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 www.cindykgreen.com & her blog cindykgreen.blogspot.com. 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.

Buy At Amazon
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 http://www.cindykgreen.com or my blog http://cindykgreen.blogspot.com. 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.

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GIVEAWAY!
(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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Monday, April 13, 2015

Author Interview and Giveaway: The Outlaw Takes A Bride by Susan Page Davis

Welcome to CBRB, Susan! It’s great to have you back! Can you please share a little bit about yourself?

I’m a New Englander transplanted to western Kentucky. I’m a mom and a grandmother, and I like cats and horses. My books are mostly historical romance and mystery.

What is your favorite book that you have written?

Besides the one we’re featuring today, probably Frasier Island.

Is there a character from one of your books that you’re particularly fond of?

Janet Borden, in my mystery Breaking News, is close to my heart.

What was your journey to publication like and how long did you write before you were published?

I started seriously writing fiction in 1999, and after a couple of years I began selling short stories to national magazines. I really wanted to sell a novel, though, and that took a few more years. Protecting Amy was published in 2004. It was a western historical romance, as is the book we’re featuring today.

What people have inspired you on your writing journey?

Aside from my parents, whose work ethic was incredible, I’d say other writers, especially women writers who paved the way for us. Frances Parkinson Keyes, Grace Livingston Hill, Agatha Christie, and many more. I especially admire the women who wrote to support their families.

Are you currently working on anything new? If so, what is it?

Always. Right now, my son Jim and I are writing a sea story together. It’s a historical novel about seafaring women.

What are you currently reading?

A Code of Honor, in the Mysteries of Silver Peak series. Next up will be Whitewashed, a new novel by Amy C. Blake.

How has your relationship with Jesus affected/influenced your writing?

My main characters always have the Christian worldview ingrained in them, even if they are not outspoken about it. Deciding what they believe and what principles they live by has anchored me in my personal life.

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Please tell us about the featured book.

In The Outlaw Takes a Bride, widow Sally Golding becomes a mail order bride in hopes of finding a happier marriage than her first and finally having children of her own. Johnny Paynter is accused of murdering his ranch foreman. With his pal Cam, he flees from Colorado to his brother’s ranch in Texas. On arriving, he finds that his brother, Mark, has been killed by outlaws. Cam convinces Johnny to bury his brother and lie low on the ranch. Everyone in town thinks Johnny is Mark, as they looked a lot alike and Mark was a quiet man who kept to himself. Then they learn that Mark had proposed to a mail-order bride, and Sally will arrive soon. Setting the record straight now would make Johnny look guilty of several crimes, so he keeps quiet—and winds up married to Sally. She knows something is wrong. Sally loves him, but she isn’t sure their marriage can survive the strain—and then the outlaws return.

Can you please give us the first page?

Early May 1885, Colorado Plains

Johnny Paynter slung his saddle over his chestnut gelding’s back. He and Reckless would work alone today, repairing the ranch’s roundup pen. Johnny didn’t mind being up here at the line shack all alone—it was better than fighting for elbow room in the bunkhouse. Especially when he was on the foreman’s bad side. Still, he couldn’t help remembering that today should have been his day off.
Frantic hoofbeats pounded in the distance. Johnny dropped the girth ring and walked around his horse to stare down the trail. His friend Cam Combes was riding hard.
“What’s your hurry?” Johnny called as the other cowboy drew near.
“Get your gear. You’ve got to get out of here.” Cam pulled his horse to a stop.
“Why?” Johnny asked. “What’s happened?”
“It’s the foreman. Somebody shot him. And Johnny—they think you did it. You got to run for it!”
“What on earth?” Johnny stared at him. The Lone Pine foreman was known to be harsh and short tempered, but Johnny had mostly managed to stay on his good side—except for the words they’d exchanged right before Johnny came up here to the line shack, but that wasn’t serious. “Are you telling me that Red Howell is dead? How did it happen?”
“Nobody knows.” Cam swung down out of the saddle and dropped his pinto’s reins. “Ike found him this morning, on the trail about a half mile from the ranch. You were the only one unaccounted for when he rode in with the news. Red had told us he was riding up here to see you this mornin’. Wanted to know how you were doing with the roundup pen. Now I guess they think you ambushed him or something.”
“That’s crazy,” Johnny said.
“Some of the boys heard you the other night, when Red told you to come up here. They’re sayin’ you had a fight.”
Johnny shook his head in protest. “That wasn’t any fight. I told Red it was my Sunday off this week, and he said too bad, and I said I really needed a day off, and he said—”
“No time to argue. Get your stuff. You’ve got to go.”
“What, go down and talk to the boss?”
“No!” Cam frowned. “If you do that, they’ll turn you over to the law.”
“But I didn’t do anything.” Johnny glared at him. “I didn’t even know Red was coming up here. Don’t you think I should just go and tell them that?”
“No, I don’t. You need to lie low. Better yet, get out of Colorado. Before the sheriff rides up here to take you in.”
Johnny’s stomach felt hollow. “I’m not going to run. I didn’t do anything.”

