Monday, October 31, 2011

Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Jenny B. Jones Plus Giveaway

Thank you so much for joining me on my front porch for this week's Southern-Style Meet & Greet! So sorry for the lateness of this week's post.  When you have a first day on the job...well, the best laid plans don't always go as planned.  So, thanks for sticking with me this week for an evening post of SSM&G.  :o)

Before we get to this week's author, let me announce the winner of last week's giveaway for a copy of Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin.  Thanks to, the winner is:

Cindy (cynthialambrecht@...)

Cindy, your book will be on it's way to you shortly.  I hope you'll enjoy it!

And now for this week's author...Jenny B. Jones!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Like many say, I've always known. I can remember being in first grade and writing one act shows. Nothing like making yourself the star.

What genre do you most like to write?

YA and romantic comedy for women.

Do your own personal experiences, or those of family and friends, ever find their way into one your stories?

Travel finds its way into my books. A couple of years ago I went to Ireland and fell in love with the country and the people. So I set There You'll Find Me there.

I've always wanted to visit Ireland...or England...or anywhere in Europe, actually. 

What do you hope readers “take away” with them after they read one of your books?

I hope they have fun, have some laughs, and come away with hope and something to think about.

What is your latest book release?

There You'll Find Me released this month.  Here's the back-cover blurb:

Grief brought Finley to Ireland. LOVE WILL LEAD HER HOME.

Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She's witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.

She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will's travel journal. It's the place he felt closest to God, and she's hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.

Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She's the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.

Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise?

Are you currently working on another novel, and if so, can you give us a snippet about it?

I've actually taken 2011 off from writing to recharge the batteries. It's been great. I do have a book brewing in my head and am thinking of starting in a few weeks. We'll see if the extended break was worth it...

What was the last Christian Fiction book that you read that you couldn’t put down?

I like anything by Christa Allan, Susan Meissner, Marybeth Whalen, Cara Putman, Rachel Hauck, Nicole O'Dell, Kim Cash Tate, Kit Wilkinson, Mary DeMuth. I could do this all day....someone stop me...

I know what you mean.  :o)

Where can readers find you on the web?

What is your most favorite thing about the South?

All of it. I love Southern culture. I love the beauty of my part of the state, the history around us, the culture of a place like Charleston, the value on food and family and iced tea.

Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?

Unsweet. Daily. It's my weakness for sure.

Sweet tea is my weakness. It's a miracle I still have all my teeth.

BBQ Pork or BBQ Beef?

I'm not much of a pork girl, but when it comes to BBQ, it's gotta be pig all the way.

Dolly Parton or Elvis Presley?

Dolly. She's so smart and funny and talented and humble. There is so much more to that woman than big chest and big hair. And I love that she met her husband at a place called the Wishy Washy.

I never knew that! See what you learn if you're not careful. :o)

Historical House—Plantation or Log Cabin?


Country gal or city gal?

Country for sure.

You, you all, or y’all?

Please. Y'all.

Yep, you guessed it...there's a copy of Jenny's newest book, There You'll Find Me, up for grabs this week! Please fill out the following form to be entered in the contest, and use the comments section on the blog post below for any other thoughts.  All entries must be received by Sunday, November 6, and a winner will be chosen on next week's Meet & Greet. US residents only.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: A Time for Peace by Barbara Cameron/3 Stars

About the book:

After Years of Hardship, Jenny’s Life Appears Perfect. So Why Does Something Seem to Be Missing?

Jenny Bontrager finally feels loved and cherished by her husband, Matthew, and his children. Life seems golden with both her family and career as a writer.

Then one day her grandmother, Phoebe, falls ill, and Jenny cares for her. As she reaches into Phoebe’s closet for a robe, Jenny finds a letter from her father dated the summer when she was nearly eighteen.

As she struggles to understand her father’s words, Jenny’s love for him, and her recently renewed faith and trust in God are thrown into question again. And without warning, her perfect life is thrown into question . . .

My thoughts:

As someone who reads a lot of Amish fiction, I was eager to read a book by a fairly new Amish author, Barbara Cameron.  Several reviewers have had wonderful things to say about her books, and I was curious to see if I would enjoy them for myself.

