Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hangin' Out with Ginny Yttrup!

I have really missed interviewing authors in the last few months, and am so happy to be back in the swing of things with today's featured author, Ginny Yttrup. Ginny is the author of two books published by B&H Publishers--Words and Lost and Found, the latter being released just a few days ago. I hope you enjoy our fun interview today, and that you'll have a great time "hangin' out" with Ginny!


Not including writing, what was your first job?

I got my first official job when I was 15 years old. I worked at Baskin Robins Ice Cream scooping ice cream. There I developed an obsession for ice cream that’s never left me.

What is one movie that you could watch over and over again?

The Sound of Music. I’m sure I’ve seen it at least a hundred times. Love, love, love it!

We have a common bond with that movie!  When I was a girl, I would watch it over and over again, sometimes twice a day.  I used to imagine that I was Liesl, and couldn't wait for the day that I would actually be "sixteen going on seventeen!"

If you could have any one superpower, what would it be?

I’d like to be invisible, which is the title of the next book I’m working on. I’d love to observe things without being seen—or to help someone without them knowing who’d helped them. I can see all kinds of advantages to invisibility! Plus, I’d never have to do my hair or makeup or think about what I’m going to wear!

What food do you love, even though you know you shouldn’t?

Ice cream, pizza, filet mignon—rare, baked potato with lots of butter and sour cream. That’s just a partial list. I’m a foodie, however, in the last two months I’ve given up sugar and have eaten only foods considered vegan. I’m dealing with some health issues and felt God leading me to make some changes in my diet. So, needless to say, I haven’t eaten any of the foods on the above list for a while.

I've come very close once or twice to giving up sugar, but it is sooooo hard!  Gotta have my sweet tea now!  :o)

Which magazine do you pick up when you’re stuck in a waiting room?

Tabloid stuff or People Magazine. Embarrassing, but true!

Have you ever met anyone famous?

I met Arnold Schwarzenegger about 15 years ago—long before he was California’s Governor. I was surprised that he was much shorter than I’d imagined.

What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?

The only time I remember being in trouble was when I was a senior in high school. I was 17 and dating the guy I eventually married. I had a very strict stepfather that year who had set a 10:00 p.m. curfew for me. On a Sunday night, my boyfriend and I were driving home from my grandparent’s house and I got home 5 minutes late. My stepfather grounded me for the entire week. Sadly, it was the week of graduation. I was allowed to walk in my graduation ceremony but couldn’t attend any other festivities. I felt that injustice for so long until I realized that I deserved to be in trouble a lot more often for much worse infractions, but I never got caught!

You’re next in line to audition for American Idol. What song do you sing for the judges?

First, that would never happen—I would never audition because I can’t sing a note on key to save my life. But, in the world of fantasy, I would definitely sing Amazing Grace because that is the story of my life.


Ginny, thanks so much for stoppin' by today, and also, thanks to our mutual connection, Jeane Wynn from WynnWynn Media, for making it all happen.  :o)  I hope you'll come back to visit again soon!

Friends, if you'd like to get more info on Ginny and her books, visit her website to sign up for her newsletter or find her on Facebook.

And one more fun tidbit...  You have the opportunity to win a copy of Ginny's newest book, Lost and Found!  If you'd like to have your name entered in the drawing, please fill out the form below as requested.  US addresses only, and all entries must be received by 11:59pm Tuesday, March 6.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heartbreaking, Yet Enthralling - His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons/4 Stars

Golden Keyes Parsons' latest historical tale set during the Civil War is as much enthralling as it is heartbreaking. From the gruesome battlefields to the spacious plantations, life is sure to never be the same again as brother is pitted against brother and masters against their slaves. The harsh backdrop of war is difficult to read, but necessary to understand the difficulties facing a Northern officer, a Southern lady, and a courtship between them.

Fans of Civil War era fiction may not enjoy this particular story, considering 5 years of history are condensed into one novel. However, the love story is one that fans of historical romance are sure to savor.

4 Stars

Southern?  Yes
Sass?  No

Summary of His Steadfast Love:

It isn't until the Civil War comes to her doorstep that Amanda Bell must choose between love and family.

It's the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.

When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.

Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war-and whose side is He on?

Amanda senses her life is at a turning point. She must trust God to deliver her family through the chaos of war with her heart and her faith intact.

**Many thanks to Thomas Nelson through CFBA and Wynn-Wynn Media for providing a copy for review.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Emotional Journey - Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry/5 Stars

Chris Fabry has penned another winner with his latest book, Not in the Heart.  From the back cover description, I thought I had prepared myself for what would be between the front and back cover, but honestly, I was not prepared for the emotional journey that I took through this story.

