Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fall into Reading 2010 Wrap-up



Well gang...the leaves are gone and winter has arrived! It's a bit nippy in my neck of the woods (but silently rejoicing that there isn't an abundance of snow here). Fall into Reading is over and here's my wrap-up. Our lovely host for this challenge has been Katrina at Callapidder Days, and if you've participated in this challenge be sure to write a wrap-up post and link it on this post.

I originally had my goals broken down into three different categories: Review Books, Christy Awards Challenge Books, and Too Good to Pass Up Books. I did finish all my review books and completed my Christy Challenge by its Dec 1 deadline (not bad considering I read my final five in the last week of the challenge). I also added another category to my list...Finally off the Shelf! I've been having computer issues since around Thanksgiving so I've been able to read more, and I decided work on pruning down some of the books I've had on my shelf for a while.

I read quite a few good books but have to say I was extremely impressed with the two Christy Award Challenge books by Cathy Gohlke.

I'm quite pleased with myself for exceeding my list since I have gone through a couple of 'reading funks' this year when I could barely make it through a book in a week. Here's my completed list:


Review Books:

1. Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson
2. The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan/Robert McLaughlin
3. The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan
4. Hatteras Girl by Alice Wisler
5. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson
6. Uncertain Heart by Andrea Boeshaar
7. Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K Paul

Christy Awards Challenge Books:

1. Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Lits 2008)
2. Welcome to Fred by Brad Whittington (1st Novel 2004)
3. Unashamed by Francine Rivers (Intl Historical 2001)
4. William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke (YA 2007)
5. I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke (YA 2009)
6. The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson (Contemporary Standalone 2010)
7. You Had Me at Goodbye by Tracey Bateman (Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas 2009)

Too Good to Pass Up:

1. The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall
2. Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie
3. Always the Baker Never the Bride by Sandra Bricker
4. Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon by Stephen Bly
5. Catwalk by Melody Carlson
6. Rendezvous by Melody Carlson
7. A Plain and Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston
8. Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson
9. Don't Kiss Him Goodbye by Sandra Byrd
10. Flirting with Disaster by Sandra Byrd
11. Nursing a Grudge by Chris Well
12. Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl
13. Carol by Bob Hartman
14. Grace by Shelley Shepard Gray
15. I Shall Not Want by Debbie Viguie

Finally off the Shelf!:

1. Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson
2. Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless by Melody Carlson
3. Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt
4. Me, Just Different by Stephanie Morrill
5. Out with the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill
6. So Over It by Stephanie Morrill
7. The Aluminum Christmas Tree by Thomas J Davis
8. Somewhere Fast by Bob Beltz
9. Reality Queen by Debbie DiGiovanni
10. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
11. A Piece of the Sky by Michelle Buckman
12. Heartwarming Christmas Stories ...anthology
13. Love Finds You in Hershey, PA by Cerella Sechrist
14. Love is a Battlefield by Annalisa Daughety


Everyone stay warm this winter... and I'll see you in the spring!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christy Awards Challenge Wrap-up


If you've been around Christian Fiction long enough, you have to have heard of the Christy Awards...the awards for the best of the best in Christian Fiction.

The Christy Awards Reading Challenge is reading challenge that spotlights Christian Fiction and the nominees and winners of the prestigious Christy Award. Amy and Deborah are the hosts for the challenge and have put in a lot of time and effort so the rest of us can join in.

I joined in at the 4th tier - with the mix & match option. I didn't choose my books at the beginning of the challenge, but just picked them as I to what I felt like reading at the time. Here's the list of the books I read for the challenge (and I'm hoping it's okay with the Challenge coordinators that I snuck in a 2010 winner). I had planned on reading a book about every six weeks or so, but found myself in mid-September not having read any at all. Needless to say, I had to book it (pun intended) to finish the challenge by December 1st...reading 5 of my 7 books in the last week of the challenge. Whew!

I enjoyed all the books on my list and was particularly impressed by Cathy Gohlke's books. They are definitely books anyone who loves both historical and young adult Christian Fiction would enjoy.

1. Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Lits 2008)
2. Welcome to Fred by Brad Whittington (1st Novel 2004)
3. Unashamed by Francine Rivers (Intl Historical 2001)
4. William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke (YA 2007)
5. I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke (YA 2009)
6. The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson (Contemporary Standalone 2010)
7. You Had Me at Goodbye by Tracey Bateman (Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas 2009)

You can find our hosts online:
Deborah blogs at Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Amy blogs at My Friend Amy

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Silent Order

(Summerside Press - November 1, 2010)

by

Melanie Dobson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good.

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters — Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Rural America - 1928. After the murder of his partner, Detective Rollin Wells hides away in an Amish home near Sugarcreek, Ohio, to find out who in the police force is collaborating with Cleveland’s notorious mob. While Rollin searches for answers to his partner’s death, he befriends an elusive young Amish woman named Katie and her young son. As Rollin learns about Katie’s past, he’s shocked at the secret Katie is hiding - a secret that has haunted Rollin for eight years.

MY THOUGHTS:

Whoever thought you could write a book entwining the worlds of both the Amish and the Mob? I'm glad Melanie Dobson did, as this book was fantastic! The romance, suspense, and familial loyalty in both Amish and Mob circles made this a book that was hard to put down. This book makes my 2010 favorites list.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Silent Order, go HERE.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blog Tour: Uncertain Heart by Andrea Boeshaar

About Uncertain Heart:

"It's just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man," the adage goes. But is the dream of fancy clothes, mansions, and fine dining worth compromising your morals and faith? Sarah McCabe must find her answer in Andrea Boeshaar's Uncertain Heart, book two in the Seasons of Redemption series.

The Civil War is over. Sarah longs to escape the country and experience the finer things in life, so she leaves her home in Jericho Junction, Missouri, to become a governess in Milwaukee. Her rich and dashing employer, Brian Sinclair, shows an attraction to Sarah but doesn't share her beliefs.

Richard, however, does. Richard Navis is Mr. Sinclair's steward. He is kind, thoughtful, handsome...and harbors an unfortunate desire to leave his city job to be a farmer. Sarah has no interest in a rural farm life, even while her interest in Richard grows.

Does she sacrifice love to get the lifestyle she wants? Or will love be enough?

My thoughts:

I have been looking forward to this book ever since I turned the final page of Unwilling Warrior (Book 1). The McCabe family is such a great bunch of characters, I was more than excited to read Sarah's story.

Richard swept me off my feet right from the start. I loved the teasing banter that he shared with Sarah from the very beginning. They had such great chemistry and as the book progressed and conflict arose between them, I missed them playing off one another most of all.

Andrea Boeshaar does such a great job giving her characters depth and personality, and evoking emotion in the situations she puts them through. I laughed, had tears come to my eyes, and a few times wished I could reach right into the book and slap some folks silly!

This book, with its engaging characters and dialogue, and a plot that will keep you keep you turning pages at breakneck speed, has a dramatic ending that won't disappoint. You'll also be quite intrigued if you read the first chapter of Book 3, Unexpected Love, which is included in the back of the book...it's release in January can't come soon enough for me!

Review copy generously provided by LeAnn Hamby at Glass Road PR.

Find out more on the web:
Andrea Boeshaar
Glass Road PR
My review of Unwilling Warrior

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hatteras Girl by Alice J Wisler

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Hatteras Girl

(Bethany House; Original edition - October 1, 2010)

by

Alice Wisler


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alice J. Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and has traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.

Facts about Alice
* Born in Osaka, Japan, and lived in Japan for 18 years
* Went to Kyoto International School and Canadian Academy
* Majored in Social Work and graduated in 1983 from Eastern Mennonite University
* Worked at a group home for disadvantaged kids outside of Philadelphia
* Taught English and Culture Orientation at a refugee camp in the Philippines
* Taught English as a Second Language in Japan
* Speaks and teaches on Writing the Heartache
* Has three kids on earth, and one in Heaven
* Recently got married to Carl on 2/7/09

ABOUT THE BOOK:

There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hatteras Girl, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Head in the Clouds

(Bethany House; Original edition - October 1, 2010)

by

Karen Witemeyer


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife and mother of three who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid-to-late 1800s.

