Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review: Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund

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"In 1763 Massachusetts, Susanna Smith has grown up with everything she's ever wanted, except one thing: an education. Because she's a female, higher learning has been closed to her, but her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. She's determined to put her status to good use, reaching out to the poor and deprived. And she knows when she marries well, she will be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Ben Ross grew up a farmer's son and has nothing to his name but his Harvard education. A poor country lawyer, he doesn't see how he'll be able to fulfill his promise to make his father proud of him. When family friends introduce him to the Smith family, he's drawn to quick-witted Susanna but knows her family expects her to marry well. When Susanna's decision to help an innocent woman no matter the cost crosses with Ben's growing disillusionment with their British rulers, the two find themselves bound together in what quickly becomes a very dangerous fight for justice."


This was my first Jody Hedlund book and, based on the rave reviews I've heard/read about Jody's novels, it delivered the quality writing and story-line I was expecting. I enjoyed the historical setting and the well-researched historical details. The plot was definitely brimming with action.

I enjoyed the plot-line of the indentured servant. It added a different-- and suspenseful-- edge to the book. The fact that Susanna, one of the main characters, was a British loyalist made for an interesting point of view not very often done in pre-Revolutionary War novels (at least, not in any I've read). Experiencing those times from both opposing viewpoints, Ben's (a "rebel") and Susanna's, was an enlightening experience. I truly enjoyed the political talks scattered throughout the book.

From what I've heard/read, Jody is known for her romance yet, while many consider this a plus, I felt the romance was a bit overdone. Sure, there was great tension and romantic obstacles-- but Susanna and Ben's relationship seemed too sensual [emotion based]. The romance wasn't fluffy, per se, but there was just something about it.... However, finding out that Ben and Susanna represented John and Abigail Adams somewhat softened my view since, to tell the truth, it's interesting to think about the beginning's of John and Abigail's love.

Adding an undercover operation executed by the colonists under the nose of Mr.Wolf (I think that's his name), an evil-- tyrant-- British soldier, was the icing on the cake. I enjoyed my first Jody Hedlund novel and won't mind trying more of her work in the future. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Much thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.**

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Anomaly by Krista McGee

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"Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.
 
Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world was decimated by a nuclear war. But life continued deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. There they created genetically engineered human beings who are free of emotions in the hope that war won’t threaten the world again.

Thalli is an anomaly, born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far by hiding her differences. But then her secret is discovered when she’s overwhelmed by the emotion of an ancient piece of music.

The Ten quickly schedule her annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk—a scientist being groomed by The Ten—convinces them to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the Scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance.

As her life ticks a way, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along."

If you've been reading my book reviews for some time, you know that I've discovered a new favorite genre: Young Adult. It's so different from my usual reading material that, so far, it hasn't failed to add that diversity "necessary" in my reading life. Anomaly is definitely the perfect read to drag you out of your comfort zone!

Out of the four or five Dysotopian novels I've read, Anomaly is not the best, but it definitely stands out from the crowd with its unique underground community where emotions are forbidden and an advanced form of technology -- the ability to create completely believable virtual worlds -- is present.

This book was written in first person which I enjoyed since I was able to "enter" Thalli's brain and discover for myself how someone trained to suppress emotion thinks. Her simple and innocent way of thinking was believable due to the circumstances surrounding her existence. And her slowly blossoming feelings for Berk was all the more sweeter considering she had never heard of love.

Berk was a wonderful character who I would love to learn more about. Not being able to really delve into knowing him is the only drawback to this book being written in first person. He was very sacrificial, smart, and brave. In fact, he shouldered most of the danger by always coming to Thalli's rescue and repeatedly trying to convince the scientists of Thalli's usefulness and needed existence.

The ending was definitely unexpected and left me with a known truth: If I can get my hands on the next book in this series, I most assuredly will:-) I must add to this review, that I enjoyed all the musical references and how a song played an important part in Thalli's redemption. I give Anomaly 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Much thanks to Team Novel Teen and Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book free in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Litfuse: The Offering by Angela Hunt

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"One innocent mistake . . . a lifetime of consequences.

After growing up an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can’t afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child, she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter. . . .

Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy’s world and leaves her reeling. Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.

Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened—could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what’s best for the little boy she has never known."

Angela Hunt definitely knows how to deliver an emotion-packed story! And she has chosen a topic not seen much in the book world: surrogates. It is clear that the author has done her research. As I've stated a few times in previous book reviews, I really enjoy a book in which I learn new things and Angela gave me an intellectual feast because, before reading this book, I didn't have much knowledge about surrogates.

In addition to her careful research, Angela has managed to craft a rather complex plot. The events that occurred in the book would have to be completely coordinated in order for them to actually happen; yet, the fact that it was medically and scientifically possible made it easier for me to accept the circumstances and, therefore, didn't hinder my reading experience.

Mandy was an easy character to relate to and, due to the heart-breaking experiences she lived through, it was no wonder that I shed tears with her a couple times. By the time the ending came, my eyes were steadily leaking. I didn't expect the book to end the way it did and, were it not for the epilogue, The Offering would've ended on a melancholy note. But, the epilogue definitely saved the book and left me satisfied and placated as to how the book ended.

An emotionally gripping story with an intricate plot and a lot of food for thought, I give The Offering 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Much thanks to Litfuse Publicity for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book Review: Storm by Evan Angler

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"In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care—without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.


Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Ever since, he’s been on the run from government agents and on a quest to find his sister Lily, who disappeared when she went to get her Mark five years earlier. His journey leads him to befriend the Dust, a vast network of Markless individuals who dissent against the iron-grip rule of the government. Along the way to the capital to find Lily, the Dust receive some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.

In Storm, Logan and his friends are the leaders of the Markless revolution. But while some Markless are fighting Chancellor Cylis’ army, the Dust is busy trying to find a cure for a horrible epidemic sweeping through the Marked. And it's difficult for them to know who to trust, especially when they aren't sure if Logan's sister Lily, one of the commanders in Cylis' army, is on their side or not. And all across the nation—and the world—the weather has become less stable and a storm is brewing that bigger than any of them could have ever imagined."

Storm by Evan Angler delivered everything I was anticipating-- and more! Throughout the entire novel there was non-stop action and intrigue. There were several different plot-lines happening at once but this didn't hamper the forward momentum of the book in any way. Evan Angler's strength is in his story lines; they're vibrant, unique, and suspenseful-- although, the character development tends to suffer damage. True, while I was reading I didn't really care about the lack of character development because the plot stole the show; but as I was thinking about the book a few weeks after I had finished it, I felt somewhat short-changed because I knew so little about the characters themselves. (I only mention this because I know some readers enjoy a character-driven story instead of a plot-driven story.)

I loved how Evan included himself-- and his first book Swipe-- into this book. The characters even discuss how Swipe differs from how things actually happened! At the end, we see Evan delivering some vital information to one of the characters-- how unique is that? It's kind of like reading an eye-witness account of the future:-)

Which brings me to the ending. Evan has done it again with his BANG! ending. Wow! So unanticipated and an even greater Bang! than the previous two books-- which is a pretty amazing feat! This third book has thoroughly convinced me that, as of right now, I am going to read every one of Evan's books. His plots are that good! And I do enjoy a nice young adult read every now and then.

With mentions of super-cool future technology, a glimpse of future America, an amazing plot-- not to mention that BANG! ending-- and a cliff hanger, Storm by Evan Angler is not a book to miss. I give it 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Litfuse Publicity Tour: Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Unrivaled
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Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe’s best confections, she’s sure she’ll come up with a recipe that will save her father’s struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager–a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.

Charlie Clarke’s new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he’s never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She’s making his work life miserable…and making herself impossible for him to forget.
Unrivaled was a suh-weet story. Okay, sweet is not exactly the best word to describe Unrivaled-- but since the plot delves deep into the candy-making business I felt compelled to use it:-) Great characterization, engaging plot, forbidden romance, and vivid historical details are more apt choices of description.

I really enjoyed the main spiritual lesson inter-weaved throughout the plot about God being enough. If we truly repent of our sins and surrender our life to Him that's enough-- no works necessary in order to become His child.

Both Charlie and Lucy were enjoyable and three-dimensional characters. After reading the book, I realized that Lucy seemed mean and bossy and selfish; yet she committed actions that exhibited these traits because she believed she was accomplishing a worthy goal: the rescuing of her father's failing business, City Confectionery. In light of that fact, Lucy came even more to life because how many times have I done deeds that were selfish and mean to further a goal I wanted to accomplish?

I loved how Charlie was not your normal proper gentleman. He had a past and, because of his past and his poor (in a literal sense) upbringing, he was not Mr.Uptight-and-Stuffy Charles. Sure, he thought of breaking social etiquette and sliding down the banister instead of walking down the stairs or speaking up for the underpaid factory workers because he remembered how it felt to not be able to provide sufficiently for his family. Becoming rich didn't suddenly harden his heart; although, in time, he did learn how to conduct himself like a proper gentleman... mostly;-)

The romance had a deeper edge to it and wasn't a fluffy feel-good romance, which I really enjoyed. Lucy and Charlie came to understand and love each other, despite the fact that their fathers were enemies on opposite sides of the candy rink. And throwing in fiance Alfred Arthur (or is it Arthur Alfred?;-) drove the romantic plot forward not allowing it to drag.

I always love when a book includes a male friend of the heroine that remains a friend and nothing more throughout the whole book. In Unrivaled this character comes in the form of Sam. And Siri did a great job of keeping me in the dark as to who was  the City Confectionery spy. There were plenty of suspects, including Sam.

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell was a wonderful read. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon. Oh, I almost forgot to mention how I loved the candy imagery/quotes sprinkled throughout the book. They were perfect and, hmm, sweet.

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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Litfuse Publicity Tour: Love In the Balance by Regina Jennings

LoveintheBalance
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Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How’s a Girl to Choose?
Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together.
Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town–and her life–and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind.
What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?
Regina has created your normal historical romance yet with an unexpected twist. The writing was engaging, the characters memorable, and the plot unique. Of all the characters, Bailey was my favorite. His godliness was his most charming trait-- not to mention his passion and kindness. He recognized his faults and even confessed his sins to his pastor. His commitment to remain in God's will and resist temptation endeared him to me all the more. And when he failed and succumbed to the desires of his his flesh, he displayed true repentance.

