Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Synopsis:~

Believing herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems.

Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley's secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?

My take:~

Lovers of regency romance and Jane Austen novels need look no further than Julie Klassen's The Silent Governess for their next foray into the intriguing nineteenth century. Perfectly capturing the exacting social restraints and destructive impact of a tarnished reputation, Julie has created a wonderful story detailing the unusual position of a governess in a wealthy home and the impact of an unsuitable attraction. Olivia and Lord Bradley are characterised very well and the descriptions of the estate and society aptly done. The novel is held together by an appealing mystery and while not difficult to solve, held my interest for the entirety of this lavish and lengthy tale.

With thanks to Bethany for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of The Apothecary's Daughter & Lady of Milkweed Manor

Character spotlight on Olivia and Lord Bradley

Visit Julie's website

Buy Julie's books at Amazon or Koorong

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Getting to know Lisa Harris & giveaway

Lisa Harris packs a lot into her life! Wife, mother, missionary, writer and no doubt a whole lot more :)

Lisa has more than twenty books and novellas to her credit but with Blood Ransom she combines her love of Africa and her passion for its people with fast paced action and a touch of romance.

Enjoy learning more about Lisa and be sure to add her books to your collection!

If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?

Since I’ve always considered my name to be quite plain, I would definitely choose something very literary and flowery. Something like Lauren Alexander or Catherine Montgomery.

Your first pet’s name?

A cat named Sasha. (At least that is the first one I can remember. J)

Your best friend’s name in primary (elementary) school?

One of my best friends from elementary school (was it really that long ago?) was Julie. It’s been fun to use face book to find some of these—not so old—friends!

Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.

Not a toy, but a soft yellow blanket with ribbon edging. My mother once told me that I would even hang on to one of the corners while it was on the line drying. Eventually, there was nothing left of it beside a few torn remnants that eventually had to be thrown away.

If you could meet a famous person, who would it be?

I’d love to sit down and talk with Elizabeth Elliot. I find her story, and that of Jim Elliot, so inspiring.

If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you? (Besides your Bible of course)

Is there wireless? I suppose not. And no electricity either? (Hmmm…Sounds a bit like where I live at times J) And I suppose an object doesn’t translate to a person, but I would want my hubby (who is the object of my affection, right?)Then possibly, between the two of us, we could find a way off!

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?

Chocolate mint, with big chunks of chocolate. Yum!

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a mother and a writer. As for motherhood, I struggled for years with infertility, so because of that I think it helps me to appreciate them more than I would otherwise. (most days! J)

And I’ve always loved gothic romances and had my heart set on writing novels set in England with the stormy sea in the backdrop and a forbidden romance. I still love that genre, though am very happy with the way my writing as gone.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

There are so many places I still want to visit, even though I’ve been blessed to travel extensively. I would love to take a cruise to the Arctic. I’m not really sure why, because I prefer the sun to the cold, but the whole idea fascinates me. I’d love to be able to photograph the wildlife.

Besides God, who has influenced you the most?

My mother was always the strong spiritual influence in my life and has always encouraged me both in my faith and personally.

What's your favourite book?

Randy Alcorn’s Heaven is a book I’ve read several times and love because it’s such an important reminder to keep our prize--heaven--in front of us.

What part of your daily routine do you enjoy most?

Probably the end of the day when the house is finally quiet and my hubby and I curl up to talk and catch up on our day.

What's your favourite movie?

I’m not sure if I could pick a favorite, but I love Ever After. To me it’s the perfect Cinderella story.

Where's the most interesting place you have been?

A couple years ago we went swimming with the pink dolphins and fishing for piranha in the Amazon. It was different from the African bush, and I enjoyed learning about the forests, waterways, and animals that live there. My kids still talk about that trip and beg for us to take them back.

What's your most fervent prayer?

That my kids stay strong in their faith no matter what lies ahead.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

I suppose eating some of the things that have been offered to me out in the African bush. Sometimes you just don’t ask!

What gift have you received that you will always treasure?

My children. They truly were a gift from God.

What is your favourite Bible verse (or "one" of your favourites) and what does it mean to you?

I love Colossians 3:23 where it says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” That is where I want my heart to be, though it can be so hard sometimes!

What was your most embarrassing moment in High School?

Now, is this a memory I really want to dredge up? J Especially since I’ve been able to connect with a lot of my high school friends on Face Book. I’m really being honest when I say I don’t remember one. Really.

Your most rewarding moment as a missionary?

When I go out to the village and see the joy on people’s faces as they praise and worship God…it makes it all worthwhile! This is something I’ve noticed in particular lately because they talk about this newfound joy they have and you can see it in their expressions!

What do you love most about living in Mozambique? The least?

What I love: I love living near the sea, going out to the village and the simplicity of life that helps to remember that things are not important. It’s family and relationships and character that count.

What I like the least: The poverty, sickness, and pain I see.

Share your favourite African meal

I just made a family favorite for dinner the other night. Pap, which is corn meal cooked into a thick porridge and is actually is eat all over Africa and called by many names. I’ve eaten it in a half a dozen countries and love it served with a spicy sauce. This week I made it with curried cabbage.

Of course, I also can’t forget about the South African braai where the food is always fantastic and the company even better. Lots of meat, sosaties (a meat kebab on a stick), pap with sauce, boerewors (traditional farmer’s sausage), and milk tart ( a kind of custard pie) for desert.

Could you ask each of your children to share one thing they love about you?

Jayden 8: I love her because she is very lovable.

Mariah 11: She takes us to the beach on our day off where we eat pizza and swim.

Gabriel 12: She let me have my own room, and she makes us nice food.

How do you balance your writing with your mission work, parenting and other obligations and activities?

It’s not easy, but I know the same is true for every busy woman. I’m in a phase of my life where the kids and their schooling have to take priority. This means that I’m not as actively involved in ministry as I was when they were smaller and in school, and my writing time isn’t as much as it used to be either.

I also try to be very pro-active with how I spend my time, because if I don’t time quickly gets eaten up by the non-essential. I try to be organized (try being the key word here), use lists and set daily goals.

Blood Ransom

Why romantic suspense set in Africa?

Because it combines everything I enjoy! I love reading and writing romantic suspense. Being able to set a series in Africa was like icing on the cake. Africa, to me, is the perfect setting for adventure with its extremes in climate, land, people, and cultures.

How much of your own African experiences are in the story?

As far as what I put my characters through… not much really, thankfully! I’m not sure I’d want to experience what they did. J But sights and smells and people that I encounter everyday are definitely woven throughout the story.

Please describe each of your characters with one word

Natalie-passionate

Chad-realist

Joseph-searching

Stephen-lost

What was your favourite scene to write?

I tried to think of one that stood out in particular, and realized that overall, because I see my stories like a movie, I love the fast-paced action scenes that keep the story going. They are tough, but so much fun to write.

You are obviously passionate about the issues of slavery and child soldiers which occur in a number of African countries. How can those in the West make a difference?

I am passionate, because these are people who need hope, BUT they don’t have a voice. I find that incredible compared to all the freedoms we enjoy.

As to how we can make a difference: First of all, people need to become aware, but we can’t stop there. We need to get engaged in our world.

The bottom line is that we can’t save every orphaned child, or rescue every woman locked in the bond of slavery, but we can make a difference by touching the lives around us.

We can support an orphan in Africa, get involved with the modern-day abolitionist movement where people are working the front lines, become a foster parent, or a big brother, or take a meal to a shut in and sit and talk with them. No matter who we are, there are people around us in our own neighborhoods and communities who need the help and hope of Jesus Christ! All it takes is lives touching lives.

What do you hope readers take away from this story?

First of all, I really want them to simply enjoy Natalie and Chad’s story. I want them to laugh and cry with the characters, and experience their journey. But I also want them to see that God can use ordinary people, like you and me, to do extraordinary things!

What is in your writing pipeline? A sneak peek, please?

I just turned in book two in this serious, Blood Covenant, that is due to be released next May. I found it an incredible challenge to write as it is set primarily in a refugee camp and yet is also a fast-paced suspense.

Right now, I’m working on a slightly different paced project, a historical romantic suspense for Summerside Press’s new line. This book, Dark Continent is set both in Northern Rhodesia and New York in the early 1920’s. It’s turning out to be research intense, but also a lot of fun.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Rel!!! It’s been a joy!

