Saturday, 31 January 2009

Faith 'n' Fiction Saturday

It's Faith 'n' Fiction Saturday at Amy's blog and here is her question and my answer!

Today's Question:

You have a good friend who is a devoted Christian and voracious reader. He or she, however, tried to read a Christian fiction book in the past and found it to be too preachy and unrealistic. Your friend wants to try it again and has asked you for a recommendation. Their favorite genre of book is what is considered literary fiction What book would you recommend to them?

You also have a friend who is not a Christian but wants to read fiction that is considered clean without being
too Christian. They have asked you if there are Christian fiction books that might meet their reading needs. They are interested in romance and novels. What book would you recommend to them?

My Answer:

To the first friend I would recommend Charles Martin's books. His prose is stunning, particularly in When Crickets Cry, and he writes with sensitivity and deep felt emotion. Faith is an indelible part of his stories but not in an overwhelming or sappy manner. His most recent book, Where the River Ends, has been published in the ABA market.

To the second friend, I would recommend Denise Hunter's novels, Surrender Bay, A Convenient Groom and Sweetwater Gap. Written allegorically, a Christian will clearly identify the themes as spiritual, however someone who isn't will still truly enjoy the engaging romance and redemptive themes written so well by Denise.

Your Turn

Just write a post on your blog answering these questions and include a link back to Amy's post. Then enter your permalink in the Mister Linky below Amy's post!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Robert Liparulo's David King & Monster Giveaway!

Today the spotlight shines on..................................................................David King

Robert Liparulo has splashed into the YA fiction market with his highly successful Dreamhouse Kings series which launched with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. His latest instalment, Gatekeepers, finds Xander and David desperately searching for their mum while the evil Taksidian thwarts their every move!

Thanks, Bob, for giving us a special insight into the tenacious and impetuous, David King!

Brief physical description

David is a pretty typical 12-year-old. He’s shed the baby fat and hasn’t quite reached that lanky teenage state. He eats whatever he wants, but his youthful metabolism (oh, how I long for those days) and time practicing soccer keeps him fit. He has dark hair, straight and a little long. Hazel eyes, like his mom.

Your inspiration for the character

I didn’t realize it until I finished House of Dark Shadows, but David is exactly who I was at that age: inquisitive and fairly adventurous; afraid of dangers, but willing to try new and wild things anyway. He knows himself and is comfortable in his own skin. At the same time, he’s caught between the innocence of his nine-year-old sister and the rebelliousness of his 15-year-old brother, so he exhibits a bit of both. It was actually my mother who pointed out how similar David’s behavior is to the way mine was. She was surprised when I told her I hadn’t consciously written myself into the story in the character of David.

My eleven-year-old son, Anthony, is very similar to David, as well. He’s strong willed, very caring about people, highly adventurous. But I try not to model my characters after family members. Most of the main characters in my books—certainly these books—go through terribly tough situations. They’re put in grave danger and are often roughed up quite a bit. I grow so attached to them, my heart sometimes aches while I’m writing these scenes, and for a long time afterward. I mean, it really hurts. If I built my family members into these characters, I’d be even more attached and protective; I don’t think I’d be able to write those frightening, painful scenes at all.

Actor who might resemble David

When I wrote the first two books, I didn’t have anybody in mind. Then an actor friend—Slade Pearce, who starred in Air Buddies, Yours Mine and Ours, and the TV series October Road—said , “Hey, I want to play David!” Since then, whenever I’m writing about David, it’s hard not to think of Slade. He just turned thirteen, and I keep telling him that at Hollywood’s snail pace, he’s going to be too old for David—if the Dreamhouse Kings ever gets made into a movie. I’m trying to convince him that he’d really fit the role of Xander, the older brother. I just hope Slade’s not old enough to play Dad before the cameras roll.

Strengths and weaknesses

David is a go-getter. Once he sets his mind on something, he's tenacious about accomplishing it. The family comes to rely on his bold optimism and finds strength in his catchphrase, “Let’s do it!”

