Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer


Bandit troubles intensify as Caleb Bender's family tries to settle into their new life in 1920s Paradise Valley.

When El Pantera kidnaps Rachel and leaves her brother, Aaron, for dead, Jake Weaver and the Mexican native Domingo pursue the bandit leader to his mountain stronghold in a hopeless rescue attempt. Jake and Domingo manage to escape with Rachel, with the bandits hot on their trail. In a desperate attempt to avoid recapture, Domingo puts himself squarely in harm's way, giving Jake and Rachel time to get away. This is not the quiet life Caleb Bender envisioned when he led his family out of Ohio.

What is a father to make of his daughter's obvious affection for a man outside the fold? And how will a pacifist Amishman like Caleb respond to the events that threaten his family and their way of life?

My take:~

Dale Cramer's literary craftsmanship is both beautiful and engaging, taking my breath away in the continuation of Caleb Bender's story, The Captive Heart. Drawing from the personal history of his own family, Dale uses skilful prose to write a masterpiece of forbidden love, family ties, tragedy and, ultimately, hope. Depicting the forbidding Mexican frontier in all its danger and beauty, Dale offers readers insight into the constraints placed on a people deeply committed to pacifism surrounded by men bent on evil and selfish ambition. Caleb's integrity, Miriam's heart and Domingo's honour will make you weep and fill you with joy as they seek to love and protect their families and community the only way they know how. Jacob and Rachel's relationship grows but is challenged by a secret Rachel can't disclose as El Pantera seeks retribution. Suspense, action, danger and romance abound with an ending that will satisfy yet leave you desperate for more. For those like myself who are not usually into Amish tales, don't let the bonnet put you off ~ Dale's storytelling is of the highest calibre and should not be missed!

With thanks to Bethany House for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of Paradise Valley and Summer of Light
Interview with Dale ~ 2007 & 2011
Visit Dale's website and blog
Buy Dale's books at Amazon and Koorong

Monday, 30 January 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Julie Cantrell's Millie, River & Bump

Debut novelist Julie Cantrell's Into the Free is available now from David C Cook.


Just a girl. The only one strong enough to break the cycle.
In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a "nothing mama," she struggles to find a place where she really belongs.
For answers, Millie turns to the Gypsies who caravan through town each spring. The travelers lead Millie to a key which unlocks generations of shocking family secrets. When tragedy strikes, the mysterious contents of the box give Millie the tools she needs to break her family’s longstanding cycle of madness and abuse.
Through it all, Millie experiences the thrill of first love while fighting to trust the God she believes has abandoned her. With the power of forgiveness, can Millie finally make her way into the free? 

Enjoy meeting Millie, River & Bump!

Credit: Julie Cantrell

Brief physical description

Millie Reynolds is a beautiful, dark-skinned southern girl with Choctaw and Scots-Irish roots. Her hair is curly and unruly. She bites her nails and prefers to run through the woods with bare feet. She often wears her hair in braids, and she owns only hand-me-down dresses. She lives in the servants’ quarters (in one of three old slave cabins) on Mr. Sutton’s plantation in Iti Taloa, Mississippi and is considered a “dirt-poor halfbreed” by many of the Depression-era community members.

Actor/famous person

I can’t think of a current actress who looks like Millie, but I wrote her character with an image of my own daughter in mind. My daughter, Emily, also portrays Millie in the book trailer.

Strengths and weaknesses

An old soul, Millie is spunky and smart, patient and practical. Above all else, Millie is a survivor who carefully examines her options in this coming-of-age tale. She thoughtfully observes the people around her, noting how their choices affect their lives. It takes her a while to recognize her own strength and to come to terms with her faith, but with the guidance of several compassionate community members she finds her way.

Quirk (if any)

Millie loves to read, and she dreams of working with horses. Her best friend is a sweet gum tree she names, Sweetie. She spends a lot of time with the trees and with her neighbor, Sloth (think Morgan Freeman). From Sloth, Millie has learned to hunt, fish, and cook. She also has an ability to “listen to the wind,” which means she’s very comfortable in nature and feels deeply connected to her natural environment. She tends to gravitate toward adults and has little in common with children her age.
Credit: Julie Cantrell

Your inspiration for the character

Millie is a combination of every spunky female character I loved as a child, from Pippi Longstocking to Ramona the Pest, but mostly Millie reminds me of my daughter, Emily, who aged with Millie as I edited the book and who is every bit as strong-spirited and probably a lot more feisty.