Where can readers learn more information about you?

Visit my website at www.susanpagedavis.com

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GIVEAWAY!
(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!) 
Susan has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of The Outlaw Takes A BridePrint giveaway is available to U.S residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday April 25, 2015 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Movie Review: The Torchlighters ~ Jim Elliot and Corrie Ten Boom

"The year was 1956. From the steamy jungles of Ecuador, news spread around the world that five young American men were mercilessly killed by members of the Auca tribe (now known as the Waodani)--a people those young men had gone to serve and befriend. That seemingly senseless tragedy a half century ago has become an inspirational marvel as that same tribe is now friends with the families of those they killed! This is the story of one of those brave torchlighters--Jim Elliot.

Jim Elliot spent his youth preparing to share the Gospel with those who'd never heard it. But nothing could have prepared him for the dangers and challenges he'd face in the jungles of Ecuador. The remote Auca tribe was suspicious and antagonistic toward even the most friendly of gestures from outsiders. Would Jim and his fellow missionaries ever be able to break down the hostile barriers and carry a torch of faith to this savage people determined to attack all outsiders?

In this inaugural Torchlighters episode we follow Jim's adventures from his college years to his work in the jungles, showing young people his faith in action as he answers God's call to do the seemingly impossible."


"Corrie ten Boom and her family are masters of their craft; they repair broken watches and return them safely to their owners. But as the evil of World War II sweeps through their city, a new kind of 'watch' comes to their care: an innocent Jewish baby, desperately needing protection from the cruelty of the new Nazi regime. How will the ten Booms keep this baby and many others out of harm's way, and what will be the cost of serving God amidst unthinkable evils? When faith is tested, hope is tried, and love is strained, will Corrie's God prevail? See her amazing story of courage, sacrifice, and forgiveness anew through this gripping episode of The Torchlighters."


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Having watched and enjoyed several of Torchlighters' films with my younger siblings, I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate their 10th anniversary by reviewing two of their films: The Jim Elliot Story and The Corrie Ten Boom Story. These films provided the perfect opportunity for a couple of FMNs (Family Movie Night). Although Torchlighters films are geared towards 8-12 year olds, the whole family––no matter the age––will enjoy them. What I love most about these films is their clean, entertaining, and informative nature. Why not be inspired by the lives of real-life Christians on a FMN? The hearts of you and your children will be touched by these films, because these stories are not "make believe" . . . they are real. (I literally teared-up during The Corrie Ten Boom Story despite the fact that I have read two of her books and watched The Hiding Place movie multiple times––her story, especially, is that powerful.)

Both films are approximately 30 minutes in length, so it does feel rather short (for an adult). Because of their length, only the major highlights of the respective person's life is included--but the Special Features provided more information that I greatly enjoyed. Since The Jim Elliot Story is Torchlighters first film, it has a lower video quality than The Corrie Ten Boom Story which is one of their more recent films. Overall, though, the video quality is good and the animations are fun, cute, and sufficient enough to portray the stories. Torchilghters was wise in their choices of which life-moments to highlight and even managed to sprinkle in some humor so that the movies were captivating and clearly showed how Jim Elliot and Corrie Ten Boom lived out the Gospel. Neither you nor your children will get bored watching these films! (Plus, you'll leave edified––what's there to lose?)

I highly recommend the Torchlighters films for young and old alike. I am a passionate advocate of entertaining yet clean and spiritually edifying novels and this passion reflects in my movie choices, as well––that's the reason I deviated a little from the CBRB normal and took the time to get you acquainted with these wonderful, family-oriented films (well, that and the fact that I wanted to watch them myself;) 

And GUESS WHAT? I have for you an exclusive promo code that'll knock $10.00 off the Torchlighters 12-pack Box Set! The original retail price is $99.99, but Vision Video offers the 12-pack for $59.99. However, with this promo code, you'll receive 12 DVDs for $49.99––that's $4.16 per DVD! You could seriously schedule in 12 Family Movie Nights knowing that you'll be spending quality time with your family AND enjoying captivating, inspiring, and edifying movies with them. (No, I am not being compensated for this:) 

Exclusive Promo Code: tl12ahsj

** Code will expire on June 1, 2015. Promo Code will only work on the Torchlighters 12 pack (item #501631d).  A $10 discount will show on the cart summary on the bottom of the page.  You can also call (800-523-0226) to order as long as you mention the promo code.




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If you have watched any of the Torchlighters films, which story is your favorite? For those who have not watched any, which story would you and/or your children enjoy most? Whose story  would you like Torchlighters to highlight next (for example, I would love a film on my favorite missionary, Mary Slessor)?

** Thanks to Believers Trust for providing The Jim Elliot Story and The Corrie Ten Boom Story free in exchange for my honest review, which I have given