Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fall into Reading 2013 Wrap Up





Brrrrr! Winter is here! We've already had our share of winter weather here, around ten inches of snow and some ice as well, and my kids have already had five snow days. Perfect weather conducive to snuggling up and cracking open a book.

This year's host has been Sandra Stiles at The Musings of a Book Addict. Kudos to her for lining up this challenge.

On my original list I included a few books to review - and I was able to add a few more over the last couple of months. Here's my progress with my review books:


1. The Nurse's Secret Suitor by Cheryl Wyatt
2. Pretty is as Pretty Does by Debby Mayne
3. A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower
4. The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman

Added:

5. Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker
6. Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter
7. Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson
8. Derailed by Dave & Neta Jackson
9. Paige Rewritten by Erynn Mangum
10. Traces of Mercy by Michael Landon, Jr. and Cindy Kelley
11. Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

I planned to finish my Goodreads reading goal and challenges for 2013 and included 32 books on my original list to meet them (see my original list here.) I didn't get all the way through my original list because a few other titles appealed to me more than those I had previously chosen. I did meet my reading goal of 120 books this year, but still have one challenge to complete. I'm hoping to get through the last few books before the year ends.

Here are the challenge books I read from my original list:


1. Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester
2. Swimming through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus
3. Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley
4. Bright Christmas by Susan Rohrer
5. It's Complicated by Laura L Smith
6. It's Over by Laura L Smith
7. Diary of a Real Payne by Annie Tipton
8. The Icing on the Cake by Janice Thompson
9. Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins
10. Eventide by Shelley Shepard Gray
11. The Christmas Visitor by Linda Byler
12. Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis
13. Frame 232 by Wil Mara
14. The Doctor's Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt
15. The Tattered Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter
16. A Plain Death by Amanda Flower
17. A Plain Scandal by Amanda Flower
18. Damaged by Melody Carlson
19. Blown Away by Nancy Mehl
20. Three Hearts, One Town by Sarah Jae Foster
21. Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson

These were not on my original list of books to read, but count toward some of my Goodreads challenges:

22. God's Worn Out Servants by Tattie Maggard (Short Story)
23. Unspoken by Dee Henderson
24. Sharing Your Faith by Kate McVeigh (Mini-book)
25. Shattered by Dani Pettrey
26. A Christmas Gift for Rose by Tricia Goyer
27. The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall
28. Secretly Smitten by Coble/Billerbeck/Hunt/Hunter
29. I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer
30. The Yellow Sock by Angela Hunt

I also read through the preliminary list (25 books) of the Missouri Show-Me Award Nominees (for Grade K-2) for 2014-2015. There were some really enjoyable books on the list and the final ten books will be announced in January. The books on the preliminary list are listed here:

1. Helen's Big World by Doreen Rapaport
2. Some Cat! by Mary Casanova
3. Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds
4. Miss Fox's Class Gets It Wrong by Eileen Spinelli
5. Glamorous Glasses by Barbara Johansen Newman
6. Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli
7. I Need My Own Country by Rick Walton
8. The House that George Built by Suzanne Slade
9. The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock
10. One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo
11. The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart
12. Barnum's Bones by Tracey Fern
13. Wild About You! by Judy Sierra
14. Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter
15. Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
16. The House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger
17. Lost and Found by Bill Harley
18. Return of the Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy
19. Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead
20. A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
21. Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey
22. Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
23. The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer
24. Chester the Brave by Audrey Penn
25. Jangles: A Big Fish Story by David Shannon

Hope you all have a safe, happy, and reading-filled winter!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D Bricker


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Merry Humbug Christmas

(B&H Books - October 15, 2013)

by

Sandra D. Bricker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.


The author says that it was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer. "I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost," she says. "So it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch the Love Finds You line."

Sandie's real-life role as cancer survivor has parlayed into her steadfast commitment to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research. Spearheading a series of devotionals for Summerside Press (such as the popular His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not), the author has stipulated that a portion of each contributor's proceeds will go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with raising funds for my pet projects ... and still pursue my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

And one of the author's pet projects is animal rescue, evidenced by the special bond she has created with one particular formerly-abandoned puppy -- a red-haired collie with "killer brown eyes and the heart of the class clown."