Brief physical description

River is a gorgeous dark-skinned Romani American (“Gypsy”). He has long dark hair and flint black eyes. He wears a chain of coins around his waist and a loose white shirt. He plays the harmonica and quotes literature. He caravans through Iti Taloa with a group of travelers who return every spring to pay homage to their fallen king and queen. Although he is with the group, his mother is dead and his father abandoned him before he was born. He is a loner.

Actor/famous person

Think a young Johnny Depp mixed with a young Steven Strait. Think…temptation.

Strengths and weaknesses

River defies the stereotype of the illiterate “Gypsy” by being a well-read lover of literature. He can charm anyone and has a carefree attitude that makes Millie happy. Everything about him excites her, and he offers her an escape from the painful life she has at home. Despite his many strengths, he has no real education, no plans for a stable career, and no immediate family to offer support.

Quirk (if any)

River can quote verses from literature, which impresses Millie and others. He plays the harmonica and has a sense of humor that brings smiles. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Your inspiration for the character

River was inspired by the guys we’ve all met who make us swoon. Some just emit an energy that draws everyone to them - men, women, young, old…everyone wants to know these guys. When I wrote scenes with River, I thought about Johnny Depp’s character in Chocolat and my son, Adam, who has a wonderful way with words and music and always makes me laugh. Both are charmers in a sweet way. They aren’t aiming to hurt anyone.


Brief physical description

Bump is a skinny rodeo veterinarian who is quickly becoming known as a superb horse trainer. He earned his nickname due to his protruding Adam’s apple. He is kind, thoughtful, and patient. His eyes are blue, the color of hydrangeas, which reminds Millie of safety and sweetness. He wears a cowboy hat and boots and has a crooked smile. He is quiet and calm, and he is a good judge of character. Bump comes from a poor family of sharecroppers / tenant farmers in the Mississippi Delta, but they exhibit a true Christian faith and are a strong family unit.

Actor/famous person

Most of the cowboys I’ve met fit this description. One in particular is Tuf Cooper, the youngest participant ever to compete in the National Finals Rodeo.

Strengths and weaknesses

Bump is honest, humble, and hard-working. He’s the kind of guy who cares enough to remove the thorns before he gives Millie a bundle of roses. He’s loyal and protective, and he loves Millie exactly as she is.

Quirk (if any)

Bump is a ‘horse whisperer’ who can break even the toughest horse. He has worked his way through the veterinarian program and is dedicated to his rodeo boss, Mr. Cauy Tucker. He has a thick southern accent and doesn’t always give the first impression that he’s an intelligent, well-educated veterinarian.

Your inspiration for the character

Bump was inspired by all the guys I’ve met who move through the world with a quiet state of grace and goodness. This includes my cousin, David Carter, a fabulous horse whisperer whose faith is unshakable.

Background to the story

Wikipedia Commons
When our family moved to Mississippi, I researched places to take the kids for weekend trips. I came across an old newspaper article from 1915 describing an elaborate funeral for the “Gypsy Queen” Kelly Mitchell. We visited Rose Hill Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi and saw the graves of Kelly and her husband “King Emil Mitchell” along with other Mitchell descendants. I was fascinated and wanted to know more about the Romani American Travelers who caravanned through the southeastern US during that time period. This single spark of curiosity led to an entire novel in which the travelers are a small thread within the fictional coming-of-age tale about Millie Reynolds. 

Relz Reviewz Extras
Visit Julie's website and blog
Buy Julie's book at Amazon or Koorong

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sharon Ewell Foster ~ FamilyFiction Plus

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Sharon Ewell Foster for my article in the January issue of FamilyFiction's digital magazine.  I'm thrilled to share my complete interview with Sharon her on my blog ~ enjoy!

What was it about Nat Turner’s story that inspired you to write about him?

Nat Turner was a literate slave preacher who led a revolt in Virginia in 1831 that left more than 50 white people dead. Even 180 years later, groups see him differently. The arguments still rage today: Was Nat Turner a hero or a villain? Did he prophesy the coming Civil War or was he a religious fanatic? There’s a lot here for a writer.

