Thursday, 31 May 2007

So Many Books Blog Giveaway!

My dear friend Jen is giving away a set of 5 books at her So Many Books...So Little Time blog!

Check it out now and enter here!

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of The Spirit of Sweetgrass by Nicole Seitz

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Integrity/Thomas Nelson (March 6, 2007)


NICOLE SEITZ is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and freelance writer/illustrator published in South Carolina Magazine, Charleston Magazine, House Calls, The Island Packet and The Bluffton Packet.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole is an exhibiting artist in the Charleston, South Carolina area where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.


Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins is a 78-year-old sweetgrass basket weaver who sits on the side of Hwy. 17 in the company of her dead husband, Daddy Jim.

Inspired by her Auntie Leona, Essie Mae finally discovers her calling in life and weaves powerful "love baskets," praying fervently over them to affect the lives of those who visit her roadside stand.

Relations are strained with her daughter Henrietta, who thinks Essie belongs in a retirement center. If Essie can't pay $10,000 in back taxes to save her home, she may have no choice. More tensions: her grandson EJ wants to marry a white girl, Essie discovers that a handsome man she's trying to find a girl for is gay, and her daughter carries a hidden secret.

When she's faced with losing her home and her stand and being put in a nursing home, Daddy Jim talks her into coming on up to Heaven to meet sweet Jesus-something she's always wanted to do.

THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS shifts less successfully to the afterlife, where her Gullah-Creole ancestors surround her; but soon, her heavenly peace is disrupted, for she still has work to do. Now Essie Mae, who once felt powerless and invisible, must find the strength within her to keep her South Carolina family from falling apart. Together, with Daddy Jim, they team up to return to Earth and battle two spirits conjured up by Henrietta's voodoo that threatens to ruin an attempt to save the sweetgrass basket weaving culture.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Skin by Ted Dekker and Aussie Giveaway!

Freak tornadoes are wreaking havoc in the small town of Summerville, Nevada while Sterling Red, a man who embodies evil is creating his own wave of destruction by murdering Summerville's inhabitants at an ever increasing rate. Wendy Davidson, traumatised by her cult upbringing and unable to accept physical touch, rescues siblings Carey and Nicole, flags down Deputy Colt Jackson, a man unerringly accurate with a gun yet socially inept with women. Together they find refuge in the basement of an old home, to wait out the storm and the terror of a killer set on revenge.

When the storm subsides, the group are dumbfounded by the total destruction of the town but their shock quickly turns to horror when another man stumbles in, missing a finger, hacked off by the killer as a warning and confirming his vendetta is directed towards these individuals.Tentatively, they share their histories in an effort to understand what possible link they have to each other and the killer. Confusion mounts and fear skyrockets as Sterling Red demands they murder the ugliest among them or bear consequences even more unthinkable.

Ted Dekker has written another thriller in every sense of the word, the action is non stop, the tale twisted and confusing and the characters are complex. Many scenes are gruesome and Skin is certainly not for everyone but the intricate plot and mysteriousness of the world the characters find themselves in kept me turning page after page in anticipation of the final showdown. The fleeting nature of our outer skin and what constitutes true beauty are explored in a way that will remain with the reader for some time. Dekker once again stretches the realms of possibility which is somewhat distracting and the book concludes with more questions than answers, an ongoing trademark of Dekker's books devotees will recognise!

Recently released by Thomas Nelson.

Aussie readers ~ I have a copy of Skin to give to one brave reader - LOL! Post a comment and I will put your name in the draw - this contest closes at midnight onSunday 3rd June, 2007.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Notes from a Spinning Planet ~ Papua New Guinea by Melody Carlson

Accepting an invitation to yet another one of Aunt Sid’s adventures, Maddie Chase is going to Papua New Guinea. When helping her Aunt write an article about the AIDS epidemic in Papua New Guinea, Maddie faces her own difficult challenges.

When Maddie and Aunt Sid meet some of the New Guinea citizens, they find that life there isn’t very easy and that they have to be very careful. Life is different in this new country and everything is new and exciting for Maddie and Aunt Sid.

Notes from a Spinning Planet ~ Papua New Guinea is an informative book that tells us true facts about the aids epidemic and the effects it has had on this country. This book tells us sad things but within a superb story. The issues in this book are based on the poverty and health crisis in Papua New Guinea, I think this is good because it is different to other books Melody Carlson has written. This book is a good way to open people’s eyes and to realise that there are lots of bad things in this world.

I loved reading this book and seeing the challenges and struggles that they go through and how they work it out and deal with them.

Guest Reviewer: Chloe~Anne

Welcome to my guest YA Fiction reviewer, Chloe~Anne

I am delighted to introduce you to my friend and new reviewer, Chloe-Anne. Chloe-Anne is a young teen with a passion for reading and will be popping in from time to time with her take on Young Adult fiction she has read.

Welcome Chloe-Anne :)

Every time you see this very cute Red Panda you will know Chloe~Anne is reviewing a book for you :)

Check out her first review of Melody's Carlson's Notes from a Spinning Planet ~ Papua New Guinea here!