In my opinion, fans of Wanda Brunstetter and Shelley Shepard Gray would enjoy Barbara's stories and writing style because neither was really a fit for me with this book.  Without going into a lot of detail lest I spoil the experience for someone else, there were several areas that seemed to need some improvement.  For example, the first 60-70 pages were used to set up the story, and it could've been done in about 30-40 without the repetition that was present.  Also, the faith aspect of the book was watered down and almost non-existant. I expected there to be at least one mention of them going to church, or a visit with the bishop about spiritual matters, but neither was a part of this book.  Knowing that the Amish have a faith and belief system that is very important to them, it was a big surprise to see that it wasn't included.

Now, I've not read either of the previous books in this series, but that wasn't a problem.  This book was great as a stand-alone, and I had no trouble following along with some of the other characters from those previous novels.  Another bonus from this book was all the content in the back--a glossary (which is always helpful for those words you think you know, but don't), discussion questions (don't read them until the end because there are spoilers), and lots of yummy recipes (potato soup, here I come).

Even though it wasn't my favorite book, I do plan to read another of Barbara's novels in the future because I've always been a firm believer in giving an author a second chance.  There's no telling sometimes when they'll surprise us!

3 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Phoebe had just a touch of it...ornery old coot.  :o)

**Many thanks to Maegan Roper and Netgalley for providing a copy for review.

Unemployed One Day...Employed the Next!

I never thought in a million years I would ever see the day when I would be laid off from my job.  I loved the people there, the family-like atmosphere, the whole bit.  So when my 2 bosses were ready and waiting for me Thursday morning to drop the bombshell, I was shocked.  Absolutely.  Totally.  Shocked.  I just never saw it coming.  And like many other people that have experienced this, all I could think of was, "How in the world am I going to find another job in this economy?  Don't y'all know what the unemployment rate is?" 

So, I gathered my stuff in that lovely white box, and walked out the door.  Cried like a baby when I got in my car and called my husband.  Barely kept it together when I called my dad.  Prayed to God that His will would be done, and that we could make it.

In the back of my mind, I was already thinking that I would wait until next week to really hit the pavement to find a new job.  I knew I wasn't in a great state of mind having never been in this position before.  I needed time to compose myself, and not get emotional when I thought about what had been lost.

But I thought I ought to call just one person that I knew--someone that was one of our vendor reps--and see if she knew of anyone who might be hiring.  Turns out that she did, plus it was for the same company that I've been working for, just at a different location.  I called her to see what she was looking for...then promptly got called in for an interview.  Amazing, right?  :o)  I wasn't counting on that at all. 

So, I go to the office, meet with the agent, and after talking for an hour, I've practically had a job land in my lap.  But I was nervous, though.  The hours are a little less.  The pay is a little less.  The benefits are a little less.  But you know what?  We'd be able to make it.  I'll be doing the exact same thing that I've been doing for the past 5 years, just with a new boss.  I call that a God thing.  :o)  He knew exactly what we needed before we asked, and He provided.  I haven't been able to thank Him enough. 

Thanks to all of you for praying, for commenting...we have appreciated it so, so much!  All the praise goes to Him!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


As of today, I am unemployed. I never thought this would be a road I would have to travel, but it's not a new experience for our family. My husband lost a job about 3 years ago, and I thought we were going to be in a world of hurt. We had just moved to a new place, and I had no clue how we would survive on my salary alone. But God had a better plan. :o)  Hubby was able to get a better job than the one he had, and we came through on the other side better than we could've expected.

So, for now, I'm trusting and believing that He has everything under control. For the next few days, forgive me if I don't respond right away to your comments or emails. I'm still trying to take it all in.

Thanks in advance for your prayers, thoughts, and comments.  We appreciate them more than you know.

Interview and Blog Tour with Kathi Macias for her Latest Novel, Deliver Me From Evil

How did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?

It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Please visit my website at

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Attracted to Fire
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (October 1, 2011)
DiAnn Mills


DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website at: or find her on Facebook at


Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

Watch the book trailer:

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren/5 Stars

About the book:

Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.

It's Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn't ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She's preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet's past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.