Thank you, Lisa :) It has been great getting to know a little more about you, your love of people and your writing! Looking forward to your future books!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Blood Ransom

Character spotlight on Natalie & Chad

Visit Lisa's website and blog

Buy Lisa's books at Amazon or Koorong

Giveaway

I have two copies of Blood Ransom to give away. One to a US reader (thanks to Lisa) and one to an Aussie reader.

To enter, post a comment on or before Sunday 11th April, 2010 telling me your favourite African animal! Add a USA or AUS to your post, please.


Monday, 29 March 2010

The winner of Songbird Under A German Moon is...


Jess ~ congratulations :)

An email is on its way to you so respond in 7 days to claim your book!

Sneak peek at Nightshade by Ronie Kendig

As you know I loved Ronie Kendig's debut offering, Dead Reckoning and I have been dying to share with you her next novel, Nightshade, the first in Ronie's Discarded Heroes series which releases in July this year.

Here's a glimpse into the series from Ronie:~


Six men return home from war. Now these champions of freedom are wounded and discarded . . . until a high-ranking official infuses them with hope. Together they become Nightshade, an elite black ops team that neutralizes hot spots other governments won’t touch. Heroes under the radar, these men must find the courage to fight one final battle—for their loved ones and themselves.


The series kicks off with Nightshade, a high octane military suspense novel that I have had the great privilege to read and be captivated by. Here's how Ronie describes her story:~

Max Jacobs is ready to end it all. His stint as a SEAL is over. So is his marriage. All thanks to his out-of-control anger. Then an invitation comes to join a black ops team called Nightshade. War changed him. War calls to him. With nothing to lose, Max signs on.


A failed marriage isn’t all her husband left Sydney Jacobs—he left her with an unplanned pregnancy. Heartbroken, she buries herself in her journalism career. Soon, she’s chasing an ultra-secret paramilitary group around the globe.



In the deadly jungle they battle for their marriage - and their lives


Now, here's a teaser from my review:~

Just like the Hayabusa motorbike Max Jacobs rides, Nightshade is a powerful and electrifying read, accelerating through danger at breakneck speed and stirring deep emotion as Max and Sydney watch their marriage disintegrate and danger come to their door.

Following Nightshade comes Digitalis, Wolfsbane & Firethorn and having already met these men in Nightshade I can't wait to learn their stories of courage, struggle and faith.

Stay tuned for more announcements about this series closer to the release date of Nightshade, including something very special from Ronie, which will encourage men and women just like Max and the guys on his team!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Rebecca's Return by Jerry S Eicher ~ Tracy's Take

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Rebecca Keim returns to Wheat Ridge full of resolve to make her relationship with john Miller work. But in her absence, John has become suspicious of Rebecca. Does she still love someone else?

Before he can find peace with the past, John is caught up in a crisis of his own. Events spin out of control, and Rebecca is left to deal with the pieces. What is God’s will for this couple, and is there any hope for the recovery of their love?

What I thought:

Jerry Eicher continues his Adams County trilogy with the hope-filled story of ‘Rebecca’s Return’.

I enjoyed rejoining Rebecca in ‘Rebecca’s Return’. For me, it was somewhat like catching up with an old friend to see how she was doing. In this part of the trilogy, I loved seeing Rebecca’s character develop into that of a woman making adult decisions and taking up the responsibilities that go along with them. Her determined and gritty loyalty to John was heartening in this age of ‘easy come, easy go’ relationships.

At times I found the dialogue quite brief and lacking some of the emotion that I would have expected considering the circumstances that Rebecca faces. Despite this, I was intrigued and eager to discover the outcome for Rebecca and John’s challenges and was quite satisfied with having some detail revealed with enough left hanging to entice me into the third and final book, ‘Rebecca’s Choice’.

With thanks to Harvest House for Tracy's review copy

Guest reviewer: My friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Rebecca's Promise

Learn a bit about Jerry

Buy Jerry's books at Amazon or Koorong

Friday, 26 March 2010

Scattered Petals by Amanda Cabot

Synopsis:~

Longing for adventure, Priscilla Morton leaves Boston and heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure she seeks will leave her badly injured and her parents dead. Priscilla is determined to rebuild her life and make a home for herself in the beautiful Hill Country. But the bandits who took her parents' lives also destroyed her hope for the future.