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A Merry Humbug Christmas features two holiday romance novellas from hilarious and heartwarming author Sandra D. Bricker. -- the perfect gift to yourself or someone else at this most wonderfully stressful time of year.


In "Once Upon a Jingle Bell," A Bah! Humbug cruise to the Mexican Riviera is Joss Snow’s answer to this year’s quest to avoid the holidays completely; at least until she’s rebooked on a different kind of cruise altogether. Candy canes, holly wreaths, reindeer and ornaments seem to be stalking her on the 12 Days of Christmas holiday cruise extravaganza. An escape back to land is her only goal . . . until she meets a kindred spirit in rugged Irishman Patrick Brenneman, and then the game is on! Avoid Christmas festivities at all costs . . . except maybe for that one stop under the mistletoe.


In "It Came Upon a Midnight Deer," Reese’s guilt over abandoning best friend Joss on their holiday tradition of avoiding all things Christmas is trumped by the joy of her recent engagement. Meeting Damian’s family for the first time on idyllic Sugarloaf Mountain is about as far from that Bah! Humbug cruise as she can get, and Reese can hardly wait to get there. But from the moment they hit that deer in the road just two miles from the cabin, everything seems to go wrong. There are no drummers drumming or pipers piping this particular year! And once she sets her future in-laws’ family cabin ablaze, she’s pretty sure there won’t be even ONE golden ring in her future.

My thoughts:

If you're anything like the lead characters in these stories, Joss and Reese, and a dose of Christmas cheer is not your cup of tea, I guarantee you that reading this double dose of Yuletide frivolity from Sandie Bricker will turn your Humbugs into Ho, Ho, Ho's!

Ms. Bricker always gives us great characters, lovable and quirky, that readers can easily connect with...because none of us is truly normal, right? In this book, Skipping Christmas meets Murphy's Law and holiday hilarity ensues. Will the stalwart 'Bah Humbug' duo remain true to their anti-celebration leanings or will the charm of Christmas break through their steadfast exteriors so they can experience the true Spirit of Christmas? Pick up the book and find out for yourself!

If you're a fan of romantic comedy and love a good holiday story, then this is the book for you!

My sincerest thanks to CFBA and B&H Publishers for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Merry Humbug Christmas, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Aloha Rose

(Abingdon Press - November 19, 2013)

by

Lisa Carter

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A word from the author:

I am a wife and mother. My husband and I have two daughters and make our home in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I am a teacher. With a Master’s degree in history, I have taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. After years of church involvement as a soloist, choir member and worship leader, I also teach music.

I am a writer. Delighted by the rhythm and musicality of words, I have been writing since childhood. In 2001, I won the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Story Writing Contest that re-ignited a lifelong love of writing.

I am on a journey of faith. My ultimate desire through my life and my writing is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, His redeeming love as seen in the life of Jesus Christ and to help others know for themselves this great, awesome God of all comfort and wisdom. He is enough for every need.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliqu├ęd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

My thoughts:

Another great offering in the Quilts of Love series.

In Aloha Rose, we venture to our beautiful 50th state, where Laney Carrigan comes to find answers about the quilt she was wrapped in when her mother gives her up. She meets Kai Barnes, who himself has a painful past. The friction between them (both good and bad) ebbs and flows as the secrets in their pasts try to overshadow both their present and future.

I loved the bantering between Laney and Kai - great dialogue is always a winner in my book. Putting in some really great plot twists and the unpredictability of a character whose lucidity comes and goes also adds a greater dimension to this story. Overall this is a great tale of both forgiveness and trust and letting go of the things in the past that are hindering the working of love in your life. This is a book that romance lovers everywhere would enjoy especially if they want to experience a taste of the islands.

My sincerest thanks to CFBA and Abingdon Press for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Aloha Rose, go HERE.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Critical Reaction by Todd M Johnson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Critical Reaction

(Bethany House Publishers - November 19, 2013)

by

Todd M. Johnson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. Todd's career experience blends with his passion for writing in his novels published through Bethany House.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of International Law, and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.

The Deposit Slip, Mr. Johnson's first novel, debuted in 2012. Todd's second novel, Critical Reaction, will be released in November 2013.