I imagine most folks know a "Truman" in their circle of friends.  Me?  Yeah, I have one, too, and he struggles with an addiction that only God can heal at this point.  It's difficult to watch someone I love succumb to fleshly desires, and sometimes I can't help but wonder, "If only..."  "If only he hadn't made this decision," "If only he hadn't met this person," "If only he hadn't gone down this road," yada, yada, yada...  But when I feel overwhelmed with those questions, I can do nothing but lay my concerns at the foot of the cross, and pray for his deliverance.

I guess in some way it was easy for me to identify with Ellen, Truman's wife, as well.  She had been let down so many times over the years because of Truman's actions, decisions, and absence in their family.  After awhile, it became human nature to think that nothing would ever change.  But somehow, she concocted a plan with the wife of a death-row inmate to lure Truman back into her heart and life, and more importantly, back to their son who was struggling to hold on just a few more days for a heart transplant that could save his life.

I also connected on a small level with Terrell who was on death row for murder, yet still maintained his innocence.  Before he landed in jail, he was nothing more than a no-good drunk and beggar, trying to bum a dollar from any Tom, Dick, or Harry that had it to spare.  But once he got to jail, he found the Lord, and before too long, the death sentence that he was facing in 30 short days meant that he was that much closer to seeing Jesus face to face.

Now, some may think that a jail conversion is just a ploy for some inmates to butter up their family members or friends, but truly, many of them are genuine.  While I was reading this book, it was on my calendar to re-certify as a volunteer at a local prison.  Once a year, some of the inmates get together and host a banquet for all the volunteers that have taken time to come and minister to them at the prison.  During the banquet, several of them stood and shared their testimonies of how they were on the wrong path when they got there.  One guy in particular shared his story of being in a gang, and when he got to jail, he didn't want to have anything to do with some fellow inmates that were trying to witness to him.  But they, as well as a couple of the chaplains, kept working on him, and before too long, he gave his life to the Lord.  Now, he's a completely changed person.  When new inmates come in, some of them that he knows personally from his old life, he continues the cycle by being a witness to them.  He makes it a priority to go to the chapel services that are held throughout the week, mostly run by volunteers, so he can continue to learn more about God.  That was just one of many testimonies shared, and it's so encouraging to know that a difference is being made in the hearts of so many, most of whom society has ignored and forgotten.  It made Terrell's story believable, and while I've never personally met someone on death row, I could identify with his honesty and sincerity as he shared his story with Truman.

Once again, Chris has found a way to create such a unique story that is bound to penetrate the hearts of several readers.  I can attest that it has penetrated mine.  And there's something for everyone here, too...a little drama, a little mystery, a little sadness, and even a touch of humor that I never expected.  So, if you're already a fan of Chris Fabry, then I have no doubt that you'll enjoy his latest. It's already earned it's place on my keeper shelf.  :o)

5 Stars

Southern?  Set in Florida, but not what I would consider a Southern novel.
Sass?  No

Summary of Not in the Heart:

Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He's out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son's failing heart. 

 With mounting hospital bills and Truman's penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless...until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline--the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman's son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer.  For his on to live, must an innocent man die?  Truman's investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.

**Many thanks to B&B Media Group for providing a copy for review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top Ten Books I'd Quickly Save If My House Was Going To Be Abducted By Aliens

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish.


So, it's been a month of Sundays since I participated in this meme, but these week's topic just screamed "participation"...if ya know what I mean.  *wink*  Now, I don't believe in aliens or anything, but this list would work for just about any sort of disaster.  At least I can keep myself organized should the time come that I might actually need it!  :o)



Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - favorite book of all time...period.  No way the aliens are taking this one, especially considering I've got one of the early versions of the book and not a reprint.

Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh - Quite possibly the funniest book I've ever read!  Gotta have my laughs during that alien house abduction, ya know...

Waterfall by Lisa Bergren - I'm so behind the times on reading the rest of this series, but this one book made enough of a lasting impression that I'd have to keep it.

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman - Julie's first book and her best book, in my opinion.  Not that her other ones aren't great, of course, but I'll never forget how I felt after I had my first taste of her passionate romantic fiction.

To Die For by Sandra Byrd - I'll be singing this book's praises until the day I die.  So, it's no wonder that this one would make the list, as well as a second book by Sandra listed next.

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd - Sandra's first adult novel was a smash hit, and had my sweet tooth working overtime!

Heiress by Susan May Warren - Currently, this book is out on loan, so I wouldn't be able to save it from my house in the technical sense of the word.  But if it was here, rest assured it'd be going with me.  :o)

June Bug by Chris Fabry - This book turned me into a Chris Fabry fan overnight, and I've recommended this particular book to countless people. 

