Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tick, Tick, Tick!

Just a reminder that it's only a few more hours until Google Reader goes away! If you depend on that to follow my blog, RUN, don't walk to another option! I've found three that seem to be pretty seamless, and if you hurry, they will import your subscriptions straight from Google Reader. Take a look at Bloglovin, Digg Reader, and Feedly Reader. But don't delay! I don't want to lose any of you!


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Friday, June 28, 2013

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig

ICRS was wonderful, exciting, lots of fun - and exhausting! I'm taking today to decompress, find my brain cells, and get caught up on things at home. Have a great Friday!


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Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 Carol Award Finalists

At a Monday press conference, ACFW announced the 2013 Carol Award Finalists. The awards will be presented in September at an award gala at the ACFW Annual Conference in Indianapolis.

The ACFW press conference at ICRS also spotlighted and paid tribute to a key influence in Christian fiction, the 2013 recipient of ACFW’s Lifetime Achievement Award—author Frank Peretti. ACFW CEO Colleen Coble expressed the motivation behind selecting Peretti to receive the Lifetime Achievement honor.

“Frank Peretti has been called a publishing phenomenon when listing bestseller status, longevity of titles, and numbers of books,” said Coble. “His readers, however, talk of ‘life-change,’ ‘shifts in the way I thought about prayer,’ ‘the reason this reader was moved to take up writing,’ ‘changed my life forever,’ ‘made a commitment to Christ after reading his stories,’ ‘his books aided in my walk with Jesus,’ ‘God brought healing in my life through the book,’ ‘the first work of overtly Christian fiction that actually felt genuine (those years ago when I read Peretti in high school).’”

Coble continued, “An author, thinker, and innovator whose storytelling has affected untold numbers since his books first reached bookstore shelves, Frank’s efforts continue to resonate. On behalf of readers, writers, and the publishing industry, thank you, Frank Peretti.”

Here are the finalists, with those that I have reviewed hyperlinked to my review:

Seaside Reunion by Irene Hannon (Love Inspired)
A Horseman’s Hope by Myra Johnson (Heartsong Presents)
Lost Legacy by Dana Mentink (Love Inspired)

Heart Echoes by Sally John (Tyndale House)
You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House)
Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane (Abingdon Press)

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook Press)
Proof by Jordyn Redwood (Kregel Books)
A Sweethaven Summer by Courtney Walsh (Guideposts Books)

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick (Waterbrook Press)
At Every Turn by Anne Mateer (Bethany House)
The Discovery by Dan Walsh (Revell Books)

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander (Zondervan)
A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller (Revell Books)
Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House)

Downfall by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)
Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins (B&H Books)
The Soul Saver by Dineen Miller (Barbour Books)

You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch by Paula Moldenhauer (Barbour Books)
Impressed by Love by Lisa Karon Richardson (Barbour Books)
A Recipe for Hope by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson)
Saving Gideon by Amy Lillard (B&H Books)
An Uncommon Grace by Serena B. Miller (Howard Books)

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson)
Saving Hope by Margaret Daley (Abingdon Press)
When a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason (Revell Books)

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse (Marcher Lord Press)
Judge by R. J. Larson (Bethany House)
Daystar by Kathy Tyers (Marcher Lord Press)

Prophet by R.J. Larson (Bethany House)
Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley (Zondervan )
The New Recruit by Jill Williamson (Marcher Lord Press)

*This category is actually named Category, referring to the smaller, monthly books which are known by the distinction of category books.


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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Christy Award Winners

It was such an honor to be at The Christy Award Banquet on Monday night. Between the whirlwind of ICRS and spotty internet connections at my hotel, I'm just now posting the winners. They are listed below from the press release. The titles that are linked lead to my reviews.

The Christy Advisory Board is happy to announce the 2013 Christy Award winners.

Lifetime Achievement Christy: Lee Hough

Christy Award Hall of Fame Inductees: Lynn Austin (8 Christys) & Karen Hancock (4 Christys)

Book of the Year: Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (David C Cook)

Contemporary Romance: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group).

Contemporary Series, Sequels & Novellas: You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)

Contemporary Standalone: Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers)

First Novel: Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (David C Cook)

Historical: Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot (Tyndale House Publishers)

Historical Romance: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Suspense: Rare Earth by Davis Bunn (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Visionary: Soul's Gate by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Young Adult: Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank (Delacorte Press, a division of Random House)


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Pieces of the Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pieces of the Heart
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
Bonnie S. Calhoun


Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year,” President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference(GPCWC).

