Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway: Struggles and Triumphs Workbook by Cynthia Simmons

Welcome to the CBRB, Cynthia! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Chattanooga, where worked as pediatric RN. In 1978 I married Ray Simmons and moved to Atlanta. My husband and I have five children. Together we homeschooled them through high school. Several of them earned advanced degrees.

In 2004 I joined Christian Authors Guild and learned writing for publication. Since that time I’ve served as chaplain, vice president, president and conference director. I also do a monthly podcast
for writers called CAG Spotlight, and a quarterly podcast for Clash of the Titles.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

I’ve always loved words and writing. In elementary school I attempted to start a book but
stopped when my brother teased me.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

My youngest child is disabled and I took special classes to address his needs. Both of us battled
impossible barriers. During that time, I started historical research. On several occasions, God
used stories I unearthed to encourage me. I wrote Struggles and Triumphs and the Bible study
to give back some of what God gave me. I hope that women who use the study guide will gain a
deeper understanding of God and be more certain of their hope in Christ.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

On occasion I struggle with writer’s block because I want to edit and write at the same time. I’m
such a perfectionist that I can’t stand to write a single phrase that doesn’t perform a concerto. So
when I’m stuck, I allow myself to put words on the screen without letting my inner editor alter
them.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

I tend to read with the eye of an editor now. If there’s a mistake, I’ll probably see it.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ , and
manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

When the Roman soldiers conquered a city, they’d take prisoners back to Rome. They marched
into their capital city while burning incense and displaying their captives. They were proud to
show what they’d accomplished. The apostle Paul used that to draw a picture for us. Regardless
what trials come in our lives, we triumph because of Christ. He is our hope of eternal blessing and because of him we will be conquerors. We know how the story ends, and we know we’ll be
on the right side. Everyone who interacts with us will get a whiff of the sweetness and beauty of
our Savior. That’s something to hang onto when life gets messy.

I’ve had a lot of heartache the last four years. Family members persevered through major illness
and hospitalization about seven times. Both my parents died. I emptied my childhood home. A
child rebelled and ripped my family apart. I’ve shed a lot of tears. Through all the sorrow, I knew
I had something to hang onto. Christ’s death secured my future. I can triumph because of him.
Keeping my mind on the savior and eternity kept me sane.

I love your answer to the previous question. "I can triumph because of Him"- Amen! Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

I’ve read a lot of books I really enjoyed, but if you want spectacular, I’d suggest Mere
Christianity
and Till We Have Faces. Both are by C.S. Lewis.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Our family has never done things the prescribed way. We tend to find our own niches. For
instance, my husband became an elder about seventeen years ago. All my kids were home, and
I knew they’d hate to have him gone. At that time, they met twice a month on Tuesday nights.
So, I devised a tea party for those nights, and I called it Elder Tea Party. The girls prepared all
sorts of goodies and I’d fix real British tea. Before we began, we’d all pray for Dad and the other
elders as they met. The kids loved it. Every time my husband had a meeting, they’d rush him out
the door so they could start preparations. He decided he wanted to come, and requested us to do
tea every week. I agreed, and our tea time became a weekly tradition. But lots of times people
at church wanted to talk to Ray and ask questions. (He’s an elder and Bible teacher.) So, I’d
tell them to come on Tuesday since I was already making preparations. We still have tea every
Tuesday, even though most of my kids are grown. Anyone can come and bring their question
or dilemma—whatever the topic. We discuss it around the table. It’s been an enormous success.
Some weeks we have a small group, and sometimes we get swamped. Lots of people have come,
and we’ve seen lives changed.

Praise Jesus! Please tell us about the featured book.

Struggles and Triumphs Study Guide is a companion to Struggles and Triumphs: Women in History Who Overcame. I pulled issues and questions from the stories of real women to form a 12 week Bible study. It’s a unique way to learn history and Scripture at the same time.

Can you please give us the first page?

Week 1

Life in a World full of Heartache

Tears welled up in Horatio Spafford’s eyes and a sob rose from his chest. “This is the spot. Almighty God, how can I endure the pain?”