His age and temperament lets him understand his parents’ point of view, as well as his brother's, so he’s often the mediator between them. However, too often he’ll let Xander, whom he idolizes, convince him to do something his conscience tells him not to do. Also, his adventurous spirit sometimes gets the best of him, and he leaps without looking (or thinking). In House of Dark Shadows, for instance, he wants to experience time travel, the way Xander did—even though his brother’s going back to the Roman Colosseum almost ended tragically. So he jumps through one of the portals, smack into the middle of three hungry tigers.

The most endearing aspect of David, which is both a strength and a potential weakness, is his heart. He truly loves people. He cares about them, even people he doesn’t know. As Toria says in Gatekeepers, “He’s sad when people get hurt on TV.” It drives him to help people, when he can, as he did in Watcher, risking his own life to save the little girl from a German tank. But it also makes him emotional, which he sometimes acts on, when logic favors prudence. As the story progresses, we learn that David’s sensitivity is crucial to fulfilling their purpose in the house.

Quirk (if any)

I’m not sure if it falls under the category of quirkiness, but David likes to talk to his brother

at night, after they’ve been in bed a while and should be sleeping. It’s his way of processing the events of the day (which, for him in that house, are usually chaotic and stressful) and prepare for the next day. He’ll even wake Xander to get his nighttime-chat fix. It’s something I used to do with my older brother.

More quirky is what he does when he’s stressed. His father had once said that getting the family together for dinner was a sort of tether to the important things in life, especially in turbulent times. It was like “backstroking through the day’s travails.” When David had asked what that meant, Dad had said, “It means staying calm when troubles hit.” Since then, David sometimes rotates his arms as though he were backstroking to remind himself not to get too freaked out. He finds it’s a little more difficult to do with the broken arm he sustains in Watcher, but he still does it.

Background to the story

The King family moves to a small town in northern California, so Dad could take a job as principal of the local middle and high school. They move into a run-down Victorian home, where they find a hidden hallway of doors.

Each door leads to a portal to a different time in history. Trouble is, not only can they go from the house to the past, people from the past can come through into their house. Someone does—and kidnaps Mom, taking her into some unknown place in the past. The Kings—primarily David and Xander—begin a quest for Mom, which takes them to many dangerous and incredible places throughout time. We slowly learn that the family is in the house for a very specific purpose and they must do much more than “simply” find their mother.

Fantastic, Bob ~ thanks so much for revealing more about David - what a great character.

Bob will be spotlighting another of his characters at Relz Reviewz to coincide with the next DHK book, Timescape, when it releases in July, 2009 and my readers get to choose which character it will be!

Who would you like spotlighted? Vote on Xander, Toria, Dad,Taksidian, Jess, Keal, Mom or Nana by posting a comment here and enter the monster giveaway at the same time!

Monster Giveaway ~ exclusive to Relz Reviewz

Thanks to Bob's generosity we have cooked up an amazing giveaway that you don't want to miss! Tell your friends and family about this one and go for it!

Firstly, the prize:~

  • A set of all three DHK books ~ signed and personalised by Bob
  • DHK T-Shirt
  • A set of Bob's adult thrillers, Comes A Horseman, Germ & Deadfall ~ signed and personalised by Bob
  • Aussie Gift Pack from me ~ 2009 Australian Wildlife Calendar, Aussie Tea Towel & Aussie Cap

Secondly, how to enter. Gain one entry for doing each of the following, on or before Sunday 15th February:~
  • Post a comment here telling me which DHK character you would like spotlighted when Timescape releases in July, 09
  • Answer one of Bob's trivia questions, found here, mentioning Relz Reviewz
  • Post a comment on any of Bob's blog posts, mentioning Relz Reviewz
  • Send Bob a "Dream the Scene" scene, details here, and yep, you guessed it, mention Relz Reviewz!
So if you do all four, you have four chances to win!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Gatekeepers by my nephew and teen, Tim

Exclusive interview with Bob

Visit Bob's website and blog

Buy Bob's books at Amazon or Koorong

Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo ~ Tim's Take

Gatekeepers is a fantasy book written by Robert Liparulo. It is the third book in the Dreamhouse Kings series.