Todd lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife Cathy and children Ian and Libby.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

After decades of turning out plutonium for the arms race, the Hanford Nuclear Facility has long been shuttered, though its deadly legacy cannot be fully contained. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings for radiation leaks are told the risks are under control. They believe it, until the worst happens: a thunderous explosion in the dead of night.

Two workers, lifer Poppy Martin and new hire Kieran Mullaney, believe themselves lucky to survive the blast. But as the debris is cleared, they discover their safety is not assured. Dead ends and closed doors halt their efforts to discover what really happened--and what radiation may have poisoned them. When stalling and threats force them into the hands of experienced trial lawyer Ryan Hart, they learn that theirs is no ordinary lawsuit. There is something still hidden in the desert of eastern Washington, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure it never sees the light of day.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. It's full of intrigue, well-developed characters, and plot twists that will both please and disgust you. I was only halfway through the book and I was already thinking that this book would make a great movie and it only got better from there.

Tell all your legal suspense and thriller-loving friends about this book...they won't be disappointed!

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

If you would like to read the first chapter of Critical Reaction, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Derailed by Dave and Neta Jackson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Derailed

(Worthy Publishing - October 8, 2013)

by

Dave and Neta Jackson

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

As a husband/wife writing team, we are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together we are the authors or coauthors of over 120 books. (You can see our Publication Record by clicking HERE.) In addition to writing several books about Christian community, we have been privileged to coauthor numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

But over the years the we have especially enjoyed writing for children and young people! This includes our award-winning TRAILBLAZER series, historical fiction about great Christian heroes and heroines for young people ages 8-12, and the four-volume HERO TALES: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Great Christians, and the companion book, Heroes in Black History.

Somewhere along the way, our own children grew up! Son Julian is Director of Experience Design for the Alder Planetarium in Chicago where he “provides the experience of exploring space” for visitors. He has two sons, Liam Isaac and Elijah David. Daughter Rachel graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and after working in the field of rape-crisis prevention went on to earn a Masters Degree in counseling from the University of Illinois. She is now a counselor at “Uni High School” in Champaign, Illinois. She is the loving mother of Havah Noelle (our first grandchild!) and Noah Zion, our youngest grandchild. The Jackson family also includes a Cambodian foster daughter, Samen Sang, who has four children.

We live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years we were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. We are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Forced to give up his hard-earned retirement, Harry Bentley goes back to work as a detective. Receiving a bizarre undercover assignment that sends him across the country by train. Things suddenly go awry when it appears one of his new neighbors may be part of a smuggling ring and suspicion rises about his own son’s involvement in a major drug cartel.

The second in the Windy City Neighbors series, Derailed is a contemporary, and often humorous, tale in an urban setting, featuring ordinary people wrestling with the spiritual and practical issues of real life. Intersecting with Grounded (book one), the Jacksons employ their innovative storytelling technique of “parallel novels.” Though each book follows its own drama and story arc, the characters’ lives become intertwined and affect one another. Derailed transports you to Beecham Street—a typical, isolated American neighborhood . . . until hope moves in.

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

Paige Rewritten by Erynn Mangum


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Paige Rewritten

(NavPress - October 8, 2013)

by

Erynn Mangum

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A few things about her:

So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Paige Alder is in a really good place. She’s dating nice guy Tyler. Her boss has offered her a raise. Her walk with God is strong. Life is great—and that’s when things start to change.

First, the youth pastor at church keeps asking Paige to work with him full-time. Then her sister shows up newly engaged and wanting to reconnect, even though they haven’t spoken in years. And now former boyfriend Luke has come back into her life. How is Paige supposed to know what the right decisions are?

This warm and humorous second book in the Paige Alder series will help young girls work through important issues, such as forgiving others and obeying God.

My thoughts:


If you love romance and comedy with real-life characters that tackle issues that face many a Christian, then this book is for you.

I absolutely love Erynn's books...she writes such real characters that readers can relate to. She fills her books with both laughable moments and heartfelt truth that will soften even the hardest of hearts. She's a great storyteller who never leaves me disappointed.

