Friday, 29 February 2008

Coming soon from Trish Perry!

Great news from Trish Perry and Harvest House:~

Following up on Sally John’s bestselling Beach House series (The Beach House and Castles in the Sand—nearly 45,000 in combined sales) is a brand–new Beach House book from veteran Harvest House novelist Trish Perry.

Tiffany LeBoeuf recently lost her mother to cancer. Still grieving, Tiffany seeks rest for her body and soul at a cozy beach house in San Diego. A scheduling mix–up causes a double booking, and Tiffany ends up sharing the house with a woman named Eve. When Eve’s boyfriend, Jeremy, arrives to surprise Eve, he’s surprised to see Tiffany as well. He settles in at the beach house next door, and what happens after that surprises them all.

A fun, contemporary romance about how God uses even our mistakes to bring about His divine purposes. Beach Dreams is the perfect get–away read.

To read my reviews of Trish's other fabulous books, click on the titles below:~

The Guy I'm Not Dating

Too Good to be True

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Blog Tour of A Sister's Test by Wanda E Brunstetter & Giveaway

Post a comment by midnight Thursday 6th March, 2008 for a chance to win a copy of A Sister's Test. This giveaway is open to ALL my readers :)



A Sister's Test

Barbour Publishing

ISBN 13: 978-1597892728

Paperback; $9.97; 288 pages

Romance is in bloom once again in Holmes County. Cleon and Grace Schrock are expecting their first child together and are happily settling into married life. And Grace’s younger sister, Ruth, is falling in love with Martin Gingerich. As their love blooms, the attacks on the Hostettler family begin again threatening their peace and security once again.

First, the attacks are just pranks...

A stink bomb in the family barn

The farm gets toilet-papered

Then, they escalate...

Laundry on the line is shredded

Weed spray in the garden kills all their garden plants

Finally, the unthinkable...

A horse and buggy are run off the road, costing the family dearly

Who’s to blame? Footprints lead directly to the Larson homestead and shortly thereafter Ray and Donna Larson make an offer to purchase the Hostettler homestead should they decide to move. But it could also be Luke Frieson, a young man still on rumspringa who hangs around with a rowdy English crowd. Cigarettes at the scene of one attack could point to him. Or they could point to heavy smoker Sheriff Osborn.

Bestselling Amish fiction author Wanda E. Brunstetter is certain to keep her millions of readers up late into the evening to learn whether all the mischief and mayhem will finally come to an end.


About Wanda E. Brunstetter


Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband’s family in Pennsylvania, Wanda E. Brunstetter combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She has also written an Amish cookbook, an Amish devotional and some Amish children’s books. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the States.


Q&A with Wanda Brunstetter, author of A Sister's Test

Q. A Sister’s Test is the second installment in the Holmes County Series and deals with mysterious attacks that test the faith, perseverance and forgiveness of the characters. What was the inspiration behind this series and what message(s) should readers take away after they’ve read A Sister’s Test?


A. After reading a newspaper article about some Amish people who’d been attacked by someone with a grudge against them, I decided to write a series addressing this issue and showing how I believe the Amish would respond to a situation such as this. The message I hope my readers will take away from reading A Sister’s Test is the message of forgiveness, forbearance, and trusting in God to bring about something good even in bad situations.


Q. In the past you’ve mentioned having a serious fascination with the Amish people and it’s clear from your writings that you respect their culture. What is it about them and their culture that you admire?


A. I admire their strong faith in God and their commitment to God and family. I also admire the fact that they do not put their emphasis on worldly things and spend more time reflecting on God’s creation and the blessings He bestows.


Q. How can we adopt these principles in today’s society without giving up the ‘modern’ way of life and becoming Amish?


A. We can slow down and take time out to spend with the Lord, as well as our family and friends. Many people are so busy “doing” that they miss a lot of the wonderful things God created for our enjoyment. Realizing that “things” aren’t nearly as important as “people” will help us keep our focus where it should be.


Q. How do you think you’d respond to the attacks in A Sister’s Secret if you were Ruth?

A. I would no doubt be very frightened and concerned for the welfare of my family. I would, of course, notify the authorities, and perhaps do a little investigating on my own. Most of all, however, I would trust God for protection and ask Him to bring the answers that are needed to put a stop to the crimes. I would also ask Him for patience and a sense of peace.

Q. The ability, or inability, to have children whatever the reason can be devastating to a woman. Do you have any advice to women struggling in this area of life?

A. Two of my best friends are not able to have children of their own. One friend chose to adopt, the other friend did not. Both women are loving, nurturing, caring people, and both are living fulfilled lives. While motherhood is a fulfilling responsibility, I don’t believe being a mother is the only way a woman can be fulfilled. There are many other things we can do in this life that bring fulfillment, and if we seek God’s will and ask Him how we can best serve Him, He will fulfill our needs.

Q. Thinking ahead to the big reveal of the attacker in Book Three, would you be able to forgive this person if you were a member of the Hostettler family?

A. True healing can only occur if we are willing to let go of our pain and forgive those who have wronged us. Only in God’s strength are we able to find the kind of forgiveness necessary in situations like the Hostettlers went through. I would hope I would say, just as Christ said when He was crucified, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Q. What was your favorite part of writing and planning this series?

A. My favorite part of planning this series was being able to visit Holmes County and get to know several Amish families who live there

Q. What books are currently on your bookshelf?


A. Fiction: Fair Game by Carol Cox; Nonfiction: Lord, I need Your blessing by Anita Corrine Donihue, and Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild. All three are excellent books!


Q. What inspires you as a writer? Is it a particular location? A particular ritual?


A. Anytime I’m visiting my Amish friends, I’m inspired to write about the Amish. I also have many Amish things in several rooms in my house, and just looking at them inspires me to write my Amish stories.


Q. You now have over two-million books in print. Do you have any advice for beginning or aspiring novelists?


A.Keep writing and perfecting your craft, and never, ever give up. God’s timing is always best.


Q. We’re eagerly anticipating Book Three…are you in the process of writing it? When will it be available?


A. Book 3, A Sister’s Hope, will be published in July 2008.

Stuck in the Middle Aussie Giveaway!


I have another hot giveaway for my Aussie readers ~ Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith.

Read about the book and my take on it
here and follow the guidelines below:~

1. Have an Australian postal address;

2. Post by midnight Thursday 6th March, 2008; and

3. Joan, the main character in this book has issues with her name! Tell me your favourite name for a girl, excluding ones you have already used for any daughters you may have :)

"Jamie" has long been a favourite girl's name of mine!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

CFBA Blog Tour of Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stuck in the Middle
Revell (February 1, 2008)
by
Virginia Smith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series. Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.” Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!





ABOUT THE BOOK:
Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.
"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~
"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~

My take:~

Virginia Smith 's story about three sisters who love eachother yet jostle for position in the family hierachy is entertaining, with laughs, love and lessons in abundance. Joan, Allie and Tori are refreshingly "normal" yet each has a distinctive personality so there is certain to be a Sanderson girl to relate to. The middle daughter, Joan , is the focus of Stuck in the Middle, responsible , reserved and afraid of losing those she loves. While this story is easy to read, it does not remain superficial with Joan's insecurities unveiled and her road to healing and hope evolving beautifully. With three daughters of my own I look forward to more from this Sister to Sister series from Virginia Smith.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis and Aussie Giveaway!

Dear Claudia,

I'm waiting for the end.

Can't stop thinking.

Elvis is in the basement.

And he belongs in Memphis.

He haunts me....

Stu

Still grieving from her husband's early death, Claudia stumbles across a note from him, with an odd request - take Stu's beloved bust of Elvis back to Memphis. Unable to refuse, Claudia hits the road in Stu's red vintage Cadillac with her Aunt Rae, an unconventional woman with a mysterious tie to Elvis and the conspicuous bust of Elvis riding in the back seat. Joining them is Ivy, the teenage daughter of Stu's best friend Ben, unpredictable and defiant and maybe more than the childless Claudia can handle.

Their journey is replete with shocking revelations, fascinating people, a sharing of secrets and finally, blossoming hope and love.

Leanna Ellis tells a unique and quirky tale that is fun, captivating and inspiring. Claudia, Rae and Ivy represent woman across the generations and their interaction, though not without difficulties, engagingly highlights the importance of female relationships. Leanna is adept at creating poignant and tender scenes without sentimentality as the characters battle with grief, fear, rejection, faith and love. Seamlessly woven throughout the story are fascinating insights into Elvis' life, love lost and rediscovered and burgeoning hope. If you are looking fsomething a little different from the main fare and a better than average read, Elvis Takes a Back Seat is is the real deal!

Available now from Broadman & Holman


I am thrilled to have four copies of this book to give away, thanks to publisher, Broadman & Holman. To enter, please meet the following:~

1. An Aussie mailing address

2. Post before midnight on 10th March, 2008

3. Tell me your favourite Elvis song or movie!

I won't be much help on this one as I didn't know who Elvis was until his death! I was most embarrassed at school when I said, "Elvis who?"!

Fascinating fiction coming soon from Broadman & Holman

Broadman & Holman have given real impetus to their fiction line with Karen Ball taking on the role of acquisitions editor last year. With the look of the titles below, and ones I have previously highlighted, she is doing a fabulous job :)

Be sure to click on the titles to pre order from Amazon and the author's names for more information.


