Wednesday, July 31, 2013

*Cottonwood Whispers*

Cottonwood Whispers

(Cottonwood Whispers is the sequel to Fireflies in December)

Sad, sweet, and slowly maturing, Cottonwood Whispers gives us more of Jessilyn and Gemma's story. Meeting Jessilyn and Gemma again, now ages seventeen and nineteen, and being immersed in the world they discovered as they grow up enriches our own worlds.

Big questions are raised again in this tale, questions that leave you pondering justice, mercy, truth, and goodness.

In the middle of the turmoil, the Lassiter family endures the storm, reminding us of the unbreakable ties of  family tenderness and the self-sacrifice that comes with it.

Jessilyn and Luke's relationship is such an excellent example of a friendship that ripens into love...carefully, wonderingly, hesitantly, but surely. So often, first loves are dismissed as childish fancy, but when you see the love grow from a wholesome brother and sister bond, there is nothing more natural that a marriage coming about someday from that mutual respect and caring.

Once again, I loved this book. Now to read book three, Catching Moondrops. 

Born in Richmond, VA, Jennifer is the only Southerner in a family of Northerners, as is evidenced by her hybrid accent and love for Pittsburgh sports teams. Often distracted by an overactive imagination, she should have foreseen a career in writing, but as a child she only dabbled in short stories to entertain her friends. Her favorite books were anything Nancy Drew with a smattering of Trixie Belden thrown in, but even with a love for reading she saw herself being anything from scientist to fashion designer. Never a writer. 
Author Jennifer ValentInstead, it was a love for children that led her into nannying, a career she has enjoyed for the past fifteen years.
It wasn't until her mid-twenties when Jennifer decided to try her hand at writing for children, but the realities of breaking into the publishing industry made it necessary for her to try other forms of writing as well. She began submitting articles to Christian women's magazines and eventually decided to try writing a novel. A few successful freelance opportunities and the encouragement of a patient industry contact kept her writing and submitting her fiction to publishers.
Her fourth novel, Fireflies In December - a departure from the romantic comedies she first penned - placed in the semifinals of the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest in 2006. After some revisions, she re-submitted the novel to the 2007 Guild contest and won the prize of publication with Tyndale House Publishers. In January 2009 Fireflies in December released, followed by the sequels Cottonwood Whispers and Catching Moondrops. Jennifer's sincerest hope is to glorify the Lord by writing quality Christian fiction that will inspire, encourage, and uplift readers of all ages.

Monday, July 29, 2013

*Blowing on Dandelions*

 Blowing on Dandelions: A Novel

    This story is honest about the shadows in life and yet shot through with sweet sunshine. 
It is as wholesome as a cool wind blowing over a green hill, 
and as lovely as the golden dandelions growing there. 

    Miralee Ferrell has told a story of family dysfunction and family ties, 
where we ache for the characters who are injured by other's words and choices, 
and we understand a little of what each of them is feeling.
None of them are wholly, intentionally evil and unkind, but each of them needs to grow
and change and learn to relate better to the others. 

    In short, they are all pilgrims on the Christian journey, and their companions as they walk in faith are their relatives: some of the hardest and the loveliest people to be with.

    In this story we meet Katherine Galloway, a widowed woman who has a heart full of love to give who tries desperately to be a kinder, gentler mother to her own girls than she experienced growing up.

    We meet her mother, and in Frances I saw seeds of character that aren't wholly evil, but she let them grow unrestrained and they wounded the souls around her.  Her sharp eye for imperfections, very plain speech about what could be changed in someone else's life, her constant measuring and sifting of the people around her, the habit of being easily offended and not easily apologizing for her own offenses... all these bitter weeds need to be cut out of the field of our character before they take root, or we will have a much harder time nurturing and then reaping any good relationships!

    We meet Katherine's two girls: Lucy and Mandy. Winsome little ladies both of them, and the eldest is growing out of childhood and becoming a young woman. It will take all of Katherine's wisdom and patience to guide Lucy through the upcoming years of transition, and her warm-hearted concern for her daughter was wonderful to observe as I read. 

