Friday, 30 March 2007

Add this one.........

Just had to say I am currently reading W. Dale Cramer's Summer of Light which I am reviewing for so you won't see my review here for a while. I think I have only ever posted once before mid-read but this book is so fantastic I couldn't help myself!

Steelworker, Mick Brannigan loses his job and ends up staying home to care for his three children, one who has a unique learning disability. This book is full of humour, compassion, insight and is beautifully far...but can't see that changing.

Add this to your TBR pile, without question!

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Too Good to be True by Trish Perry

4 Stars

Rennie Young is overwhelmed by her losses. Her husband's betrayal, the failure of her plans to adopt and her mother's disapproval of her faith and choice of career culminate in a not so glamorous fainting spell in Wal-Mart. Opening her eyes, Rennie is convinced she is dreaming as the handsome man tending to her looks too good to be true!

Trish Perry has penned another entertaining romance that is fun and engaging yet encompasses the serious issues of prejudice, overbearing parents and how childhood shapes us. Rennie and Tru are appealing characters and although they fit the traditional formula for a romance ~ attractive, young and successful ~ the author has them deal with real life problems from a completely human and realistic perspective which is very refreshing. Trish lets the reader experience their frustration, anger and disappointment and be inspired by their blessings, hopes and joys!

Kara and Gabe are back from The Guy I'm Not Dating together with Jeremy, Sandra and even the infamous Tiffany! Despite feeling the ending was a little rushed, I have no hesitation in recommending this delightful story and I look forward to Trish's future books.

Read my review of The Guy I'm Not Dating here!

So Many Books.....So Little Time

My friend Jen has a giveaway going on at her blog, So Many Books...So Little Time for a copy of Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Reluctant Burglar or Reluctant Runaway. Check it out here !

I will be reviewing both books here soon!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of Reclaiming Nick

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
RECLAIMING NICK ( Tyndale Fiction, 2007)
Susan May Warren


Award winning author SUSAN MAY WARREN recently returned home to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods. Visit her Web site at


RECLAIMING NICK is the first of The Noble Legacy series. Book Two, Taming Rafe, will be available January 2008.

A Modern Day Prodigal Comes Home...


But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle--the Noble family ranch--to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face his mistakes, and guarantee that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.

Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she thinks. So does resisting his charming smile.
As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will--and Piper digs for answers--family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who’s out to take the Silver Buckle from the Noble family, and he’ll stop at nothing--even murder--to make it happen.


“Susan May Warren once again delivers that perfect combination of heart-pumping suspense and heart-warming romance.” Tracey Bateman, author of the Claire Everett series.

If you would like to hear more about Nick, he has his own
blog. Also, the first chapter is there...

Check out my review here and my interview with Susan here !

Saturday, 24 March 2007

The winner of The Reliance is....

Leanne ~ congratulations. Your copy will be coming your way soon!

And for any of you worrying about it Leanne posted her comment under my review post not the original contest post so you can find it there ~ all legit!!

Sneak peek into book giveaways coming soon:~

Reluctant Burglar by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
A Bigger Life by Annette Smith
The Secret of Us by Roxanne Henke

Stay tuned :)

Interview with Kacy Barnett-Gramckow

My book club had the pleasure of reading The Heavens Before , which tells the story of the Great Flood, for our March discussion. Author of The Genesis Trilogy, Kacy Barnett-Gramckow , graciously answered our questions in this interview. Here are Kacy's fascinating thoughts:~

On Writing....

Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us .

KACY: As a child, I had all the “symptoms” of becoming a writer—reading everything in sight, creating huge, endless plots and characters in my little brain, scribbling in journals, and studying people wherever I went. However, it simply never occurred to me that I should write. Writers, I believed, weren’t normal (and they wore scratchy turtleneck sweaters and glasses; I refused.) When my “normal” sister-in-law, Kathi Macias, became an editor/writer, I changed my mind. I forced her to read some of my scribbles and she retaliated by twisting my arm until I wrote devotionals for some of her anthologies. That was in 1986-87. I’ve been composing devotionals and novels ever since.

Who encouraged you or what made you decide to write a novel and seek its publication?

KACY: A fit of insanity? Actually, I began to write a novel for my own amusement—an historical medieval plot. I abandoned it when I felt the Lord leaning on me spiritually, urging me to write The Heavens Before. Despite this spiritual urging, I retreated, fearing the research would be too much. After my husband and my mother insisted that I must write about the “first world,” I gave in. I wrote the prologue within 15 minutes. Jerry, my husband, read it and said, “Keep going.” My sister-in-law read it the following day and demanded a chapter each week until the novel was finished six months later. Writing was the easy part: The difficult part has been patience, because The Heavens Before wasn’t published until six years after I had typed the final page.

Why Christian fiction?

KACY: So much of what I’ve read in secular fiction is excessively violent, and so near-pornographic that I detest reading it. (I’ve thrown some very expensive books into the garbage because I couldn’t finish reading them and I didn’t want to inflict them upon anyone else.) More important, however, Christian Fiction addresses the spiritual side of humanity and offers genuine hope in the love of our Lord.

What project or book are you working on now?

KACY: My teenager! We are home-schooling him and because I also have a “day job” there’s been very little time left in recent months for writing. I have written a few devotionals which have been accepted by editors recently, but nothing else.

Will we see more Biblical novels from you?

KACY: I finished a Biblical novel (Matthew 27:52) a year ago. My agent and I hope that it will find a home with the right publisher sometime this year. As the Lord wills.

How long does it take you to write a book?

KACY: Usually about six months. Once I start a book, I try to finish one chapter each week.

On The Heavens Before....

What made you first decide to write this book?

KACY: While my husband and I were researching the Evolution/Creationism debate with our sons, I became fascinated with the Genesis Flood and all the theories presented concerning the pre-flood world. My sons discussed living in a world with dinosaurs—typical boy talk—and I laughed at their imagination briefly. Then I wondered, “What WOULD it be like?” And, as I mentioned before, I could feel the Lord leaning upon me spiritually. He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer; He even enlisted my dear mother to sternly intercede—which she had never done with any of my previous writing projects.

What kinds of research did you undertake for the trilogy?

KACY: I researched goldsmithing, geology, human DNA for migration patterns, basket weaving, ancient foods, agriculture, flood myths from different cultures, ancient archaeology, ancient medicines, poisons, dinosaurs, Hebrew legends and histories, word origins . . . I know there’s more, but I’d have to start digging into my bookshelves and notes to remember them all.

I enjoyed the detail that you gave to their day to day lives, eg. the foods they ate. Was this part of the 'fiction' of the story, or did you research what the people would have eaten in those days?

KACY: I researched the various foods found by archaeologists in their “digs” at the earliest cities, also from Sumerian translations, and from the Bible. The secular sources agree very well with scripture, of course!

Most of the names mentioned in your book vary from the Bible. How did you come to the way they were either spelled, or the complete change of these names? /Did you make up all the character names and meanings or did you source them from somewhere?

KACY: With the exception of Iltani—which is an ancient Babylonian name that I found appealing—all the names in the Genesis Trilogy can be found in Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon. I loved using the lexicon as a resource. Each name is close to it’s Hebrew pronunciation, not our Anglo translations. “Noah” means pleasant in Hebrew, while “Noakh” is actually the word for comfort as Leh'-mek, Noakh’s father, decreed.

I am greatly intrigued on where you found the character Annah from and how you managed to relate the horrible treatment she received at the hands of her family.

KACY: Annah’s physical description is derived from a TIME magazine article I read many years ago. Scientists merged DNA traits from almost every nationality and the “Total DNA” result was portrayed as a lovely young woman with brown skin, brown eyes, and straight dark hair, who the scientists named Eve. I remembered “Eve” when I described Annah. As far as the horrible treatment Annah received at the hands of her family, I’ve never suffered physical abuse from anyone in my family, but I have heard others talk about their own experiences (which hurt just to hear them.) I also experienced a jaw so badly bruised and swollen from surgery that I couldn’t open my mouth—causing a young man to ask me, “Hey, girl, who chopped [struck] your jaw?” In addition, I have been thrown from a horse and a bicycle, I have had a knife held to my throat by a co-worker while I was quietly eating lunch, and I have suffered from my own clumsiness in general, so I was able to recall my own miseries. The emotional aspect of Annah’s abuse was more difficult. I had to keep reminding myself that all humans in that era were evil—ALL the time—according to scripture.

How close is the finished book to the original concept?

KACY: Amazingly, except for some trimming for manuscript length, the whole Trilogy is very close to what my imagination and my research suggested. I do praise the Lord for His insistence and inspiration. (I’m just a scribe.)

Why did you decide to make the three wives different in their belief of (faith in) ‘The Most High’ and ‘The Pen’?

KACY: I felt that each young woman in The Heavens Before should have her own perspective and a differing view of the Most High, and would, therefore, have differing levels of resistance to accepting the prophesied destruction, as well as the Lord’s promises. As Annah, Ghinnah, and Tirtsah each realized her own guilt in the fallen world, then the Lord’s love and mercy was portrayed more fully—a joy!

Where did you get your 'ideas' of what life might have been like pre-flood?

KACY: Many physical descriptions of the plants and animals in the first world are derived from the fossil record and from research by scientists—both secular and Christian. The pre-Flood sky, for example, has been written about by many different creationists with many different theories. I debated its appearance—and the presence of a “firmament” for weeks. I believe the sky was probably blue, as we see it today, but there were enough differing opinions that I felt comfortable with portraying an exotic otherworldly pink sky.

On Matters Personal....

Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favourite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?

KACY: Yes! In the past year I’ve read Liz Curtis Higgs, Donita K. Paul, Francine Rivers, Julie Carobini, and Karen Hancock. And Tracy Groot’s Madman.

What are you reading at the moment?

KACY: Psalms. (I confess, I’m always turning to Psalms before sleep.) I’m actually in between books right now. Last night I finished Heart Full of Lies by Ann Rule, which was depressing but a good character study. Tonight, I will probably search my shelves for something lighter. I love biographies! I am also looking forward to reading Karen Hancock’s Return of the Guardian King.

Where is your favourite place to read a book?

KACY: At night, in bed with a heap of pillows and my flowered quilt.

Who inspires you?

KACY: The Lord! And my family. (Imagine hearts drawn all over this answer.)

Please share some of your faith journey.

KACY: The day I was born (much too early) I had a Baptist chaplain praying for my life, and a Catholic priest baptizing me. I was raised in the Catholic church—and loved the faith of my childhood—but I committed myself to the Lord and became a Baptist in my twenties after much study and deliberation. About two years ago, my mother told me about the Baptist chaplain who had consoled her and stood outside the delivery room door until after I was born, then sent a telegram to my father who was at sea. I do wonder what that unknown chaplain prayed!

