Monday, 31 March 2008

Ryann Watters and the King's Sword by Eric Reinhold ~ EJ's Take

I am delighted to introduce my latest guest reviewer, my 10 year old daughter, EJ, along with her first review. When this book arrived, EJ's eyes lit up and three days later she was done! Proud mum, that I am, I think she has done a fantastic job!

Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword is a fantasy story written by Eric Reinhold. It is about a 12 year old boy named Ryann Watters, who is paid a remarkable visit by the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel gives Ryan three supernatural objects, a ring, a staff and a horn. They may seem like regular objects but they aren’t.

The class bully, Drake Dunfellow, is visited by a dark angel who provides him with a cloak, a persuasion ring, a bow and a set of arrows. This sets both boys on an adventurous journey.

Ryann soon travels through a portal to the majestic land of Aeliana and is sent on a quest to find the King’s sword with the help of his friends from Earth, Liddy Thomas and Terell Peterson, and some new friends from Aeliana. He is pursued by Drake, who uses his ring to persuade some Aelianans to support his evil quest.

I was captivated by the book due to the descriptive language and the way Eric Reinhold created the characters with their individual personalities. The book starts with illustrations and descriptions of the main characters which were fascinating, together with a data page to record the powers or meanings that you find in the book about Ryann’s gifts. I enjoyed this interactive page. I stayed up late reading it as I couldn't put it down and that's a fact! I highly recommend this book to readers 10 to 14 years of age, but this exciting adventure novel would appeal to anyone. I am looking forward to reading about Ryann's further adventures.

Now available from Creation House

Guest reviewer:~ my eldest daughter, EJ

Saturday, 29 March 2008

As High as the Heavens by Kathleen Morgan

When her father concocts a desperate plan to free Mary, Queen of Scots, Heather Graham doesn't anticipate being its key to success. However, loyalty to her Queen and family finds Heather devoting her time to teaching the loutish and brash Highlander, Duncan Armstrong the airs and graces of the nobility.

Living in close quarters with Duncan and his family, Heather's initial disdain for Duncan slowly turns to a grudging respect and then blossoming affection. As danger edges ever closer, Heather realises how fragile love can be.

Kathleen Morgan's name is synonymous with quality Scottish historicals and As High as the Heavens maintains the same calibre of her past offerings. Duncan and Heather both have independent spirits that clash at first instance and their interaction is mercurial and passionate. Kathleen's descriptive prose places the reader amongst the heather and streams of the Highlands at the same time as the political intrigue and romantic tension enthralls. While the conclusion it forgone, it doesn't detract from this engaging story which will have historical romance readers clamouring for more.

Available now from Revell

On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones ~ Chloe-Anne's take

Katie Parker is actually getting used to life as a normal teenager. She loves the new life her foster parents James and Millie have given her and everything that comes with it. But will it stay like this? Katie’s life is a complete rollercoaster, always has been and most likely always will. Nothing ever stays the same, there is always something new around the corner.

When a tornado blows the roof off Katie's foster grandmother's house, she shifts in with Katie's family but the only spare space is in Katie's room!! Things surely couldn’t get any worse…….but they do. Someone who Katie loves dearly gets diagnosed with cancer and Katie starts to wonder whether God really cares because if He did, in Katie's mind, none of these things would be happening.

During all of this Katie gets framed for stealing and everyone believes she did it but why would she? Katie’s life changed dramatically moving to this small town and she has no reason for stealing anything. Who would want to get her into trouble and why?

On the Loose is a fantastic sequel, that guarantees a good laugh. Before this series came out I had never heard of Jenny B. Jones, but after reading her books Inbetween and On the Loose, she is one of my favourite authors. I love Katie’s character! She is a down to earth normal teenager who struggles with some big issues. Although a lot of the problems that happen are everyday things that most teens struggle with, she is easy to relate to.

In most books, the main character is either already a Christian or becomes one within the first book in the series. In Inbetween and On the Loose, Katie doesn’t ignore God but she slowly becomes familiar with Him and learns that maybe He is in control. I like this because not all believers come to Christ in the blink of an eye, some take longer than others and this is a perfect example of it.

On the Loose is wonderfully written and I am sure that I will pick it up and read it again.

The final book in the Katie Parker series, The Big Picture releases from NavPress in April.

Guest reviewer:~ teen Chloe~Anne

Friday, 28 March 2008

Where is my winner?

flchen1 ~ you won a copy of Only Uni here but did not leave any contact details.

If I don't hear from you by midnight Sunday 30th March (Australian time) I will have to draw another winner.

Please contact me ~ relzreviewz @ gmail . com (minus spaces). I would hate for you to miss out.

The Duchess and the Dragon Trailer and Aussie Giveaway

Thanks again to B&H's generosity I have four copies of Jamie's riveting story to give away. Here are the conditions of entry:~

1. An Aussie postal address;

2. Post a comment by midnight Thursday 10th April; and

3. Give me your thoughts on book trailers ~ are they a good marketing tool, do you watch them, are you more inclined to buy a book having seen a good trailer, etc!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

A Peek at The Sovereign's Daughter by Susan K Downs & Susan May Warren

When revolution threatens the lives of the royal Romanov family, Imperial Tsar Nikolai is forced to entrust critical state secrets to a lowly chambermaid and a backward Mennonite merchant. Anton Klassen must protect the woman the tsar has put into his care. But the insecure young man from the steppes of South Russia's Mennonite farmland is no match for enemy forces, who stop at nothing to seek out and destroy Anton's charge. . .and with her, the imperial secrets she carries. Only faith in the promises of God can save the sovereign's daughter and those responsible for her safekeeping.