Karen is living her dream by writing Christian historical romance novels for Bethany House. When she visited her publisher back in January of 2010, she was interviewed by the staff. If you'd like a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how she develops her story ideas and a description of her bumpy journey to publication, go to her website to listen to a podcast of that interview.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Head in the Clouds, go HERE.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

About The Miracle of Mercy Land:

Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Phillips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.

Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages—Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mysterious stranger shows up, Mercy begins to understand she may have to choose between love and loneliness...or good and evil...for the rest of her life.


About River Jordan:

She began her writing career as a playwright with the Loblolly Theatre group. She teaches and speaks nationwide on ‘The Power of Story’, is a monthly contributor to the southern authors’ collective A Good Blog is Hard To Find, and produces and hosts the weekly radio program CLEARSTORY with River Jordan, in Nashville, where she and her husband live. She is the author of Saints in Limbo and this is her fourth novel.

My thoughts:


The lives of Mercy Land, Doc Phillips, and John Quincy are separate, yet entwined. A book full of wonder arrives mesmerizing all three, offering choices that could amend or sustain the reality in which they all live. While exploring the complex and sometimes heart-wrenching decisions facing each of them, you'll find yourself rooting for Mercy, Doc, and John to make the wisest of choices.

River Jordan weaves in lyrical style this spellbinding tale of amended reality and second chances that will simmer inside you long after you turn the final page. This is definitely a book whose message is not to be taken lightly.



My thanks to Kelly Blewett of KBK Public Relations and Waterbrook Press for generously providing this review copy.

Find out more on the web:
Author River Jordan
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers
KBK Public Relations

Monday, October 18, 2010

While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

While We're Far Apart

(Bethany House - October 1, 2010)

by

Lynn Austin


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snow Day by Billy Coffey

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Snow Day

(FaithWords - October 11, 2010)

by

Billy Coffey



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.

Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.

But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.

That’s where I come in.

Billy Coffey was raised on stories. The first ones came on the front porches of relatives, tales laced with local charm and deep meaning. Then came the stories from people like Max Lucado and Robert Fulghum, who write with a charm and deep meaning of their own.

Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you drive by his house, you’ll probably spot him on the front porch. If you do, give him a wave. He’ll wave back.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010)

To read an excerpt from Snow Day, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand and Anita Higman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe

(Summerside Press - September 1, 2010)

by

Irene Brand & Anita Higman


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Irene Brand has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 4 non-fiction books published, and 43 fiction works. Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.


Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover!

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Hollie Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Hollie's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.

If you would like to read an excerpt of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, go HERE.


Watch the book trailer:


Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Within My Heart

(Bethany House; Original edition - September 1, 2010)

by

Tamera Alexander


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of Rekindled, Revealed and Remembered, the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles historical series with Bethany House Publishers. Her second historical series, Timber Ridge Reflections (From a Distance, Beyond This Moment, and Within My Heart), penned in her style with deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose have earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards.

These awards include the 2009 and 2008 Christy Award, the 2007 RITA for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2009 and 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best Award, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction for 2006, among others.

After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville with Tamera's father, Doug. They enjoy life there with Joe and Tamera's two adult children, and Jack, a precious—and precocious—silky terrier.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Determined to fulfill her late husband’s dream, Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat with the help of her two young sons. But some days it feels as though her every effort is sabotaged. When faced with a loss she cannot afford, she’s forced to trust Rand Brookston, the one man in Timber Ridge she wishes to avoid. And with good reason. He’s a physician, just like her father, which tells her everything she needs to know about him. Or so she thinks . . .

Dr. Rand Brookston ventured west with the dream of bringing modern medicine to the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, but the townspeople have been slow to trust him. Just as slow in coming is Rand’s dream to build the town a proper clinic. When a patient’s life is threatened, Rand makes a choice—one that sends ripples through the town of Timber Ridge. And through Rachel Boyd’s stubborn heart.