My thoughts:

Rather than give a review about all the great characters or the touching scenes of this book, I'm simply going to say that sometimes there are books that come along at just the right moment in your life, and they leave the most profound impression.  To some, Baby, It's Cold Outside may represent a wonderful start into Christmas books this season, but for me, it became a personal journey of sorts--a chance to pull back the curtain and recognize that, just like Dottie Morgan, I'm not perfect, either.  To some, that may sound like a horrible quality for a book.  (I mean, really...most readers don't really like to have their toes stepped on while they're reading a novel, thank you very much.)  But there's something about the way that Susan does it that doesn't come off as preachy or condescending.  These personal, introspective moments are what make Susan's books so special to me.  They get under my skin, and before it's over, I'm either at the point of tears and/or thanking God that he still loves me despite my faults. 

And hey, if you're looking for an entertaining Christmas story, you'll still get it worries.  But I hope that, like me, you will take away something more than just, "That was a great book."  I hope you'll give it the chance to be a blessing to you.  I never expected it to give one to me. 

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity and Summerside Press for providing a copy for review.


Warm up to Chrismtas early this year with Susan May Warren's Baby, It's Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on Facebook!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Monday, October 24, 2011

Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Lynn Austin Plus Giveaway

Thank you so much for coming over for this week's Southern-Style Meet & Greet! I am so excited about today's guest as she's been a favorite of mine for many years. :o)

But first, let me announce the winner of last week's giveaway for Along Wooded Paths by Tricia Goyer. Thanks to, the winner is...

Candace (cbetts@...)

Candace, I'll see to it that your book is on it's way to you very soon. Congrats!

Now, for this week's guest!

Lynn has written across many genres in Christian fiction, but lately, her books have been historical in nature. She is the popular author of the Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the King, and I won't's always been a favorite of mine. :o)  Hope you guys enjoy our visit!

Welcome, Lynn!! :o)

How did your journey begin as a writer?

I love to read but it seemed like so many well-written books gave readers very little hope. Too many themes seemed to be “Life is hard and then you die.” I agree that life is hard—but God is good! So I sat down one day 27 years ago (I was a stay-at-home mom with a new baby) and decided to write the kind of book I enjoy reading—one that makes me laugh, makes me cry, and helps me learn something about myself and my faith. I knew nothing about getting published (that would come later) but I found that I enjoyed writing so much that I knew I wanted to keep doing it.

If you were not a published author, what would your dream job be and why?

Writing IS my dream job! When I first started writing, I used to think, “Oh, if only I could write books full-time and find a group of readers who love my books.” My dream has come true! But if I had to choose another job….I’d probably be an interior designer. I love to tour beautiful homes and I’m always painting or changing something in my own home. I love reading decorating magazines and watching the decorating channels on TV whenever I’m in a place that has cable TV.

Those design shows suck me in every time.  Before I know it, I've lost 2 hours of my day!

You’ve written across several genres over the years. Is there a particular genre that is your favorite?

I loved writing my biblical fiction series, “Chronicles of the King.” Those books are still my favorites. Someday, hope to write more biblical fiction set in Israel.

I hope you do, too, and I'm sure I'm not alone.  :o)

You had the privilege of having one of your books, Hidden Places, turned into a movie. What was that experience like for you?

Well, it came about with no effort on my part. Hallmark contacted my publisher, Bethany House, and made all of the arrangements. But I did have the opportunity to fly to California and watch them film part of the movie. What an amazing experience! I was blown away to see my fictitious setting and fictional characters “come to life” in so much detail. As I watched hundreds of people racing around with cameras and microphones and all sorts of equipment I was overwhelmed. I never realized how much work went into filming one tiny scene. It really was a thrill of a lifetime.

What is your latest book release?

My newest book is called Wonderland Creek and will be in bookstores sometime this month. Here is a synopsis:

Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But the happily-ever-after life she’s planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. To top it off, Alice loses her beloved library job because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books. When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery—and especially romance—may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

Where can readers find you on the web?

My website is

If you could visit anywhere down South, where would it be and why?

I would love to return to Charleston, South Carolina. What a beautiful city! The people I met were so warm and gracious—and helpful, too, as I gathered research for my novels, Fire by Night, and A Light to My Path. If I went back, I would like to tour more of the beautiful old homes, inside and out. What a feast for the eyes.

Charleston is one of the few places I've not visited down here.  Some day I'd like to see it for myself because everyone has such great things to say about it!

Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?

Sweet, of course! There’s nothing like it.

Historical house—large plantation or log cabin?

I loved touring the plantations around Charleston and Beaufort.