My thoughts:~

Loved this book, originally released a number of years ago as Oksana. This is a fabulous series and well worth having on your shelf, starting with The Sovereign's Daughter. The Russian history is fascinating and the two Susans sure know how to write an enthralling and romantic tale!

Available now from Barbour.

Trailer for Forsaken by James David Jordan

Another fabulous looking book, releasing in October, from B&H ~ James David Jordan's Forsaken

Check out the great trailer:~

Please pray for Kristy

You will know Kristy as AussieTigger here on my blog. She is experiencing terrible pain at the moment having lost her new husband tragically on the weekend.

I'm sure any words of encouragement you feel you can leave on her blog will bless her if not yet, in the coming months.


Wednesday, 26 March 2008

CFBA Blog Tour of Betrayed by Jeanette Windle

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Tyndale House Publishers (February 6, 2008)


Jeanette Windle


As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller
CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.


Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump.

Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.

Click on the links below for more:~

My review of Betrayed

My in-depth interview with Jeanette

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie

Imperious and commanding Drake Weston, the Earl of Warwick, is betrayed by his father from the grave. Shattered and infuriated, Drake finds himself running from the law after a fit of aggression towards a conniving servant wanting to benefit from his misery. Ever resourceful, Drake concocts a plan to marry quickly, produce an heir, deceive the English court and regain his rightful inheritance.

Escaping to Philadelphia, Drake survives the frightful voyage and finds himself at the mercy of the Winters, a gentle Quaker family, as an indentured servant. Drake's intelligence and forthright manner has Serena Winter second guessing his story but she finds herself drawn to him as no other man before. Forsaking her church, but not her faith, and all that is familiar, Serena follows her heart only to discover Drake's shameful past and his bold plan that will destroy her trust and shatter her dreams forever.

The Duchess and the Dragon is a passionate tale of love and betrayal set in the early 1800's captivating me from beginning to end. Jamie Carie's characterisation is brilliant with both Drake and Serena having a depth and authenticity rarely seen in romance novels. Drake is charismatic and driven but his transformation to a life of servant hood is revealing as he chafes against his new found limitations but is at the same time empowered by the work of his hands. Serena's compassionate nature is palpable and her confusion over her attraction to Drake delightful. The scurrilous intrigue alongside discoveries of faith play out against the backdrop of their growing love and add to the appeal of this evocative and enchanting story. For those who love Deeanne Gist and Julie Lessman, Jamie Carie will not disappoint - with one book she has entrenched herself a place as one of my "must read" authors.

The Duchess and the Dragon releases in April, 2008 from B&H

For more of Jamie and her books, click on the links below:~

My review of Snow Angel

In-depth interview with Jamie

Jamie's blog and website

A special request, please.....

It is interesting that my least commented on posts are the ones authors have invested the most time and thought too ~ author interviews!

I appreciate, as you do too, the time and effort it takes to answer the plethora of questions I send to the authors I interview. It would be great if you could take the time to comment and encourage the authors who have shared at RelzReviewz in this way.

If you haven't had the chance to read (and comment!) here are some of my latest interviews, well worth a look:~

Leanna Ellis

Jeanette Windle

Camy Tang

Jamie Carie

Julie Lessman

Rebeca Seitz

And some older gems (the interviews, not the authors!!):~

Donna Fleisher

John Aubrey Anderson

Karen Hancock

Lisa McKay

Karen Ball

Check out my sidebar for more great interviews!

Interview with Leanna Ellis

After achieving success in the ABA, Leanna Ellis is now finding her niche in the CBA with her flair for Southern storytelling of contemporary women's fiction. Elvis Takes a Back Seat is a wonderful read (click here for my review) and in September, Broadman & Holman will release her second novel, Lookin' Back, Texas. Here are Leanna's thoughts on:~


You initially wrote romance novels for the ABA but you are now writing Christian women's fiction. How did that change come about?

The desire to change from romance to women’s fiction really began at a deeper level. There’s something about taking your newborn to a pediatric cardiologist that puts you on your knees. God healed my son’s heart and began to change mine. From that, my story ideas began to outgrow the bounds of romantic fiction and I left romance to follow where God was leading me.

You are a wife, mum and writer AND you home school your children! What does a “typical” writing day look like?

Chaos! It usually starts very early when I stumble upstairs and start with my quiet time, then I move to the computer until my kids wake up. Then it’s the usual scramble of getting breakfast fixed and starting school. Two days a week, my kids go to a ‘university model’ school. Their teachers teach the new concepts and then give massive amounts of homework for us to do on our days off. So when the kids are in school, I’m usually at Starbucks working. A girl has to have her mocha frappacino! I also am often working on writing while my kids are fencing, dancing, playing the piano. It’s a juggle trying to fit it all in.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Having written ‘the end’! Writing is rewriting or so some brilliant writer said once. And it’s true. I spend much more time rewriting my work than the actual writing.

What writing project are you working on now?

I’m just finishing up a book to complete my third book in this contract. It’s called Ruby’s Slippers. My deadline is looming.

Your next book is Lookin’ Back, Texas ~ can you give us a sneak peek, please?

Oh, I’m very excited about this book. It was a lot of fun to write as I never quite knew what the mother in this story would do. See, Betty Lynne Davidson is putting on quite a funeral for her dearly departed husband. Trouble is… he only departed. He’s not dead. When Suzanne, the main character, gets a call from her father to come home because her mother has gone off the deep end, she has to return to her hometown of Luckenbach, Texas, knowing it will mean looking at the faulty foundations of her parents’ marriage. As well as her own. The perfect façade of home and family has been Suzanne’s family motto. But her life and marriage begins to crack under the pressure of perfectionism and the secret past Suzanne had thought she’d buried long ago.

Elvis Takes A Back Seat

Tell us the inspiration behind this story.

This story began during a garage sale I held with my mom and sister. I began to think how hard it is for some people to let go of things as well as the past.

Why Elvis?

Originally Elvis had a minor role. He was just a quirky part of the garage sale that takes place at the beginning of my book. I’d written chapter one and wanted a ‘white elephant’ type of gift that my heroine would easily want to get rid of, but because it belonged to her deceased husband she suddenly had a hard time letting go. My husband has a friend who has an Elvis bust, so that’s why I thought of it. This was a journey story, but I wasn’t exactly sure where these three women were going to go. I actually wanted them to go to Europe because I thought I’d need a research trip. J However, when I called my dear friend, D. Anne Love, who writes YA fiction, she suggested Memphis. She didn’t know about the Elvis bust because it was such a minor part. But the story clicked at that point. Suddenly, we were laughing about strapping that Elvis bust in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac and the story really took off.

Have you had an Aunt Rae in your life?

The closest I’ve come to an Aunt Rae in my life was my Aunt Dot whom I adored.She was very different from Aunt Rae, and yet she always made me laugh. She was terrific. I miss her still.

What was your favourite scene to write?

That’s a tough question. I had a lot of fun with the scene at Double Takes, my made up Elvis impersonator club. I also had a lot of fun writing the scene at the café in Arkansas where the bust is almost stolen. But I really enjoyed writing the last scene, the epilogue, too.

How do you go about choosing names for your characters?

Often the name just comes to me. If I’m not sure, I might thumb through a baby name book. Quite often I choose the wrong name at the beginning of the book, then the right name will come to me sometime during the course of writing the novel.

I loved the interaction between the three women, Claudia, Rae and Ivy. Were their individual personalities difficult to create? Did you find one easier to write than the others?

Claudia was probably the toughest. I’ve never been a widow (thank you, God!) but I wanted to handle her difficulties with truth and dignity and love. I had to pray a lot about her. Amazingly, I’ve had widows contact me after reading this book, and how it touched them.

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of this series?

Oh, no, I’m not good at that! But it sure would be fun if that happened!

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

This is a book of hope. I think it speaks to people of all walks of life. To those who have it all together and those who don’t. To those who are stuck and need the courage to take a new path. To those who have drifted away from God and need to find their way back to Him. Taking a step of faith is never easy.


Do you read much yourself? If so, some favourites please?

I LOVE to read. In the past year or so, some of my favorites have been: The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Other Boleyn Girl, A Year of Wonders and Water for Elephants.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve got two going at the moment (often I’ll be reading 5 as some I’m listening to in the car, on the treadmill, and others reading the actual book): Pat Conroy’s nonfiction book called The Losing Season and Leif Engle’s Peace Like a River.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

Oh, not sure I can limit it to one favorite movie! But I’ll try: It’s a Wonderful Life!

I see you are a fan of Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett! What appeals to you about these famous Aussies?

Absolutely! I love Aussies! So much talent Down Under. I’ve loved Mel since I was in college which goes way, way back. J I suppose I think they are just amazingly talented. And for the guys, well, you gotta love that accent.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by so many women I meet or know. Women who aren’t famous. They might seem plain and ordinary to the majority of people, but they shine with God’s love and they go about their work (whether it’s at home or in a work place) doing their best.

Please tell us a little about your family

I’m happily married to a great man! He is so incredibly supportive of what I do. Even when it looked like I might never sell a book or might never sell again, he believed. We have two kids – a boy and girl. They’re 15 months apart in age, so they’ve always been very close. They’re in 4th and 3rd grade right now and they keep me very, very busy!

Please share some of your faith journey...

Some essential Aussie questions

you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first:~

A platyp
us or a koala?

Can’t I see both? I don’t want to have to choose.

Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

Definitely the reef.

A cricket match or a game of Aussie Rules Footy?

Aussie Rules for sure!

Any last words…

Just thanks for having me! I hope I can come Down Under some day. That is definitely a dream of mine.

Thank you so much, Leanna ~ it has been delightful!

