Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray

Spring's Renewal is the second book in the Seasons of Sugarcreek series, and after reading this one, I want to get them all.

Shelley Shepard Gray's stories are balm for the frazzled soul (or heart). She pens a tender love story which has you rooting for Clara, a school teacher,scarred at a young age in a kitchen fire. Will she find love after resigning herself that she will most likely never marry? Other obstacles include a widowed mother who has allowed herself to become dependent on her daughter, and a pretty young lady in Indiana who has set her sights on Tim, an attractive, but undecided beau.

This book is full of gentle reminders to look at what is real, to go deeper than what is on the surface, to see what is true beauty.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Spring's Renewal

Avon Inspire (April 2010)

Shelley Shepherd Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold twenty-six novels to numerous publishers. She has written a seven book contemporary series for Avalon books. She also published The Love Letter, a western for Avalon. Five Star Expressions published Suddenly, You in February of 2007. This novel is a historical western set in the mountains of Colorado.

Shelley has written nine novels for Harlequin American Romance. Cinderella Christmas, her first novel with them, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. Her second book with them, Simple Gifts won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best Harlequin American Romance of 2006. The Mommy Bride, was chosen by Romantic Times Magazine as one of their TOP PICKS for May, 2008.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. HIDDEN and WANTED the first two novels of her ‘Sisters of the Heart’ series, were chosen to be Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/ Literary Guild Book Club. FORGIVEN, book 3, has received glowing reviews. Avon Inspire will release four novels by Shelley in 2010.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church.


Tim Graber arrives in Sugarcreek to help his aunt and uncle with spring planting. At first, Tim doesn't fit in with his many cousins and their crowded lifestyle. But when he meets Clara Slabaugh, the local school teacher, he understands why the Lord brought him to Sugarcreek.

Clara is shy and quiet. Scarred from a fire when she was small, Clara has resigned herself to living alone and caring for her mother, who tells her that no man will ever see past her scars, and that Clara needs to keep teaching in order to make ends meet.

Her father passed away years ago, and her mother depends on her. But the scars mean nothing to Tim. He appreciates her quiet nature and her wonderful, loving way with children. Yet Tim has a sweetheart back home in Indiana. As these two hearts struggle to determine their path, tragedy strikes, and every other worry seems insignificant in comparison.

Though they now face a life they never imagined, will Tim and Clara have the faith to step out and risk everything for a chance at true love?

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

I have (surprisingly) become a fan of the Christian Western Romance Novel. There is something about the mail order bride travelling to places unknown to start a brand new life that overflows with possibilities. Vickie McDonough writes in a light hearted easy style that transports you to the more comedic Old West. Her saga begins with Rachel's story,the first in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. Along with Rachel's story we are introduced to other bride hopefuls who have some backstory of their own, a teaser for books to come.

All in all, an enjoyable read. I finished this one with a contented sigh. You know that happy feeling you get at the end of a good romantic ride? So, happy trails to you. Until we meet again...

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Anonymous Bride
Barbour Publishing, Inc. (April 1, 2010)

Vickie McDonough


Award-winning author Vickie McDonough believes God is the ultimate designer of romance. She loves writing stories where the characters find their true love and grow in their faith.

Vickie has had 18 books published. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently serving as ACFW treasurer. Vickie has also been a book reviewer for nine years.

She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four sons, and grandmother to a feisty four-year-old girl. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and traveling.


How many brides does one man need?

It's been years, but Luke Davis is back--older and wiser--and still alone. Returning as Lookout's new town marshal, Luke is determined to face the past and move on. He flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. But then he discovers that the woman who betrayed him is now a widow, and all his plans fall at his feet.

Rachel has carried her guilty shame for eleven years. Her marriage to James Hamilton was not what Luke or the town thought it to be. Now James is dead, and her long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics.

Could they possible find love a second time?

Rachel begs his forgiveness, but Luke finds he has none to give.

And then the brides arrive. Three of them--ordered for Luke through newspaper ads by his incorrigible cousins. The only place in town for them to stay is Rachel's boardinghouse. And none of the ladies is willing to let Luke go. When choosing a bride becomes a contest, the chaos that ensues is almost funny.

