Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo


New York socialite Eugenia Cooper longs to enjoy one last escapade before she marries banker Chandler Dodd. Opportunity knocks, and she heads for rough-and-tumble Colorado. When she takes the job as governess for silver baron Daniel Beck's daughter, she wonders where her future lies. With Chandler---or with Daniel?

My take:~

I'll confess, I thought this story might be just another pleasant yet formulaic historical romance. You think I would have learnt by now not to judge a book by its cover! Kathleen Y'Barbo has penned a delightfully funny and sassy tale that had me thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Gennie's adventurous spirit is infectious and Daniel is more than appealing! With electrifying attraction, the complication of Daniel's mischevious, defiant young daughter and the Wild West setting, The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper is a sweet treat.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Kathleen's website
Buy Katheen's books at Amazon or Koorong

Friendship Friday ~ What do you value in your close friendships with women?

This is Friendship Friday on a Tuesday! These posts had totally slipped my mind and they are too good to miss so I am posting one today and will be back on track on Friday.

Enjoy :)

Oooohhhh, friendships...

One of my favorite topics and one I grew to appreciate rather later in life than most. After growing up so transient - with seven international moves in my life by the age of 20 - I didn't really figure out that if I wanted to hold onto my friends across oceans I was going to have to work harder than most. When I arrived in Australia to go to uni I stayed six years, and during that time I was blessed with an friendship group that's still going strong today. Two of those friends who did psych with me are still my closest girlfriends even though I haven't lived at home for about seven years now, and they were both in my wedding in Jan. We started something we do every week - sending a "goals" letter on Mondays. So most Monday's (or thereabouts) no matter where I am in the world I receive a letter from the two of them telling me what some of their goals are for the next week, and reporting on how they did on their goals for last week. It helps us stay connected to what we're each focusing on and feel as if we know what's going on in each others lives. So, I think that's one of the things I value most - the continuity and that sense of being tracked and known and valued over time. It's so hard to hang onto that in a world that moves as far and fast as ours can now. And my friendships all over the world, but particularly in Australia, help me feel rooted and grounded. Not so much in place (though one day I'm planning on living back in Oz) but in a relational network that is an intangible home.

~My Hands Came Away Red~

Cheryl Wyatt

I value someone who knows me fully (the good, bad, ugly) but loves me anyway. Someone who, when I confide, holds that confidence as in a vault. Someone who won't just tell me what I want to hear but will tell me the truth in a loving way. Someone who will stick by me through thick and thin and who understands life's busy seasons. Someone who will pray their guts and heart out for me when I'm going through something hard. Someone I can fully know and be fully known to and love through our differences. Someone to be real with and know they're being real with me. Someone to laugh with. Someone who can tolerate my strange sense of humor. Someone who inspires me to grow deeper with God and to run harder after Jesus. Someone I can reciprocate all of the above with, and be that kind of friend for them too. Hugs!

A Soldier’s Promise ~ A Soldier’s Family ~ Ready-Made Family ~ A Soldier's Reunion

Monday, 29 June 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Shawn Grady's Aidan O'Neill

Today the spotlight shines on......................... Aidan O'Neill

Shawn Grady's debut novel, Through the Fire, hits stores on Wednesday 1st July, with author James Scott Bell saying, "A sizzling debut novel from a writer who really has the goods. Shawn Grady is an author to watch."

I am so looking forward to reading this novel and telling you my thoughts. For now, Shawn gives us an inside look into firefighter, Aidan O'Neill.

Over to you, Shawn:~

Brief physical description:

Aidan looks like the fireman on the cover. Paul Higdon at Bethany House
really nailed it on the design.

Julianne Caldwell is my female lead. She's a savvy fire prevention analyst who gets thrust into the position of acting fire investigator. She knows Aidan from a past encounter, but he doesn't immediately recognize her.


Aidan is passionate, driven, and excellent at what he does. He also possesses an inherent gift for sensing what fire is doing.


Aidan’s reliance on his gift has made him overconfident in the face of the fire. When his gift goes silent, he finds himself searching for where his trust really rests. Aidan has issues with authority that are tied to his anger toward God.