The King Family finally feels a glimmer of hope as Xander has found their mother in one of the portals. David wants to rush in immediately and rescue her but is advised not to and to plan it out instead. Their father is taken into custody by bribed policeman and so the children spend another fearful night at home. After David once again attempts to retrieve their mother at the Civil War portal, he is shot at and barely escapes with his life. Both David and Xander have now entered this world and are thought of as hostiles, giving Xander the idea to send Toria through.

Unbeknownst to the Kings, a frail old man, Jesse, has taken a keen interest in them and the house. He reveals himself to the children and offers to help them and give them more information about the house and its abnormalities. He explains to David about how David’s saving of the little girl in the Civil War world meant smallpox was now destroyed. She had helped to construct a vaccine. Jesse tells the boys how their actions in the other worlds are in the past but will affect the modern world.

This book includes another confrontation with the huge guardian of the house, more insight into Taksidian’s scheming and the arrival of an unexpected visitor!

Having read the other two books in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed Gatekeepers. The time frame troubled me a bit (everything in the book happens in about twenty-four hours) but I’m sure there are other books like this, I just must not have read them. Liparulo’s character description is exquisite. In this book, the character’s feelings are explained as well as the ways they are coping with their predicament. In a lot of books I read, I find the character’s courage throughout the situation a bit unbelievable, but I suppose if it is forced onto you, you’d probably develop some courage as you go along. I really liked the new characters of Jesse (a frail, vulnerable, old man) and Keal (a bystander just taken along for the ride.

Not as much of Taksidian was featured in this book and I think more would have been helpful as he is the main villain and I would’ve liked to read more about his situation.

Summing up, I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy. Can’t wait for the Fourth book!

Guest reviewer:~ my nephew and teen, Tim

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods

Character Spotlight on David King

Enter Monster Liparulo Giveaway

Visit Bob's website and blog

Buy Gatekeepers at Amazon or Koorong

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

CFBA Blog Tour of Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Dreamhouse Kings #3)

Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)


Robert Liparulo


Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel,
Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book,
GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

And his third book
Deadfall. debuted to rave reviews!


Bob Liparulo wants to give away a signed 3 book set of the DreamHouse Kings books! Send an email to Bob [at] Liparulo [dot] com and put "CFBA" in the subject line. He will pick a winner next week!!!!

In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.

The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams-and the slightest misstep can change history forever.

At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side-like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?

Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.
All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother-and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
(Dreamhouse Kings #3)
, go HERE

What they're saying:

"If you like creepy and mysterious, this is the house for you! Every room opens a door to magic, true horror, and amazing surprises. I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?" --R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)

"A powerhouse storyteller delivers his most fantastic ride yet!"
-Ted Dekker, bestselling author of Kiss, Chosen and Infidel

Rel here:~

In addition to the giveaway Bob is offering to CFBA readers (see above) you can check back tomorrow for a Relz Reviewz Character Spotlight on David King and an additional amazing giveaway you will be thrilled to win...yep, includes all three DHK books signed by Bob and more!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A Sweetness to the Soul by Jane Kirkpatrick ~ Tracy's Take

What is it about?

Jane Herbert is a feisty, sassy 12 year old whose life is full of all the joys of childhood and the security a loving family. After tragedy strikes her home, however, her life is shadowed by self imposed guilt that is nurtured by her mother, who blames her for the sorrow they share. At just 14 years, she marries Joseph Sherar, whom she has met only a handful of times, believing him preferable to the alternative of marrying one who does not care deeply for her. Thus begins their life of making dreams come true and learning to bend to and embrace the circumstances they face.

What I thought:

Jane Kirkpatrick skilfully tells the story of Jane and Joseph Sherar in ‘A Sweetness to the Soul’. This tale is told in detail that enables the reader to easily imagine themselves beside the Deschutes River at Sherar Falls, sharing the life that Jane and Joseph make for themselves there. It is a heart-warming tale of a child growing into a woman whilst facing significant challenge and sorrow in her young life.

‘A Sweetness to the Soul’ is a story full of adventure, dreams, hard work, love and sorrow. The analogy of a coping saw, strong yet supple is the perfect way to describe the way Jane seeks to live her life, knowing when to bend and when to stand firm. She draws from the wisdom of her Indian neighbours and friends, combining their truths to strengthen her own beliefs. Her relationship with her Indian friend, Sunmiet is inspiring and beautiful, particularly at a time when their relationship was not a popular one.

