Friday, February 10, 2012

Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Blue Moon Bay

(Bethany House - February 1, 2012)


Lisa Wingate


Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of sixteen books. Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its eighteenth printing from Penguin Putnam. Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen (2010). Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, a general market publisher. Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader's Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, Crossings Book Club, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.


Heather Hampton returns to Moses Lake, Texas, to help facilitate the sale of a family farm as part of a planned industrial plant that will provide the area with much-needed jobs. Heather's future fiance has brokered the deal, and Heather is in line to do her first large-scale architectural design--if the deal goes through.

But the currents of Moses Lake have a way of taking visitors on unexpected journeys. What was intended to be a quick trip suddenly morphs into Valentine's week--with Blaine Underhill, the handsome banker who just happens to be opposing Heather's project. Spending the holiday in an ex-funeral parlor seems like a nightmare, but Heather slowly finds herself being drawn into the area's history, hope, and heart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Blue Moon Bay, go HERE.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shakespeare's Lady by Alexa Schnee

About Shakespeare's Lady:

In Shakespeare's Lady, Emilia Bassano is one of the most dazzling ladies at court when she meets the little-known playwright William Shakespeare. Shakespeare sees the world like no one ever has before, and despite everything -- his wife in Stratford-Avon, Emilia's husband and young son, and the will of the fiery and unpredictable queen -- they fall in love. But the course of true love never did run smooth, and the Virgin Queen does not take lightly to her ladies straying. These star-crossed lovers must fight for their love -- and, eventually, their lives. Meanwhile, William, courting the queen's favor for his new theater, pens some of the most memorable stories ever written, and encourages Emilia to write; he helps her compose, and eventually steals, a little bedtime story she calls A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In the tradition of Jane Austen Ruined My Life and The Other Boleyn Girl, this is a breathtaking, emotionally rich story spun out of historical fact. From the plague-ridden streets of London to the throne room of Greenwich Court to the stage of The Globe Theater, this is a meticulously researched and gorgeously written story about grace, forgiveness, and the forbidden love between the greatest poet the world has ever known and the woman who inspired him.

My Thoughts:

Alexa Schnee won the Mount Hermon Writers Conference "Most Promising New Writer" at the age of 18 and debuts with this novel. The strength of the writing and character development, the extensive research that is well used to captivate the reader rather than bore them, and the mystery surrounding William Shakespeare's Dark Lady sonnets, all come together for a novel that rivals that of well-established authors in the industry. I really enjoyed this book and this is undoubtedly a stellar beginning to what looks to be a bright future ahead for this young author.

I am only marginally knowledgeable about the Elizabethan Era and was quite captivated by the wealth of history I gleaned from the pages of this book. Delving into The Royal Court during the reign of Elizabeth I, with all its mystery and behind the scenes machinations, was fascinating and I found it both compelling and appalling. How lives were changed for better or worse at the whim of the Queen is almost beyond what I can fathom, and makes me more than thankful that I live in the 21st century and miles away from any monarch.

While the subject of adultery was prevalent throughout the book and central to the story line, and there are scenes which we "know" things are going on, they are written with a very light touch and are done in good taste. That being said, I don't in any way condone adultery, but I don't think the focus of the novel is just the issue of adultery itself, but with the internal anguish that Emilia struggles with as she is involved in two adulterous relationships - one out of duty to the Queen and one of her own choosing - and the regrets that those choices caused. I wouldn't necessarily call this "Christian Fiction" because while Emilia did have those regrets, unfortunately it didn't seem like she was very sorry for the choices she made.

If you're looking for an historical novel that is light on romance and a Christian message, but strong on the history behind the Elizabethan Court and its link to William Shakespeare, then look no further than this intriguing debut novel by Alexa Schnee.

Side note: Be aware that there were two mild profanities in the uncorrected proof...which may or may not be in the final published copy.

An uncorrected proof was provided by Guideposts/Summerside Press in exchange for my honest review.

Find out more on the web:
Alexa's Blog
Guideposts/Summerside Press

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Song of My Heart

(Bethany House - February 1, 2012)


Kim Vogel Sawyer


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 numerous grandchildren.


Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family. So when her stepfather is injured and can't work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity to use her God-given singing talent--though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job.

Thad McKane comes to Goldtree at the request of the town council. The town has been plagued by bootlegging operations, and Thad believes he can find the culprit. After he earns enough money doing sheriff work, he wants to use it to pay for his training to become a minister.

Thad is immediately attracted to the beautiful singer who performs in Asa Baxter's unusual opera house, but when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he begins to wonder if she's far less innocent than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes he's come to investigate, is there any hope the love blossoming between them will survive?

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

Friday, February 3, 2012

In Too Deep by Mary Connealy

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

In Too Deep

(Bethany House - February 1, 2012)


Mary Connealy


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie's Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she's one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.


In 1866 Colorado, Ethan Kincaid agrees to a marriage of convenience with the same casual disregard he gives every decision. Audra Gilliland, young mother of two, accepts his proposal because she wants to stop being a burden to her newly married stepdaughter. And suddenly both of them are in far deeper than they'd planned.

Ethan doesn't expect Audra to affect him so profoundly, and when she begins to, he's terrified of the pain he's felt before when someone he loved was seriously injured on his watch. He's determined that his new wife will do as he says so he can keep her safe from the dangers that lurk on their ranch. Audra has been cared for all her life by one man or another--and they've done a poor job of it. Now she's planning to stand up for herself. And her new husband had better agree or get out of her way!

What will it take to transform two wayward hearts fearful of getting in too deep into two trusting hearts ready to risk falling deeply in love?


My mother loves Mary's writing and has told me numerous times that I need to read some of her books. I finally gave in and signed up to read this book through CFBA. I will have to tell my mother she should have nagged me much more incessantly.

The story was quite a page turner...with it's engaging story line that includes a hunky set of brothers, ladies who can hold their own when things get tough, humor, intrigue, and romance that sizzles so much your fingers will be warm just turning the pages. I also liked that the title carries a double meaning...with both the caverns being central to the story and a newlywed couple who aren't sure about what they've gotten themselves into.

This is definitely a winner of a story...and I believe I'm Mary Connealy's newest fan!

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy for review through CFBA.

If you would like to read the first chapter of In Too Deep, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer: