and knew that I was going somewhere. Teachers here seem to think I'm headed straight to San Quentin. I've been here less than a month, and I'm already an outcast.

Finally the bell rings, and everyone around me throws their books into their bags. They're off to the grab food at the snack bar and sit on the smooth green hillsides and concrete steps that surround the school. There's no cafeteria here, but there are lots of places all over campus where groups of friends gather to eat. Someone coughs "God Girl" one more time, and though I'm not sure where it comes from, I know who it's directed at. I have to face that I have earned a nickname at my new school. Just great. I'm really going to miss being invisible.

Riley doesn't say a word to me as she walks by. I sit still, looking down at the fake wood grain on the smooth desktop in front of me. Engraved in the desk is a message for me: "Die, maggot."

I glance out the window and see people gathering together. Maybe it's good that Mackey is holding me after class. There are only so many times you can pretend not to care that you're eating alone, and it's not like I have anywhere to be, thanks to the Key Club meeting being canceled. Guidance counselors will tell you that joining clubs looks good on your college applications, but what they don't tell you is that it also gives you somewhere to go at lunch.

Slowly, the sound of voices begins to disappear, and locker doors stop slamming shut. Mr. Mackey walks over to the empty desk in front of me and sits down, turning to face me.

"Ana?" His eyes are narrowed, and he looks at me with what seems like concern. "You're doing well in this class." I nod and stare back down at my desk. Die, maggot, it tells me again. "You're doing exceptionally well for a freshman." I swallow. Where is he going with this? "But Riley— " he clears his throat and looks around, as if worried someone might overhear what he's about to say— "Riley has the highest grade in this class." My mouth hangs open in shock. Riley has the highest grade in the class?! "She hasn't missed a question yet."

I shut my mouth, for fear I might be attracting flies. "But see," I say, sitting up indignantly. "She must get the good grades by cheating. How else could she . . ."

"She's— " He coughs, and I hear phlegm rattle in his lungs. "She's quite good at math. Always has been. Teachers have been after her to join the math team for years, but she won't. I'm afraid she wasn't cheating on today's quiz."

"But she was looking at something in her bag!" I know I'm starting to sound a little hysterical, but I can't be wrong about this. I just can't. How could she be beating me?

"She was using her phone." He coughs. "To . . . what do they call it? Texting? She was texting."

"But . . ." But what? But how could he see that from all the way across the room? And cell phones aren't allowed at school. If he saw her, why didn't he stop her? How can it be true?

"That's why you both have detention," he says before I can say anything. "I just made up the quiz questions before class, so there's no way she could have had the answers hidden in her bag."

I gulp.

"I know you were only trying to do what's right today, Ana," he says, nodding at me. "So you'll serve the detention for disrupting the class, and then we'll put this behind us, okay?"

I look up at his bushy eyebrows and nod, biting my tongue to hold back the tears. The injustice of it all is overwhelming.

"Keep up the good work, Ana," he says, and I nod, looking down at my hands. He waits, but I don't move. "You're free to go now," he says, coughing again, as if I didn't get it the first time. Slowly, I stand up. I carefully place my book and notepad into my bag, looking down so he won't see the tears welling up in my eyes. He watches me as I walk toward the door and step out into the cool air.

Copyright © 2008 by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

"This article is used with the permission of Hachette Book Group and Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. All rights reserved."

My Thoughts:

Even being on the backside of my 30's, I still enjoy teen lit. Anne and May have completely captured the voice of teen girls going through all the growing pains that teen-hood brings. I'm giving this book a thumps-up and it's definitely worth passing along to any teenage girls in your life.

John 3:16 by Nancy Moser

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

John 3:16

(Tyndale House Publishers - September 9, 2008)


Nancy Moser


Nancy Moser is the author of three inspirational humor books and eighteen novels, including Solemnly Swear, Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner, and her latest historical, Washington's Lady.

Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters,
symphonies, and choirs. She gives Said So Sister Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included.

Find out more at Nancy Moser.com and Sister Circles.com


Five people looking for a reason to keep living are about to find it in the last place they expect... In my usual "big cast" style comes a story of what happens when one man puts his faith on the line and holds up a John 3:16 sign at a sporting event. Roman Paulson's life revolves around his son, Billy, a University of Nebraska football hero with a promising life ahead of him. But when Billy's coach encroaches on Roman's relationship with his son, Roman fears he'll lose Billy forever. Roman isn't the only one whose world turns upside down. He's one of five unsuspecting people whose lives intersect on a bright fall day.

If you would like to read the first chapter of John 3:16, go HERE

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

When The Soul Mends

(WaterBrook Press - September 16, 2008)


Cindy Woodsmall


Cindy Woodsmall is a veteran homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

Her first novel, When The Heart Cries, released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a Christian Book Association best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her last book, When the Morning Comes, hit the New York Times best-sellers extended list and the Christian Book Association best-sellers list.

Cindy’s real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and daughter-in-law reside in Georgia. Her husband is a registered land surveyor and a vice president at an engineering firm. Their oldest son has a bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine and works at a local hospital. Their second son and his wife are both students at the University of Georgia. Their teen-aged son keeps the household energized with his love of music, books, and writing.


Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for the wounds of the past?

After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.

Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancĂ© Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life–and perhaps to her first love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of When The Soul Mends, go HERE

“A skillfully written story of forgiveness and redemption. Woodsmall’s authentic characters illustrate beautifully how wounded souls can indeed be mended.”
Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy

“Like the stitches on a well-loved quilt, love and faith hold together Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends, the brilliantly written third story in the Sisters of the Quilt series. With deft plotting and characters that seem to jump off the page, this novel offers the timeless truth that forgiveness is the balm which heals all wounds and a blanket for the soul.”
Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of Beloved Castaway

“What a vibrant, strong, emotional story! When the Heart Cries will grip you and not let go, I promise. Highly recommended!”
Gayle Roper, author of Allah’s Fire and the Seaside Seasons series

“Reaching deep into the heart of the reader, Cindy Woodsmall pens a beautifully lyrical story in her debut novel When the Heart Cries.”
Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Rekindled

Monday, September 22, 2008

Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Faking Grace

(Multnomah Books - August 19, 2008)


Tamara Leigh


After Tamara Leigh earned a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology, she and her husband decided to start a family, with plans for Tamara to continue in her career once she became a mother.

When the blessing of children proved elusive, Tamara became convicted to find a way to work out of her home in order to raise the children she and her husband longed to have. She turned to writing, at which she had only ever dreamed of being successful, and began attending church. Shortly thereafter, her agent called with news of Bantam Books’ offer of a four-book contract. That same day, Tamara’s pregnancy was confirmed. Within the next year, she gave up her speech pathology career, committed her life to Christ, her first child was born, and her first historical romance novel was released.

As Tamara continued to write for the secular market, publishing three more novels with HarperCollins and Dorchester, she infused her growing Christian beliefs into her writing. But it was not enough, and though her novels earned awards and were national bestsellers, she knew her stories were lacking. After struggling with the certainty that her writing was not honoring God as it should, she made the decision to write books that not only reveal Christianity to non-believers, but serve as an inspiration for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Her inspirational romances are peopled with characters in varying stages of Christian faith, from mature believers to new believers to non-believers on the threshold of awakening.

Tamara Leigh enjoys time with her family, volunteer work, faux painting, and reading. She lives near Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, David, and two sons, Skyler and Maxen.

Two of her latest books are Splitting Harriet and Perfecting Kate.


All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy headline. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break.

A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. Maizy is sure she can fake it with her Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith–a plan of action that includes changing her first name to Grace, buying Jesus-themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing British hottie wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s boss at the newspaper decides that she should investigate–and expose–any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she must decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her Steeple Side colleagues–and Jack–will show her grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Faking Grace, go HERE

“Tamara Leigh takes her experienced romance hand and delights readers with Chick-Lit that sparkles and characters who come alive.” - Kristin Billerbeck, author of The Trophy Wives Club

“A delightful, charming book! Faking Grace has romance, truth, and a dollop of insanity, making Tamara Leigh a permanent addition to my list of favorite authors. Enjoy!”
- Ginger Garrett, author of In the Shadow of Lions and Beauty Secrets of the Bible