From the beloved, bestselling author of From a Distance and Beyond This Moment comes an unforgettable story about faith in the face of fear, about tarnished hopes and second chances, and ultimately about the resilient courage and tenacity of hearts broken––and mended––by love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Within My Heart, go HERE.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan & Robert McLaughlin

About The Dead Rise First:

Residents of Jordan, Oklahoma are dismayed to discover that a massive power outage knocked out all the electricity to the city. In fact, nothing with a computer chip is working. Cars, cell phones, video games are all suddenly useless. Local authorities suspect a terrorist attack; an EMP detonated to disable the nearby air force base. The frightened residents are cut off from the rest of the country and fear the attack may be widespread. Adding to the fear are several reports of "ghost" citings. Actually, not ghosts. These people are claiming their dead relatives are showing up in their houses alive.

About the authors:

Alton Ragan is a business owner and presently serves on the board of Shawnee Rescue Mission. He has served on the board of two churches and co-hosted a small television program called "Truth Talks". He has been an avid student of God's Word for more than thirty years. He is the father of two children and three grandchildren. Alton Ragan resides with his wife of 34 years in Central Oklahoma, where he continues to write.

Robert McLaughlin graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in psychology. He is a student of the Bible, Sunday School teacher, and avid reader of fiction.

My thoughts:

How many times have you read the same verse in the Bible over and over and really not grasped the meaning or intent of the text? I know I have read I Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV) many times and never really thought about the phrase "...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." I think I've always felt that it was almost a simultaneous event. BAM!...the dead rise...BAM!...we who are alive and remain are caught up together with them. Exploring the dead being raised first in the pages of this novel has really gotten me to thinking about what I think about end time events and I know in the days ahead I'll be looking at this much more closely.

I believe this book will stir you out of your complacency in regard to your walk with Christ in two ways...by conviction and encouragement. You will find yourself becoming quite introspective and repentant as you read this book...especially as you see Pastor Jack struggling with how he feels he's let his congregation down by not preaching with the fire and fervor that his preacher father did before him in regards to end time events and the need for the surety of salvation. The encouragement comes as we are reminded that there IS a blessed hope, Jesus IS coming soon, and it's not too late for us to heed God's call to reach others around us with the Good News of the Gospel.

This book is quite thought-provoking and soul-stirring, and I think it would be a good book for anyone who enjoys the study of end time events or for someone who may be backslidden or just needs a boost of zeal in their walk with the Lord. I know I'll be passing it along to friends and family in the days ahead.

FOREWARNING: The book does contain a few mild profanities. I felt the use was a bit unnecessary but it doesn't detract from the story.


My thanks to LeAnn Hamby of Hamby Media for generously providing a copy for review.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Judgment Day

(WaterBrook Press - September 21, 2010)

by

Wanda Dyson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wanda Dyson – "a shining example of what Christian fiction is becoming..." (Christian Fiction Review). She's been called a "natural" and a "master of pacing," but her fans know that whether it's police thrillers, suspense, or bringing a true story to life, Wanda knows how to take her readers on a journey they'll never forget.

Wanda is a multipublished suspense author, currently writing for Random House/Waterbrook. Her one attempt at a nonfiction book was picked for an exclusive release on Oprah. In addition to writing full time, she is also the appointment coordinator for the CCWC, Great Philadelphia Christian Writers, and ACFW conferences.

Wanda lives in Western Maryland on a 125 acre farm with a menagerie of animals and when she's not writing critically acclaimed suspense, or away at conferences, you can find her zipping across the fields on a 4-wheeler with Maya, her German Shepherd, or plodding along at a more leisurely pace on her horse, Nanza.

With the release of her newest hit, Judgment Day, Wanda is heading back to the keyboard to start on her next high-octane thriller, The Vigilante.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Sensational journalism has never been so deadly.

The weekly cable news show Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell promises to expose businessmen, religious leaders, and politicians for the lies they tell. Suzanne positions herself as a champion of ethics and morality with a backbone of steel—until a revelation of her shoddy investigation tactics and creative fact embellishing put her in hot water with her employers, putting her credibility in question and threatening her professional ambitions.

Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find her deceased boyfriend, Dr. Guy Mandeville’s nurse, Cecelia Forbes unconscious on her living room floor. Before the night is over, Cecelia is dead, Suzanne has her blood on her hands, and the police are arresting her for murder. She needs help to prove her innocence, but her only hope, private investigator Marcus Crisp, is also her ex-fiancĂ©–the man she betrayed in college.

Marcus and his partner Alexandria Fisher-Hawthorne reluctantly agree to take the case, but they won’t cut Suzanne any slack. Exposing her lack of ethics and the lives she’s destroyed in her fight for ratings does little to make them think Suzanne is innocent. But as Marcus digs into the mire of secrets surrounding her enemies, he unveils an alliance well-worth killing for. Now all he has to do is keep Suzanne and Alex alive long enough to prove it.

Watch the book trailer:




If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Judgment Day, go HERE.


My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book .I did feel the perpetrator was revealed much too soon, but there was still quite a bit of suspense to keep my attention as the book progressed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall into Reading 2010



Happy Fall Y'all! It's that time of year again, when the air is turning crisp and the leaves are starting to decorate lawns everywhere...and when it's time to cozy up with some good books and Fall into Reading. Our lovely host for this challenge is Katrina at Callapidder Days, and you can find out all you need to know about participating in the challenge here. The challenge runs from 9/22/10 through 12/20/10 and I hope you'll join in.

I'm breaking my list this year into a few different categories: Review Books, Christy Awards Challenge Books, and Too Good to Pass Up Books. I'll start each category with a few books, but leave room for add-ons and/or book changes. So here we go...


Review Books: There will be a few more of these I'm sure, just nothing definitive at the moment.

1. Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson
2. The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan/Robert McLaughlin
3. The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan
4. Hatteras Girl by Alice Wisler
5. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson
6. Uncertain Heart by Andrea Boeshaar
7. Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K Paul

Christy Awards Challenge Books: I haven't even started on my list and the books are to be read by December 1.

1. Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Lits 2008)
2. Welcome to Fred by Brad Whittington (1st Novel 2004)
3. Unashamed by Francine Rivers (Intl Historical 2001)
4. William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke (YA 2007)
5. I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke (YA 2009)
6. The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson (Contemporary Standalone 2010)
7. You Had Me at Goodbye by Tracey Bateman (Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas 2009)

Too Good to Pass Up: These will be new or fairly new releases that I have on hold at the library or currently have sitting on my bookshelf. I'll just put down a few for now, but who knows, I may actually add some on this list as well.

1. The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall
2. Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie
3. Always the Baker Never the Bride by Sandra Bricker
4. Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon by Stephen Bly
5.
6.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Waiting on Wednesdays"

I love Kimberly Stuart's sense of humor and have enjoyed reading her novels about motherhood over the last few years. This upcoming book strays from the motherhood theme but is definitely going on my wish list.


About Operation Bonnet:

Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients.

Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind. So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish.

But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case. Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.


Operation Bonnet is published by David C Cook and releases in February 2011.

Kimberly Stuart holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Iowa. After teaching Spanish and English as a second language in Chicago, Minneapolis, Costa Rica, and eastern Iowa, she took a huge increase in pay to be a full-time mom. She makes her home in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband and two young children.


Find out more on the web:
Kimberly Stuart's Blog
David C Cook Publishing



"Waiting On Wednesdays" is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. So join in - what are you Waiting On?

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love's First Bloom

(Bethany House - Original edition: September 1, 2010)

by

Delia Parr


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Delia Parr, pen name for Mary Lechleidner, is the author of 10 historical novels and the winner of several awards, including the Laurel Wreath Award for Historical Romance and the Aspen Gold Award for Best Inspirational Book. She is a full-time high school teacher who spends her summer vacations writing and kayaking. The mother of three grown children, she lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Ruth Livingstone's life changes drastically the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her to a small village in New Jersey under an assumed name. There Ruth pretends to be a widow and quietly secludes herself until her father is acquitted of a crime.

But with the emergence of the penny press, the imagination of the reading public is stirred, and her father's trial stands center stage. Asher Tripp is the brash newspaperman who determines that this case is the event he can use to redeem himself as a journalist.

Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River--a place where she can find a measure of peace in the midst of the sorrow that continues to build. It is also here that Asher Tripp finds a temporary residence, all in an attempt to discover if the lovely creature known as Widow Malloy is truly Ruth Livingstone, the woman every newspaper has been looking for.

Love begins to slowly bloom...but is the affection they share strong enough to withstand the secrets that separate them?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's First Bloom, go HERE.

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

In Every Heartbeat

(Bethany House - September 1, 2010)

by

Kim Vogel Sawyer


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a cherished dream.

Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible.

But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well. And when Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

If you would like to read the first chapter of In Every Heartbeat, go HERE.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn's Promise by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Autumn's Promise

(Avon Inspire - August 3, 2010)

by

Shelley Shepard Gray


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold twenty-six novels to numerous publishers. She has written a seven book contemporary series for Avalon books. She also published The Love Letter, a western for Avalon. Five Star Expressions published Suddenly, You in February of 2007. This novel is a historical western set in the mountains of Colorado.

Shelley has written nine novels for Harlequin American Romance. Cinderella Christmas, her first novel with them, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. Her second book with them, Simple Gifts won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best Harlequin American Romance of 2006. The Mommy Bride, was chosen by Romantic Times Magazine as one of their TOP PICKS for May, 2008.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. HIDDEN and WANTED the first two novels of her ‘Sisters of the Heart’ series, were chosen to be Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/ Literary Guild Book Club. FORGIVEN, book 3, has received glowing reviews. Avon Inspire is releasing four novels by Shelley this year.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Some promises are meant to be broken...

Until Robert Miller met Lilly Allen, his world had been dark. A widower after only two years of marriage, he'd been living in a haze, feeling that, at twenty-four, his life was already over.

But thanks to his friendship with Lilly, he now has new reasons to wake up each day. He knows his connection to her doesn't make sense. She's only nineteen, with a past the whole town talks about. Even more, she's not Amish, like Robert. A marriage between the two of them could never happen.

Lilly's heart is drawn to Robert, not to his faith. No matter how much she admires his quiet strength and dependability, she doesn't think she could ever give up her independence and reliance on the modern world. Is their love doomed before it even begins?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Autumn's Promise, go HERE.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

" 'Waiting on' Wednesdays"

I enjoyed the first book of the Seasons of Redemption series by Andrea Boeshaar, and am excited to have book two coming out next month.

About Uncertain Heart:

The year is 1866, and Sarah McCabe has wanderlust. In an effort to become independent of her family back in Missouri, she accepts a governess position in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, giving her a firsthand taste of the life she has always desired—a life of luxury, culture, and social privilege.

Richard Navis is a man determined to finish his indentureship to Captain Brian Sinclair and take over his family’s farm. But when he falls in love with Sarah, his homesteading goals blur. She doesn’t seem interested in settling down. What’s more, Richard fears she’s fallen victim to the captain’s charm and persuasion.

When Sarah’s reputation is questioned, Richard devises a bold plan in hopes of protecting her. But is he too late? Has Sarah already made her choice?


Uncertain Heart is published by Realms and releases in October 2010.

Find out more on the web:
Andrea Boeshaar
Strang Publishing/Realms Imprint
My review of Unwilling Warrior


"Waiting On' Wednesdays" is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. So join in - what are you Waiting On?

More than Words by Judith Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

More than Words

(Bethany House; Original edition - September 1, 2010)

by

Judith Miller


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, two of which have placed in the CBA top ten lists. In addition to her writing, Judy is a certified legal assistant. Judy makes her home in Topeka, Kansas.


From Judith:

Most readers want to know how authors 'got started' writing. My first novel, Threads of Love, was conceived when I was commuting sixty miles to work each day. I wanted to tell the story of a pioneer girl coming to Kansas and the faith that sustained her as she adjusted to a new life. When the book was completed, I tucked it away. I had absolutely no idea how publication of a book occurred and had given no thought to the concept. However, through a co-worker, I was directed to Tracie Peterson who, at that time, worked down the hall from me. Having never met Tracie, I was totally unaware of her writing career, but God intervened. The rest is, as they say, history...