But I remember hearing Nat Turner’s name when I was a child. I saw William Styron’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Confessions of Nat Turner, on my mother’s nightstand. Fast forward to my college years, I had a professor who told me that I should be writing the untold stories; she planted that seed in me.

As I researched, I became convinced that most of what we’ve been taught about Nat Turner isn’t true. Nat Turner, by most accounts was a faithful Christian. Prior to the revolt, he was known as a Christian who didn’t drink, who didn’t steal, who went all over the Tidewater area of Virginia preaching the Word. He could read and write at a time when most of the population of Virginia was illiterate. He was a family man.

His detractors labelled him a monster. But political spin wasn’t invented in 2011, it was happening back then. I needed to know what happened. I spent five years writing and researching this book.
So, here I am. As the nation begins to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Nat Turner is part of that discussion. As the two events intersect—Turner’s 180th and the Civil War’s 150th, I think it’s important to have a frank conversation about what really happened and how it happened.

The book is Roots meets The Da Vinci Code! LOL!

The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I: The Witnesses is Nat’s story through others’ eyes, The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 2: The Testimony is the same story through Nat’s eyes. What caused you to choose these two methods to tell his life and mission?

After realizing that the primary historical document, The Confessions of Nat Turner by the attorney Thomas Gray, was a fabrication, I began to search for the real Nat Turner in other places. I learned from local historians that his mother was a slave brought from Ethiopia, that he was supposed to have been friends with his owner, Sallie Francis Moore Travis. In the first book, we learn who Nat Turner was through the eyes of those who knew him—friend and foe, slave and free.

I never intended to writer from Nat Turner’s point of view, but he whispered to me—like melodies talk to composers—insisting that he be heard. There is so much that he knew that no one else knows. One of the first things he spoke to me was, “They were all heroes.” He taught me to see the slaves, all of them, as heroes. Like prisoners of war, their status, what they endured makes them heroes. After that, I was hooked. I told his story, gave his testimony, in Part 2. I suppose, Part 2 is Nat Turner’s day in court.

What do you hope readers take away from The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 2: The Testimony?

Publishers Weekly called the book “fast-paced” and “riveting”. That’s gratifying; I do want people to be entertained. But I have been praying for something more. Recently, I have been having conversations online with people from the town where the uprising took place. As you can imagine, even 180 years later, they remain racially polarized. 

But the most amazing thing is happening. They are reading The Resurrection of Nat Turner and having the most powerful, insightful, healing conversations with each other. You can feel the honesty and the love, even as they wrestle with this topic. They have welcomed me into the discussions as they are embracing one another. It’s astounding. 

That’s what I hope will happen amongst other people and in other communities, across the land, around the world.

How challenging was it to bring Nat’s story, a real historical figure as opposed to a fictional character, to life?

It was very challenging! But, I love what I do. I’m grateful.

My challenge was to make Nat Turner’s story relevant to everyone, to tell the story so that all of us could see ourselves in him and in the people around him. It’s not just an African American story—it’s a story about the price of freedom, about a man struggling against overwhelming odds to protect his family and his community.

It was challenging because the history, as we know it, is a lie. I had to search for the truth—it was hard, but that’s also the fun of it. Once I had so much information, my challenge was to give myself permission to tell a different story than the one that’s been told. I felt such a burden to be true to the facts and to be respectful of the people I wrote about and of the town, it was a challenge to give myself permission to be creative in recreating the story.

But I think the challenges made me a better writer. I think struggle led to the creation of a better book. I love what I do! 

How has writing these books impacted your own life?

Researching and writing The Resurrection of Nat Turner has made me even more aware of how precious and important the truth is. It has made me want to search history for other lies that have been told. It has made me realize how easily good, well-meaning people can be led astray by lies. But, most importantly, I am reassured by the enduring strength and power of faith, hope, and love. 

Relz Reviewz Extras
Visit Sharon's website 
Buy Sharon's books at Amazon or Koorong

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Goyer & Yorkey's Colette Perriard

Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey return with their second WWII suspense novel, Chasing Mona Lisa, from Revell.

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands? 

With nonstop action, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers' adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.