Scalding tears slid down his face as he imagined the disaster: the ship sinking, the
screams of the passengers, his girl’s faces. Were they terrified as the waves swept them from his
wife? Did the salt water burn their precious lungs? How long did they suffer?
“I stand gazing upon my children’s grave. Here, in the midst of the ocean, they drowned.
My beautiful daughters.”
“Oh holy Father, I must not allow my faith to sink as well. My four girls are in your arms
now. Safe, secure.” The words tore yet another sob from his soul.
“Give me the words to comfort my dear wife when I arrive in England. She too
experienced disaster, but lived. How many dreams torment her soul?”
When their young son died of a fever, he tried to comfort her. The loss of one child hurt,
but now they lost four in one blow. “God help me.”
His decision to send his family to England alone had been good. Their passage on the
ship had been paid in full for months. A fire destroyed much of his property and that crisis kept
him home. He planned to follow a few days later. God did not hold him accountable for his
absence.
Oh, but that telegram from his wife, “Saved alone!” It ripped all joy from his soul. He
heard their steamer sank, and he prayed constantly for the safety of his family. At least his wife
lived, and he would see her soon.
“It is well with my soul, Lord.” He stood a little taller. “Despite the pain, I know what I
believe.”
He returned to his cabin and pulled paper and pencil from the inside pocket of his coat
and wrote. The poem flowed from his pain, but also from his faith. God was sovereign. He
would believe. The name—he would call it—It is Well with My Soul.

**********
GIVEAWAY!
Cynthia has kindly offered to giveaway a copy of her book Struggles and Triumphs: Women In History Who Overcame Workbook. Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only.

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen using Random.org.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway: A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn

This is my absolute favorite picture of Keli:)
Welcome to the CBRB, Keli! I'm so glad to have you here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me!

I’m a native Californian living in a Gold Rush-era town at the base of the majestic Sierras. Enamored by the history of the area, I set my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, in a nearby town. When I’m not writing, I enjoy strolling past the elegant Victorian houses in my historic hometown, pouring through research books in search of interesting facts to use in my stories, and reading romance novels while walking on the local hiking trail—my favorite form of multitasking.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

I’ve loved writing since I was seven and dreamed of being a writer “one day.” That elusive day didn’t happen until forty years later when I dusted off my dream and began writing my first story.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

I’ve been a romance fan for decades. My favorite reads are historical romances with a faith element. I wanted to write what I love to read.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle is self-doubt. I’d love to say I’ve overcome it, but the pesky Doubt Dragon still plagues me at times. Perhaps if Oprah chooses my story for her book club, I’ll get over it. In all seriousness, I think most writers wrestle with doubt on occasion as we strive to produce stories readers will enjoy.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

Writing has radically changed my life. I was a stay-at-home mom when I began writing and hadn’t worked outside the home in years. I felt like I had things under control. Now I work full-time and then some on writing, blogging, and promotion and never seem to get everything done. I love what I do, so I learned to let some things go, as the monster dust bunnies hiding in the corners prove.

Ha! Ha! I completely understand about the dust bunnies;) What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

Psalm 34:7-8 helped me see that the LORD wants good things for me and that my part is to trust Him. “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Amen! Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

Wow! That’s a toughie. I’ve read many spectacular books, so narrowing it down was a challenge. I’m going with Little Women. I read that book as a child and loved it. Still do. Reading about Josephine March and her dream of being a writer fueled my own dream of writing. Reading about Jo’s relationship with Laurie whet my appetite for romance. Reading about Beth inspired me to live a more selfless, godly life.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

I tried to hijack a bus in Germany once. Unintentionally, of course.

When my husband and I moved to the Nürnberg area in the late 80s, I resurrected my high school German. On a day early in our years living there, I wanted to catch a bus heading to the PX by the army post. I asked the driver if he went there. At least I thought that’s what I said. He eyed me warily, and I repeated my request more emphatically. His brows shot toward the roof. Feeling ill-at-ease, I squeaked out the question one more time. His features relaxed, and he waved me on the bus.

When I told my husband about the encounter that night, he said I’d used the command form rather than the questioning form. The poor driver was likely worried I was going to take over his bus by force.

Buy At Amazon
Please tell us about the featured book.

Widow Elenora Watkins is determined to provide for herself and her daughter without relying on anyone else. Can she run a successful business after falling for the competition? Miles Rutledge finds himself willing to do anything to keep Elenora in town. But can he win her heart while putting her out of business?

Can you please give us the first page?