The Moon and the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen

Set in Siam and Europe during the 1920s, the glittering decade of change, The Moon In The Mango Tree is based upon the true story of Barbara Bond, a beautiful young ex-patriot and opera singer from Philadelphia who is forced to choose between her fierce desire for independence—a desire to create something of her own to give purpose and meaning to her life—and a deep abiding love for her faithful missionary husband whose work seems to create a gap between them.

But when you choose between two things you love, must one be lost forever?

Releasing May, 2008














Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley


In a world enslaved by money and power, one woman dares to be free. Will an explosive secret enslave her again?

The place is the island of Rhodes; the time, 227 BC. In the ten years that Tessa of Delos has been in bondage as a hetaira, a high-priced Greek courtesan to a wealthy politician, she has learned to abandon all desire for freedom and love. But when her owner meets a violent death, Tessa is given the chance to be free—if she can hide the truth of his murder and maintain a masquerade until escape is possible. Now Tessa must battle for her own freedom and for those she is beginning to love, as forces collide that will shatter the island’s peace and bring even its mighty Colossus to its knees.

Here is a powerful story showing how the love of God can transform even the most hardened person and bring back to life the soul jaded by sin and grief.

Releasing August, 2008

Be sure to drop by T. L. Higley's website and enter the contest to win a signed, advanced copy of Shadow of Colossus. It's a great site to browse too!





Lookin' Back Texas by Leanna Ellis

Betty Lynne Davidson is planning her husband’s funeral while overlooking one thing: he’s not dead.

When Suzanne Mullins, forty-two, gets the call from her father to come back home to Texas because her mother has gone off the deep end, she knows it will mean having to look at the faulty foundations of their marriage as well as her own. Betty Lynne has always upheld a perfect facade of home and family, and Suzanne has followed suit. But her life with husband Mike and son Oliver is cracking under the pressure of its own unspoken history.

Looking her past in the eye once and for all, Suzanne hopes that trusting in God’s love and mercy will set all of this craziness straight—even if it does mean having to watch her father give the eulogy at his own funeral.

Releasing September, 2008








Forsaken by James David Jordan

When Simon Mason, the world’s best-known televangelist, receives threats from Muslim terrorists, he hires Taylor Pasbury, a beautiful former Secret Service agent, to take charge of his security. Taylor is thrilled to receive the high-profile assignment, but she has no idea that Simon already knows more about her than she could imagine.

When the terrorists strike, making a demand of the pastor that would shake the most steadfast saint, Taylor draws on all of her hard-knock toughness and training as she fights to save Simon and his daughter. Along the way, she discovers that she is not the only one who has done things she would like to forget—and she is not the only one who understands th

at some things are more important than living.

Releasing October, 2008


Check back over the next months for my reviews of these books which I will post close to their release dates, with some fantastic giveaways too!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Someday by Karen Kingsbury

The Baxter Family and their friends are back in the penultimate story of their lives in Someday.

John Baxter comes to a pivotal moment in his burgeoning relationship with Elaine but uncertainty plagues him as to whether he can have a future with Elaine. The practical and emotional implications of moving on appear to be hurdles too high to overcome.

Bloomington seems to have lost some of its heart with the decision to destroy the CKT theatre as Bailey and Connor Flanigan seek out other activities to occupy their time.

Meanwhile Dayne and Katy's reality show goes to air with dreaded consequences, which threaten not only their marriage but another beloved Baxter family unit.

Someday continues the Sunrise series, following on from the emotional conclusion in Summer. The insidious nature of life in the public eye continues to plague Dayne and Katy and this is fleshed out well, together with the ripple effect upon their extended family. Bailey Flanigan and her family are very minor characters in this story and I would have liked to have seen their lives developed more, along with Cody Coleman who is mentioned only briefly. Karen sensitively shows the pressures on John Baxter as he tries to move on to a new life without his beloved Elizabeth. The myriad of issues and difficult decisions required to be made are developed skillfully and with realism. After the emotional intesity of Summer, Someday seemed a little flat but I have no doubt that Karen will end this highly successful series with her usual inspirational flair and passion when Sunset releases in September, 2008 from Tyndale.

Another exciting new story from Tyndale.....

Press release:~

Debut Author Tom Pawlik’s Vanish,

2006 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Winner,

Delivers Nonstop Suspense in the Vein of Ted Dekker and Dean Koontz

“The low rumble of thunder grew louder as it approached. Thick clouds rolled westward like a giant wave washing across the sky. Prolonged flashes of lightening blazed inside the billows—red, blue, and amber.”