Any last words....

KACY: Thank you all for your time; I do wish I could be visiting with you now, answering your questions in person. Rel, thank you for inviting me—I’ve enjoyed this interview. Love and blessings.

Thank you Kacy for a glimpse into your world and for the effort required to write a novel based on a Biblical event. We do hope you write more exceptional novels just likeThe Genesis Trilogy!

Click on the following titles to learn more about The Heavens Before, He Who Lifts The Skies and A Crown in the Stars.

Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini

4 Stars

"Seriously, then. How did you know Douglas was the one?"........"He was everything I thought I didn't need.".........."That is the weirdest thing I think you've ever said."

Brianna Stone enjoyed a whirlwind romance Douglas, now her husband of fourteen years, she loves her teenage son and his surfie ways, enjoys a relaxed lifestyle on the California Coast living in a small bungalow by her beloved beach and entertains her passengers as a tour bus host. Bri has no regrets............or does she?

When Bri's best friends and employer start questioning her relationship with her husband and her disapproving mother-in-law sends an email to Douglas, which Bri intercepts "accidentally" which hints Douglas is wanting to sell their cherished home, she begins to wonder if all is not right in her world. When Douglas is spotted driving his snazzy sportscar in places unexpected and is spending more and more time at the office, Bri's insecurities kick in and she knows changes must be made. In better keeping with her husband's image as a succesful lawyer, Bri calls in a professional decorator to undo the shabby chic beach look of her home and create a more sophisticated "living space", she exchanges flipflops for Mary Jane's and enrols in a Chocolate Cooking Class in an effort to enhance her limited culinary skills. But will it be enough to get her husband's attention or has he had enough of her free and easy ways?

Julie Carobini's first novel, Chocolate Beach is a delight! It is chock full of eclectic and entertaining characters, laugh out loud humour and a message not to be missed. Written in the firt person, Bri has an appealing voice that is both comical and heartwarming. Her struggles with an overbearing mother-in-law, interfering and envious friends, an employer willing to compromise and an absent husband will have many readers laughing and empathising at the same time. Her teenage son Nathan has his own issues and those are fleshed out well as Bri strives for that balance of encouraging her boy without controlling his decisions. Bri's best friend Gaby is eccentric and fun, single status and dating disasters providing a good contrast with Bri's solid marriage (until her doubts emerge!). Their relationship is a beautful part of the book and a gentle reminder to cultivate those special friendships in our lives.

Bri's journey is humorous, challenging and endearing and one I would highly recommend! Julie Carobini is currently working on A Curious Thing about Seashells (working title) which tells Gaby's story, releasing in 2008 by Bethany.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins

5 Stars

From a hot tub in Violet Dawn to a daisy imprinted bright yellow Volkswagen in Coral Moon, bodies are piling up in Kanner Lake! Journalist, Leslie Brymes is about to find herself embroiled in what could be the biggest story of her career yet the first one she plans to avoid.

A killer is hiding in peaceful Kanner Lake and evil is casting its shadow over this close knit community, threatening to instill fear and distrust among friends and enemies alike. Leslie is overwhelmed with guilt and confusion when notes appear holding her responsible for the deaths. When the evidence points to an unthinkable murderer, Leslie digs deeper, uncovering spiritual forces at work and decides to fight with her faith in God and an unexpected ally.

Brandilyn Collins has added extra octane to this thriller which will draw you in from the first page leaving you exhausted yet amazed and satisfied with her evocative language, intelligent plot and memorable characters. With a deft hand Brandilyn adds a new and subtle dimension to her developing character stories with a glimpse of unrequited love - can't wait for that to play out in the further stories of Kanner Lake. Next up, Crimson Eve, releasing September, 2007 (US) by Zondervan.

Be sure to check out Brandilyn's website and her fabulous blogs, Scenes & Beans and Forensics & Faith.

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins

4 1/2 Stars
Paige Williams life couldn't get any worse after her tragic childhood....or so she thought! When she bumps up against a dead body while relaxing in her spa she quickly reconsiders. Terrified of the past coming back to haunt her, Paige chooses a dangerous and harrowing path.

In Violet Dawn, the continually impressive Brandilyn Collins, introduces the small town of Kanner Lake, with it's beautiful lake, haunting forest and vibrant community brimming with entertaining and unique characters. Bailey Truitt, owner of the Java Joint faithfully prays for her town while struggling with her husband's injuries, spunky journalist Leslie Brymes always on the lookout for the "big one", S-man, the intense novelist who speakes in his own sci-fi language and Wilbur Hucks with his propensity to partially disrobe at a moment's notice!

The pacing and suspense is tight, balancing well with genuine character development that has become Brandilyn's trademark. Flashbacks provide essential backstory without disruption and descriptions of the killer's inmost thoughts are chilling and revealing. You really can't go past a Brandilyn Collins' book if you are looking for, as she calls it, seatbelt suspense! Strap yourself in and hold on tight!

Be sure to check out Brandilyn's website and her fabulous blogs, Scenes & Beans and Forensics & Faith.