Friday, 25 May 2007

Just for Donna Fleisher.....

Donna - all you need to know about the wonderful spread Vegemite can be found here!

The complete taste sensation will be arriving in your mail box so keep an eye out - LOL!!

Interview with Sally John

Sally John has been a favourite author of mine for many years and a delightful responder to my emails! Check out Sally's website for full descriptions of her many inspiring novels, here! Sally recently "visited" with my book club when Castles in the Sand was our May selection. Here's what Sally had to say to us:~


No doubt God blesses you through your writing - when did you first know that is what you wanted to do and did you get positive support from family & friends from the beginning?

Oh yes, He blesses me abundantly through it. I ALWAYS wanted to be a writer. I’ve read fiction since I first learned how to read and so wished that I could write it. It was such an odd thing to dream I never told anyone or took it seriously for myself. Authors were not real people who lived in the Midwest (I was convinced they all lived in New York). And how on earth could one make a living at it?

It wasn’t until our children were in school (1987) that I took a class on “how to get published;” one thing led to another. I remember asking God if I could just have one book on library shelves I would be so happy. He keeps giving and giving way beyond anything I can imagine.

My husband has always been my greatest supporter. Actually, before taking that class, I wrote a software manual for him and his business associate. That was when we started thinking that maybe I could write. Bless Tim! My kids think it’s wonderful. My daughter and daughter-in-law are my best editors.

What is the reason you write epilogues?

Sometimes they just seem to work. Often I or my editor are like many readers: we want to see what happens later in the characters’ lives. This is why series are so popular too: we get to see what’s going on next, what’s happened after their “adventure.” Sometimes I can’t do an epilogue; the story is finished as is.

How long does it normally take you to write a book from first ideas to finished product?

Long long time. Anywhere from six to twelve months. We like to put out one every six months, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up that writing pace.

Did you have the whole story in your mind or do you just start with an idea and then it flows out?

Basically I start with an idea: either a situation (like with Castles) or a character (a fireman and his wife) or a combination. Then I create the necessities: characters, setting, theme, plot. Then I work on a general outline, called “the hero’s journey.” I know the characters have to get from point A to point B, they have to grow. Most of the details come during the writing itself. In Castles, Susan had to come to terms with Kenzie and with Drake.

I liked your pushing each other’s buttons analogy in Castles in the Sand and how you used it. Do you have a list of analogies that you draw from each time you write or did this one just evolve with this story?

Thanks. Analogies just come along with the writing. I imagine how a character might see things, what word pictures work for her. For example, Susan is a typical mom who adores her daughter’s face; this went to the nose button thing. A current character I’m working on is a violinist; she often thinks in musical terms. Analogies can be difficult to write; I find myself reusing them. My very smart editor catches those things. She’ll even remember when I used one in a different book.

What story, if any, are you working on now? What is in the future pipeline?

I’m working on a new series. I just turned in Book 1 and I’m working on Book 2. It’s a saga type, about a family, about relationships between mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and four grown children. It’s set again in San Diego. Book 1 is due for release in December.


From where did the ideas for this book originate?

Six years ago my granddaughter joined us before her mommy and daddy got married. The situation was, to say the least, a difficult experience for everyone involved, but also the best way for God to work in our lives. He has brought great blessings through it; a precious new life and a loving daughter-in-law in her mom, just to name two. (Romans 8:28 is true!)

The book is not based on particulars of what happened in real life – except for the emotional journey. As we all know, it is not an uncommon occurrence in Christian families. I thank Harvest House for letting me explore different aspects of it.

I did not want to “take sides.” I tried to just “present” a situation and let the characters find their own ways to resolution. I showed two extreme views: Drake’s and Pepper’s, with Susan in the middle. Do we toss the kids out on their ear or do we accept whatever they do with a smile?

Have you ever felt imprisoned by rules & regulations like Drake?

Yes. I think we Christians sometimes place these expectations on our pastors and/or on ourselves to perfectly keep God’s commandments. We won’t. We can’t. We’re human.

I find the character of Pepper interesting & refreshing. Was her character based on someone that you know well?

No, I don’t know a real-life Pepper. I had such fun with her though. She just sort of appeared. I think she’s one of those people I’d like to know or one who possesses characteristics I wish I had. I totally liked her husband too.

I planned to write the story completely from Susan’s point of view and then it was as if the Lord said, “You need to go there. You need the boy’s mother in the story.” Sigh. Too close to home, but He is faithful.

As I said above, the particulars of the story are not from my life. I’m not Susan or Pepper – but I know their emotions, some experientially and some because this is what writers do: we imagine and we look at things from all sorts of angles.

Do you have a 'Martha Marvens' support group? I have experienced the blessings of prayer support from such a group and it is a wonderful thing.

You are blessed! Sometimes I write about people I would love to know or wish I had in my life. J Hmm…I think God may be answering this prayer. Since our move a year ago (from Illinois to California), we’ve become involved in a church with a great group of prayer warriors.