Enjoy meeting Colette!

Brief physical description

Colette Perriard is petite with light brown hair. She dresses in fashionable pastel colors in her role as a curator for the greatest museum in the world, the Louvre in Paris.

Actor/famous person

Natalie Portman with light brown hair.

Strengths and weaknesses

Colette knows the world of fine art. She views herself as the protector of the Mona Lisa during the time of the Nazi occupation of France. This is both a strength and a weakness. She is fearful that those she cares most will be hurt by the Nazis, and she sometimes is forced to make compromises to protect those she loves.

Your inspiration for the character

Our inspiration for Colette came from the real curators who risked their lives to save priceless art from falling into the hands of people like Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, who either purchased or confiscated 1,800 pieces of famous art during the war. Colette did her part to walk a tightrope with these ruthless occupiers. We read about these women (and men) in books such as The Rape of Europa.
Background to the story

Colette is a curator at the Louvre Museum during the German occupation of Paris. She is romantically involved with Bernard Rousseau, yet she isn't fully aware of his involvement with the French Resistance. As Paris is being liberated August 1944, the Germans attempt to escape with as much priceless art as possible—including the Mona Lisa. The duty falls on Colette to make sure that doesn't happen, and she receives the help from two Swiss OSS agents, Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler. 

Relz Reviewz Extras
of The Swiss Courier
Visit Tricia's
Visit Mike's
with Tricia
Buy Tricia's books at
Amazon or Koorong

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey


The War Between the States stole a father and brother from Faith Lindberg-- as well as Royal Baxter, the man she wanted to marry. With only her grandfather left, she dreams of leaving Noble Springs, Missouri, and traveling west to the Oregon Territory to start a new life, away from the memories that haunt her. But first she must convince her grandfather to sell the family's mercantile and leave a town their family has called home for generations.

When Royal Baxter suddenly returns to town, Faith allows herself to hope that her dreams might come true. Does he truly love her? Or could another man claim her heart? Will she find that following her dreams may not mean leaving home after all?

My take:~

An Ann Shorey story always provides readers with a sweet romance,interesting characters and a fascinating historical setting and Where Wildflowers Bloom is no exception. Set in the aftermath of the Civil War, Ann's characters' lives epitomise the struggles of the day. Faith Lindberg is trying to maintain her grandfather's store against community opposition, after losing her father and brother in the war, Curt Saxon fights demons in his mind following the trauma of the battlefield and Royal Baxter is desperate to make a future for himself. Steeped in the historical era, Ann deals with issues that we face today, from post traumatic stress disorder to age related dementia.  I enjoyed Ann's character development, especially Curt and Rosemary, along with understanding the prejudice against a woman wanting to take on a commercial responsibility.  I had a moment of frustration due to the ease with which a transfer of affection occurs - it's a little bugbear of mine that pops up often in romance novels.  That said, Where Wildflowers Bloom delivers everything readers of traditional, sweet romances desire.

Available January, 2012  at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

With thanks to Revell for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of The Edge of Light, The Promise of Morning & The Dawn of a Dream
Character spotlight on Ellie & Matthew
Character spotlight on Molly
Visit Ann's website and blog
Buy Ann's book at Amazon or Koorong

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy


Join the breakneck chase through Chicago for a murderous maniac. As the victims begin piling up, detective Keren Collins’s spiritual discernment is on high alert. Will she capture the killer before another body floats to the surface?

Ex-cop, now mission pastor Paul Morris has seen his share of tragedy, but nothing prepared him to be a murderer’s messenger boy. Will his old ruthless cop personality take over, leading him to the brink of self-destruction? Can Keren and Paul catch the killer before the corpse count reaches a perfect ten?

My take:~

Mary Nealy, better known as Mary Connealy, writer of historical romantic comedies, shows she is no one trick pony with her excellent romantic suspense, Ten Plagues. Combining action and suspense with romance and the supernatural, Mary held my attention from the dramatic first chapter to the last page. Keren and Paul are solid characters and their burgeoning attraction and snappy dialogue add some levity amidst the ruthlessness of a serial killer's murders. Paul's battle between the compassionate and sacrificial life he leads as a pastor and the hardened cop instincts that kick in when danger strikes, adds a fascinating element to the story. Meaningful faith elements and a few unexpected twists and turns are also included.  I certainly hope this isn't the last we hear of Mary Nealy and her suspenseful writing.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Visit Mary's blog
Buy Mary's books from Amazon or Koorong

Monday, 23 January 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Don Reid's Cal, Harlan & Buddy

Don Reid of The Statler Brothers, returns with his second Mt. Jefferson story, The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson from David C Cook.