Interview with MaryLu Tyndall

Mary Lu Tyndall , author of the fabulously entertaining Legacy of the King's Pirates trilogy including The Redemption and, just released, The Reliance shares some great insights on writing, her books and faith....

Hi MaryLu ~ Thanks for spending some time at Relz Reviewz. My readers would love to hear your thoughts:~

On Writing...

Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us.

My road to getting published is a bit of an interesting tale and certainly one unlike any I’ve heard of before. I would have to classify it as a miraculous intervention by Almighty God. You see, The Redemption, my first book, was the very first novel I completed and submitted to an agent, and it was snatched up by a publisher within a month of submission. I had written the story more for my own enjoyment than in the hopes of ever seeing it in print, but the Lord had other plans. Although I’d been trying my hand at writing all my life, I never in a million years thought I could get published. So, you can imagine my complete surprise and elation when I got the call from my agent that my manuscript had been accepted, and not only the one manuscript, but they wanted two more stories to complete the series. Around the same time, the company I worked for was downsizing and my job disappeared, leaving me the time I needed to write. God’s timing is always perfect.

Why Christian fiction?

I believe that stories are not just meant to entertain, but they can be used to teach, to guide, and to encourage. That’s what is so awesome about Christian Fiction. It is such a great way to get the message of God’s love to people who wouldn’t otherwise hear it or who wouldn’t otherwise understand it in the way they could by connecting with characters in a story.

You have made the Christian pirate genre your own! Will we see another genre emerge for you on the completion of the Legacy of the King's Pirates?

Wow, another genre? I have no idea. I just write the story God gives to me. I suppose my passion is to show God’s active and miraculous work in the everyday lives of those who truly seek Him. If that becomes a new miracle-working, seafaring-adventure genre, than so be it!

What gets you through those difficult writing days?

The knowledge that I’m really not the one in control of my writing, my book sales, or my life. God has a plan and He’s in control. I’m just along for the ride! When I lose sight of that, I get stressed, but when I refocus on Him, I feel at peace again.

What project or book are you working on now?

I’m working on a new series set in 1718 Charles Towne, South Carolina, called Charleston Belles. The series follows the lives of three daughters of an admiral in the British Royal Navy. Each book focuses on one daughter and takes the reader on a grand romantic adventure filled with ships, sea battles, merchantmen, slavery, kidnappings, and of course some pirates.


Did the plotline or characters come first?

Characters definitely. Some of the characters were pretty much defined from the first book, The Redemption, but many new ones were added as well. The plots in my books are more character driven. In fact, many times, my characters end of taking over the story and leading me places I had never thought of going.

Do we "see" some of you in your characters?

Absolutely. I think most authors incorporate some of themselves into each character. That way, the character comes off being more real. Out of all the characters in The Reliance, I would have to say there’s more of me in Captain Merrick than any of the others, which is odd, since he’s the male hero.

If you were casting actors for a movie of The Redemption and The Reliance , who would you choose?

Captain Merrick: Clive Owen
Lady Charlisse: Charlize Theron
Kent: Josh Holloway (Sawyer from LOST)
Isabel: Jennifer Garner

When writing a trilogy do you have all the books characters determined before you start or do the main characters for the sequels appear as you write the first book?

For me, in The Legacy of the King’s Pirates trilogy, the main characters in the sequels, particularly book three, appeared as I wrote the first two. Sounds odd, but I had no idea what the story for the third book would be until I was halfway through the second.

While your books are great adventures there is always a significant message to your story. Do you find it difficult to merge the two?

Not really. Before I even start writing a story, I determine what the theme or message is that I want to portray. Then the plot, subplots, characters, and corresponding scenes are all interwoven with that message in mind.


I know you are a huge fan of Pirates of the Carribbean movies! Favourite character and why? Favourite line, please.

Captain Jack Sparrow, of course.

Commodore Norington: “You are without a doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of.”
Jack Sparrow: “But you have heard of me.”

What are you reading at the moment?

Charles Towne by Angela Elwell Hunt

Where is your favourite place to read a book?

In bed. I really look forward to crawling under the covers at night when the day is done and reading a great book.

Who inspires you?


Please share some of your faith journey.

My faith journey is a miraculous story of how God reached down and pulled me out of a very deep and slimy pit that I had dug for myself and settled rather uncomfortably into. I was 38, miserable, on my second marriage, dealing with rebellious teenagers, and working full time in a job I detested. Yet, by the world’s standards, I had grown up with everything: good looks, talent and brains. I didn’t get saved in a church, no Christian friend witnessed to me. At my wit’s end, I simply opened the word of God, and He spoke directly to me, and I’ve never been the same. Since then I cannot begin to tell you the miracles He’s preformed in my life and my family’s lives.

Any last words......

Soli Deo Gloria - which means For God’s Glory alone!

Thanks MaryLu for your insight :) It has been delightful having you on board....

Check out MaryLu's fun website here !

Remember there is still a little time to enter the draw for a copy of The Reliance ~ Click here and post.

Monday, 19 March 2007

The Reliance by M L Tyndall

4 1/2 Stars
Lady Charlisse Merrick Hyde's life is shattered when she is captured by the vindictive pirate Captain Kent Carlton who stages her death deceiving her devoted husband and reformed pirate, Captain Edmund Merrick in this sequel to The Redemption.