Country gal or city gal?

County gal—I love the woods and the peace and quiet of the country. But I would have to live in a country mansion on a gorgeous estate.

If you'd like to be entered to win a copy of Lynn's latest book, Wonderland Creek, simply fill out all of the required fields in the giveaway form in their entirety. Please leave any thoughts regarding the interview in the comment section (as we seem to always strike up a conversation down there). :o)

Giveaway is open to US residents only, and void where prohibited. All entries must be received before Sunday, October 30, 11:59PM CST to qualify, and the winner will be announced on next week's SSM&G. Odds of winning are contingent upon number of entries.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas by Erica Vetsch/4 Stars

About the book:

Quench your craving for good fiction with this wonderfully written Old West adventure.

Hoping to leave the shadows of her shady yesteryears behind, Adeline Reed is focusing on her photography career. But when her ex-boyfriend’s compatriot in crime shows up in Dodge City her entire past is threatened by exposure. Can Addie keep her secrets while helping to catch a killer?

Deputy Miles Carr’s investigation into a shopkeeper’s murder leads him to Addie’s door. Will his attraction to this female photographer keep him from catching the true culprit? Or will Addie lead him off course in more ways than one?

My thoughts:

What do you get when you have a talented female photographer, a newly-minted town deputy, and a scoundrel of the worst sort who has come back to haunt you?  You get this book--A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas--and it's a good'un, too.

I was so impressed with the detail of Addie's trade as a photographer.  From the darkroom, to her studio, and to the portraits taken at the Arden Palace, it felt like I was looking through the camera lens and capturing all the subtle nuances that only a portrait can show.  I could smell the chemicals that were used to develop the pictures, and I caught myself mentally counting the seconds along with Addie to get the right exposure.  Now, in real life, I don't have a clue about photography, but just for a few moments in this book, I felt like I knew a thing or two...and that brought a smile to my face.

Miles was an enjoyable character, too.  At first, it seemed like he was going to be green as the day is long at being a deputy, but he quickly settled into his role.  His reluctance to share his past was believable, especially how it related to Addie.

Then, there was the drama associated with Vin Rutter.  He came to Dodge City for a particular reason, and caused nothing but trouble for Addie, Miles, and Fran while he was there.  I felt sure the I had him pegged correctly the entire time, but leave it to this talented author to have a surprise or two up her sleeve.  :o)

Nothing gives me more pleasure than discovering an author that I've not been privileged to read before.  Erica Vetsch has created a delightful Midwestern tale that is sure to have me returning to read her future novels.  Fans of Mary Connealy, Kelly Eileen Hake, and Susan Page Davis are destined to enjoy this charming story!

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Yes

**Many thanks to Barbour through NetGalley for providing a copy for review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes/4 Stars

About the book:

When young widow Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreams she will see him again. But just as the London Season gets under way, the man presents himself in her parlor. While she should be focused on getting her headstrong younger sister prepared for her entrée into Society, Lady Gale finds herself preoccupied with the mysterious Frenchman. Is he a spy or a suitor? Can she trust him? Or is she putting herself and her family in danger?

Discover a world of elegance and intrigue, balls and masquerades as Laurie Alice Eakes whisks you into the drawing rooms of London Society on this exciting quest to let the past stay in the past--and let love guide the future.

My thoughts:

The last time I read a Regency novel, I was less than thrilled.  The lifestyle and culture of that time was so slow and methodical--far different from our current society.  There was hidden meaning in almost every action, and one had to be so careful to be seen or not to be seen with just the right people.  So, I won't lie...I was a little nervous about picking up another Regency.  I was so afraid I would be disappointed.

Thankfully, Laurie Eakes exceeded my expectations with A Necessary Deception.  There was mystery and intrigue mixed with a plentiful dose of romance.  Oh, the romance...  I tell ya, I couldn't get enough of it.  I could picture Christien as one of the most handsome heroes I've read in a long time, and his love, Lydia, a lovely and beautiful member of London Society.  Together, they were thrust into danger more than once, and each time, I couldn't help but hold my breath until I knew they were safe.

However, the mystery portions of the book left me unsatisfied.  I don't know a lot about the history of England and France in the 19th century, so I didn't fully understand the disdain that the English felt toward the French.  I thought that the final reveal would revolve more around uncovering someone up to no good within one of the governments.  Instead, the ending was anticlimactic and left me unfulfilled.

