Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hot-off-the-Press Christian Fiction Reads ~ July/August 2015

July 7, 2015
Thomas Nelson
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The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.
July 7, 2015
Bethany House
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In Good Company by Jen Turano

After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position. 

Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare.

At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance--with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children's parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?
July 7, 2015
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To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

In an uncertain time, she faces a choice that will change her life forever

It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montaukett tribe, is celebrating her wedding feast when a rival tribe attacks, killing the groom and kidnapping her. Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is bound by her captors and left to die--until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

Still tender from her loss, Heather Flower begins to heal in the home of the Hortons, English friends of her people. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her longtime friendship with Ben Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice--stay true to her friend or follow her heart. 

Exploring a unique slice of history, Rebecca DeMarino transports you to the wild land that would eventually become Long Island, 
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason
July 7, 2015
Bethany House
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1911 Long Island, New York 

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry--as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans. 

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will 
they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

July 28, 2015
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Through Deep Waters by Sarah Sundin

War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.  When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.
August 1, 2015
Shiloh Run Press
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Brightest and Best by Olivia Newport

Ella Hilty’s deepest desire is to marry Gideon Wittmer and be a mother to his three children. But before the betrothal and ceremony take place, Ella’s 1918 Ohio Amish community gets caught in a storm of controversy when English government authorities dictate that Amish children must attend consolidated public schools rather than their one-room schoolhouse.

English schoolteacher Margaret Simpson had given up thoughts of marriage years ago, and she’s content with her peaceful life. But a budding romance and conflict with the neighboring Amish community lead Margaret down a path that she never expected.

Citing freedom of religion rights, Amish parents stand their ground against progressive English laws that threaten to erode their culture and beliefs beyond recognition, but their stance doesn’t come without consequences. Where is the balance between submission to God and submission to a God-ordained government that endangers the church?

Soon Margaret puts her last chance for romance at risk for the only choice her conscience can abide, and all eyes turn to Ella to bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.
August 4, 2015
Thomas Nelson
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A House Divided by Robert Whitlow

Corbin Gage can stand up to anyone . . . But his own divided house will bring him to his knees.

Corbin, a longtime legal champion for the downtrodden, is slowly drinking himself into the grave. His love for “mountain water” has cost him his marriage to the godliest woman he knows, ruined his relationship with his daughter, Roxy, and reduced the business at his small Georgia law firm to a level where he can barely keep the bill collectors at bay. But it isn’t until his son, Ray, threatens to limit Corbin’s time with his grandson that Corbin begins to acknowledge he might have a problem.
Despite the mess that surrounds his personal life and against the advice of everyone he knows, Corbin takes on a high-stakes tort case on behalf of two boys who have contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to an alleged chemical exposure. The defendant, a fertilizer company, is the largest employer in the area. The lawsuit becomes a tornado that sucks Corbin, Ray, and Roxy into an increasingly deadly vortex. Equally intense pressure within the family threatens to destroy, once and for all, the thin threads that connect them.
Corbin must find the strength to stand up to his personal demons. Justice for two dying boys depends on it . . . his family depends on it.
August 4, 2015
Bethany House
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Not By Sight by Kate Breslin

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack. 

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.
August 4, 2015
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Trial Run by Thomas Locke (aka Davis Bunn)

Reese Clawson's work is mind-bending--literally. Her company specializes in global data analysis for an elite group of industry executives, and now a lucrative government contract is moving her into the realm of cutting-edge intelligence gathering. She is determined to crack the limits of consciousness--and in doing so, the boundaries of secrets and lies. But her experiment crashes as test subjects slide into a coma-like state. Reese is left scrambling to maintain control, drawing three disparate people into the search for answers--an adrenaline-amped thrill junkie with altered brain chemistry, an Italian scientist working on remote-viewing technology, and a math prodigy whose algorithms subvert computer encryption.