In his grief, Merrick spirals back to his old ways, aligning himself with the evil and twisted French pirate Collier, convincing himself he is avenging Charlisse's death and turning his back on God. Imprisoned on Kent's ship, Charlisse is confined with Lady Isabel, who has also been captured by Kent and so begins her own struggle to hold to the truth that God has not deserted her.

I can't help but revert to wonderful cliches and claim Mary Lu Tyndall's new release another swashbuckling tale of adventure, villainy and romance on the high seas! Merrick and Charlisse's separate journeys through grief, rage and desperation are fascinating as their different choices impact their faith and destinies. Kent and Collier are well drawn evil pirates bent on revenge and selfish gain yet MaryLu is able to draw a distinction between them as Collier's madness drives him to barbaric behaviour while Kent struggles to ignore his niggling conscience that refuses to die.

The Reliance is an energetic, exciting and romantic read, full of interesting details of pirate culture (if one could call it that!), the ships that defined them and the changes that God can make to the hearts of even ones so hardened by their hostile and brutal life. The only downside is waiting until August for the release of The Restitution by Barbour.

To read my review of The Redemption, click here!

Sunday, 18 March 2007

The winners are.....

My 9 year old, Erin pulled these names out of the hat and I was delighted to see that the winners were newcomers to my blog - both times :) So congratulations to:~

Jaana ~ a copy of Abiding Darkness

Karen ~ a copy of Sticks & Stones

I will ensure the books are sent to you promptly :) Enjoy!

There is still time to enter the draw for a copy of The Reliance by M L Tyndall. Click here and leave a post. The draw closes at midnight on Friday 23rd March, 2007.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Interview with Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist is the author of the award winning A Bride Most Begrudging, The Measure of a Lady and soon to be released, Courting Trouble. Deeanne has a unique style and I have enjoyed all her books so I was thrilled when she agreed to to share with us her thoughts......


Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us.

With four kids under the age of four, I retired early from teaching to be a stay at home mom. At that time, I began an out-of-the-home career in freelance journalism. A few years after experiencing some success in that field, I decided to write a romance novel. I had always been an avid romance reader, but had become more and more concerned about the moral fiber of the heroines in the story. I wanted to write a compelling story about two people overcoming adversity, but who also tried to honor the boundaries God has asked us to respect while courting. Not an easy task--especially when they didn’t *want* to stay in the boundaries.

Why Christian fiction?

Why not? ;-)

What gets you through those difficult writing days?

For writer’s block, I read a book that I know is well written (so it is usually one I’ve read before and have saved on the shelf). Sometimes, I just need a break and I go do something fun--away from the office. It could be working on my scrapbook or going to lunch with my mom or catching a movie with my man.

What project or book are you working on now?

I am working on the sequel to Courting Trouble. (Should have a title for you within a week or two.) It will be released (as are all my books) in June, 2008.


Did the plotline or characters come first?

Essie came first.

Do we "see" some of you in your characters?

I’m sure they reflect me in some ways. I don’t see how they couldn’t, but I don’t intentionally make them personal. I couldn’t even pick out what parts of the novels are personal and what parts aren’t. I’m simply not aware of it. If you were to ask my sister, though, she would probably be able to tell you. On second thought, let’s not ask my sister. That could be dangerous. ;-)

Many authors say they "hear" their characters talking to them. How does it work for you?

The dialog definitely flows off my fingertips. It’s the narrative and descriptive parts that are killer for me.

If you were casting actors for a movie of Courting Trouble, who would you choose?

I don’t have anyone in mind for this book. I’m using Hugh Jackman as my hero’s model (looks-wise) in the sequel, though.

You are very direct when describing characters desires and the realities of attraction between men and women. How do you balance genuine writing with the constraints placed on Christian writers?

I don’t censure my characters at all. If they want to swear, I let them swear. If they feel desire, I let them feel desire. If they have uncharitable thoughts, I let them have uncharitable thoughts. Once I turn the book in, my editor lets me know what needs to be “toned down.” (Though I’ve been known to dig in my heels if I think it is necessary to the novel for the scene to be “on screen.”)


Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favourite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?

Romance are my favorites. Always have been. I find I enjoy historical romances the most, but don’t particularly have a favorite time period. I do prefer American historicals over some of the others, but really I like them all.
My all time favorite book (which, ironically, isn’t a romance) is To Kill A Mockingbird. My all time favorite secular romance authors are LaVyrle Spencer and Pamela Morsi--their historicals. In the CBA, I think Francine Rivers, Beverly Lewis and Liz Curtis Higgs are at the top of their craft and always enjoy their books.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m judging historical romance novels for RWA’s (Romance Writers of America) RITA contest. So, I’m in the midst of reading those seven novels--but I’m not allowed to reveal which titles I am judging.

Where is your favourite place to read a book?

In bed.

Who inspires you?

The Holy Spirit, my parents, my pastor, my closest friends.

Please share some of your faith journey.

I was introduced to Christ at the same time I learned about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. One by one, the imaginary entities fell to the wayside, making way for the One and Only. I committed my life to Christ at the age of 9 while eating a bowl of Fruit Loops. (Which is still my favorite cereal!) My faith has been an important part of everything I do ever since.

Any last words....

I have a very active online community and would love for your readers to become a part of it. If they go to my website ( then they can click on the “Blog” tab to participate in our online discussions. I upload new posts every Monday and Thursday. If they would like to contact me privately, click on the “Contact Dee” tab. Those emails come directly to me. So far, I have answered every single one.