Aidan loves his silver ’83 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Inspiration for the character:

Writing in first person, I approached Aidan like a method actor would a role, and worked to infuse him with genuine traits and thoughts. Many of the characters in the story that are seen through Aidan’s eyes were inspired by people I’ve had the honor to work with, though no one pe
rson is meant to be represented by any individual character.

Background to the story:

I felt a pressing need to express something of the experiences and feeli
ngs I’ve had working for the fire department, particularly at Station One in downtown Reno. The people, the energy, the lack of sleep, the fires, the medicals, the three-story poles and the cast-iron cookware that’s been seasoned for decades… I wanted to relate the sights and sounds and smells and the sensations of it all. I wanted to make it feel real for the reader and take them there so they could know it.

In that context, I was compelled in Through the Fire
to tell a story of loss and redemption, of death and life, and to resonate a bit of the g
reatest story ever told.

Appreciate you providing this insight, Shawn! Wishing you the very best with the release of your book ~ may this be the first of many :)

On Thursday, I will be spotlighting another debut author's characters, Deborah Vogt's Mattie Evans & Gil McCray ~ don't forget to come by!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Shawn's website and forum
Buy Shawn's book at Amazon or Koorong
Come back soon for an exclusive interview with Shawn

The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler

Tragedy forced Crystal McCord to leave her loving family's ranch in Arkansas and pursue a dream to perform in New York. Seven years later, summoned by her brothers and sisters, she returns with a broken heart and little to show from her acting career.

Jeremy Buchanan is a rancher whose love of horses is only surpassed by his devotion to his young daughter, spirited away by his former wife, now missing for almost a year. Nursing a shattered heart but determined to invest the time and money needed to find little Beka, Jeremy finds in Crystal, a person who knows the true heartache of unbearable pain and loss.

Christine Lynxwiler has penned more than just a romance in the first of her McCord Sister romance novels. She delves into the suffering of both her characters as they try to move past different tragedies that have changed their lives forever. The Reluctant Cowgirl is an engaging read, combining all the elements of a sweet romance, a little suspense and an underpinning of faith. For those who enjoy an easy to read, uplifting romance, Christine Lynxwiler's stories won't go amiss.

As seen at TitleTrakk.com

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Promise Me Always and Along Came A Cowboy
Interview with Christine
Visit Chris's website
Buy the book from Amazon or Koorong

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Aussie Winter Warm Up Giveaway ~ conditions of entry

Hey Aussie readers,

My conditions of entry
for the Winter Warm Up Giveaway appear to have been a little confusing so here is my clarification...I hope!

To receive additional entries, you need to recommend a friend who is not already following or subscribed to Relz Reviewz, not one who already does! Sorry for the confusion. I have a large readership of American and other international book lovers but I would love to see more Aussies appreciating fantastic Christian fiction.

So, you will receive one entry any of the following:~

  • posting a comment and telling my your favourite book
  • recommending a friend (who is not currently following or subscribed) who then follows or subscribes to Relz Reviewz
  • and I'm going to toss in an extra entry for those who already to follow me or subscribe to say thanks!

If you need further clarification, feel free to email me! There are lots of books to be won and some have not received an entry yet so tell your friends about Relz Reviewz so I can give all these books a home :)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Aussie Winter Warm Up Giveaway

To share some warmth Down Under this winter, I have a great giveaway open to my Australian readers only (apologies to all my other faithful readers).

You have the chance to win up to two books from the wonderful list below ~ you can enter for all or tell me just the books you are interested in. Click on the title links for a review/information on the book.


1. You must have an Aussie postal address

2. Post a comment, leaving contact details, on or before Sunday 12th July, 2009 telling me your favourite book you have read this year

3. Gain an extra entry if you follow me or subscribe and additional entries for every friend you tell about my blog and they follow me or subscribe!
You will need to tell me by email your friends' name/internet name so I can confirm your additional entries. Hope you share the love - LOL!!!