Ranch foreman Zachary Webster knows what the future holds for him, and it's not a woman like Priscilla. She deserves a cultured East Coast gentleman, not a cowboy who's haunted by memories of his mistakes. The best thing he can do is leave her alone.


My take:~


Amanda Cabot surprised me! I knew Scattered Petals would be written well but assumed, given the synopsis, it would be a retelling of similar tales I have read in many an historical fiction novel. While the plot was not unusual, the prose and the character development was insightful and noteworthy. The after effects of Priscilla's trauma are authentic and Zach's internal battle unfolds naturally. Scattered Petals was thoroughly engaging and proves Amanda's writing is getting better with each story she pens.


With thanks to Revell for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Character spotlight on Priscilla & Zach

Review of Paper Roses

Character spotlight on Sarah & Clay

Interview with Amanda

Visit Amanda's website

Buy Amanda's book at Amazon or Koorong

Coming in late 2010 from B&H Publishing

B&H Publishing Group continue to impress me with the quality and diversity of the books they are publishing, not only through B&H Fiction but also their Fidelis line, headed by Oliver North.

B&H have just announced a book deal with fabulous suspense novelist, Brandliyn Collins, starting with a story about Lyme Disease ~ read more about that at Brandilyn's blog.

Now, I can't wait for Tracy Higley's first Lost Cities novel, Petra! And of course, I love Jamie's books and Leanna's, too. It is all good :)


You?


Petra by TL Higley

Petra, the wondrous ancient city carved from the mountains of modern Jordan, is at the height of its glory in this gripping historical novel by T. L. Higley. A young widow, Cassia, and her son, Alexander, have arrived there seeking protection with her late husband's estranged family. But when Cassia discovers the man she married was heir to the throne, t
he power-hungry Queen Hagiru plots to murder Alexander so that her own child will someday rule. The queen, priestess of the sun-god, Dushrat, calls on demonic powers in her quest, but Cassia is prepared for the fierce spiritual battle to save her son, joining a Roman named Julian and his community of believers in the Jewish Messiah. Together they seek a mighty movement of God far stronger than any dark heart or city made of stone.

September, 2010






Facelift by
Leanna Ellis


Kaye Redmond stages houses for resale, so masking trouble spots with strategic decor comes naturally. She does it in her personal life as well-her can-do attitude and ready smile disguising
the emotional wear-and-tear of a failed marriage and raising a teenage daughter alone. But when her former mother-in-law comes back around, desperate for a place to stay while recovering from a botched facelift, Kaye begins to realize there's a much more authentic way to brighten one's countenance: look to God and His plan for her life.

October, 2010






The Snowflake by Jamie Carie

It's Christmas in 1897, and Ellen Pierce and her brother are determined to reach the Alaska gold rush. But when ice stalls their steamship, all seems lost, until Buck Lewis makes a proposal: he'll lead all who dare follow on foot to
ward Dawson City. Buck is determined to leave behind a heartbreaking past. No amount of ice or weather will stop him. But he never counted on a woman joining a dangerous wilderness trek-or on falling in love with her.

In her first novella, award-winning author Jamie Carie couples soul-deep romance with epic adventure to give a joyful reminder of a redeeming God who makes us each unique, yet loves us all the same.


October, 2010

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Character Spotlight ~ Ann Shorey's Ellie & Matthew Craig


Matthew & Ellie Craig


Ann Shorey's second At Home in Beldon Grove story is now available, The Promise of Morning. Dealing with a struggling marriage and the pressures of pastoring a church, the issues are as relevant today as in the 1840s. Travel back in time with Ellie & Matthew!

Enjoy:~

Brief physical description

Ellie Craig is 5 feet tall, 110 pounds and has thick wheat-blonde hair. She's 28 years old.

Matthew Craig, Ellie's husband, is 5 feet, 10 inches, 165 pounds. His hair is brown and crinkly/curly, as is his collar-length beard. He's 44 years old.

Actor/famous person

Jeff Bridges, in this photo, is exactly how I picture Matthew. Even the suit fits the story, since Matthew is a preacher.

Reese Witherspoon has the right look of fragility to portray Ellie.

Strengths and weaknesses

Ellie's greatest weakness is that she's too easily swayed by outward appearances, rather than looking into what a person is like on the inside. She's used to hiding behind Matthew and letting him make decisions.

As the story progresses, she finds strength to tackle situations she never dreamed she'd have to face. Her greatest strength is her compassion for others.

Matthew has double weaknesses. One is fear of confrontation. The other is being too certain that he's right without listening to wise counsel. Both of these faults lead him to him to make some terrible decisions. Matthew's greatest strength is (eventually) learning to admit when he's wrong.

Quirk (if any)

Ellie tends to reach for sweets when she's upset.

Matthew is a caring, involved father, in a time when women shouldered most of the child-rearing responsibilities.

Your inspiration for the character

The characters of Ellie and Matthew were inspired by my great-great grandparents. My great-great grandfather was 16 years older than my g.g. grandmother. He'd been a circuit rider (itinerant preacher, as they were called then) when the two of them met.

Their situation made me wonder what life was like for the “real” Ellie--being so much younger and literally young when they married. She was only 14 to his 30! A few of the situations in The Promise of Morning are based on actual incidents, although most of the story is fiction.

Background to the story

Several years ago, I visited the area of Illinois where this novel is set. I photographed cemeteries and the original farmstead land that my great-great grandparents settled in the 1830's. With those pictures in mind, I spun a story about their lives.

Thanks for another spotlight, Ann! It is always intriguing getting to know more about how characters came to be :)


On Monday the spotlight turns on Melanie Dobson's Jacob & Liesel from Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa.


Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of The Edge of Light

Character spotlight on Molly

Visit Ann's website and blog

Buy Ann's book at Amazon or Koorong

Rooms by James L Rubart with giveaways

Synopsis:~

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

My take:~

Looking for a workout for you heart and mind? A novel that will challenge your motivations and the way you live your life? Grab yourself a copy of James Rubart's Rooms and prepare to confront your deepest desires and impulses.

Rooms is the compelling story of software prodigy Micah Taylor who is forced to face both the beauty and destructiveness of his own soul, after receiving an inheritance that fits his every unspoken desire. With a mind bending premise, Rooms is a provocative and complex revelation of the human psyche in a thoroughly entertaining and tightly woven tale with long lasting impact. Suspenseful, romantically satisfying and spiritually significant, Rooms is without question, a must read.

With thanks to B&H for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Jim's website and blog

Buy Rooms at Amazon or Koorong

Check back next month for a Character Spotlight on Micah from Jim
Open Giveaway

Thanks to the brilliant folk at B&H Fiction, I have books to give away! Two for my US/Canadian readers and two for my Aussie readers. Here's how:~

Post a comment on or before Sunday 4th April, 2010 sharing which is your favourite room in your house. Add a US or AUS to the end of your post and you're in the draw!

Julie Lessman...free on Kindle?!



Love Julie Lessman's books? Want one free with the chance to win a signed copy of Julie's long awaited A Hope Undaunted?

Julie's A Passion Most Pure is available now to download FREE to your Kindle, PC, Mac, iphone and Blackberry. As for the chance to win a signed copy of A Hope Undaunted, I'll let Julie tell you how:~

Hello!

Want a FAST AND EASY way to win a signed copy of my first book in my Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted (or any of my Daughters of Boston books)???

HERE'S HOW!!!

Until April 3rd, A Passion Most Pure is being offered on Amazon Kindle, PC, Mac, iphone and Blackberry for FREE, which is a HUGE push for my books AND will help me to continue writing the books you want me to write.

Your name will be thrown into a hat to win a signed copy of A Hope Undaunted (or any of my books) EARLY if you do any or all of the following:


1.) Send an e-mail to at least 10 people, asking them to download APMP FREE on Amazon Kindle here. For every 10 people you send this to, you get another chance to win. Simply e-mail me through the "Contact Julie" page of my website, and I will forward you my personal e-mail to include on your e-mail to 10 or more people, which will then allow me to toss your name in the hat for this contest.