Thanks Deeanne ~ it has been a pleasure getting to know a bit more about you and your writing!

Read my review of A Bride Most Begrudging here.

Read my review of Courting Trouble here.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

A Mile From Sunday by Jo Kadlecek

4 Stars

In A Mile From Sunday Jonna Lightfoot McLaughlin is searching for love, just the right hair product and the story that will skyrocket her journalistic career. As the Denver Dispatch's one and only religion reporter, Jonna has a bird's eye view of the faithful whether in a church, synagogue, temple or commune together with their representatives, pastors, monks, priests, rabbis, all with their own story to tell. After enduring a smorgasbord approach to spiritual beliefs during her childhood instigated by her eclectic hippie loving parents, those same parents met Jesus, introduced Jonna and her brothers to Him, changing their lives forever.

Jonna's faith and her childhood experiences give her a compassion and understanding of people's search for truth which she faithfully turns into articles popular with the Denver community. When Jonna's investigative nose sniffs out a sinister plot under the guise of faith, a Buddhist temple burns down and "God" starts messaging her, Jonna embarks on a search for truth and justice.
Jo Kadlecek has created a genuinely fascinating yet non-traditional Christian character in Jonna Lightfoot weaving an intriguing story and providing an inside look into the many faiths in our world today. Jo does not shy away from portraying Jonna with human frailties and an intelligence that sees her pondering the realities of life and faith, asking the questions we are often afraid to voice. Although not all will agree, it is Jonna's imperfections that endear her to the reader. Journeying with Jonna in the sequel, A Quarter After Tuesday , will no doubt be an engaging and rewarding experience.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of The Reliance by M L Tyndall

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing THE RELIANCE ( Barbour, January 1, 2007) by Mary Lu Tyndall


M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.
After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.
Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.
One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she's only give her heart to Him completely.


A YOUNG BRIDE separated from her husband just as a child has been conceived...

A GRIEVING HUSBAND tempted to take his anger out through the vices of his past...

A MARRIAGE AND A SHIP threatenend to be split apart by villainous Caribbean pirates...

In THE RELIANCE, Edmund Merrick tormented by the apparent demise of his pregnant wife Charlisse, sails away to drown his sorrows. He turns his back on God and reverts to a life of villainy, joining forces with the demented French pirate Collier. When his mind clears from its rum-induced haze, will Edmund find the will to escape?
Seemingly abandoned by her new husband, Charlisse battles her own insecurities as she is thrown into the clutches of the vengeful pirate Kent, who holds her and Lady Isabel captive.
Will she be swept away by the undertow of treachery and despair? Can Edmund and Charlisse battle the tempests that threaten to tear them apart and steer their way to the faith-filled haven they so desperately seek? Or will they ultimately lose their love and lives to the whirlpool of treachery and deceit?

Check back for my review of The Reliance, coming soon...

The book link is:

Aussie readers ~ I have a copy of The Reliance to give away so leave a comment to be included in the draw which closes midnight on Friday 23rd March, 2007.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

The winner of Stealing Adda is...

Fiona! Congratulations ~ I will pass on your details to Tamara so check your letterbox soon :)

Remember to post if you would like to be included in the draws for a copy of:~
Both giveaways close at midnight on 16th March, 2007

Amy Wallace & Peek~a~boo ICU

If you have read my posts over the past six months you will know I have a lot of time for author Amy Wallace and her debut novel Ransomed Dreams releasing next month in the US. Aussie readers can preorder at Koorong now!

This post isn't about her new book! Instead I want you to check out Amy's blog, Peek~a~boo ICU . Amy has a great gift to be able to share from her heart in ways that challenge and encourage me and I hope she will do the same for you :)

Amy doesn't know I am posting this ~ hope she gets a nice suprise when you drop by her blog ~ post there to say hi if you can!

Friday, 9 March 2007

Sticks & Stones by Susan Meissner

5 Stars

When lawyer Rachael Flynn receives an anonymous letter telling her a body will soon be discovered she can't begin to imagine the journey ahead of her. An excavation uncovers the body of a teenage boy buried more than twenty years earlier and Rachael feels compelled to uncover the truth behind the crime. With the help of Sgt Will Pendleton and the artistic skills of her husband Trace and his talented and eclectic friends, Rachael soon discovers that fear is a powerful motivator and sadly, time does not heal all wounds.

Susan Meissner has excelled in every way with Sticks & Stones, the second Rachael Flynn mystery. The mystery is powerful and compelling and the characterisation spot on. The emotions of her characters are so tangible that at times it is exquisitely painful to read. I was captivated by Rachael and Trace as they worked through the tension Rachael's desire for truth, and the risks she takes, creates in their marriage. Fig, Sid and Brick are back adding flavour to the story with their artistry once again shedding light on the crime scene. The lifelong impact bullying can have on children is clearly portrayed and yet Susan weaves hope and the healing it can bring into this thought-provoking and beautifully written story that will absorb you from beginning to end.

I have a copy of Sticks & Stones to give away :) Please leave a comment to be included in the draw before Friday 16th March, 2007.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Book Giveaway ~ Abiding Darkness

I have another fantastic book to give away - a hardcover copy of John Aubrey Anderson's Abiding Darkness.

Check out my review here and if you would like to be entered in the draw, post a comment on this post by Friday 16th March, 2007.