Unfortunently, I didn't like Molly all that much. She depended too much on Bailey and not on God. She was spolied, manipulative, and petty. And the circumstances involving her and Pierrepont seemed forced and unbelievable. Truly, I only tried to like her for Bailey's sake-- as a character she wasn't horrible, I just couldn't relate to her in any way and couldn't understand her actions. I must say that she managed to redeem herself at the end... slighty.

I enjoyed the attentiveness Regina gave to historical detail-- mainly on the fashions of the day-- and the humor balanced in between the serious issues handled in the book. The romance, overall, was deep and portrayed a beautiful lesson of enduring love, at least, in Bailey's case. Regina managed to deliver a satisfying ending albeit bitter-sweet. Now, despite its short-comings, I managed to read Love In the Balance in two-three days because the plot kept my interest enough that I wanted to see how the character's problems resolved themselves. I give Love In the Balance three stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for the honest review that I have given**

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CFBA Tour- Book Review: Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Catherine's Pursuit
Realms (February 5, 2013)
by
Lena Nelson Dooley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers http://www.acfw.com/ and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

ABOUT THE BOOK 



When Angus McKenna was forced to give two of his daughters to families in the wagon train, he promised he'd never try to contact them. Catherine made no such pledge. But when she sets out to find her sisters, she doesn't go alone. Angus sends Collin with her. Will they discover the two women---and love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Catherine's Pursuit, go HERE.

REVIEW
At the mature age of eighteen your life is pretty secure and your future seems bright, but when your life gets flipped upside-down it proves to be quite heart-breakingly unstable. The day of her birthday Catherine learns that she was born a triplet and her mother died birthing THE three of them. Though her father promised never to reclaim the other daughters he gave away, Catherine goes on a journey to find the sisters she has always wanted. Her father proceeds to send young Collin Elliot to protect his pampered daughter in her mad-dash search. Collin has his own skeletons in his closet that hinder his way of life and happiness. The future holds great things for all if they choose to forget about their pasts and live for the future.


This book is the culmination to the Mckenna triplets' adventures. The book presented many strong Christian lessons. I love how the author portrayed each character with the same fear of rejection, making it a bonding theme. Though prompted by different occurrences, we see how rejection comes in many forms and affects each differently.

The search proved to be a bit faster than I thought accurate, but it did help to not drag the book out long. Though the journey begins as one just to find her missing sisters, Catherine learns a lot about her true self and love. Which allowed the reader to get to know her on a more personal level.

Catherine's Pursuit, book three in the Mckenna's Daughter Series, is the conclusion to this heart-stirring series. Having read only book two and the final one, I felt like I missed a part of the puzzle. I would recommend that the reader read all three installments to appreciate the full richness to this tale.

The emotionally drawn characters, suspenseful plot, and nice pace, though they were great additions to the book, were not my favorite elements. My favorite thing was how Lena's writing style stands true to what a biblical novel should be. She presented the gospel in such a clear cut way that anyone could understand it (the characters and readers;) Much to my edification, she had some characters that resembled true, rich relationships with Christ. The author included many diverse biblical themes throughout the story plot much to my spiritual delight.

I enjoyed this novel seeing the bittersweet ending and concluding my time with the Mckennas. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoys happy endings and a sweet styled plot. I give Catherine's Pursuit 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.
** Much thanks to Ali for guest reviewing**

Friday, March 15, 2013

CFBA Tour- Book Review: Memory of Murder by Ramona Richards

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Memory of Murder
Love-Inspired Suspense
by
Ramona Richards

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A word from Ramona:

The hardest biographical sketch to write is always your own, whether or not you’re a writer by profession. You can’t decide what to throw in, what to leave out, and whether or not you should list strengths and flaws, or just strengths.

I like writing and telling stories so much that I once tried to live out a few. After getting a master’s in English, I went on to be the seneschale of my local Society for Creative Anachronism. I had a rocky start, but I did get better. (Robin Hood, eat your heart out.)

People often ask members of the SCA, “Are you in a play?” so I thought it would be fun to do that, too. For seven years, I produced and performed in shows staged by Nashville’s Circle Players.

Although I’m single now, I married in 1982 and in 1987 had Rachel. She’s a cutie. Severely disabled, she’s the heroine of many an article for Special Ed Today magazine. Rachel's nurse, Phyllis, is the real life heroine of “An Act of Desperation,” which I sold to Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul.

I’m not really a complex person, and my dreams are fairly straightforward: sell books, have enough money to pay the bills and travel a bit, and settle into a cottage. In early 2006, I bought the cottage, which is now more or less swamped by books and DVDs. I write at night (I’m a lifelong night owl), and I occasionally escape by scuba diving, hiking, dancing, and going to movies and bookstores.

I’ve gone to the same church since 1993, and I even sing in the choir. It’s a small but awesome church. I’m no angel, although occasionally I play one in the backyard.

I like staying busy. Life is too short not to follow your dreams.

ABOUT THE BOOK 

THE SECRETS OF HER PAST COULD IMPERIL HER FUTURE 

Lindsey Presley certainly can't imagine why anyone would want her dead-though she knows she wouldn't be alive today if not for the local cop who saved her from two murder attempts. Deputy Jeff Gage has worked difficult cases, but with only Lindsey's fractured memories of a broken past to guide him, this is by far his most challenging.