For the last six years she has taught workshops in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and creating Social Media promotions at both CCWC, and GPCWC, and in 2011 at the Montrose, Pa Christian Writers Conference. She also taught a Facebook workshop at the 2012 ACFW conference.

Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin in upstate area of New York with a dog and cat who think she’s wait-staff.

Her sites are:


Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

If you would like to read teh first chapter of Pieces of the Heart, go HERE.


I loved this book. Full review and an interview with Bonnie coming soon.


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Monday, June 24, 2013

St. Louis Day 1

Hello from St. Louis and ICRS! While the show officially opens at 8:30 this morning, the fun was already beginning yesterday! I had my first interview, which was with Laura Story. I met her two years ago in Atlanta and it was fun catching up and seeing how God has been working in her life...and hearing about her 9-month-old baby girl!

Yesterday afternoon I attended the AWSA Golden Scroll Awards Banquet. Here are the winners:


EDITOR OF THE YEAR: Sandra VanderZicht of Zondervan

FICTION EDITOR OF THE YEAR: Vicki Crumpton of Baker Publishing Group

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green - Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front

NOVEL OF THE YEAR: Jeanette Windle - Congo Dawn

Following the awards presentation Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries gave the Keynote Address. As always, she was phenomenal. She is so authentic and always shares a practical message that resonates deep in the heart. I've been blessed to know Lysa for several years and it was fun to talk with her a few minutes before the banquet. She is such a sweetheart.
Today, I've got interviews with several authors, ACFW will announce the Carol Award Finalists, and tonight, it's the Christy Awards!


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Friday, June 21, 2013

St. Louis Bound!

Happy First Day of Summer! I'm packing my bags and heading to St. Louis tomorrow for ICRS. I'm looking forward to several days of hanging out with and interviewing authors, talking books, and other exciting fun events. While I will be crazy busy and blogging may be a bit sporadic, here's a glimpse at what I'll be up to and what you'll be seeing on my blog in the days and weeks to come:

  • AWSA Golden Scroll Awards & Banquet - This is the first year I have attended this awards ceremony of the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. Lysa TerKeurst will give the keynote address and I can't wait! Click the link to learn more and see the finalists for Nonfiction Book of the Year, Novel of the Year, and Publisher of the Year.
  • The Christy Awards
  • - This is the third year I will attend this, and I'm just as excited as the first time. Click here to see my post of this year's nominees. There will be a live blog during the ceremony; more info will be available here.
  • ACFW Carol Awards Finalists announcement - Monday morning at a press conference, ACFW will announce the finalists for their annual Carol Awards, to be presented at their annual conference, which will be held in Indianapolis in September.
I'm looking forward to interviewing a great list of authors for Christian Fiction Online Magazine! Here's a peek at some of them:
  • Loree Lough
  • Carla Stewart
  • Deeanne Gist
  • Ace Collins
  • Cynthia Ruchti
  • Jim Rubart
  • Tricia Goyer
  • Bonnie Calhoun
  • Terri Blackstock
  • Martha Rogers
  • Lauraine Snelling
It's going to be fabulous! I'll see you in (from) St. Louis! Photobucket

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Open Heart Grabbed Mine!

An Open Heart
Harry Kraus
(David C. Cook)
ISBN: 978-0781405355
June 2013/445 pages/$14.99

Best-selling author Dr. Harry Kraus weaves another powerful tale of suspense, intrigue, and medical drama, with a story of a surgeon shattered by allegations that could destroy his life and embroiled in a spiritual battle that begins with messages his patients bring him from beyond the grave.

Dr. Jace Rawlings arrives in Kenya fleeing a crumbling life. But when his open-heart surgery patients, after hovering between life and death, warn him of people about to die, a dangerous net quickly tightens around him. He must unravel a tangle of witchcraft, politics, and deceit, and find the faith he needs to restore his world.and survive.


Harry Kraus, M.D. is a board-certified surgeon, medical missionary to East Africa, and accomplished writer of both non-fiction and fiction. Medical realism and gripping plotlines distinguish his writing, as he gets most of his ideas with a scalpel in hand. Dr. Kraus resides in Kenya with his wife Kris and the youngest of his three sons.


When I open a novel by Harry Kraus, I've come to expect more than simply a captivating read. His novels always provide much to ponder, even after the final page is turned. An Open Heart does not disappoint. Set in Kenya, where Kraus himself has served as a surgeon and medical missionary for a number of years, the book blends several themes together and does so seamlessly. On the surface, it is an intriguing tale of a physician trying to distance himself from a difficult personal situation by setting up an open-heart surgery center at a missionary hospital only to find himself in a hotbed of danger and deceit. But it is so much more than a medical suspense novel. Kraus weaves evidence of an unseen enemy into the story with the inclusion of supernatural events and a spiritual battle being waged for Jace's physical and eternal life. While some may be a bit unsettled or skeptical, as Jace was, I love this response in the book by one of the Kenyan nurses:
"The world you see is not the only reality, Dr. Rawlings. Does this collide with your culture?" She waited for an answer, but when he stayed quiet she added. "This does not surprise me. What surprises me is that we don't hear about it more."
I couldn't put this book down and stayed up into the wee hours until I finished it in one evening. I highly recommend it. Enjoy the story within the novel. Consider the possibilities within. Discuss it with your book club. Just don't miss it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book from Wynn-Wynn Media and David C. Cook Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Most Peculiar Circumstance is Most Refreshing!

A Most Peculiar Circumstance
Jen Turano
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764210198
May 2013/353 pages/$14.99

Miss Arabella Beckett, defender of the down-trodden women of America, is returning from her travels in support of the women's suffrage movement when she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need. But things go sadly awry, and both ladies soon find themselves in dire need of rescue. Arabella, always loath to admit she needs help, is particularly reluctant to receive assistance from the arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor who shows up just in time.

Private investigator extraordinaire Mr. Theodore Wilder is on an assignment that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. He is already in a less than pleasant mood, and when Hamilton's sister turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he's at his wit's end.

Much to their chagrin, Theodore and Arabella's paths continue to cross when they return home to New York, but the most unusual feelings beginning to grow between them certainly can't be anything serious. When the trouble Arabella accidentally stirred up in her travels follows her home and threatens her very life, the unlikely couple must face the possibility that they might have landed in the most peculiar circumstance of all: love.

Read an excerpt here.


Jen Turano is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. When she's not writing, Jen can be found watching her teenage son participate in various activities, taking long walks with her husband and dog, socializing with friends, or delving into a good book. She lives in suburban Denver, Colorado. Learn more at


I became a fan of Jen Turano's last fall when I read her debut novel, A Change of Fortune (reviewed here) so I eagerly accepted the opportunity to review A Most Peculiar Circumstance. Turano has quickly vaulted onto my must-read list with her charming stories and her winsome style. Enchanting characters and an engaging plot create a satisfying read but what truly distinguishes this book from many others in this genre is the delightful dialogue which manages to inject a bit of whimsy into even the most serious moments. And at the rate Arabella Beckett could get herself into trouble, there were several of those! A Most Peculiar Circumstance is indeed the perfect title for this novel. I smiled all the way through this one and am already eager for her next book, Talent for Trouble, coming in October!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ever After is a Must-Read!

Ever After:
Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos

Vicki Courtney
(B&H Publishing Group)
June 2013/240 pages/$14.99

Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairy tales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after.

In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairy tale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.

Bible Study coming in Fall 2013.

Read the first chapter here.


Vicki Courtney is a speaker and the best-selling author of many books and Bible studies. Among her popular writings are the ECPA Christian Book Award winners TeenVirtue and TeenVirtue Confidential. Vicki and her husband have three grown children, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love, and a grandchild. They live in Austin, Texas where they are blessed to have all of their children living nearby. More information can be found at


This book should be given to every bride with instructions to read it the first time she senses that her prince may still have a bit of frog in him or when she realizes that tiaras tend to fall off when you're scrubbing toilets! In her signature blend of humor and (at times) gut-wrenching authenticity, Vicki Courtney takes a frank look at the mayhem and mishaps of marriage and family after those glossy wedding bands have lost a bit of their sparkle and the honeymoon is a distant memory. Anecdotes from her own marriage and child-rearing days pepper the book, providing laugh-out-loud moments and, more importantly, encouragement that God's grace is sufficient for our daily needs. Harried young moms may need to keep this book in the bathroom to read in snatches but this is a must-read for anyone longing to keep her eyes on the big picture and let go of some of the pressure women put on ourselves and each other to maintain the perfect facade. I highly recommend this book. And keep your eyes open for the video Bible Study, which will be released this fall!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Vicki Courtney. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, June 17, 2013

Loved Talon - and I Don't Even Like Dogs!