April 1870
The Sierra Foothills of California
The stagecoach lurched to a stop, throwing Elenora and Matilda Watkins against a damask-covered sidewall.
Elenora clutched her nine-year-old daughter to her side. “Are you all right, Tildy?”
“Oh Mama. You don’t have to be so skittery.” Tildy shrugged out of the protective embrace, scooted across the bench seat, and shoved the leather window shade aside. “I want to see what’s going on.” She peeked out, whirled around with wide eyes and an enormous grin, and let the dust shield fall with a thwap. “It’s an outlaw, and he’s pointing a gun at the driver.”
Where did her daughter get those wild notions of hers? Elenora shot Tildy a reassuring smile and leaned over the center jump seat to have a look. “Lord, help us.”
A shudder ripped through her. The horrid man atop the big black horse was, in fact, aiming a gun at the coachman, but he was aiming a look of sheer evil at her. One of his eyes bored into her while the other seemed to roam. His sneer made her skin crawl.
How could this be happening? They’d ridden all the way from Omaha on that snorting beast of a train and made the line changes in Ogden and Sacramento City without incident. Why did something have to go wrong on the final five miles between Shingle Springs and El Dorado?
The outlaw’s deep voice boomed. “Hand it over.”

Where can readers learn more information about you? By the way readers, Keli's website is beautiful- both the content and the design.

They can visit my cyber home at www.keligwyn.com.

**********
GIVEAWAY!
Alright readers, here's your chance to win a copy of Keli's debut novel A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only.

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen using Random.org.

Book Review: Swipe by Evan Angler

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"Everyone gets the Mark. It gives all the benefits of citizenship. Yet it getting the Mark is such a good thing, why does it feel so wrong?

Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.


The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It’s almost Logan Langly’s 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago…and never came back.


When Logan and his friends discover the truth behind the Mark, will they ever be able to go back to being normal teenagers?"


As I mentioned in my last review, Replication by Jill Williamson was not my last venture into the Young Adult genre. I've dipped my toe deeper into this genre with my latest read: Swipe by Evan Angler- and this book has further convinced me that the YA genre is the perfect variation from my usual reads.

Swipe captured my attention with the first page and kept me in its grasp until its closing. With a bucket-load of mystery, and suspense, Swipe had me on a wild ride. The fact that it was set during the tribulation in "future America" intrigued me even more. I enjoyed reading about Evan's view on "future America" and the Mark System.

The only drawback to this book was that it had no spiritual element in it- not even the mention of God. However, I think the author left out a spiritual element because of the time period this book is set in and I'm fairly confident that the characters will be introduced to Jesus in later book... at least, I hope so. Frankly, I noticed this "omission" after I finished reading the book. I was so engrossed in the story that it didn't occur to me until I'd finished the last page (and in the back of my mind I'd assumed that a spiritual element would be introduced sometime later in the story).

With lots of suspense- and even a touch of romance- Swipe has proven to be another satisfying read. If you're looking for a wild ride, with a surprising jolt at the end- and a YA flair, of course- then I'd recommend you try Swipe by Evan Angler. I give it 5 stars! And if you start feeling as if your being watched at night, don't say I didn't warn you;) It can be bought at Amazon.

** Thanks to Jill Williamson through Team Novel Team who provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: Replication by Jill Williamson

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When Your Life Is Not Your Own


Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to “expire” in less than a month. To see the sky.
Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars.
As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he’s ever known.
Replication was a perfect story full of adventure, mystery, and love. This was my first venture into the Young Adult genre and has proven to not be my last. I enjoyed that Jill wasted no time in lengthy descriptions but got right into the action. Yet, she gave me enough details so that I could sufficiently visualize the setting.

The foundation of the story was nothing if not unique. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone with this book that dealt with human cloning. But I enjoyed the change immensely. The interesting dialogue, endearing characters, and the afore mentioned action combined to make a heart-thumping, sigh-worthy read.

Abby was my favorite character. Her feistiness, "nerdiness," and godliness made me bond with her almost immediately. Her defense of Biblical principals (such as pro-life issues) and doing what was right were admirable- and her bravery was surely worthy of emulating.

Martyr was an interesting character. Because he had lived in an underground facility all his life, his take on the outside world was often humorous. It was difficult to bond with Martyr because of the unusual circumstances surrounding his "creation" (the way he was created). For this reason, the romance felt somewhat awkward, as well. I wouldn't have been upset at all if Jill had chosen JD to be Abby's future husband (I felt a little sad for him [those who've read the book would understand]).