[Carol Stream, IL]—Three strangers each encounter the same mysterious storm and awake the next day to find that everyone else has vanished. There’s Connor Hayden, a successful but unscrupulous lawyer who has forsaken his family for his career; Helen Krause, a middle-aged model struggling to come to grips with her fading beauty; and Mitch Kent, an enterprising young mechanic unable to escape a past that still haunts him.

Tyndale House Publishers is pleased to present Vanish by Tom Pawlik, the 2006 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Winner. Written in the tradition of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Ted Dekker, Vanish presents a chilling scenario that shows it’s never too late to turn your life around.

Afraid and desperate for answers, Connor, Helen, and Mitch’s paths cross and they discover they are being watched. Elusive and obscured in shadows, the “observers” are apparently forcing them to relive vivid hallucinations of events from their past. As the “observers” turn aggressive, they are forced on a cross-country journey from Chicago to Washington D.C. As they flee, they hope to find other survivors, but more importantly, they hope to find answers.

Tom Pawlik has a B.A. in communication and works in the marketing field. He has also been active in Christian teaching, youth work, and music for over twenty years. His debut novel, Vanish, won first place in the 2006 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. In addition to writing fiction, Tom is also an accomplished songwriter and musician who writes and records at his home studio. He and his wife, Colette, live in Ohio with their four children and one large dog.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A Soldier's Promise by Cheryl Wyatt

Synopsis:~

"My name's Bradley. I'm eight and have cancer. I want to meet a Special Forces soldier more than anything. Well, almost anything. Having a family would be nice."

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child's wish come true. Well, not the family part-not with Joel's past. And so despite vowing never to set foot back in Refuge, Illinois, Joel parachuted onto the boy's school lawn to a huge smile. But another smile unexpectedly stole Joel's heart: that of Bradley's beautiful teacher, Amber Stanton, who was trying to adopt the boy. And trying to show Joel it was time for new vows.

My take:~

Cheryl Wyatt's debut novel is a treat! The romance is engaging, the writing is solid but for me the best part was the depth of characterisation. In just under 240 small pages, Cheryl has created appealing characters living with hope and faith all the while struggling with heartache from their pasts.

Joel exudes capability and strength as an Air Force pararescue jumper yet is humanised by his fear of setting foot in his childhood home. Amber and Bradley are also multi layered and pivotal in Joel's healing process. If you are looking to relax and enjoy a sparkling romance don't go past A Soldier's Promise and be sure to look out for it's sequel, A Soldier's Family, releasing March, 2008 from Steeple Hill.

The winner of Where My Heart Belongs is...



Louise
~ congratulations!

It is hard to choose a favourite parable but maybe the lost coin :)

Thanks for entering ~ drop by again soon.

Coming soon from Tyndale....

Tyndale House Press Release:~

Best-selling Author and Christian Broadcaster, Chris Fabry

Releases a Striking Debut Adult Novel of Tragedy and Heartbreak in a Small Town

In the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Karin Ashworth has buried her shattered dreams by settling for a faithful husband whose emotional distance from her deep passions and conflicts leaves her isolated. Loaded with guilt, she tries to raise three small children and “do life” the best she can. Meanwhile, Will Hatfield returns to Dogwood intent on pursuing the only woman he has ever loved—only to find there is far more standing in his way than lost years in prison.

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. is pleased to announce the August 2008 publication of Dogwood, a debut work of adult fiction from best-selling author, Chris Fabry. Fabry is already well known as a children’s author. He co-wrote Left Behind the Kids, Red Rocks Mysteries, and The Wormling series with Jerry Jenkins, and released his own children’s series based on NASCAR, RPM last August.

Tyndale House Fiction Acquisitions Director, Karen Watson, says “Chris is an insightful and honest observer of people and the human condition. At the outset, Dogwood appears to be a simple story about flawed people. But Chris has imagined a poetic and surprising story about the cost of hidden secrets. This story delivers an emotional jolt that will get fiction lovers talking and we’re thrilled to be publishing it.”

The secrets of Will’s and Karin’s past begin to emerge through Danny Boyd, a young boy who wishes he hadn't survived the tragedy that knit those two together as well as tore them apart. The trigger that will lay their pain bare and force them to face it rather than flee is the unlikely figure of Ruthie Bowles, a withered, wiry old woman who leads Karin so deep into her anger against God that it forces unexpected consequences.

Chris Fabry is a writer and broadcaster who hosted Moody Broadcasting’s OPEN LINE national call-in radio program for over 12 years. In addition to the popular Left Behind: The Kids series and the Red Rock mysteries, Chris has also written five additional books. He lives in Colorado with his wife, Andrea, and their nine children.

Dogwood releases in August, 2008

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

CFBA Blog Tour of Adam by Ted Dekker


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

ADAM

(Thomas Nelson April 1, 2008)


by
Ted Dekker


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.