Australian addresses only please :) Apologies to everyone else!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of The Watchers by Mark Andrew Olsen

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
THE WATCHERS ( Bethany House, March 1, 2007)


MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


Just below the surface among the family of God lives another family tree--one traced in spirit, invisible and ageless, known as the Watchers. For two thousand years they've seen beyond the veil separating this world from the next, passing on their gift through a lineage mostly overlooked. Throughout history they've scouted the borders of the supernatural frontier, but now their survival hangs by a thread. And their fate lies in the hands of a young woman, her would-be killer, and a mystery they must solve....
"Congratulations. You just reached my own little corner of cyberspace.
Who am I?
Abby Sherman, that's who.
Who are you? And why are you checking me out?
Drop me a few pixels, and let's find out!"
With that innocent invitation, Abby Sherman unwittingly steps in the crosshairs of history, and thus begins her harrowing tale--taking her from ocean-front Malibu to the streets of London, the jungles in West Africa, the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and to the very gates of heaven itself!A sneak preview of eternity becomes her one-way ticket to danger--and discovery….Two lives collide in a globe-circling adventure involving both peril and discovery: Abby, a young woman whose visions of heaven turn her into a Web-celebrity; and Dylan, a troubled young man sent by an ancient foe to silence her. From California beachfronts to Nigerian rain forests to Jerusalem and back again,
THE WATCHERS is high-octane blends of action, mystery, and spiritual battle spanning centuries.

A woman's awe-inspiring vision launches her on a quest through distant lands and ancient history, face-to-face with eternity and into the arms of a family line on the brink of annihilation...A man who is hired to exterminate her discovers the folly of blind loyalty, then learns how to wage war in a realm he never believed had existed...An extraordinary saga of the unseen war against evil, the reality of the supernatural, and the transforming power of forgiveness.

"A writer who can take your breath away with a single sentence. A welcome, fresh voice that must be read!"--Ted Dekker

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

The winner of Reclaiming Nick is...


Congratulations. I have your details so it will be on it's way to you soon.
Click here to post a comment to be in the draw for the signed copy of Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh open until Friday 9th March, 2007

Please check back soon as I have many more giveaways to come.

Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer

4 Stars
I have never really sought out novels written about the Amish and Mennonite communities but I was completely charmed by Kim Vogel Sawyer's latest release, Bygones .

The storyline is familiar with Marie Koeppler leaving her Mennonite community some twenty years previously running away to marry trucker, Jep Quinn. When Jep is tragically killed Marie seeks the support of her family as she is alone with her newborn daughter, Beth. JD Koeppler turns his distraught daughter and grandchild away. Marie vows never to return.

Beth is now a headstrong young women seeking her way in the world when Henry Braun, the Mennonite man who fell in love with Marie when they were teenagers, comes to tell them of the passing of Marie's beloved Aunt Lisbeth and the unusual conditions of her will. In order for Beth to inherit her home and cafe, she must return to the Mennonite community of Sommerfeld and live in Aunt Lisbeth's home for three months. Marie acquiesces to Beth's plea to join her and the unfolding events will change them both forever.

Kim Vogel Sawyer's story has great depth and impacted me on many levels. It is a powerful story of forgiveness, the desire to belong and the pain of fractured relationships. Marie and Beth are characterised beautifully and Henry's devotion to Marie is heartfelt and in keeping with his character. The family dynamics between mother and daughter, and Marie's Mennonite family were so well described that I felt Marie's discomfort, Beth's frustration and Lisbeth's hope.

A dash of mystery enhances the story and makes Bygones an engrossing and thought-provoking read. I will be interested to read the remaining books in this new trilogy. Bygones will be released (USA) in April, 2007 by Barbour.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Interview with Tamara Leigh

With just one book, Stealing Adda, Tamara Leigh secured a place as one of my "must read" authors! When Tamara agreed to an interview for Relz Reviewz I was delighted. Here are some of Tamara's thoughts:~


Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us.

From the age of ten or so, I was writing full-length novels –well, what had the potential to be full-length novels. It’s the thought that counts, hmm? When my husband and I decided to expand our family from two to three (maybe four), I had every intention of continuing in my career as a speech pathologist after our child was born. After all, it took seven long years to get my master’s degree! Not until we were denied the blessing of a child did I accept what I knew God wanted—for me to stay at home and raise our children. Thus, convicted to find a way to work out of the home, I wrote my first book, WARRIOR BRIDE. Two weeks after sending the revised manuscript to my agent, Bantam Books offered me a four-book contract. Talk about a whirlwind romance! But it gets better. Hours after I received the offer, the phone rang a second time. The pregnancy that seemed so long in coming was confirmed. That little baby is now thirteen. His brother is nine. God is so good!

You initially wrote in the secular market—why the transition to Christian worldview novels?

Why did I cross to “the other side”? It was definitely a struggle—one between what I was comfortable doing and what God was calling me to do. I’d found my niche with secular, medieval romances and enjoyed success, but the more time I spent in God’s word, the more I was certain He wanted to move me elsewhere. Regardless, time and again I rejected the “calling”, clinging to what I believed was safe and !
predictable. To make a very long story short, I relented. And wouldn’t you know it—turns out medieval romances don’t do particularly well in the Christian market. I groaned. I grumbled. And louder yet when my agent asked for something “different”. And that’s where my first Christian novel, Stealing Adda, came in—a humorous take on the life of a romance writer. Bingo!

What gets you through those difficult writing days?

Sometimes it’s a venti non-fat extra hot Caramel Macchiato, courtesy of my friendly barista at Starbucks. Sometimes it’s promising myself a reward if I write one-thousand words in one sitting (i.e. psst! You know that bathing suit that refuses to go on sale…?). Sometimes it’s reminding myself that “Tomorrow is another day” (as my mother is fond of quoting). And sometimes all it takes is making time for prayer.

What project or book are you working on now?

Great question! Two answers. I recently finished SPLITTING HARRIET (November 2007), and expect to receive revisions any day. Here’s a peek:

Once upon a time, I was a rebel. And I have the tattoo to prove it.

Then there was the cropped and spiked hair—the shade of which changed monthly—“colorful” language that can’t be found in your everyday 16-count crayon box, pack-a-day habit, less-than-modest wardrobe, and an obsession with loud-mouthed, guitar-trashing, drum-bashing music.

Did I mention I’m also a preacher’s kid? That’s right. And like the prodigal son after whom I modeled myself, I finally saw the error of my ways and returned to the fold.

Today my life is all about “lead me not into temptation”. When I’m not working as Women’s Ministry Director at my father’s church, I’m serving at Gloria’s Morning Café. I even have worthy goals, like saving enough money to buy the café, keep my Jelly Belly habit under control, and to never again hurt the people I love. No more parties. No more unsavory activities. And no more motorcycles! You’d think I was finally on the right track.

But since my dad’s replacement hired a hotshot consultant to revive our “dying” church, things aren’t working out as planned. And now this “consultant” is saying I’m in need of a little reviving myself. Just who does this Maddox McCray think he is anyway? With his curly hair that could use a good clipping, tattoo that he makes no attempt to hide, and black leather pants, the man is downright dangerous. In fact, all that’s missing is a motorcycle. Or so I thought… But if he thinks he’s going to take me for a ride on that 1298 cc, 16-valve, in-line 4-cylinder machine of his, he can think again. Harriet Bisset is a reformed woman and she’s going to stay that way. Even if it kills me!

While I’m awaiting revisions to Harriet’s story, I’ve begun writing the third book in my Multnomah contract, FAKING GRACE.


When writing Perfecting Kate did the plotline or characters come first?

I always start with the character. What was their childhood like? What joys have they experienced? Who do they love? Hate? What trials and hurts have they faced? What do they want? What can’t they have that they need?

Once I know the answers to those and other questions, the plot usually falls into place—sort of.

Do we “see” some of you in your characters?

Oh, yeah! Though I’m usually aware of embedding pieces of myself in the characters, there are times when a person close to me (hubby dear) will pick up on something in one of my characters that they claim to be part of my personality. Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes they’re not. I think…

Many authors say they “hear” their characters talking to them. How does it work for you?

Mumbo jumbo! But guilty as charged. My characters do talk to me from time to time. And sometimes I talk back, like when I get stuck on a particular scene. I’ll ask the character, “How are you going to handle this? What are you going to say?” It can be a bit like pulling teeth, but eventually they give me the answer I’m looking for. Uh…you aren’t going to tell my therapist, are you?

If you were casting actors for a movie of Perfecting Kate who would you choose?

Well, since Kate described Dr. Clive Alexander as resembling Brad Pitt, I’d have to say Brad. As for Kate… Do you think Meg Ryan could pull off dark hair? She definitely has the curl down.

Both Stealing Adda and Perfecting Kate are written in first person. Is it your preferred style?

My first seven books were written in third person point of view, which I preferred to the extent of avoiding reading novels written in first person. To me, the latter was awkward and limiting, especially as there seemed so much more to be gained from a story in which the reader could enter the thoughts of other characters. Strangely enough—perhaps it has something to do with Bridget Jones’s Diary—when I started writing Stealing Adda, it seemed the most natural thing to write Adda’s story in first person. But is it my preferred style? For the “chick lit” genre, yes. For medieval romances…I really like third person.


Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favorite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?

Years ago, I was a voracious reader of historical romances, which is how I got my start writing medieval romances for Bantam, HarperCollins, and Leisure. Now, more often than not, my nose (and the rest of my face) can be found stuck in a contemporary Christian romance. There are so many good ones: ALONG CAME JONES by Linda Windsor, KISSING ADRIEN by Siri Mitchell, THE ONLY BEST PLACE by Carolyne Aarsen. I’ve also enjoyed the SISTERCHICKS series by Robin Jones Gunn and the “Fred” series by Brad Whittington.

What are you reading at the moment?

Strangely enough, nothing light and witty, but certainly inspiring: Rob Lacey’s THE WORD ON THE STREET, Mike Yankoski’s UNDER THE OVERPASS: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America, and Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE.

Where is your favorite place to read a book?

Just about anywhere that isn’t too loud or too dim.

Who inspires you?

My husband, who gives me plenty to laugh about, and our two sons who give me joy. I am truly blessed.

Any last words….

I’m thrilled and grateful to be writing for the Christian market. Thank you for the interview.

Tamara, thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your world. Splitting Harriet can't coming quickly enough for me :)
Click here to read my review of Perfecting Kate, just released by Multnomah.
Tamara is providing a signed copy of Stealing Adda to give away to one of my readers! Please post a comment to be included in the draw.

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