All in all, I think Laurie Eakes has greatly improved since her last full-length novel.  This was only my second opportunity to read one of her books, and overall, I'm glad that I gave her books another chance.  She clearly conveyed the atmosphere of the Regency Era in a believable manner, and I'm anxious to return for another visit.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy for review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Deeanne Gist


After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.


Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Tricia Goyer Plus Giveaway

As always, thank you for joining me for another week of Southern-Style Meet & Greet!  You all know the drill...stay tuned to meet our featured guest plus a giveaway at the end!  :o)

First off, last week's giveaway winner.  Thanks to, the winner of a copy of Desired by Ginger Garrett is...

Megan (inspiredbyfiction@...)

Congrats, Megan!  Desired will be on it's way to you're gonna love it.  :o)

And now, for this week's featured author--Tricia Goyer!

Tricia is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Welcome, Tricia!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

It began when I met Cindy Martinusen Coloma in church, 20 years ago. Cindy was also a young mom. We got to know each other, and Cindy told me about her dream to write. Something struck a chord in me. I had grown up loving to read, but I never considered writing. We encouraged each other. We attended our first writer's conference in 1994 at Mt. Hermon in Northern California. I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third child at that first conference. Being at that conference I knew that's what I wanted to do!

Through the years, Cindy and I have encouraged each other, and God has led us down amazing paths. Cindy also has many novels published now:

What genre do you most like to write?

I love writing historical fiction, but I'll qualify that...because I also love writing Amish fiction. Maybe because it feels “historical” to me. The Amish have been able to keep the traditions of their ancestors—traditions and a lifestyle that many of us have lost in our technology-filled busy lives.

You're not the only one...Amish fiction feels historical to me, too.  :o)

Do your own personal experiences, or those of family and friends, ever find their way into one your stories? If it’s not too personal, do you have a funny one you can share with us?

Yes! Every book has personal stories woven into it. One of my novels, Beside Still Waters is inspired by the Eash family who moved from Indiana to Montana to be part of an Amish community there. When I signed the contract to write the story I had NO IDEA our family would soon be moving from Kalispell, Montana to Little Rock, Arkansas. I never thought I'd find myself living in the South, but I had to admit I REALLY enjoy it!

In another novel Along Wooded Paths, Marianna builds friendships with people very different than herself. As I wrote that novel, I was making friends with “Southerners”--some of whom were very different than me, and it the process I met some amazing people. I'm learning that most things that enter my life end up in one of my novels.

One funny story involves my husband. He loves making up sayings, and his favorite is, “A wet tick in a watermelon patch.” He uses it ALL the time! For example, “I'm happier than a wet tick in a watermelon patch,” or “I'm fuller than a wet tick in a watermelon patch,” even “I'm more tired than a wet tick in a watermelon patch.” It doesn't really make sense, and I think that's the point. The fun thing is that I included the phrase in one of my novels! (Send me a note through my website if you find it! LOL.)

His phrase reminds me of another one I've heard quite often (down South, mostly), "I'm as full as a tick on a hound dog's ear!"

What do you hope readers “take away” with them after they read one of your books?

I hope they put down my book inspired. I hope they see God in new ways. I hope they understand better how God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways!

What is your latest book release?

My newest novel is the second book in my Big Sky Series, Along Wooded Paths. Book #3 is Beyond Hope's Valley and it'll be out April 2012!

All she wanted was a simple Amish life . . . But now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors. Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.

As Marianna begins helping those different from herself—and receiving their help—her heart contemplates two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking her to sacrifice? Her traditions? Her community? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

Are you currently working on another novel, and if so, can you give us a snippet about it?

Yes, I'm currently working on Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. I'm co-writing it with my friend Ocieanna Fleiss and we just traveled up there last month for research! This is the snippet so far, but since it's still a work-in-progress, things might change.