“Tamara Leigh does a fabulous job looking at the faults, the love, the hypocrisy, and the grace of Christians in a way that’s entertaining and fun. Maizy Grace is a crazy character I couldn’t help but like. I loved this book and highly recommend it!”
- Camy Tang, author of Sushi for One? and Only Uni


With what I define as "fluff-free" chick-lit, Tamara Leigh subtly ministers to readers in this witty, engaging novel on topics relevant to any Christian desiring to develop in their walk with Christ. Learn lessons of forgiveness, honesty, and integrity along with Maizy Grace Stewart as she wades her way through vocational dilemmas, seemingly unresolvable family issues, and a love interest she's not sure she wants or deserves. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as well as two of Tamara's previous novels, Stealing Adda and Splitting Harriet, and I highly recommend them all.

Winner of The Bride Bargain...

is Cherie J! Congrats to you. I want to thank everyone for their comments and book suggestions...I don't see my TBR list getting smaller anytime soon. *grin* Cherie J, I'm sending an email off to you in the next few minutes to get the particulars on where to send the book.

Hope everyone has a great week - Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bargain Hunter Fans...

...here's a look at the cover of Sharon Dunn's upcoming book, Death at a Discount, the third book in her Bargain Hunter Mysteries series. It is published by Multnomah and is due out January 2009.

About the book:

Ginger heads down to a Denver suburb so she and her Bargain Hunter friends can be guests on the Discount and Value network, a shopping channel that celebrates reduced prices. Industrial espionage, a snowstorm and quarreling hostesses make Ginger doubt that she will ever get her chance to be the financial guru for the coupon clipping crowd. When one of the hostesses is found dead and the snowstorm isolates Ginger from friends and family, she must rely on her wit and God’s protection to find the killer and keep herself alive through the dark night.

Sharon Dunn is such a great who-dun-it writer, as evidenced by the first two books in this series, Death of a Garage Sale Newbie and Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear. I am really looking forward to reading this final book in the series.

Women in Politics...Robin Lee Hatcher-style

With all the talk of women in politics these days, it excites me to tell you of a new series that Robin Lee Hatcher is working on. A Vote of Confidence is the first book in The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series, a series that takes place in Idaho in the early 1900s. Each of the series' heroines is employed in an unusual occupation for women of that day. This first book is set to release in May 2009, and a second book (no title yet) where the heroine is a wrangler on a ranch, is due out in November 2009. I just received her newsletter today and thought I'd share some excerpts.

About the book:

Gwen, as she is known, is a young single woman who teaches piano and writes a column for the newspaper in the small town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho in the year 1915. When the existing mayor must resign from office for health reasons, a special election must be held to elect his replacement. Trouble is, the only candidate who has declared also happens to be the hard-drinking owner of the local saloon, so Gwen's sister urges her to run for office. Gwen is college-educated, smart, and dedicated to improving things for the town. She throws her hat into the ring. Ah, but wait. The third hat that flies into the ring belongs to a newcomer to the area, Morgan McKinley.

Robin says there is still a bit of tweaking to do on the cover, but it sure is eye catching as it is now. Can't wait to see how it looks in the end.

Attention: Bloggers/Readers:

Would you like to receive an Advance Reader Copy (galley format) of A Vote of Confidence? Robin's publisher will send an ARC of the book to the first 100 readers who agree to (1) post a review on any blog that they write or read and (2) also post the review on their favorite on-line retailer. [The ARCs will be sent out in the spring.]

If you're interested, send Robin your name and mailing address to Idaho dot Robin at gmail dot com - please put "ARC reviewers" in the subject line of your email.

Be sure to keep up with Robin in the blogosphere at Write Thinking and Writes of Passage, and don't forget to sign up for her newsletter.