2.) Ask people on your FaceBook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari or any other social network to download APMP FREE. Again, e-mail me through the "Contact Julie" page of my website telling me you have done this, and I will toss your name in the hat for this contest.

3.) Sign up for my FaceBook Fan Page here, then e-mail me through the "Contact Julie" page of my website telling me you have done so and I will toss your name in the hat for this contest.

4.) Sign up for my newsletter and e-mail me through the "Contact Julie" page of my website telling me you have done so, and I will toss your name in the hat for this contest.

YOUR NAME WILL BE THROWN IN THE HAT EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU DO ONE OF THE ABOVE ACTIONS. Just be sure to let me know by contacting me through my website.

Good luck and THANK YOU!!

Hugs,

Julie

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren with giveaway

Synopsis:~

Sophie Frangos is torn between the love of two men and the promise that binds them all together.


Markos Stavros loves Sophie from afar while battling his thirst for vengeance and his hunger for honor. Dino, his quiet and intelligent brother, simply wants to forget the horror that drove them from their Greek island home to start a new life in America. One of these “sons of thunder” offers a future she longs for, the other—the past she lost.
From the sultry Chicago jazz clubs of the roaring twenties to the World War II battlefields of Europe to a final showdown in a Greek island village, they’ll discover betrayal, sacrifice, and finally redemption. Most of all, when Sophie is forced to make her choice, she’ll learn that God honors the promises made by the Sons of Thunder.

My take:~

Since picking up my first Susan May Warren story I have been a devoted reader of her books, proudly owning each one of her books and novellas. Every time I open her latest story, my expectations run high and I know I am in for a great read. What I didn't expect was to read a book that is arguably Susan's best work and, without question, on a par with Bodie Thoene and Tricia Goyer's exceptional World War II novels. Sons of Thunder plunged me deep into the sights, sounds and smells of the Aegean Sea and into the hearts and minds of two of its native sons, the volatile Markus and the intense Dino. Their traumatic journey from their homeland to the tempestuous streets of Chicago is exacerbated by their abiding love for their childhood friend, Sofia who is deeply wounded by her own experiences. Then Pearl Harbour is attacked, America enters the war and a safe tomorrow looks like a pipe dream. Poignant, emotive, enthralling and redemptive, Sons of Thunder is stellar novel that I cannot recommend highly enough. Bring on the sequel!

With thanks to Wynn~Wynn Media for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Susie's website and blog

Buy Susie's books at Amazon or Koorong


US/Canadian Giveaway

With thanks to the brilliant Wynn~Wynn Media, one of my North American readers can win a copy of Sons of Thunder! To enter:~

Post a comment on or before Sunday 4th April, 2010 kindly noting you must have a US mainland or Canadian mailing address to be eligible to enter.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist & J Mark Bertrand

Synopsis:~

Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her. Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

My take:~

Beguiled continues another current trend in Christian Fiction, the collaboration of two authors to produce a story which highlights their writing specialties. Deeanne Gist is well known for her excellent historical romances and J. Mark Bertrand is soon to debut on his own, with a crime novel. The collaboration results in a contemporary romantic mystery that is entertaining and intriguing but lacks the fast paced action I personally prefer in my suspense novels. Lovers of a good mystery will enjoy this tale that takes the reader on a tour of the streets of Charleston and into the lives of dogwalker Rylee and Logan, dedicated reported and avid dog fearer. Beguiled is nicely done and I certainly enjoyed walking the streets of Charleston with Rylee and her hounds!

With thanks to Bethany House for my review copy


Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of A Bride in the Bargain, Courting Trouble, Deep in the Heart of Trouble and A Bride Most Begrudging

Interview with Deeanne

Visit Deeanne's website and blog

Visit Mark's blog

Buy the books from Amazon and Koorong

RBC Book Club with Jenny B Jones


After reading Jenny B Jones' debut adult contemporary novel last year, Just Between You and Me, I decided immediately to select it for my book club in 2010.


Reading Jenny's tweets always brighten my day so I knew she was just the author to speak to with my book club. So facilitated by the lovely Jeane Wynn of Wynn~Wynn Media, Jenny graciously agreed to a conference call.