ABOUT THE BOOK

He died once to stop the killer...now he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psche.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."

New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel yet...an elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Rel here:~ I am frustrated that I haven't been able to get to my copy of Adam yet but check back soon for a review!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The winner of For Better or For Worse is...


WendyB ~ congratulations :)

I'll get the book to you shortly!

I have some fantastic author interviews coming soon including Camy Tang, Melody Carlson and Erynn Mangum - it will be fun!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Sneak peek at Finding Stefanie by Susan May Warren

I will be reviewing the fabulous Taming Rafe in March, which I loved, but couldn't wait until then to give you a look at the third and final story in the Noble Legacy series ~ Finding Stefanie, releasing July, 2008 from Tyndale. Doesn't the cover look great!




Synopsis:~


Stefanie Noble feels like "happily ever after" has passed her by---until three needy kids show up in town. Movie star Lincoln Cash has one last chance to start a new career---in Phillips, Montana. When Lincoln accuses one of Stefanie's charges of arson, neither of them realizes
that somebody is out to get them!


Check out Susie's website and blog!

The winner of You Had Me at Goodbye is...


Amy ~ congratulations!

Please email me your address details at relzreviewz @ gmail . com (minus spaces)

Thanks to everyone who entered! I wish I could give you all a copy :)

Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson & Aussie Giveaway

Amy Halbert changed her name to Sunshine when she turned eighteen and that was only one example of how she flaunted her disdain of her family and their small town life in Slocum, Kansas. At least that was the way her big sister Kathy always viewed it.

Demanding her inheritance from her parents, Sunshine, headed off for the bright lights of anywhere, just not Kansas and for twelve long years the remaining Halbert family grieved, made difficult choices and moved on with their lives. Then everything changes when Kathy answers a knock at the door of the failing farm where she lives with her dad ~ Sunshine has returned home seeking forgiveness and acceptance.

For Kathy, Sunshine's return is the ultimate slap in the face, a trivialising of her sorrow for the sister she thought was dead and an anger she didn't know was in her burns fiercely, robbing her peace and driving a wedge between herself and Sunshine and eventually damaging the solace she had always found in her faith in God.

Tracie Peterson's prodigal daughter storyline is not new yet it is infused with rich emotions and deep struggle. Kathy is torn between desiring retribution against her sister for all she sacrificed due to her disappearance, the loss of her mother and the illness of her father which Kathy holds Sunshine completely responsible and the remembrance of the deep love she once had for her sister. While the story is well written and the characters infused with genuine feelings, I struggled to connect with the characters and the pacing was a bit slow for my liking. Kathy's journey is not simplified nor are her feelings of hatred and fury diminished which is an encouraging part of this tale. Kathy's faith and her belief in forgiveness is tested and the road is not a comfortable one. No doubt Tracie's fans will enjoy her foray once again into a contemporary novel and the final outcome Where My Heart Belongs will please many.

As seen at TitleTrakk.com

I have a copy of this book to give away! To enter:~

1. Have an Aussie mailing addy;

2. Comment by midnight on Thursday 21st February; and

3. Tell me your favourite parable Jesus told!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Interview with Jamie Carie

Jamie Carie's writing is brilliant ~ evocative and spiritually moving! Be sure to grab a copy of Snow Angel and the soon to be released The Duchess and the Dragon, both historical romance novels that stand out from the crowd due to superlative writing, intriguing characters and gripping storylines.

I was delighted when Jamie willingly shared of her time and herself in this interview ~ it makes for fascinating reading :)

Writing

Why Christian fiction?

Well, it all started when I was a young mother with two small boys at home. I had been reading romance novels since I was fourteen and had picked them back up. After a time, I felt God asking me to loosen my grip. I didn’t want to, it was hard, but I did, switching to an occasional Christian romance. They were sweet stories, but I longed for epic tales like Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Les Miserable, etc. but had read them over and over. So, on a whim really, I decided to try my hand at writing the kind of romance that I wanted to read. I didn’t really care (and didn’t even understand) the marketability of something that wouldn’t exactly fit into the general vs. Christian market, I didn’t know such a book wouldn’t – for years – fit into any publisher’s niche. I just wrote what I wanted to read.

The other answer I can see so clearly now is that my parents implanted the Word of God in me so strongly that it was and is a part of who I am. “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) That training poured out effortlessly as I began writing. I am so thankful for my Christian upbringing.

What consumed your time before the writing bug bit?

Diapers and baby-food smeared faces, the round, laughing cheeks of my little boys. Homeschooling and play dough and cookie baking messes. Making ends meet on one income and a wonderful husband who learned computer programming on his own, at night, so that he could provide for us and for me to stay at home with them. It was a magical, fleeting time.