Cal, Harlan, and Buddy grow up together in a small Virginia town in the years before the second World War. United by age, proximity, and temperament, they get into—and out of—all the trouble that boys manage to find. They even earn a nickname from a local restaurateur who gives the boys their first jobs and plenty of friendly advice. "Uncle" Vic calls them the Mulligans, because they always seem to find a way through a thicket of trouble—family problems, girls, college, war—to success. Cal and Harlan and Buddy have been blessed with second chances.
Now it’s 1959, and police lieutenant Buddy receives an early-morning phone call: his friend Harlan, a store owner, has been shot in a break-in. Cal, now a preacher, meets Buddy at the hospital, and together, as professionals and as friends, they begin to unravel what might have happened to Harlan.

Enjoy meeting the lads!

There are three main characters whose lives are followed and developed in The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson.

Buddy Briggs 

He’s solidly built and just under six-feet tall. He’s a police officer and as hard as he has to be but is more comfortable in his roles as husband to Amanda and daddy to Shirley Ann. You’ll get to know him well in his relationship with his two lifelong friends as he shows his loyalty and caring nature. Casting him would be simple for me: Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights” fame. My inspiration for Buddy was no one person in my life. Just a good-hearted, small town man who wants to do the right thing and live the good and quiet life with his family.

Harlan Stone

He was the very handsome and near-rich boy we’ve all known from our high school days. The jock who got all the girls and was even liked by all the guys. His daddy had means and owned a local jewelry store. He was carefree and spent most of his days just having a good time until something happened in his life that made him take responsibility. I can honestly say I have no person in mind for casting. If it were truly the 1950s decade as it is in the book, he would be a perfect fit for Tony Curtis. (And I’ve probably just dated myself severely with that reference!)

Cal Vaxter

He rounds out the trio of pals with a strange turn in life. He goes from being the annoying little kid in town to being a minister in the town. He’s taller than his two friends and is of a quieter nature. He’s not more serious as you might expect, but he has some elements in his marriage that makes him very reflective. I see him as rather non-descript physically but a definite and strong presence and personality.

Your inspiration for the character

The inspiration would be a composite of friends I grew up with and you grew up with, too. They are a mesh of traits and quirks and morals that come together as three guys who love and look out for one another.

Background to the story

The background is simply friendship and second chances. If you don’t have good friends, it might be because you’re not a good friend. This book is about how we look at the people we care for and if we would do what’s best for them in any situation.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on JD & Karli Wickham from One Lane Bridge
Visit Don's website
Buy Don's books at Amazon or Koorong

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Coming soon from Thomas Nelson ~ YA Fiction

"You probably want to hear about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and—oh yeah—the weird murder and how I found out about it—you're definitely going to want to hear about that. But first, I have to tell you about the stupidest thing I ever did . . ."

Sam Hopkins is bored with his status as a preacher's kid. So when a group of guys notorious for being in trouble offers him friendship, he accepts. Before long, he has several new skills—including hot-wiring cars.

At school, there's an eccentric loner named Jennifer. When Sam defends her from being bullied, she begins to seek him out as her only friend. Her ramblings often seem illogical . . . but then start to contain grains of truth. One leads Sam to discover that one of his new friends has been killed. And then she tells him, "I'm looking for the devil." Sam doesn't know what that means, but he knows it's a matter of life and death that he figure it out. 

Everyone else thinks Jennifer is suffering from schizophrenia. But Sam is starting to wonder if there could be something prophetic in her words. Discovering the truth is going to be both crazy and dangerous.

May, 2012 

The popular YA series in a single volume!

So Not Happening – New York's social darling just woke up in a nightmare: Oklahoma. Bella had it all. Then her father decided to trade her mother in for a newer model. When her mom falls in love with a man she met on the Internet, Bella has to move in with her new family in Truman, Oklahoma. On a farm no less! How can a girl go on when her charmed life is gone and God appears to be giving her the total smack down?