For Lindsey, fleeing the town she has come to call home is unthinkable. Separately, they are vulnerable, but together, Jeff and Lindsey just may stand a chance of catching a ruthless killer.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Memory of Murder, go HERE.

Watch the book video trailer:


MY REVIEW
For its small size, Memory of Murder by Ramona Richards has a great story arc and characters that are surprisingly real, considering the small amount of words that Ramona had to flesh them out. The mystery and suspense were well done and kept me flipping the pages. So much so that I read the book in about a day.

The romance and action were well-balanced. And I was pleasantly surprised by some of the unexpected twists scattered throughout the book.

Lindsey and Jeff were easy characters to cheer for, especially considering Lindsey’s hard childhood. Her toughness and determination were admirable qualities. The ending was predictable, to a certain extent, yet sweet. This book is great for those looking for a quick read full of mystery and hint of romance. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CFBA Tour- Book Review: Swept Away by Mary Connealy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Swept Away
Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
by
Mary Connealy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie's Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she's one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.

ABOUT THE BOOK 

When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas!

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she's going to have to go with him.

But the more time Luke spends around the hardworking young woman, the more he finds himself thinking of things besides revenge. Will Ruthy convince him to give up his destructive path and be swept away by love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Swept Away, go HERE.

MY REVIEW

Swept Away is the first book I've read by Mary Connealy-- and I don't think it'll be my last. Western Romance is one of my favorite genres and Connealy doesn't disappoint. In fact, she probably puts the western in Western Romance-- okay, maybe the romance too:-) (Not that I've read many western romances...;)

Luke and Ruthy are great main characters. They're both strong and hardworking and determined. Ruthy was an especially fun character-- her spunk and bravery are admirable. And, hey, it's hard not to envy a girl who can cook well, loves (or needs) to clean, can survive on her own in the wilderness if need be, and is a crack-shot with a gun. To be honest, she seemed a little too perfect, in spite of her hard years with the Reinhardts (her "adopted" family). But her perfectness didn't really hinder me from enjoying the story.

Luke and his friends were more believable characters-- all former Union soldiers who survived Andersonville. They gave an authentic western-feel to the book with their charm and skill with guns-- and their execution of their plan against Flint Greer. Glynna Greer, Flint's wife, added another dimension to the book and provided a second layer of suspense.

For me, the romance was hasty. I enjoyed it, but it felt shallow since Luke and Ruthy barely knew each other and love was not at the center of their emotions-- only outward attraction. As a result, the romance twist towards the middle of the book wasn't sigh-worthy. It was understandable and could be justified as necessary but it felt as if nothing had changed, which, in this case, is strange.

The action was high throughout the book. And Connealy did a great job at incorporating the western-feel by her scenery, imagery (metaphors, similes, etc), and dialogue. Complete with western villains. Overall, Swept Away was a great read that I enjoyed. You'd be a yellow-bellied sidewinder not to read it for your yourself:-) I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: Amidst Traffic by Michel Sauret

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

Author: Michel Sauret
Book: “Amidst Traffic”
Genre: Short Stories

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

In high school I had to pick an author for a book report, so I chose Stephen King, thinking he would be nice and easy since he’d already written so much. I selected his novella, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” because I had watched the movie a dozen times. Heck, maybe I didn’t even need to read the story to write my report...

Except, after reading a few pages I became hooked. Reading that novella changed me. The characters, their motives and their pains all felt so alive.

Soon after that, I began writing short stories.

There was something really satisfying about writing short stories. You had to pack so much meaning, emotion and development is a short number of pages.

My early work was obviously really immature, since I was just 16, but it was a start. It propelled me forward to writing my first novel, “Breathing God” which was published by the time I was in college.

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

My first novel, “Breathing God” was an end-times type novel. Except, even though it was “Christian” I wouldn’t call it Biblical. It was total fiction from start to finish, not based on Scripture in any way.

With my second book, “Amidst Traffic” I was more interested in conveying the pain and suffering we experience in this life and present it in light of our existence in God. I wanted it to be a book about human struggles, and the real philosophical and even physical challenges we must battle in daily life.

I think that writing quality fiction should always be human first. God created people with minds, emotions and desires. That’s my drive in my fiction, to write compelling characters first, then fit the story around them like a cape.

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

When I published the first edition of “Amidst Traffic” it actually contained a heavy amount of profanity. My original motive for keeping it in the book was to convey a real depiction of the world: a world of depravity. This was an internal battle for me for a while. The grittiness of the language certainly made the characters more believable and realistic, but were they necessary?

In the end, I decided I could convey the same sense of depravity without actually being explicit in its depiction. I scrubbed all of the stories and republished the book under a renewed edition.

The tension I felt about it has since been gone.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

Writing always forces people to be more thoughtful. I’m a terribly impatient person, and often I jump to unwarranted conclusions when I don’t understand something. Writing allows us to chew on ideas, problems or internal pains. Sometimes the experience is cathartic, while other times it’s more philosophical. Writing forces me to slow down and not jump to conclusions.

Also, it’s incredibly satisfying to create characters to battle out my thoughts in the form of a story. I write myself in a lot of my characters, then I can step back and read myself the way other people see me. I have a lot of sins and a lot of personality faults, and writing characters who are like me helps me reflect on those faults in hope to improve.