However, the things mentioned above did not take the perfectness from the book. Besides the romance, I would not change a single thing. If you're looking for a drastic change in your reading and a book with a perfectly balanced amount of action, dialogue, and romance- with a Young Adult flair- then look no further then Replication. The perfect book for the perfect change you're looking for in your reading. I heartily give this book 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Thanks to the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Book Review: The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson

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"At their sixtieth anniversary party, Adam Carlson asks his wife, Elizabeth, for their customary waltz. After the dance they gather the family and share their story—a story of love and courage overcoming adversity and thriving in the face of overwhelming odds.
It’s the summer of 1946, and Adam has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana. At a town festival he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.
When Adam and Elizabeth share a waltz in a deserted pavilion one evening, their feelings begin to grow and they embark on a journey, and a dance, that will last a lifetime."

The Anniversary Waltz was a unique romance that swept me away in it's tale of forgiveness, redemption, and love. Darrel Nelson brought a freshness to the Historical Romance genre. From beautiful word pictures and smooth writing, to a mud-fight romance scene and an unexpected ending- this book had it all!

The pacing was just right. After the slow beginning, the plot steadily plodded onward beckoning me to continue the story until its ending. My emotions were stirred as I rejoiced- and wept- with the characters. My heart bonded with the characters and my imagination was able to easily envision the scenes. Darrel engaged all of my senses resulting in a satisfying read. If you're looking for a change from the usual Historical Romance fare, then I recommend you read The Anniversary Waltz. You won't be disappointed! I give it 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Thanks to Wild Card Blog Tours for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: After All by Deborah Raney

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"Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband, David, and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she’s finally beginning to heal.

But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave. A secret that changes everything she thought their marriage had been. For the sake of their sons, can Susan forgive the unforgivable?

Andrea Morley lost her closest friend in the fire. But she has no right to mourn him. Instead, she must forever grieve in silence—because her dearest friend was someone else’s husband.

Peter Brennan carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. As Hanover Falls’ fire chief, he was responsible for the brave firefighters who lost their lives that awful November night. Can he ever shake the feeling that he should have somehow prevented the tragedy?

As he tries to rebuild the team at Clemens County’s Station 2, it seems he might find comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected."

After All was a lovely book from cover to cover. To begin with, the town of Hanover Falls was the perfect setting for this romance. Deborah transported me to this charming town with her descriptive word pictures.

The characters were well fleshed out and mostly lovable... mostly. The character who filled the shoes of the villain disgusted me. She got under my skin, completely- a definite sign of a good book. Susan's compassionate heart for the homeless and sacrificial spirit were admirable. And Pete was a wonderful hero. Kind, strong, handsome, and- once he'd reconciled with Jesus- godly.

The plot progressed at a gentle yet steady place. The romance was sweet and felt believable especially since almost every scene revolved around an informal dinner. And the cherry on top was the element of suspense Susan threw in concerning who started the Grove Street Fire. The reveal was shocking!

I do want to say that this is the third book in a trilogy; however, it is not necessary to read the first two books. I understood everything despite the fact that I did not read the first two books, although the shocking reveal at the end might have had a greater impact if I had.

I give this book 5 stars. It was a sweet romance with an added element of suspense, well-rounded characters, a disgusting villain, and a Christian message- the right ingredients for a wonderful read! It can be bought at Amazon.

** Many thanks to Glass Roads Public Relations for providing my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway: Because Of Me by Fay Lamb

Welcome to the CBRB, Fay! Thank you for being here! Readers, I've read Fay's debut novel Because Of Me and it's absolutely wonderful! So complex! God willing, my review is soon to come. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Fay Lamb. I work as an acquisition editor for Pelican Book Group, offer services as a freelance editor, and I’m an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Because of Me is my debut romantic suspense novel, and it is available at all book retailers and Treble Heart Books/Mountainview Publishing, www.trebleheartbooks.com/MVLamb.

My passion is working with and encouraging fellow writers. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), I co-moderate the large Scribes’ Critique Group and manage the smaller Scribes’ critique groups.

In 2012, I was also elected to serve as secretary on ACFW’s Operating Board.
My husband, Marc, and I reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of our families have lived. The legacy continues with our two married sons and five grandchildren.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

I get asked this question a lot, and you know, I don’t think I really ever discovered that I love writing. It’s just been a natural extension of who I am. All the way through school, my classmates knew me as the writer.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

I love to write stories with issues to show that God is in the details of every part of our lives. Romantic suspense also adds that special something I always like to find in books that I read—a few good twists and turns, keeping the reader from guessing what’s coming next.

Has writing changed your life in any way?


Only lately. With the publication of Because of Me I’m seeing what it’s like on the other side. When I was writing, writing, writing, with the only goal in front of me being the desire to get published, I wasn’t looking at all that is required once you do reach your goal.

Now, I understand it when the marketing gurus tell you to start with marketing in mind. I’ve been extremely busy since publication taking care of the marketing end, learning what I probably should have learned before I ever sent the book off for acceptance.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

In my novel, Because of Me, the hero’s life verse is Job 13:15, “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust in Him, but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.”
This verse speaks of the type of steadfast faith we should have in our awesome Savior. No matter what we face, we need to trust in Him. The hero, Michael Hayes, has already been through so much. Everything he loved had been torn from him in one violent act against the girl he loved. Still, when Michael trusted Christ as his Savior, this is the verse he chose to cling to. As I wrote the story, I discovered, along with Michael, that sometimes when God slays us, it isn’t always a bad thing. God’s immeasurable mercy and grace toward us is something that slays me daily. No wonder Michael loves this Scripture.

Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

I don’t even have to stop and think about this one. The book is Bliss by Jenness Walker and Tracy Bowen. Those two ladies wove a story that had be laughing from page one through to the very last memorable line of the story. I laughed so hard that my husband would come out of his office, and I’d read him portions of the story. Laughter and an added bonus—a great message.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Wow, I get asked this question a lot, too. I think folks actually believe writers are quirky people, and they’re right. Because quirky is a normal state for me, I had to ask a friend. She was all too happy to comply, but she didn’t give me the one story that involved her, so I’m going to do it.

On my friend’s thirtieth birthday I actually planned a slumber party built around one of our favorite television shows. When my friend arrived, she was greeted with posters from the British science fiction series Primeval and our favorite actor in the show. I’d bought a child’s cake, complete with dinosaurs (a major portion of the television show), plunked the actor’s character picture into the middle of it, and filled a table in the room with all kinds of not-so-good-for-you treats, and we sat down to a marathon of the first three years of the show. My kids stopped by to view the insanity, my husband checked in on us from time to time, but we actually made it through the entire thirty-six hours without sleep.

I’m now planning the sequel to this event, which will include the final two seasons of the show for a total of forty-eight hours of non-stop Primeval.

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Oh my! You have me shocked, Fay- and smiling:) Please tell us about the featured book.

Because of Me was birthed when the hero, Michael Hayes, came onto the stage of my imagination and said, “There’s a young boy, Cole. I’m not his father, but he’s definitely on this earth because of me. I allowed something horrible to happen to his mother, but I still love her. I despise the kid, though. I’ve forgiven another for so much more, and Cole’s only fault is that his father is the man who took everything from me. How can I learn to love this child and protect his mother from the man who can again take her from me?”

Michael’s story captivated me, and when it was all said and done, I realized that Romans 8:28 permeates the pages of this story. All things, both the good and the bad, are used by God for our good.

Can you please give us the first page?