My sincerest thanks to CFBA and NavPress for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Rewritten, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Traces of Mercy by Michael Landon Jr and Cindy Kelley


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Traces of Mercy

(David C. Cook - October 1, 2013)

by

Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Landon Jr., son of television legend Michael Landon, is an award-winning storyteller, first in television and film, and now in books. His print works include One More Sunrise co-written with Tracie Peterson.

****
Cindy Kelley is the co-author of the novel The Silent Gift, and Traces of Mercy. Her career as a screenwriter with long-time writing partner, Michael Landon, Jr., began with the adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic story, The Velveteen Rabbit, which had a theatrical release. Several television movies followed, most notably Love Comes Softly, (based on Janette Oke’s novel) which won a CAMIE Award and the Epiphany Prize for Movie Guide’s most inspirational television movie of 2003. Cindy and her husband, Jim, make their home in the Southwest; have three adorable grandchildren and four big dogs who rule the house.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

From Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley, authors of The Silent Gift and creators of the hit television film Love Comes Softly, comes an exciting historical romance set in post-Civil War, and filled with suspense and faith-building values.

At the war’s end, a young woman suffers an accident that leaves her unconscious and alone. Waking with amnesia, she takes the name Mercy and wants more than anything to find out the truth of her past. But then a handsome stranger arrives, who may hold the key to everything she has forgotten. What he knows could devastate her future, and even end her life.

Written by two proven storytellers, Traces of Mercy is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, prairie-based tales, or just a good romance.

My thoughts:

An excellent offering for a Civil War era reading buff like myself. We follow a Confederate sniper on the battlefield relentlessly pursuing the enemy but when a momentary act of mercy changes the course of the soldiers life, it produces a spellbinding story of love, intrigue, betrayal, and revenge.

This novel hooked me from the very first page! I turned the pages of this book eagerly because of the compelling storyline. The ending of this book was enough to satisfy me but an interesting turn of events at the end makes me want to wish away the months until book two comes out.

My thanks to CFBA and David C Cook Publishers for generously providing a copy for review.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Traces of Mercy, go
HERE.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Christmas Quilt

(Abingdon Press - October 15, 2013)

by

Vannetta Chapman


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word From The Author:

I hold a BA and MA degree in English, and I am proud to be represented by Mary Sue Seymour, AAR. I have published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, and have received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. I am honored to be a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Faith Hope and Love.

I live and teach in the Texas hill country with my husband, cats, and a rather large herd of deer. Our four children have flown the nest; however, we are fortunate that they all live close enough to visit.

I have always felt that my faith was at the very center of who and what I am, and I am thrilled beyond words to be able to now write about something that is so near to my heart. At various times I have served as a pianist, teacher, church secretary, and worship team member. While living in the Dallas area, I served as an adjunct professor of English Literature at Dallas Baptist University. When we moved to a small town in Central Texas, I continued teaching for a few years, but I now write full-time and I play the keyboard in our church’s praise band.

My grandfather was born in Albion, Pennsylvania, and I am currently researching whether I might have Amish roots.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

My thoughts:

There are two types of books I really enjoy reading...Amish fiction and Christmas books, and to get both within the pages of the same book is always a delight.

I really enjoyed how the author tied in the Fruit of the Spirit with the making of the quilt. It's not always easy to have the fruit of the Spirit when going through adversity, and I like how the stories that were told in the book seemed to put Leah's mind at ease as things were tenuous during the last part of her pregnancy. What a fitting example of letting those fruit be developed in each of us as hard times come.

Christmas is just around the corner and this book would be a perfect gift for any book lover who enjoys either Amish or Christmas fiction.

My sincere thanks to CFBA and Abingdon Press for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Christmas Quilt, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Plain Disappearance

(B&H Books - September 1, 2013)

by

Amanda Flower

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

USA Today recently hailed award-nominated author Amanda Flower for A Plain Death, calling it “the first Amish rom-com . . . bring on the next one!” As the enthusiastic reviews continue to mount, she’s back with her third Appleseed Creek mystery, A Plain Disappearance.

It’s Christmastime in Amish Country, and Chloe Humphrey has begun settling into her life in Appleseed Creek excited to see where her new relationship with Timothy Troyer will lead. Unfortunately it leads to murder when the couple discovers the body of Amish teenager Katie Lambright while on their first date.

Near the scene there is evidence that Timothy’s friend and auto mechanic Billy Thorpe is involved with the crime. The police reveal Billy is not really who he said he was and has been living the last decade in Knox County under a stolen alias. Now, Chloe and Timothy must find Billy, bring him to justice, or prove his innocence.

My thoughts:

Even though this is the third book in the Appleseed Creek series, this is the first book of the series I've read. I missed a bit of the backstory but I plan on remedying that soon enough when I pull the first two off my shelf and read them. Even though I did miss that bit of backstory it didn't have any effect on how much I enjoyed this book.

Lots of great characters and a twist-and-turn plot kept me quickly turning pages in my own pursuit to find Katie's killer. All the pieces finally came together for me and I pegged the culprit mere pages from the climax, but there were moments when I thought I'd figured out whodunit only to have my hopes dashed at my incorrect suppositions.

So, reader friends, if you love Amish or mysteries, or even Amish mysteries, check out this book. I was not disappointed!

My thanks to CFBA and B&H Books for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Plain Disappearance, go HERE.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Class Reunion Series by Debby Mayne


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Pretty is as Pretty Does (bk 1)
Bless Her Heart (bk 2)
Tickled Pink (bk 3)

(Abingdon Press - June 1, 2013)

by

Debby Mayne

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debby Mayne is a best-selling author who has published more than 25 books and novellas, 400 short stories and articles, and devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor, and a copy editor and proofreader. Her novel, Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida received 4-1/2 stars from RT Book Review, and was named a Top Pick for the month of July. She and her husband Wally have two grown daughters, and live in Palm Harbor, Florida.


ABOUT THE BOOKS:

Priscilla Slater goes to her ten-year high school reunion with equal parts dread and eager anticipation. Even though she’s a successful owner of a chain of hair salons and no longer has the mousy brown hair, crooked teeth, and discount-store wardrobe, she still feels like the ugly duckling. But when she arrives at the reunion, Priscilla soon realizes that her old classmates aren’t exactly as she remembers them. With humor and a just a touch of sassiness, Priscilla finds herself facing her own truth—and she may be surprised at what she discovers.

As Priscilla Slater’s 15-year class reunion approaches, she decides to attend out of curiosity… and to flaunt her latest achievement—taking her business to a national level with the possibility of a TV show. As if getting ready for the event and putting up with the pranks of her former classmates isn’t enough, Priscilla’s hometown visit is further complicated by her parents’ separation. With the once-solid sanctuary of her home broken at the foundation, there’s only one thing Priscilla’s parents can agree on: no matter what sort of accolades their daughter receives as a hair stylist, she’s not living up to her potential. Eager to escape the painful reality of her childhood home, Priscilla bolts as soon as a call from New York brings good news: her offer to purchase one of the best salons in the country is likely to come through. But returning to New York means returning to Tim, Priscilla’s best friend and business pal who has been impatiently suggesting their relationship should be more than a friendship. Despite her recent achievements, will Priscilla learn that success doesn’t always result in popularity—or love?


Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger—as if she has to be reminded.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Pretty is as Pretty Does (bk 1), go HERE.

My thoughts on Pretty is as Pretty Does:

You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll want to knock some sense into some of the characters in this book! Debby Mayne gives us a good look at how teenage drama and angst don't go away at graduation. So many of the characters in Pretty is as Pretty Does continue to hold onto the past with their attitudes and preconceived notions.

I really felt like this quote (from page 130) was quite insightful and really expressed a great "aha" moment for the main character, Priscilla: "...I think about how important image is and how people cling to what they want people to believe. I know I'm guilty of trying to be what people expect, but it's hard to face old friends I haven't seen in years without wondering how I measure up." I think in some way all of us struggle with those thoughts, and just not at reunion time.

At the beginning it took me a bit to get into the differing viewpoints in the chapters but once I did I really appreciated the perspectives of each one and it gave a more balanced approach to the goings-on in the story line. I'm really looking forward to reading the subsequent books in this series to get to know more about each of these characters - and to see where the relationship between Priscilla and Tim goes.

If you enjoy contemporary womens fiction with a touch of romance, be sure to pick up this series. I was not disappointed and enjoyed book one so much I read it in one day!

My thanks to CFBA and Abingdon Fiction for generously providing a copy for review.

JOIN THE PARTY!

Now that all three books have released, let’s party! (Yes, really!) Join our online class reunion the week of October 7, 2013 on Debby Mayne’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/136447929891169/ Stop by to answer questions about the books, respond to fun polls, join in fun activities to help you reminisce your high school days, and win great prizes. Tell your friends and meet us there!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Nurse's Secret Suitor by Cheryl Wyatt


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Nurse's Secret Suitor

(Love Inspired - October 1, 2013)

by

Cheryl Wyatt

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Not even Cheryl Wyatt’s closest friends would dream that this sweet, shy intercessor plots mayhem during announcements at church. She is a Registered Nurse turned stay-at-home-mom, wife and writer who loves Jesus with all of her heart.

Joyful chaos rules her home, and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She is convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentines Day destined her to write Inspirational Military Romance.

Cheryl loves to laugh and to make others laugh, so she often plans comedic moments for her defenseless characters in spite of their grumbling. She says it’s payback for when they refuse to obey the plots she’s set out before them.

Prior to publication, six of Cheryl’s manuscripts placed in ten RWA Contests. Two of Cheryl’s stories also placed First in ACFW’s Noble Theme Contest 2005 (Contemporary Romance Category), as well as ACFW‘s Genesis Contest 2006 (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Category).

She currently writes for Love Inspired. Her Wings of Refuge Series, about a team of USAF Pararescue Jumpers and the ladies who capture their hearts, can be purchased anywhere books are sold.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A Strong-Willed Heart

Trauma nurse Kate Dalton can handle any challenge—except love. The combat veteran dreams of settling down, but heartbreak is one risk she won't take. Then a chance encounter opens her heart to a masked stranger…who might not be a stranger after all! Caleb Landis, the army medic behind the disguise, has always admired Kate, even though she only saw him as her best friend's brother. What will it take for Kate to discard her fears and discover the man she's always hoped to unmask?

Eagle Point Emergency: Saving lives — and losing their hearts — in a small Illinois town

My thoughts:


In this third Eagle Point Emergency book, we get better acquainted with Kate Dalton, a former drill sergeant who seeks perfection in all she does. She's left military life and due to circumstances with her parents, has no desire to have a close relationship with anyone who chooses to don a uniform for Uncle Sam. We also get reintroduced to Caleb Landis, whose goal is to make it into Ranger school as a means to prove to himself that he is nothing like the father who abandoned him.

I really liked the beginning of the story where Caleb arrives dressed as a black bandit and comforts and encourages Kate. I did find it a wee bit far-fetched, though, as the story went along that Kate was unable to figure out the bandits identity. The scene of the bandit's final appearance is one of my favorites in the book, so it's worth reading the story just to get to that.

While we see many of the previous characters in this series, this book is pretty much Caleb and Kate...with Caleb's niece-to-be Tia making some memorable appearances. The girl does her best to tickle the funny bone throughout the story.

I've read all of the books in the series thus far and I've really enjoyed getting to know the characters in each one. I feel like the residents of Eagle Point have become my friends. If you're looking for a sweet, romantic read then look no further than Eagle Point. You'll find great characters with great stories ... and you'll fall in love with both!

My thanks to CFBA and Author Cheryl Wyatt for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Nurse's Secret Suitor, go HERE.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Made to Last by Melissa Tagg


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Made to Last

(Bethany House Publishers - September 15, 2013)
by

Melissa Tagg


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word From The Author:

I’m a former reporter turned author who loves all things funny and romancey. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to my nonprofit day job, I’m also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists.


It all started when my dad, at the ripe old age of sixteen, picked up my mom up for their first date. She was thirteen. Thirteen!* Dad drove a cherry red car up the lane to my grandparents big ol’ green house and honked his horn…whereupon Mom jumped out of the apple tree she’d been waiting in and off they went…fishing. True story. (I’d give more details, but I’m saving it for a novella I plan to entitle Two Leaves. Mom, I really hope you read this.)

Four years of college, a few trips abroad and a stint as a reporter later, that dream is soon to be a reality. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, is now out from Bethany House. Book two, Here to Stay, comes out on May 1, 2014.

In between writing and staring out the window brainstorming, I also work as a grant-writer at one of Iowa’s largest private nonprofits and serve as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists founded by Susan May Warren.


And I love, love, love talking about finding our purpose and identity in Christ. (And well, okay, food, old movies, boots and scarves, my awesome nephew Ollie, and, fine, Tim Tebow, too.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

My thoughts:

I loved this book! I fell in love with so many characters...Randi, Cee, Matt, even Blaze (and I'm hoping book two, Here to Stay, coming in May 2014, is his story!)

I love a book where I feel emotionally connected to the story. Made to Last made me laugh (a lot), get a little melancholy a time or two...and a few times I just wanted to give a few of the characters a piece of my mind! Friction definitely makes for a good story.

Melissa wrote such an engaging story, it's hard to believe this is a debut novel - and that makes me want to read the next one all the more.

My thanks to CFBA and Bethany House for generously providing a copy for review.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Made to Last, go HERE.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Raw Edges by Sandra D Bricker


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Raw Edges

(Abingdon Press - September 17, 2013)

by

Sandra D. Bricker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie's spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

My thoughts:

I've read a number of Sandra Bricker's novels and I know that as I pick up each one, I will be gifted with a story that will both tug my heartstrings and tickle my funny bone.

Sadie's love for her late mother, Jenna, is evident and each journal entry between chapters enhances that part of the story even more. As Sadie learns the life lessons that her mother knew she would need to make it through the days to come, she also uses those lessons to help her father, Gray, see hope where he only sees loss and grief.

After the first anniversary of her death, Jenna asks (through her journal) that Sadie encourage her father to get involved in Ovacome, a support group for those whose lives have been affected by ovarian cancer. He reluctantly agrees and there they meet Annabelle Curtis, an ovarian cancer survivor herself, who is overseeing the construction of a memory quilt to honor both the survivors as well as those who valiantly lost their fight with the dreaded disease. As Sadie gets more attached to the project, she gets attached to Annabelle as well and is determined to get Annabelle and her daddy together.

This sweet love story is full of great characters, some emotionally charged moments, and a delightful ending that will leave a smile on your face. If cancer has touched your life in any way, then you need to read this book. Within the pages of this story, Sandra gives us a look into a disease that can leave people with tattered and fragile hearts, but also shows us that God's love can blanket us with hope and can help mend those raw edges.

My thanks to CFBA and Abingdon Press for generously providing a copy for review.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raw Edges, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall into Reading 2013


Happy Fall, Y'all!



It's hard to believe another summer has come and gone. I'm definitely feeling fall in the air and the slightest wind is causing the leaves to find their way to the ground. These chilly evenings are making it so much more desirable to choose to cuddle up with a good book and a warm beverage and read the night away - and just in time comes the Fall into Reading Challenge. I've joined in many of the Fall into Reading Challenges when they were hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days and am happy to see that someone has picked up the mantle to carry on this challenge.

This year's host is Sandra Stiles at The Musings of a Book Addict and you can find out all the pertinent info here.

Here's my tentative list of the books I hope to get through in the next three months. I know it seems a bit ambitious but I'm trying to hit my goal for the number of books read in 2013 as well as finish a few challenges I signed up for in January.

Review books:

1. The Nurse's Secret Suitor by Cheryl Wyatt
2. Pretty is as Pretty Does by Debby Mayne
3. A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower
4. The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman

Books to finish my reading goals for 2013:

1. Three Hearts, One Town by Sarah Jae Foster
2. Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester
3. Jim Eliot - Missionary Martyr by Susan Martin Millers
4. In Plain View by Olivia Newport
5. Swimming through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus
6. Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley
7. Bright Christmas by Susan Rohrer
8. It's Complicated by Laura L Smith
9. It's Over by Laura L Smith
10. Diary of a Real Payne by Annie Tipton
11. Knocking 'Em Dead by Chris Well
12. The Icing on the Cake by Janice Thompson
13. Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins
14. Eventide by Shelley Shepard Gray
15. The Christmas Visitor by Linda Byler
16. Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis
17. Beneath the Dover Sky by Murray Pura
18. Frame 232 by Wil Mara
19. In the Secret Service by Jerry Parr
20. Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson
21. The Doctor's Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt
22. Love Finds You in Lancaster, PA by Annalisa Daughety
23. Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge/John Ward
24. Love Finds You in Carmel by-the-Sea by Sandra Bricker
25. The Tattered Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter
26. A Plain Death by Amanda Flower
27. A Plain Scandal by Amanda Flower
28. Double Take by Melody Carlson
29. Damaged by Melody Carlson
30. The Future Door by Jason Lethcoe
31. Blown Away by Nancy Mehl
32. Burying the Hatchet by Chris Well

I am also reading the preliminary list (25 books) of the Missouri Show-Me Award Nominees for 2014-2015 and I will add those as I read them.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Unforeseeable by Nancy Mehl


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Unforeseeable

(Bethany House Publishers - September 1, 2013)

by

Nancy Mehl


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Mystery, Romance, and Suspense Seamlessly Combined in a Mennonite Small-Town Setting

Callie Hoffman knows she has a good life in Kingdom, Kansas. She's thrilled to be engaged to Levi Housler, the new pastor of Kingdom Mennonite Church, and she spends her days working with her friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Lizzie Housler, at Cora's Cafe.

However, Callie's idyllic life is interrupted when a body is discovered on the road outside Kingdom and the deceased turns out to be a victim of a serial killer. As Washington County's new sheriff begins questioning Kingdom residents, Callie and the rest of the town are appalled at the prospect of a killer among them. The very reason Kingdom exists is to protect the people from the temptations and dangers of the outside world, but all the town founders' attempts to plan ahead couldn't prevent a threat like this.

Unsettled at this unforeseen danger, Callie is concerned when it appears Levi knows more than he's telling. Desperate to find answers for herself, Callie never expected that she'd have to face some of her own past's skeletons.

As Callie and the residents of Kingdom fear this danger for which they never planned, they must learn anew that only God knows the future and their trust must always lie in Him.

My Thoughts:

Things are not always as they seem, even in the idyllic Mennonite community of Kingdom, Kansas, and that peaceful existence is about to change.

Intrigue abounds in this final episode in the Road to Kingdom series. Women are found dead and evidence leads the authorities to believe that the killings are the work of a serial killer. The townspeople are frightened and wonder who among them is hiding their true nature...one that makes them want to kill.

I've enjoyed this whole series and was very impressed with it's conclusion. With it's complex plotting and great character development, romance with its share of friction, and an ending that will knock your socks off, Unforeseeable will leave lovers of romantic suspense like myself quite satisfied.

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

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pattern for Romance by Carla Olson Gade

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Pattern for Romance

(Abingdon Press - August 20, 2013)

by

Carla Gade

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carla Olson Gade has been imaging stories most of her life. Her love for writing and eras gone by turned her attention to writing Inspirational Historical Romance. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Writers, and the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary.

Her publishing credits also include a variety of newspaper articles, newsletters, and web content. She also enjoys developing discipleship materials for women. She has been a book judge for the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest (RWA), and ACFW's Genesis Contest.

In addition to writing, Carla is a freelance website designer and webhost and an advocate for adult literacy. An experienced event and program planner/promoter, Carla designs marketing materials for her writing group, women's ministry, and other functions. Carla has also spoken at several women's events and facilitated many workshops and classes through the years.

An autodidact, creative thinker, and avid reader, Carla also enjoys genealogy, web design, and photography. A native New Englander, she lives in beautiful rural Maine with her "hero" husband and two young adult sons, and a new grandson.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Honour Metcalf’s quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston Mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager’s niece. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches the intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own. When Honour is falsely accused of thievery and finds herself in a perilous position, merchant tailor Joshua Sutton comes to her aid. As he risks his relationships, reputation, and livelihood to prove her innocence, the two discover a grander plan—a design for love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pattern for Romance, go HERE.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Rules of Murder

(Bethany House Publishers - August 1, 2013)

by

Julianna Deering

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014).

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.

My thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book...a well-executed mystery, a great combination of characters (some you'll love, some you'll despise), excellent dialogue (loved the bantering between Drew, Nick, and Madeline), and a light touch of romance.

This book was probably one of the best mystery books I've read in a long, long while - truly a mystery-lovers delight! I'm already anxiously awaiting the next book.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rules of Murder, go HERE.