But overall, I simply enjoy the thought process that goes into writing. Writing really does make a person a better critical thinker.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

I used to sing Psalm 1 to my son when he was a young baby to put him to sleep. He turned one a few months ago and he goes to sleep much more easily now, but sometimes I still sing that psalm to him and it’s a humbling reminder of our need to remove ourselves from the way of sinners and to indulge and meditate in God’s word daily.

I’m a terrible, tone-deaf singer, but I love singing that Psalm. In the last few months it’s been a reminder in our family life that no matter how busy I feel, it’s necessary to devote time to worship God daily. So now my wife and I do family worship with our son, Phoenix, after dinner. Sometimes it’s brief, but it’s really such a joy.

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

Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” blew me away. It is such a stunning glimpse of man’s depravity and our need for God. I don’t know that the book is Christian, in fact I doubt it is, but the image it presents of man is impeccable. McCarthy inspired quite a few of the stories I wrote in the last year.
The novel won the Pulitzer, and yet it’s written so plainly. There’s really nothing fancy about it. No gimmicks. No real novelties. It’s just pure, direct, quality writing. I think it’s something we need to see more often in literature.

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

A lot of my characters hear voices inside their heads, and although I don’t hear any voices myself, sometimes people will catch me talking with myself.

Yes, it’s true.

I talk to myself.

But only because I’m usually trying to work out characters’ dialogue before committing it to paper. Sometimes I’ll even do some exaggerated gesture, like an arm wave, or a kick, just so I can picture that motion and decide how to describe it in words.

I’ll admit it. It’s weird. My only hope is that other authors do the same thing.

Buy At Amazon
Please tell us about the featured book.

“Amidst Traffic” is a collection of short stories that are all interconnected. It’s been getting a lot of positive reviews from various critics and readers, which is an extremely rewarding feeling because short story collections don’t sell very well in the book industry.

And yet, I feel that short stories are one of the few things still right with the world of literature. Short stories force you to be precise and attentive. Every detail matters. Every word has meaning, sometimes added meaning.

Maybe that’s why short stories don’t sell, because they force the reader to think, and as of late we’ve become such an entertainment-heavy society. I’m totally guilty of that, too, of course. I love my share of action movies and a bit of mindless TV, but I really love a good story that provokes you to think. That’s how “The Road” was to me as a reader, and that was my goal for “Amidst Traffic.” I didn’t want to feed the reader the answers. I wanted the reader to search for and think about the deeper meanings implied in each story.

On the surface, these stories are about everyday people who don’t do anything extraordinary (there’s a young man who obsessively digs a hole in his back yard, and a woman who tattoos herself constantly in order to hold on to memories, for example). But as you dig deeper into each story, you discover that it’s packed with meaning and implications.

The stories battle with a lot of philosophical ideas and theological questions, such as our freedom in the presence of God’s sovereignty, the question of evil in this world and our existence.

Overall, responses to the book have been really positive. I can’t wait to see where it will take me next.

Can you please give us the first page?

Three Straws

The same dream kept coming for Eli, and it was terrible. The worst part about it was the faces of children who chased him through cobbled streets beneath dilapidated, stone-faced buildings of a foreign country. In the dream, he kept looking back over his shoulder as he ran. Their faces looked as if someone had taken a box cutter and carved at their lips, noses and eyelids. Tiny monstrous faces. Eyes wide and nostrils flared. Their cut-up lips revealed small, gnashing teeth.
They looked so much like his father’s drawings.
Eli couldn’t take another night of those faces. So he stood outside behind his trailer because he didn’t know what else to do. He didn’t want to go to sleep.
He stared at the dark forest for a while, but then he imagined those children hiding among the trees. So he looked up at the sky and stared a while longer at the stars. Time simply passed, but eventually even in the sky he could connect the dots and see those carved-up stares.
“Oh my God,” he said, covering his face with his hands. “Let it stop.”
Impulsively, he hurried to the shed. He needed to put his hands on something. The first thing he saw was a shovel, so he grabbed it. He walked a few hundred feet into the open stretch of land behind his trailer and stabbed the dull blade into the earth.
It felt good.
The blade went in softly. So he pulled out a chunk of dirt and stabbed the earth again. The soil was moist and easy to dig. A few more of these, he thought, and he would be okay. He just needed to work it out. He just needed to release whatever demons plagued his mind. If any alcohol had been in the house he might have washed those demons away with booze, but he rarely drank and there were no liquor stores open this late for miles. Living out in the countryside of Oklahoma relaxed him, but even out here he couldn’t hide.
Don’t think of it. Keep digging. Keep working.
He dug and flung chunks of dirt across his body and over his shoulder. He thought that after a few shovelfuls, the labor would make him exhausted. Then it would be okay to sleep. Maybe if his body ached, he would pass out from exhaustion and there would be no dreams. He didn’t know how this worked, but that seemed right.
After an hour, he had only built up momentum. Now he was consumed in his digging. Sweat formed a paste with the dirt and glued to his skin from the neck down. It wasn’t until three in the morning that the pains finally caught up to him. In a few hours he had to start his morning shift at the diner. He finally paused, looked around and realized he had dug a hole as wide as a kiddy pool four feet into the ground.
“Good,” he said, although it wasn’t.
What would he do next; fill it back up?
“No,” he said, “Leave it.” He said this as though he needed to answer the question. Maybe I’ll fill it later. It will give me something to do.
He slept for two hours that morning and dreamed nothing.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

My website is: www.msauret.com

There, you can find out more information about me, my book and my writing. I also use it as a running blog to discuss the world of self-publishing with other authors.

**********
GIVEAWAY!
  Michel has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Amidst Traffic! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Print giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

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

Giveaway ends on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.

Friday, March 1, 2013

CFBA Tour: The Return of Cassandra Todd by Darrel Nelson

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"When the popular girl whose friends bullied him in high school suddenly re-enters his life, little son in tow, Turner Caldwell must put the past behind him if they are to survive.

Turner Caldwell works at a local motel as a handyman while attending college full-time. On his way to class one day, he is shocked to see Cassandra Todd and her young son in town. The sight of her brings back powerful memories of being bullied in high school—she was the popular head cheerleader and he the target of her friends’ mean-spirited pranks.

When Cassandra and her son check into the motel where he works and she asks for his help in eluding her abusive husband, he finds himself entangled in a dangerous drama that will require him to forgive and draw on every skill he has if they are to survive."

The great outdoors– a place of tranquility, serenity, and comfort– becomes the backdrop to one of the most action-filled, riveting tales of the day. Using their environment as a cover up, Cassandra, her son, and Turner flee from their tormenting pasts. This is no child's game of hide-and-seek but, rather, survival of the fittest. It takes all of Turner's boy-scout skills and what little faith he has in God to keep them alive.

This novel presented many valuable lessons. Whether it was basic first-aid knowledge or the profound revelation that God is in control, it allowed the reader to be fed intellectually and spiritually. The realization of God’s sovereignty and omniscience was the poignant lesson for this reader.

Having read both novels, Nelson’s literary progress is evident. Whereas his debut was a romantic historical, this one is a suspenseful contemporary. The story was a worthwhile read because of its unique plot, edge of your seat suspense, and many spiritual and intellectual lessons. If you enjoy these three factors in a book, you are sure to enjoy The Return of Cassandra Todd. It can be bought on Amazon.com.

** Much thanks to the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book to review; Guest review by Ali **

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CFBA Tour: Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Flora's Wish
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
by
Kathleen Y'Barbo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.

ABOUT THE BOOK

May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fianc├ęs died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: The Last Bequest and The Map Quilt by Lisa Lickel

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

Thank you for having me here. I’m a Wisconsin writer, a history buff too and live in a cool old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. My husband and I have two grown sons who are married. I belong to the Wisconsin Writers Association and edit the literary magazine, so I get to meet lots of great authors and aspiring authors. I enjoy reading, travel and watching movies when I have time.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

I’ve never minded writing; however, learning the mechanics of proper, effective, and appropriate writing was something a bit frightening. It never occurred to me to sit down and try to write an entire novel until I was nearly finished with the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice Course. After I started targeted writing, I haven’t been able to stop.

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

My first attempts at novels were the product of the coursework and my imagination. Very soon afterword I learned that to sell, a writer must be somewhat mercenary: that is, go where the market is. There was a new opportunity opening in writing cozy, or lighter side, mysteries that I took advantage of, and soon sold my first book. Since that was a mystery, I continued to write them, but I also wanted to explore deeper characters and situations so I wrote a few novels that aren’t “genre,” like mystery or strictly romance.

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

I have the same obstacle that every other writer has: how to reach the optimum amount of readers. There are few who make the elite pinnacle; the point at which they no longer have to court publishers, but can basically sell any idea. It’s still a stumbling block to me, but I’m working to overcome it by continuing to practice my craft, learn and grow as a writer, and work at making connections within the industry.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

I stay home to work now. I still don’t have any kind of regular schedule which is both good and bad because I enjoy volunteering and need to be available for my family. Writing which, to me, is my business that includes professional editing, mentoring and the hugely time-swallowing marketing, has forced me out of my small world of eating, sleeping and being local, into the international world of clients in Korea, Africa, and Asia, as well as all around the United States and Canada. That’s exciting, to see what’s going on around the globe.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

I claim Hebrews 10:23 because it’s a testament that, while grace is a free gift, I am also responsible for holding onto the faith I profess. I’m not always good at it.

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

You could probably ask me this every month and I’d have a different answer. The last book I felt this way about was from a debut author from Alaska, Eowyn Ivey, who wrote The Snow Child, based on a Russian fairy tale. The nuances of language, layers of character, even punctuation, told the story so eloquently. As you say, truly spectacular.

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

Lately?  I’m still sticking to my attempt a few years ago to undergo major surgery with only a spinal so I could experience the procedure. The surgeon said yes, then they fooled me in the operating room and put me out anyway. But she told me about it later.

Please tell us about the featured book.