I found the epilogue particularly poignant and was moved to tears at the outpouring of love and affection by Jane’s Indian neighbours. It was the perfect ending to an enthralling tale of a strong, embracing woman. ‘A Sweetness to the Soul’ is one of those stand-out tales that will touch your heart deeply and leave you to ponder the many truths woven through it for quite some time to come.

Guest reviewer:~ my friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Jane's website and blog

Buy Jane's books at Amazon or Koorong

Monday, 26 January 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Rick Acker's Sergei Spassky

Today the spotlight shines on.........................................................Sergei Spassky

Rick Acker is back with a spotlight request from me! I loved his quirky Russian detective, Sergei Spassky who features in Dead Man's Rule and Blood Brothers. I think he has Rick's sense of humour :)

Brief physical description of your character:

Sergei is about thirty. He has a lean, sinewy build and an open, boyish face topped by a flattop haircut. He wears wire-rimmed glasses that hide quick, dark eyes. Overall, he has a scholarly, slightly clueless look that can cause criminals to make the mistake of not taking him seriously. He’s not exactly handsome, but women often forget that after they’ve talked to him for half an hour.

Actor/famous person who might resemble him:

Adrian Brody, but with a flattop.

Strengths and weaknesses:

Sergei gets along with pretty much everyone. He is the sort of man who has opponents, but rarely enemies—a detective who is amiable and funny, even when he’s facing down hostile gun dealers or mob bosses. He’s also streetwise and has personal and family connections throughout the light and dark sides of Chicago’s Russian community. And for when connections aren’t enough, he is also a member of the exclusive Possible Club—the individuals who have achieved a perfect score on the handgun range FBI’s National Academy.

Sergei’s main weakness is that he doesn’t like to think about the future. That can mean anything from being unwilling to make decisions about his romantic relationships to being completely unprepared for the prospect of death when it’s suddenly staring him in the face.


He thinks his haircut is a trademark; his girlfriend thinks it’s an embarrassment.

Your inspiration for the character:

None whatsoever. Sergei just showed up uninvited in Dead Man’s Rule. I got about fifty pages into the story and my main character, Ben Corbin, decided to hire a detective familiar with Chicago’s Russian mafiya underworld. The next thing I knew, Sergei was in Ben’s office for an interview. I’m glad he took the job—he’s one of my favorite characters.

спасибо Rick :) Hope to be reading another book from you soon!

On Thursday, the spotlight shines on Robert Liparulo's David King fr
om his Dreamhouse Kings series.

Bob and I have cooked up an amazing giveaway you will not want to miss ~ some great things from Bob and a few Aussie extras thrown in by me!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Blood Brothers

Spotlight on Blood Brother's Ben & Noelle Corbin

Interview with Rick

Visit Rick's website

Buy Rick's books from Amazon or Koorong

The winner of Leave It To Chance is.....

Abi ~ congratulations :) I'll get the book to you this weekend!

Love it when someone wins for the first time!

CFBA Blog Tour of The Red Siren by M L Tyndall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


M.L. Tyndall


M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include:The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption and The Falcon And The Sparrow


Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely
death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.

To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.

After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.

Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.

Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.

Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Red Siren, go HERE

Another great read from MaryLu ~ to read my review, click here :)

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Faith 'n" Fiction Saturday ~ what's on your keeper shelf?

Another of the delightful Amy's Faith 'n' Fiction questions!

This from Amy:~
"One thing we share in common is a love of books. I know there are participants of Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays that read over 200 books a year! But while we may read a lot of books, only a few books in our lifetimes are special enough that we would never part with them, always recommend them, and maybe even reread them. So...what fiction books with faith elements are on your keeper shelf?

Please keep your answers to no more than 5 books!"

My Answer
(Amy allowed series to be considered one selection!):

1. Francine River's Mark of the Lion series - what can I say? These are simply a must read!

2. Dee Henderson's O'Malley series - I have reread these more than any others - the perfect blend of suspense, romance and relationships!