        And then there is the father-to-son tenderness that we find between Micah and Zachary Jacobs. These two are precious characters. Micah Jacobs and Katherine Galloway have a lot in common: they both lost their first spouse, they both love their children sacrificially, and they may just find the ties of caring and love growing between them and their families.

        So yes. You need to read Blowing on Dandelions.  And I am blessed that I had a chance to receive this book, from Miralee herself (who signed my copy! Thank you so much!) and through Fred and Nora St. Laurent at The Book Club Network, 

image: headshot
Miralee and her husband Allen have been married almost 40 yrs. They live on 11 acres in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge in southern Washington State, where they love to garden, play with their dogs, take walks, and go sailing. Miralee also rides her horse on the wooded trails near their home with her grown daughter who lives nearby. She’s an avid reader and has a large collection of first edition Zane Grey books, which inspired her desire to write fiction set in the Old West. When she started writing fiction Miralee believed that she’d always stay with women’s contemporary, but has since branched out to historical romance. Her first two books were women’s contemporary with Kregel Publications, The Other Daughter, and Finding Jeena.
Miralee serves as president of the Portland, Oregon, chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and belongs to a number of writer’s groups. 

She speaks at women’s groups, libraries, and churches about her writing journey, and has taught a both writers and library conferences.
Her fourth historical romance with Summerside Press in their Love Finds You series, set in Sundance, Wyoming released summer of 2011. Miralee is currently under contract with David C. Cook for a three-book series of historical romance novels, set in Oregon, the first of which releases in June 2013. It's titles Blowing on Dandelions. Some of her books have a suspense thread as well as romance, and three have a higher degree of action with a decided Old West slant. Her upcoming series will be somewhat of a women’s fiction/historical romance combination, with the emphasis on well-developed characters and plot.

*Mistaken* by Karen Barnett.


Somedays, Laurie Burke's life seems to be as shattered as the mirror 
and the whiskey bottle that she found broken on the floor. 
And whether it is the glass shards or her life, she seems to be the only one picking up the pieces. 

The Burke family has not been well since Laurie's Mother died, and that was years ago. 
Now Dad and Johnny both work at the mill, and only Dad comes home.
Johnny has moved out, stopped telling Laurie his secrets, and all but disappeared from the life of his almost-fiancee and Laurie's best friend Amelia. 

When her father is home, he is drinking and then raging and then mourning all over again, 
leaving Laurie powerless to help him.  
When he surfaces into sobriety ever so briefly, he makes promises to quit...and then he forgets and locks her out to spend the night on the front porch in the cool Washington State air. 

There is one thing responsible for all this havoc wreaked in Laurie's life: the liquor. 
Johnny is a criminal rum-runner, 
rowing the booze across from Canada to bypass America's temperance laws. 
Her father is an alcoholic. That 100 proof "medicine" he buys from the drug store isn't for his shoulder pain anymore, if it ever was. 

The druggist who sells it, Mr. Larson, and his grandson Daniel who came back from Seattle to work with him, are both culpable for feeding her father's addiction. 
No matter how kind Daniel seems to be, he is probably just like all those other scoundrels 
and miscreants that she has attracted over the years. 

This time it will be different. 
She knows she needs to keep her distance from Daniel Shepherd, 
and he knows that there are good reasons why she is right. 
Laurie Burke is an upright woman and she will not be brought down by the deadly fluid that rules her family's life. There is one way to stop her brother and her father 
and yet protect them at the same time: befriend the prohibition agent who is here in town. 
Surely a truthful, honorable man with the power to stop the flow of alcohol is a man she can trust, isn't he? 

But what if she is Mistaken? 