You have been writing for sometime now ~ how long did it take to complete your first novel from the inception of the idea to holding the book in your hand?

I began Snow Angel in 1995 and I held it in my hands late 2007 – so 12 years? There were many times during those years that I would give up for a time. But my husband would always say, “Someday, you will look back on all this (waiting and striving) and laugh.” I can’t say I am laughing yet, it’s still a little raw. But I am smiling.

What writing project are you working on now?

Right now I am working on Scarlett and Christophé’s story. It is set in France, in the ancient city of Carcassonne during the French Revolution. I had not written a Chapter One in a long time (my first three novels were all nearly finished when I signed my first three-book deal) so I was a little nervous. Could I really do it again? Then I got this sentence, “She whirled around - long, dark cape and glorious hair, flowers still clutched in her hand. Christophé’s gaze dropped from her frightened face to her rounded stomach and then the grave stone that glared chalk white in the mist behind her.” It has been progressing well since – Praise God! LOL!

You enjoy many writing projects from novels to poetry to song lyrics. What aspects of each of those creative outlets do you enjoy?

I would imagine it is similar to a musician playing different instruments. The core is the same, but each has its strengths and its challenges. Poetry and lyrics are, to me, a caught thought or emotion. Short stories are austere beauty and novels are long, slow love affairs. I enjoy the switch and the challenge of each form.

What does a “typical” writing day look like for you?

I wish I could answer that I am completely disciplined and have a schedule that would make people think I’m amazingly organized. But alas, I cannot. I love to write at night, in the dark, with my headphones on. I try to write in the morning or even early afternoon, but end up doing the other side of this business – researching, emails , marketing, networking, and generally fooling around until that moment where I make myself sit down and get started. Then I just write until my eyelids can’t stay open any longer. 7:30 a.m. (when I have to get my son ready for school) comes really early.

You currently write historical romance novels with God’s love and forgiveness seamlessly woven in to the storyline. Will you turn your hand (keyboard!) to another genre in the future?

I actually have a really great idea about something I would like to do after my next three books are completed. I can’t give it away yet, but I can say I don’t think it has been done in exactly this way before. It’s still historical, in a way, still romance, but with an added element. I just have a gut feel it is going to come together beautifully! LOL!

Snow Angel

Please tell us the inspiration behind this novel

I was sitting at the computer (in the dark) in an old farmhouse in Fishers, Indiana. It was in the middle of winter and the cold was seeping up through the wooden floorboards. My feet felt like icicles, my hands were cold but eager over my keyboard, then I just started typing. Before I knew it I was in Alaska, thick in a blizzard and hoping that this girl, Elizabeth, would make it through. A few days later, I went to the library (pre-internet days – can you imagine?) where I checked out every book on Alaska I could get my hands on. As I read those books and took notebooks full of notes, the plot started coming to me. I knew the gold rush had been done before, but I wanted to really capture what it might have been like. What it was like for a woman back then trying to make it on her own. I prayed God would show me the way . . . and praise Him, I think He did.

Did the plot or characters come to you first?

Characters come first. I usually write the first chapter or so on pure character inspiration. Then I research and study which gives me much of the plot. I want the character’s lives to meld with the time period in such a real way that the reader feels like they have dropped into that world. I want the story to be believable, but not overwhelming in detail that the reader gets lost. No one really wants to know the toilet conditions in the seventeenth century (unless you can make a good/funny scene from it – ha!). That’s why they are called romances – everything is a little blurred, a little less harsh than it really might have been, with the characters still having to overcome so much externally and internally. It’s a balancing act – one of the best challenges in novel writing.

You write historical romance novels (as you know!). Traditionally, the characters in these novels have been somewhat “perfect” and yet your characters have avoided that stereotype - tell us your thoughts on writing realistic characters who struggle with their faith or to understand God.

The Bible. That’s my short answer. There is nothing false, nothing held back so as not to shock us, nothing missing of Truth in the Bible. My characters, like all of us, might seek truth, they might run from it, they might, eventually, kneel to it like Noah and Elizabeth did. We recognize God’s truth when we see it in a novel or a movie or a song or a painting. It resonates through us and something cries out and says, “Yes!” It brings inspiration to our lives; it brings us a little closer to knowing God. I hope, I want so badly, to reveal Truth (Jesus!) through my work.

Elizabeth and Noah are grieving their pasts in many ways and this shapes their outlook and responses to people. Their emotions leap off the page - does that writing flow for you or do you revise many times over to capture those feelings so clearly for your readers?