With a graciousness that continues to amaze me, Tracie agreed to read my story, directed me to a publisher, and gave me information on a Christian writers conference. Since that first encounter many years ago, I have been blessed with the publication of numerous books, novellas and a juvenile fiction book. Joyously, Tracie and I had the opportunity to develop a blessed friendship. In fact, we have co-authored several series together, including The Bells of Lowell, the Lights of Lowell and The Broadmoor Legacy. In addition, I have continued to write several solo series. Please check those out on the "My Books" page on my website.

God's design on the lives of His people never ceases to amaze me! Because I am eternally grateful for my own forgiveness and salvation, I strive to share God's desire to pull us from the mire of sin and set us free to live exciting lives for Him. Through His abundant grace and love, God gifts and equips each of us to share the story of salvation and eternal life. Won't you share His story using the special gifts He has given you?

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Journey to the charming villages of the Amana Colonies, 1885

Gretchen Kohler is an Amana storekeeper's daughter with a secret passion for writing. But artistic pursuits are frowned upon in her conservative Amana village, so she confines her poems and stories to her journals, letting only close friends read them.

When a young reporter comes into her store, she believes she's found a kindred spirit. She shares a few of her stories with him--only to have her trust betrayed in the worst of ways, resulting in trouble for her entire community.

The scandal is made even worse by the fact that gypsies have camped nearby and seem to be preying upon the Amanans' compassionate, pacifist nature. Will Gretchen lose her job, her reputation, and the love of her childhood beau all because of one bad decision?

If you would like to read the first chapter of More than Words, go HERE.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sarah's Garden by Kelly Long

About Sarah's Garden:

Quite by accident, Sarah King has fallen in love. But this love is forbidden, and could cost her everything she holds dear.

Tucked into the majesty of Pennsylvania's Allegheny Mountains is a garden Sarah King has been nurturing for years. She never feels more alive than when she is alone with her thoughts and her Creator among the delicate rows of plants. But then duty calls her away from her beloved garden and into a world she knows little about.

Grant Williams, a handsome young veterinarian, has left the city to open a rural practice among the Amish. Within minutes of meeting shy but feisty Sarah King, he is captivated by her.

As their feelings grow for one another, Sarah insists they can never be together. Marrying Grant would mean being uprooted from her home, her family, and her community. Throughout the cold Pennsylvania winter, with her garden tucked away until spring, Sarah begins crafting a quilt that illustrates her pain. Can anything lasting blossom from a love that's forbidden?



My thoughts:

Kelly Long sows a beautiful tale in this first book in her A Patch of Heaven series, and although this is Kelly's debut novel, you would never know it. This has got to be one of the best written Amish novels I've ever read (and I've read quite a few). She has such a way with words, bringing you into the scene with her captivating descriptions and compelling story line. She includes both drama and a touch of humor in this book, and with a somewhat unexpected ending it was difficult to put down. I also think 'A Patch of Heaven' is the perfect name for this series, as I can see it relating to both the gardening and quilting aspect of the story.

Her characters of Sarah King and Grant Williams are likeable and quite easy to relate to, and there are plenty of endearing (and not so endearing) secondary characters as well. One of those characters who really stuck out to me was Grossmudder King...she reminded me a lot of my own grandmother!

If you have a fondness for Amish novels, don't miss Sarah's Garden...and be on the lookout for Lilly's Wedding Quilt, Kelly's second book in this series, due out in March 2011. I know it's already on my wish list.


Find out more on the web:
Lilly's Wedding Quilt - Book 2
Thomas Nelson Publishing

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bridge of Peace

(WaterBrook Press; Original edition - August 31, 2010)
by

Cindy Woodsmall


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She was also a 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.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list of the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four.

Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today’s best-sellers list.

Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she’s also written a nonfiction work with an Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. The book is titled Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It will release March 11, 2011.

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

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

Win a "Trip To Amish Country"...contest opens August 31st -December 31st...go HERE to enter!


If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bridge of Peace, go HERE.