Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bound by Guilt by C.J. Darlington

No doubt about it, C.J. Darlington is a rising star in today's Christian fiction.  C.J.'s  new book- Bound by Guilt made me want to read more by this very talented young author.

Bound by Guilt takes you on a theme park worthy ride- if you could- just imagine a theme park based on the world of antiquarian books, coffee shops, horses, rescued dogs, broken relationships and (praise God) second chances.

Roxy Gold is a sixteen year old con artist; she's not bad; she just crash landed into a gig stealing rare books with her guardian, Irene and Irene's son, Diego.  Roxy's desire for a mother's love has helped launch her into this life of crime, which is solidified by her friendship with Diego, her only friend.  When things go wrong during a burglary and someone is killed, Roxy goes on the run.

C.J. writes with great wisdom and a snappy contemporary style.   So not only does she grab you with a great story, but she digs deeper with a message that seems to say that everyone needs rescuing, and someone to believe in us.  Also that you don't have to be perfect to reach out and love someone.  God uses imperfect vessels, something that I find comforting!

I found this book convicting.  Guilt has (at times) ruled and reigned in my life; and had it not been for the Lord on my side, as the Psalmist writes, where would I be?  I pray that I will, like Jan, who befriends Roxy, also have a chance to make a difference in the lives of hurting children.

Thanks, C.J., for pouring your heart into your characters and giving them such a great story! Blog Tours Presents:

Bound by Guilt
by C.J. Darlington
Published by Tyndale House

Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in.  Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books  from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen  the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Willthe power of forgiveness set them free?

Great job! You kept me turning the pages.
--Francine Rivers, Internationally best selling author

C.J. is a wonderful, talented writer . . . extraordinary . . .
--Bodie Thoene, best-selling author of the A.D. Chronicles

This one engages your senses and reaches your heart.
--Jerry B. Jenkins, NY Times best-selling author & owner of The Christian Writers Guild

Watch the book trailer:

About the Author:
C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

Suspense novels often involve painful subjects.  In the case of  Terri Blackstock's, Vicious Cycle (a follow up to Intervention), it's addiction and human trafficking.  Stuff I don't normally want to ponder.

In Vicious Cycle, we find Barbara Covington and her children Emily (who is about to graduate from a year long Christian rehab center) and Lance (precocious cool guy with a learner's permit) about to embark on yet another unintentional adventure.  One that most of us would do anything to avoid.  In trying to help a young addict named Jordan, Lance ends up with a new born baby in the back seat of his sister's car.  The car that he "borrowed" in order to try to get Jordan- the baby's mom- back to rehab.  A series of misunderstandings follow, resulting in Lance ending up in juvenile detention, accused of kid-napping, and Barbara, in the unenviable position of navigating the System.  She needs help, and so she calls on her (more than dear) friend, Kent Harlan, a detective whom we met in Book One...

Vicious Cycle is an eye-opener, and unless you have had the misfortune to  somehow have had a relationship with someone who has been there, maybe even yourself, or worked in some capacity that gave you access to the insanity of drugs and its offspring- every crime imaginable- you may wonder if these events were so far fetched as to render them over the top.  I wish that were the case.  But Terri Blackstock has been involved in jail ministry and, as I found out in the first book, which you don't have to read in order to understand this one, her daughter suffer(ed) from drug addiction. Terri writes her suspense thrillers from a personal, experiential place with compassion and hope.  Always pointing toward Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.

Isn't it wonderful to know that He's not finished with us yet?

For more information about Terri and Vicious Cycle, please read on.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Vicious Cycle
Zondervan (February 22, 2011)
Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Besides entertaining her readers, Terri tackles issues that she hopes will change lives. Her recent book, Predator, was inspired by her experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and her concern that people posted too much personal information about themselves. The book deals with an online predator who uses social networks as his playground. She hopes the book will change readers’ online habits. Her New York Times best-seller, Intervention, was inspired by her own personal struggles with a daughter on drugs. In the book, a mother hires an interventionist for her drug-addicted daughter. But on the way to treatment, the interventionist is murdered, and the daughter disappears. Barbara, the mother, sets out to search for her daughter. Terri modeled Barbara after herself, and poured many of her own emotions and experiences into that character. As a result, many families experiencing drug addiction have written to thank her for telling their story and giving them hope. Vicious Cycle, Book Two of the Intervention Series, releases February 22, 2011. She’s currently working on Book Three.