Check out the brand new books I have to give away:~

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander (Historical romance)

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo (Historical romance)

Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Historical)

Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter (Contemporary romance)

Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney (Contemporary)

Kiss Me If You Dare by Nicole Young (Romatic suspense)

Against All Odds by Irene Hannon (Romantic suspense)

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth (Contemporary)

Stepping Into Sunlight by Sharon Hinck (Contemporary)

Certain Jeopardy by Jeff Struecker & Alton Gansky (Military suspense)

A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick (Historical)

The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke (Historical)

Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo (YA suspense)

Havah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee (Biblical)

Michal by Jill Eileen Smith (Biblical)

It Happens Every Spring by Gary Chapman & Catherine Palmer (Contemporary)

Farraday Road by Ace Collins (Suspense)

Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins

Double Minds by Terri Blackstock

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn (Christmas contemporary)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Siri Mitchell's Susannah, Daniel, Small-Hope & Thomas

Today the spotlight shines on Susannah, Daniel, Small-Hope & Thomas

Siri Mitchell's latest novels delve deeply into a fashion element prevalent in societies of old. Love's Pursuit is set in a Puritan community in Massachusetts in the 1600s, while her previous novel, A Constant Heart, in the court of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1500s. Siri gives the reader much to ponder in the stories so if you are up for a substantive and stimulating read, be sure to pick up these books. Now, get to know her main characters from Love's Pursuit - over to you, Siri:~

Physical Description


While I was writing the book, I pictured her looking quite a bit like Rosamund Pike. During the casting for the cover model, however, my editor found a face she thought was perfect. I agreed. So we gave Susannah’s hair a color treatment J


A hero’s hero and swashbuckling cavalier. Flamboyant. Big hair, big boots, big hat. And big trouble to the conservative Puritan community where the story takes place. I like to think of him as the historic antecedent to Adrien (of Kissing Adrien).


Has a very q
uiet beauty and still features. Kind of like Emily Mortimer


You might recall a description early in the book as him ha
ving ‘cheekbones that could skin a rabbit’ and protruding eyes, though by the end, my POV character (Susannah) revises her opinion and can’t imagine why she ever thought those things. I was thinking of Mackenzie Crook. You probably know him best for his role in Pirates of the Caribbean (the skinny pirate with the fake eye). He cleans up nicely, doesn’t he?

Rel:~ Yep, he does ;-)

Strengths and weaknesses

SUSANNAH ~ Her diligence and goodness form the basis of her character. What dooms her is her willingness to please and her desire to meet oth
ers’ expectations.

His greatest strength and his greatest weakness are his confidence. His lighthearted nature conflicts with the Puritans’ sober lifestyle. And he’s often tempted to dismiss people and ideas that he doesn’t agree with. But he’s also very observant.

SMALL-HOPE ~ She has great inner strength and resilience, but they’re tempered by her fear and low self-esteem. A woman with a secret past, she hides from everyone in the village. But even though she’s an outsider, she sees the townspeople more clearly than everyone else.

THOMAS ~ He’s a good, kind, honest, man. His compassion and love for Small-hope almost keep him from speaking out at the point when he most needs to.

Quirk (if any)

SUSANNAH ~ Everyone thinks she’s pretty much perfect. (Can that be a quirk?)

DANIEL ~ He can’t read.

SMALL-HOPE ~ She believes she’s invisible.

THOMAS ~ He went to market in a neighboring town one day and cam
e home that night with a wife.

Your inspiration for the character

SUSANNAH ~ I wanted a main character whose life got turned upside down. I wanted her to go from being the village’s good girl to being the bad girl. In an instant.

DANIEL ~ Isaiah 43:4. This verse has always fascinated me and I wanted to know what kind of man God would give in exchange for a person’s life.

SMALL-HOPE ~ I once had a conversation with a friend about feeling invisible. In a literal way. With this book, I wanted to investigate that idea further. What would it be like to live a life where no one saw you? And why would a person want to live that way?

THOMAS ~ I needed a balm for Small-hope’s soul and he fit that role perfectly. As I was writing the book, the song Came to My Rescue by Hillsong kept playing in my mind.

Background to the story

Since I had contracted my books with the incorporation of a fashion element into the story, this book began with the fashion element. I knew I had to have a character get ‘caught’ wearing th
e wrong gown which would make the people in her town disbelieve everything they ever knew about her. I also wanted to investigate the meaning of Isaiah 43:4. The story specifics developed from there. I was also interested in understanding why a society that knew the Bible so well and was so devoted to following God could fail to grasp the concepts of love and grace.

It surprised me as I researched for this book that I ended up liking the Puritans so much. I had
expected to find them dour, narrow-minded, and somber. But they weren’t. They were people who truly lived what they believed. They were passionate in their pursuit of God and intentional about their faith. They weren’t stodgy; they weren’t at all prudish. Widely read, they were the intellectuals of their time. The tragedy of the Puritan movement was that they just couldn’t bring themselves to believe that God truly loved them. In some respects, the consequence of their unwillingness to accept God’s unconditional love was their belief that if they did this thing and that thing and made sure to always follow God’s laws to the letter then God would have to save them. He would owe it to them. The concept of Assurance of Salvation was unknown to the Puritans. I hadn’t realized, before I wrote this book, just how integral that idea is to our faith. The Puritans would have given almost everything to know that God loved them – a concept that believers today take very much for granted.

If anyone who reads this book has ever doubted, I hope this story will confirm that God does see; God does know; God does care.

Thanks Siri ~ my book club members will enjoy reading through this as Love's Pursuit is our September selection this year!

Come back on Monday for a spotlight on Aiden O'Neill from Shawn Grady's debut novel, Through the Fire

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of A Constant Heart, Chateau of Echoes, The Cubicle Next Door & Moon Over Tokyo

Character spotlight on A Constant Heart's Marget & Lytham

Interview with Siri

Visit Siri's website

Buy Siri's books at Amazon or Koorong

Sneak peek at ML Tyndall's January release

MaryLu Tyndall is a fabulously entertaining author and a lovely lady to boot! Here's a peek at her January, 2010 release, The Raven Saint ~ I think it's her best cover yet :)

When Grace Westcott is kidnapped by a French mercenary, tossed aboard his ship, and told she will be sold to a Spanish Don in Columbia, she cannot imagine what she has done to deserve such a horrid fate. She has spent her entire life serving God and helping the poor, not to mention trying to save the souls of her two wayward sisters. Thinking perhaps God has sent her to preach to the vile captain and his crew, Grace’s every attempt to correct their sinful ways is rewarded with only mockery. When Grace’s situation grows far worse than she could imagine, she is forced to face her own human weaknesses. But she isn’t prepared to face her biggest weakness of all—falling in love with the nefarious captain, Rafe Dubois.

Captain Rafe Dubois hates nothing more than a religious pretence of piety. Fleeing a home of abuse and betrayal under the thumb of his self-righteous father, he became a mercenary upon the Caribbean. There isn’t any job, no matter how vile, he won’t undertake in order to amass the fortune he needs to build a hospital for the poor in his home town of Port-de-Paix. The praises of the people fill a craving in his soul for the self-worth and value he never received from his father, not to mention give him a sense of purpose for his otherwise reckless life. That is, until he meets the saintly Miss Grace Westcott who continually berates his every move.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Breathe by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Devastated by the loss of four sons to tuberculosis and his wife in childbirth, a Philadelphia patriarch sends his three living children west in 1883 to make a new life in the clean mountain air of Colorado Springs.

Odessa is struggling to survive consumption; Moira is beautiful and dangerously headstrong; and pugnacious Dominic is charged with establishing a new arm of the family business--a business he doesn't want.

My take:~

Lisa Tawn Bergren begins her new Homeward Trilogy with Breathe, the story of Odessa, seeking healing in the mountains of Colorado. Lisa's writing is excellent, the plot intriguing and the romance tender. Full of interesting detail regarding the treatment of tuberculosis in the 1880s, the book is more than a romance. My only quibble is the book seemed overly long but I remained invested in the outcome. Lisa establishes the characters and vulnerabilities of Odessa's siblings, Dominic and Moira, setting the scene for the sequels to come. Breathe is a satisfying addition to any historical reader's library.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of The Begotten and The Betrayed and The Blessed
Character Spotlight on Daria, Gianni, Piero, Hasani & Abramo
Visit Lisa's author website and Family Tripster website
Buy Lisa's books at Amazon or Koorong

Special Character Spotlight ~ Lisa McKay's Cori

Today the spotlight shines on........................Cori

Lisa McKay's 2007 novel, My Hands Came Away Red, is one of the most moving and beautifully written stories I have read. If you haven't read this book, I encourage you to do so without delay, whether you are a teen or an adult :)

Lisa has been kind enough to share about her main character, Aussie girl Cori, and we have added pictures of how we imagined the rest of her missions team to look!

For those of you have read this story, we'd love to know what you think!


Brief physical description

I deliberately didn’t include a lot of physical detail about Cori in the book. There were a couple of reasons for that. I usually hate it when the narrators of books written in the first person look in the mirror and “take inventory” and describe what they look like. Pers
onally, I think it’s very hard to pull off narrator self-description without it coming across as cheesy, and I really don’t like cheesy. But, just as importantly, I wanted people reading the story to paint Cori in their own minds, to have a clear vision of her in their own minds, or even to be able to take her on and “wear her” as they were reading.

Perhaps a young Emily Blunt as Cori?

Max Thieriot as Kyle (Photo by
Micheal Bezjan)

Strengths and weaknesses

Cori is frank, smart, cool-under-pressure, practical, down-to-earth, and persistent. She’s strong and
independent. But some of her weaknesses (as with many of us, I think) are what you could call negative extensions of those positive traits. Cori’s persistence sometimes become stubbornness, and her strong independent streak makes it difficult for her to show weakness and accept help from others, to accept that some things are outside her control, or to accept that there may not be answers to the difficult questions she asks in this story – or at least answers that satisfy her.

Miley Cyrus as Drew

Quirk (if any)

Does making up stories about an imaginary twelve year old boy, Jip, and his pet monkey, Kiki, count? As a distraction and a coping mechanism Cori and the others on the team regularly devise elaborate plotlines for these imaginary characters when things get tough.

Josh Hartnett as Brendan

Your inspiration for the character

Cori’s strengths are ones that I wish I had had the gracious fortitude to consistently display on my own, very challenging, short-term mission trip wh
en I was a teen. Cori’s weaknesses… alas, they’re all mine. Okay, I’m sort of kidding. But only sort of. In terms of Cori’s spiritual struggles, however, I will own those fully. The questions that Cori and the others grapple in the face of violence are questions that I struggled with at various times and in various forms during the decade that it took to write this story. It was this deep character and spiritual challenge that I was most interested in when I started to write – that question of what would happen to all of the characters, with their different personalities, in the face of great challenge.

Julia Stiles as Elissa

Background to the story

Cori signs up to take a mission trip to Indonesia during the summer after her senior year of high school. Inspired by happy visions of building churches and seeing beautiful beaches, she gladly escapes her complicated love life back home. Five weeks after their arrival, a sectarian and religious conflict that has been simmering for years flames to life with deadly results on the nearby island of Ambon. Within days, the church building the team had constructed is in ashes, its pastor and fifty villagers are dead, and the six terrified teenagers are stranded in the mountainous jungle with only the pastor's teenage son to guide them to safety. Ultimately, Cori's emotional quest to rediscover hope proves just as arduous as the physical journey home.

Robert Schwartzman as Mark

Thanks Lis ~ appreciate your taking the time to share Cori with us :) Hanging out for that next book of yours, you know!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of My Hands Came Away Red

Interview with Lisa

Visit Lisa's website and blog

Buy Lisa's book at Amazon or Koorong

CFBA Blog Tour of The Firstborn by Conlan Brown

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Firstborn

Realms (May 5, 2009)


Conlan Brown


Born in 1984, Conlan Brown was functionally illiterate until the fifth grade, when he learned how to read and write, as well as a love of story, from his grandmother. Conlan went on to start college at the age of sixteen, and now holds a Master's degree in Communication, which taught him the academic principles needed to write Firstborn.

Conlan lives on Colorado's Front Range where he is working on his next book. He enjoys video editing, film scores, and developing high octane, thought provoking fiction that turns pages and excites the senses.


Three supernatural gifts. Two thousand years of division. One moment of truth.

Hannah's head hung, long brown hair in her eyes. Her face felt pasty with cold and fatigue and pain. Arms behind her back, she sat in a chair, wrists and ankles tied to the wooden frame, chair legs bolted to the floor. A cold car. A gun. Horror. Pain. Grief. Screaming. A windshield blistering with holes. Darkness.

It all came over her like a flood. A pouring out of pictures in her mind. But then there was one more thing. Not an image, but a feeling--that half a continent away someone else had felt it all happening too.

The Firstborn, those gifted with Foresight, Hindsight, and Insight at the time of Christ's death are divided between themselves. And when an Islamic holy man is murdered outside of his mosque it becomes apparent that one of the Firstborn was to blame. Now, with the threat of a terrorist attack on an unspeakable target the Firstborn are spiraling out of control. Leaders are dying, members are being kidnapped, and unity is being forced. Three heroes, differently gifted and divided must work together to thwart those who would go too far.

Their breakneck race against time plunges them into a world of danger and through a gauntlet across the United States. From the Riverwalk of San Antonio, where Devin Bathurst, John Temple, and Hannah Rice must protect one another from assassination, to the gritty streets of Washington DC, a paramilitary compound in Pennsylvania, and ultimately back to our nation's capital, the Firstborn must unite to prevent an impending atrocity from becoming reality.

Watch The Trailer

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of The Firstborn, go HERE

If you want to read a great review of this book, which I hope to read shortly, check out my friend Deena's thoughts, here :)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sneak peek at B&H Fiction releases in 2010

B&H Fiction continue to produce high calibre stories by great authors! Jamie Carie writes tumultuous historical love stories and Leanna Ellis, contemporary women fiction.

What do you think of the covers? I like the warmth and mystery of Angel's Den and the quirkiness of Once in a Blue Moon :)

Angel's Den by Jamie Carie

In 1808, when Emma meets and marries Eric Montclaire, the famed most handsome man west of the Appalachians, this young daughter of prominent St. Louis citizens believes a fairy tale has just begun. Instead, her husband's angelic looks quickly prove only to mask a monstrous soul all too capable of possessive emotions and physical abuse.

Praying for mercy, she is devastated when Eric insists on her joining his yearlong group expedition to the Pacific Ocean, following the trail Lewis and Cla
rk blazed just a few years earlier. By the time cartographer Luke Bowen realizes Emma's plight, it's too late to easily untangle what has become an epic web of lies, theft, murder, courtroom drama, and a deep longing for love. Only God can show them the way out.

Releasing, February, 2010

Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis

Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the same day Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Forty years later, divorced, working as an obituary writer and duly cynical, she meets Howard, a conspiracy theorist who knew her mom and believes a small Texas town may hold clues to what really fueled her demise. Seeking closure, Bryn goes along for this men-in-black ride. But upon meeting Howard's son Sam, an outspoken Christian, she can't decide whose beliefs are more pie-in-the-sky.

The gravity of life has pulled Bryn down for decades. But a perfect love could be her first step to soaring. It only happens once in a blue moon.

Releasing, March, 2010

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

In 1860s Seattle, a man with a wife could secure himself 640 acres of timberland. But because of his wife's untimely death, Joe Denton finds himself about to lose half of his claim. Still in mourning, his best solution is to buy one of those Mercer girls arriving from the East. A woman he'll marry in name but keep around mostly as a cook.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Asa Mercer's girls is an escape from the griefs of her past. She's not supposed to be a bride, though, just a cook for the girls. But when they land, she's handed to Joe Denton and the two find themselves in a knotty situation. She refuses to wed him and he's about to lose his land.
With only a few months left, can Joe convince this provoking--but beguiling--easterner to be his bride?