What was it that prompted you to write a story about a Pastor whose image became more important than serving his church family?

It could stem from going to a church (ages ago) that made “keeping the rules” the end-all. If you went to a movie, you must not be saved. That sort of thing. Which of course leads to not telling certain people I went to a movie, which in time leads to “no, my son did not get his girl friend pregnant, he must be someone else’s kid.” Hmm…your questions are making me dig deep, aren’t they? Narelle, if this is too much information, feel free to delete!

Not at all, Sally - thanks for your honesty :)

I do know I wanted to explore this teaching that implies we must be “perfect” in the sense of the word that says we don’t make mistakes. Do you have this in Australia? It seems grace has been lost in some ways.

Sally, I think we do but from what I can gather not to the same level. Aussies tend to more relaxed by nature so this may contribute to that.

Unlike many books, the characters had flaws and in some cases, were quite unattractive people due to their behaviour. How intentional was that?

Very intentional. The more I write, the more I’m trying to portray real people. I realize this makes for not-as-nice-an-escape type of reading. But I feel so strongly about God’s grace and mercy making all the difference in a person’s life, I can’t get away from showing it in a story in hopes that someone will benefit from that truth. God sees us all as His most beautiful works of art. He sees us as already finished in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. Of course we’re not “there” yet. But the journey to get “there” is what life is all about.

The topic of premarital sex is one that isn't often dealt with today from a Biblical standpoint. How do you fell churches should handle such a situation that seems to becoming more and more acceptable, so to speak?

Good question. The church and parental teaching is necessary: that this is not God’s plan, that it is a spiritual union that is not severed. I think an expectation that the kids will fail is not helpful. We can expect God to show up in every situation; our teaching needs to include the power of prayer, ours as well as those of the single people. Of course, a person who loves God and wants to please Him will grasp this, but so often the young ones don’t have an understanding of this yet. They’re still finding their identity in Britney Spears or whomever.

Loving, wise mentors can make a difference. More effective than dispensing information is to build safe relationships. We can preach against something until we’re blue in the face, but if the listener doesn’t love and trust us, it’s not going to make much of a difference in their life. The Bible says don’t do it. We need to explain why not in positive ways. It seems so often only the negative is presented. We skip over the part that physical intimacy is a good thing; it is a gift from God meant to be enjoyed; the desire for it is wired into us. To deny or repress that fact is dangerous. According to Scripture it is not acceptable outside of marriage, but it is forgivable. Whew! This is a big subject. I don’t mean to portray premarital sex as acceptable. I mean to show that it happens and the consequences are lifelong. I believe we make choices detrimental to our well-being not because we don’t know better, but because we are wounded people and some hurt has not been healed in us. Not to solely blame parents for our choices, but Kenzie’s wound was from Drake not being the best dad (and he wasn’t because his dad wasn’t and he wasn’t because we’re fallen humans). She needed that core wound – his seeming rejection of her – healed by Jesus.

When I read the scene where the 'Martha Mavens' are dissing Drake and making the decision to boycott I lost a lot of respect for these characters and felt their behaviour was really no better than Drake. Was this your intention? What was your motivation behind this scene, especially in light of the fact that the boycott is not what changes Drake?

I wanted someone to take a stand against Drake. The boycott got his attention. Susan needed some affirmation, some human to say that yes, it was okay for her to disagree with her husband. She’d never had the courage to do this before. Again, the real life thing…they were angry and they showed it and were disrespectful, but they loved him. They did it out of love for both Drake and Susan

This is one of the first Christian books which clearly shows two committed Christians choosing to live together before marriage (as opposed to the more typical scenario of unbelievers who become Christians in the story and then decide to live apart until marriage). What made you decide to portray the characters this way? What general feedback have you received regarding this?

The only feedback I’ve received to date is: “I’ve been there too. Thank you.” A few of these emails have been from pastors’ wives. I cry when I read these things. It’s easier to accept the nonbeliever who blatantly sins than the believer. There are Christians, especially the younger generation, who don’t think this living together is a sin. They truly love Jesus – as best they know how. They are making an impact on their world for Him. Again, it’s the showing of life in the 21st Century; it’s not a prescription of how to live. Part of me too rebels against rating Christianity by behaviour: well if she did this (went to a movie, went bowling, drank wine, said a curse word, is fat, is too skinny, got divorced, engaged in premarital sex), she must not be a believer, she can’t possibly be saved. Only our Father sees our hearts. He’s always working on healing them and bringing us into a fuller understanding of Himself. He holds us accountable, He expects to see “fruit” in us - but He deals with us through His love.

If you were casting actors for a movie of “Castles”, who would you choose?