The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake and a GIVEAWAY!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bride Bargain

(Barbour Publishing, Inc - September 1, 2008)


Kelly Eileen Hake


Life doesn't wait, and neither does Kelly Eileen Hake. In her short twenty-three years of life, she's achieved much. Her secret? Embracing opportunities and multitasking. Kelly received her first writing contract at the tender age of seventeen and arranged to wait three months until she was able to legally sign it. Since that first contract five years ago, she's reached several life goals. Aside from fulfilling fourteen contracts ranging from short stories to novels, she's also attained her BA in English Literature and Composition and earned her credential to teach English in secondary schools. If that weren't enough, she's taken positions as a college preparation tutor, bookstore clerk, and in-classroom learning assistant to pay for the education she values so highly. Currently, she is working toward her MA in Writing Popular Fiction. No matter what goal she pursues, Kelly knows what it means to work for it!

Kelly's dual careers as English teacher and author give her the opportunity explore and share her love of the written word. A CBA bestselling author and dedicated member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kelly is a reader favorite of Barbour's Heartsong Presents program, where she's been privileged to earn numerous Heartsong Presents Reader's Choice Awards; including Favorite New Author 2005, Top 5 Favorite Historical Novel 2005, and Top Five Favorite Author Overall 2006 in addition to winning the Second Favorite Historical Novel 2006!

Her Prairie Promises trilogy, set in the 1850s Nebraska Territory, features her special style of witty, heartwarming historical romance.


Set down upon the wild American plains during the 1850. Clara is desperate for a home and a future for herself and her aunt. When Clara Fields and her aunt are kicked off their wagon train, a store owner in Buttonwood offers a chance at redemption. If Clara is able to wed his grandson off to any of the local girls within a month, he'll sign over his two-story house.

Desperate to provide for the woman who raised her, Clara agrees to find a bride for the man's son--a stalwart bachelor. How hard can it be to find a bride for one handsome Doctor? Apparently more difficult than she imagined when Saul Reed seems determined to ramain single.

Will Clara's faith and wits help her wrangle a resolution to The Bride Bargain. Striking a bargain with a lonely trader to fool a head-strong doctor could lead Clara to an unexpected avenue of romance.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bride Bargain, go HERE.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN a copy of this book? If you're a US resident, please leave a comment that includes your contact info in this format (you at yoohoo dot com) as well as the best historical book you've read so far this year. I'll accept comments through Sunday evening, September 21, at midnight central time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Exciting News from Rachel Hauck

I received Rachel Hauck's latest newsletter in my inbox today and I thought some of you, especially those of you who may be fans of country music, might be interested to find out that she has teamed up with award-winning Country Music artist Sara Evans for an upcoming fiction series, "Born To Fly." The first book, "The Sweet By and By" will be released next spring.

Rachel's comments from her newsletter:

"I've been tapped to write with Sara and couldn't be more thrilled to work on this project.

In "Sweet By and By" you'll meet Jade Fitzgerald, a vintage shop owner in fictional Whisper Hollow, TN, nestled in the southern Appalachians. About to be married, she is challenged to invite her own mother, Beryl Hill, a '67, Summer of Love hippie who's lived life her own way.

Mother and daughter are estranged but when Beryl shows up for the nuptials early, Jade finally confronts their shared, dark secret."

Description from Nelson:

Jade Fitzgerald left her past in the dust when she headed out for college a decade ago. Now she's thriving in her career, standing tall, and standing in the light of Jarred Benson's love.

But when Jade's hippie mother, Beryl Hill, arrives in Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, for the wedding along with her older brother and wild younger sister, Jade must throw open the dark closets of her past--the insecurity of living with a restless, wandering mother, the silence of her absent father, and the heart-ripping pain of first-love's rejection.

Turns out Beryl has a secret of her own. She needs reconciliation with her oldest daughter before leukemia takes her life. In the final days leading to the wedding, mother and daughter discover the past has no hold on their future. With a little grace, they'll meet in the middle, maybe even before that sweet by and by.

Sounds like it will be a good one. Don't forget to sign up for Rachel's newsletter on her homepage, so you, too, can keep up with all her latest news.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Isolation by Travis Thatcher

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(FaithWords - September 12, 2008)


Travis Thrasher


It was during third grade after a teacher encouraged him in his writing and as he read through The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis that Travis decided he wanted to be a writer. The dream never left him, and allowed him to fulfill that dream of writing fulltime in 2007.