My book club had the pleasure of discussing Just Between You and Me last Friday night and the book gave us much food for thought on matters regarding dysfunctional families, mental health issues, community involvement in hurting families, the binding tentacles of fear and the need to hope and embrace certain risks to enjoy life to the full. So bound up in our conversation, I forgot the time and I am sure poor Jenny, who arisen in the very wee hours of the morning to compensate for the time difference between Arkansas and Melbourne, Australia, was sitting in the dark wondering if we were ever going to call!




After a moment of anxious waiting while the phone rang (I'm always nervous I am going to get a number wrong and wake up some unsuspecting American at 5am!), Jenny's voice greeted us, sounding way too chirpy for that hour of the morning! Fortunately, Jenny has a good ear and she understood our Aussie (and South African) accents perfectly.

Here are some of the things we talked about:~


  • the very speedy process of writing Just Between You and Me
  • the similarities and differences between writing YA and Adult fiction
  • balancing teaching and writing
  • the range of responses from her students to her books, from starting a good conversation to "yeah, whatever..."!!
  • trends in Christian Fiction
  • how she deals with reader criticism
  • her passion for young people
  • faith
  • her recent exposure to the celebrity press
  • the Amish fiction explosion
  • her reading tastes
  • and more.......

And while we talked we laughed! Jen has a fabulously dry wit which we loved and quite simply she was a delight to talk with. We particularly enjoyed talking about current trends in Christian Fiction and our desire to read realistic stories with authentic characters, ones that struggle with life and don't always make the best choices. Jenny was able to do that in Just Between You and Me and we admire her for that as it seems to fly in the face of the burgeoning interest in saccharine, fairytale stories that offer momentary escapism but not much in the way of reflection, challenge or encouragement to do better.

Most of my book club members are smack dab in the middle of the demographic publishers are targeting for cookie cutter sweet Amish or fairy tale contemporary romance between the beautiful and/or wealthy and other such novels - white, middle class women between the ages of 30 and 45. Each of my book club members who were present on Friday night, including the ones who are in their 20s and 50s, were in stark raving agreement that we want something more from our Christian authors and novels.

Now, don't get me wrong, there is a place for Amish and romance stories and I am in no way deriding authors who write these stories. There are authors writing books in these genres which have substance and reality in spades. In addition, I'm certainly not beyond reading a book purely to escape my own reality from time to time and be swept away. But I want more than just sweetness and light in whatever genre I am reading! More to stimulate my mind, my heart and my soul.

How about you?


For more of this discussion and Jenny's take on it, check out her blog post following our chat with her.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Character spotlight on Maggie & Connor
Review of Just Between You and Me
Visit Jenny's
website and blog
Buy Jenny's books at Amazon or Koorong







Where is Pendleton?


Apologies for not bringing you Melody Carlson's spotlight on her Summerside release, Love Finds You in Pendleton, Oregon.

Sunshine and Max are busy watching the rodeo ~ sigh!

I'll have the spotlight to you as soon as I can round them up ;-)

CFBA Blog Tour of Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Heart Of Stone
Zondervan (March 1, 2010)


by


Jill Marie Landis



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Marie Landis is the bestselling author of over twenty novels. She has won numerous awards for her sweeping emotional romances, such as Summer Moon and Magnolia Creek. In recent years, as market demands turned to tales of vampires, erotica, and hotter, sexier historical romances, Jill turned to writing Inspirational Western Romances for Steeple Hill Books. She truly feels back in the saddle again, working on stories that are a joy to write. With her toes in the sand and head in the clouds, Jill now lives in Hawaii with her husband, Steve.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Laura Foster, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past.

When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand’s reputation would be ruined. But it’d not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring Brand down─it’s also his own.

When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand’s future? Or is it worth risking his name─and her heart─by telling him the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Heart Of Stone, go HERE

Read my guest reviewer, Tracy's review of Heart of Stone, here

Monday, 22 March 2010

The winner of As Young As We Feel is.....


Linda ~ congratulations!

Your mailing address within seven days will guarantee your book :)

The winners of Once in a Blue Moon are....


US ~ Edna & Diane Marie Shaw

AUS ~ Jaana & Jen


Congratulations ~ your snail mail details in 7 days will guarantee your win :)

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