I’m So Sure – Think you're having a rough week? Bella's stepdad just signed the family up for a reality TV show. As if having a camera crew following her around isn't bad enough, Bella discovers a conspiracy against the prom queen candidates. Denying allegations of a love triangle, working to solve the prom queen mystery, and trying to keep her cool on national television finally motivate Bella to start talking—and listening—to God more.

So Over My Head – Newly single, stalked by a killer, and in desperate need of some chic clown shoes—Bella is one skinny mocha frapp away from total meltdown. When the carnival arrives in
Truman, Bella's reporter instincts tell her the bright lights hide more than they reveal. Her suspicions are confirmed when one of the stars is murdered. Is God sending her a message in all of this madness? With a murderer on the loose and her boyfriend's ex on the prowl, this undercover clown has never had more to juggle.

May, 2012 

Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .
Angel Eyes

Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake. 

Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than either Brielle or Jake has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.

May, 2012

Kara McKormick knows she's auditioning for a new teen show. What she doesn't know is that she's also auditioning for Chad Beacon's heart.

After appearing on the reality show The Book of Love, Kara McKormick—a spunky New Yorker with a big family and an even bigger personality—is chosen to audition for a spot on a new teen network's premiere show.

She loves the screen test process . . . but has no idea it's a character test as well. The girls auditioning don't know that current teen heartthrob Chad Beacon has already been tapped to star in the show. His parents want his co-star to be a Christian since he'll be spending so much time with her on the set.

Meanwhile, her best friend Addy and the flighty house mother are praying that Kara will accept the role that God has cast for her—to be a follower of Christ. When tragedy strikes her family, it looks like Kara will have to give up her chance at stardom to be with those she loves . . . but looks can be deceiving.

July, 2012

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Character Spotlight ~ L.K. Malone's Hadlay Mivana

L K Malone returns with a YA allegorical/fantasy novel, available from Kregel.


In the mythical city of N'de lives thirteen-year-old Hadlay and her people, the Ramash. Scorned and abused by the unloving and absent Emperor, the Ramash are poor people, placed second to the ruling class of the Oresed. 

Young but bold, Hadlay rages against the injustice in her city. When she is chosen for the honor of serving the Prince in the Tower, she hopes to find a way to right the wrong . . . but soon discovers that things are worse than she believed.

Brief physical description

Hadlay Mivana is thirteen summers old. She is small for her age and she has sky-blue eyes, freckles, and an unruly mop of curly blonde hair, which she usually keeps tightly braided. And she doesn't mind getting dirty, so she usually is!

Strengths and weaknesses 

Hadlay is very courageous. Unfortunately, she is not always wise. The combination is not usually a good thing.

Quirk (if any)

Hadlay is a magnet for mishaps.

Your inspiration for the character

When I was working out the basic premise of the story, I knew I wanted to set it in a city based on Babel/Babylon, with that city's mythology and culture, and a little Book of Enoch thrown into the mix. I wanted the central character to be a complete misfit, and the minute I thought that, Hadlay just started to fall together. Whatever you might expect to see in a hero from ancient Mesopotamia, Hadlay is just the opposite. She's a complete anomaly, physically, mentally, and socially.

Background to the story

Hadlay's people, the Ramash, were conquered many ages ago by the Oresed, led by the mysterious Emperor Shungallu and his fearsome giant warriors called Nafal. In the emperor's extended absence, the city Turris has been governed by malicious, magical rulers who terrorize the populace and oppress the Ramash in the emperor's name. When the emperor and his son return to Turris, promising equality and justice, the changes aren't all for the better. 

Relz Reviewz Extras
Buy LK Malone's books at Amazon or Koorong

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Character Spotlight ~ Roman Troyer & Julia Lapp

Suzanne Woods Fisher begins her Stoney Ridge Seasons series with The Keeper, now available from Revell Books.


Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame. Perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, the Bee Man.

Roamin' Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul's cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant. Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?

Enjoy meeting the mysterious Roman and feisty Julia!

Brief physical description

Roman Troyer—the Bee Man. Rome is 25, dashingly handsome (and well aware of that fact). One interesting characteristic: he has gray hair.