Will this piecemeal team prevail when a government operative is sent to investigate? As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and even time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.
August 18, 2015
Abingdon Press
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Be My Valentino by Sandra D. Bricker

Now that the whole truth has come out about her husband’s double life—including the fact that she and Jack were never legally married—Jessie is standing on her own for the first time in her life. As she struggles to put Adornments, her rental store for designer labels, on the map in Tinsel Town, her relationship with private investigator Danny Callahan gains momentum. 

When she dresses a reluctant Danny in Valentino for undercover work at a formal affair, it’s him rather than her store that captures Hollywood’s notice. Danny, snapped by photogs, lands as the unlikely cover model on the front of L.A. Magazine. So much for inconspicuous. Will his popularity thwart her efforts to grow her business? Or worse, can Jessie afford to put her faith—and heart—into another relationship when she’s so obviously handicapped in the good judgment department?
July and August seem to be delivering some wonderfully diverse reads––from Contemporary (Be My Valentino) to Speculative (Trial Run). The cover of Through Waters Deep is gorgeous, but the blurb of Not By Sight is so intriguing (can you tell that I have a soft spot for World War I & II novels?:-) Which blurb and/or cover appeals to you the most (you can choose from those listed here or other Christian novels you may know of released/releasing in July and August)? Let me know in the comments below *inserts hand-pointing-down emoji*.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Character Interview and Giveaway: Gone Without A Trace by Patricia Bradley

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It is so wonderful to have Patricia on CBRB once again! To change things up a little, we decided to scrap the usual author interview and conduct a character interview with the hero and heroine from Patricia's new book Gone Without A Trace which releases July 7. 

Don't forget to enter to win a print copy of Gone Without A Trace in the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Enjoy!

Describe yourself in three sentences or less.

Livy Reynolds: I want to see justice done and that’s why I’m a detective for the Memphis Police Department. I’m also a planner, a list maker, and I really don’t understand people who just take off without some sort of plan—something is bound to go wrong and then they’re up that proverbially creek without an oar.

Alex: I love to do things on the spur of the moment. Get in my plane and just take off in the clear blue skies. I don’t understand why everything in life has to be planned out. I mean, life is an adventure. 

What makes you laugh-out-loud?

Livy: A baby’s first smile.

Alex: Puppies and kittens. They can get into some of the craziest things.

You are doing a huge spring cleaning. What is easy for you to throw out? What is difficult to part with?

Livy: I travel light through life. Learned a long time ago, putting too much care into something is a sure way to get it taken away. But to answer the question, clothes, shoes, things like that are easy to throw out. I would probably hold on to my dad’s letters.

Alex: I don’t attach sentimentality to much in my life, so I can toss anything. Might keep my favorite old tee-shirt.

What is your fondest childhood memory? Your worst?

Livy: My fondest memory is taking care of the bully that kept threatening Robyn. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a cop when I grew up. Worst memory? The day my mom died.

Alex: The day I soloed in my plane. A bunch of friends from school went with me to watch, and it was great having them there to celebrate The worst was when my parents divorced and my mom went to live in California.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book (besides the Bible) would make your stay bearable?

Livy: Any book on how to build a boat. :) But if I have to choose a title, then Exodus by Leon Uris.

Alex: I like Livy’s answer. :) But for a title, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

If God allowed you to travel back in time and become a Bible character, which would you be? Why?

Livy: David. He kept messing up , but God saw him as a man after His own heart.

Alex: Paul. On the road to Damascus, he had an amazing encounter with Jesus and afterward, he wrote over half the New Testament.

(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!) 
Patricia has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Gone Without A TracePrint giveaway is available to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday July 4, 2015 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter! (Patricia will mail the book to the winner once she receives her author copies.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read CBRB's full disclosure here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

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"Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates. With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle's castle. She doesn't dare to trust him...and yet doesn't dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent. 

Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash? 
The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope...or be overcome."