“Michael.” Issie bolted upright in bed, fighting the blankets and gasping for air. She ran her hand across her mouth and scanned the darkness enveloping her room.
Her breath, harsh at first, settled into a normal rhythm. She had nothing to fear. “Michael,” she choked out his name again then settled back down and curled into a ball.
She’d clung to the memory of his handsome face, but with each passing year he slipped further away. The desperate yearning to see him took her breath away.
One thing she’d never forget was the way his eyes, the color of dark chocolate, always followed her lips when she spoke, as if he wanted to kiss them long and deep. He’d loved her then. She loved him now.
Another face fought to replace her treasured memory. She shuddered and closed her eyes, fighting the vision of Tom Jervis on top of her, taking everything she’d saved for Michael—for their marriage bed. Everything she desired fell out of reach on that night.
“Mommy?” the frightened voice sounded from the hallway.
“Cole, I’m here. What is it?”
With bare feet, her seven-year-old plopped across the wood floor and over the old woolen rug to her bed. “Are you okay?”
Issie turned on her bed stand lamp. A soft light shone from beneath the green glass top, illuminating his sleepy face and tired soul-filled gray eyes.
“I had another bad dream.” She scooted over, and he climbed up beside her.
The nightmare had vanished for such a long time. Why was it resurfacing now? Could you call them dreams if the events really happened?
“Mommy, who’s Michael?”
She stiffened. He’d never asked that question. Had she not cried out for Michael in the night before? How could she answer? Yet, not responding might alarm him since he heard her call out the name. “Yeah, baby, I do.”
He rolled over to face her. “Your bad dreams are about him?”
She touched her finger to his nose. “No, they aren’t about him, but he’s in them. Having him there makes it better for me.”
Better for her, but not for Michael. What had it cost him to watch Jervis do what he’d done to her?
“How does he make it better?”
Issie pushed her boy’s shaggy blond hair from his face. He needed a haircut, but he wanted it long until the end of the baseball season. His helmet fit better, he said.
“How does he make it better?” He repeated, propping himself up on one elbow. “Did he help you?”
A vision of Michael branded her memory—the tears in his eyes, the rage in the flare of his nostrils, and the sorrow in the turn of his lips.
“No, but he would if he could.” She pressed her chin against the top of Cole’s head and wrapped her arms around his pint-size body, drawing comfort from his warmth and concern. Cole was a good boy. No one could tell her differently. “In my dream, Michael’s having a tough time too, maybe worse than Mommy.”
“Where does Michael live?” He yawned and turning, he faced away from her, his little body curving with hers.
“I don’t know where he is today.” At least that was the truth now. “I haven’t seen him in over seven years.” Since his release from prison, Issie had no idea where he’d gone.
“Oh,” he said. His breathing soon settled into a sweet rhythm of sleep.
“Michael.” She breathed the name. As she’d done since the day she learned she carried a boy, she imagined Michael embracing her son and accepting him as his own. The fantasy, though, was too fantastic for even her to believe.

**********
GIVEAWAY!
Fay has kindly offered to giveaway a print copy of her book Because Of Me. Trust me, you don't want to pass off a chance to win this stunning novel! So, just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only.

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Tweet +1
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(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Sunday, June 17, 2012 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen using Random.org.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tour: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

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"Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light...whether he likes it or not. 

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?"


My Stubborn Heart was a unique read. Becky Wade has done a wonderful job with her debut novel. To begin with, the characters each had depth/dimension and all felt very real. I really enjoyed that the main characters, Matt and Kate, were not the usual stereotype hero and heroine. Kate looked like an average girl and Matt was silent and brooding.

The story plot was interesting and had me wanting to continue flipping through the pages. The romance was unique as well. My favorite part of the plot was the drastic yet gradual change Matt underwent. Seeing him toss off all bitterness and pain and embrace the love of God and God's plan for his life was sigh-worthy.

The humor in the book was wonderful! Morty and Velma- practically all the seniors- were a hoot! Their subplot was very fun to read.

Another wonderful plus is that the book was especially Christ-centered. Kate talked with God frequently and He responded back... in His timing. I loved the spiritual message to leave our love-life in God's hands- to let Him write your love story. Despite, the very Christ-centered message in the book there were a few things I disagreed with. Some questionable and unnecessary words were used, gambling held a major part in the story-line, and the characters celebrated halloween.

In spite of the few things I disagreed with in the book, I would still recommend it to someone who is looking for a unique romance with quirky characters and a strong spiritual message. I give My Stubborn Heart a 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought on Amazon.

** Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tour: Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt

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"Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after?

Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.

Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancé’s trust lead to a true happily ever after?

Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead."


Wish You Were Here began with a very intriguing situation- one that I was interested in seeing the outcome. For that reason, I was flipping the pages wondering the whole time how it would end.

Beth's writing drew me into the story. It was smooth, engaging, and fun. The characters had me smiling a few times. And I was glad that Beth kept me guessing till the end.

The book did disappoint me in certain respects. Although the premise was unique and interesting, it felt wrong and very unbelievable. I had to stretch my imagination in order to enjoy the story. A woman having to choose between two brothers, one that she was recently engaged to? Weird. Also, the book was not very Christ-centered- and the one woman who was supposed to be firm in Christ, Meagan, was questionable. And the subplot of the story- Haldeigh and Evan's story- felt forced as if it was added to story as an afterthought. Lastly, I was unsatisfied with the ending. It was not the one I'd anticipated and it left me hanging.

Overall, this book was an interesting and suspenseful read, although I was somewhat disappointed with it. I give Wish You Were Here 3 out 5 stars. It can be bought on Amazon.

** Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.