3. Angela Hunt's Heirs of Cahira series - fabulous historical stories of women who challenged the norm two centuries apart all linked with a contemporary woman tracing her ancestry.

4. John B Olson's Fossil Hunter - perfect entertainment, exotic location and unique characters.

5. Havah by Tosca Lee - the story of Eve, one of the most evocative and challenging books I have ever read.

Can I say that my keeper shelf is exponentially larger than this but I behaved myself and limited it to five!

What treasures does your keeper shelf hold?

The Feast of Saint Bertie by Kathleen Popa ~ Tracy's Take

What is it about?

Roberta Denys watches as her house burns down, on the day of her husband’s funeral. Roberta decides to follow a long ago dream to live a quiet, simple life and moves to her mountain property to live in the small gardeners shed there.

While Roberta desires quiet, cloistered away from the hustle and bustle of her previous life, events conspire to keep her attached to the outside world and interrupt her plans to spend her days in prayer and solitude. Her home was set alight by an arsonist. Her son is missing. And her friend, Suzanne, can’t seem to understand her need to be away.

What I thought:

Kathleen Popa pens this beautiful novel with great skill and poise. Bertie’s story begins with overwhelmingly tragic heartache and loss. Her journey through the pain and her desire to seek God in the most simplistic of ways is inspiring.

I loved the words Bertie uses to reassure herself that her life is not as hopeless as it seems to be. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”. Indeed, Bertie learns this truth firsthand through the kindness of new neighbours who seek to care for her needs in the gentlest of ways.

‘The Feast of Saint Bertie’ had me longing for a sabbatical from the hustle and bustle of life. Kathleen Popa inspires her readers to consider what is really important and uses Bertie’s story to inspire simple changes. As I pondered Bertie’s journey, I was inspired to live a life more focused on the things that are important, rather than the things that seem to engulf life. ‘The Feast of Saint Bertie’ is a timely reminder that we can choose to make our relationship with God a priority over all the things that would get in our way.

Guest reviewer:~ my friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

Relz Reviewz Extras

VIsit Kathleen's website and blog

Buy Kathleen's books at Koorong or Amazon

Want to win a signed copy of Kiss?

The fabulous Kim from Window to My World had the chance to meet Ted Dekker and Erin Healy at a recent book signing and learn about their recent collaboration, Kiss :)

Enjoy reading about her experience and enter
here to win a signed copy of Kiss, Kim is giving away. You won't want to miss the opportunity!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

When Love Blooms by Robin Lee Hatcher

Rachel Harris is looking for more than simply following her family's expectations that she marry. Having turned away a suitor, she feels God's hand encouraging her to take a job as governess in a remote part of Idaho.

Dru Blake knows she is dying but her desperation is only focussed on finding the right woman for her soon to be widowed husband. Hoping to play matchmaker and repay Gavin for his sacrifice, Dru pins her hopes on Rachel being the one but keeps her plans a secret.

Unaware of the true nature of Dru and Gavin's marriage, Rachel is horrifed at the attraction she feels for Gavin and trys everything to turn her feelings from him. Will a dying woman's wish for a loving family for her girls ever come to fruition?

When Love Blooms is vintage Robin Lee Hatcher! Undoubtably one of the best writers of historical genre, Robin quickly draws the reader into her characters' dilemmas, creates exceptional romantic tension and weaves her faith into the story in a gentle and meaningful way. Gavin, Dru and Rachel are characters to love and Robin pulls off what could be an unbelievable situation perfectly. Thoroughly engaging with great dialogue and setting, the romance reader can't go wrong with When Love Blooms.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Wagered Heart

Interview with Robin

Visit Robin's website and blog

Buy Robin's books at Amazon or Koorong

Character Spotlight ~ Maureen Lang's Hannah & Dilly Williams

Today the spotlight shines on.......................................... Dilly and Hannah Williams

Brief physical description

Dilly is petite and pretty, with thick eyebrows that everyone notices. Both Dilly and her sister Hannah have light brown hair, almost blonde.