I would not have known that this was Karen Barnett's debut novel if you hadn't told me. 
Mistaken grabs you and pulls you right into the lives of the characters, and each character has more than one side to his story. I wanted to throw Laurie's father out of the house when he was yelling at her to fetch the hidden bottle, then I wanted to cry with her when she said she felt like she didn't love him enough just the way he was. 
I cheered when Laurie began to wonder if she had found someone who loved her, and then was grieved by her fear that this would be like all the other times some man had paid her attention.

Each time I thought I had these characters pegged, they turned around and let me see a different corner of their heart. 
I also need to say that I really appreciated the fact that these characters had pasts... they were real people, fallen and redeemed. Like us. 

Combine that sort of character with dark nights and whisky smuggling, 
set in 1926, and you have a book that I really, really enjoyed reading. 
I can't wait for more from Karen Barnett, and I hear she has another special project going on with Abingdon Press for a new series!, so after you place your order for Mistaken go check out her website or Facebook! 

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever--and yet our human story changes daily. As a writer of historical romance, I love to explore my characters' faith and how their experiences impact the way they view God.

There's nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful love story and God's devotion to His people is the best one of all. It even ends with the hero riding in on a white horse! (Revelation 19:11). 
My first novel, MISTAKEN, releases in July 2013 with Abingdon Press. I am published in several nation magazines, including "Birthday Wish" which appeared inGuideposts Magazine in February 2010. I am represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency
I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband, two children, three furry felines and the newest addition--a dachshund puppy. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

*In Golden Splendor*

 If you are Irish or intrigued by the Irish people, if you love history, if you want to read a  story of redemption set in the fascinating Gold Rush period, then you need to consider reading In Golden Splendor by Michael Reynolds. 

   Four journeys intersect in this one tale: The journey of Irish Immigrants to the new lives they hoped for now that they are in America; the journey to the hills when the lure of gold took men away from good sense; the journey to redemption when a man saw new purpose looking back at him from the eyes of a woman; the journey to Love when the woman's kind heart opened to trust again.

   All these threads come together and weave into the saga of The Heirs of Ireland Series.

   Seamus and Ashlyn are memorable characters, drawn together through most unusual circumstances.
   Almost hopeless and near-desperate, Seamus witnesses the death of an Army soldier who was carrying US mail when his wagon went off of the cliff. After rescuing the one surviving horse, and doing the best he can to bury the body of the man, Seamus discovers a letter marked PLEASE OPEN IMMEDIATELY.
    Seamus finds a plea inside, a letter written from a woman to an Army Officer whom she refers to with fondness, yet she questions why the man has not responded to her other missives. The lady, Ashlyn, begs the man to come to California and help her find her father, who has left her in San Francisco while he pursues gold in the hills.

   The words in the letter beg for help from a man who obviously is not responding to his lady's entreaty, but it is the lady's eyes and face that cause Seamus to commit to helping her himself. Ashlyn included her photograph in the letter, and I picture the photograph as looking much like the one of the woman on the cover of this book.

Throughout the long and treacherous journey to Ashlyn, the lady he knows only by one letter and her face, Seamus treasures that photograph. Will he earn the trust of the lady he has become attached to? And can help protect her and help her in time?

   The other men and women whom we meet in this book are also thought-provoking, each in their own way. One of the characters is so very odd that the pages seem to turn all by themselves as you hasten to find out what scheme he will dream up next!! 

Thank you to B&H Publishing and Michael Reynolds for my review copy of In Golden Splendor !!! 


Monday, July 22, 2013

*The Brotherhood Conspiracy*

Prophecy, Intrigue, and Terrorism...
It all boils down to The Brotherhood Conspiracy.

This sequel to The Sacred Cipher begins with Tom Bohannon and his team back in the US, 
alive by nothing short of a miracle.  
His last journey took him underground and into an ancient secret, uncovering more questions than answers. Now, as he watches the dust rise from the rubble of the Temple Mount earthquake, 
there are even more doubts rising in his mind.  
The Third Temple, built in the caverns beneath the Mount, has been destroyed. 
Islam is pursuing the blood of the infidel, desiring to conquer the globe. 
Israel wants to reclaim the entire Temple Mount.
America's president is studying his Bible to see where this is all meant to lead. 
Is the end of the world being ushered in? 
And is there another message on the mezuzah...
a message calling Tom and his friends' names again? 

The message seems to indicate that not only was the Temple waiting to be discovered, 
but the Tent of Meeting itself, lost for over 3,000 years. 

Is finding, and restoring, this Tent to the Mount God's mission for their life? 
Or is this a futile attempt that will cost more than it is worth? 

Tom and his team chase the meaning of these hieroglyphics across the world, 
from Jeremiah's Tomb in Ireland to the Lebanese border. 
Their intense journey is one of geographical traveling, 
one of physical testing and one of ideological exploration. 
The message on the mezuzah forces them to consider the roots of Islam's Arab Spring,
 to evaluate Israel's plans to sacrifice on the Mount once more,
 and to consider America's foreign policy toward both Muslims and Jews. 

Although the timeframe of this book is July 21 to August 28, the story is told by drawing us back into several ages of history, 589 BC Jerusalem, 1937 Iraq, and 1978 Lebanon among them. 

After carefully setting the stage for the story in the first chapters, 
The Brotherhood Conspiracy  gains speed and action until the final pages. 
I was turning pages really fast... anxious to know how they would survive, and what it all meant. 

This book leaves you sobered as you ponder what is happening in the Middle East, 
what has happened historically, and what will/may happen in the future. 
This conflict in all of its brutality involves the souls and bodies of real humans. 
We need to be praying about that corner of the world, for sure. 

Thank you to the author through Kregel Blog Tours for sending me my copy to review. 

A journalist for 22 years, Terry started as a sportswriter, including seven years with the Sports department at the Philadelphia Bulletin. Moving to newspaper management, he was Editor and/or Publisher of newspapers in Pennsylvania, Illinois and New York. He then spent more than a decade as Vice President of Operations for a Christian ministry to the homeless in Manhattan. Husband to Andrea, father to four adult children, Terry's committment to his faith in Jesus Christ defines his roles as husband, father and servant. A lifelong writer, Terry may have adopted the Lower East Side of Manhattan as home, but he will forever remain a Penn State and Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Rosemary Cottage.

Let me start by saying that when I look at the cover, I can feel the warm, fine sand shifting under my sneakers as I walk up this path. 
 I can see the light, pink, sun-painted clouds spreading over the cottage. 
I can hear the wind susurrating through the dune grass. 

Second, let me say that this book was much more suspenseful that I presumed it would be...and that was really cool, to mix a story of blossoming love, happiness and hope with some suspense. 
That is the way it should be is like that.  
Perplexing and sad at times, like the story of Gina and Ben. 

When a strange and cryptic email comes to Amy Lang, 
suggesting that her brother Ben died because of  his "secrets," and not just a surfing accident, 
she knows she must return to Hope Beach and investigate. 
This place by the ocean stirs Amy's heart, 
and she wonders if this right here might be right where she is meant to stay....

Curtis Ireland, Coast Guard Officer at Hope Beach, has never fully accepted that his sister 
Gina's death was accidental. It was too terrible, too suspicious. 
Hope Beach was the last place his sister was alive, 
and though it may carry bitterweet memories it is a place where he feels at peace. 

Both Amy and Curtis have lost siblings, both have ties to Hope Beach, and both want answers. Soon it becomes clear that their lives, and their lost siblings' lives, are connected.
And making this mystery painful and urgent for both of them is the presence 
of a beautiful little girl named Raine: Gina's child. 
Is Raine Ben's child as well, and why did neither Amy nor Curtis know? 

This may be a serene beach town with the smell of soft salt breezes filling the air, but there are 
criminal elements here, centering on this innocent little girl 
Raine and the people who love and protect her. 

Curtis and Amy stand between her and whatever secrets her parents kept...
secrets that need to be uncovered to save the girl. 

Now I know that Mrs. Coble is an author I want to spend more time with... I will be on the lookout for her other books, both past and present! 

Including Book One in the Hope Beach series... 

Thank you Colleen Coble and Litfuse for sending me Rosemary Cottage to review! 

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Carol Award, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. Most recently she was the winner of the 2012 Carol Award for Romantic Suspense.  She has over 2 million books in print. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of RWA. She lives with her husband in Indiana.
Favorite Verse:  Romans 8:28 - "For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."(I saw this verse in action when the whole family was injured in a bad car accident in 1980 and we became Christians as a result).

*Chasing Francis*

Chasing Francis is the sort of book where the deeper meanings sneak up on you as you get lost in  reading the story, where your own eyes are opened because you've been seeing the world through the character's eyes.
This book is thoughtful and reverent, funny as all get-out, and oh-so-worth your reading it.

Every time I reached a line that really moved me, my quietly reading family would hear a sharp intake of breath and then a furious scratching of a pencil coming from the vicinity of my chair.

When I encountered a passage that required some meditation before continuing, my family would see me staring off out the window to the woods. My mind was expanded by this book...and hopefully my heart was too.

Some of the things that really resonated with me: the This-ness of Creation. The belief that St. Francis held, which Chase summarizes thus: "It's this oak, this tulip, this dog. A personal, unique God makes a personal, unique creation. Maybe if we saw the particularity of all living things we'd treat the world with more reverence and awe." 

The good reason why cathedrals and churches were built so large and extravagant and other-worldly beautiful: to remind us that when we worship, we step out of the earthly kingdom and into the heavenly one. When you put it this way, I can see where loveliness should be part of our Churches as much as we can make it...not to show off our money or power, but to create a space that helps people appreciate the loveliness of God.

And I loved the soul-deep descriptions of Brother Thomas, who had a peace and wisdom in him that made people want to confess to him and seek his counsel.
I would like to be a person like that someday, a person that people feel comfortable with because they can see Christ's light in me.

Thank you Booksneeze for sending me Chasing Francis to review!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

*Burning Sky*

There are a few historical fiction authors that I really love and admire. 
They are the sort of author who knows how to put you back into the time and place where 
the characters are, whose very writing is steeped in the era they are describing.

Shall I name a few such writers whom I have had the pleasure of meeting lately? 

Jocelyn Green, author of the Heroine's Behind the Lines Series. 
The first two books, Wedded to War and Widow of Gettysburg
have been written so far, gritty and glorious stories of the women 
whose lives were torn during the Civil War. 

Ann Gabhart, whose WWII novel Small Town Girl and the Great Depression years prequel, Angel Sister are stories that carry powerful themes in their sweet slowness. 

Karen Barnett in her Prohibition-era novel Mistaken. Every time I thought I had her characters figured out, they turned around and showed me another corner of their hearts!

Jennifer Erin Valent, whose Calloway Summers Trilogy has stolen my heart, made me cry and smile and hug my family as I read. Fireflies in December, Cottonwood Whispers 
and Catching Moondrops are the growing-up stories of Jessilyn and Gemma, 
two girls who are encountering the beauties and tragedies of life.

And now I have met Lori Benton through her new book, Burning Sky. 
And how glad I am that I was able to read this book. 
Put simply, this is the best Frontier-era novel I have read in an age. 

Where do I start when it comes to listing the reasons why you should read this book? 

The characters, who are so real that they step out of the pages and into your life as you read. 
Wilhelmina Obenchain. That was her name for fourteen years of life before she was taken captive 
by the Mohawk Indians. 
Then, she was called Burning Sky. 
She is a very strong, original heroine. 
I have a feeling that through Willa's story, Lori Benton has given a face and voice to many women like Willa who lived  in those days, whose own stories went untold. 

There are several male lead characters in this novel, all of them different, sharply depicted, 
and very important to the tale...and to Willa's future. 

Joseph Tames-His-Horse. 
Willa's Indian brother from the Wolf Clan she was adopted into. 
There is a love and bond between them that cannot be broken by time or circumstance. 
Joseph would fight for her or die for her, and he may be asked to do both. 