My take:~

If you want to be swept away to another time and place, look no further than A Bride in the Bargain, the newest release in Deeanne Gist's Bride books. Deeanne has the rare ability to completely transport you to the location she sets her book, so immersing you in the social norms and people of the period, you will forget you are sitting in your own loungeroom! While character driven, the setting is detailed and beautifully described and I could almost feel myself dwarfed by the giant Redwood trees Joe so loved. Humour, romance, conflict and sacrifice combine to make this book the perfect escape and is guaranteed to make your heart feel lighter!

I adore Deeanne Gist's books and A Bride in the Bargain highlights once again, Deeanne's talent for creating loveable characters and an absorbing and joyful tale.

Relz Reviewz Extras:~

Reviews of Courting Trouble, Deep in the Heart of Trouble and A Bride Most Begrudging

Interview with Deeanne

Visit Deeanne's website and blog

Buy Dee's books from Amazon and Koorong

Monday, 22 June 2009

Spotlight on the Sinclair Sisters on hold...

Sorry everyone! Tandy, Kendra, Joy and Meg are busy with a scrapbooking project and just can't drag themselves away - LOL!! I hope to bring you their spotlight soon!

In the meantime, you can look forward to Thursday's spotlight on characters from Siri Mitchell's latest release, Love's Pursuit!

See you then :)

Winners and Aussie Winter Warm Up giveaway!

The winners of my last two giveaways are:~

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn ~ ausjenny

Never the Bride ~ southeastcountrywife

Thanks to all who entered, I really wish I had a book for each of you! Don't despair though as I have a Aussie Winter Warm Up Giveaway coming later this week, with your chance to win up to two books from the piles above :)

Tell your friends and if they enter or follow me, you get an extra entry!

Titles include:~

Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter

Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney

Kiss Me If You Dare by Nicole Young

Against All Odds by Irene Hannon

The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo

and more......................

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Ready-Made Family by Cheryl Wyatt

Amelia North needs refuge, and finds it—in Refuge, Illinois. Stranded there after a car wreck, the single mother expects to be cold-shouldered. After all, she's already been rejected by her parents, her church and her daughter's father. Instead, she finds a town full of people with open hands and open hearts…including pararescue jumper Ben Dillinger.

Ben wants to help Amelia and her daughter find
safety and stability. Instead, he finds himself free-falling—right into love with the ready-made family.

My take:~

Cheryl Wyatt knows how to pull a sweet romance together and include a little kick for added substance. In Ready-Made Family the usual ingredients are included ~ a destitute yet devoted mother, a cute as a button little girl and a respected and decorated hero, with requisite good looks, of course! Cheryl develops the romance well and adds in extra conflict with Amelia's father dead set against inter racial relationships and derisive of Ben's Asian heritage. Ready-Made Family is an easy, enjoyable read - perfect for a lazy afternoon!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Character spotlight on Ben Dillinger
Reviews of A Soldier's Promise and A Soldier's Family
Interview with Cheryl
Visit Cheryl's website and blog
Buy Cheryl's books at Amazon or Koorong

Friday, 19 June 2009

Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts

Veterinarian Mattie Evans enjoys her work in Flint Hills, Kansas, almost as much as she loves gruff old rancher and father figure, John McCray.

When John's estranged son, Gil, proposes selling the land and moving his father to California, she's drawn into a bitter family conflict that exposes deep-seated secrets.

Can she make Gil see reason?