Hannah is also petite, and Mac (her best friend and secret love interest) has told her she’s pretty but Hannah has been too busy working and saving money to think about anything as unimportant as her own looks. She does however, on occasion, wear a no-nonsense, expensive business suit that makes her look slightly taller.

Dilly looks like a very young Brooke Shields. I think of her because she has noticeable eyebrows, like Dilly. Of course, Dilly is short so the resemblance would be limited. J

Hannah (main pov character in My Sister Dilly) – hmmm… Does Brooke have a sister?

Strengths and weaknesses

Being insecure, Dilly would think only of her own weaknesses, or at least that’s what she would think of first. Her faith is slowly changing that. She’s learning to remind herself how precious she is to God, and He’s cast her sin as far as the east is from the west.

Hannah knows she’s weak on personal relationships but strong on work. She does, in fact, have an excellent work ethic. But it’s probably her loyalty that is her biggest strength. Loyal to her sister, and loyal to her friend Mac.

Quirk (if any)

Hannah is, shall we say. . . frugal (when I really mean to say she’s cheap). She’s been so focused on saving money to come home and rescue her sister once she gets out of prison that Hannah is glad her parents taught her how to scrimp.

Your inspiration for the character

Actually, Dilly was inspired by a woman who is in prison today, someone my sister-in-law used to work with at a school for special needs kids. When I heard about her unfortunate circumstances and what led to her imprisonment, I knew I wanted to write something similar. So I contacted her and we corresponded as I gathered my story structure, using some of her experiences but embellishing with my own characters. I received a letter from her after I sent her a copy of the book, and she was excited that God had used her experiences to touch other lives through the characters in my book. She wants the same thing I do: to support moms, especially the ones who get overwhelmed.

Background to the story

I recall the exact moment my sister-in-law and I were talking about her friend, and right away I knew it was so dramatic that the story, or portions of it, needed to be in a book. I also vividly recall being terrified to write such a book! The content is somewhat more serious than what I’m used to, and the books I like to write always include a romance. So it took a little pondering, and that’s where Dilly’s sister Hannah came into play, the narrator for most of the book. I wanted the reader to remain a little off-stage from the harshest part of Dilly’s experience, not only to have what she did in the past, but to allow the reader a chance to become loyal to her — someone who became so distraught as to attempt taking her own life and that of the child she obviously, completely, loves. How could anyone forgive that if they live through it on the pages of a book, even if Dilly did fail in the attempt?

I also knew I needed to withhold from Dilly what she wants most — contact once again with her precious special needs child.

My Sister Dilly was a challenge to write on several levels, not because the story revolves around a mother to a special needs child (something I can identify with, having my own special needs child) but because this character comes to a point I cannot imagine facing. The pieces needed to fit realistically and sympathetically.

The book also takes place in a setting similar to where my husband grew up. Rural Midwest is close by but I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I wanted the setting to be as authentic as possible, so I depended on my husband and my sisters-in-law to help me get the details right. Historicals are so much easier to write, when details are nuanced by the interpretation of the reader.

My hope is that God will use this story to touch the lives of other moms, to encourage people to reach out to those who might need help, to remind people that isola

tion is often the first step in a downward spiral and recognizing that is important to preventing it from going on too long. And, most of all, that God loves us no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done.

Thanks so much, Maureen :) I appreciate your time sharing Dilly and Hannah in this way.

On Monday the spotlight shines on Rick Acker's Sergei Spassky from his thrillers, Dead Man's Rule and Blood Brothers, so do drop by and say
привет (hello)!

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Visit Maureen's website and blog

Buy Maureen's books at Amazon or Koorong

The Outsider by Ann Gabhart ~ Tracy's Take

What is it about?

Gabrielle Hope is a contented young member of the Society of Believers, joyfully living according to the precepts of the ‘Shaker’ teachings. When Brother Nathan is terribly injured in a fire, his treatment by a local doctor from outside of the Shaker village sets into motion Gabrielle’s questioning of her life and the Shaker teachings. Will her faith in the teachings of the Believers be enough to hold her through the challenges she will face? Or will the steady unconditional love of the doctor prove her undoing in the eyes of her brethren and sisters in the faith?

What I thought:

‘The Outsider’ provides a well written and intriguing glimpse into the life of the Shaker’s. Through the eyes of Gabrielle, Ann Gabhart takes the reader through the struggles of those living in a religious sect, whose teachings bear just enough of the truth to make the untruths seem reasonable.

Gabrielle’s emerging awareness that perhaps all the teachings of her faith are not quite what they ought to be was well developed and entirely realistic. My heart ached for her as she attempted to show compassion and love for her fellow believers, and yet was thwarted by the elders of the sect time and again.

I loved that Ann Gabhart takes Gabrielle’s story through the fullness of her journey from innocent joyful faith, to the barest question of uncertainty to fully doubting the validity of the teachings she was following.

The ending bears the skill of an accomplished writer, with the delicate balance of wrapping up all the loose ends, and just enough left unsaid to enable the reader to imagine a wonderful life for Gabrielle.

Guest reviewer ~ my friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Coming in 2009 from Tyndale House

Just two more books, this time from Tyndale, that I can't wait to read! And what about the covers? I love them both :)

Click on the links for more.

The Moment Between by Nicole Baart

Abigail Bennett was completely in control of her life until tragedy pushed her to the brink of something she's never experienced: Obsession. Now she's given up everything she's worked for to chase down the object of that obsession. His name is Tyler Kamp. As Abigail follows him across the border into Canada, her journey is awash in memories of family and childhood, especially those of her younger sister, Hailey.

Even as Abigail races into her future, her past pulls her back. Only when she is brought to the edge of her obsession will she be able to come to terms with the tragedy that ignited it.

Releasing May, 2009

June Bug by Chris Fabry

June Bug believed everything her daddy told her. That is, until she walked into Walmart and saw her face on a list of missing children. The discovery begins aa quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself.

A modern interpretation of Les Miserables, the story follows a dilapidated RV rambling cross-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.

Releasing August, 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Tamara Tilley's Michal Madigan & Tyler Mason

Today the spotlight shines on..................................... Michal Madigan and Tyler Mason

Tamara Tilley has three excellent romantic suspense novels to her name and her characters from her most recent novel, Criminal Obsession, are fleshed out below. You can now buy all three of Tamara's books for the great price of $30 from her website.


Michal "Mike" Madigan

Brief physical description

Blonde, blue-eyed looks like A. J. Cook from Criminal Minds. A forensic pathologist.


Determined, passionate about her job, feisty


Because of a tragic accident when she was a teen and poor judgment on her part, she closes herself off from others. She doesn’t make time for the opposite sex. She feels as if she’s married to her job and she’s all right with that.


I don’t think she has any? Other than, maybe to say she loves dogs, but I don’t think that’s a quirk?

Your inspiration for the character

The story for Mike, just sort of came to me. I wanted reader’s first impression of her to be one of strength. She works in a somewhat male dominated environment so she feels as if she has to prove herself to those around her. But, her hard exterior really is a façade to hide the hurt and pain she has endured since she was a teenager. I wanted to portray a strong woman, who needed a special man to tear down the walls she erected around her.

Tyler Mason

Brief physical description

Police Detective, looks like Michael T. Weiss from the TV show, Pretender. He has strong masculine features, but is really soft-hearted inside.


Very much like Mike. He’s strong, dedicated to his job, and knows what’s valuable in life.


His biggest weakness is Mike. Though his head tells him she’s not worth the trouble, his heart tells him there is more to her story than meets the eye.

Quirk (if any)

Again, not very quirky.

Your inspiration for the character

The character that Michael T. Weiss played in the Pretender. He’s a great guy, wants to right the wrongs in the world, but behind his incredible good looks, and the confidence he exudes, he has a vulnerable heart.

In closing

Most of the characters in my books, are determined (obstinate if I am really being honest). They don’t like opening themselves up to situations where they can be hurt, but when they do, they reveal a more complex person. I love multi-layered characters. I love strength/vulnerability in my characters.

Thanks Tamara ~ I especially loved your choice of actors for Mike and Tyler :)

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Reviews of Criminal Obsession, Abandoned Identity and Full Disclosure

Visit Tamara's website

Buy Tamara's books

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