Other recent books include a stand-alone novel called Double Minds, as well as Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light (from her acclaimed Restoration Series). She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 Series and Cape Refuge Series. Terri makes her home in Mississippi, where she and her husband Ken are enjoying their empty nest after raising three children.
Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she's the newborn daughter of a meth addict he's been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan---the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

Watch the Book Video:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Caregiver by Shelly Shepard Gray

I have enjoyed Shelly Shepard Gray's writing for some time, and was happy for the opportunity to read her newest book- The Caregiver.  While I always expect a great story, written with Shelly's signature warmth and Amish style; I wasn't expecting a story about a spousal abuse victim, especially not an Amish abuse victim.  I know that the Amish are a peace loving people, but Shelly reminds us that no matter what the outward appearance, humans are a fallen species- sinners in need of a Saviour.  She tackles themes along the lines of, "If God is good, why does He allow such awful things to happen in this world?" (The character Lucy was brutally abused by her husband.) and "If God is love, how come I can't feel it through the pain and suffering of a physical illness such as breast cancer?".  (The character, Mattie is fighting for her life.)

Whether it's the loneliness of a bad marriage, or physical pain, depression can hover like a stealth bomber, just waiting to encompass it's victims.  But, is this a book about abuse, depression, cancer and despair?  Although those are some of the challenges facing the characters; this book is about hope.  Life affirming hope that overcomes, is victorious, and conquers the darkness with the gentle light of love.

This story takes place in the Spring, and although it starts out in a storm, the sun comes out to warm the earth, and our hearts as we are encouraged by the quiet strength of Lucy, the abuse survivor, and Mattie, the feisty young woman battling breast cancer.

Sometimes the caregivers need someone to take care of them.  

This is book one in the Families of Honor series.  This is Shelly's best writing yet.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Caregiver
Avon Inspire; Original edition (March 8, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven.  Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado.  She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children.  When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.  


Two lives converge one stormy night on a train headed to cleveland

Lucy is traveling by herself via train to Jacob's Crossing to help care for her cousin Mattie, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Trying to overcome the sudden death of her husband, she's glad to get away and focus on someone else for a while.
The only other Amish people on the train are Calvin Weaver and his little sister, Katie. When their train breaks down outside of Cleveland, Calvin and Lucy band together to face the outside world. But Calvin also carries the weight of past hurts. When an altercation brings both their wounds to light, they question whether they can trust each other.
Once in Jacob's Crossing, Lucy is occupied with caring for Mattie, while Calvin does his best to run his family's farm. But they can't stop thinking about those special hours spent together. Will the bond they formed last? And will Lucy and Calvin be able to put away the pain in their pasts to recognize the happiness that is suddenly in their grasp?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Caregiver, go HERE.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Book Most Worthy

I have been known to gush shamelessly over Siri Mitchell's books; and her new one, A Heart Most Worthy is most gush-worthy.  It is the story of three young Italian women from different backgrounds, discovering life and love in 1918 America.  

Siri took a risk in writing the in the omniscient point of view, to my great delight.  I really enjoy being included (often with a wink and a smile) in the narrative, as if perhaps I would know the right thing to do in the situations in which our heroines find themselves.  Sadly, I tend to learn more from hindsight, myself.

I have always been a push over for stories which include fabric, beading, embroidery, and working in shops.  Just add some forbidden love, and lost fortunes- which force young women to use their talents to create gowns for wealthy, undeserving clients and you will have me in your power until the last words are spoken.

Ms.Mitchell also recreates the streets of Boston, and the Italian families residing there with authenticity and grace.  I grew up an Irish Catholic in Massachusetts, and I found myself smiling at Siri's depiction of the close knit Italians,  whom I envied for their large family celebrations, warmth of heart and hearth,  and the food... oh the food!

Every time period has its challenges, plagues and the like.  Through it all, God's love and kindness reigns.

God bless you!

Friday, March 11, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heart Most Worthy
Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

Her ninth novel, A Heart Most Worthy, follows prior Bethany House releases: A Constant Heart (October 2008), Love's Pursuit (June 2009), and She Walks in Beauty (Apr 2010). She Walks in Beauty won the inaugural INSPY Award for Historical Fiction in Dec 2010. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. Love's Pursuit was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award.

Publishers Weekly proclaimed, "Mitchell delivers the historical goods."  


The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times.

Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client.

Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heart Most Worthy, go HERE.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hearts Aglow by Tracie Peterson

In the past week I was blessed to read not one, but two awesome books, written by authors who happen to be great FRIENDS!  The first was Judith Millers' A Bond Never Broken, and now, I'm delighted to share my thoughts about Hearts Aglow by Tracie Peterson.

Hearts Aglow is book two in Tracie's Striking a Match series.  Set in Texas in 1886, Hearts Aglow chronicles the lives of a Philadelphia family, the Vandermarks', who are trying to survive the intense Texas weather, a difficult industry (logging), the aftermath of the Civil War and its horrible residue of prejudice, villains who want to put them out of business, vendettas of all kinds, and some nosey townspeople.  Not to mention the desires of their own hearts- to find true and lasting love.  This family has lots of love to give; and the forces that rise up against them are great.

This is mainly Deborah's story.  Her desire is to become a doctor.  In a time when women professionals, especially young and single ones, were rare-to non-existent, obstacles abound.  But does that stop her? Absolutely not!  In fact, she is apprenticing with the handsome Dr. Christopher Clayton, who clearly has a thing for her, but is he worthy enough to be her man?  Well, he is very humble, and God fearing; but unfortunately he has a secret, which leads to complications.

