Thursday, July 19, 2012

Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman

"The cupcakes drooped like wilted daisies."

Thus begins Kathryn Cushmans new novel, Almost Amish.
Julie, the baker of the drooping cupcakes, is a burnt out mom who is struggling to be all things to all people, and is--in her own eyes--a failure.

Her sister-in-law, Susan, on the other hand is practically Wonder Woman and Super Mom put together. When Susan is offered a reality show (along with her 17 year old daughter, Angie); she invites Julie and her two children, Whitney, 16 and Brian-- the junior high genius, to be the other family in the cast.

Feeling every bit the middle aged, haggard, mom, Julie jumps at the chance to get off the treadmill of imperfection that is her life, to partner with the impeccable Susan for a summer of Almost Amish fun...or at least some respite from her cell phone and endless summer activities.

The tasks and challenges of the show kept me engaged, along with some great characters, like Kendra, the producer, and Gary, the hired handyman with a soft spot for Susan-- who is newly divorced. (All that perfection couldn't keep her husband from straying...)

Cushman throws in plenty of surprises both for her characters and her readers. It was like watching a reality show within the reality show of the book. (If that makes any sense...)

All in all, it was a wonderful, thought provoking, and really creative read. It got me thinking... Wouldn't it be fun?

Have you ever wanted to be part of a reality show?


Almost Amish
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Kathryn Cushman


Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.

Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.  


Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All

Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Almost Amish, go HERE.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Deposit Slip by Todd M.Johnson

I remember my first legal thriller, The Firm, by John Grisham. I loved the genre and have since read many more Grisham novels. I am always on the look out for new authors with Grisham's style and ability. I was hoping that Bethany House's new author, Todd M. Johnson, could fit the bill with his debut novel, The Deposit Slip. The book boasts a compelling story line dealing with an inherited deposit slip and the search to uncover the truth about a (seemingly) poor farmer's windfall.

Jared Neaton is a young trial attorney who is trying to bounce back from a big loss--a case which cost him a bundle, when he is given the opportunity to work for Erin Larson, a young woman who has just inherited the mysterious deposit slip from her father.

There are forces at work in the small Minnesota town of Ashley that will stop at nothing to prevent the validation of Erin's inheritance.

I appreciated the accuracy and attention to the legal details that Todd M. Johnson employed. (My husband is an attorney who also represents trial attorneys in his governmental relations practice, so I know a little of what these guys go through.)  But Johnson doesn't bog the reader down in legalese, for which I was thankful!

Kudos to Mr. Johnson and Bethany House for a refreshing legal thriller with a message of hope and reconciliation.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Deposit Slip
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

Todd M. Johnson


Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years,
specializing as a trial lawyer.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota
Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of
International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.

The Deposit Slip is his debut novel. He lives outside Minneapolis,
Minnesota, with his wife Cathy, and children Ian and Libby.


$10,000,000 Is Missing.

Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Only the bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton.

How Far Will One Lawyer Go to Find the Money?

When Jared wearied of the shady ethics of his big law firm and started his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big loss has pushed him to the brink, and it's all he can do to scrape by.

And How Far Will Someone Go to Stop Him?

He's not sure if Erin's case is worth the risk, but if the money is real, all his problems could vanish. When digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats, both Jared and Erin must decide the cost they're willing to pay to discover the truth.

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

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nothing to Hide by J.Mark Bertrand (A Roland March Mystery)

While lovers of Regency Romance novels read Jane Austen to bask in words like "thither" and "mischance" (homage to Nora Ephron), J.Mark Bertrand fans revel in phrases such as "grisly homicide", "non threat target", and "inter agency cooperation". It's kind of refreshing, actually.

Roland March is a contemporary version of the old fashioned hard-boiled detective--a tough-guy with attitude and a (well hidden) soft core. March solves crimes around the seedier parts of Houston, and has a reputation for doing things his way. He is married to Charlotte, a lawyer, who happens to be a Christian. Their marriage has weathered some storms and it still has its shaky moments.

In Nothing to Hide, March's investigation of a murder leads him, unwittingly, into the bowels of the underworld, the sleazy realm of drug cartels and gun running. As truth is often stranger than fiction, Bertrand's book, inspired by a real life incident, was completed about the time that the Fast and Furious operation came to light--giving his plot an eerrily, prophetic quality.

As Roland March crosses the borderline--literally and figuratively--the lines become blurry, you will wonder along with him who to trust in this practically perfect "paranoid thriller". --Did you even know there was such a thing?

Nothing to Hide is a brilliant stand alone novel, but I recommend that you read (at least) Back on Murder-- the first book--to really squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of the Roland March Mystery series.

Give to people who think you only read Jane Austen and really blow their minds. ;)

Read on for more...

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Nothing to Hide
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

J. Mark Bertrand


J. Mark Bertrand lived in Houston, where the series is set, for fifteen years,
earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. But after
one hurricane too many he left for South Dakota. Mark has been arrested
for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of one hung jury and served
on another that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an
 honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.


A grisly homicide. An international threat.

The stakes have never been higher for
Detective Roland March.

The victim's head is missing, but what intrigues Detective Roland March
is the hand. The pointing finger must be a clue--but to what? According
to the FBI, the dead man was an undercover asset tracking the flow of
 illegal arms to the Mexican cartels. To protect the operation, they want
March to play along with the cover story. With a little digging, though, he
discovers the Feds are lying. And they're not the only ones.

In an upside-down world of paranoia and conspiracy, March finds himself
dogged by injury and haunted by a tragic failure. Forced to take justice into
 his own hands, his twisting investigation leads him into the very heart of
 darkness, leaving March with nothing to lose--and nothing to hide.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nothing to Hide, go HERE.