For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman - I was already a fan of Allison's books before reading this one, but she achieved "favorite author" status in a flash after writing this breathtaking story!

Predator by Terri Blackstock - In spite of the fact that we may not even have social networks if there was an alien house abduction, I would still have to take this book with me.  All of Terri's books are great, but this one is probably her best stand-alone suspense novel.


So, those are my Top Ten this week!  What about you?  I just know that you're bound to have at least one or two (maybe ten) books that you'd grab in a flash if your house was going to be abducted by aliens.  :o)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Regency I Won't Soon Forget - The Aristocrat's Lady by Mary Moore/5 Stars

Let me preface this review by saying that I do not normally read small, mass market paperbacks. I've often found them either to all be the same, or to have so little plot and character development that I'm bored by book's end.

Today I ate those words.

I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a Regency novel more than I enjoyed this one.  The prose was exceptional, the characters and their flaws believable, and the romance was heart-stopping.  I loved the witty banter between the two major characters, as well as the secret that propelled much of the storyline.  And if all that wasn't enough to blow me away, the fact that The Aristocrat's Lady was Mary Moore's debut novel....well, you could've easily blown me over with a feather.

Quite possibly, this book will make my Top Ten list at year's end, and we've got a long way to go before we get there!  Ms. Moore is an author that I will be reading more from in the future...of that, I have no doubt.

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Without question.  :o)

Summary of The Aristocrat's Lady:

An Unexpected Encounter

For a few moments on a moonlit balcony, Nicole Beaumont was just a beautiful woman catching the eye of the handsome Lord Devlin--but she knew the illusion couldn't last. If the enigmatic aristocrat knew her secret, he'd realize that her disability left her unfit for love. So who could blame her for hiding the truth a little longer?

Devlin had never met a woman like Nicole. Her unique combination of innocence and wisdom left him utterly intrigued. Yet what was she hiding? For a man who did not trust easily, discovering her secret was devastating. Overcoming their pasts and forging a future would take faith, forgiveness and trust. And second chances could lead to new beginnings...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Review: Love Finds You in Lancaster County, PA by Annalisa Daughety/4 Stars

From the very first page, it became clear to me that I was definitely going to enjoy this story.  I had a wonderful time with some of these characters in Annalisa's previous LFY book that was set in Charm, Ohio, and I was so happy that their story was continued here.

One thing that completely surprised me was how much this was more a contemporary tale than an Amish one.  It's no secret that I love almost every single Amish book I pick up, and while this one was minimally Amish, it made it no less a great read.  I found myself caught up in the public turmoil that Caroline's husband had put her through, and craved the peace that she ultimately found in Lancaster.  I was equally caught up in Lydia Ann's story as she struggled with the major decision of relocating to Lancaster from Charm.  And if those things weren't enough to keep me glued to the pages, there was a little twist that showed up about halfway through, and by that time, I had no intentions of setting this book down!

Another thing that I was impressed was the setting itself.  Because so many Amish stories are set in this area, there's not a whole lot left to feature in yet another book set in Lancaster....but don't let that stop you from giving it a try (it didn't stop me).  :o)  I could easily visualize the covered bridges that Michael and Caroline visited, as well as the restaurants and taverns that they visited with Simon and Lydia Ann, and there was just enough to have me itching to go there and see all of it for myself.

And lest I get too carried away with any more details, I'll leave this review with one final note.  This was the third book that I've read by Annalisa, and while I was impressed with all the details that are mentioned above, what impressed me the most was that I could tell that she has grown as an author.  I won't lie...the first book I read by her wasn't a favorite of mine, but I'm a big proponent of giving authors a second chance to make a first impression.  And now having read two more books of hers since then, I can say without a doubt that I will be purposefully going out of my way to read more of her books down the road.  (That might have a little something to do with all these *Southern* books she's got coming up here shortly...)  :o)

4 Stars

Southern?  Yep.  Caroline was from Georgia, and occasionally, she'd say something that oozed Southern charm.  Just the right amount all the way around.  :o)
Sass?  No

Summary of Love Finds You in Lancaster County, PA:

Two women with nothing in common except the need for a friend and a fresh start.

When Amish-born Lydia Ann Raber and Southern belle Caroline DeMarco discover a shared history of loss, the unlikely duo decides to open a gift shop in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Lydia Ann is surprised to find herself drawn to handsome woodworker Simon Zook. When God offers her a second chance at love and family, will she take it? Or will the secret Simon harbors cause her even more heartbreak? For Caroline, love comes in the way of newspaper reporter Michael Landis. Their low-key romance is a dream come true for Caroline, a fugitive from an infamous past. Is Michael to blame when the paparazzi start hovering once again, or can Caroline trust him with her heart?

Visit Annalisa on the web, or click here to read an interview that she did with me a few months ago.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour: Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sixty Acres and a Bride
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Regina Jennings


A Word from Regina:

See me laughing. That’s what I do when someone calls me an author. Yes, it’s always been my dream, but I still can’t keep from giggling over it.

Other things I am – a Christ-follower, a wife, a homeschooling mother of four, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and a voracious reader.

Getting reading time isn’t easy. Seems like my family does more than our share of traveling. My husband is an insurance adjuster (I know, save the hate mail) and travels with the catastrophe team often. That’s allowed us to see a lot of the United States. True many times it’s in the middle of a hurricane or blizzard, but after spending three weeks in a hotel room with six people, you’ll brave anything to get out and see the sights – no matter how damaged they might be.

We also serve on the Missions Team at an amazing church, so we break out the passports frequently. Highlights include singing at a leper colony in India, holding church inside a Mexican prison and showing the Jesus film to a tribe in Senegal who’d never heard the gospel.

But I don’t have to go far away for unusual. My family provides plenty of colorful material with their love for practical jokes, pithy observations and strong agricultural roots. Because of the family business, a significant chunk of my life has been spent at sale barns and auctions – often behind the scales where I weigh pigs. I like to think of myself as a “redneck bluestocking” but I brought an entire marketing team’s discussion to a screeching halt when I said those words, so you didn’t hear it from me.

When I have spare time I love to talk books and quirky characters (real and fictional).


With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixty Acres and a Bride, go HERE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour and Brief Review: Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Song of My Heart
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Kim Vogel Sawyer


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


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

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

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

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

Brief thoughts:

Normally, I can't get enough of Kim's books, but this one was not one of my favorites.  The story was very sweet, but there wasn't enough momentum throughout the story to keep me interested and engaged.  The characters were fully-fleshed, but again, not interesting.  For fans that enjoy sweet historical romances, I would recommend that they read some of Kim's other novels, particularly Courting Miss of her best.

3 Stars

Southern?  No
Sassy?  No

**Many thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for review.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Review: Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot/4 Stars

Ever since I devoured every single book in Amanda Cabot's Texas Dreams series, I have been eagerly awaiting the start of her newest series set in the West.  Her characters have a way of finding a place in my heart, and I find myself thinking about them days, weeks, and months since our acquaintance.

Summer of Promise, while a great start to a new series, didn't quite resonate with me the way Amanda's previous books have.  Abigail seemed a bit uppity to me at first, yet slowly and surely won me over.  Ethan was a commanding officer with a devotion to his soldiers, and underneath his tough exterior lay a gentle soul.  Charlotte and Jeffrey oftentimes shared a strained relationship that suffered a painful ending.  All the characters were well-written, but as a whole, it took longer than I would've liked to make a connection with them.

What I did find interesting, though, was that the story was set during the early days at Fort Laramie.  Amanda wove in a handful of details about the fort that were true to the time period, such as the progress of certain factual buildings or the characteristics of the general area.  It seemed odd to me that there was no mention of a church anywhere near the fort, and I can't help but think (and/or hope) that one will be introduced in a later book.

And as a dog lover to the core, I couldn't help but smile every time I read about Puddles!  My husband and I briefly had a puppy in our house, and Puddles' multiple antics reminded me several times what it was like to clean up after a muddy dog, or to have them cover my face with doggie kisses.  :o)

Fans of historical romance will enjoy this first book in the Westward Winds series.  Personally, I'm glad to know that just like Amanda's first series, each book in this new series will center around a different heroine.  It will be interesting to see how Charlotte handles the new challenges that have come her way in book 2.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sassy?  No

Summary of Summer of Promise:

Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont with her sweetheart, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads West to Wyoming. The endless prairie seems monotonous, but when her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day. 

When circumstances--and perhaps a bit of matchmaking--put Abigail and Ethan together, there's certainly attraction. But Abigail is planning to marry another man and return to life in Vermont as soon as she is finished attending to her sister. And Ethan loves his life in the Army and the wilds of Wyoming. When summer ends, will Abigail go back East? Or will she fall in love with this rugged land herself? 

Book 1 of the new Westward Winds series, Summer of Promise is a tale of following your heart to unexpected places. Readers will enjoy Amanda Cabot's passionate characters and vibrant setting in the beautiful high prairie.

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

CFBA Blog Tour: In Too Deep by Mary Connealy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
In Too Deep
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Mary Connealy


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Watch the book trailer: