Monday, November 29, 2010

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr ~ 3 stars

Love's First Bloom
Delia Parr
Bethany House Publishing
About the book:
She must conceal her past, her identity. What hope can there be for love?

Life changes drastically for Ruth Livingstone the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her under an assumed name to a small village in New Jersey. There she dutifully awaits his acquittal, certain that her father, Reverend Livingstone, soon will be cleared of the outrageous accusations against him.

When tragic events transpire, Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River—a place where she can find a measure of peace amid her growing heartache. It is also here that she meets Jake Spencer, a man who both frustrates and intrigues her. Fearful of the newspapermen intent on tracking her down and unsure of whom to trust, Ruth knows she must carefully maintain her identity as Widow Malloy. But as love begins to slowly bloom, can the tenuous affection growing between Ruth and Jake withstand the secrets that separate them?

My review:
I’m giving this 3 stars, not because I disliked the book, but because I didn’t really enjoy it. The writing was interesting, but I wasn’t wowed by it. However, I couldn’t really find anything to fault it for, either. (Except for a couple of places where a character’s name would be misspelled into a different name.) It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I liked the characters and setting, but the story didn’t keep me engaged. I wasn’t flipping through the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next. I’m sure that there will be people who love this book, but it just wasn’t for me. I hope that others who read it find it more to their liking than I did.

Thanks to Bethany House for my free review copy of this book.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Suitor for Jenny by Margaret Brownley ~ 5 stars

A Suitor for Jenny
Margaret Brownley
Rocky Creek Romance series #2
Thomas Nelson
About the book:
Jenny Higgins is certain falling in love and finding a husband are matters of the mind. Her heart has other plans.

After their parents died, Jenny felt responsible for seeing that her two younger sisters were well taken-care of. Tipped off by an article naming Rocky Creek the town with the highest number of eligible bachelors, Jenny rolled into this Texas town with a clear objective: find suitable husbands for her two sister and then start fresh somewhere far, far away.

Jenny believe that women who fall in love at first sight often wish they'd taken a second look, so she diligently begins to follow all the rules set forth in her handy manual on how to land a husband.

But while Jenny is interviewing the less-than-promising candidates, her sisters are falling in love the old-fashioned way--with men of their choosing. And the longer Jenny stays, the more her sense of control slips away. The town isn't living up to her expectations, her sisters are rebelling against her practical choices, and soon her own heart starts to betray her, as US Marshall Rhett Armstrong stirs emotions in her that weren't part of her plan.

To relinquish her control to God and calm her restless spirit, she'll need to give her foregone conclusions about marriage, love, and faith.

My review:
From the first pages to the very last, this book cracked me up! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this author. I was (kind of) expecting another boring prairie romance, but that isn’t what I got. What I did get is a book filled with hilarious antics, lovable characters, and an excellent plot. I loved every minute. I highly recommend this book, as well as the first book in this series, A Lady like Sarah.

Thanks to BookSneeze for for review copy of this book!

Sorry it took me so long to post, guys! Ugh. Rough last few weeks!

No Other and In All Things winner!

And the winner of No Other and In All Things by Shawna K. Williams is:
Charlotte Kay (chakasa58@...)

Sarah Sundin ~ Interview + Giveaway!

*You can earn up to 6 entries in this giveaway. Read below for details*

Today author Sarah Sundin is telling us about her new book, A Memory Between Us (Wings of Glory series #2 -- September 2010). She has offered an autographed copy of her book to one lucky commenter. She will also be stopping by throughout the week to answer your questions! So if you have anything you want to ask her, you can include it in your comment for entering the contest. If you are only leaving a question in the comment and not entering the giveaway please say so.

Here is Sarah's author bio:
Sarah Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and tennis, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school. She belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network. She is the author of the Wings of Glory series—A Distant Melody (Revell, March 2010), A Memory Between Us (September 2010), and Blue Skies Tomorrow (August 2011).

Welcome, Sarah! Tell us about your salvation experience.
My testimony might be considered dull. I was raised attending church and accepted Christ at the age of ten at a concert put on by a church youth group choir. I’d learned all the stories and the verses, but those teenagers glowed with Jesus’ love. I wanted what they had, and I finally put it all together. I turned away from God in college (I call them my “stupid years”) but came back in my early twenties. Since then, God has continued to work in my life and cause me to grow. If you’d told me in college what I’m doing now, I would have laughed. I’m sure many of my college friends would be mystified at me now.

Are you:

A spontaneous writer or a scheduled writer?
I’m a rather left-brained writer. I do lots of planning and outlining before I start the rough draft. I do keep a daily schedule, especially now that I’m published and have to keep deadlines.

Stubborn, or compliant?
Stubborn. Didn’t even have to think twice about that.

Organized or completely chaotic?
In general, I’m a “messie.” I don’t mind piles on my desk or random items on the floor, which is good since I have three children. However, I like certain things just so. My spice rack is alphabetized, my research notes are carefully categorized, and I know where things are in my piles of papers. And my writing process is very organized.

How do you handle disasters/BIG problems? Do you have a funny or interesting story showcasing how you handle them?
Oddly enough, I handle big problems better than little ones. Ask my kids—I can’t find the scissors on Christmas Eve when I need to wrap presents NOW, and I’m a—well, a raving lunatic. Big problems come, and I’m the calm voice of reason, the one people lean on. Go figure.

In your opinion, what is your best trait? What is your worst?
My best trait is perseverance. If I set a goal, I stick to it. My worst trait is stubbornness. If I set a goal, I don’t know when to let go. Wait—that’s the same thing, isn’t it? Funny how strengths and weaknesses are often flip sides of the same coin.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
When my sister and I were little, we wanted to make our baby dolls into big girls, so we made little yarn braids and taped them to their heads. We made up elaborate plots—mine got so elaborate that my sister called them “forever games” because I kept thinking of some new disaster for them to contend with. I’m the oldest, can’t you tell? My favorite—the dolls were orphans! With polio! In little wheelchairs! And there was a fire in the orphanage! Will they ever get out? Will they ever walk again? Will they ever find a home?

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate the romance in your books?
Ooh, the question I hated most when writing query letters! I usually compare it to novels by Tricia Goyer, Lynn Austin, and Robin Lee Hatcher, because they also wrote stories set during World War II, with both action and romance as well as attention to historical detail. My first novel, A Distant Melody, is PG—plenty of kissing for romance fans, but not overly sensual. However, I’d call the second book, A Memory Between Us PG-13. The writing isn’t any more sensual, but it deals with a more adult subject.

What are you working on now or going to write next?
The third book in the series, Blue Skies Tomorrow, is at the publisher going through the editing process. It comes out August 2011. I’m now starting work on another series, also set during World War II.

How can readers get in contact with you?
Twitter: http://twitter.com/sarahsundin

Book blurb:
Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge—until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she carries a shameful secret that keeps her from giving her heart to any man. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

A Memory Between Us is the second book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Each book stands alone.

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?
Ruth looks a lot like the woman in this Army Nurse Corps poster, which is funny because I didn’t see the poster until long after I had a mental picture of Ruth. Jack looks a bit like a young Clark Gable—more from It Happened One Night than Gone With the Wind, but without Gable’s dimples and ears.

Do you have a link to a place to read the first chapter or an excerpt of this book?

Is there anything you would like to add, or tell your readers?
If God has given you a dream, have the courage to do what He asks you to do. Persevere, learn, seek support, and keep praying.
~~~~~
**USA or Canada residents only, please**
Okay readers, here is your chance to win an autographed copy of A Memory Between Us!

TO ENTER:

*Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win). The comment is mandatory. You will not be entered unless you leave a comment AND your email address.

*If you leave a comment you will be entered unless you specify that you would not like to be entered.

*Here are the ways to get entries:

(First entry) The mandatory comment saying you would like to be entered with your email address.

+1 Become one of my followers OR subscribe to my blog by email.

Read and leave a comment on one or more of my recent book reviews.
+2 Becoming a Woman Who Loves
+2 A Suitor for Jenny

**You can earn a total of 6 entries if you do all of the above entry options. Make sure to tell me in your entry comment on this post which of the things you did to get extra entries.**

*The contest will run from today (November 26) until 6:00 CST on Thursday (December 2). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner either directly after choosing him/her or on Friday the 3rd, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner.

Good luck! Thanks for visiting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Awesome Event!

75 Christian Authors * One Amazing Online Event

The Christian Review of Books in conjunction with CrossPurposes Bookstore is excited to announce the first annual Christmas Book Signing Bash.

Beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and lasting ten days (26 November - 7 December), this book signing will be an unprecedented online event. 75 of today’s favorite Christian Authors have come together to answer questions, chat with their readers, and offer signed copies of their books—all without leaving the comforts of home and hearth!

Readers can search by author, title, or genre at the Christian Review of Books (www.ChristianReviewofBooks.com) and then follow the purchase links to CrossPurposes Bookstore (www.CrossPurposesBooks.com) and buy autographed copies of each book featured. The authors will sign the books and ship them to the customers.

For a full list of participating authors, visit the CRoB.

Becoming A Woman Who Loves by Cynthia Heald ~ 5 stars

Becoming A Woman Who Loves
Cynthia Heald
Becoming a Woman of... series (Bible Studies)
NavPress
About the book:
Jesus loved unconditionally, passionately, and sacrificially. How can we possibly love as He did? And what does such love look like?

Best-selling author Cynthia Heald confirms that, yes, you can learn to love as Christ loved and that you will be richly blessed in the process. Becoming a Woman Who Loves takes you by the hand to explore the incredible nature of Christlike love. With Cynthiaa (TM)s beloved blend of candor, wisdom, and sound Bible teaching, you will discover how to be sure such beautiful love truly resides deep within your soul and how to let it flow more freely to others in your daily conversations, encounters, and thoughts.

As you become a woman who loves as Jesus loved, your life will never be the same.

My review:
This is a great study on a biblical view of loving. Cynthia filled it with great verses, quotes, and topics that really make you think about how YOU love others. I had to take it slowly so that each section could sink in.

I would recommend this to anyone. Christian, non-Christian, it doesn’t matter. This book still has practical lessons on loving others that anyone could benefit from. Check this book out! It will be worth it. :)

Annoying disclaimer: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. 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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

I've been interviewed again!

On Wednesday Casey at The Writer's Alley, Writing for Christ, and Operation Encourage an Author featured me on one of her blogs! She had a huge celebration, because her Writing for Christ blog was officially one year old!

She interviewed me and a bunch of other bloggers too, so be sure and stop by! The giveaway is over, but you can learn more about me and maybe even find a couple new blogs to read! :) Here is the link: http://enjoyingthewritingcraft.blogspot.com/2010/11/another-day-to-party-casey-interviews.html

Thank you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Funnies #36!

Love this! Such a cute little boy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shawna K Williams ~ Interview + Giveaway!

*You can earn up to 6 entries in this giveaway. Read below for details*

Today author Shawna Williams is telling us about her new ebook, In All Things. She has offered copies of this book and the prequel to one lucky commenter. She will also be stopping by throughout the week to answer your questions! So if you have anything you want to ask her, you can include it in your comment for entering the contest. If you are only leaving a question in the comment and not entering the giveaway please say so.

Welcome, Shawna! Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a Christian, wife, mom of three great kiddos, and a writer who also makes jewelry. I love telling stories about people, getting to experience their up and downs and learning something of value along the way. I believe that fiction is a beautiful tool through which God's Grace can be shared, and I hope to do that through my stories.

When I'm not writing, reading or enjoying some family time, I'm most likely stringing beads, rock hunting or petting my dog.

Tell us about your salvation experience.
This is a lengthy story. My nature is rebellious so even though I was brought up in going to church I had to learn some things the hard way. This is actually a story I much prefer sharing on an individual basis, and I'm happy to do so. Here is a link though to a post I wrote for Michelle Sutton's blog that tells a little, and also explains the passion I feel for writing about Grace. My salvation experience is closely tied with this passion. http://healingheartsseries.blogspot.com/2010/10/shawna-k-williams-shares-her-thoughts.html

Are you:

A spontaneous writer or a scheduled writer?
Both. If something hits me I will try to get it down as soon as I have the chance, but I have to schedule my time to turn it into something more than babble. I have to have alone time for ideas to really flow, that's why I write after everyone is asleep. For some odd reason my best ideas seem to occur to me while I'm in the shower.

Stubborn, or compliant?
STUBBORN, but reasonable. I have this saying. I don't think hubby likes it, though. "I'm not stubborn. I'm just right."

Organized or completely chaotic?
Organized chaos.

How do you handle disasters/BIG problems? Do you have a funny or interesting story showcasing how you handle them?
I tend to be pretty analytical when solving a problem. The worst thing for me is when I can reason something one way, and then another, and neither presents a better option. Ugh...I hate that because it forces me to rely on my gut, and I don't trust my gut. I should, because often its right, but I need gut feelings and facts.

I suppose our move to Mena was a problem that appeared to present a logical solution but instead went awry. We already owned a house here and intended to move, but not for several months. This was five years ago, right after hurricane Katrina.

We still lived in Baytown and had been camping at the beach in Galveston. Upon our return we learned that Rita was out in the gulf. She was a cat.5 aimed right at our house. It was a no brainer that we had to evacuate. The thing was we planned to move anyway, and since there was a possibility that our belongings would sustain heavy damage, and we had three days time, we decided to rent a moving truck and take care of it there on the spot. The only unforeseen was fuel, but since Katrina had just hit the problem of gas should have been fixed, right?

Well, I don't know how but we got 85% of our belongings packed into a moving truck, moving trailer and our camper and left with a day and a half to spare. All was fine for the first hour and then we struck traffic. We ended up pulling off the road and sleeping. The next morning the roads were clear. Yay! We hopped into our vehicles (my dad had come to help) and drove for a full fifteen minutes and hit traffic again. For the next eight hours we managed to travel another 20 to 30 miles. Cars started running out of gas and dying on the road because that little gas issue was solved by sending tankers loaded with gas into the city. The problem was that everyone had evacuated the city. And the wonderful government officials in Lufkin decided that a cat 5 hurricane headed for their area wasn't reason enough to shut down incoming traffic so the roads could be used for evacuation. Anyhow, my husband had a client in Nacogdoches and we made to their house to ride out the storm, which had changed course so that this client's house was directly in its path. Fortunately the storm had weaken by quite a bit.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
I'm a geek. Sorry, I am. I like geology, ancient cultures -- especially those wiped out by volcanoes -- and psychology. I read about these things and like it. Wanna know why amethyst, which is just crystal quartz, is purple?

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate the romance in your books?
I'm not really sure. I haven't attempted to emulate anyone. I do love Francine Rivers, though I wouldn't dare compare myself to her. I love how she understands human nature and writes with compassion and conviction. That's what I want to do.

I'd give No Other and In All Things PG ratings. I make an effort to avoid physical description as far as kissing goes. I try to keep the focus on emotions when I write a romantic scene.

Orphaned Hearts is a Christmas time story and it's G rated. It's very sweet.

What are you working on now or going to write next?
I'm working on a spinoff from No Other and In All Things for the character of Roger. I'm not working very fast though. I just have a loose synopsis and about 1,000 words, and haven't pitched it to my publisher yet. I have a few other ideas for some other stories, too. I'm trying to decide how best to prioritize because there is a chance I may actually be able to go to the next ACFW conference and I'd like to have something ready to pitch.

How can readers get in contact with you?
Shawnawilliams@allegiance.tv

Here's my website:
http://shawnakwilliams.com/

Blog:
http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/shawnakwilliams

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Shawna-K-Williams/236629884245

Book blurb:
Jakob and Meri's story continues...

Meredith Louis's Hollywood career is at a point of transition. No longer under Majestic Studios' control, Meri is free to broaden her appeal as an actress and finally earn the recognition she desires.

Meri and Jakob return to their hometown for the holidays where Meri hopes to reconcile with her parents after a decade of silence. But after a disastrous encounter, Meri is plunged into turmoil as old fears resurface in unexpected ways.

Jakob, already dealing with unresolved family issues of his own, is further burdened by his inability to help his wife. Can he learn to step aside and trust God's plan.Will Meri recognize what she already has?

In All Things is a story of faith and restoration, cemented in the belief, "...that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?
I have a good answer for this one!

When this story first came to me the movie Pearl Harbor had not been out that long, and for some reason I could easily see Josh Harnett as Jakob. Charlize Theron was who I saw as Meri back then. However, as the years trickled on, both of these actors started to seem a little too old to fit Meri and Jakob in No Other anymore, because in that book they are 20 and 22. When I started rewriting No Other to get it ready for publication it was season 8 of American Idol. I'm from Arkansas, and our state had a contestant, Kris Allen, in the contest. He went on to win – something that made Arkansans very proud. There was a lot of publicity surrounding him in our state, and physically, except for his height, he fit the description of Jakob. But manner-wise, he really fit! I even had a friend in Florida, who was familiar with Jakob's character, email me to say so. To top it off, Kris Allen's wife, Katie, fit the description of Meri spot on. So all during the rewrite of No Other these two were who I saw as Meri and Jakob.

BUT, when it came time to rewrite In All Things I ran into the opposite problem. Jakob and Meri were older, now 31 and 33. Kris and Katie Allen seemed too young to picture as my characters. However, Josh Hartnett and Charlize Theron didn't. Sooo, I went back with my original cast. The story had caught up to their ages. Weird.

Do you have a link to a place to read the first chapter or an excerpt of this book?
Sure do. Here's a link:
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-118/Shawna-Williams-In-All/Detail.bok

You can also read the first three chapters on Freado. http://www.freado.com/book/8470/in-all-things

And I have sample pdf files of the first three chapters of both No Other and In All Things for anyone who wants them.
~~~~~
**This book giveaway is open to anyone, but the bracelet can only go to a U.S. resident!**
Okay readers, here is your chance to win ebook copies of No Other, In All Things, and a freshwater pearl bracelet as well!