Tracie Peterson writes great Christian fiction.  The Christian theme expressed in this book seemed to be"hearing from God".  How can a person know God's will?  Wonderful question, and Ms.Peterson didn't shy away from using scripture to back up her characters' faith journey.  I found myself talking to God right along with the Vandermarks as they tried to view their lives in the light of God's Word.

This book was well researched and beautifully crafted.  It was easy for me to see why Tracie has been so successful in her writing journey! (80 books published so far!!!)

For more about Tracie and Hearts Aglow- read on.


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hearts Aglow
Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max. She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books


The future should be bright for Deborah Vandermark, who is now pursuing her interest in medicine alongside Dr. Christopher Clayton, who is courting her. But the lumber town is resistant to the idea of a woman physician, and she feels thwarted at every turn.

A more devastating blow occurs, however, when Christopher breaks off their relationship to return home to his troubled family. Despite her own love life going awry, Deborah is still intent to be a matchmaker for both her widowed mother and her brother, who has caught the eye of the spit-fire daughter of the local pastor.

But what will Deborah do when faced with the truth about Christopher's family? Is there hope for the two of them...or will Jake Wyeth's attentions finally catch Deborah's eye instead?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hearts Aglow, go HERE.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Bond Never Broken by Judith Miller

A Bond Never Broken, introduces us to the Amana Colonies, Iowa cira 1917.  Amana is a tiny dot on the map, really. The Amanans who settled the area were a peace loving and God fearing people who just wanted to live their faith and be left alone.

Enter the Great War: World War I.  Distrust of anything German prompts the forming of committees dedicated to flushing out anything that smacks of anti-american sentiment.  Their mission: to weed out traitors- both real and perceived.  That included people who spoke German as a first language.  It didn't matter that the Amana lifestyle was about as anti violence as Mother Theresa. (I am endlessly amazed that it's so much more in our human nature to hunt the sheep than go after the wolves.)

Sorry for digressing, but this was all news to me- until I read A Bond Never Broken.  Judith Miller writes history and fiction with relevance and warmth.  I was drawn to the (two) heroines' stories, and wanted their lives to end happily ever after.  I don't know how Judith Miller told this story with such heart, when it could have taken a major Hitchcockian turn... Is that a term?

I learned a lot from this one, and was even prompted to follow up with some research of my own... ah, the wonders of google...

Really good story.  Lovely, seamless writing... not just another "bonnet novel". ( I really detest that term.)

Please read on for some more really important information about this great book!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Bond Never Broken
Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
Judith Miller

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A Word from Judith:

Most readers want to know how authors 'got started' writing. My first novel, Threads of Love, was conceived when I was commuting sixty miles to work each day. I wanted to tell the story of a pioneer girl coming to Kansas and the faith that sustained her as she adjusted to a new life. When the book was completed, I tucked it away. I had absolutely no idea how publication of a book occurred and had given no thought to the concept. However, through a co-worker, I was directed to Tracie Peterson who, at that time, worked down the hall from me. Having never met Tracie, I was totally unaware of her writing career, but God intervened. The rest is, as they say, history...

With a graciousness that continues to amaze me, Tracie agreed to read my story, directed me to a publisher, and gave me information on a Christian writers conference. Since that first encounter many years ago, I have been blessed with the publication of numerous books, novellas and a juvenile fiction book. Joyously, Tracie and I had the opportunity to develop a blessed friendship. In fact, we have co-authored several series together, including The Bells of Lowell, the Lights of Lowell and The Broadmoor Legacy. In addition, I have continued to write several solo series.  


For many years, Ilsa Redlich has helped her parents run a hotel in South Amana, but as the United States enters the Great War, she can feel her world changing. The residents of the towns surrounding the Amana Colonies used to be accepting of their quiet, peaceful neighbors, but with anti-German sentiment running high, the Amana villages are now plagued by vandalism, threats, and insults.

Things get even worse when Ilsa finds out her family won't be allowed to speak German in public--and that Garon, the childhood friend she's long been smitten with, has decided to join the army. Jutta Schmidt is shocked when several members of the Council of National Defense show up on her family's doorstep. Sure, the Schmidts once lived in the Amana Colonies, but that was years ago. She's even more surprised when the council demands that she travel to Amana and report back on any un-American activities.

Not daring to disobey the government agents, Jutta takes a job at the South Amana hotel, befriends the daughter of the owners, and begins to eavesdrop every chance she gets. When Jutta hears Ilsa making antiwar remarks and observes Garon assisting a suspicious outsider, she is torn at the prospect of betraying her new friends.

But what choice does she have? And when Garon is accused of something far worse than Jutta could imagine, can the Amana community come to his aid in time?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bond Never Broken, go HERE.