The best scenes come fast and easy. The scenes that fall flat have to be worked and reworked until I am satisfied with them. If I feel a scene isn’t working I must edit it until it does, otherwise I’m risking that moment when the reader can put it down. I don’t want to give them that moment. I imagine them rushing headlong, till 2 a.m. turning pages, their breath in their throat. I think that’s how God watches each of our stories – He can’t look away, His love is so great. He is so hopeful that we will make it through . . . to Him and eternity.

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of Snow Angel?

Ha! I’ve always thought Madeleine Stowe would make a perfect Jane (Google her and you’ll see what I mean), but aside from that I’ve always gone back and forth between actors for Elizabeth and Noah. I actually do think my stories will be made into movies. I don’t know why . . . the odds of that happening are staggering, but it just seems like it will :). God has plans I know nothin’ about! I think Elizabeth will be played by some up and coming new actress with incredible talent, someone we don’t know yet. And Noah? Who could be Noah? It will have to be a special man. Maybe he is being prepared even now. Maybe we should all pray it will be so! LOL! Amen and so be it.

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

Like the one-of-a-kind snowflake, I hope God’s Spirit individualizes the story for each reader in a way that makes a connection from the Father’s heart to the reader’s heart so that He can do His will for this book. Like the baby Samuel, God gave me this for awhile, but it’s not mine anymore. I gave it back to Him. Now I get to sit back like a proud momma and watch this child go out and make her way in the world. I have three sons. I love my three flesh and blood sons. Now I have some daughters . . . and daughters are a beautiful thing too.

The Duchess and The Dragon

I have had the privilege of reading your soon to be released historical romance, The Duchess and The Dragon. Please tell us how the idea for the story and characters came about.

When I first started writing this story I thought Drake was an aristocrat like all the other aristocrats in romance novels: proud, powerful, devastatingly attractive, waiting for that one woman to tame him. But as the story progressed, God showed me who he really was. I became fascinated by the concept of being born with everything the world could give, born in royalty, and then have it all taken away. That’s when God showed me Moses. Moses was brought up in one of the most powerful and wealthy households of the known world. As Pharaoh’s grandson he had been trained to think and act like royalty. I can imagine him a very confident and proud young man. Then, one day, he discovered he wasn’t who he thought he was. He was one of the Hebrew people, one of the slaves. Can you imagine the guilt? Each time he sat at that sumptuous table, knowing he no longer belonged there. Each time he looked out over the land, he saw the backs of his true people bent in slavery. After the murder, Moses lost so much more than his place in society . . . he lost his identity. He went from being a prince to being a shepherd. It took God forty years to break him down in the wilderness - forty years to break and then build him back up into the man he was destined to be. The Moses that fled Egypt was very different from the man who found the burning bush. Then God told him to be a hero. And Moses, so broken now, said he couldn’t speak. But God insisted that he could. So now, afraid and humbled, Moses had to go back and do a miracle – save his people, a people he didn’t really know. I think he was terrified. He remembered that old way of life and the royalty he had called family. He knew being a princess’s son would not be enough to accomplish this mission. He was fully dependent on God. And that was exactly where God wanted him.

Drake is like Moses. He was born into a world that said power and wealth were his due. And, like Moses, he had to lose everything, his known identity, before he could find his true identity and purpose in Christ.

Drake and Serena’s upbringing and social status could not have been more different. I loved the unique twist you placed on a traditional tale of rich boy meets poor girl. Are you conscious of doing things differently in a genre where it must seem it has been all been done before?

My only conscious thought was that Serena was “raised up right” and then had to have every aspect of her faith, from the miniscule to the abstract, tested and tried. For those of us who were raised in Christian homes, I think at some point we have to go through something that probes our hearts to find out if we truly believe all that we think we do. Serena is richer than Drake spiritually, but is it sure sand? Will it stay her when everything falls apart? Those were my questions when I wrote Duchess. Will Drake finds his true, God-imparted, spirit-born identity, and will Serena hone her faith into something so real that she can live the rest of her life from it – no matter what occurs. Those questions made for some pretty powerful scenes.

I so appreciate that your characters genuinely wrestle with their passions and beliefs. How do you balance the fine line between authentic writing and “acceptable” content for a Christian publisher?

God has blessed me with the right people at the right time. My editors are people who know this business far better than I could ever hope to. I trust them. They are the best and more . . . the ones appointed to me for this time. God is bigger than all of us; He has a plan. I just write what my heart tells me to write, lead by His Holy Spirit, and then trust that those at the gate will temper it and refine it and make it worthy to be called a work of Christian fiction. I am no saint. I sometimes write too steamy or outside the box. But God is in control of this thing . . . has been from the beginning . . . and I trust Him and the people He has blessed me with to do His will.