We’re looking at the first two books of the Buried Treasure mystery series today, The Last Bequest and the sequel, The Map Quilt. These are lighter mysteries with a running thread of romance. Since the series had initially required romance, I had to be somewhat creative inventing a new romance for each of the following books, while still using the same main character as a principal sleuth. Judy, a teacher, inherits the farm when her great aunt passes away mysteriously. She meets the boy next door, Hart, falls in love; they work at figuring out who murdered poor Aunt Louise, and by the second book, are married and expecting a child. I introduce Hart, the husband, who gets to tell some of the story as it’s his boss who’s killed, and his invention that’s stolen. The romance then, falls to his widowed mother and the chief of police, and he’s not too happy about the whole thing, but needs to work with the chief in order to solve the murder and get his missing property back. The books also feature great cats, Carranza, in the first book, who plays a significant role to help discern who is trustworthy. Carranza’s son, Pancho Villa, picks up his role in the second book, when Carranza goes missing. The third installment, The Newspaper Code, is at the publisher. No release date has been established yet.

Can you please give us the first page?

Page one of The Last Bequest:

Chapter One

Judy Winters made divots in the lawn with her church shoes, the ones with the high heels she saved to wear once a week. She stopped her frenetic crisscross pacing under the clothesline to look at her trail. Hah! She could dethatch the entire yard if she kept walking. She needed a few minutes away from everyone in the house. Just a few minutes to grieve alone. And to think about poison.
Hand at her brow to shield the sun’s harsh light, Judy surveyed her late aunt’s farm. The half-acre surrounding the house sure could use work. What had Aunt Louise Jamison done these past two years to allow her once lovely yard to decline into crabgrass and thistles? Birds might enjoy the seeds, but no one could say she’d let the place go. Only a recent lawn-mowing kept the dandelions from taking over. Judy brushed a tear off her cheek, wondered inanely who had mowed since Louise’s death.
Louise reported feeling not up to par a week ago, and July had offered to come for a visit.
“Nothing to worry about.” Aunt Louise and assured. “Better that I rest, and I don’t want you catching whatever bug I’ve come down with, Judy dear.
And then the shocking phone call came from her aunt’s solicitor, Gene Reynolds. “Sorry to inform you, Miss Winters, but your aunt, Louise Jamison, has died.”
Before Judy could catch a breath, Reynolds continued in his monotone, “Looks like an apparent case of poisoning, according to initial reports.”
What was the saying? That Louise bought the farm Judy shook her head. What a horrible way to occupy her thoughts with her closest living relative freshly buried.
    She continued to meander in the yard. Walking might keep her from wailing in grief in front of all these people. Louise had been all the family Judy had ever really known.
Gene Reynolds approached Judy as many of the guests were leaving. “Miss Winters, again our condolences.” He took her hand into his pudgy moist one. Judy steeled herself not to shudder. “I have the legal paperwork regarding Louise’s estate to go over with you, at your convenience.”
Reynolds’s pupils flickered just enough for her notice. He has something to gain. Sometimes Judy’s ability to decode body language came in handy. She’d picked up the trait in one of her continuing education courses and never seemed to be able to shake it.

Page one of The Map Quilt:

The Map Quilt starts with a prologue, but I’ll give you Chapter One.

Chapter One

Judy Wingate awoke with a start. Shaking her head, she realized she had been dreaming. Foggy images rolled through her mind of pioneer women doing…something. Hmm, teaching that Wisconsin history unit to her elementary school students, combined with her pregnancy, made for the most colorful nocturnal dramas. She eased the covers back, groaning with the discomfort of a full bladder. An internal kick made her grimace and rub her huge belly. 
“Ugh! Two forty-five in the morning. I can’t believe I gotta get up again.” She set her feet on the floorboards, trying to rise delicately so as not to rouse her husband, Hart.
Judy headed downstairs with her eyes half-closed, holding onto the rail with both hands. The stealthy pet housecat, Pancho Villa, stopped her up short. “Pancho—outta the way—coming through,” Judy muttered as she danced around him. “We have got to get that second floor bathroom done.”
Yawning, Judy blinked and hoped she could fall asleep again easily. She could not afford to be groggy in front of her fifth grade students, who were already squirrelly this close to the end of the school year. She rubbed her arms and went to run a glass of water from the tap while she looked out the window. Something did not feel right. She frowned and rubbed at the kicks from Hart’s little soccer player, practicing on her ribs. She went through the mud room to the outside door and breathed deeply while she watched the waning moon near the horizon.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

You can access my social networking and schedule from my web site, www.lisalickel.com.

Thank you! I am delighted to be here, and thank you again for a fun interview.

**********
GIVEAWAY!
  Lisa has generously offered to giveaway an eBook copy of The Last Bequest and a print copy of The Map Quilt! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Print giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

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

Giveaway ends on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CFBA Tour: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Buy At Amazon
"When her prodigal brother Reef's return to Yancey, Alaska, is shattered by his arrest for murder, Piper McKenna is determined to protect him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. And he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth puts Landon's career in jeopardy.

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself--and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada's rugged backcountry. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step"


A daunting mystery and warm romance, Shattered by Dani Pettrey lived-up to its great anticipation generated by readers like me who read and enjoyed Submerged by Dani Pettrey. The McKennas welcomed me into their loving family a second time and dragged me on an even greater adventure than the last time I visited them. Every step of Karli Davis's murder investigation, I was there– tracking leads, finding clues, and being as disappointed and confused as the McKennas were when a lead didn't pan out. The reason as to why Karli was murdered came as a surprise to me.