** I am not yet done with The Sound of Diamonds, but I'll share my current thoughts on this book and, God willing, update my review once I'm finished reading it. **

There are three highlighting factors that set this book apart. First and foremost, the beautiful prose. The vintage English phrases coupled with the lyrical metaphors and similes sparkle––the words flow smoothly like a gentle forest creek. The descriptions are so vibrant they arrest my imagination, allowing me to easily envision each scene. And the characters' personalities unfurl slowly, laying a foundation for a close friendship with [the characters].

Secondly, I find the fact that Gwyneth is Catholic rather different from other Christian novels because of its significance in the story––this second factor harmonizes with the third and final highlighting factor: the interesting time period. The story is set during the turbulent times surrounding the disagreement between Catholics and Protestants. Interestingly, Dirk is Protestant and Gwyneth is Catholic. I'm not quite sure how the story will progress in regards to the spiritual element, but a Catholic heroine planted among Protestant rebels results in a unique story.

This is a debut novel and it's always great to find a new author. So if you're looking for a fresh voice in the Christian market and a story brimming with beautiful prose, relatable characters––and set during a fascinating era––grab a copy of The Sound of Diamonds. You won't be disappointed. It can be bought at Amazon.

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

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read CBRB's full disclosure here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review: Together With You by Victoria Bylin

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"Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...

When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?"

I haven't read a book this wonderful in a long time. I learned about fetal alcohol syndrome, related beautifully with the heroine, and experienced spiritual encouragement. I love a book where I learn something new and connect with the character(s). Especially a book with a strong spiritual thread.

Carly Mason is a girl after my own heart. She's strong in her faith and in her convictions. She doesn't sugar-coat her decision to "save herself for marriage" and her compassionate, godly character stands out to Ryan and others around her. Because Dr. Ryan Tremaine is an atheist, he is distinct from most Christian fiction heroes. Oh, he's still a wonderful father and a "perfect" gentleman, but his spiritual journey sparkles because of his initial there-is-no-God philosophy. A large obstacle to Carly and Ryan's growing attraction is her faith in God––I enjoyed this unique approach and how, despite her feelings, Carly was unwilling to compromise.

Some of my favorite scenes were those written from Penny's point-of-view. Her voice seemed very realistic for a child suffering from fetal alcohol effects. I loved how Penny called her Heavenly Father "Dr.God." Seeing the relationship development among Ryan and his children––especially Penny––was heartwarming. 

Since Carly and Ryan are not in their early-twenties, their perspectives on life are mature and realistic which is a refreshing change. The depictions of Los Angeles and even Kentucky, Carly's home state, came to life. I could see the smog, feel the salt-laden ocean breeze, and imagine the rolling, green hills of Kentucky. 

While the plot of Together With You held my interest, the characters are what attract attention. They are real. The ending, however, was sigh-worthy and tied all the loose ends wonderfully. If you're looking for a novel driven by characters that leap to life––whose commitment to Christ is real––and that will stay with you for a long time afterward, pick up a copy of Together With You. I highly recommend it and give it five stars. Together With You can be purchased at Amazon.

** Thanks to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for providing a free eBook copy in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read CBRB's full disclosure here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Girl Behind the Blog: Christian Book Review Blog

There is only one time in my life that I disliked reading . . . and that was in pre-kindergarten when learning to read was a chore. After I learned to read, I was the girl who loved filling my ziplock bag with books from my classroom library. The one who savored every minute of the half-hour "Independent reading time" in elementary school and had to be scolded by my teacher so that I would "put the book away" once the thirty minutes passed. I mean, why did I need to learn math when I could read a good book?

In middle school my cousin introduced me to the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke and my interest in modern Christian fiction began. (I had already read and loved classic Christian novels from Martha Finley, Grace Livingston Hill, and Isabella Alden.) By my freshmen year of high school I learned that I could obtain free Christian books in exchange for my honest review and so Christian Book Review Blog made its debut in the blog world. (You can learn more about these review programs in the Review Free Christian Books tab.)

Since then, Christian Book Review Blog has been a hobby of mine. Throughout high school, when the classic question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" arose, I was confident in my answer––I wanted to study Education . . . until roughly a year ago. God placed in my heart a desire to be a book publicist which came completely from left field and yet, fits my interests perfectly. It was a light-bulb moment––I had never seriously considered turning my love of books into a viable career. I like to say that I changed my major while in high school.

I am now a graduating high school senior with college just around the bend. God willing, I will be attending The King's College in NY, New York this coming fall with the intentions of majoring in Media, Culture, and the Arts as my first step to becoming a Christian Book Publicist. Before the college application process, I never realized how expensive higher education is––especially private colleges. I am now in the process of applying to scholarships to help pay for college (besides looking for a summer job).

In fact, I have recently been nominated for the $1,000 Young Christian Leaders scholarship for the month of June (I am one among ten nominees). Family and friends are asked to vote for a nominee, since votes account for 25% of the scholarship winning process. Anyone can vote for one nominee, one time everyday, in the month of June. Many of the authors featured on CBRB and readers of CBRB have become virtual friends and I would greatly appreciate if you would vote for me. Here's the voting link:

Thank you in advance for your help!

I continue to see the love of reading in my future . . . at the very least, I will continue to love and read the Bible. Thank you VERY much to all the authors and readers who continue to grace CBRB with their presence. This blog would be nothing without you! Oh, and please go vote . . . pretty please with a cherry on top:-) 

A Question for you: What is your dream job?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Review: My Heart Stood Still by Lori Copeland

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"The three wily and beautiful McDougal sisters can swindle a man faster than it takes to lasso a calf. But their luck is running out, and they're about to be hauled off to jail. When the wagon carrying them falls under attack, each sister is picked up by a different man.

Anne-Marie, the middle sister, is saved by Creed Walker, a Crow warrior. It's loathing at first sight, but with bandits on their tail and a cache of gold to hide, Creed and Anne-Marie need each other. Will they learn to put aside their differences and trust each other--and God? And can their growing faith turn their lives around?"

My eyes latched unto the words "Crow warrior" and I knew I wanted to read this book. Having a Native American as the Hero is a uniquely different approach used sparingly in Christian fiction.

My Heart Stood Still is a fast-paced story with major plot events occurring every few chapters––there's little time to catch your breath. Anne-Marie is a stubborn, I-can-do-everything heroine. Creed is a mysterious hero with secrets to hide. And Quincy, Creed's African-American best friend, is a sweet and humorous side-kick. These characters comprise an interesting team and it was fun following their wild quest to return Anne-Marie safely home while trying to deliver a cache of stolen gold to the American authorities.

Although this story was a fun and light read, Anne-Marie could be annoying at times with her tendency to rebel and her I-can-do-everything attitude. I enjoy realistic stories with deep spiritual truths woven throughout and My Heart Stood Still depicted events that were, at times, unrealistic and silly. In addition, Cortes is a very cliche Hispanic villain. As an aside, because Anne-Marie and Creed were instructed by nuns and a catholic priest respectively, the spiritual themes have a slant towards Catholic doctrine.

I did enjoy, however, the detailed and well-written prose. The setting came to life and I could easily picture the surroundings in my mind. The romantic thread kept me in the shadows until the end and Anne-Marie's decision to renounce deception––even if its use was for a good cause––constituted great progress in her spiritual journey.

While My Heart Stood Still is not my favorite story, it is a fun, light read about a con-artist falling in love with a Native American and the challenges they face along the way––which just might be the kind of story you're looking for. I give My Heart Stood Still three out of five stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Thanks to Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read CBRB's full disclosure here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Inside Scoop: Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley

Welcome to The Inside Scoop––a special feature highlighting an exclusive excerpt from a not-yet-released Christian book. Today's edition features Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley.