Combat Tracking Team

(A Breed Apart #2)
Ronie Kendig
(Barbour Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1616266011
May 2013/352 pages/$12.99

This Time, Even the War Dog Is Scared

Her brother is missing. And her only chance of finding him lies with a combat dog that has lost his edge.

All Air Force veteran Aspen Courtland wants is her brother back. The US Marine Corps says he’s dead, but Aspen won’t believe it till she sees his body. Her only hope is her brother’s tracking dog, Talon, but a brutal attack has left the dog afraid of his own shadow.

The truth is something Military Intelligence Operative Dane Markoski has never faced. But now it’s the only thing that can save him—along with Talon’s help. But working with Talon means teaming up with Aspen as well, and Dane swore he’d never work with a woman.

Eventually they join forces to battle the elements and extremists. But if Talon can’t rise up to his former glory for one last mission, the only outcome for all three will be game over.


Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include espionage thriller Dead Reckoning and a military series: The Discarded Heroes series (Nightshade, Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn).

In addition to speaking engagements, Ronie is a monthly columnist at the award-winning blog, Novel Rocket, and is active with the American Christian Fiction Writers. Ronie can be found online at, on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@roniekendig).

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have been gained critical acclaim and national attention, including: 2012 Christy Award Winner – Wolfsbane (Contemporary Romance); 2013 HOLT Medallion Winner - Trinity: Military War Dog (Best Book by a Virginia Author), 2013 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award Finalist – Trinity: Military War Dog (Romantic Suspense), 2012 Lime Award Winner – Firethorn (Suspense) 2012 Carol Award Finalist – Wolfsbane (Romantic Suspense); Finalist in Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards (Nightshade); RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense (Nightshade); Named one of the Top 25 Christian Fiction Suspense, Mystery, and Thriller Writers by FamilyFiction (Sept 2011); and more.

Ronie lives in Virginia with her husband and four children.


Whew! Since Ronie Kendig burst onto the scene a few years ago with her first Rapid-Fire Fiction military suspense novel, Christian fiction hasn't been the same. And that's a very good thing! The second book of her A Breed Apart series (I reviewed the first book, Trinity here), Talon, is a boots-to-the-pavement, no-holds-barred adventure that will fully engage your senses and leave you breathless. While plenty of adrenaline-laced, heart-stopping action with grenades and bullets flying will satisfy the most ardent fans of military fiction, lovers of intricate plots and masterful character portrayals will be equally captivated by the many layers of intrigue, suspense, and even romance. An expert wordsmith, Kendig's keen abilities to depict the many elements of a scene (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) while maintaining the rapid-fire pace made this book impossible to put down. Dane and Aspen are both stars in their own right in this novel, but the real hero is Talon, as Kendig's quest to honor the often unknown and unsung heroes of our miltary forces shines the spotlight on this incredible military working dog. I don't even like dogs but Ronie Kendig has made me a fan of Talon! This is her best novel yet, which is quite an accomplishment considering the awards she's received for her previous books. I predict this will be another award-winner; don't miss it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Ronie Kendig and Barbour Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Friday, June 14, 2013


(The Bloodline Trilogy)
Jordyn Redwood
(Kregel Publications)
ISBN: 978-0825442124
January 2013/312 pages/$14.99

Five years ago, Keelyn Blake's armed, mentally ill stepfather took her family hostage in their house in rural Colorado. She and her half-sister Raven made it out alive, but others did not. Authorities blamed the father’s frequent hallucinations about a being named Lucent, but in the end, even the best of the FBI’s hostage negotiators failed to overcome the man’s delusions and end the standoff peacefully.

SWAT team member Lee Watson was there that day. He watched it all unfold and was able to pull Keelyn and Raven from the grip of their demon-possessed father. Though partially successful, his team had still failed, and the outcome of that day—and that tortured family—has continued to plague Lee ever since. Though unusual for SWAT to reconnect with survivors, Lee bumped into Keelyn two years after the crisis, and they both found some peace in their budding relationship. But peace is hard to maintain when the memory returns . . . in the flesh.

Lucent is back, and he’s no hallucination. In fact, he is a very real person with dangerous motives. He has kidnapped Raven’s daughter, and--Keelyn worries--maybe has hurt Raven as well. Though she is estranged from her sister, Keelyn feels the immediate need to find Raven and save what family she has left. But when others who were involved in that fateful day start dying, some by mysterious circumstances, Keelyn wonders if she and Lee can emerge unscathed a second time.

The highly anticipated second installment of the Bloodline Trilogy explores the boundaries of faith and family and what happens when both are put to the test.