Fun question! Hmm…my daughter is better at this; I’m not up on current actors names… Russell Crowe works for Pepper’s husband; Jake Gylenhaal for Aidan (I’m sure the spelling is wrong; and does he sing? he has to sing; he might be too old)… What do you think?'s a few ideas:~

Pepper ~ Bonnie Hunt
Kenzie ~ Hayden Panettiere
Aidan ~ Tom Wellings
Susan ~ Sela Ward
Drake ~ Jack Coleman


Please tell us about your faith journey.
It is a journey! I grew up going to a Lutheran Sunday School. In 1974 Jesus overwhelmed me with His love. He’s still doing that. I’m a “work in progress.” I trace a lot of it through my fiction. I often go to forgiving a dad (mine was an alcoholic) and to God at work in our every day lives, answering prayer, healing emotional scars.

Have you had a time in your life where you felt the need to 'run
away'? Did you actually do it?!?

Yes and no. This one is for another book.

I have read all your books and enjoyed each one. Do you have a particular book or character that is closest to your heart?

Thank you! Maggie and Reece, Rachel and Vic, Kate and Tanner. In a Heartbeat. In the Shadow of Love is a favourite still, probably because it was my first and I spent years writing it.

What are you reading now or who are some favourite authors?

I’m reading Richard Rohr’s From Wild Man to Wise Man, Reflections on Male Spirituality (great research about men but also full of God’s truth for women too) and John Lescroart’s The Suspect (I like mainstream fiction, police-lawyer stuff). I like Agnes Sanford (an old Christian author, fiction and non-fiction), Leanne Payne, Brennan Manning. For fiction: Jamie Langston Turner, Robert Crais, David James Duncan, Jane Austen, Nick Hornby.

THANK YOU ALL!! Blessings on you. ~Sally

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Tagged by Deena but it's about books!

Tagged by Deena for this one:~

The Rules Are:

Post your responses.
Tag anywhere from 1-5 friends.
Leave comments to let them know they've been tagged.
Come back and leave a comment when your post is up.

Ok, here goes:

Next 5 books on your to be read shelf:

Skin by Ted Dekker
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck
Snitch by Rene Gutteridge
Speak Through the Wind by Allison Pittman
The Legend of the Firefish by George Polivka

But won't necessarily be read in that order!

Last 4 books you've read:

Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury
Simple Gifts by Lori Copeland
Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy
All I'll Ever Need by Harry Kraus

Last 3 books you've borrowed (library or friend):

The Strong Willed Child by James Dobson
Sorry - that's it!

Last 2 non-fiction books you've read:

The Bible!
The Slumber of Christianity by Ted Dekker

The 1 book you wish everyone would read:

Mark of the Lion series (ok, it's 3 books!) by Francine Rivers

I tag Cee Cee, Jen, Jenny and Deborah ~ sorry gals but I thought this one would be really interesting!

Happy Reading!

And the winner of Gone with the Groom is...

Jenny ~ congratulations!

Please email me your snail mail so I can get your copy to you.

Interview with Chuck Holton

Chuck Holton's venture into fiction has been a great success with Allah's Fire and the newly released Island Inferno, published by Multnomah.

Chuck served four years in the Elite 75th Ranger Regiment–the same unit profiled in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Chuck saw combat in Panama in 1989. After leaving active duty, Chuck flew helicopters in the Wisconsin National Guard while attending the University of Wisconsin.
In 2004, after ten years as a stockbroker, Chuck left that profession to pursue full-time writing. At the same time, he began working as the adventure correspondent for CBN.

Today, Chuck, Connie, and their five children live on a farm in Appalachia, where Chuck now pursues his varied interests of farming, writing, adventure travel and public speaking, among other things. Chuck and his family are currently living in Panama on a short term basis with Chuck pursuing more research for future books.

Thanks so much Chuck for spending some time at Relz Reviewz. Tell us your thoughts:~


Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us

I was blogging before that was even a word. I started writing humorous stories, because my wife liked them. Then one day I had a dream about the parachute assault into Panama in 1989 - reliving it like I was there again. Thinking that writing it down would be cathartic, I did, then posted it on my blog. That was the beginning of this journey. A writer friend recommended I attend a writer's conference, so I did. I came home with a contract for A More Elite Soldier.

Having written a number of non-fiction titl
es including Bulletproof, what led you to turn your hand at a novel?

It's something I've always wanted to try, and so when Gayle Roper suggested it, I thought it would be fun. Little did I know what hard work fiction is!

Why Christian fiction?

If it's not potentially life changing for my reader, it's not worth my time. Writing is about more than entertainment for me. It's a way to leverage my reach - a way to allow me to help people whom I'd never meet otherwise.

What project or book are you working on now?

I'm editing a project for Oliver North for the next few months, then back to writing book 3 of Task Force Valor.

As a father of five what does a regular writing day look like for you?

Hiding in my office, trying not to get distracted. Failing. Then going out and spending some time wrestling with the kids and working around the house until nightfall...then getting some writing done after everyone goes to sleep.


How much of your experience as a US Army Ranger finds its way into your novels, Allah's Fire and Island Inferno?

Oh, a lot. I go back and remember certain missions, certain feelings I had when I was in that life, and try to put them into my characters.