Leanna's website is a lot of fun too, so check it out here.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Par for the Course by Ray Blackston & US/Canadian Giveaway

After spending his youth envisioning being locked in golfing combat with Tiger Woods, Chris Hackett has enjoyed being the big man on the course ~ not Augusta but Hack's Golf Learning Centre in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris is content with shepherding his varied clients through their golf swing together with the devoted assistance of his friend and green keeper, Cack Pruitt.

Chris's life takes an unexpected turn when a new student turns both his head and Hack's future upside down. Molly Cusack, a political correspondent wants to motivate Hack's clientele to perfect their swings by appealing to their political loyalty and giving them a target to aim for.

What starts off as a bit of fun, and nicely adding to Hack's modest coffers, turns ugly when someone takes it all a little too personally.

Ray Blackston serves up a hole in one in this engaging tale of golf, love and political maneuvering. Chris, Molly and Cack are such endearing characters that I imagine I might meet them at my local golf range (if I played gold, that is!). The political sparring is pithy, Cack's insults hilarious and the romance sassy and satisfying. Ray Blackston's name on a book draws a smile from me without even opening a page and the reading experience only widens the smile and brings a little bit of joy to my world. Par for the Course is fabulous ~ keep stepping up to the tee, Ray!

Thanks to publisher FaithWords, I have a copy of this gem to giveaway. To enter the draw, you must meet the following requirements:~

1. Have a US or Canadian postal address

2. Post a comment before Monday 31st March, 2008,

3. Who do you think might win the US presidential election? As an Aussie, I can't really comment but would like to know your thoughts!

CFBA Blog Tour of For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

For Pete's Sake

Book Two of the Piper Cove Chronicles

(Avon Inspire - April 1, 2008)


Linda Windsor


Maryland author Linda Windsor has written some twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering “The Lift of Laughter and Spirit” in her modern inspirational romances.

A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Multnomah Publishing (historical fiction and contemporary romances), Barbour Publishing (romcom novella), and Westbow Press (the Moonstruck romantic comedy trilogy). Wedding Bell Blues the first book in her new The Piper Cove Chronicles series, is featured on Avon Inspire's launch list.

In addition to writing and doing fiction-writing workshops at conferences across the country, Linda continues a music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband, and she is a part-time financial analyst. She also works on “as desperately needed” home improvement projects on the 18th-century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.


Saturday, April 5th, 2008
Jack's Religious Gift Shop
701 Snow Hill Road
Salisbury, MD 21804

Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Gospel Shop
800 South Salisbury Blvd
Salisbury, MD 21801
11:00 AM


For Pete's Sake is a remarkable story about the unlikely live between a grown-up tomboy and the millionaire next door.

Ellen Brittingham isn’t sure true live exists until she contracts to do the landscaping of the estate of the sophisticated widower next door, Adrian Sinclair. Adrian has it all—at least on the surface, He’s engaged to a beautiful woman who helped him build a successful business and he’ll soon have a mom for his troubled son Pete.

Yet, from the moment Ellen rescues a stranded Adrian on her Harley, his well-ordered world turns upside down, cracking his thin façade of happiness and revealing the void of faith and love behind it. Even more, his son seems to have his own sites set on Ellen – as his new mom.

As Ellen’s friendship grows with Pete, she realizes that his father is about to marry the wrong woman for the right reasons. And despite her resolve to remain “neighbors only” with the dad, the precocious boy works his way into her heart, drawing Ellen and Adrian closer. Close enough for heartbreak, for Pete’s sake!

But how can her heart think that Adrian Sinclair is the one when he’s engaged to a sophisticated beauty who is everything Ellen isn’t. When Ellen’s three best friends see she’s been bitten by the love bug, they jump into action and submit her to a makeover that reveals the woman underneath her rough exterior and puts her in contention for Adrian’s love.

But Ellen must ask herself whether she’s ready to risk the heart that she’s always held close. Will Ellen be able to trust that God brought this family into her life for a reason? Or will her fear of getting hurt cause her to turn away from God’s plan and her one true chance at love?

My take:~

From her engaging humour, entertaining yet substantial characters and fabulous storytelling, Linda Windsor's books shine and For Pete's Sake is no exception. Ellen and Adrian's attraction is instantaneous but the circuitous route required to act on it and numerous hurdles in their way, including a scheming fiancee, a marginalised young boy and an interfering mother, combine to make a top notch comedic romance. Ellen's friends return to encourage and frustrate, hinting at storylines to come and as always, Linda infuses her tale with genuine and relevant faith threads.
Linda's writing captivates me every time and I look forward to more of the Piper Cove Chronicles in the future.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The winners are.....

Only Uni ~ flchen1

The Next Level ~
WendyB and ad

Congratulations ~ flchen1, please email your address details to relzreviewz @ gmail . com (minus spaces!) within 7 days to claim your prize :)

And my favourite female character just at the minute is Harriet from Tamara Leigh's Splitting Harriet - lots of fun!

Spring Reading Thing 2008

Okay, I'm in! If you are interested in joining, click here and Katrina of Callapidder Days can fill you in on what to do!