Jordyn Redwood has specialized in critical care and emergency nursing for seventeen years. A member of both the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the American Christian Fiction Writers association, Jordyn lives in Colorado.


Jordyn Redwood made a big impact with her debut novel, Proof (my review is here), and I knew it would be a hard act to follow. No worries there - Poison is even more gripping and I have to say it's my favorite of the two. While the story is more complete if you have read Proof, Redwood provides enough background that this book could be read as a stand-alone. This novel is packed with intrigue, suspense, and action and I found myself holding my breath as I read. (Which was kinda hard to do at times when scenes made my draw drop! My favorite was one involving a chest tube. When a nurse becomes an author, you never know what to expect!) I highly recommend this novel but suggest allowing plenty of time once you start it because you won't be able to put it down! I'm already looking forward to the final book in this series, Peril, coming in September!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Jordyn Redwood and Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Barefoot Summer - and a Summer Sun Giveaway!

Barefoot Summer
(A Chapel Springs Romance)
Denise Hunter
(Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1401687007
May 2013/336 pages/$15.99

Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.

To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.

Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.

Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Find out more about Denise at and on Facebook and Twitter.


Kick off your flip-flops and prepare to enjoy a wonderful summer read! Denise Hunter has penned an engaging tale that drew me in from the first pages with its palpable emotions. Madison's paralyzing grief and Beckett's secret regret, as well as his shame over his dysfunctional family background, are heart-wrenching and seem to be an insurmountable obstacle as their friendship deepens and long-hidden affections resurface. Madison's spiritual resistance is authentically portrayed and whether she is able to open her heart to God's healing. . . well, you'll just have to read it to find out! I'm already looking forward to the next book in this series.

Denise Hunter is celebrating her new Chapel Springs Romance series with a Summer Fun Giveaway. The first book, Barefoot Summer, is already a favorite with readers. “Hold-your-breath romance, heartache, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s more than a good read. It’s a delight.” -- Lisa

BarefootSummer Summer: it’s all about sunny skies, star-gazing, swimming, spending time with loved ones, and living as if a small part of the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

Get ready for some serious summer fun with Denise’s 12-Day Summer Sun giveaway. From June 10-21, keep your computer near as you head to the lake or your friend’s barbecue because Denise will be giving away a summer essential each day!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Father Knows Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday and that means it's time to join Joyce for the Hodgepodge!

1. What do you think makes a good dad?

A man who loves God, loves his wife/his kids' mom, and loves his kids. In that order.

2. What's something you learned from your own father?

Discipline. And how to whip cream.

3. It's your birthday-what kind of cake will we be having?

Chocolate, of course! Although I'm really not a huge cake fan. And it takes our family too long to eat an entire cake!

4. When you're faced with a big decision are you more of a go with your gut type of person, or are you someone who reasons it all out, weighing the pros and cons?

Most decisions I reason out. I was raised by an engineer and married an engineer, so that's pretty ingrained.

5. June is National Dairy Month. What's your favorite dairy item? Most often purchased dairy item?

Anyone who has read my blog very often will not be surprised to know my favorite dairy item is Blue Bell ice cream! However, it is NOT the item most often purchased. (Way too many calories!) That distinction goes to milk, to the tune of about six gallons/week. It's about half that when our boy's off at school but my man drinks his fair share.

6. Explorer Jacques Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910....what's something you've recently discovered or something you'd like to explore?

Recently discovered: the Wicked station on Pandora that plays lots of Broadway/movie musical soundtracks. I am slightly obsessed.

7. Are you typical of your generation?

In a lot of ways, I'm not. That comes from growing up with much older siblings and "old" parents. LOL

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm loving summer! And June always feels lazy and slower than the rest of the summer. Once July hits, it seems like it just zooms.

Of course, one reason that it feels a bit slower is probably because my girl is at church camp with the rest of the youth this week, and next week she'll be a counselor at our church's pre-teen camp!


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel
A Dear Daphne Novel
Melody Carlson
(B&H Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1433679308
June 2013/320 pages/$14.99

With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.


Melody Carlson has sold more than five million books. A professional writer for twenty years, she recently received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Melody has two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.