What was your favourite scene to write in Island Inferno?

The ending. I'd wanted to do something different than the standard mushy stuff. So I asked myself, "what's something my characters can do that is much more intimate than kissing, something that will surprise the audience?" I was really happy with how that turned out.

How did you find writing solo on this novel?

Easier than tag-team writing, simply because there wasn't the step of meshing two different writing styles.

If Islan
d Inferno was made into a movie, who would you cast?

Hmmm...I think Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing." I try to live by that maxim and spend my time doing both. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave much time for television or movies, so I'm kind of an uncultured boob when it comes to actors. Sorry. :)

You have recently returned from a research trip to Coiba Island, the location of Island Inferno. Tell us a bit about that trip?

When I decided to set Coiba as the backdrop for Island Inferno, I went there last year for research and spent three days hacking around the jungle with some buddies. That's when I realized that most of the island is untouched, unexplored virgin triple-canopy rainforest. There are lots of places in the interior (it's a large island, about the size of Barbados,) that had probably never been seen by human eyes. So I hatched a plan to cross the island from coast to coast, right through the wild interior. We put together an amazing team this year, and completed the journey in four days. On the way we saw some amazing things: trees up to fifteen feet in diameter, poisonous snakes, lizards and some really scary bugs. We also saw lots of crocodiles. The last night it rained like I've never seen before, and we were forced to flee a flash flood that washed over our camp. It was quite intense! The story of this trip will likely go into a non-fiction adventure narrative telling the history of the island, from the pirates to the present. I'll probably write that one next year.

Can you give us a sneak peek at what might be in store for Task Force Valor in third book?

Sweeney will be the main male character, and Phoenix will be the female protagonist. They have to find the source of the ITEB chemical, and it leads them to an incredible discovery that will shock the socks off the readers.


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

Sure. Randy Alcorn and Jeanette Windle are two of my favorites, because their writing styles are SO good! Honestly, I think Christian fiction is a higher quality of writing than most mass-market secular stuff.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished Alcorn's new book, "Deception." It's hilarious.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

Gladiator. I love the line from Braveheart, though, "Every man dies. Not every man truly lives."

Who inspires you?

My children and people who put themselves on the line for their faith.

Since leaving the Rangers, what gets the adrenaline pumping?

My life now has much more adventure than it did in the Rangers. I recently returned from reporting on the civil war in Burma - we had to sneak across the border and meet up with the Rebel army...which was very cool.

Please share some of your faith journey...

I was raised in a Christian home and dedicated my life to God at an early age. And He's been so faithful to bring me along and make my life an incredible adventure, teaching me along the way. Most of the wonderful things I've been able to accomplish and experience happened almost in spite of me, not because of me. God's good at making sure I can't take the credit.

Some essential Aussie questions...

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

Oh, a croc! Okay, if you force me to choose, I'd take the platypus. Just because the name is fun to say.

Vegemite or Peanut Butter?

I like trying different foods, but Vegemite sounds like fertilizer.

Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?
The rock.

Chuck, we appreciate the fascinating interview and look forward to reading your future books!

Read my reviews of Allah's Fire here and Island Inferno here!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of Snitch by Rene Gutteridge

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(The Occupational Hazards)
(WaterBrook Press May 15, 2007)


Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


Old School meets New School meets Homeschool

Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.

That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.

As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?

In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.

"Snitch is an engaging crime novel, balanced between sheer whimsy and genuine human drama."
....CHRIS WELL, author of Tribulation House

"A wonderful, fully developed ensemble cast makes Snitch an entertaining, engaging read. Rene's flair for a comedic, well-turned phrase shines here. Snitch is worth snatching."
...SUSAN MEISSNER, author of Widows and Orphans

Check back soon for my review.....

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Loving Liza Jane by Sharlene MacLaren

School teachers are in demand in small towns across America in the late 1800's and Little Hickman Creek, Kentucky is no exception. Eliza Jane Merriweather is determined to be the only teacher not scared away by the notorious Hogsworth twins and ruffian, Clement Bartel, despite the dire warnings given to her by her slovenly escort into town.

Farmer and widower, Benjamin Broughton willingly offers a little cottage on his property to the new teacher, thrilled that his inquisitive young daughter will have a woman to learn from. He simply doesn't expect Miss Merriweather to be so bullheaded about her Independence, despite the threatening behaviour from some of her older students and their parents. Besides, his mail order bride will be arriving any moment so he has other things to focus on!

Liza has much to learn about teaching, her faith and, as the infuriating Mr Broughton continues to point out, that patience is a virtue she must acquire forthwith!

Sharlene MacLaren has penned a delightful historical romance and despite the familiarity of the tale it rises above as it is infused with emotion, charm and merriment. Liza Jane and Ben Broughton are well rounded characters and their interaction is captivating. The plot is substantive and Sharlene's minor characters, including the heartbroken Rocky, the dedicated preacher Jon and the b
eautiful yet detached Emma, add soul to the town and are a prelude to further books in the series. I am looking forward to returning to Little Hickman soon.

Loving Liza Jane is available now from Whitaker House.

Look for Sarah, My Beloved releasing in October, 2007

Monday, 21 May 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of Defiant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Defiant Heart
(Avon Inspire May 8, 2007)


Tracey Bateman lives in Missouri with her husband and four children. Their rural home provides a wonderful atmosphere for a writer'simagination to grow and produce characters, plots, and settings.

In 1994, with three children to raise, she and her husband agreed that she should go to college and earn a degree. In a freshman English class, her love for writing was rekindled, and she wrote a short story that she later turned into a book.

Her college career was cut short with the news of their fourth baby's impending arrival, but the seeds of hope for a writing career had already taken root. Over the next several years she wrote, exchanged ideas with critique partners, studied the craft of writing, and eventually all the hard work paid off.

She currently has over twenty-five books published in a variety of genres. Tracey Bateman believes completely that God has big plans for his Kids and that all things are possible to anyone who will put their hope and trust in God!


Will Fannie be able to keep her family...and her heart, safe and find a new life on the frontier?

Book One of the Westward Hearts series, orphans Fannie Caldwell and her two young siblings have spent the last three years as indentured servants under a cruel master. Desperately wanting a better life for her brother and sister, Fannie devises a plan to secretly join a wagon train heading west.

Her plan immediately runs into trouble when the handsome yet bullheaded wagon master Blake Tanner refuses to allow an unmarried woman on the train.

But Fannie's determined...she'll escape and go west with or without help!

As life on the trail tests everyone's endurance and faith, Fannie soon realizes the perils of being a single woman on the frontier. Witnessing Fannie fending off one scare after another, Blake slowly recognizes how much he cares for this alluring young woman.

Will Blake sacrifice his own dreams and guide Fannie to safety?

Or will Fannie's stubborn independence keep her from finding true love?

Unfortunately, my copy of the book has yet to arrive so I can't let you know my thoughts! I will review it once it makes its way across the Pacific!

Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

In this prodigal daughter story, Roxy Burke, leaves her hometown for the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee, with the talent and financial resources to make it big. Seven years on, Roxy is a burned out shell of a women who failed to invest in her music or make friends wisely and she has no choice but to return to her father and plead for his forgiveness.

Just as Roxy is making the decision to return home, her sister Elena's dreams are coming true, newly engaged, treasured by her father as a daughter and valued partner in the family business. Elena's peace is shattered when her beloved sister returns and Elena fears she will soak up all their father's love and win back her former boyfriend, Elena's fiancee, Wyatt Baldini.

Robin Lee Hatcher's beautiful writing reintroduces the reader to this wonderful story of redemption. Roxy is an interesting character whose journey is not simplified as her struggles continue even after she returns home to her father's welcoming arms. However, the highlight for me is Elena's story. I have always felt sympathy for the devoted older son in the Biblical story so Elena's reality is what impacted me most. Her insecurities regarding her sister's charismatic personality and penchant for getting more than she deserved war with her deep love for Roxy and her innate desire to protect her little sister. Return to Me gives the reader a renewed appreciation of God's love for us all and a compelling and poignant read.

Look for Return to Me in bookstores (US) June, 2007 from Zondervan.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Blast from the Past ~ In Honor Bound by DeAnna Julie Dodson

I am planning to post once a month a "Blast from the Past" book review, choosing an old favourite of mine or one published prior to 2004. There are some wonderful books still available in stores or at Amazon and if you have missed them it may be worth seeking a copy out.

My first Blast from the Past is In Honor Bound, published in 1997 by Crossway Books, the first in DeAnna Julie Dodson's medieval Chastelayne Trilogy.

Prince Philip's first love is considered unacceptable to his father King Robert. When his scheming advisor Dunois contemplates the unthinkable, King Robert becomes complicit in an event which devastates Philip's soul.

Lady Rosalynde's first meeting with Philip, while they were still children, changed her heart forever and nothing pleases her more when she discovers her father and King Robert have arranged for her marriage to him. Her joy is soon corroded by Philip's cold heart and his implacable commitment to contain his emotions. Rosalynde determines to love her husband anyway but when betrayal and war closes in around them, Philip's failure to forgive may destroy them all.

In Honor Bound is replete with all you would expect from a medieval romance, kings and princes, war and treachery, devotion and grace. DeAnna Julie Dodson doesn't stop there ~ she has developed fascinating multifaceted characters who struggle with their demons time and again, in ways that are authentic and compelling. Philip's angst over wrongs perpetuated upon him by his father is palpable and Rosalynde's devotion in spite of his rejection, a powerful reflection of God's love. An excellent beginning to a trilogy I would love to complete reading!

Check back next month for a review of Legend of the Emerald Rose by Linda Wichman.