Richard Waring. 
The young man, now grown, who had thought that Willa would someday be his bride, all those years ago when she was just a girl. 
Bitter and resentful after the war, Richard Waring is repulsed by Willa's life with the Indians, and is bent on taking her family's land from her. 

Neil McGregor. Physician by trade and pioneering botanist by calling,
Willa finds Neil lying injured on the border of her land. Soon Neil, and his collie and his horse, have made themselves at home with Willa. More disturbing, he insists on being a kind friend to her, making her think of the two families she has already lost. A healer at heart with a spark of warrior in his soul, Neil would sacrifice anything to help Willa.

The setting, so richly described that you can breath in the cool morning air, 
feel the solid walls and floor of the cabin that Willa's father built, 
and hear the voices of the characters in your mind...especially Neil's voice, because
Lori's writing caught his accent so well that I "heard" every line he said in his thick Scottish brogue!

And the story itself.
 In the ashes of life, with the smoke of her grief still drifting on the wind, 
could God be sending Willa the very kind of blessings that she fears to reach out for again? 
Could steady, sacrificial love, help her to trust that the future has not been destroyed, 
and that the past can be mourned and remembered. 

I loved this book. 

Thank you Lori for sending me an influencer copy! 

Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace.
When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband – often scouring the brush for huckleberries, which overflow the freezer and find their way into her signature huckleberry lemon pound cake.
On March 26, 2012, Lori signed a two-book contract with WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Lori's debut historical,Burning Sky,  set in upstate New York, 1784, will be published in August of 2013.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Bride for All Seasons....

What happens when you combine women willing to travel to wed, 
men needing helpmeets in a male dominated pioneer world, 
The Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalog, 
and four talented romance writers? 

Sometimes gently comedic, sometimes sweetly romantic, 
 dealing with life and love at their most quixotic, 
this collection can be called "Terrific!" 

If you have read any books or stories by Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher, or 
Maragaret Brownley, you will want to add this four novella volume to your bookshelf. 
If you haven't, like I haven't, then this is a great place to start. 

Mail Order Brides have captured imaginations for decades, 
in this collection we get to watch them capture hearts.
In a unique twist, these ladies have all been advertised through a certain catalog, a catalog owned by an ambitious matchmaker determined to put the best foot forward for his aspiring brides, even if it means rewording their qualifications and rewriting their correspondence! 

Naturally, the consequences of this conniving leads to surprises for both the brides and grooms! 

In And then Came Spring, Mary-Jo is a gambler's daughter, trained to trust in luck and to 
always throw spilled salt over her shoulder. 
Her superstitions are born out of fear... she is afraid that someone she loves will die again. 
And it happens... she steps off the train and into her intended's funeral. 
His death leaves her alone in a town she doesn't know with her fiancee's son who was never mentioned in any of the letters! 
And her intended's brother, the Sheriff, is here in town too.
 As a godly man, he is troubled by Mary-Jo's habit of carrying a pack of lucky cards and knocking on wood all the time. Why would his brother agree to marry a woman like this? 
As a good man trying to raise his nephew, Mary-Jo admires and respects Garrett, but he has a dangerous job, and she can't bear to lose someone again. 

In An Ever After Summer, Ellie is a spunky girl who carries a heap of blame for her loved one's deaths. An old aunt continually told her she was worthless and it was all her fault, and Ellie almost believed it. She knows that Jesus loves her, and she finds comfort in His word, clinging to His promises. That is what she was doing when her groom-to-be spotted her at the station,
holding her Bible to her chest. 
Maybe her loving care for his daughter and her grit and determination in their new life
 will help her be a living testimony and witness to the man she has married. 

In Autumn's Angel, Luvena answers the mail order bride ad having clearly stated that she has three children to bring with her, two nieces and a nephew: Elsie, Ethan and Merry. 
How can Mr. Birch claim he never knew there would be children?! 
And is this town really too rugged for her and the children to stay... 
or can Luvena help bring Clay Birch's dream to bear? 
Can they revitalize the theater and build a family at the same time? 