Here's my list which I am hoping to have read and reviewed by 19th June (subject to change!):

  • Courting Emma by Sharlene MacLaren ~ review
  • For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor ~ review
  • Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky
  • Truffles by the Sea by Julie Carobini
  • Shade by John B Olson
  • Forsaken by James David Jordan
  • Monday Night Jihad by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn
  • Healing Promises by Amy Wallace ~ review
  • Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White
  • I Heart Bloomberg by Melody Carlson
  • Black Sea Affair by Don Brown ~ review
  • Summer Snow by Nicole Baart
  • Searching for Spice by Megan DiMaria ~ review
  • She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt ~ review
  • Healing Stones by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn
  • Sincerely Mayla by Virgina Smith
  • Strike the Dragon by Charles Dyer and Mark Tobey ~ review
  • White Soul by Brandt Dodson
  • Matchpoint by Erynn Mangum
  • Forevermore by Cathy Marie Hake ~ review
  • Embrace Me by Lisa Samson
  • My Soul to Keep by Davis Bunn
  • The Renovation by Terri Kraus
  • Coming Unglued by Rebeca Seitz
  • Kill Me If You Can by Nicole Young
  • Amber Morn by Brandilyn Collins
Okay, I've sorted through some more in my TBR pile and am adding these:~

  • The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck ~ review
  • As High As the Heavens by Kathleen Morgan ~ review
  • Solemnly Swear by Nancy Moser
  • Par for the Course by Ray Blackston ~ review
  • On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang
  • Around the World in 80 Dates by Christa A. Bannister
  • Vanish by Tom Pawlik
  • Dogwood by Chris Fabry
  • The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen
  • Shadow of Colossus by T L Higley
  • Along Came a Cowboy by Christine Lynxwiler

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Shade ~ Coming soon from John B. Olson

John Olson's upcoming release, Shade, is another book I can't wait to read! I love John's work ~ just imagine a guy who can write great action scenes and include just the right level of romantic tension!

The good new
s for me is I have an ARC that I will be getting into shortly!! The bad news is you will have to wait until Shade releases in October, 2008 from Broadman & Holman.

Here's a preview to ensure you note it for your TBR pile :)


You will not fear the terror of the night.” —Psalm 91

A monstrous waking nightmare is pursuing graduate student Hailey Maniates across San Francisco to Golden Gate Park where she is rescued by a towering homeless man. She seems able to read her rescuer’s mind, but is it just a delusion? Doctors diagnose her as a paranoid schizophrenic and attempt to prescribe away her alleged hallucinations. But too many questions remain around Hailey and the man who saved her. He appears to suffer from her same mental condition and is convinced that some type of Gypsy vampire is trying to kill them both.

Against reason, Hailey finds herself more and more attracted to this strange man. But what if he is a fantasy? What if he is the monster?

Now check out the trailer (to enlarge, click on the little tv screen).........

Sneak peek at A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell

I've been hanging out to see Siri's cover for her new book ~ isn't it gorgeous? I can't wait to read what I know will be a fabulous story :) Be patient - it releases in October, 2008 from Bethany. In the meantime, check out Siri's new look website, here.

In a time and place where the only luxury forbidden was love, how can two hearts find each other?

“Trust was a valuable commodity at court. Traded by everyone, but possessed by no one. Its rarity was surpassed only by love. Love implied commitment and how could any of us commit ourselves to any but the Queen? Love implied singularity and how could any of us benefit another if our affections were bound to one in exclusivity? Love was never looked for and rarely found. When it was, it always ended badly.”

In Queen Elizabeth’s court where men and women willingly trade virtue for power, is it possible for Marget to obtain her heart’s desire or is the promise of love only an illusion?

CFBA Blog Tour of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)


Andrew Peterson

Author/Singer/Songwriter Andrew Peterson, a 2005 Audie Award finalist for his readings of Ray Blackston’s Flabbergasted trilogy, wrote and produced the popular Christmas play and musical Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming of the Christ, and the album by the same name, which received the 2004 Best Album of the Year, World Christian Music’s Editors Choice Award. Andrew’s received critical acclaim for his seven albums and is at work on an eighth. He lives with his wife Jamie and their three young children near Nashville, Tennessee, where he reads storybooks aloud to his family each evening.

Artist Justin Gerard has illustrated several children’s books, including The Lightlings storybooks for young readers by R.C. Sproul. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and works as the chief creative officer for Portland Studios.

Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

“So good–smart, funny, as full of ideas as action.”
Jonathan Rogers, author of The Wilderking Trilogy

“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom–and features excellent instructions on how to cope with Thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional Toothy Cow.”

Allan Heinberg, writer/co-executive producer of ABC’s Grey's Anatomy, and co-creator of Marvel Comics Young Avengers

“Totally fun! Andrew Peterson, a natural storyteller in the oral tradition, has nailed the voice needed to translate a rip-roaring fantasy tale to the written page.”

Donita K. Paul, author of DragonSpell, DragonKnight, DragonQuest, and DragonFire
Read my nephew's review, here!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck

Amy Johnson's plans for a concert career hit a discordant note when unexpected motherhood finds her to taking up teaching instead to support her daughter.

When she is finally noticed by the Minneapolis Symphony's enigmatic new conductor, Amy's lifelong desire nears fulfilment. When mysterious accidents begin to befall her musical colleagues, Amy determines to use her investigative skills, finely honed from years of reading mysteries, to uncover the saboteur and save the Symphony and her fledgling career.

Symphony of Secrets swept me away into the world of talented flautist, Amy Johnson and her slightly neurotic outlook on life, parenting and the neighbours next door! Sharon Hinck effortlessly pens this engaging tale with smart characterisation, light intrigue and the fascinating machinations of a working orchestra. Amy's befuddled interactions with her teenage daughter Clara, and her sudden desire to become a cheerleader, are funny and voiced beautifully. The definitions of musical terms heading each chapter were enlightening and a fun lead in to the tone of the pages to follow. Underlying this buoyant tale, Amy's inner struggle against her circumstances provides a lesson in patience and the beauty of hope. Bravo, Sharon!

Interview with Jeanette Windle

Jeanette Windle is a fabulous author, devoted mum and passionate about destitute children, particularly in South America where she grew up and later returned to as a missionary with her husband. Her latest novel, Betrayed, is now available from Tyndale.

When I asked Jeanette for this interview I had no idea that she would provide one of the most in depth and fascinating interviews seen at RelzReviewz! Enjoy :)


Why Christian fiction?

I began as a journalist, but branched out to fiction in part because I was sitting in the middle of stories too big—and sometimes too sensitive—to tell in any non-fiction format open to me. What I love about writing fiction is the tapestry it offers to weave together countless scattered threads—historical, political, social, spiritual—and the very real people involved, to create a single impact, a single focused spiritual theme. While the books I write are fiction, the peoples and places and issues they bring to life are only all too true.

Why specifically ‘Christian’ fiction? Because I am a Christian, and I cannot write without that world view permeating every thought, plot line, character. I do not even understand how Christians can write a book that does not ‘leak’ their faith and outlook on this universe. For me personally, writing has always been a call to share my faith in such a creative and interesting fashion that readers who would not necessarily even set foot in church would be drawn in to the world I have created and the God who is there.

The scenarios in my books are not just ‘Christian’, but only too real. But if a life spent in some of the planet’s more difficult corners has taught me more than I wish I knew about the depravity of which a godless mankind is capable, it has taught me far more of God’s overriding sovereignty and love. If I did not have the absolute assurance that the course of human history and current events as well as my own life lie in the hands of a loving heavenly Father, I would not have the nerve to research, much less write, the stories that I do. My ultimate goal in every book I write, however much a "thriller," is to share with the reader my own heartfelt conviction that, for all the turmoil and conflict and pain in our world, this universe does make sense and has both a purpose and a loving Creator.

Writing is obviously in your blood - was there a particular person who encouraged you to nurture your gift?

Writing has always been such a part of my life, I can’t remember ever consciously wanting to write. The missionary children’s school I attended in the Venezuelan Andes put great emphasis on proper composition (we were doing term papers with footnotes in junior high), and we spent far too much time writing to ever daydream about it. I was newspaper editor and yearbook copy editor in high school. But my personal daydreams as a child were to become, alternatively, a concert pianist (at least a possibility as I was studying the instrument hard) or a world-famous ice-skater (more difficult as we had never seen ice in our tropical environment).

My greatest writing mentors were the two English teachers I had at our MK school over my junior high and high school years, both university level professors who have up U.S.-side careers to teach missionary kids. They not only instilled in us a great love of reading and good literature, but taught us to write well. Only when I began writing professionally and mentoring other writers did I recognize just what a privilege it was to have our own captive writing coaches who gave enormous personal attention to improving our writing.

What writing project are you working on now?

I am just finishing a novel set in Afghanistan, due at Tyndale House Publishers in just seven weeks. I am excited about the spiritual and political message of the book even as I’ve been stretching mind and heart beyond their natural capacity to birth this story. So keep an eye out in a few months for its release.

Your first three adult titles Crossfire, The DMZ and Firestorm were in excess of 500 pages each! Tell us a little of the process behind writing such lengthy and engrossing novels.

That would be an entire book in itself. In brief, the process is supremely individual to each writer. There are best-selling authors who write as though constructing a building with every scene, character, conversation, plot twist set out on three-by-fives before writing the book. Others write as though cultivating a tree, letting the story gradually grow. I tend toward the latter. By the time I've researched my next setting (currently Afghanistan), I have a solid idea of the first part of the story, what political and spiritual theme I want to weave through, and I know the ending (an essential because if you don't know the ending, you end up painting yourself into a corner or wasting months of dead-end writing you have to cut). But the middle is rather broad, opening up in detail as I get to that part of the story.

In rough draft, I will take a week or two brainstorming all kinds of speeches, personal feelings and spiritual thoughts, descriptions of places I've been or researched, thoughts, interviews with DEA, Special Forces, etc. that give me authenticity to those characters, ideas I plan to work into the book, even if I don't know the order they will come into the story. Then as I actually write the story, I can go back and pull those nuggets from my files. I also keep a notebook through each book so that if I think of anything, even if it is for a future part of the book, a conversation, thought, etc., I jot it down so I have it when I get to that part of the story.

As you can see, I do tend to grow a book like a tree. By the time I’m done, I have a great story with terribly messy prose. But I’m an excellent editor, so I start back at the beginning, rewriting, rearranging, filling in plot holes, etc. Then comes one last polish for actual prose and grammar. At this point, I am always surprised and excited at how well it has all come together.

All your adult titles are set in South America but I hear your next book will be placed on another continent altogether ~ a sneak peek, please.

Again, the next book is set in Afghanistan, but as I’m madly tearing my brain out over its convolutions right now, more when I get it finished!


Tell us the inspiration behind your latest novel.

Inspiration for Betrayed, which is set in the context of U. S. involvement in Central America over the last half-century and the implications of that involvement on the current war on terror, came through my own international involvement and research as I’ve seen repeatedly the consequences of powerful individuals making decisions for motives of fear or greed rather than right and wrong. We like to blame a universal ‘they’—the government, the system, Western civilization, or on the flip side, the Communists or Islamic jihadists, etc. But in reality it comes down again and again to very specific individuals making very specific decisions for right or wrong. And sometimes those decisions can impact an entire nation or change the course of human history. The United States is, unfortunately, reaping the harvest of some of those decisions. While a fictional story set in one Central American country, Betrayed is a realistic microcosm of patterns repeated around the globe. But Betrayed is far from just a tale of human chaos; rather, of faith and beauty and hope, along with a powerful challenge to individual responsibility.

Both sisters in this story are fighting against injustice and greed ~ Vicki champions the poorest children in the world and Holly, endangered species and the environment. You are obviously passionate about these issues ~ please share.

I’ve spent much of the last decades involved with children at risk, of which there are 40 million on the streets of Latin America alone. If I am more impassioned about those children than the environment, it is because they are eternal, their souls more precious than a planet of trees.

At the same time, I do believe I have seen so much of our heavenly Father’s most beautiful creation around this planet, it is sad to see how much has been destroyed just in my lifetime. I’ll never forget being in a beautiful, unpopulated highland valley in the Andes around Lake Titicaca and seeing a glitter in the distance I thought was ice, only to see as we came close that it was countless plastic bags that some regular air current had been drifting up there from the garbage dumps of the capital city, La Paz. We have a responsibility to care for God’s creation, but not at the sacrifice of His children.

What was your favourite scene to write in Betrayed?

I really couldn’t say; perhaps the prologue and other ‘cloud forest’ scenes, it was so much fun to go back to my childhood and see, smell, touch, and taste again the green tangle and vast beauty of the Andes mountains.

How do you go about choosing names for your characters?

With difficulty. I can never think of enough ‘gringo’ names, so end up going to the phone book to make sure I get some variety.

Were any of Vicki and Holly‘s experiences/feelings your own having grown up as an MK (missionary kid) yourself??

Yes, definitely. ‘Auntie Evelyn’ was right out of my childhood, the cloudforests still real to close my eyes and be standing on a cliff edge with the mists swirling around my legs, the cold, rich, wet smell in my nostrils, the monkey and birds chattering overhead . . . okay, now you know where I got the images in Betrayed. And much more.

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of this series?

No idea, which shows how little I know of the current reigning Hollywood crowd.

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

What has happened and is happening in Latin America, and especially why, is a microcosm of similar patterns of history and politics around the world and of our involvement as Western governments in those patterns. Understanding a single and fictionalized situation in Guatemala, portrayed in the pages of Betrayed, gives understanding to what is happening around our world right now on many fronts and the only too real consequences of decisions made by powerful individuals for motives of fear or greed rather than right and wrong.

On a personal level, my prayer is that this book will motivate every reader to take up the challenge highlighted in Betrayed. What is our call, how can we know what to do, when our world falls apart? The answer is as simple as it is profound. At every step and with each crossroads that opens up in front of us, simply ‘do what is right, and do not give way to fear’(1 Peter 3:6). That is all we are called to do, not to manipulate, try to figure out the future, or weasel our way out by any means possible. If we follow that simple challenge, then the Almighty God who wrote every moment of our lives before we were born and holds us in the palm of His loving hand will take care of the outcome, whatever He chooses that to be.

Matters Personal

Do you read much yourself? If so, some favourites please?

I have so many it’s hard to narrow them down. As with all my tastes, I am an eclectic reader and will read anything of any genre as long as it is superbly written. Much depends what I’m currently writing. A few months ago my nightstand was filled with books related to Guatemala, where my latest title, Betrayed, is placed. Now for the same reason, it is filled with non-fiction and fiction related to Afghanistan. I read several books a week and enjoy all the most recent best-sellers as well as re-reading or discovering classics. Because I read so quickly and am constantly out of reading material, I LOVE having other readers inform me of a book they have loved and which I’ve yet to read—so feel free to send me recommendations.

When it comes to inspirational reading, Max Lucado is by far my favorite with beautiful prose and deep spiritual content. In other areas a few favorites are: 1) historical fiction: M. M. Kaye, Kenneth Roberts, Leon Uris; 2) political/suspense: Frederick Forsyth, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Alistair McClain, Robin Cook; 3) Science fiction: J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, C.S. Lewis; 4) Mystery: Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Mary Stewart, Madelaine Brent, Georgette Heyer; 5) Romance--I must say I'm still a sucker for a good Georgette Heyer, though all mine were tattered years ago; 6) Westerns: Louis L'Amour is the only one I read, but he is good enough to convert even a non-Western fan; 7) General fiction: Chaim Potok's The Promise and The Chosen; When The Legends Die--there too many to even begin to start. And, of course, the entire range of classics. I still love to read Winnie The Pooh to my kids and chuckle with my teenagers over Eeyore's classic speeches.

Rel: I love Chaim Potok's books also ever since reading them in high school!

What are you reading at the moment?

See above.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

Absolutely no idea. I was an adult before I ever saw one (no TVs in the jungle or MK school) and can honestly say this question has never crossed my mind. Bottom line, I don’t have favorites, whether books, food, colors, places, or movies. Perhaps a major influence of my foot-wandering upbringing is that I like constant variety and am easily bored by sameness.

Who inspires you?

The body of Christ. I am privileged in working with Christians literally around the world to see its unsurpassable beauty. The courage and sacrifice of brothers and sisters in Christ in some of the most difficult corners of the planet where they face persecution and the possibility of death as a matter of course. The persistance and faithfulness of others in the midst of countries that are wealthy and powerful, but that have turned their backs so completely on God that holding up the light of an open witness for God can be as challenging as open persecution. The eagerness and energy of a mushrooming church in places like Latin America where out of their own poverty they are taking seriously the Great Commission to take God’s Word and love to the nations. There is nothing more beautiful and inspirational than seeing the body of Christ in action.

Please tell us a little about your family

I have four children: three grown sons and a teenage daughter still at home. As missionary kids themselves with a dad who is a mission president, they’ve had more share than they like of on-the-platform publicity, so I’ll be kind and say no more about them. Check out our family website ( if curiosity still rages.

Best and worst experiences as an MK

Good experiences: drifting along jungle rivers in a dug-out canoe. Swinging a vine off a cliff into a mountain pool below (just like Swiss Family Robinson). Innertubing down mountain cascades, bruises and all. Hiking Andes trails too steep for muleback and jungle paths with monkeys and parrots chattering overhead. Waking up on a Colombian mountain coffee farm with the air as clear as crystal and the coffee bushes tumbling away from the very edge of the verandah to the valley thousands of feet below. Standing at the cliff edge of an Andes pass and watching the clouds drift by a thousand feet below, not above. Stars so clear and bright they do not look real. Carribean beaches with water as warm as a bathtub. And above all, the people.

Bad experiences: constantly saying goodbye, the loss of one’s entire world at the closing of a plane door, separation from family (I didn’t see my parents after going off to college until my wedding three years later).

Please share some of your faith journey...

I do not remember a time when the existence, love, and fear of God was not part of my life and thoughts. And yet there were several times in my early elementary years when I was overwhelmed with the consciousness of my own sin and prayed to Jesus to forgive me and come into my heart (just in case the prior time didn’t ‘take’!). I would describe my spiritual journey as more inward than outward; I never openly rebelled, graduated with honors, went to Bible college, married and became a pastor and missionary wife. But I have always had an inquisitive mind and been a seeker after truth, and my own struggles with the who and why of God and this universe and especially the suffering, pain, and human cruelty I witnessed are definitely themes that have spilled over into the pages of my books. I have come to expect that every major spiritual struggle and questioning I pass through will eventually become a new novel, Betrayed an example in point.

I will say that the greatest spiritual impact on me outside of God’s Word itself was all those old-time jungle missionaries I grew up around, including my own parents. They had steel in their backbone. They weren’t perfect human beings, of course—no one is, and missionaries would never claim to be. But if there was anything that impacted me long-term, it was the uncomplaining daily service to others and God year after year in what was often extremely primitive circumstances without ever giving up, very different from the current missions trend of short-term ‘adventure stints’. The best-selling secular novelist Barbara Kingsolver in her book, The Poisonwood Bible, for the most part a very twisted view of missionary life, referred once to the African missionaries she met as having a ‘tough goodness’. That was a characteristic I saw a lot of growing up in missions, and certainly in my parents, and I think you will see it reflected in some of the characters of my books.

Some essential Aussie questions

When you think of Australia, what comes to mind?

The bush with eucalyptus trees, kangaroos, long, straight roads, and cowboys as romantic and probably unreal as Montana, where my husband’s family resides.Sandy beaches and the 1000-mile reef. Sydney’s Opera House. I teethed my teen romance era on Lucy Walker, have read so many Aussie books, and made enough Aussie friends wandering around the planet, I definitely have Australia high on my to-visit list.

Would you eat any of the following authentic Australian meats:~




I’ve already eaten caiman, so imagine crocodile would be similar, and Bolivia had a similar ostrich-type bird that is quite tasty, though nasty with its beak if you wander too close. I’ll trade you antelope, deer, moose, and elk for kangaroo, all good if a little lacking in fat, but must admit my favorite exotic meat is a good armadillo nicely roasted in its shell—tastes rather like a really rich lobster. Or a good tapir or iguana steak. You eat mine, I’ll eat yours! Rel: I'm up for it!

Most well known Australian to you

The Crocodile Hunter, who else!

Thanks so much, Jeanette, for your time. You have been a blessing :) Can't wait to see more of your books hit the shelves.

Read my review of Betrayed, here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...