Tribulation House by Chris Well

"GET RIGHT OR GET LEFT" is the slogan for Tribulation House, "a major theatrical evangelistic full-sensory ministry outreach" lovingly planned by Mark Hogan's Kansas City church, The Last Church of God's Imminent Will. When Reverend Daniel Glory bursts in on a planning meeting for the Tribulation House spectacular, announcing he has determined the Rapture will take place on 17th October at 5:51am, the team is instilled with an even greater urgency to minister to the lost, none more so than Mark Hogan. But when Mark's thoughts start turning to more selfish desires and the time running out to fulfil his lifetime dream of owning a boat, he hatches a plan to acquire that 2008 Bayliner 192 by any means, before the Lord's return!

Gangsters Ross Cleaver and Bill Lamb, attempting to establish a thriving "insurance cooperative" (aka protection racket), police detectives Charlie Pasch and Tom Griggs of the Joint Task Force against organised crime, digging dirt on the mob and City Council candidate Hank Barton, schmoozing among the church's faithful to grab their vote, all find themselves caught up in a mystery of unearthly proportions that just may change their lives for eternity.

Chris Well has sharpened his pen with Tribulation House and given us a satirical look at one man's desperate attempt to grasp his earthly desires in the belief he knows the date of the Second Coming. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with the constantly changing point of view but once you overcome that it is a satisfying read. Filled to the brim with humour, mystery, unconventional and entertaining characters with a foundation of spiritual truths that makes you sit up and take notice, Chris Well has stamped himself as a incisive and profound writer. Detectives Pasch and Griggs are back with Charlie's attempts to find a way to serve his congregation on Sundays an endless source of hilarity. Mark Hogan is a misguided and selfish character but every honest reader will see a little bit of themselves in his thoughts and actions.

Tribulation House entertains, enlightens, tickles your funny bone and leaves you with much to ponder.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Christian Fiction Challenge ~ Blood Evidence ~ Military novel

1. Title ~ Blood Evidence

2. Author ~ Mel Odom

3. Copyright ~ 2007

4. How long was the book languishing in your TBR pile? ~ about three weeks!

5. What made you buy/borrow the book in the first place? ~ review copy sent to me by the author - gotta love that :)

6. What were your thoughts on the story? ~ Excellent! Great technical detail on the forensics, terrific suspense and a meaningful story about a woman struggling with her present as a result of her past.

7. Now do you wish you read the book sooner? ~ it came at the right time for me :)

8. Any questions/statements for the author? ~ read all my questions first hand when I post my interview with Mel soon.

9. Where will the book reside now? ~ in my library briefly before it is borrowed on my recommendation

10.The challenge is to read a book about mothers, law enforcement, or the military. Did the story showcase these professionals in a new light? Did you find a new appreciation for being a mom, being in law enforcement or being in the military? If you do, thank one/all of these professionals for a job well done! ~ I think the book provided a better perspective on the enormous and often tedious tasks of forensic investigators and the heart and soul the military or other law enforcement agencies put into their investigations as contrasted to the 42 minutes it takes CSI or NCIS to crack a case!

Check out my detailed review of Blood Evidence here!

See No Evil by Gayle Roper

Back of book blurb...

"My home-decorating business was booming, thanks to that new account for model homes in a posh neighborhood. Of course, it didn't seen quite so posh when I came face-to-face with a man escaping the scene of his crime--a murder right next door to the house I was decorating!"

My review...

Anna Volente is not expecting to find murder, betrayal and attraction while hanging window treatments but find it she does!

Grayson Edwards can't stand to see a women in danger although his first concern is her rickety old ladder and not the bullet that follows soon after!

I rarely read mass market books but when this one had Gayle Roper's name on it, I couldn't resist! See No Evil had me laughing by the third paragraph, anxious by page nine and sighing with delight on page ten! The suspense is palpable, the romance fun and real and unanticipated villains. This book is vintage Roper and a great summer (or Autumn for me!) read.

Chat with Janice A. Thompson & Gone with the Groom Giveaway

book cover
Gone with the Groom
From the
Bridal Mayhem Mystery Series

Annie Peterson, mother of the bride-to-be, works to solve the riddle of the missing fiancé in Gone with the Groom, a fun and riveting romantic mystery.

The best laid plans of brides and men go awry when Annie Peterson's future son-in-law Scott disappears. Have pre-wedding jitters caused Brandi's fiancé to take flight, or are more sinister forces at work? Annie puts her super-sleuth powers to work and sets about to solve the riddle. Who could be behind this apparent kidnapping caper? Maybe the drug company Scott works for has hidden motives. Perhaps it's the handiwork of Otis, Scott's sneaky dad. But then again it could be the shady wedding photographer or even have something to do with the political campaign of Scott's mother. Maybe her opponent is somehow involved in this. Will Annie solve the mystery and recover the missing groom in time for the couple to say their wedding vows?

author photo


Author Janice A. Thompson lives in the Houston area. In 2004, her two oldest daughters both received proposals within weeks of each other. The weddings came off without a hitch! Janice has since coordinated weddings for friends and is thrilled to incorporate many of her adventures into her novels.


