Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Return of Cassandra Todd by Darrel Nelson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Return of Cassandra Todd
Realms (February 5, 2013)
by
Darrel Nelson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I am a schoolteacher by profession and have taught school for (thir—ahem!) years. I grew up in Raymond, Alberta, and attended the University of Lethbridge after graduating from high school and serving a two-year mission to Japan. During university, I met and married Marsha Smith, and we are the parents of four children, which has grown to include their spouses and our ten grandchildren.

I have always loved to write. I started writing stories before I was old enough to realize I was writing stories. It seemed a natural thing to pick up a pencil and paper and create a world simply by using words—worlds of adventure in steaming jungles (Tarzan was an early influence on me) or realms of adventure in outer space (Buck Rogers). But as I have grown older, I have discovered that the real inspiration for me is exploring the theme of love and how it can make such a difference in the world.

I’ve had an article published in Lethbridge Magazine and have written several dramatic plays, two of which won provincial recognition and were showcased at a drama festival. I won the CJOC radio songwriting contest two years running, and have had one of my songs receive international airplay. I have written four novels intended for the juvenile market. They are unpublished as yet, but I read them annually to my fourth grade students and my students tell me they love them, the darlings.

ABOUT THE BOOK




When the girl he hated in high school suddenly reenters his life, little son in tow, and asks for his help, Turner must put the past behind him if they are to survive.

Turner Caldwell works at a local motel as a handyman while attending college full-time. On his way to class one day, he passes the bus depot just as Cassandra Todd and her young son arrive. He is shocked to see her, remembering how cruel she was to him in high school. She was the popular head cheerleader and he the target of her mean-spirited pranks. Turner could never have imagined that the outdoor training and survival skills he learned at Camp Kopawanee, a summer youth camp where he worked three years as a leader, would one day become so crucial. But when Cassandra and her son check into the motel where he works and she asks for his help in eluding her abusive husband, Turner finds himself entangled in a situation that will require every skill he has in order to survive.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Return of Cassandra Todd, go HERE.

My review:

    I almost passed on this book for review. The original description of the book didn't sound extremely promising, but since it was a male author, I requested it, hoping it was a guy book.

   The book far surpassed my expectations. There was much more suspense in it than I had anticipated - and I love suspense. It had a great fast-moving plot with very likable characters. I totally got into the book, possibly because I identified with Turner's high school experiences, and truly could not put the book down until I finished it.

  This is a great story, but it also deals with some important issues. Though fictional, it does a great job of showing the very real issues of bullying and spousal abuse and the long term effects they have. Darrell Nelson is a fairly new author. This is his second book, and the only one I have read, though I was scheduled to review his first book (I think the tour got canceled). I enjoyed this one enough that I plan on reading his first and any others he comes out with. I highly recommend this book. Definitely worth reading.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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



ABOUT THE BOOK

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

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

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

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

My review:

   This is the first book I have read by this author, and I truly enjoyed it. It sounded like it was a suspense novel, and thought it wasn't extremely suspenseful as what I normally read, it did have elements of mystery and suspense. It was a book that I had a hard time putting down, as it was a very engaging story. Though it may be geared more toward women with its romance, this guy found it a great and enjoyable read.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Shattered by Dani Pettrey and a giveaway

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

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

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself--and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada's rugged back country. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step. 
 
My review: 
 
    Dani Pettrey is a new author on the Christian fiction market, this being only her second book. I read the first book in the series, Submerged, and thoroughly enjoyed it and fell in love with the fictitious family the series revolved around and as soon as I finished it, started waiting for the next book, and it has finally come.
 
  Shattered surpasses Submerged. Authors often improve with each book they write, and though Dani didn't need to improve, she did. I fully intended to read part of the book and finish it the next day, but it was so good, so full of suspense and action, that I could not put it down. She has brought back the McKenna family, and this time one of the family, Reef,  the rebel baby of the family, has been found at the scene of a murder, and he looks guilty as sin. The rest of the family, and family friend Deputy Landon Grainger are determined to prove Reef's innocence, no matter where on the globe they have to travel.
 
  There is a lot to like about this book. It has a family banding together to save one of their own, suspense, drama, action, and romance. I liked all of the characters, and Landon came to the forefront and his struggles to do things on his own. If there is a message to be gleaned from the story, it is that no matter how hard we try to do good on our own, no matter how hard we try to escape our past, only surrender to God and turning our lives over to Him is going to get us anywhere.
 
  This is the second book in a series, but they can be read in any order and they can stand alone. It is available from Bethany House Publishers. Thanks to Litfuse and the author for the review copy.

 
 
About the author:
 

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.
Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.


 Dani Pettrey is celebrating the release of Shattered with a Nook HD giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party {3/14}. 


Shattered Pettrey

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Nook HD
  • Submerged and Shattered by Dani Pettrey {Be caught up in this riveting series.}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 13th. Winner will be announced at the "Shattered" Author Chat Party on 3/14. Connect with Dani for an evening of book chat, trivia, and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of Shattered and join Dani on the evening of the March 14th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 14th!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Debut Novel, Angelguard by Ian Acheson, with an author Q&A

Within a period of weeks, three horrific bomb blasts devastate areas of London, Los Angeles and Sydney. No explanation is offered, no victory claimed for these acts of terror. Yet behind the scenes a Machiavellian European businessman is planning to bring the G8 nations to their knees for his own larcenous purposes, aided by the dark forces to whom he has sold his soul. Jack Haines, an Australian academic, is grieving the loss of wife and children in the Sydney blast. Against his will he finds himself thrown into a war that transcends the physical world, a conflict in which angelic guards have a special mission for him. This is a gripping novel of the unseen forces that throng our world.

My review:
    Several years ago, I read a couple of books that did an awesome job of showing spiritual warfare between angels and evil. Those books were This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by a new author, Frank Peretti. In my opinion, those were his best books. I really enjoy that type of book, and have read some similar, so when I was offered this book to review by the author, I jumped at the chance.

   Angelguard is very reminiscent of Peretti's earlier books, but better. This book has a lot of angels, evil angels, and spiritual warfare, but it falls more into the suspense/intrigue genre' than other books of this type that I have read. There is a lot of action in this book, and a lot of characters to keep up with, but there is a handy guide in the front of the book detailing the main characters, where they are from - i.e. Australia, USA, etc - and a list of the main angels, good and bad, and who the good angels are guarding.

  This is Ian's first published novel, and it is one he should be proud of. The book has a terrific plot, complicated, yet easy to keep up with and understand. Then there are the characters: I liked the main Christian characters, some flawed and even doubting God due to tragedy in their lives, yet still serving Him....... and then there are the angels. The Bible doesn't describe angles in much detail, so we don't know much about them, but I like how Ian has described them in his book, and it is comforting to think that is very likely we are surrounded and guarded by beings such as these.

  This was one of those "read in one sitting books" I refer to occasionally. Once I started it, I could not put it down. It is a fast paced read, full of suspense, yet with a great message: God is always in control, and prayer does matter. Maybe the angels are moved more to action by our prayers. It sure can't hurt.

   Anyone who reads many of my reviews knows I am a stickler for language, and will always mention issues, no matter how much I like the book and author. This book had 2 instances of the "d-word" and a handful of the "n-word" (used for black people). I can understand why that one was used, but it still bothered me. Those two words aside, this was an awesome book and I look forward to reading more in this series. Ian is definitely an author to keep your eye on.

About the author

Ian’s debut novel, Angelguard, is due out this month in the US and Canada, March in the UK and May in Australia. It’s been 10 years in the making and he’s very pleased it’s made the light of day.


Ian reads a lot, and a lot, and a lot more. He’s been telling and writing stories for most of his life since early childhood.


When Ian’s not writing he’s a professional strategy consultant having been in the Corporate world for the past 25 years. He brings some of this experience into his stories. He’s lived in Sydney, Australia, all of his life. Ian shares life with his wife, Fiona and they try to keep up with two almost-twenty something young men who give them much joy and you know what else if you’re a parent.

You can keep in touch with Ian at:


Website: http://ianacheson.com/

Twitter: @achesonian

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ianachesonauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6483090.Ian_Acheson


Q&A with Ian

Your debut novel, Angelguard, comes out this month. Tell us a little about Angelguard.

Angelguard reveals the timeless supernatural war that continues unabated and it
s intersection with our physical world. In bringing the warring angels and demons to the forefront of a rollicking tale that crosses the globe, I wanted to highlight the ferocity of this conflict. The physical story focuses on three survivors of separate acts of terrorism that occur within weeks of each other.

Why do you want to write Christian fiction?

Its strange, Mark, its not a question Ive thought much about. The simple answer is: I believe God has led me to it.

I started writing Angelguard over ten years ago and it was always going to be a Christian novel featuring angels and demons. The evolution of Angelguard parallels my return to walking with the Lord. This is perhaps best explained by reference to my “About Me” page on my website: http://ianacheson.com/about-me/

So what were some of your key influences in writing Angelguard?

All my life, I've loved stories of good and evil. I think we all do. Super heroes, to Tolkien, CS Lewis, Ted Dekker and on. Frank Perettis “Darkness” books had a big impact on me 20 or so years ago when they came out. Since I was a kid, Id always visualized angels and demons in the common way I think most people do, that is, human-like with wings. Other than Lewis work , the “Darkness” novels were the first Christian novels Id read that provided a visual picture of this spiritual battle.

What messages do you hope people will take away from Angelguard?

3 messages:

1. There is a spiritual battle going on around us. The Bible talks a lot about it but often we choose to give it lip service.
2. Prayer is powerful. Prayer moves heaven and if we dont pray, things may not happen. I believe God wants to use us to help Him do His work. Prayer and obedience are keys to fulfilling our role.

3. Salvation is a great supernatural act we experience as humans. Often in Christian circles we emphasise healings, prophecies and such like which are all fantastic but sometimes forget that salvation is miraculous too.

Book trailer:



Monday, February 18, 2013

For Love of Eli

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
For Love of Eli
Abingdon Press (February 1, 2013)
by
Loree Lough


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

With more than FOUR MILLION copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 98 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; four novels optioned for movies; more books slated for release between now and 2014), 68 short stories, over 2,500+ articles in print, and over 19,000 letters from fans!

Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.

A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.

She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of "wolf stuff."

ABOUT THE BOOK

When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. But Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his parents by creating a Memory Quilt. As she begins piecing together the moments of his parents' lives, the story of the young family emerges and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance away. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?


If you would like to read a first chapter excerpt of For Love of Eli, go HERE.

My review:
 
    I rarely read a romance novel, but this story centers around a little boy and the author is a super nice lady, so I got it to review, and I loved the book. This is a delightful story that I'd feel safe passing onto my teenaged nieces. There is romance, but it is not overdone, nor overly descriptive. Any reader is apt to fall in love with Eli, a 4 year old boy whom the story revolves around.

   The book also deals with loss and the idea of God being in control and always working out good out of bad. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and my only complaint was that the ending came too fast.

   This book is part of the Quilts of Love series, which are books by different authors writing stories that involve quilts. This is the second such book that I read, and Loree picked a very neat way to bring the quilt into the story. Great book.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Daybreak by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Daybreak
Avon Inspire; Original edition (February 12, 2013)
by
Shelley Shepard Gray


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Viola Keim starts working at a nearby Mennonite retirement home, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with resident Atle, whose only living relative, son Edward, is living as a missionary in Nicaragua. Viola understands the importance of mission work, but she can’t imagine leaving her father in the hands of strangers. Even though her family is New Order Amish, it’s not the Amish way, and though she doesn’t know Ed, she judges him for abandoning his father.



But when Ed surprises his father with a visit, Viola and Ed both discover an attraction they never expected. Despite her feelings, choosing Ed would mean moving to a far-off country and leaving her family behind. She can’t do that. Her twin sister, Elsie, is going blind and will need someone to care for her all her life. Her family is reeling with the recent discovery that her grandmother hid her past as an Englischer. Her father seems forgetful and distracted—and to be harboring some secrets of his own. Does Viola dare leave them all behind and forge her own life? Or will family ties mean her one chance at love slips away?

If you would like to read a first Chapter excerpt from Daybreak,go HERE.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl/ Giveaway

Gentle and unassuming, Hope Kauffman has never been one to question the traditions of her Mennonite upbringing. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal he arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite the attempts of Hope and other Kingdom residents to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, while Ebbie insists Kingdom must remain true to its foundation. When Hope's safety is threatened by a mysterious outsider, she can't help but question what she's always been taught about the Mennonite tradition of nonviolence.