My take:~

There is much to like in Deborah Vogt's debut novel, Snow Melts In Spring, making it a satisfying read. Character driven, yet overflowing with beautifully described scenery, detailed information on horses and veterinarian techniques and an authentic romance which doesn't succumb to clich├ęs. Gil, Mattie and John are well developed characters that struggle with the hurts and disappointments in their lives, their personalities marked by their pain. Drawn together by a tragic injury to a beloved horse, there is still much to keep Mattie and Gil apart, including a family feud, hidden secrets and the defiance of both father and son. Snow Melts in Spring is an excellent start to the Seasons of the Tallgrass series and Deborah's writing career.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Deborah's website and blog

Check out Deborah's favourite recipes

Buy Deborah's book at Amazon or Koorong

Check back on 2nd July for a spotlight on Mattie and Gil

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Character Spotlight ~ Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay's Jessie Stone

Today the spotlight shines on.......................Jessie Stone

Never the Bride is a novelization by Rene Gutteridge, based on the screenplay by Cheryl McKay
, and it is a match made in heaven! This is a fabulous book that will make a terrific movie, sure to make you laugh, cry, think and look up! I am delighted that Cheryl has been able to share more about Jessie and her God experience at Relz Reviewz.

Over to you, Cheryl:~

Brief physical description of your main characters

Jessie Esther Stone, 34, is a brunette. In fact, if she ever considered going blonde—because all the men in her life seem to gravitate toward them and not her—she’d look ridiculous.

God. Unlike most stories that personify God as fatherly and older (like George Burns or Morgan Freeman), the One who shows up to offer to write Jessie’s love story is quite handsome and her age.

Photo by David Edmonson

Actor/famous person

Jessie ~ She looks like me. J

God ~ When I was writing the script, I was imagining someone like Eduardo Verastegui (from Bella) playing God.

Strengths and weaknesses:

Jessie is a romantic; she believes in true love. She tries her best to not give up hope. She stands by her beliefs. She stepped up to take care of her younger sister when her parents died. She’s responsible and trustworthy. She is extraordinarily creative, especially when it comes to how a man should propose to a woman. She sets up creative proposals for men to use to propose to their women. Being a control freak is definitely one of her weaknesses. Sometimes, she doesn’t have the best self-esteem either and needs to be reminded that her worth does not come from the opinions of men and whether or not they like her.

Naturally, God doesn’t have any weaknesses. There are times in Jessie’s life when she’s believed otherwise (like the fact that God never works as fast as she wants him to.) But God is warm, funny, has a wonderful sense of humor and is the One person who can love Jessie unconditionally.

Quirk (if any)

Jessie is meticulously organized and clean. For example, she can’t stand water droplets on the sink. She’s even OCD about that. If anything is out of place, she must put it away. It’s part of her need to control her environment. It’s one of the few things she can try to control. She also has this obsession with dark chocolate M&Ms. Her allergy to chocolate doesn’t stop her from indulging despite the red splotches she must live with upon indulging.

Your inspiration for the character

I must admit the character of Jessie was inspired by me as a Christian single in my 30’s. It’s inspired by various heartbreaks and years of waiting on God’s best. The friendship Jessie shares with God is inspired by my relationship with God. I consider him to be my Best Friend, my Husband, my Father and a Matchmaker. All of these identities for God are personified through God’s relationship with Jessie in this story.

Background to the story

So many women today feel like if they are single something is wrong with them. They sit in a place of pain because of being unchosen, unseen and unknown. I know many people will relate to Jessie because they either currently feel this way or have felt this way in the past before they found love. I also wanted to write this story to show that the decision to love someone is a decision that’s important enough for God to get involved if we’ll just invite him into the process (as in surrender control, “the pen” we use when we try to write our own love stories.)

I wrote the screenplay in hopes of having this story be told on film. It will first be released as a book, novelized by the wonderful Rene Gutteridge.

Cheryl ~ I adored this book so thanks for sharing some more insight into Jessie and why you wrote the book. I do hope it is not the last McKay/Gutteridge collaboration!

On Monday, I will be spotlighting Rebeca Seitz's Sinclair sisters ~ Tandy, Kendra, Joy and Meg ~ from her Sisters, Ink series, to celebrate the final instalment, Perfect Piece. It is going to be fabulous :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Never the Bride

Visit Cheryl's website and Rene's website
Enter Aussie/NZ giveaway of Never the Bride
Enter US giveaway of Never the Bride at My Buckling Bookshelf
Interview with Rene Gutteridge and US giveaway at So Many Books...

Buy Never the Bride at Amazon or Koorong

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