What book is coming next?

There will be three more Annie Peterson mysteries after this one: PUSHING UP DAISIES, THE PERFECT MATCH, and CATERING TO DISASTER. They will all be released as part of the new mystery line at Barbour Publishing (Heartsong Presents Mysteries).

What book are you working on now?

I just turned in a Heartsong romance titled WHITE AS SNOW - about a young woman who can't stand football. She lives in the Pittsburgh area, and eventually (of course!) falls in love with a professional football player. I had a lot of fun writing this one. Why, you ask? Because I'm not a football fan! Figure skating, yes! Gymnastics, of course! Football. . .are you kidding?

What book are you reading now?

I just really a really funny book by Ray Blackston call FLABBERGASTED. It was kind of like chick lit for guys. I ear-marked all of the pages that made me laugh out loud. By the time I got to the end, I think I'd ear-marked over forty pages! I also just read a really great non-fiction book by Lee Ezell called FINDING GOD WHEN LIFE'S NOT FAIR. In it, she talks about the death of her husband, and her bout with cancer, ten weeks later. I could relate to so much of what she was going through (refer to question below)

How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near deadlines?

This has been a tough year for me. During the writing of GONE WITH THE GROOM, I lost my father to bone marrow cancer. It was an awful time for our family. Then, the week before the book was due, my married daughter (Randi) became very ill during her 33rd week of pregnancy and the baby (Madysen) had to be delivered early. She was only four and a half pounds, but (thank God!) is just fine now. Then, about the time the book went to the edit stage, my sister passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. This week, as I began marketing the book, one of my best friends suddenly passed away. It seems like every time a tragedy strikes, I'm on some sort of deadline. I don't resent that fact, (though at times it's tough to keep going). I find the writing to be a blessing, particularly in light of the fact that I "need" the humor of lightweight stories like GONE WITH THE GROOM to bring a smile to my face. God always helps me with the obligations/deadlines part. I'm totally dependent on Him for those things. Wouldn't have it any other way.

What's your favorite worship song, and why?

If you had asked me this question one year ago, I would have answered "Amazing Love." It's been my favorite for years. But this year, I'm very drawn to a song called "Praise You in this Storm" (by Casting Crowns). The lyrics are so true of my life right now: I'll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands for You are who You are no matter where I am and every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand You never left my side and though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm. (Praise You in This Storm, words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms) Trust me when I say that it is possible for believers to go on praising, even when the storms are blowing out of control around you.

What do you crave (beverage or food) when you have writer's stress?

I am addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper. And when I'm really needing a treat, I turn to Earl Grey tea (like Annie Peterson) or even Chai Latte. When all else fails, I reach for a piece of cheesecake.

Where did you birth the idea for this book (and the series)? When? How did it come about? Did any of the experiences in the story happen to you personally?

I have four daughters in their twenties. Two of them got married in 2004 within four-and-a-half months of each other. It was a stressful time, but I always knew I'd eventually be able to use the information in a story. Just about the time I thought I could rest, my third daughter got engaged. Her wedding just took place six weeks ago. Three down, one to go! As for how I decided to turn these books into mysteries (instead of traditional romances)... I asked myself the question, "What would you do if you had to pay for two weddings and didn't have the money to do so?" Out of that, the first book (THE WEDDING CAPER) was born. After that, I got to thinking, "What would you do if the groom disappeared just before the wedding?) Out of that, GONE WITH THE GROOM was born. And so on, and so forth.

If your book was turned into a movie, who would play the main characters?

Wow. Never thought about that before. Who would play Annie Peterson? If she were still alive, I might pick someone funny like Madeline Kahn. If she were younger, maybe Carol Burnett? Diane Keaton might work, (though, Annie is really only turning 50, so even Diane might be a bit too old). As for the twin daughters, I think it would be fun to have someone like Jennifer Garner play dual roles. Or, hey...what about the Olsen twins? They could split the workload, and they're about the right age. As for the husband (Warren) I wouldn't want to go for anyone terribly famous, because I wouldn't want him to outshine Annie. For Sheila? Someone quirky like Bette Midler or even Kathy Bates would do - in flamboyant colors, of course.

Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?

I'm a lot like Annie Peterson, truth be told. I find myself "in over my head" a lot, and I tend to think I can solve most any problem. She's going through some empty nest issues, and I can certainly relate to that. Like Annie I also find myself turning to God for the real answers. I'd like to say I'm funny like Sheila, but I patterned that character after my best friend Kay, who always keeps me laughing. Kay is always coming up with funny sayings, and all-the-more, now that she knows I need material for Sheila to use.

What do you want your readers to know about you?

I love God with my whole heart, and no matter what troubles come my way, (no matter what mysteries I need to solve) I will never ever give up on my faith. Never. I will keep on keeping on, no matter what!

Post a comment to enter the draw for a copy of Gone with the Groom :) Draw closes at midnight on Tuesday 22nd May, 2007. All are welcome to enter!

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