When the mayor forces Luke to pick a bride or lose his job, will Luke listen to his heart that still longs for Rachel or choose one of the mail-order brides?

Will Rachel find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris is a wife, mother,missionary and author living in Mozambique with her family. First of all, I am in awe of Ms.Harris' accomplishments, and it is obvious that her life experiences have given her writing an authenticity that few can match.

Blood Ransom is a work of fiction about the modern day slave trade in the Republic of Dhambizao. My only problem was I wasn't sure if the work was fiction or not. Especially given the information that Ms.Harris actually lives in Mozambique.

Either way, Lisa Harris is a gifted writer and I was blessed to read this book. I liked her characters, Natalie, the nurse and Chad, a doctor volunteering in the village while on sabbatical from his medical practice in the U.S. I was most interested in the local flavor that Ms.Harris captured in her descriptions of the nationals and the conditions in which they live.

This was an ambitious project and I think it was done well.
I would recommend Lisa's blog for more information. So go to:

I'm sure that Lisa Harris would love to hear from you!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Blood Ransom
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)

Lisa Harris


Award-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has more than fifteen novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

From Lisa:

Have you ever noticed how God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things? In writing Blood Ransom, I wanted my heroes and heroines to be ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Chad and Natalie’s lives were changed not only through the challenges they faced, but also through their reliance on God. And when they set off on their journey to the capital to save Joseph’s family, they never imagined that God would call them to a task that was beyond the scope of their own power.

But while this story is fictional, the issue of a modern day slave trade is very real. It is estimated that there are currently more than 27 million slaves on the world today from Africa, to Eastern Europe … to the United States of America. The fact is, we don’t have to travel around the world to see people hurting and exploited. They’re real people we pass every day, living in our neighborhoods, and attending our churches and schools. They’re empty and broken, searching for freedom and hope in an often hopeless world.


Natalie Sinclair is working to eradicate the diseases decimating whole villages in the Republic of Dhambizao when she meets Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from a lucrative medical practice now volunteering at a small clinic.

Meanwhile, things are unraveling in Dhambizao. Joseph Komboli returns to his village to discover rebel soldiers abducting his family and friends. Those that were too old or weak to work lay motionless in the African soil. When Chad and Natalie decide to help Joseph expose this modern-day slave trade---and a high-ranking political figure involved in it---disaster nips at their heels.

Where is God in the chaos? Will Chad, Natalie, and Joseph win their race against time?

Romance and adventure drive Blood Ransom, by Lisa Harris, a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Blood Ransom, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer

Wildflowers of Terezin is a novel about the Danish Underground during World War II. It is the story of how Hanne Abrahamson, a Jewish nurse, and Steffen Peterson, a bookish Lutheran pastor meet and become allies of sorts.

I've read quite a few novels set in this time period am always amazed at how certain people were able to overcome their fear in the face of pure evil, in order to help their fellow man, whom they probably had never even met before. Yet here they are, ordinary people taking risks that most of us pray we never have to take.

Robert Elmer's writing had a certain warmth, even though the plot was suspenseful.Steffen Peterson was the perfect "reluctant hero". I also loved secondary character Pastor Viggo, who kept a watchful eye on his friend. Hanne Abrahamson was lovely and brave, really brave, so what more could you ask for in a heroine?

Robert Elmer is one of my new favorites. I really liked his gentle style and endearing characters.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Wildflowers of Terezin
Abingdon Press (April 2010)

Robert Elmer


Robert Elmer is a former pastor, reporter and as copywriter who now writes from he home he shares with his wife Ronda in northern Idaho. He is the author of over fifty books, including eight contemporary novels for the adult Christian audience and several series for younger readers. Combined, his books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. Like his popular "Young Underground" youth series, Wildflowers of Terezin was inspired by stories Robert heard from his Denmark-born parents and family. When he's not sailing or enjoying the outdoors, Robert often travels the country speaking to school and writers groups.


When nurse Hanne Abrahamsen impulsively shields Steffen Petersen from a nosy Gestapo agent, she’s convinced the Lutheran pastor is involved in the Danish Underground. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But truth is hard to come by in the fall of 1943, when Copenhagen is placed under Martial Law and Denmark’s Jews—including Hanne—suddenly face deportation to the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Days darken and danger mounts. Steffen’s faith deepens as he takes greater risks to protect Hanne. But are either of them willing to pay the ultimate price for their love?

To read the first chapter of Wildflowers of Terezin, go HERE.

Friday, April 9, 2010

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Siri Mitchell crafts an amazing novel which captures and showcases New York City's Gilded Age society. From the start I was delighted by heroine Clara Carter's intelligence and joie de vivre. Clara's horrible Aunt has taken over her education and has made it her sole purpose in life to see that Clara marries Franklin DeVries, heir to the DeVries' fortune.

The paces that our girl Clara is put through in order to accomplish this goal would be daunting,even for a Geisha. Siri Mitchell takes us beneath the upper crust with a plot that doesn't quit and characters you will worry about,all the while hoping for the best. Even Clara's evil corset seems to have a life of it's own. Names like Vanderbilt and Astor are sprinkled throughout giving the novel a sense of realism.

I could go on and on, but really, I think everyone should just read this book. It's a WOW!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)

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.


For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.

Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

The year is 1871, the Civil War has ended, leaving countless families without their menfolk. Sixteen widows board a train at St.Louis' Union Station bound for Coyote, Nebraska. Before reaching their destination, however, it becomes clear that the "gentleman" who helped them move out west has some ulterior motives of his own. Mr.Hamilton Drake, for a price, would transport and arrange for some lonely homesteading bachelors to meet these potential "brides" upon their arrival in Coyote.
Five of these brave pioneer women choose to remain in the nearby town of Plum Grove rather than take their chances with this western form of Bachelor Roulette. They form an alliance and stake claims adjacent to each other, pooling their resources and talents, forging rock-solid friendships in the process.

Just because the ladies object to being used as a kind of mail order bride doesn't mean that love won't find them in spite of themselves. How could the title be Sixteen Brides if love didn't factor in?

This is a story of perseverance, faith and Westward Expansion. Sixteen Brides is about courage and necessity, from rags to riches and riches to rags and trusting in God who is the author and finisher of our faith.

I am getting into this Pioneer Spirit thing. It's fun.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sixteen Brides

Bethany House (April 2010)


Stephanie Grace Whitson


A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four home schooled children Nebraska history.

She was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends.

Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.


In 1872, sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community."

Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledgling community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them.

These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixteen Brides, go HERE.

Friday, April 2, 2010

As Young as We Feel by Melody Carlson

As Young as We Feel follows four girls who started a club called The Four Lindas in the first grade because they all shared the first name of Linda. But for various reasons, in High School they went their separate ways.

The story begins at the Four Lindas thirty fifth high school reunion in Clifden, Oregon. I've never been to the Pacific Northwest, but this could easily have taken place in my hometown of Rochdale, Massachusetts. Truly, these characters could have stepped out of any one's thirty fifth class reunion. The friends arrived for the usual class reunion experience. Except at this one a classmate has a heart attack on the dance floor and dies, causing the group to wonder where they are in their own lives, spurring some soul searching about life, love, family and what's next.

Melody Carlson's writing was so clear that it was as if she lifted this one from the pages of her own life (or mine). If you are a Christian you will find yourself asking these fictional women to pray, to seek the One who has the answers and is not surprised by the plot twists in their lives. You will read between the lines and relate to the Four Lindas as they continue to seek answers to the big questions.

I'm challenging myself to do the same.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

As Young As We Feel

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)


Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


Is there room in one little hometown for four very different Lindas to reinvent their lives … together?

Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever. But that was forty-seven years and four very different lives ago. Now a class reunion has brought them all together in their old hometown—at a crossroads in their lives.

Janie is a high-powered lawyer with a load of grief. Abby is a lonely housewife in a beautiful oceanfront empty nest. Marley is trying to recapture the artistic free spirit she lost in an unhappy marriage. And the beautiful Caroline is scrambling to cope with her mother’s dementia and a Hollywood career that never really happened. Together, they’re about to explore the invigorating reality that even the most eventful life has second acts … and friendship doesn’t come with a statue of limitations.

If you would like to read the first chapter of As Young As We Feel, go HERE.

Watch the Video: