Thursday, April 26, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour: The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Sound of Red Returning
Kregel Publications (December 9, 2011)
by
Sue Duffy


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001), Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010), and The Sound of Red Returning (Kregel, 2011). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.


ABOUT THE BOOK

After losing everyone she loves, concert pianist Liesl Bower has nowhere to go but to escape into her music. Searching for the peace she usually finds in her concertos and sonatas, Liesl can't shake the feeling that she is being haunted by her past . . . and by someone following her. When she spots a familiar and eerie face in the audience of a concert she's giving for the president in Washington, DC, the scariest day of her life comes back to her with a flash.

It has been fifteen years since Liesl watched her beloved Harvard music mentor assaulted on a dark night in Moscow and just as long since the CIA disclosed to her that he'd been spying for Russia. She had seen that man-that eerie face-the night Professor Devoe was attacked. And now he's back-and coming for her.

ENDORSEMENTS:

“Sue Duffy has mixed the mayhem of political intrigue with the melody of romance.” —Dick Bohrer, author, editor, and former journalism professor
“Intrigue and suspense come together in an incredible story of love and betrayal, commitment and courage, power and danger . . . and a God who controls it all. Sue Duffy is a wonderfully gifted writer and this book is a must-read.” —Steve Brown, founder and president of Key Life and host of Steve Brown Etc.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Sound of Red Returning, go HERE.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FIRST Blog Tour: Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


When a personal crisis tested and strengthened her faith, award-winning journalist Beth Wiseman was advised by her agent to consider writing a Christian novel, particularly an Amish one. Encouraged by her agent’s urging, she began exploring the Amish lifestyle and soon developed a great appreciation for the more peaceful way of life. In 2008 Wiseman wrote her debut novel, Plain Perfect, featuring the Amish lifestyle within the context of a fictional love story. It was a bestseller, as have been all of the full-length novels and novellas she has written since.

While Need You Now is Wiseman’s first non-Amish novel, she is confident it will not be the last. She is already making plans to write a second contemporary novel in the near future. Like Need You Now, it will also be set in small-town Texas, a familiar background she thoroughly loves exploring and writing about.

Wiseman’s previous releases have held spots on the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller lists. In 2010, she received the INSPY Award for Amish Fiction (chosen by blog reviewers). In 2011, she received the Carol Award and was the Inspirational Readers Choice winner for her book Plain Paradise. Her novel Seek Me with All Your Heart was the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. In addition, Wiseman has been a Retailers Choice Finalist, a Booksellers Best Finalist and a National Readers Choice Finalist. Prior to becoming a novelist she received many honors for her work as a journalist, including a prestigious First Place News Writing Award from the Texas Press Association.

Today, she and her husband are empty nest parents of two grown sons, enjoying the country lifestyle and living happily with two dogs, two cats, two pot-bellied pigs, two chickens and a single pygmy goat in a small community in South Central Texas. Along with writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, traveling and watching good movies. Her favorite pastime, however, is spending time with friends and family.

Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


We all count on the support of those around us when times are tough, but what do we do when those we depend on the most are suddenly gone? How do we cope when life has pulled the rug out from under us and left us with nothing and no one to hold on to? To whom can we turn when it seems no one, not even God, is there? These are the questions best-selling author Beth Wiseman addresses in her first contemporary novel, Need You Now (Thomas Nelson).

After the safety of one of their children is threatened, Need You Now’s main character, Darlene Henderson, and her husband Brad choose to move their family from Houston to the dot-in-the-road town of Round Top, Texas; moving into the old fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. Adjusting to the change is more difficult than any of them imagined, especially for the middle child, 15-year-old Grace, who becomes a cutter, using a dangerous and particularly self-damaging way of coping with stress.

The move also begins to take a toll on the couple’s marriage when Darlene decides to take a job outside the home in an effort to make new friends in the community. As the domestic tension rises, both begin to wonder if the same shared faith that has carried them through difficult times in the past will be strong enough to help them now.

To make matters worse, Darlene begins receiving inappropriate attention from the widowed father of the autistic young girl she is assigned to work with at the school for special needs children where she is employed. Unfortunately, this new attention comes just when she is most vulnerable. If there has ever been a time in her life when she needed God, it is now. But will she allow arising feelings of unworthiness to keep her from seeking Him?

In her first novel not set in an Amish community, Wiseman spins her well-honed characters and setting into a thought-provoking message that not only makes the reader ponder his or her own relationship with God, but also sheds light on the little-known disorders of using self-injury as a way of seeking relief and high-functioning autism. Need You Now is the perfect read for anyone who has ever questioned life and God’s will.





Product Details:
List Price: $ 15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548874
ISBN-13: 978-1595548870

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Darlene’s chest tightened, and for a few seconds she couldn’t move. If ever there was a time to flee, it was now. She put a hand to her chest, held her breath, and eased backward, sliding one socked foot at a time across the wooden floor of her bed- room. She eyed the intruder, wondering why he wasn’t moving. Maybe he was dead.
Nearing the door, she stretched her arm behind her, searching for the knob. She turned it quickly, and at the click of the latch, her trespasser rushed toward her. In one movement, she jumped backward, across the threshold and into the den, slamming the door so hard the picture of the kids fell off the wall. She looked down at Chad, Ansley, and Grace staring up through broken glass, then hurried through the den to the kitchen. Her hand trembled as she unplugged her cell phone and pressed the button to call Brad. Please answer.
It was tax time, so every CPA at her husband’s office was working long hours, and for these last weeks before the April deadline, Brad was hard to reach. She knew she wouldn’t hear from him until after eight o’clock tonight. And she couldn’t go back in her bedroom. What would she have to live without until then? She looked down. For starters, a shirt. She was later than usual getting dressed this morning and had just pulled on her jeans when she’d noticed she wasn’t alone.
She let out a heavy sigh and rubbed her forehead. Brad answered on the sixth ring.
“Bradley . . .” She only called him by his full name when she needed his full attention.
“What is it, babe?”
She took a deep breath. “There is a snake in our bedroom. A big, black snake.” She paused as she put a hand to her chest. “In our bedroom.”
“How big?”
She’d expected a larger reaction. Maybe her husband didn’t hear her. “Big! Very big. Huge, Brad.”
He chuckled. “Honey, remember that little snake that got in your greenhouse when we lived on Charter Road in Houston? You said that snake was big too.” He chuckled again, and Darlene wanted to smack him through the phone. “It was a tiny little grass snake.”
“Brad, you’re going to have to trust me. This snake is huge, like five or six feet long.” A shiver ran down her spine. “Are you coming home or should I call 9-1-1?”
“What? You can’t call 9-1-1 about a snake.” His tone changed. “Darlene, don’t do that. Round Top is a small town, and we’ll be known as the city slickers who called in about a snake.”
“Then you need to come home and take care of this.” She lifted her chin and fought the tremble in her voice.
Deep breath on the other end of the line. “You know how crazy it is here. I can’t leave right now. It’s probably just a chicken snake, and they’re not poisonous.”
“Well, there are no chickens in our bedroom, so it doesn’t have any business in there.”
“Chad can probably get it out when he gets home from school. Maybe with a shovel or something, but tell him to be careful. Even though they’re not venomous, it’d probably still hurt to get bit.”
Darlene sighed. “Our girls are going to freak if they come home to find a snake in the house.”
“Maybe—” Darlene turned toward a sound in the entryway. “I’ll call you back. There’s someone at the door, and I’m standing here in my bra. I’ll call you back. Love you.” She clicked the phone off, then yelled toward the door. “Just a minute!”
After finding a T-shirt in Ansley’s room, she pulled it over her head as she crossed back through the den toward the front door. This was the first visitor she’d had in the two months since they’d moved from Houston. She peeked around the curtain before she opened the door, realizing that her old city habit would probably linger for a while. Out here in the country, there probably wasn’t much to worry about, but she was relieved to see it was a woman. A tall woman in a cowgirl hat. She pulled the door open.
“Your Longhorns are in my pasture.” The woman twisted her mouth to one side and folded her arms across her chest. “This is the second time they’ve busted the fence and wandered onto my property.”
Darlene thought this cowgirl could have walked straight off the set of any western movie. She was dressed in a long- sleeved denim shirt with her blue jeans tucked into brown boots. She was older than Darlene, possibly mid-forties, but she was gorgeous with huge brown eyes and blonde hair that hung in a ponytail to her waist.
“I’m so sorry.” Darlene shook her head. Brad should have never gotten those Longhorns. Neither she nor Brad knew a thing about cows, but Brad had said a move to the country should include some Longhorns. Although it didn’t make a lick of sense to her. She pushed the door wide. “I’m Darlene.”
The woman shifted her weight, but didn’t offer a greeting in return. Instead, she stared at Darlene’s chest. Darlene waited for the woman to lock eyes with her, and when she didn’t, Darlene finally looked down. Her cheeks warmed as she sighed. “Oh, this is my daughter’s shirt.” Don’t Bug Me! was scrolled across the white T-shirt in red, and beneath the writing was a hideous picture of a giant roach. Darlene couldn’t stand the shirt, but twelve-year-old Ansley loved it. “Do you want to come in?” She stepped back.
“No. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to round up your Longhorns and head them back to your pasture. I’ll temporarily repair the fence.” The woman turned to leave, and it was then that Darlene saw a horse tethered to the fence that divided their property. She stifled a smile. This woman really was a cowgirl.
“Know anything about snakes?” Darlene eased onto the front porch, sidestepping a board she knew was loose. The porch was next on their list of things to repair on her grand- parents’ old homestead.
“What?” The woman turned around as she held a hand underneath the rim of her hat, blocking the afternoon sun.
“I have a snake in my bedroom.” Darlene shrugged. “Just wondering if you had any—any experience with something like that?” She padded down two porch steps in her socks. “I’m not sure I got your name?”
“Layla.” She gave a quick wave before she turned to leave again. Darlene sighed. Clearly the woman wasn’t interested in being friends. Or helping with the snake. Darlene watched her walk to her horse and put a foot in the stirrup. Then she paused and twisted her body to face Darlene. “What kind of snake?”
Hopeful, Darlene edged down another step. “A big, black one.”
Layla put her foot back on the ground and walked across the grass toward the porch. Darlene couldn’t believe how graceful the tall blonde was, how out of sync her beauty was in comparison to what she was wearing.
“Only thing you really have to worry about around here are copperheads.” She tipped back the rim of her hat. “Was it a copperhead?”
At five foot two, Darlene felt instantly inferior to this tall, gorgeous, horse-riding, snake-slaying blonde. She wasn’t about to say that she couldn’t tell one snake from the other. “I don’t think so.”
“All I’ve got is a .22 with me.” Layla pointed back to her horse, and Darlene saw a long gun in a holster. “But a .22 will blow a hole through your floor,” Layla added. A surreal feeling washed over Darlene. She thought about their previous home in a Houston subdivision, and a woman with a gun on a horse wasn’t a sight they would’ve seen.
“Do you have a pellet gun?” She stopped in front of Darlene on the steps. Darlene was pretty sure that was all they had— Chad’s BB gun.
“Yeah, I think so.”
Five minutes later, Darlene pushed open the door to her bedroom and watched Layla enter the scene of the invasion. The bed was piled with clean clothes, but at least it was made up. The vacuum was in the middle of the room instead of in the closet under the stairs. It wasn’t the way she wanted a stranger to see her bedroom, but it could have been worse.
Layla got down on her knees and looked under the bed. From the threshold, Darlene did a mental scan of what was under there. Boxes of photos, a flowery hatbox that had belonged to her grandmother, an old, red suitcase stuffed with baby keepsakes from when the kids were young—and a lot of dust. “There he is.” Layla leaned her chest to the floor and positioned Chad’s BB gun. Darlene braced herself, then squeezed her eyes closed as two pops echoed underneath the bed. A minute later, Layla drug the snake out with the tip of the gun. “Just a chicken snake.”
Darlene stepped out of the room, giving Layla plenty of room to haul the snake out. Big, black, ugly. And now dead. Blood dripped all the way to the front door. Layla carried the snake to the fence and laid it across the timber, its yellow underside up.
“Belly up should bring rain.” Layla was quickly up on her horse. “Maybe tell your husband that I’m patching the fence up, but he really needs some new cross planks.”
“I will. And thank you so much for killing that snake. Do you and your husband want to come for dinner tonight? I’d like to do something for you.”
“I’m not married. And I can’t come to dinner tonight. Thanks, though.” She gave the horse a little kick in the flank, then eased through a gate that divided her acreage from Brad and Darlene’s. She closed it behind her from atop her horse and headed toward the large house on top of the sloping hillside. Coming from town, the spacious estate was fully visible from the road and her youngest daughter called it the “mansion on the hill.” The rest of the family took to calling it that too.
In comparison to their rundown farmhouse, Darlene sup- posed it was a mansion. Both homes were probably built in the late 1800s, but Layla’s was completely restored, at least on the outside, with fresh, yellow paint and white trim. A split-rail, cedar fence also surrounded the yard, and toward the back of the property, a bright red barn lit up the hayfield not far from a good-sized pond. A massive iron gate—that stayed closed most of the time—welcomed visitors down a long, winding drive- way. And there were lots of livestock—mostly Longhorns and horses. If the wind was blowing just right, sometimes Darlene could hear faint music coming from the house.
She was hoping maybe she could be friends with Layla, even though she wasn’t sure she had anything in common with her. Just the same, Darlene was going to pay her a visit. Maybe take her a basket of baked goodies, a thank-you for killing that snake.
Brad adjusted the phone against his ear and listened to Darlene’s details about her snake ordeal, then she ended the conversation the way she always did. “Who do you love?”
“You, baby.”
It was their thing. Nearly twenty years ago, at a bistro in Houston, Brad wanted to tell Darlene that he loved her—for the first time—and he was a nervous wreck, wondering if she felt the same way. He’d kept fumbling around, and the words just wouldn’t come. Maybe she’d seen it in his eyes, but she’d reached over, touched his hand, and smiled. Then in a soft whisper, she’d asked, “Who do you love?” His answer had rolled off his tongue with ease. “You, baby.” Then she’d told him that she loved him too, and the who-do-you-love question stuck. Darlene asked him all the time. He knew it wasn’t because she was insecure; it was just a fond recollection for both of them. That night at the bistro, Brad had known he was going to marry Darlene.
He flipped his phone shut and maneuvered through the Houston traffic toward home. He was glad that he wouldn’t have to deal with a snake when he got there, but he was amused at Darlene’s description of the tall, blonde cowgirl who shot it with Chad’s BB gun.
He had four tax returns to work on tonight after dinner. All these extra billable hours were bound to pay off. He needed the extra income if he was going to make all the renovations to the farm that he and Darlene had discussed. Brad wanted to give her the financial freedom to make their home everything she dreamed it could be. Cliff Hodges had been dangling the word partner in front of him for almost two years, and Brad was sure he was getting close to having his name on the door.
If they hadn’t been in such a rush to move from Houston, Brad was sure they could have held out and gotten more for their house. As it turned out, they’d barely broken even, and just getting the farmhouse in semi-livable shape had taken a chunk of their savings. Buying out Darlene’s brother for his share of the homestead had put a strain on their finances too, but it was worth it if Darlene was happy. She’d talked about restoring her grandparents’ farm for years. The original plan had been to fix the place up over time so they could use it as weekend getaway. But then they’d decided to make the move as soon as they could, even if the house wasn’t in tip top shape.
Forty-five minutes from his office, he’d cleared the bustle of the city, and the six lane freeway narrowed to two lanes on either side of a median filled with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. Nothing like spring in Texas to calm his mind after crunching numbers all day long, but leaving the office so late to head west put the setting sun directly in his face. He flipped his visor down, glad that the exit for Highway 36 was only a few miles. Once he turned, he’d get a break from the blinding rays. Then he’d pass through the little towns of Sealy and Bellville before winding down one-lane roads to the peaceful countryside of Round Top. It was a long commute, almost an hour and a half each way, but it was worth it when he pulled into his driveway. Small-town living was better for all of them. Especially Chad.
Brad could still recall the night Chad came stumbling into the house—drunk. His seventeen year old son had been running around with a rebellious group of friends in Houston. And sometimes Chad’s glassy eyes had suggested more than just alcohol abuse. He shook his head to clear the recollections, knowing he would continue to pray that his son would make better choices now that he had some distance from his old buddies.
Brad felt like a blessed man. He’d been married to his high school sweetheart for nearly twenty years, and he had three amazing children. He wanted to spend his life being the best husband and father he could be. There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t thank the Lord for the life he’d been given, and it was Brad’s job to take care of his family.
Darlene finished setting the table. She regretted that her mother couldn’t see her enjoying her grandmother’s dining room set. Darlene had been surprised to find the oak table and chairs still in the house when they’d moved in. The antiques had been dusty and in dire need of cleaning, but they were just as sturdy as ever. She could remember many meals with her parents and grandparents in this house, at this table.
She still missed her grandparents—and her parents. Dad had been gone almost six years, and two years had passed since her mother’s death. Her parents had started their family late in life, both of them in their late thirties when she was born, and
Dale was born two years after Darlene. She was glad her brother hadn’t wanted the farm. It had been a struggle to buy him out, but no regrets. Someday, they too would have a “mansion on the hill,” like Layla’s. She cast her eyes downward, frowning at the worn out wooden floors. She’d be glad when they could afford to cover the original planking with new hardwood.
Thinking of Layla brought a smile to her face as she mashed steaming potatoes in a pot on the stove. She couldn’t help but wonder what the tall blonde was doing all alone on that estate. Darlene had never even been on a horse or owned a pair of cowgirl boots. Several of her friends back in Houston sported a pair of high-dollar, pointy-toed boots, but they didn’t particularly appeal to Darlene. Her friend, Gina, had told her it was un-Texan not to own a pair of boots.
She missed Gina. They’d been friends since their daughters had started Girl Scouts together, but after Gina’s divorce, they’d drifted apart. Gina’s interests had changed from Girl Scout and PTO meetings to going out with new single friends.
She left the dining room and went back to the kitchen, glad that the aroma of dinner covered up the dingy old-house smell that lingered, despite her best efforts to conceal it with air fresheners.
“Mom! Mom!” Ansley burst into the kitchen with the kind of enthusiasm that could mean either celebration or disaster; with Ansley you never knew. At twelve, she was the youngest and the most dramatic in the family.
Darlene gave the potatoes a final stir before she turned to face her. “What is it, Ansley?”
“Guess what?” Ansley rocked back and forth from heel to toe, and Darlene could tell by the grin on her daughter’s face that the news was good. “I did it. Straight C's and above!”
Darlene brought her hands to her chest and held her breath for a moment, smiling. When Ansley was in grade school, early testing indicated she was going to struggle, and Darlene and Brad knew she was a bit slower than other kids her age.
Not so thrilling was what Brad had promised Ansley if she received a report card without any failing grades. “Sweetie, that’s great. I’m so proud of you.” She hugged her daughter, knowing it was highly unlikely Ansley wouldn’t remember her father’s promise. Ansley eased out of the hug.
“I know they scare you, Mom, but having some chickens and roosters will be so much fun! We’ll be like real farmers, and every day after school, I’ll go get the eggs.” Ansley’s dark hair brushed against her straightened shoulders, and her big brown eyes twinkled. “Think how much money you’ll save on eggs!”
Darlene bit her bottom lip as she recalled the chickens her grandparents used to keep on this very same farm. And one very mean rooster. Eight dollars in savings per month was hardly going to be worth it, but a promise was a promise. She’d told Brad before they’d left Houston not to offer such a reward, but Darlene had put it out of her mind. At the time, it seemed a stretch for Ansley to hit the goal and make all C’s.
“Maybe just have laying chickens. You don’t need a rooster.” Darlene walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a tub of butter.
“Mom . . .”
Darlene set the butter on the table and raised a brow in time to see Ansley rolling her eyes.
“Even I know we can’t have baby chicks without a rooster.” Ansley folded her arms across her chest.
Darlene grinned. “I know you know that, but how many chickens are you hoping to have?” She recalled that on some of her visits to her grandparents’ house, if the wind blew just right, she could smell the chicken coop from the front yard, even though the pens were well over fifty yards away, back next to the barn. When they’d first moved in, Brad had fixed up the old coops as an incentive for Ansley to pull her grades up. Sitting on the porch swing with Brad late in the evenings had become a regular thing, and smelly chickens would be an unwelcome distraction.
“Not too many,” Ansley said as she pulled a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water.
One was too many in Darlene’s opinion, but it was a well- deserved reward. Darlene gave a lot of the credit to the school here. Much to her children’s horror, there were only 240 students in grades kindergarten through twelve in the Round Top/ Carmine School District, but Darlene felt like they were getting a better education and more one-on-one attention. Darlene had been on the verge of homeschooling Ansley before they left Houston, but Ansley threw such a fit that Darlene had dis- carded the idea.
Ansley chugged the water, then put the glass in the sink. “I can’t wait ’til Daddy gets home.”
Darlene smiled. Her youngest was always a breath of fresh air, full of energy, and the tomboy in the family.
She thought about the snake and realized Ansley probably wouldn’t have freaked out after all. She heard Brad’s car rolling up the gravel driveway, and moments later, the front screen door slammed and Ansley yelled, “Daddy! Guess what!”
An hour later, everyone was gathered at the dinner table, except Chad. After about ten minutes, he finally sauntered into the room, slid into his chair, and folded his hands for prayer.
“It’s your turn to offer the blessing, Chad.” Darlene bowed her head.
“Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings you’ve given us, for this food, the roof over our head, and Your love. And God . . .” Chad paused with a sigh. Darlene opened one eye and held her breath. More often than not, Chad’s prayers included appeals for something outside the realm of what should be requested at the dinner table. Like the time he’d asked for God to help his parents see their way to buying him a better car. Darlene closed her eye, let out her breath, and listened.
“Could you heal Mr. Blackstone’s cancer and bring him back to school? He’s a good guy.” Darlene’s insides warmed, but then Chad continued. “Our substitute stinks. Amen.”
“Chad!” Darlene sat taller, then cut her eyes at Brad, who shouldn’t be smiling.
“No, Mom. I mean, really. He stinks. He doesn’t smell good.” Chad scooped out a large spoonful of potatoes. “And he’s like a hundred or something.”
“Even more reason you shouldn’t speak badly about him. Respect your elders, remember?” Darlene passed the meatloaf to Chad, who was shoveling potatoes like he hadn’t eaten in a month of Sundays.
“Grace, how was your day?” Brad passed their older daughter a plate of rolls.
“It was okay.”
Grace rarely complained, but Darlene knew she wasn’t happy about the move from Houston. Mostly because of the boy she’d left behind.
Ansley turned her head to Darlene, grunted, then frowned. “Mom, why are you wearing my shirt?”
Darlene looked down at the big roach. “Oh, I had to borrow it earlier. I sort of couldn’t go in my room for a while.”
Darlene told the full-length version of the snake story that she’d shortened for Brad on the phone.
“I’ve seen that woman,” Chad said. “And she’s hot.”
“She’s old like Mom, Chad! That’s gross.” Ansley squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then shook her head.
Darlene took a bite of roll. At thirty-eight, when had she become old in her children’s eyes? “I believe Layla is several years older than me, Chad.”
Her son shrugged. “Whatever. She’s still—”
“Chad, that’s enough.” Brad looked in Chad’s direction, and Darlene was glad to see him step in since it seemed like she was the one who always disciplined the children. Brad, on the other hand—well, he promised chickens.
They were all quiet for a few moments before Chad spoke up again.
“Did you know Layla drives a tractor? I’ve seen her out in the pasture on the way to school.” He shook his head. “Seems weird for a woman.” He laughed as he looked to his left at Ansley. “Can you picture Mom out on a tractor plowing the fields?”
Ansley laughed. “No, I can’t.”
“Don’t underestimate your mom. You never know what she might do.” Brad reached for another roll as he winked at Darlene.
Darlene smiled. She found herself thinking, yet again, that this was a good move for them. They all needed this fresh start. None of the kids had been particularly happy at first, but they were coming around.
“Can I be excused?” Grace put her napkin in her lap and scooted her chair back.
Darlene knew meatloaf wasn’t Grace’s favorite. “Whose night is it to help with dishes?”
Grace and Ansley both pointed at Chad.
“Okay,” Darlene said to Grace. “You can be excused.”
Darlene watched Grace leave the table. Her middle child was tiny like Darlene, and she was the only one in the family who inherited Darlene’s blonde hair and blue eyes. And her features were as perfect as a porcelain doll’s, complete with a flawless ivory complexion. She looked like a little princess. Chad and Ansley had their father’s dark hair and eyes—and his height. Darlene loved her children equally, proud of them all, but sometimes it was hard not to favor Grace just a little bit, especially since they’d come so close to losing her as an infant. Grace had come into the world nine weeks’ premature, a surprise to everyone, including Darlene’s doctor, since Darlene had delivered Chad at full-term with no complications just two years earlier. Grace struggled those first few weeks with undeveloped lungs and severe jaundice, and twice they were told to prepare themselves for the worst. But their Grace was a fighter, and as her sixteenth birthday approached, Darlene silently thanked God for the millionth time for His grace.
There’d been issues and struggles with both Chad and Ansley from time to time—mostly with Chad. But Grace had never given them one bit of trouble.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tastefully Written and Emotionally Transparent - Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman/5 Stars

Having firmly ensconced herself among some of the best authors in Christian historical fiction, Allison Pittman has penned another winner that fans of American and religious history will certainly appreciate. Immediately picking up where she last left her readers, Forsaking All Others concludes the story of Camilla Deardon Fox and her freedom from the early Mormon church.

Knowing that she must leave the falsehoods of the Mormon faith and return to the Christian teachings of her childhood, Camilla flees her husband and two young daughters as the US is on the brink of war with Utah and the Mormon church. Intending to seek refuge with her sister-in-law, she is stranded in the cold and faces the dangers of frostbite. Thanks to a compassionate Army officer, Camilla gains a safe haven to plot her next move and recover. After several convincing arguments, she persuades Colonel Brandon to take her to Salt Lake City so she may beg housing from her relatives. After having the door slam in her face, she resigns herself to staying with the one woman that won't turn her away--Sister Evangeline. This charity does not come without a price, however, and betrayal becomes the next foe she must face.

With a contrast so stark you could touch it, Allison Pittman has masterfully created a character in this novel that has grown from her impetuous youth into a woman of considerable grace and strength. With the entire story told in first-person point of view, Camilla's thoughts and emotions were completely transparent, and as a reader, I could identify with her longings to give herself completely over to God and His plan for her life. Compared to the previous novel, For Time and Eternity, Forsaking All Others was less about the strange teachings of the early Mormon church, and more about the journey Camilla took both spiritually and physically. There were times when I wanted to weep for the heartache that Camilla was experiencing, and alternately, I wanted to rejoice in the hope that her future was going to be better than her past.

While probably a strange backdrop for some fans of Christian fiction, The Sister Wife Series shares something that is indeed a part of early American history. Sadly, many were deceived by it's teachings and the enthusiasm of it's members. I applaud Allison for tastefully creating a fascinating story that I will not soon forget. Highly recommended!

5 Stars  

Southern? No
Sass? No

**Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of Forsaking All Others for review.

**Click here to read my review of book 1, For Time and Eternity.

**For more info about Allison and The Sister Wife Series, please visit her website.


Hangin' Out with Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark!

The opportunity to have more than one author interview per week comes around once in a blue moon here. That's why I'm so happy today to feature Mindy Starns Clark and her husband, John Campbell Clark! This is one of those interviews that I've been looking forward to for some time.  I've always been a fan of Mindy's books, especially her Amish mysteries. Having John here today with her...well, that's just a nice bonus, don'tcha think? :o)  Mindy and John recently collaborated on a book together, Echoes of Titanic, which was a fabulous mix of past history and present drama that had me glued to every single page.  I hope you'll join me today to hang out with Mindy and John with a quirky Q&A, and stay tuned to the very end for a special giveaway!

***

Not including writing, what was your first job?

Mindy: I was a travel agent. It didn't pay much, but the perks were incredible! I managed to see the world, and at huge discounts, thanks to being in the right business at the right time.

John: I was an accountant for the (now-defunct) shipping company US Lines.

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

Mindy: Stranger than Fiction. I watch it every time I finish writing a book, as my own little personal celebration.

John: I'd say the Bourne trilogy, though if I have to pick one, I guess I liked the first one best.

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

Mindy: Invisibility. I'd love to observe and listen in--which is sort of like what I'm doing as a writer anyway, I guess.

John: Flight! I've always wished I could fly!

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

Mindy: A big juicy steak. Yum!

John: Cheetos. So bad for you, but so good.

My hubby would pull up a plate with both of with those choices!  Maybe not necessarily together on the same plate, but you get the drift...  :o)

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

Mindy: Great question! Anything from The New Yorker to People, depending on my mood. If they have Ladies Home Journal, I'll usually grab that just to read the "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" column. I love comparing what I would suggest with what the counselor tells them to do. :)

John: Anything financial, like Money or Kiplinger's.

If those answers don't convince anyone that opposites attract, I don't know what would!

Have you ever met anyone famous?

Mindy: Yes, as a travel agent, I usually flew first class and often ended up next to famous people. Let's see... Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock, Tommy Lee Jones, Richard Simmons, Motley Crue, Ned Beatty, Morley Safer, the New Jersey Nets, and a lot more I can't think of right now. :)

John: I met and chatted with Katherine Hepburn on the streets of NYC.

Courtesy of nyctourist.com
Both: Whenever we see a Broadway show, we wait at the stage door afterwards to get autographs and have met lots of famous people that way, like Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew Broderick, Al Pacino, Shaun and David Cassidy, Brooke Shields, Liza Minelli, and many more.

I can't help but smile after reading your combined answer!  My hubby has been a theatre/movie buff since I've known him, and he's an autograph hound, too.  He was fortunate during our dating years to work for a local Broadway theatre, and has met several actors/musicians/entertainers and gotten their autographs as well.  Being on the fringes in that type of environment has it's advantages at times!  :o)

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

Mindy: Spilled bright purple nail polish on our brand new pale pastel green carpeting--my poor, sweet mom nearly went ballistic. She'd just had it installed the day before!

John: Threw snowballs at passersby. I still feel guilty about that!

Mindy, I can't help but cringe every time I read that!!  I bet you were grounded for a month!

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

Mindy: Anything from Bette Midler, because we have the same limited range. Something like The Wind Beneath my Wings, or The Rose, either of which is really easy to sing but still sounds halfway decent.

John: Something from Bruce Springsteen, maybe The River.

***

Well, if no one else had a great time today, I know I sure did!  It's so fun when I find authors that I (or hubby) have things in common with.  :o)  And if you'd like to get to know Mindy a little bit better, feel free to visit her website here.

And I told you there was an extra special surprise, right?  In honor of the fact that we have not one, but two authors with us today, we're giving away not one, but TWO books!  :o)  Yep, there are two copies up for grabs of Mindy and John's latest book, Echoes of Titanic.  Believe me, you do NOT want to miss out on your chance to read this book!  I read it a couple of weeks ago, and WOW...what a fantastic read!  So, here's the dealio...

1.  Gotta be a US resident.

2.  Gotta leave a comment in the comment section below with your email address like so (yourname at provider dot com) or similar.

3.  Gotta leave that comment before Sunday, April 29th, 11:59 CST.

4.  Want an extra entry?  Be a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs, or through email subscription.  Be sure to let me know in your comment, too.

Two winners will be chosen next Monday, April 30th, through third-party site, random.org, and the winners will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.  Failure to respond will result in a new winner (or winners) being chosen.  Odds of winning based on number of entrants.  I am not responsible for lost or damaged books.

Good luck everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

**Thanks so much to Jeane Wynn with Wynn-Wynn Media for her help with today's interview.

Friday, April 20, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour: Prophet by R.J. Larson



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Prophet
Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2012)
by
R.J. Larson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as Women's Devotional Bible and Seasons of a Woman's Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre.




ABOUT THE BOOK:

Close your eyes, Ela of Parne. Close your eyes and you will see.

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn't understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She's undignified, bad tempered, and only seventeen--not to mention that no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as the elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite's prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Istgard has turned their back on me. See the evil they do.

Yet after experiencing His presence, she can't imagine living without Him. Determined to follow the Infinite's voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite's word to a nation torn apart by war. Here she meets Kien, a young Traceland ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela must surrender to her destiny . . . and determine how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

Will you accept the branch and speak my will? Will you be my prophet?

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Deeply Emotional - The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren/5 Stars

Noelle and Eli's marriage is on the skids, thanks to a difficult period filled with grief over the murder of their daughter. Now, they're sleeping in separate rooms and each one has secrets that would be devastating if they were brought to light. To make things even worse, Noelle develops amnesia after a severe blow to the head, and the past 25 years of her life have suddenly disappeared. Noelle and Eli must now work together to piece their lives back together, and decide whether or not their marriage is worth saving.

Emma Nelson wants nothing more than to recapture the song of her heart. She feels as though it should've been her and not Kelsey that met the end of a shooter's bullet. Since then, playing the music that she and Kelsey created together just isn't the same anymore. If only she could capture the lyrics, the song that keeps running through her head would be complete. It will take a trip back home to Deep Haven, as well as the help of a special friend, to find what's she's been missing all along.

Once again, Susan May Warren has created a masterpiece of a book wrought with deep emotions and personal struggles. Those suffering through a period of grief or those who have strayed from their first love (both literally and spiritually) can find hope in the pages of this novel. The Shadow of Your Smile is not a book to rush through reading, but rather, one that is worth the time it takes to savor the wisdom contained within.  Highly Recommended!

5 Stars

Southern? No
Sass? No

Summary of The Shadow of Your Smile:

A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage. After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle's memory. Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember? Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future?

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hangin' Out with Christa Allan with Bonus Giveaway!

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome Christa Allan for a very fun interview!  Christa contacted me more than 6 months ago about a feature, and we are finally finally finally getting around to making it happen.  :o)   Christa is known as the author of "not your usual Christian fiction," and it is an absolute treat to have her as my special guest today. I hope y'all enjoy getting to know her better, too!

Welcome, Christa!

***

Not including writing, what was your first job?

I worked as a cashier at Winn-Dixie Supermarkets, and I always helped cashier at my father’s hardware store.

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

Kelly’s Heroes, which is an offbeat comedy/war film about a group of WWII soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The characters in that movie just crack me up, and one of my favorite lines is , “Think the bridge will be there, and it will be there.” (It’s much funnier in context in the movie.) I’ve actually found that quote applicable to quite a number of areas of my life!

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

I’d love to be able to transport myself from one place to another just by snapping my fingers. Come to think of it, there are a few people I’d like to be able to snap and send away...

But it would be wonderful to eliminate that whole plane, train, auto issue. That way I could spend more time with my children and grandgirls who are six hours away.

When all the book deadlines have been met, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Reading, watching all the episodes of Glee and Castle that my husband recorded for me and, generally, just knowing I don’t have to bond with my laptop.

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

People. Usually they’re months old, so I’m way behind on the latest gossip.

People seems to be the magazine of choice by you author gals.  :o)

Have you ever met anyone famous?

No, but I once stood three feet away from Billy Crystal at a Bacchus Mardi Gras ball. Do Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disney World count?

Absolutely!  I met Bugs Bunny at Six Flags once, and always thought all those creatures qualified as a brush with celebrity!  :o)

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

I was such a nerd growing up; in fact, I’m still one…just older. One incident, though, I vividly remember is sticking my tongue out at my mother after she walked away from me. I didn’t know, though, that my father was standing off to the side. Let’s just say I never did that again.

LOL!  Sounds like something I might've done, too...and also, to be caught by my dad!

Having just visited New Orleans a few weeks ago, and since your latest book is set in New Orleans, I gotta ask... What is one thing you love about New Orleans?

One thing...oh, my...I love the unabashed, passionate, no holds barred, crazy energy we have when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds...and the food. I know, I know...that’s two, but I couldn’t answer that question without mentioning the food!

You have the opportunity to choose between appearing on American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. Which reality tv show beckons your participation?

Let me say, up front, there is a reason my mother didn’t name me Grace. It would be painfully apparent within seconds of stepping out on the dance floor. And that’s assuming I could even do that without tripping over an invisible thread on the ground.

American Idol would be the lesser of two humiliations, but I’m certain I’d be the female version of William Hung.

Hey, he had 15 minutes of fame.  Most of us don't even get that!

***

Christa, thank you so much for being my special guest today, and I'm glad our schedules worked out well enough to have you here just around the time of your latest book release.  We'll have do this again sometime!  :o)

Folks, if you'd like to connect with Christa, feel free to visit her website, find her on Facebook, or find her on Twitter.  And of course, if you'd like to leave any comments for Christa, just mosey on down to the comment section at the end of this post.

And part of our fun every week is a giveaway!  Thanks to Christa, there's a copy of her newest book, Love Finds You in New Orleans, Louisiana, up for grabs.  (Don'tcha just *love* that cover?!)  Simply fill out all the fields in the form below no later than Tuesday, 4/24, 11:59pm. A winner will be chosen through third-party site, random.org. Odds of winning are based upon number of entries, and contest eligible for US addresses only. I am not responsible for lost or damaged prizes.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Amish Fiction is Branching Out - An Uncommon Grace by Serena Miller/5 Stars

Historical fiction and Amish fiction are my go-to genres all day, every day.  I love the history from one and the simplicity from the other.  But ya know...sometimes, both can get a little bogged down with a sense of sameness, and I long for some variety. Well, thanks to Serena Miller's new book, I've gotten my taste of the Amish in a totally new way.

This book explores the life and culture of the Swartzentruber Amish--an ultra-conservative sect that many readers, including myself, have never heard of.  It's obvious that the Amish in general are very strict in their lifestyle in order to keep them separate from the Englisch, but the Swartzentruber take it to a whole different level.  They don't ride in cars unless it's an emergency, there are no phones anywhere, there's no indoor plumbing, and their home appliances and farm equipment are primitive beyond belief.  Also, their views and opinions on the Bible and a Christian life seem different, too, almost to the point of making me pity them.  It seems as though their primary focus is on good works, and that they only get assurance of heaven if they've done enough and lived a good life.  Oh, if they only knew the truth.

With this unusual cultural backdrop, it did not take me long to become engrossed in Serena's story.  I loved Grace's subtle methods of serving Levi and his family without being asked.  I longed for Levi to recognize his district's flawed teachings, as well as the ability to escape those who would sabotage his reputation.  And I hoped with all my heart that these two could find a way to be more than just friends. Partially because of these two characters, An Uncommon Grace was a very intriguing story that was both entertaining and satisfying. 

For those who are fans of Amish mysteries by author Mindy Starns Clark, I can heartily recommend that you give Serena's latest book a try.  It has the perfect combination of mystery and Amish culture, and if you're not careful, you may just learn a thing or two (I speak from experience here).  :o)  Serena has now written two books that I have loved from start to finish--one historical and one Amish--and it's safe to say that she'll be an author I'll read more from in the future! 

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

Summary of An Uncommon Grace:

Grace Connor, a military nurse formerly stationed in Afghanistan, hopes that moving to a farm in rural Ohio will help her recover from the ravages of war. Levi Troyer finds his pacifist beliefs challenged when he discovers his stepfather has been killed and his mother wounded by an unknown intruder. Levi and Grace are thrown together when she comes to his family's rescue and saves his mother's life. A deep attraction develops--even though a relationship between them is strictly forbidden.

Levi belongs to the most conservative and isolated of all Amish sects--the Swartzentruber Amish. Even before meeting Grace, Levi had begun to question some of their teachings. He has considered leaving, but knows he will be banned forever from contact with his younger siblings and widowed mother--who need him to survive. He is torn between his love for Grace and his responsibility to his family.

Grace considers leaving her beloved farm and reenlisting rather than continuing to live near the man she loves but cannot have. Levi must confront the Bann if he pursues Grace. And a murderer must be caught. When lifelong allegiances are tested, can love and justice prevail?

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour: The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Fiddler
Bethany House Publishers (April 10, 2012)
by
Beverly Lewis




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Beverly's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and spending time with their family. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.

A wrong turn in a rainstorm leads Englisher Amelia Devries to Michael Hostetler--and the young Amishman's charming Old Order community of Hickory Hollow. Despite their very different backgrounds, Amelia and Michael both feel hemmed in by the expectations of others and struggle with how to find room for their own hopes. And what first seems to be a chance encounter might just change their lives forever.

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

Watch the book video:





Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not What I Would Consider Historical, but Still a Riveting Read - From This Day Forward by Margaret Daley/3 Stars

I really, really wanted to give this book more than 3 stars, but in good conscience, I just couldn't. The story on it's own was riveting beyond belief, but I struggled to believe it was a historical novel, especially one set in the early 1800's. Sure, they had no electricity, they farmed their land, they got hot in the summertime because of no air conditioning, but nothing really transported me almost 200 years back in time. I was also easily bored with all the wishy-washy mentions of Rachel returning to England, as well as Nathan thinking that was the best plan for her, too. One other thing that just niggled at me was the overuse of the word "pivot." I know that's small, but when a word that's not used often in every-day conversation is used so much in the span of 300 pages, it becomes noticeable.

Truly, though, I loved the story itself--a stubborn woman with almost nothing to her name determined to make a life for herself and her newborn daughter. Throw in a couple of surprise young'uns that were spitfires at first, then sweethearts shortly thereafter, along with a half-way decent mystery, and it was a mostly pleasing read. However, when I read a historical novel, I long for it to take me back to that distant time and place so I can feel apart of it. That was missing here, and it was too difficult to overlook.

3 Stars

Southern?  Yes, set in South Carolina
Sass?  No

Summary of From This Day Forward:

Penniless, pregnant, and newly widowed immigrant Rachel Gordon doesn’t believe her situation could get any worse...until she meets her new neighbors.  Shortly after the War of 1812, Rachel and her husband set out from England for a plantation in South Carolina, which he had purchased sight unseen. However, while en route, Tom Gordon fell overboard and drowned, leaving Rachel, frightened and alone, to make a home for her and her newborn.

Can a battle-scarred American physician who comes to her rescue also heal her wounded heart?

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

Hangin' Out with Amy Wallace!

Thanks so much for joining me for another great author interview this week!  My special guest this week is suspense author, Amy Wallace.  Amy's just released a brand new book, Hiding in Plain Sight, that sounds like it's my kind of book--a little bit Amish with a whole lotta suspense!

I hope y'all have a great time today getting to know Amy better.  :o)

Welcome, Amy!

***

Not including writing, what was your first job?

I was a nanny.

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

It’s a tie between Live Free or Die Hard and The A-Team.

Action movie gal, huh?  *grin*


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

Psychokinesis--the ability to control things with my mind. It would sure come in handy on cleaning day.


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

Chocolate-drenched desserts, especially Death by Chocolate.

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

Southern Living.


Have you ever met anyone famous?

Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman. I worked as a decisions counselor for one of his Atlanta shows and got to go backstage and hang out for a while. They’re such great people.

I imagine so.  :o)  I've been a fan of his music since I was a young girl.

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

Nothing I want in immortalized in print.

Oh, come on, Amy!!  I promise we won't tell anyone...really.  *wink*

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

O Danny Boy. I’m part Irish and learned to croon this one way back when.

***

Amy, thanks so much for stopping by today so we could get to know you better! 

Folks, if you'd like to connect with Amy online, visit her website, or find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.

And just like every week, we've got a giveaway, too!  If you'd like the opportunity to win a copy of Amy's newest book, Hiding in Plain Sight, simply fill out all the fields in the form below no later than Tuesday, 4/17, 11:59pm. A winner will be chosen through third-party site, random.org. Odds of winning are based upon number of entries, and contest eligible for US addresses only. I am not responsible for lost or damaged prizes.

**Many thanks to Jeane with Wynn-Wynn Media for all her help coordinating today's interview.



Friday, April 6, 2012

Cover Attraction: The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

I have LOVED both novels that Lorna has written in the past couple of years (see here and here), so it's only fitting that a Cover Attraction post spotlight her newest book releasing just in time for summer.  Isn't that cover just so much fun?!  :o)  I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Title:  The Ride of Her Life
Author:  Lorna Seilstad
Release Date:  May 1, 2012
Publisher:  Revell

About the book:

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hangin' Out with Nancy Herriman!

Time has not been my friend today!  I meant to have this posted oh...around lunchtime, and now's, it's a whole 8 hours later.  I hope some of y'all are night owls like me, and are looking here, there, and yon to read an interview tonight with an up and coming author.  What?  You're not?  Well, you oughta be!!!  *wink*

I've not had the privilege yet of reading Nancy's debut novel, The Irish Healer, but it is patiently waiting for me on my Kindle.  Until then, I'm so happy that she stopped by for all us bookies to get to know her better.

Welcome, Nancy!

***

Not including writing, what was your first job?

I was an engineer.

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

Boy, it's a toss up between The Philadelphia Story and A Christmas Story. ;-)

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

Self-replication - there's not enough of me to go around!

I have that same problem!  Quick, let's get some scientist on the phone, and tell him to get busy...  (we may be waiting awhile...)

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

Cheese danish

Oh, I want one right this minute.  Who needs to wait until breakfast to eat one?!  :o)

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

Any travel magazines

Have you ever met anyone famous?

I met George Clooney in high school when he took a friend to the prom.

Quite possibly the coolest celeb anyone has ever met in all the Hangin' Out interviews so far!  You're in tall cotton, girl! 

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

Honestly, nothing.

I don't believe it.  Nope...sure don't.  :o)

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

Anything by Barbra Streisand (I'm showing my age!)

***

Nancy, thanks so much for being my special guest today!  I'm sure there's more than one lady out there drooling over that hunky lookin' GC, thanks to you.  :o)

Folks, if you'd like to connect with Nancy online, be sure to visit her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. And you're always welcome to leave any comments for Nancy in the comment section below the entry form. :o)

And as always, it gives me great pleasure to let you know that we have a book to give away today, too!!  If you'd like the opportunity to win a copy of Nancy's newest book, The Irish Healer, simply fill out all the fields in the form below no later than Tuesday, 4/10, 11:59pm.  A winner will be chosen through third-party site, random.org.  Odds of winning are based upon number of entries, and contest eligible for US addresses only.  I am not responsible for lost or damaged prizes.

**Many thanks to Jeane with Wynn-Wynn Media for all her help coordinating today's interview.