As it swiftly becomes apparent the threat Hope faced is only the beginning, the town that's always stood so strong finds itself divided. With tensions high and their lives endangered by an unknown enemy, will Hope and the people of Kingdom allow fear and division to break them or will they draw on the strength of the God they serve?
 
My review:
 
    I'm not a fan of the Amish books that are so popular nowadays. For one reason, I don't think they are realistic. This series is not about the Amish, but about strict Mennonites, so I decided to give the series a shot. Besides, they are suspense, which is my favorite genre'.
 
   I am not an expert on Mennonites and their beliefs, but from what I do know and have read, Nancy Mehl does a great job of portraying them in a realistic way. I still don't agree with their non-resistance/non-violence stance and beliefs, but I did come away with a better understanding of it and why they believe that way.
 
   On to the story itself: I love the setting, plot, and characters in this book. This isn't a gritty, scary kind of suspense, so readers who don't normally enjoy that genre' would most likely enjoy this book and the book it follows. The suspense factor is dialed back a lot from what I normally read, but I still enjoyed the book. I have only read two books by Nancy, but I like her style. This was not a book that was hard to get into, but was a book that quickly caught my attention and kept it until the last page. I would highly recommend this book, and this series.
 
About the author:
 
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She's authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. All of Nancy's novels have an added touch - something for your spirit as well as your soul. "I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing," Nancy says. "God is number one in my life. I wouldn't be writing at all if I didn't believe that this is what He's called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can't overcome with His help." Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is also active on Facebook.
 
Unbreakable is available from Tyndale House Publishing.
 
Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

More info about the book and book tour here.
 
   
Celebrate the release of Unbreakable with Nancy Mehl by entering her Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to the March 5th Author Chat Party on Facebook!


Unbreakable Kindle Fire Giveaway

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Books one & two in Nancy's Road to Kingdom series (Inescapable and Unbreakable)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the "Unbreakable" Author Chat Party on March 5th. Connect with Nancy, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books, and fun Mennonite-themed giveaways.

Grab your copy of Unbreakable and join Nancy on the evening of the March 5th for a chance to connect with Nancy and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Redeeming Grace by Ward Tanneberg

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Redeeming Grace
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas;
1st edition (February 28, 2013)
by
Ward Tanneberg


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ward Tanneberg is a pastor/writer/novelist who has given more than 50 years to evangelism, youth, college and pastoral ministry, including two Pacific Northwest churches and 23 years as the senior pastor at Valley Christian Center in Dublin, CA. In 2008, he was named President/Executive Director of The CASA Network. Ward speaks extensively at 50+ retreats and ministry leadership events in the USA and elsewhere. When at home he meets weekly with a group of business and professional leaders. He and Dixie have 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren and a great grandson.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Seven years ago, Grace Grafton died in a boating accident while partying on the Georgia, South Carolina coast. Was her death the result of alcohol and drugs or something more sinister? Nobody knows: her body was never recovered. Now years later, a woman reads in disbelief the note addressed to her: Hello Grace, did you think we wouldn't find you?

Those nine chilling words end Grafton's self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. Now she and everyone she loves are in grave danger. Long believed dead, she has a secret that can change the world. She knows the man running for president is guilty of a double murder! But who will believe her?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Redeeming Grace, go HERE.

My review:
   The day I got this book in the mail, I thought it was two books by the size of the envelope. It wasn't. The book is long: 597 pages, quite a bit longer than the average Christian fiction book. I'm a fast reader, but figured this one would be a book I'd read over a span of a few days. I was wrong. Once I started the book, I couldn't put it down. Fortunately, I started it early enough in the day that I was able to read it to completion without staying up too late.

  There are some bad reviews for this book on Amazon, and I don't get it. I loved this book, and thought it was awesome. The author came up with a great plot and cast of characters, and wrote a terrific suspense/intrigue novel that is truly Christian in content and free from bad language and inappropriate content. I had read two novels by this author several years ago and really enjoyed them, and he has only gotten better since then.

  In addition to the great suspense and intrigue, there is also a great message in the book, and the author gets that across without being too preachy.

  One issue I had with the book: It goes back and forth between the present and events that happened seven years ago, but there is not always an indication of the change, and it took reading a few sentences to realize the time setting has changed. That is a small issue though in an great book that I would highly recommend.