Melody Carlson begins a new series with this light-hearted novel about a writer who unexpectedly inherits her aunt's entire estate, along with a few secrets and a rather daunting stipulation-that she marry within the year or the house and money will go to a foundation to care for Aunt Dee's two beloved cats and other felines. While there is much to like about this story, it is not my favorite by Carlson. At times, Daphne acted much younger than her mid-thirties age regarding relationships and seemed a bit flaky. Additionally, I felt like the aspect of divorce was treated far too casually for a Christian novel. (To clarify, divorce is not the unpardonable sin, but I do believe the Bible indicates that it and the issue of remarriage are not to be taken lightly.) I also had a hard time connecting with the title for this story; it seemed more apropos for a historical than for this contemporary novel. Overall, the novel felt just felt rushed and not as well-written as others that Melody Carlson has produced in the past. Others are giving it highly positive reviews, however, so check out their thoughts on Amazon and other sites. On the plus side, it does contain an excellent message about finding contentment in God rather than always looking for "the right person" to marry. I'm not dismissing the entire series; I'm curious how Daphne's life will continue to unfold in the next book and hope that it's more along the lines of what I've come to expect from Melody Carlson's pen.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this an advanced copy book from Shelton Interactive & B&H Publishing as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, June 10, 2013

A Simple Song

A Simple Song
Melody Carlson
June 2013/288 pages/$12.99

From Amish country to Hollywood, Katrina Yoder is in for the ride of her life!

Katrina Yoder loves to sing, but her strict Amish parents view her singing as vain. Still, Katrina's best friend, Bekka, is convinced Katrina is good enough to try out for American Star, a televised singing competition that Bekka has been secretly watching. Katrina has a good voice, but really-try out for a TV show? Her parents would probably disown her!

But when her family faces a crisis, it seems to Katrina that the competition might be the way to get the money needed to cover the emergency expenses.

How will Katrina handle herself as an Amish teenager out in the world? Is she truly good enough to win? Will her parents ever forgive her? And will she be accepted back into her community when it's all over?

Read an excerpt here!


Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, Double Take, the Life at Kingston High series, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. She is the winner of a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon.

For more information about Melody visit her website at


A novel merging the world of an Amish teenager with that of a fictional American Idol-type show may seem a bit "out there" but Melody Carlson has pulled it off in this sweet story. This is more than a tale of a girl singing to win a prize so that her dad can have some much-needed surgery. The secrets Katrina uncovers about her mammi's (grandmother's) past and Katrina's experience in the competition cause her to examine much about her family, her faith, and her future. How she impacts those she meets, as well as their influence on her, makes this a heartwarming novel that made me wish I could vote along with the show's viewing audience. Geared for older teens and young adults, but anyone who enjoys Amish fiction or shows such as AI will like it as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Special Tracie Peterson Book Giveaway

For nearly 100 novels, bestselling author Tracie Peterson has entertained readers with heartwarming tales of history, romance and courage.

Now you have the unique chance to win a large selection of some of Tracie’s greatest adventures, along with her newest novel, The Quarryman’s Bride. To enter, just visit Tracie's Book Page on Facebook and fill out the short form. Then click around to read an excerpt, take a poll and more!


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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher
Karen Witemeyer
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764209666
June 2013/352 pages/$14.99

A cowboy who wants to be a preacher. An outlaw’s daughter who wants to change his mind.

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can’t believe it when he’s forced off the train by an outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as the preacher she requested for her birthday. He’s determined to escape–which would be much easier if he could stop thinking about Joanna Robbins and her unexpected request.

For months, Joanna had prayed for a minister. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. But just when it seems her prayers have been answered, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett he ended up right where he was supposed to be?

With her signature blend of humor, history, and lively western romance, two-time RITA Award finalist and bestselling author Karen Witemeyer delivers a Texas love story sure to steal your heart.


Two-time RITA finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance because she believes that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at


Karen Witemeyer writes charming stories and Stealing the Preacher is absolutely delightful! While I had read several of her books before, it wasn't until I finished that it clicked that Crockett is the brother of Travis Archer from Short-Straw Bride (reviewed here. The books are stand-alones and only connected by the familial thread, but that connection does enhance the story! Engaging characters immediately grabbed my heart, even gruff and stubborn Silas Robbins, who is determined that God can't be trusted and has no part in his life. Witemeyer weaves an underlying message of the importance of praying for non-believing family members and friends (and the impact that living out our faith can have on their lives) into this tale that is interspersed with plenty of drama and humorous moments. Stealing the Preacher is highly recommended. The book, that is - not the crime!

Karen Witemeyer is "kindling" the excitement for Stealing the Preacher (Bethany House) with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at her June 18th Facebook Author Chat Party!


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at 4pm on June 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Stealing the Preacher" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 18th. Connect with Karen for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Karen will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Stealing the Preacher and join Karen on the evening of June 18th 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 today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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