Pre-order on Amazon
Publisher: Revell
Release Date: July 7, 2015

The past is repeating itself--and time is running out

It's been more than two years since homicide detective Livy Reynolds's cousin disappeared from Logan Point. Unlike most people in her hometown, Livy has never believed that Robyn left voluntarily. When Dallas private investigator Alex Jennings contacts her concerning a senator's missing granddaughter who was last seen in Logan Point, Livy notices eerie similarities between the two disappearances. With self-doubt plaguing her and an almost instant dislike of the self-assured PI, she's finding this investigation an uphill battle. But with the prospect of finding her cousin on the horizon, she'll have to find a way to work with Alex--before it's too late.

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley keeps you on the edge of your seat with a case--and a relationship--that is anything but certain.

"Patricia Bradley has hit a home run. The suspense is high, the romance is sweet, and the villain is one you want to see caught and brought to justice. Gone without a Trace, a novel of forgiveness and finding one's place in the world, brings home the point that while not everything in life may go the way you want, God is still in control. Can't wait for the next book!" -- Lynette Eason, bestselling, award-winning author of the Hidden Identity series


Enjoy this excerpt from the second chapter of Gone Without a Trace told by Alex Jennings, the hero of the story:

Alex Jennings examined the photograph his boss handed him. It looked like a selfie with the blonde-haired beauty staring confidently at the camera, her blue eyes wide and a saucy grin on her lips. His heart rate increased. His first big case. Maybe.
“Samantha Jo Woodson has been missing for two days. She didn’t show up for work Monday, but her boss waited until today before she called the emergency number the girl had given her.” Delores Mathis tapped her pencil on the massive oak desk that took up much of the space in her tiny office. Her Texas drawl drew the words out. “State Senator Robert Woodson has hired us to look into his granddaughter’s case.”
He scanned the information on the second sheet the owner of Mathis Private Investigations had handed him. “How did a spoiled, Texas debutante end up in Logan Point, Mississippi, working as a waitress?”
“That’s the fifty thousand dollar question.” 
Dee was a big fan of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He glanced once again at the photo. “How old is she?”
He would’ve guessed eighteen.
“After her second year in college, she dropped out, said she wanted to go to Nashville and be a singer. Isn’t Senator Woodson your grandfather’s colleague?”
Alex nodded and unrolled the cuffs on the white dress shirt he’d worn this morning. Woodson served on the opposite side of the political fence in the Texas state legislature with Josiah Jennings. Although in their seventies, both men still wielded power in Texas politics. 
“Your grandfather still bugging you to take the bar exam?”
“Oh, yeah. Neither he nor my father has let up the pressure. Which reminds me, I have a lunch date with the Senator.” He checked his watch. “In twenty minutes.” 
“I wondered about the dress shirt this morning.” She smiled. “Do you want this case?” 
Alex cocked his head, studying the woman he worked for. He’d met her three years ago when she came to the airfield where he gave flying lessons, looking for someone to fly her to Houston. He’d offered his services. On the flight he learned Dee was the sole investigator in the agency she’d started ten years earlier, this after spending twelve years as a Dallas homicide detective.
When they arrived at Sugarland Regional Airport, he’d been intrigued by this woman who looked like everyone’s Aunt Bea. Brown hair styled in a simple cut, nothing remarkable about her face—she would blend into any setting. That was her secret, she’d told him. No one ever saw her. He wanted to know more and offered to drive her around Houston since he was familiar with the city. They talked about the case she was working on, and he made a few observations, and she offered to hire him on the spot as a consultant. 
Since then he’d worked several cases for her, never anything big or important, and he wanted to know why she was handing a case as big as this one off to him. “I figured you just wanted me to fly you to Logan Point.”
“Nope. It’s all yours since I have to be available to testify in court in the morning.” She made a face. “Probably all week and this case needs someone on it yesterday. There’s a small airport on the outskirts of Logan Point and a bed and breakfast nearby. I’ll call and see if you can stay there—just keep up with your expenses.”
A tremor ran through him. Maybe, if he solved this case, his grandfather would drop the campaign to get him to take the bar and join the family law firm. “As soon as I return from lunch, I’ll get right on this.”
“Well, for Pete’s sake, comb your unruly hair before you meet your grandfather.”
He smoothed his hand over his head.
“I meant with a comb.”
At exactly twelve-thirty, Alex walked through the back door of the estate where he’d spent most of his childhood after his parents’ divorce. Behind his back he carried a bouquet of daisies he’d picked up at the florist. Eloise, the family cook, turned from the stove.
“Alex, you’re one minute late. The Senator will be fit to be tied.”
“No, ma’am. I’m right on the money.” He pulled the flowers out. “For you, m’Lady.”
Red started at the base of her throat and rose to her cheeks. “Don’t know what you mean, bringing me flowers,” she said as she took them. “You ought to be finding some beautiful lady to give these to.”
He sniffed the air. “But she wouldn’t cook chocolate brownies for me.” 
“Get out of here before your grandfather’s blood pressure starts going up.”
He laughed and kissed her fat cheek. “Going.”
His smile faded as he went through the dining room door and spied Josiah Jennings waiting in his usual place at the table. A stack of papers lay to the left of his plate. When he saw Alex, he glanced at his watch. “Not quite late,” he said.
“Good afternoon to you, too, Grandfather.” 