In Winter Wedding Bells, Megan comes to marry David Laramie and mother his two sons. 
What she finds is a man who is convinced that he is dying, 
and he is equally convinced that he made that perfectly clear in his letters to her! 
Can she convince him that love and life itself are still his? 

Thank you to the authors through Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity for my copy of 

**Margaret Brownley is a NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author and has penned more than twenty-five historical and contemporary novels. @margaretbrownley 
**Robin Lee Hatcher is a Christy and RITA award-winning author. Her books often appear on bestseller lists. @robinleehatcher 
**Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner, an a RITA, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. @MaryConnealy 
**Debra Clopton is an award winning author of sweet, heartfelt, western romance that face life with a smile. With over 2 million books in print, Debra has her first book coming as a movie starring LeAnn Rimes. @debraclopton

Follow the rest of the Litfuse Blog Tour right Here

Thursday, July 18, 2013


First, a big thank you hug to Krista and Litfuse for sending Anomaly: I really, really wanted to read and review this one! 

Thalli, named for the Thallium, the element with the number 81 in the periodic table. 
All humans created in The State had been named for elements, 
and she was no different, as it was meant to be. 
Nobody was supposed to be any different, 
anomalies to the careful design were not to be tolerated. 
Thalli knew this, as did Berkelium {Berk} and Rhenium {Rhen}. 
Everyone in Pod C, and in all the other pods, knew it as well. Yet Astatine {Asta} still became an anomaly and had to be taken away. That was when they were all nine years of age...the first time Thalli ever saw an anomaly and the consequences that being one brought. 

It was not until she was seventeen did she begin to seriously display her own abnormalities. 
Thalli was the Pod musician, and when she played it was not only a beneficial function that calmed her Podmates' minds and increased their productivity, she played to let her happiness and grief loose in the music. 
Those things, emotions, where not supposed to exist here. 
Emotions caused conflict and conflict had caused the great desolation on the surface of the earth, where no one could now go. 
It was a strange, old parchment from a primitive ancient composer that whose notes, when she released them from her violin, where so achingly beautiful that her heart broke open and emotion poured forth. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. 
Thalli didn't understand the words, but she knew what the music meant to her. 

And we pause as we read Anomaly and we praise God for creating emotion, for giving us the ability to Love, for presenting us with aching beauty, for the simple yet heavenly pleasure of looking up at the moon. We Praise God for His Son, for letting us know Him and call Him ours, for giving us His Word and His people to help us know him better.   

This world, where they hope for salvation-from-the-scientists, this hidden State ruled supposedly by ten enlightened men, this place where simulation can control the mind as easily as reality, it makes us pause and think about the meanings of things. Like every good story, your brain continues to wrestle with it after the book is "over." 

I am so glad to hear that Luminary: Book Two will be out in early 2014! 

You can follow the rest of Litfuse's Blog Tour here: Krista McGee | Litfuse Publicity Group |

Why do you write for teens?
I love youth ministry. Always have. From the time I worked at the youth camp after my first year of college, I knew this was the age group I wanted to invest in. Part of that is because I was so influenced by my Christian teachers and youth leaders. They gave me encouragement, a kick in the pants, a listening ear. I wanted to do the same for the teens that God allowed me to work with. My husband and I spent ten years working with middle schoolers, both in Tampa and in Texas. Since we have moved back to Tampa, I have been able to work with high schoolers as a teacher at a Christian school. But, with a middle schooler in my own house, and two more close on her heels, that ministry is still there. I know how hard it is to be a teen, trying to live for God and make wise choices while being flooded with hormones that make you want to scream and cry and hug people – sometimes all within the same hour. I want to help teens find God and cling to Him during those years, to know that there are people wanting and willing to help them do that. And I want them to know that serving God is fun and exciting and incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing like it!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

*Redeeming Love*

 About half-way through Redeeming Love, I had a revelation: This is the greatest story, perhaps in some ways the only story, ever told.
This is the story of running from Love, and of Love Himself pursuing the one who runs.

This story is the story of Scripture and of all human history, told many times through individual men and women at the same time as the grand Story is being told, of Christ and the Church, God Himself and His people.

This is the story of Francis Thompson's poem: The Hound Of Heaven.

This is the story of the songs played on thousands of radio stations every day, telling the story of the one who feels unworthy of love and runs from it, the one who doubts love and fears it, the one who is faithfully loving someone and trying to show them their own value.

It is a story that never grows weary or tired, because only the details of time, place, and name change, not the meaning.

The story tears our hearts and then soothes them whole again because we know it to our cores: we are the runner. We are pursued by the Lover.

That is why this is the most moving story we can ever encounter in the pages of a book or in a film.

So encounter the story of Lover and Beloved in Francine River's book.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for my review copy of Redeeming Love.

Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith.  First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction and continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles; it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade. 

Ragged Hope

Once I started reading Ragged Hope, I couldn't stop. 
I wanted to immerse myself in the waterfall of hope that thunders through the stories inside this book: true stories of men and woman who walked through the fire 
that was unleashed in their lives by other's bad choices...
and then found the beauty that God promises in the middle of the ashes. 

As I read this book, I am amazed by the goodness of our God, and the awesomeness of the ways He reassures us that "Hope, even when it's tattered, glows in the dark."
These stories in here are no means light and fluffy. They aren't easy-to-understand circumstances and they don't have simple answers. They are our stories: your story perhaps, or your sister's, brother's, mother's, dad's. Neighbor's. You know somebody with a story like this.

A woman trying to buy a house on a very small budget... and the house cannot be anywhere near a school or in a family neighborhood. Her broken, repentant husband will be released from prison soon as a registered sex offender. In his hours of desperation he begged his wife to leave him, and feared that God had. Instead she and her church family showed God's Love and Light to him.
Did his circumstances, the result of his choices, change? No.
But his heart did...and his wife has hope.

Some of my favorite quotes: "People are breakable. They should come stamped 'Fragile'"

"Was her future different than she had hoped? Without question. Was it a future threaded with hope? Without question. Not a neat-and-tidy hope necessarily. Homespun, but elegant because of
the mark of the Creator on it."

"If we think hope needs to be pristine and unwrinkled to be of any use, we might be missing the point. Fabric doesn't get that soft without life's pummeling.Hope that's endured increases in value.
If the hope you're clinging to is showing signs of wear, consider how much more precious it's become."

Thank you so much Cynthia Rutchi and Litfuse Publicity Group for my copy of Ragged Hope... I already passed it on to my mother!

You can follow the blog tour here, and read even more reviews! Cynthia Ruchti | Litfuse Publicity Group |

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, speaking for women’s events and retreats, writers’ events and retreats, nonfiction books and devotionals. In 2013, she will have a total of six books on the shelves, with more to come in 2014.
Cynthia spends her days diving into words, worship, and wonder and celebrating 40-plus years of marriage, three grown children, and five outrageously adorable grandchildren. One of her greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she served as the assistant director and a faculty member of the Quad Cities Christian Writers Conference, has served as worship and devotions staff for the Write-to-Publish conference, and teaches at other conferences as opportunities arise. She speaks frequently for women’s groups, at mother-daughter banquets, and for women’s refresher days and retreats. It is her delight to serve on her church’s worship team and Creative Arts team. Rather than “busy,” she likes the term “active.”
In 2012, the radio broadcast Cynthia wrote and produced for 33 years–”The Heartbeat of the Home”–drew to a close. The scripted radio drama/devotional broadcast aired on many radio stations across the country and two cable/digital television stations. Cynthia served as the editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine, a twenty-page, twice annual publication that reached 5,000 homes, churches, and parachurch outreaches.