TO ENTER:

*Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win). The comment is mandatory. You will not be entered unless you leave a comment AND your email address.

*If you leave a comment you will be entered unless you specify that you would not like to be entered.

*Here are the ways to get entries:

(First entry) The mandatory comment saying you would like to be entered with your email address.

+1 Become one of my followers OR subscribe to my blog by email.

Read and leave a comment on one or more of my recent book reviews.
+2 In All Things
+2 Nightingale

**You can earn a total of 6 entries if you do all of the above entry options. Make sure to tell me in your entry comment on this post which of the things you did to get extra entries.**

*The contest will run from today (November 19) until 6:00 CST on Thursday (November 25). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner either directly after choosing him/her or on Friday the 26th, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner.

Good luck! Thanks for visiting.

Too Rich for a Bride winner!

And the winner of Too Rich for a Bride by Mona Hodgson is:
Carole (cjarvis@...)

*Sorry I've been late posting all this! I had computer problems, but they are all fixed now, praise God!*

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In All Things by Shawna K Williams ~ 5 stars

In All Things
Shawna K Williams
Sequel to No Other
Desert Breeze Publishing
About the book:
Jakob and Meri's story continues...

Meredith Louis's Hollywood career is at a point of transition. No longer under Majestic Studios control, Meri is free to broaden her appeal as an actress and finally earn the recognition she desires.

Meri and Jakob return to their hometown for the holidays where Meri hopes to reconcile with her parents after a decade of silence. But after a disastrous encounter, Meri is plunged into turmoil as old fears resurface in unexpected ways.

Jakob, already dealing with unresolved family issues of his own, is further burdened by his inability to help his wife. Can he learn to step aside and trust God's plan.Will Meri recognize what she already has?

My review:
I loved how this book continued the story from No Other (which I loved, by the way). This story addressed issues in the relationship between Meri and Jacob, but also in their personal relationship with God. I loved how this story took place somewhere completely different form the first book! In was a cool change of pace.

One thing that I noticed was a lot of the things that happened between Meri and Jacob could have been avoided if they had just talked openly and honestly with each other. Communication is something that is really important to me personally so that made the book appeal to me even more.

The things that could be improved were mainly grammar issues. (Like putting question marks where they should not be. I noticed that frequently.) But, this was an ARC, so hopefully that won’t be in the final version. :)

I loved the twists and turns of the plot, and how Shawna kept Jacob’s family involved in this book as well. In all, I loved this book. The message was great and well done. Really, guys! This message is something we all need to hear. And not just hear, but really apply in our own lives. God is our all. He is the One we turn to first. Just great!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nightingale by Susan May Warren ~ 4 stars

Nightingale
Susan May Warren
Brothers in Arms series #2
Summerside Press
About the book:
Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancĂ©—she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion.

Still, she grieves him when he’s lost in battle, the letters sent to her by the medic at his side giving her a strange comfort, so much that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter Hess, an Iowa farmboy. Or is he? Peter Hess is not who he seems. Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life. A bittersweet love song of the home front war between duty and the heart...a battle where only one will survive.

My review:
I didn’t like this book as much as the first book in the series, Sons of Thunder, but I did like it. It was SO different from Sons of Thunder! The plot, the style, almost everything was so different. But, like the first book, this has a strong faith message and a message about being redeemed through Christ. I liked that the Esther was a “fallen woman” who was searching for what was missing in her life. However, I didn’t feel very close to her. That may have been because of the POV changes to the main male lead, but I’m not sure. I just didn’t get totally caught up in her story.

Part of the reason I didn’t really connect with this book may have been because I was trying to read it quickly. However, the book has GREAT historic details that help the era to come alive. The letters exchanged between Esther and Peter were so sweet and I really enjoyed reading them. This IS a good book in its own right, just very different from book one in the series.

Thanks to LitFuse for my free review copy of  this book. Visit their site and Nightingale post HERE.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mona Hodgson ~ Interview + Giveaway!

*You can earn up to 6 entries in this giveaway. Read below for details, as the requirements are different for this giveaway!*


Today author Mona Hodgson is telling us about her new book, Too Rich for a Bride (The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series #2). She has offered an autographed copy of her book to one lucky commenter. She will also be stopping by throughout the week to answer your questions! So if you have anything you want to ask her, you can include it in your comment for entering the contest. If you are only leaving a question in the comment and not entering the giveaway please say so.

Hi, everyone!

Welcome, Mona! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a wife of 38 years, a mother of two daughters in their thirties, Grammy to three boys and a girl, a children’s book author, and a novelist. I love to spend time with my sisters, picnic, take road trips, play tennis on the Wii, and travel to Africa.

Tell us about your salvation experience.
I was seven years old when I attended Vacation Bible School at Trinity Baptist Church in Indio, California. During the Bible story one morning, Mrs. Bacon spoke about sin, our separation from God, Jesus’ deity and sinless nature, Jesus’ death on the cross, His resurrection, and our forgiveness through belief in Him. That sunny June day in Southern California, I chose to believe in the name of Jesus and prayed to invite Him into my life as my Savior.

Are you:

A spontaneous writer or a scheduled writer?
I have deadlines. For the most part, I’m a scheduled writer. And I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere, any time.

Stubborn, or compliant?
Me? Of those two choices, stubborn. Although I prefer to refer to myself as “persistent and tenacious—one who perseveres. :)

Organized or completely chaotic?
Yes. Hee hee. I tend lean toward organization. That’s my bent. That’s what I prefer. But…you wouldn’t know that looking at my office or pantry right now.

How do you handle disasters/BIG problems? Do you have a funny or interesting story showcasing how you handle them?
You mean, after I place the blame on my poor hubby? (: Like Ida Sinclair in TOO RICH FOR A BRIDE, I’m the oldest of four sisters. During disasters and in the face of BIG problems, I tend to step into the “Big Sister” role, come up with a plan, and do what needs to be done to move through it.

In your opinion, what is your best trait? What is your worst?
Best: I’m intentional about things. I’m a planner. I set goals. I like taking steps toward something even knowing the plan or goal can change.

Worst: I’m intentional about things. Okay, that’s probably not my worst trait. Unless you’re someone who prefers to take things as they come…wait and see, and you live with someone who is intentional.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
I’ve kissed a giraffe. Okay, not exactly, but I did feed a reticulated giraffe from my mouth. I’ve ridden a camel. And I’ve held a baby crocodile. I love Africa!!!

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate the romance in your books?
Hmmm. I really don’t know. I’d be interested in hearing which Christian Fiction author you think shares my writing style.

I’d give the romance in my novels a G rating.

What are you working on now or going to write next?
I am currently writing BEYOND A BRIDE, Book Three in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

How can readers get in contact with you?
http://www.monahodgson.com/

Facebook: Mona Hodgson Author Page

Twitter: MonaHodgson

Book blurb:
As the business-savvy Sinclair sister, Ida has never wanted to settle down. Instead of love, she craves success. But while searching for one, she just might find the other.

Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters, Kat and Nell, in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado for one reason: to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman, Mollie O’Bryan. Ida’s sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career.

Under Mollie's tutelage, Ida learns how to play the stock market and revels in her promising accomplishments. Fighting for respect in a man's world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions. She ignores her family's reservations about Mollie O'Bryan's business practices, but no matter how she tries, she can't ignore the two men pursuing her affections—Colin Wagner, the dashing lawyer, and Tucker Raines, the traveling preacher.

Ida wants a career more than anything else, so she shrugs off the suitors and pointed “suggestions” that young ladies don’t belong in business. Will it take unexpected love—or unexpected danger—for Ida to realize where her priorities truly lie?

Do you have a link to a place to read the first chapter or an excerpt of this book?
The first chapter is not available until May 2011, but here’s the first page or so.

Portland, Maine

18 September, 1896


Ida Sinclair didn’t know where her ambition would take her, only that she possessed a liberal measure of it. That was why the Merton School of Business was the perfect place for her. And why she sat in the front row of the classroom. She didn’t want to miss any bit of information or instruction that could mover her closer to success.

Gazing from the calculations on the blackboard to the guest lecturer’s dark eyes, offset by traces of silver at his hairline, Ida waited for Mr. Bradley Ditmer to finish his point about customer relations and then raised her hand.

“Miss Sinclair, you have another question?”

Ida moistened her lips. “Yes, I’d like to know how one goes about securing financing to launch a busi—”

A roar of laughter started her and she turned to glare at the source—a gangly, beak-nosed young man in the row beside hers.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about financing, missy,” he said. “Learn how to make a good pot of coffee and keep a file cabinet organized, and maybe I’ll hire you to work in my company.”

More laughter swept across the room until the professor made his way to the mouthy student’s desk. Mr. Ditmer’s footsteps stilled all other nose.

“Mr. Burn—”

“Burkett.”

“You are a child to indulge in such hubris. Kindly keep it to yourself.”

Ida felt the same burn she’d become accustomed to since her first day in class. Her fellow students didn’t approve of her plans and aspirations. Even the women. But she also felt somewhat vindicated by Mr. Ditmer’s gallant stand against such boorish rantings.

The professor cleared his throat. “To answer your question, Miss Sinclair, bankers, private investors, and those on the stock exchange could provide necessary funding for a business.” He sauntered back to the front of the room then turned to face her. “However, no investor is wont to throw away money on frivolous pursuits. Each business proposal is weighed individually by its likelihood of success.”

“Thank you, sir.” Ida sealed her mouth shut against the numerous questions his answer raised.

She was still recording her thoughts and idea in her notebook when Mr. Ditmer dismissed the class, making her the last to head for the door.

“Miss Sinclair?” Mr. Ditmer’s clear tone resonated off the empty desks in the room.

Ida stilled her steps a few feet from the classroom door and turned to face her instructor. A pleasant view, to be sure. The man was no Teddy Roosevelt, but he exuded the same commanding presence and compelling confidence.

Is there anything you would like to add, or tell your readers?
Each of Sinclair Sisters books features a true historical character. In TWO BRIDES TOO MANY it was Sister Mary Claver Coleman of the Sisters of Mercy. It’s business woman Mollie O’Bryan in TOO RICH FOR A BRIDE.

By the time Mollie O’Brien was twenty-two she had moved to Cripple Creek from Lake City in the San Juan Mountains. After opening a stenography firm there, she quickly became the first female member of the Cripple Creek Stock Exchange and part of the investment syndicate that organized the Big Four Gold Mining Company in late 1895.

A fascinating woman to know and work for, don’t you think? That’s what Ida decided.

~~~~~
**USA, Canada, Australia, or England residents only, please**
Okay readers, here is your chance to win an autographed copy of Too Rich for a Bride!

TO ENTER:

*Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win). The comment is mandatory. You will not be entered unless you leave a comment AND your email address.

*If you leave a comment you will be entered unless you specify that you would not like to be entered.

*Here are the ways to get entries:

(First entry) The mandatory comment saying you would like to be entered with your email address.

+1 Become one of my followers OR subscribe to my blog by email.

+4 Comment on my interview with Marnie Swedberg, following the directions listed IN THAT POST. This will get you *FOUR* entries into this giveaway!

**You can earn a total of 6 entries if you do all of the above entry options. Make sure to tell me in your entry comment on this post which of the things you did to get extra entries.**

*The contest will run from today (November 12) until 6:00 CST on Thursday (November 18). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner either directly after choosing him/her or on Friday the 19th, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner.

Good luck! Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Head in the Clouds winner!

And the winner of Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer is:
 Doreen! (priviesandprims@...)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marnie Swedberg ~ Interview!

Feeling Loved: Connecting with God in the Minutes You Have

By Marnie Swedberg,
Mentor to Super Busy Women

Why do we love romance, secret rendezvous and the feelings that come when being pursued by someone wonderful? Why do we want our lover to be “bigger than life”?

Romantic feelings are God’s idea. In fact, every high and every low are little gifts from God. He is standing at your heart’s door, knocking, and asking, “May I come in and talk to you about this from my perspective?”

God is the ultimate friend, lover and provider and our feelings and emotions are His “teaser,” like a movie preview, meant to arouse our curiosity for “the real thing” or “the rest of the story.”

About the Book:
Feeling Loved provides a pathway from complacency to connectivity, and from interest to intimacy with God. In this book you will learn how to identify if you are mad at God, and what to do about it anytime you are. You will learn the one phrase you must know to turn everyday difficulties into God-connection opportunities. You will learn how to share inside jokes with God every time you see an airplane, helicopter, merry-go-round, waterslide and more. You will gain the keys to relating to God in your own style, based on the personality God gave you.

Feeling Loved is a quick, two-hour read or a leisurely ten week group study, containing ten chapters full of stories from my own life and journey toward intimacy with God, plus a section of Scriptures prayers. As you move through the book, you will meet God as the Master Storyteller, but more importantly, as your own personal History Maker. Because, incredible as it seems, He has His sights set on your heart!

The demands of life make it tough for is to find time to connect with God in a meaningful way. Statistics show that 81% of adults are unhappy with their work-life balance and only 3% cite the enjoyment of their relationship with God as their greatest source of spiritual fulfillment.

How about you? Is God your most exciting friend? Are you tight with Him? Do you want to feel more of God’s love? Do you know how to get from here to there?

About the Author:
Spiritual mentor to super busy women from around the world, Marnie Swedberg was described by one regional newspaper headline as the, "Wonder Woman of the North Country." She hosts mega websites where thousands of authors, speakers, business owners, managers and leaders can access the tools they need to maximize efforts, reduce stress and expand their sphere of influence.

In addition, Swedberg is a business owner who manages the family's restaurant plus assists with the family’s retail store and espresso cafĂ©. She is the author of eleven books and ebooks, a public speaker and consultant for religious, business and government organizations, and has been interviewed on radio and TV talk/news dozens of times.

In her new book, Feeling Loved, Marnie shares her relaxed and doable approach to growing closer to God in the minutes you have.

FREE Stuff for You!
Visit the Feeling Loved book release party this week, November 8-11, 2010, during National Pursuit of Happiness Week at http://www.Marnie.com/FeelingLoved.php.

When you register to win one of the free books being given away, you will also gain instant access to three free gifts: 1) Marnie’s copyrighted Personality Type Test, 2) Marnie’s Two-Hour Time Management Course for Super Busy Women (an online, instant access audio including PDF workbook), plus 3) Marnie’s Scripture Memorization Tool, which is designed to help “slow learners” memorize Bible verses quickly.

Be sure to visit http://www.Marnie.com/FeelingLoved.php today!

~~~~~
This Friday, I'm posting a new giveaway as usual but this week the extra entries will be a little UNusual.

*The entries earned here will be put toward winning TOO RICH FOR A BRIDE*

To get the *4* extra entries, comment on THIS post saying something about Marnie Swedberg, her speeking, and/or her writing.

Here are some ideas of things you could talk about:

-Which book of her's is your favorite?
-Why do you like her books?
-What do you like about Marnie herself?
-If you have never read her books, why do you want to?
-Are any of her books on your To-Be-Read list? Which ones?
-Why does the subject of time management appeal to you personally?
-Do you read non-fiction? Would you read this book?

Just some ideas! Please don't make your comments just a sentence. We want to encourage the author! :D

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Funnies!

Here is a hilarious video! I love to quote it. LOL :) Let me know what you guys think! Like, dislike, whatever! Just let me know your thoughts. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I've been interviewed again!

Please stop by and leave a comment if you get a chance!

http://parchmentgirl.com/2010/10/26/featured-book-blogger-carman/

Kate's blog is AWESOME! =D

Friday, November 5, 2010

Karen Witemeyer ~ Interview + Giveaway!

*You can earn up to 6 entries in this giveaway. Read below for details*

Today author Karen Witemeyer is telling us about her new book, Head in the Clouds (October 2010). She has offered an autographed copy of her book to one lucky commenter. She will also be stopping by throughout the week to answer your questions! So if you have anything you want to ask her, you can include it in your comment for entering the contest. If you are only leaving a question in the comment and not entering the giveaway please say so.

Welcome, Karen! Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a deacon's wife and an incurable romantic who believes this world needs more happily-ever-afters. So, in order to help meet that need, I combine my fascination for bygone eras with my passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels full of love and laughter. I'm also an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bake a mean apple cobbler. I live in Abilene, TX with my hunky, computer nerd husband and three children who are kind enough to put up with Mom's imaginary friends.

Tell us about your salvation experience.
I grew up in a Christian family, so my faith developed rather organically. I was baptized into Christ when I was ten years old, but it was six years later, when my father died unexpectedly, that my personal faith really solidified. There's something about going through trials that refines us for eternity in a way everyday living cannot.

Are you:

A spontaneous writer or a scheduled writer?
I guess I fall somewhere in between. I'm scheduled in that I have consistent writing goals, such as completing one polished chapter a week. However, I have to be flexible because I work full-time and am a mother to three school-age kids. Interruptions happen all the time, so I have to be able to turn the creativity off and on at a moment's notice.

Stubborn, or compliant?
It depends who you ask. LOL I am definitely a follow-the-rules kind of girl, so in that sense, I am very compliant. But if you ask my husband about my tendency to keep doing things the old, comfortable way when there are new, faster ways to get them done, he would definitely vote for stubborn.

Organized or completely chaotic?
I am definitely organized. Clutter stresses me out. I don't need everything spotless, but I have to have things tidy and organized. I know exactly where to find my research books, my web links are categorized for easy access, and all of my writing files are organized into folders and sub-folders and more sub-folders.

How do you handle disasters/BIG problems? Do you have a funny or interesting story showcasing how you handle them?
I tend to be very task-oriented. Give me a task, I work it till it's done, then move on to the next one. When things go wrong, however, emotions get thrown into the mix, and that can get rather messy. Not too long ago, I was working on a marketing questionnaire that my publisher asked me to complete. I had spent several hours crafting just the right answers only to have everything disappear from the computer when I accidentally closed the wrong window. Panic set in as I tried everything I could think of to get it back. Then desperation hit. I begged my computer savvy husband to work his magic, but there was nothing he could do. Then I became distraught. Tears pooled in my eyes followed by anger over the injustice of the situation. Four hours of work down the drain. Finally, I came to a point of acceptance, realizing I had no option but to recreate the entire document. This is where the task-orientation came back into play. I shoved aside the distracting emotions that threatened to draw me back into a pity party, and worked the problem. In an hour and a half the project was complete. And properly saved this time!

In your opinion, what is your best trait? What is your worst?
I would say that my best trait is my optimism. Hope, and joy, love and laughter – these are the things that give my life meaning and make everything else bearable. I make it a point to spend my energy cultivating these blessings and letting the more discouraging aspects of life go.

My worst trait? Ummm…I am a horrible mingler. Small talk strangles me. So if you see me at a writing conference or book event and I stare at you with a blank look, please take pity instead of taking offense. I'm probably inwardly scrambling for something intelligent to say and not coming up with much. Help from a friendly source is always appreciated.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that readers may not know.
This may not be all that surprising since I write historical romance, but I adore old Hollywood musicals. Singing in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Sound of Music, The Harvey Girls, Summer Stock, My Fair Lady … I could go on and on. This summer I joined Netflix just so that I could introduce my 12 year old daughter to several of these classics. I've had so much fun revisiting these favorites, and she seems to like them, too. Hooray!

If you compared your writing style to any other Christian Fiction author, who would it be? Also, how would you rate the romance in your books?
My books are similar in style to Deeanne Gist with a little Cathy Marie Hake and Tamera Alexander mixed in. I would rate the level of romance in my books as PG. There is physical attraction, romantic thoughts, and kissing in my stories but the romantic love always grows out of a friendship, mutual respect, and common value system between the characters to form a foundation for a love that is deep, lasting, and true.

What are you working on now or going to write next?
I'm currently working on the rewrites for my next novel called To Win Her Heart which is supposed to release early summer, 2011. It is set in Texas in the late 1880s and asks the question – what happens after the prodigal son returns? So many times, we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received from his father, but have you ever asked what life was like for him after the celebration was over? How did he relate to his bitter older brother or the servants and townspeople who were only too aware of his past arrogance and wild living?

In my story, I play on those very questions. My hero is a man recently released from prison who has returned to his faith roots and rededicated his life to the Lord. The heroine is a woman who has been disappointed by men in the past and has little tolerance of those who don't meet her high standards. In an effort to make a clean start, Levi hides his past and Eden believes she has finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back her affections?

How can readers get in contact with you?
I love to hear from readers. You can find me online at www.karenwitemeyer.com. I have monthly contests, a free Bible study download based on the life of Rahab, and vignettes that give you a deeper look into the background of my characters for both Head in the Clouds and A Tailor-Made Bride.

You can also find me on Facebook or email me directly at karen@karenwitemeyer.com.

Book blurb:
When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart’s not the only thing in danger.

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?
I chose Hugh Jackman for Gideon, because really – who didn’t love him in Kate & Leopold? His dimples aren't quite as pronounced as Gideon's but with his Aussie background, I bet he can manage an enchanting British accent.

For Adelaide, I selected Alyssa Milano. I needed someone petite to match Adelaide's stature, and I thought Alyssa could carry off the "girl next door" look that I always imagined for my heroine.

Do you have a link to a place to read the first chapter or an excerpt of this book?
You can read the prologue and first chapter on my website at:
http://www.karenwitemeyer.com/excerpt_head.html


~~~~~
*USA or Canadian residents only, please*

Okay readers, here is your chance to win an autographed copy of Head in the Clouds!

TO ENTER:

*Leave a comment with your name and email address (so I can contact you if you win). The comment is mandatory. You will not be entered unless you leave a comment AND your email address.

*If you leave a comment you will be entered unless you specify that you would not like to be entered.

*Here are the ways to get entries:

(First entry) The mandatory comment saying you would like to be entered with your email address.

+1 Become one of my followers OR subscribe to my blog by email.

Read and leave a comment on one or more of my recent book reviews.
+2 Don't Look Back
+2 Head in the Clouds

**You can earn a total of 6 entries if you do all of the above entry options. Make sure to tell me in your entry comment on this post which of the things you did to get extra entries.**

*The contest will run from today (November 5) until 6:00 CST on Thursday (November 11). I will announce the winner that night. The winner is always randomly drawn. I will contact the winner either directly after choosing him/her or on Friday the 12th, and then that person will have one week to reply. If the winner doesn't reply within that time period, I will pick a new winner.

Good luck! Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Emily's Chance winner!

And the winner of Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater is:
apple blossom! (ABreading4fun@...)

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer ~ 5 stars + Favorite!

Head in the Clouds
Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House
About the book:
When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart's not the only thing in danger!

Adelaide Proctor longs to find a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a governess position on a remote Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her silly romantic yearnings behind.

Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, never expecting to end up with a child. To his dismay, five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon—and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the girl—and her inheritance—Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. Soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

My review:
This book had me hooked. From the first page to the last, I could barely put it down! Karen has a funny, witty writing style and does a great job of fleshing out the story and characters. I truly enjoyed reading every page. It also had more than a little adventure which was awesome! Suspenseful, with villains and plots, I kept waiting to see what would happen next. And it the heroine is an avid reader which was even better! I could totally relate to her. ;) This is a book that you need to read as soon as possible in my opinion!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason ~ 3 stars

Don't Look Back
Lynette Eason
Women of Justice series #2
Revell Publishing
About the book:
One man lives to see her dead--the other is fighting to keep her alive.

Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself--though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself believe that she can have a close relationship with a man, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact--her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those years ago.

Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love?

My review:
This book was fast-paced and I didn’t want to put it down. It definitely kept my attention as far as the plot and action went. As far as the romance department it wasn’t great, but romance isn’t the primary category/direction for this series, so I wasn’t expecting it to be really romantic.


However, there were some things that bothered me. Such as the fact that I was able to figure out who the “bad guy” was almost as soon as they introduced the person into the story. (But, in the very end there was a twist that surprised me, and I liked that.) I don’t know if most people will be able to figure it out, or if it was just obvious to me.

There were also times when I was a little confused about small things. It seemed like some more information might have been introduced to make things clearer. But, these were small, scene related issues, not big things like the over all plot.

Sometimes, it was a little far-fetched when the characters would do something that seemed obviously stupid to me, and I’m not even a cop. SPOILERS>> Like when they said that the stalker was probably someone that Jamie worked with, but they never looked into that idea. Or when they thought that he was in the building and they left Jamie alone with only one agent to protect her! (If they thought that he was in the building, why would they go outside to look at his car rather than sending someone to check for them?) Little things like that made it less realistic to me. <<

I liked Jamie and how determined she was to move on from her past. She was a good heroine. I also liked the little twist about why her parents were acting strange. Wasn’t expecting that and how it played into the plot in the end.

In all, I didn’t dislike the book, but I didn’t love it. I think it will go over pretty well with fans of the Christian suspense genre, though.

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.