Want to read more? You can keep reading the second chapter of Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley HERE.  

P.S. Would you like to see more posts of The Inside Scoop? Also, let me know if the excerpt link is not working.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read CBRB's full disclosure here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Author Interview and Giveaway: Andrea and the Five-Day Challenge by Cindy K. Green

Welcome to Christian Book Review Blog, Cindy! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Here is my bio:
Cindy K. Green has worked as a middle school history & English teacher, a frozen yogurt server and a golf magazine employee. Today she's a multi-published, award-winning author, a mother, a wife, and a homeschooler too. This native Californian now resides in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and two cats named Chloe & Kassey. Visit her website & her blog She's on Facebook (Cindy K. Green) and Twitter (@cindykgreen) too. 

When did you first discover that you loved writing? 

I feel like I’ve always been a writer. Even as a child, I wrote stories for my four younger brothers and sisters. I’ve just always been a storyteller. As I got into high school, writing became my passion. Any extra time I had, I spent pouring over my stories. But it wasn’t until I was almost thirty that I began writing for publication.

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

I write funny books (most of the time) because I love to laugh. The world can be so scary and overwhelming. I love to sit down and read a fun book and forget everything else going on around me. I also write Inspirational/Christian because writing is a ministry. My greatest wish is to reach others through my writing for Christ with a touch of humor and a pulling at the heartstrings. 

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

My greatest obstacle has always been time. I’m a mom, a wife, a housekeeper, and a homeschool teacher all wrapped into one. Finding the time for writing can be difficult, but when it is your goal and passion you find ways to make it work. I have to be organized (which isn’t my strong suit) about my schedule. I also have to use the time I’m given even if it is in only 15-20 minute segments. 

Has writing changed your life in any way?

Sure! Writing has that way about it that is life changing. You see things differently as a writer—things that others might miss. We are people watchers. Observers. We can’t help it. And we become sensitive to others and events going on around us. It has made me more empathetic to others is many ways.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

I love this verse from Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It is a wonderful thing to realize God has a plan for our lives. Sometimes we wish He would cue us in on the intricacies of that plan, but just knowing He is looking out for our future is a reassuring thing.

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

In my twenties I was all about history. It was my major in college, and I ended up teaching middle school history. I love anything by David Hackett Fischer especially Paul Revere’s Ride. In my thirties and now entering my forties, I find that I spend a lot more time reading fiction. My all time favorite author is Jane Austen. I’ve read all her novels several times over. My favorite novel is Persuasion. I love a good love rekindled/love renewed kind of story.  It reminds me how God gives us second chances.

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

I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t describe myself as quirky, but I love to write quirky characters. And I’m sure I do funny things all day long. Like putting my glasses in the refrigerator and telling silly jokes to my kids. My funniest things are usually of the physical comedy variety like slipping down the stairs in college in the middle of the Commons and landing at the feet of some guy I didn’t know. And he said to me: “I’d help you up if I was allowed.” (Christian college and girls and guys couldn’t touch.) Wow, I’ll never forget that moment.

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Please tell us about the featured book.

Andrea & the Five-Day Challenge (Book 1 in the Aubrey Christian Academy Series) is a Christian YA novel including a healthy dose of humor & a bit of romance too. Tagline: A Bible Study Challenge, a Prayer Journal & Homecoming. The combination just might change her life.

Andrea is a high school junior who considers herself to be the least interesting of her group of friends. In her mind, she isn't smart like Amy or artistic like Angie or beautiful and popular like Alisha. She sees herself as that girl with the plain brown hair, size nine feet, and who doesn't participate much in school activities. Now she does have this exceptional talent she likes to downplay. She's actually a wonderful pianist and her parents have all these designs to get her into a performing arts school so she can one day end up at a place like Julliard. In addition to that, Andrea has a sweet, caring spirit and this is something that Luke, our hero, notices right away. It sets her apart from every other girl at school in his eyes.

I wanted to write a book Christian teen girls would want to read. There are romantic YA novels out there that are just not God-honoring and appropriate for our girls. I wanted to fill the need in this niche of Christian fiction. 

Can you please give us the first page?

“Andrea! Are you up?” It was Mom attempting to break the sound barrier again. 

“Yes, Mom,” I replied through my bedroom door before pushing my comforter back and wiping the sleep from my eyes. I’d had grand plans to start my day right and even get up early. (You know what they say about the best of intentions.) Guiltily, I glanced at my desk with my journal and Bible on top, which only seemed to taunt me further. 

“Well, hurry up. Breakfast is almost ready. Dad wants you to get in some piano practice before school. Your recital is Saturday.” 

How could I possibly forget? 

They reminded me of that fact at least ten times a day. What was the big deal about this recital? Wasn’t it just like any other? (In my parents’ minds, this will be the one that will get me noticed, and they think offers will come from all the big schools, like Julliard.) 

Honestly, I didn’t even know for sure if that was the life I wanted. 

After plopping my size nine feet out of bed and onto the carpeted floor, I hurried over to my desk and opened my Bible. I had a few extra minutes. 

October 1

So here it is, Lord: Day 1 of the Bible Study Challenge. I, Andrea Jamison, am following through on Pastor Jace’s one-week challenge to get into God’s Word every morning and see what awesome things You do in my life—or through my life or something. (I’m not real clear on that part, yet.) I’m even utilizing the Proverbs prayer journal Mom gifted me two months ago, which has since just been collecting dust. I know she only gave it to me so that I might actually get up early every morning and do my quiet prayer and devotion time before heading to the big building where we do all the learning. So in a sense, I’m making everyone happy with me in one fell swoop. 

With homecoming on the horizon at school, I have a sinking feeling I’m going to need all the help I can get. I know You can work miracles, and really I’m not asking for one, but please if I can spend one more day (or even a hundred) not making a complete fool of myself that would be great. Now I have to cut this short and get in some piano practice. Really, if I could ask for anything it would be the ability to freeze time, then I might actually get everything done. 

Nugget of Truth from my reading this morning: Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Where can readers learn more information about you?

Please visit my newly designed website or my blog I’m on FaceBook under Cindy K. Green Author and Twitter as @cindykgreen.  I have several more excerpts on my blog. Come by and visit me there.

(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!) 
Cindy has generously offered to giveaway an eBook copy of Andrea & the Five-Day Challenge (PDF, mobi, or ePub format)Giveaway is available to everyone. Giveaway ends on Saturday May 2, 2015 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

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