Travis Thrasher is the author of numerous works of fiction, including his most personal and perhaps his deepest work, Sky Blue, that was published in summer of 2007. This year he has to novels published, Out of the Devil’s Mouth, and a supernatural thriller, Isolation.

Travis is married to Sharon and they are the proud parents of Kylie, born in November, 2006, and Hailey, a Shih-Tzu that looks like an Ewok. They live in suburban Chicago.





. . . Alone

When a missionary family moves into a secluded mansion in the mountains of North Carolina, they think they are escaping their nightmares. But when a snowstorm hits and they are trapped inside their new home, their worst fears become reality. As they fight to stay alive, they will be tested in ways they never imagined. Can their love for one another and their faith in God save them from the dangers lurking here?

A masterfully written story that will grip you from its mysterious beginning to its chilling end.

From Publishers Weekly:

"In this dark chiller, Thrasher (Sky Blue; The Promise Remains) demonstrates a considerable talent for the horror genre. Like Stephen King, Thrasher pits flawed but likable characters against evil forces that at first seem escapable but gradually take on a terrifying ubiquity.

The Miller family has recently returned to suburban Chicago after a harrowing experience on the mission field. Hoping to get away from the busyness of suburban living, they travel to the mountains of North Carolina for an extended stay in an enormous, remote lodge where husband and father Jim plans to write a book while trying to reconnect with his family.

When a snowstorm isolates them further and spiritual attacks make them feel they are losing their minds, both Jim and his wife, Stephanie, begin to wonder if God can rescue them and their two young children. Aside from sharing too many plot points with The Shining, this novel hits very few false notes and should appeal to fans of Christian fiction, the horror genre and all who enjoy well-crafted and suspenseful stories."

If you would like to read the first chapter of Isolation, go HERE

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

In The Shadow Of Lions

(David C. Cook; 1 edition - September 2008)


Ginger Garrett


Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

Her newest release is Beauty Secrets of the Bible, (September 11, Thomas Nelson) based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book ... a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the Bible, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew. Fans of Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury will love Ginger's intriguing combination of rich character development, artful settings, and inspiring historical insights.

If you would like to read an excerpt from In The Shadow Of Lions, go HERE

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Wounded: A Love Story

(David C. Cook - September 2008)


Claudia Mair Burney


Claudia is the author of the popular Ragamuffin Diva blog and the David C. Cook novel Zora and Nicky: A novel in Black And White. She is also the author of Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz, and the Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries and the Exorsistah series for teens. Her work has appeared in Discipleship Journal magazine, The One Year Life Verse Devotional Bible, and Justice in the Burbs.

She lives in Michigan with her husband, five of their seven children, and a quirky dwarf rabbit.



If a miracle happened to you, wouldn't you tell everyone? What if they thought you were crazy?

Gina Merritt, poor in health and rich in faith is the last person to expect a miracle to happen to her. As she sits in a pew on Ash Wednesday with throbbing pain in her knees and a raging migraine, she turns her concentration elsewhere and silently prays, "Share with me, Jesus."

Instantly she has a holy vision of the Son of God kneeling before her. As tears fill her eyes, Christ kisses Gina's hands, leaving two perfect red roses. When the vision fades, Gina's hands are bleeding.

Anthony Priest, the junkie sitting beside her, instinctively touches Gina when she cries out, but she flees in shock and pain. A prizewinning journalist before drugs destroyed his career, Anthony is stunned that he is suddenly overcome with a sense of well-being and he instantly knows that he is cured of his addiction. Wanting an explanation, Anthony follows Gina home.

Is it a miracle, or just a religious delusion? It seems like everyone who knows of the mysterious stigmata has an opinion, and it's not always favorable. Putting aside their difference and their mutual distrust, Gina and Anthony embark on a search for answers. Along the way they encounter an uncertain evangelical pastor, a gentle Catholic priest, a certifiable religious zealot, and a transvestite drug dealer, all of whom lend their voices to the tale. It's a quest for truth, sanity, and grace…and an unexpected love story.

If you would like to read and excerpt from Wounded: A Love Story, go HERE

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Up Pops the Devil by Angela Benson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Up Pops The Devil

(Avon A - July 29, 2008)


Angela Benson


Angela has published nine novels, one novella, and a nonfiction writing book. Her books have appeared on national, regional and local bestseller lists. She has won several writing awards, including Best Multicultural Romance from Romantic Times magazine and the Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance from Affaire de Coeur magazine. She was also a finalist for the 2000 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award in Multicultural Romance.

Awakening Mercy is the first book in her Genesis House series from Tyndale House Publishers. Awakening Mercy was a finalist for both the RITA Award given by Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. The second book in the Genesis House series, Abiding Hope, was published in September 2001. Abiding Hope was awarded the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance presented by the Romance Slam Jam. The third book and final book of the series, Enduring Love, is not yet scheduled.

BET Books, now Harlequin's Kimani Press purchased the mass market rights to Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope in 2000 and released mass market editions of the titles in June 2002 and June 2003, respectively.

Angela's first hardcover title, The Amen Sisters, was released in September 2005 by Walk Worthy Press. The Essence bestselling title won the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance. The trade paperback edition was released in November 2007.

Up Pops the Devil, published by HarperCollins (Avon A) in August 2008, is Angela's tenth novel.

Angela has a diverse education and work history. She majored in mathematics at Spelman College and Industrial Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and worked for fifteen years as an engineer in the telecommunications industry. She holds Masters degrees in operations research and human resources development. Her most recent degree is a doctorate in instructional technology from the University of Georgia. Dr. Benson is now an associate professor of educational technology at The University of Alabama.


This is the story of Wilford "Preacher" Winters and the four women—his fiancee' Tanya, his sister Loretta, his old girlfriend Serena, and his new friend Natalie—who complicate his re-entry into society as a law-abiding Christian man after being incarcerated for two years for drug trafficking. Two hard years in prison have changed Wilford "Preacher" Winters for the better. He did his time, now he's going to "do the right thing." But the women in his life have other ideas.

Tanya, the sleek and sexy mother of his two kids, is much too comfortable with her pearls-and-Porsche lifestyle, and she'll do whatever it takes to maintain it. His sister, Loretta, kept "the business" running smoothly while Preacher was inside, and she can't believe he'd trade Easy Street bling for a nickel-and-dime dead-end job. His one-time girlfriend Serena, now married to his main man Barnard, is hiding a secret—and if past sins come to light, they'll ruin several lives and a very new, very precious friendship between Preacher and Barnard's beautiful-inside-and-out sister, Natalie.

With his world about to explode all around him, Preacher's going to need every ounce of his new-found faith to remain strong. Because it takes a lot to become a new man, sometimes even a miracle.

If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Up Pops The Devil, go HERE

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back to Life by Kristin Billerbeck

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Back To Life

(Avon Inspire - September 16, 2008)


Kristin Billerbeck


Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and gained a bachelor's degree in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then, she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing.

She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year for What A Girl Wants in 2004, and again in 2006 for With this Ring. Featured in the New York Times, USA Today, World Magazine, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show. She is credited with jump-starting the inspirational chick-lit phenomenon. Most recently she has been names as a finalist for the Christy Award in the Lits category for The Trophy Wives Club.

Her other recent books include: She's All That.


Lindsey realized when she married Ron, a man 17 years her senior, that the odds were he’d see heaven before her, but she never expected to be a widow at 35. There’s too much of life left for her to just sit around in mourning. But she can’t seem to kick start the rest of her life.

That is until she gets some help from Ron’s first wife, Jane, who shows up unexpectedly at her door one day as the executor of her husband’s estate. Jane is everything Lindsey’s not… independent, stubborn… and a lot older. Plus she has one surprise after another… including a son named Ron Jr. (she insists he’s not “really” Ron’s son). But an unlikely friendship develops as each woman begins to reevaluate what is really important, and owns up to the mistakes they’ve made in the past.

Told in the alternating voices of Jane and Lindsey, and with the return of many of the witty characters of The Trophy Wives Club, this book is a lighthearted, relatable read for when life goes in a direction you never planned. With faith and friends, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

If you would like to read an excerpt of chapter 1 of Back To Life, go HERE