Julia Lapp—The oldest daughter in the Lapp family, Julia is 21, attractive—and she knows it, too.

Actor/famous person

Think: Richard Gere—young and handsome with a headful of salt and pepper colored hair.

Think: Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal”

Strengths and weaknesses

Roman Troyer is a mysterious character. He is a migratory beekeeper and roams from community to community with his bees. Although he is thoroughly Amish, he is a solitary person and intensely private.

Julia Lapp takes herself seriously. She has to! Quite a lot of responsibility rests on her shoulders. She takes comfort in her plans for the future--until the Bee Man arrives in town and messes everything up.

Quirk (if any)

Rome: Women are drawn to Rome—except for Julia Lapp. He can’t understand why she isn’t crazy about him.

Julia: She doesn’t mean to be funny, but she is.

Credit: stock.xchang
Your inspiration for the character

On my very first visit to Lancaster County, I came across an Amish farm with a red wind mill. I stopped in, visited with the family, and a friendship developed. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to create a story about an Amish family that doesn’t quite fit your perception of the Amish. I mean, what kind of family has a red wind mill? Interested? Meet them in “The Keeper.”

Background to the story

Roman Troyer is an Amish migratory bee keeper who guards his bees—and his heart—carefully.

Julia Lapp has life planned out—she is going to marry Paul Fisher, he will move to Windmill Farm and fill the gaps that her father’s illness has created. Along comes the Bee Man—who convinces Paul to postpone the wedding. Julia is livid! And determined to woo Paul back.

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of The Choice and The Waiting
Visit Suzanne's website and blog
Buy Suzanne's books at Amazon or Koorong

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Getting to know Tricia Goyer

Prolific author, Tricia Goyer, has just released her second novel written with Mike Yorkey, Chasing Mona Lisa.  It is a delight to have Tricia share about her book and her life. 

Enjoy :)

What appeals to you most about writing fiction?

What I love about fiction most is taking true stories or interesting facts and weaving them together to create a story that readers would fall in love with. I feel as I'm bringing history to life and sharing it with new generations. It's amazing that I get to be a part of that!

Why Christian fiction?

Because Jesus means everything to me I can't imagine writing and having my worldview NOT come through.

Name five things you can’t live without

Jesus, my family, my friends, my computer, social media. LOL.

Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, 13 Going on 30, Pickers

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

Prague, Czech Republic

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A 3rd Grade School Teacher

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I want to adopt 3-4 more kids. (God willing!)

I met my biological father for the first time when I was 28 years old.

Chasing Mona Lisa


It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

With nonstop action, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers' adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.

What was your favourite scene to write in (title of current novel) or share your favourite paragraph

I loved the part where the Parisians celebrate the liberation of Paris!

He approached her and opened his arms to her, and then pulled her into a hold. They lost themselves in the throng of revelers. Gabi’s eyes locked with Eric’s, and she leaned into his hand supporting the small of her back. The movement felt safe and secure and made her hope that she would always feel this way in days to come. When he drew her close, she lay her head on his right shoulder. The tension that had bottled up all day evaporated in his embrace.

She closed her eyes and let the soaring music take her to a tranquil place. A thousand flutters—like ripples on the Seine—stirred as he gently led her around the littered cobblestones of the courtyard. It seemed right that she was here, sharing this moment with Eric and those around her. Never before had people opened their hearts as the Parisians did that afternoon. Streets flooded with joy, they were intoxicated by unsuppressed freedom, free to hug and kiss anyone within arm’s length.

Which character did you connect to the most?

I loved Colette! I appreciated her conflict of struggling to protect the priceless art and trying to protect the people around her too.

Which character was the most difficult to write?

Bernard. The resistance was so complicated. I'm glad that Mike had a great handle on the politics of the time!

What’s next in your writing pipeline?

I'm currently working on a novel with my friend Ocieanna Fleiss. It's our third Love Finds You novel we've done together. The title is, “Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska!” After that I'm working on three more Amish novels and a parenting book!

Thanks for sharing, Tricia :)

Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of The Swiss Courier
Visit Tricia's website
Visit Mike's website
Listen to an interview with Tricia & Mike
Buy Tricia's books at Amazon or Koorong

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