Ginny Marshall is on the verge of having her dreams realized. She's one signature away from signing a major recording contract and she's peaked the interest of Danny Kingston, her agent and one of the most influential men in pop music. Yet something deep inside tells her not to sign. Knowing she needs someone to talk to—someone who'd be interested in her best interest and not just in her notoriety, she travels to Glacier Bay, Alaska to find her ex-fiance Brett Miller.
As soon as Ginny is shuttled into Glacier Bay she has a good feeling about coming. The tidewater glaciers, snow-capped mountain ranges, ocean coastlines, deep fjords, and freshwater rivers and lakes reconnect her with God in a way she hadn't experienced in a while. She finds her way to the address Brett had given her, but discovers he isn't home. A neighbor gives Ginny directions to Brett's grandmother's cabin, surely Granny M. will know where he is.

Granny M. welcomes Ginny with open arms. “So, you're the Ginny I've heard so much about.” Granny M. starts telling Ginny about some letters, when Ginny interrupts and asks where Brett is. Unfortunately he's on a week long kayaking trip with is father and brother. Ginny just missed him.

Staying with Granny M., Ginny reads the letters sent from Glacier Bay, Alaska Territory, 1929. The first letter is from a Mr. Claiborn Maibe asking his friend Rev. Hal Wakeland to choose a bride for him—someone of pleasing companionship and a fine moral conduct who will be a good mother to Clairborne's two children. Ginny is intrigued. Would a man honestly send for a wife and marry the woman who arrived ... without question?

Through the letters—and the new friends she meets at Glacier Bay—Ginny remembers what a relationship with God is all about. She also discovers what—and who—her heart desires most.

What was the last Christian Fiction book that you read that you couldn’t put down?

Good question! I've read a lot of good ones, but I couldn't SLEEP until I finished The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner.

Everybody and their momma is telling me what a great book this is!  Must see what all the fuss is about...and soon!

Where can readers find you on the web?

My website:
My radio show:
My Facebook page:
My Twitter page:

What is your most favorite thing about the South?

I've lived in Little Rock, Arkansas for 1 1/2 years and I love it. I love the personalities. People are so fun and everyone has such a great sense of humor, plus they strike up conversations if you make eye contact. I often find myself chatting with someone at Walmart for 10 minutes, and really enjoying myself. My husband and I met one couple at a yard sale and when we left John told me, “I feel like we've known them for years, not just fifteen minutes.”

Don't you just love that?  *smile*

Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?

Sweet please!

BBQ Pork or BBQ Beef?


Dolly Parton or Elvis Presley?

Elvis, swoon.

Historical House—Plantation or Log Cabin?


Country gal or city gal?

I like to live close to the city but look out my window at the country.

You, you all, or y’all?

It was you all, but if I'm out and about in Little Rock it's slipping into y'all.

That's okay.  You're Southern now, and people might start to look at you funny if you didn't say "y'all!"

Did y'all have a great time with Tricia today?  I sure did.  ;o)  And thanks to her, we've got a lovely giveaway for this week.

If you'd like to be entered to win a copy of Tricia's latest book, Along Wooded Paths, simply fill out the giveaway form in it's entirety.  Please leave any thoughts regarding the interview in the comment section (as we seem to always strike up a conversation down there).  :o)  If you have any comments for Tricia, be sure to leave them down there as well, and hopefully, she'll be able to stop by to chat for a moment.

Giveaway is open to US residents only, and void where prohibited.  All entries must be received before Sunday, October 23, 11:59PM CST to qualify.  Odds of winning are contingent upon number of entries.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller/5 Stars

About the book:

Her heart seeks sanctuary in the deep woods. But will trouble find her even here?

The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home, conflict still rages. To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a north woods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.

With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the rowdy shanty boys to the warm cookstove and mouth-watering apple pie, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting you to a time of danger and romance.

My thoughts:

I never knew spending time with an ornery old cook, a group of dirty loggers, and a frightened Indian who could barely speak would make for one of the best historical books I've read all year!  Serena Miller successfully transported me to the cold forests of Michigan with this charming tale, and I absolutely hated to leave.  While I enjoyed the ebb and flow of camp life, as well as the subtle romance that steadily built between Katie and Robert, what I really loved to read about was the food.  Oh, the food!  Juicy apple pie, warm peach cobbler, and mouth-watering flapjacks had me itching to jump into the kitchen to cook up a mess of yummy food!  The one thing that would have made the book complete would've been some recipes at the end.  :o)  Oh, well...  It was still a delightful book. 

Serena Miller's realistic tale of life after the Civil War was one that deserves a permanent place on the keeper shelf.  I'm anxious to recommend it to my friends and family, and as far as I'm concerned, her next book can't get here soon enough!