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

That our heavenly Father is sovereign and full of love and grace and yet, sovereign. We are not puppets. We have free will. But He has our backs! He knows all our struggles and temptations and faults (sin-nature). And He made atonement. He has a plan. And it’s good . . . it is so good. Hope. Hope. Don’t give up on hope! Happily ever after isn’t a fantasy . . . it’s our story, it’s our ending. Just believe.

Matters Personal

Can you share a New Year’s resolution with us?!

To read more of the Bible. Every day. More.

Do you read much yourself? If so, some favourites, please?

Just finished, “Rhet Butler’s People” by Donald McCaig. I do so love Scarlett O’Hara.

Favourite of all time romances are: Francine Rivers “Redeeming Love” and Laura Kinsale’s “Flowers From the Storm.” I can’t find anything that beats them.

What are you reading at the moment?

Lots of history books on French Revolution and eighteenth century physicists. (I’m struggling to wrap my mind around that math!) Christophé is a scientist along the lines of “A Beautiful Mind” by your own phenomenal actor Russell Crowe (is he amazing or what?). I’m just beginning “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. I’ll read just about anything that you give me.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

The Last of the Mohicans, when Hawkeye says to Cora, “Listen. Submit. You hear me? You're strong. You stay alive. I will find you ... no matter how far, how long it takes ... “I will find you. I will come for you.”

I think God says that to us . . .

Who inspires you?

The Holy Spirit. Anyone who is doing what He inspires them to do. Mothers. Fathers. Artsy people who think “outside the box” of what life has dealt them. People who spill out their lives for others. People who love. My characters. My dreams for them and my family. My husband. My sons. My friends. All of us in our great and weak moments. Life. The heaving greatness in all of our striving. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. God’s plan for us through His son. Jesus. Beauty. Eternal beauty.

Please tell us a little about your family

This is actually a really long story. My husband and I met when we were twelve and fourteen. I was cute – there’s no denying thatJ and he was a gangly teenager playing Frisbee with a friend at a church camp meeting. He says that when he saw me he knew. He knew I would someday be his wife. It took a little longer for me to believe that. I was the typical, rebellious preacher’s daughter. I didn’t want anything told to me. I wanted freedom. So I went off to college, got engaged to another man. It looked like we would never get together, but every time I came to the end of myself, I would stop and pray, “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” Then Tony would call or show up at some event (my little brother’s graduation, etc.) and I would say okay, I’m gonna make this work. Within a couple of weeks of dating I would panic and then run (yes, I had some commitment issues:). Finally, we started calling each other. About three months later I moved up to Indianapolis to “date” him. I remember that car ride so vividly. I said. “Okay Lord, if this is what you want then I will go to him, but I have to be “in love.” I can’t marry a man on faith alone. Within nine months I was ready to make the leap. I had a panic attack on the way to pick up my wedding dress, but I pressed through. It’s been twenty years and three boys since. God knew what I didn’t. God knew how perfect he is for me. God knew he would support my gift for writing. God knew our sons and our daughters, these books, and God knew our love. Sometimes a leap of faith is all it takes.

Please share some of your faith journey...

I can’t really remember the first time I “asked Jesus into my heart.” I must have been six or seven. My first memory is of witnessing to a frightened girl in my first grade class about Jesus. Then I remember being at Clark Jr. High and feeling God’s Spirit so close that I would walk down those halls and suddenly inhale and get tears in my eyes. I remember the slow slide during high school when fitting in and finding my way blocked Him for a time. I remember college days where classes where easy or boring, where I lived a double life telling my church and parents an abridged story from reality. I remember a guy who told me he loved me no matter what – my husband. Then, together, we slowly found our way, are still finding it . . . with church and the desert/mountain-top moments with God. But I can honestly say, that no matter where I found myself, I have always proclaimed Christ and the hope of salvation.

Some essential Aussie questions

When/if you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first? A platypus or a koala?

Definitely a Koala. So cute!

Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

I’m thinking a Barrier reef. Would love to go snorkelling on Aussie’s shores.

You are visiting Australia ~ do you say yes or no to some vegemite on toast?!

Had to Google vegemite to be sure, but it sounds great! I’ll have to check around and see if I can order it somewhere. I’ll let you know!!

Any last words?

Thanks so much for allowing me to do this interview! Very thoughtful questions! I would love to meet you and some other Aussie’s someday in person!

Jamie - thank you so much. I loved reading your answers and look forward to many more stories in the future :) By the way, if you are brave enough I'll send you some vegemite!

Read my review of Snow Angel, here.

Check back soon for my review of The Duchess and the Dragon, releasing April, 2008 from Broadman & Holman.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

CFBA Blog Tour of My Name is Russell Finck by Michael Snyder


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

My Name is Russell Fink

Zondervan (March 1, 2008)

by

Michael Snyder



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.






ABOUT THE BOOK:

Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

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