Watching Piper and Landon's budding romance grow was sigh-worthy. And it was great to see Landon surrender his life to the Lord. For some reason, I was somewhat more invested in Darcy St. James and Gage's romance than in Landon and Piper's. Maybe because Gage was such a troubled soul and Darcy was so different than Meredith, Gage's former love. And I can hardly wait for Jake and Kayden's love story– there's so much mystery surrounding the both of them!

With numerable twists and plot curve balls, Shattered kept me flipping the pages– although, the scientific aspect toward the end of the book seemed somewhat forced and I would have liked it to be elaborated upon more. For those who read Submerged or enjoy a hard-to-solve mystery with a healthy dose of romance, be sure to read Shattered. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.com.

** Much thanks to the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Monday, February 11, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley

Welcome to the CBRB, Lena! Thank you for being here! For those who were not able to enjoy your last interview, can you again give us a little information about you? 
 


I’m a multi-published, award-winning author who lives in Texas.
 
Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?

I read all kinds of books, except horror. Right now, I’ve been reading a lot of historicals. I also write several kinds of books: both historical and contemporary, all have romantic threads and strong spiritual threads.

Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?

1.  I grew up on fish hatcheries.
2.  I’ve been in a made-for-TV movie.
3.  I was supposed to be a twin, but my twin didn’t develop beyond a mass of tissue, hair, and bone. I didn’t find out until I was in my early 30s.

What five things do you love/like the most?

1.  Jesus
2.  James
3.  My family
4.  Friends
5.  Dark chocolate
  
If you could meet one person (besides Jesus, because who doesn’t want to meet Him!), who would you choose?

Since there’s no time limit, I’d love to meet my mother, who died when I was seven years old. I’d like to meet her as an adult and ask her some questions.

What is your favorite Bible story?

The story of Esther. I’ve even written a dramatic monologue from Esther’s perspective and performed it for conferences and women’s meetings.

How do you choose your characters names?

Sometimes I use names of family members of friends. I also keep a list of interesting names I’ve heard to use for books later. If my character is from a specific ethnicity, I do research on that group for names in the time period when my character would have been born.

If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?

Being an author is my dream job. Of course, I would have loved being a professional actress, too, or maybe a stand-up comedienne.

Do you have any books that are soon-to-be-released that we should keep an eye out for?

Book three of my McKenna’s Daughter’s series, Catherine’s Pursuit, will release in February. My many fans are anxiously awaiting its release.

Buy At Amazon
Please tell us about the featured book.

Catherine’s Pursuit is book three in McKenna’s Daughters. This series is about the lives of identical triplet girls, who were born on one of the last wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. Their mother dies giving birth, and the girls are separated. They don’t find out they have sisters until near their 18th birthday.

In book three of the McKenna’s Daughters series, Catherine McKenna begins a journey to find her lost sisters that turns into a spiritual journey for the entire McKenna family.

When Angus McKenna was forced to give two of his daughters to families in the wagon train, he promised he'd never try to contact them. Catherine made no such pledge. But when she sets out to find her sisters, she doesn't go alone. Angus sends Collin with her. Will they discover the two women---and love?

Can you please give us the first page?

Chapter 1

September 19, 1885
San Francisco, California

            Catherine Lenora McKenna could hardly believe the long-awaited day was here. Her eighteenth birthday.

            Now she was an adult, and her father would have to stop hovering over her as if she were a fragile china doll in one of his stores. She would be free. Holding her hands above her head like the ballerina in the music box on her bureau, she whirled in a circle that lifted the hem of her blue taffeta skirt to a scandalous height. That didn’t matter, because no one was here to catch a glimpse of her ankles anyway. Not even her personal maid, Julie, who had gone downstairs to grab Catherine a more substantial breakfast from the kitchen before she fainted dead away.

            Aunt Kirstin wanted Catherine to eat very light before her party tonight, where a sumptuous banquet would precede the ball. There would be presents to open as well. Catherine hoped her father planned a spectacular gift for her birthday ... maybe to send her on a tour of the Continent. Of course, Aunt Kirstin would probably accompany her, but at least, she would be able to see more of the world for herself, not just read about it.

            Europe should be beautiful in the autumn, or in any season of the year. Since both of her parents were born in Scotland, she wanted to visit there as well as London ... Paris ... Rome. She had read every book and magazine she could get her hands on, so she knew so much about Europe. A thrill of anticipation shot through her whole body. Visions of walking on London Bridge, or along Avenue des Champs Ellysees, or visiting The Colosseum danced through her head. Pictures she’d enjoyed studying with their Holmes stereopticon. She wondered if Father would accompany her or if he would allow Aunt Kirstin to be her only escort ... besides a few servants, of course.

            “Where is Julie with my food?” Catherine huffed out an exasperated breath. “Am I going to have to go the kitchen myself?”

            She thrust open the door and hurried down the hallway, the sound of her footsteps lost in the thick cushioning of the carpet. At the top of the front stairs, she stopped to see if she could figure out where her Aunt Kirstin was before she sneaked down the backstairs.

            Peering over the balcony railing, she caught a glimpse of her aunt’s face through the partially opened door to the library. Her brows were knit together into a frown as she stared at someone in the room with her. Catherine had never seen such a fierce expression on her aunt’s face.

Where can readers learn more information about you? 


**********
GIVEAWAY!
  Lena has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Catherine's Pursuit (an eBook copy is available for international readers)! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

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

Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.