5 Stars

Southern?  Yes
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy for review.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah by Ginger Garrett/5 Stars

About the book:

Meet the legendary Samson as you've never known him before … through the eyes of the three women who loved him.

Before Samson was an Old Testament legend, he was a prodigal son, an inexperienced suitor, a vengeful husband, and a lost soul driven by his own weakness. This is his story as told by three strong women who loved him—the nagging, manipulative mother who pushed him toward greatness, the hapless Philistine bride whose betrayal propelled him into notoriety, and the emotionally damaged seductress—the famous Delilah—who engineered his downfall and propelled him to his destiny. Desired celebrates the God of Israel's to work powerfully in the midst of hopes, fears, desires, and sorrows.

My thoughts:

Ginger Garrett is a masterful storyteller.  Through vivid descriptions and accurate research, she sweeps the reader away on a trip to the ancient city of Timnah during Philistine rule.  The wine is plenty, the idol worship is rampant, yet love is still sought in this heathen land.  It is here that the Hebrew, Samson, meets his Philistine wife, Amara, and where she becomes the first woman to betray him. 

But she will not be the only women to claim such a title.  Delilah, who most have always associated with a seductive nature, begs and pleads for Samson to share his secret with her.  Through several tests, we know that he does indeed share this well-kept secret, and it leads to his demise.

For those readers familiar with this tale from Judges, do not be convinced yet that you know the whole story of Samson.  Garrett has a few surprises up her sleeve.  This dramatic Biblical story will have you burning the midnight oil, and will also have you reaching for your Bible to compare both stories when you are finished. 

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Wynn-Wynn Media for providing a copy for review.

**There's still time!  If you'd like the opportunity to win a copy of Desired for your personal library, click here to read my interview with Ginger, and fill out the entry form to be included in the giveaway. You've only got today and tomorrow to get that entry in, so don't miss out!

Friday, October 14, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Reclaiming Lily
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Patti Lacy


Patti Lacy, Baylor graduate, taught community college humanities until God called her to span seas and secrets in her novels, An Irishwoman's Tale and What the Bayou Saw.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, The Rhythm of Secrets, released in January of 2011. Patti's, Reclaiming Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church and has had a blast planning the September 2009 wedding of her firstborn, Sarah.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed."


A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily.

Gloria's relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman's apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer...or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

To Tag or Not To Tag...That is the Question.

Be forewarned...this post is a mix between "woe is me" with some frustration on the side while trying to remain positive throughout.  It is not my intention to offend anyone with my words, but I just needed an outlet today to get some things in the book reviewing world off my chest.

As a book blogger and reviewer, I love to share my love of reading Christian fiction.  Until 2008, my only outlet for sharing about books was word of mouth because I didn't have a blog, I wasn't on Facebook yet, and I didn't know the first thing about writing reviews.  Now, 3 years later, I have met a whole slew of new friends and authors, and books are such a treasure for me to experience now!

Lately, I've been wanting to take it to the next level.  I want to direct readers to authors.  I want people to realize that Christian fiction is an evolving genre, and there really is something for everyone now.  For so long now, some readers have had the misconception that all Christian novels are tame, sweet sappy love stories with characters that are oh-so-perfect.  Sure, there are still a handful of books like that still being published, but things are moving forward...and the boundaries are being pushed...and the future looks so bright for more than just gushy romance (which I do like in small doses...a la Julie Lessman)! 

In an effort to maximize the exposure for some of these great books, I do my very best to promote Christian books on different websites including Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and many others. My goal in this has been two-fold--1) to direct readers to the authors and 2) to let the authors know that people are out there actually reading and reviewing their books, and have positive things to say!  So, to make this work, I've been employing the tag technique:  putting an @ with the author's name on FB and Twitter every time I have a weekly promo/interview for an author or a positive review of a book on this blog.
And you know's free publicity!  Who would not want that?  :o)

But seriously, I wonder if there are some authors who don't care.  Some authors are hugely popular, and there really is no question at all that their books will sell simply because of their name (ex. Karen Kingsbury, Beverly Lewis, Ted Dekker, etc.).  Those authors I don't focus on very much.  Instead, I want to help newer authors, as well as authors that don't have as much of a presence as someone like Karen Kingsbury, get more exposure for themselves and their books through this blog.

So, you know what's frustrating?  To have those tags and mentions go unnoticed.  To not get a single "thank you" or acknowledgement.  To have a tag for a positive review removed by the author.  Now, I realize that my blog isn't the fanciest or the most well-spoken, but it's like my home.  A lot of time and effort has gone into it.  I enjoy taking the time to read, staying up past midnight to get to end of the story, and finding out if boy got the girl...or if the bad guy was caught or if he got away...or if a family was reunited.  :o)  Then, I can't wait to write up a review to let others know just how much that book entertained me, made me laugh, or sent me on the good kind of crying jag.

And after all that...getting a personal thank you from the author is like the icing on the cake.  But I am so surprised at how many don't give one.  (Don't get me wrong...there are TONS of authors that so appreciate the extra publicity and word-of-mouth mentions of their books to all of our friends.  That's not who this is directed at.)  I realize it takes authors loads and loads of time, sweat, and tears for every single book, but it also takes time as a book blogger and reviewer to read these books and promote them.  I (and lots of other bloggers, too) could just close up shop, go home, and keep our thoughts to ourselves.  Instead, so many of us are passionate about reading that we can't help but talk about and recommend the latest book!

So, what's my final point after this rant?  Authors, we just want a thank you.  A thank you that our work as book reviewers has not gone unnoticed.  It doesn't take that much time, and it lets us know that we're appreciated.  It doesn't even have to be on our blogs; it can be in response to a post on Twitter or Facebook.  Something is better than nothing at all.  And I bet for most of us...we'll just be giddy from the excitement that an author took notice!  I know that's how I always feel.  :o)

For any authors out there that have taken the time to read all that, here's what I'm trying to find out--

1)  Do you liked to be tagged by readers/reviewers on social networks?
2)  Do you try to send a response to a reader after they've read/commented/reviewed one of your books?
3)  Do you avoid posting comments directly to a book blog for a certain reason?  (I've heard that some do.)
4)  Are there just not enough hours in the day to interact with readers/reviewers?

Book Review: False Pretenses by Kathy Herman/4 Stars

About the book:

Zoe Broussard loves the life she and her husband Pierce have built in her beloved Louisiana hometown—especially their popular brasserie Zoe B's, to which folks drive all the way from Lafayette for lunch or dinner. It seems like heaven. But it's about to become hell. A series of anonymous notes is making her life a misery—because Zoe has a secret so terrible it could leave the business in shambles and tear her marriage apart. Can she find the courage to face her past?

The first in a new series from Kathy Herman, False Pretenses is a gripping suspense novel that leaves a lasting impression about honesty and accountability. Ethan and Vanessa Langley from the Sophie Trace trilogy play a part in this story too.

My thoughts:

What a good first experience with Kathy Herman's books!  Until this novel, Kathy was a new author to me, and now, I have a feeling I will be returning for future novels, as well as searching out her back list.  Her style of writing was so personable and friendly, even with a plot that had murder, deception, and racial tension.

In spite of actually reading the back cover blurb somewhere along the way, it slipped my mind that this book would feature the continuing story of a few characters from some of Kathy's earlier novels.  I got a tad bit worried that this would make for a less-than-ideal reading experience, but she gave just enough info that I had no trouble piecing together Ethan and Vanessa's back story.  In fact, their reasons for moving to Louisiana later became an instrumental part of the story in more ways than one.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting with the main character, Zoe.  I think the combination of her attempts to change her past coupled with her desire to fit into the Cajun culture made her the most unrealistic character of the bunch.  Her only redeeming feature was her husband, Pierce.  His struggle to forgive Zoe for her years of deceit was both believable and heartfelt.

Now that I've connected with all of these characters, I'm anxious to return to the Roux River Bayou and see what's in store for Mrs. Woodmore.  Her Southern charm in this novel was like iced sweet tea on a hot summer day--I just couldn't get enough!

4 Stars

Southern?  You betcha!
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: A Wedding Invitation by Alice Wisler

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Wedding Invitation
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Alice Wisler


Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties. Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers. In her room, she created stories. The desire to be a published famous author has never left her. Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).

Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field. She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines. She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth. Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory. This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.


After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Wedding Invitation, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer: