Tuesday, January 31, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

*guest post by Michelle Massaro
(Ms. Davy) was an amazing cheerleader and I lived to make her smile with my stories. Whether I really was or not at that point, she made me believe I was a good writer. 
~ Sr. Editor April Gardner, on who inspired her writing.
***
Today we get to spend some time with COTT founder April Gardner. April is an amazing author, good friend, and an inspiration to me. She’s a sometime home school mom, a military wife, a talented writer, and a frugal do-it-yourselfer. So I was excited to get to pick her brain! Below are the questions that I always wanted to ask. I’m sure you will find them just as fascinating as I do.
Michelle: April, what was it like growing up with missionary parents?
April: We never lacked for excitement, that's for sure! Some MKs struggle with change, but I never minded it. I was shy and content merely to be with my family; wherever they were, I was happy, no matter the town or country! Growing up in Spain and learning Spanish was one of God's beautiful gifts to me. 
Michelle: That's so cool! Some might be surprised to hear that you are dyslexic. What advice or encouragement would you give to others out there struggling with dyslexia?
April: I'd imagine that most reading this are adults, and by the time dyslexics reach adulthood, they've managed to cope quite well. Having a child with dyslexia, however, was something that took me completely by surprise, surprisingly. LOL From what I hear, it goes through the mother, so odds were pretty good one of my kids would struggle with it. When it comes to dealing with a dyslexic child I've learned three things. 1. Patience is the name of the game! 2. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. 3. There is no shame in being dyslexic or having another learning difficulty.
Michelle: You have now experienced both the public school world and the home school world. What are your observations comparing both? 
April: My most important observation is that God's plan for our children's education is 1. God's plan for us in unique! I cannot compare how others chose to educate their children with our own choices. 2. God's plan for us is not set in stone, never to change. What might be His will one year, might not be the next. We must be flexible and keep our ears tuned to Him. He'll speak most loudly through our kids via their progress, contentment, discipline, and attitude.
Michelle: Great insights! Ok, so what began your fascination with history?
April: Laura Ingells Wilder and her Little House books! They were the first "big" books that held my attention well enough to make reading worth all the effort. I haven't looked back since!
Michelle: I love those books too! You are a military spouse--where have you lived, and which was your favorite place?
April: The military first moved us to Germany. We were 19 years old and newly married. Our tour lasted 7 years. Straight from there, we went to England for four years, and we've currently been in Georgia 2.5 years. Germany holds a very dear place in our hearts for many reasons, but I have felt most content and fulfilled right here in Georgia. God bless the USA!! Boy, it's good to be home. :-)
Michelle: Wow, that sounds so adventurous! And now you're a published author--another adventure! Who first inspired you to pursue publication and writing? Who inspires you today?
April: Several people along the path of my life worked together to inspire me to pick up the pen, but the first was my high school creative writing teacher, Ms. Davy. She was an amazing cheerleader and I lived to make her smile with my stories. Whether I really was or not at that point, she made me believe I was a good writer. Today, it's the drive to reach goals that inspires me. I do love a challenge!!
Michelle: Of the characters you've created, who is your favorite and why?
April: True Seeker, the budding Creek Indian warrior from my latest novel, Warring Spirits, is my favorite character so far. His heart is good and true to his name, he seeks wisdom, honor, and a personal relationship with the Giver and Taker of Breath.
Michelle: I like his character too. But of course, they're all good in my opinion! Besides writing excellent historical romance novels, you also have a lot to share on your blog about managing health issues with diet, frugality, and parenting. Any idea what's coming up in 2012?
April: Great question! LOL My blog is ever changing, but yes, I do tend to focus on those topics. Right now, I'm on an all-natural foods kick, so I'm sure my followers will see more of those tips in the future.
Michelle: Tell us about your recent book releases.
April: Warring Spirits is my latest adult fiction release. It's set in 1816 and is the story of a woman who might be able to hide her African heritage except for her hair, which is a dead give-away. Milly's escape from slavery leads her to the safety of Negro Fort where Major Phillip Bailey, believing her to be white, takes it upon himself to "free" her from the stronghold. At the same time, he's ordered to launch an attack against it. Accomplishing both is a virtual impossibility, especially when the beautiful woman doesn't want to be rescued. Where blood is shed, unexpected love may bloom!
Michelle: I've read it and it's awesome! Head to Amazon you guys,  you won't regret it. April, thanks for answering all my hard-hitting questions today, lol.
Readers, check out COTT this week for some of our favorite Amish Excerpts!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blue Moon Promise {Under Texas Stars} by Colleen Coble

Book Description:  Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.
Nate Stanton always hoped he'd marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh-a city girl-on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he'd give anything to protect Lucy and the children he's grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.

My Review:  Lucy Marsh  is running out of options...she has been told by her landlord that the place where they are living has been sold.  However, Lucy is fiercely protective of her siblings, Jed and Eileen, so she knows that she will need to find a home for all of them.  She also finds out that her fathers death was not an accident!  Lucy is in turmoil!  
Than she receives a most unusual proposition from Henry Stanton.  He wants her to marry his son, Nate, by proxy!  Just like Abraham found a wife for his son Isaac.  Lucy decides that this is the best she can do under dire circumstances...so off she and the children go to Wichita Falls, Texas with Mr. Stanton to the family ranch.
Imagine Nate's surprise when his father returns home with a wife for him and two young 'uns!  Maybe not the best way to begin a relationship, much less a marriage. Lucy is determined to make this marriage work.  She is a kind, helpful wife.  When troubles arise Nate refuses to let anything harm his newfound family.
I loved the title of this read...a blue moon is an unusual event that rarely happens; hence, the saying "Once in a Blue Moon." This expression was first noted in 1821 and refers to occurrences that are uncommon, though not truly rare. For more than half a century, whenever two full Moons appeared in a single month (which happens on average every 2 1/2 to 3 years), the second has been christened a "Blue Moon." An unusual event.  So, not unlike the blue moon over Texas is the story of Lucy...an unlikely event but not rare!  
A heartwarming read filled with the sideline of Rebekah and Isaac's story from the Bible.
*This book was provided for review by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*
Meet the Author: 
Colleen Coble is the author of more than forty books, most of them bestsellers. Some of her most recent novels are Lonestar Angel, The Lightkeeper's Ball, Blue Moon Promise, and Anathema, an Amish suspense. One of her most popular series is the Rock Harbor mystery series featuring Bree and Samson, a search-and-rescue dog team. She has won the Carol Award numerous times as well as romance and mystery awards. She lives in Wabash, Indiana with her husband Dave.

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 1595549153
ISBN-13: 9781595549150



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beetle Bunker (book 2) by Robert Elmer


Book Description:  Berlin, August 1961. Sabine lives in a cramped apartment with her grandmother, mother, and older half-brother, Erich, in East Berlin where neighbors spy on each other, books are forbidden, and sometimes people disappear in the middle of the night...to the west. When Sabine discovers a forgotten underground bunker, she first uses it to escape her crowded home. After the Soviets build a barrier through the middle of Berlin, Sabine thinks of a new use for the Bunker. Could it take her family under the Wall to freedom? Or are their lives in more danger than ever?

My Review:  Having read Book One in the Wall Series, Candy Bombers, I relished reading Book Two, Beetle Bunker.  
Sabine is handicapped by polio but that doesn't put "the brakes" on her adventurous spirit.  She, her Oma and her brother plus an "aunt and "uncle"  are living in a small, cramped apartment in East Berlin.  
Sabine is fighting the communist in her own quiet way while her aunt and uncle seem bent on making her join the communist youth group.  While on one of her adventures she falls into a bunker.  Low and behold!  There is also a shell of an old Volkswagen Beetle! Sabine claims this bunker as her secret hideout.  And with cramped quarters at home it's the perfect getaway/hideout.
Then the Soviets build a wall through the middle of Berlin.  The wall doesn't just divide Berlin but it divides families and takes away the peoples freedom and dignity.  Sabine decides it's time to escape.  She and her friend, Willi, make a plan to tunnel their way out of this nightmare . . . making a way to escape for them and their families!
The adventure and excitement begin! And danger lurks at every corner!  A fantastic 5 star read of history and adventure for youth and adults alike! 
The clear and smooth way that Robert Elmer creates a story makes for a great lesson in learning about the way others lived and survived during hard war times.
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan*

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Easy Roast Chicken

I love roast chicken and this recipe from 
Southern Living is the BEST!

Ingredients


  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper 
  • (4- to 5-lb.) whole chickens 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375°. Stir together salt and pepper.
  2. 2. If applicable, remove necks and giblets from chickens, and reserve for another use. Pat chickens dry. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt mixture inside cavity of each chicken. Rub 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil into skin of each chicken. Sprinkle with remaining salt mixture; rub into skin. Place chickens, breast sides up, facing in opposite directions (for even browning), on a lightly greased wire rack in a lightly greased 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan.
  3. 3. Bake at 375° for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 180°. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

{Kregel Blog Tour} Unhallowed Ground The Fourth Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon by Mel Starr

Book Description:  Thomas atte Bridge, a man no one likes, is found hanging from a tree near Cowleys Corner. All assume he has taken his own life, but Master Hugh and Kate find evidence that this may not be so.

My Review:  Having read A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr I was anxious to read Unhallowed Ground, the Fourth Chronicle (book) of Hugh de Singleton.  
Master Hugh is now married to the lovely, Kate.  And to be quite honest as I read this book I kept thinking of Sherlock Holmes and his great sidekick, Watson.  
Kate is quite observant and even though she brings items to Master Hugh's attention she never usurps him in the investigation.
Now, Thomas atte Bridge, has been found hanging from a tree.  Dead.  But no one liked him...for he was as mean as an old alley cat.  However, Master Hugh finds evidence that Thomas did not hang himself...Thomas was murdered!  Now to just prove it!
This is not a book for the faint of heart!  Mel Starr does an excellent job of describing primitive medical practices and the instruments used.
This is a wonderful mystery full of suspense where Lord Gilbert Talbot tries to discover who murdered Thomas.  Thomas had so many enemies that this is no easy task.  Throughout this skillfully written medieval mystery Master Hugh is attacked and his arm is nearly cut off, his pregnant wife fears for her life and their home is set on fire.  But why?
This is one of those suspense reads that takes the reader back in time. The language, the food and the primitive surgical instruments all attest to a well thought out, extremely well written read with an ending that leaves us waiting for the next in this series.
*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*
Meet the author: 
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.
Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.   Visit his page!


Paperback
Price: $14.99
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published:September 2011
ISBN:978-0-857-21058-6


Monday, January 23, 2012

Living Close to God (When You're Not Good at It): A Spiritual Life That Takes You Deeper Than Daily Devotions by Gene Edwards

Book Description:  Have you tried harder to have a consistent time with the Lord—but failed?

Does your mind wander during prayer, and do you run out of things to say?
Do you question why it is so hard to fellowship with the Lord?Stop feeling like a failure at daily devotions and start walking every day with the Lord who loves you.Gene Edwards faced these same questions and struggles. And he found a better way to walk with the Lord than merely trying harder to pray and read the Bible.In Living Close to God (When You're Not Good at It) you will discover that loving God means much more than doing your best to serve Him. You will find ways to start your day with Christ, beginning with your first conscious thought in the morning. You will learn how to fellowship with Him during even the most demanding days. And when you go to the Scriptures, you will talk with Him in a two-way conversation—just as His first followers did.

Includes a small-group discussion guide and a guide
for your own relationship with God.


My Review:  A quiet time book that enables the reader to draw closer to God. 
I think that as a christian I need to have a close relationship with the Father.  I don't always take the time I should to have that intimate relationship-that one.on.one.time but Gene Edwards does make some valid points and points that are well worth the time to try and incorporate.
Yes, most of us, who are church goers, have probably heard most of what is in this book time and time again but sometimes we need a reminder of how important our spiritual life should be and how we need to take those steps to increase our time with the Father.
Of course, once you read the book it's up to you to follow through with your relationship with God the Father. 
Is your relationship/your spiritual life weak and waning right now?  Do you feel you have no time to spend with the Father?  Why not pick up this book and check out how you can increase your relationship values with the One who loves you most!
*This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah*
Go HERE! to read the first chapter of this book!!

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

**guest post by Michelle Massaro
For the last couple weeks, Clash of the Titles has been exploring two books delivering powerful death scenes. That's right, death scenes. The two books were The Vengeance Squad and The Redemption. We met authors Sidney Frost and MaryLu Tyndall and waited with bated breath to find out which title got the most votes. If you missed Friday's announcement, I won't keep you in suspense. Though the competition was stiff, the champion title is...
...


The Redemption, by MaryLu Tyndall



Congratulations!
About the book:


Lady Charlisse Bristol sets off on a voyage in search of a father she never knew, only to find herself shipwrecked on a deserted island. After weeks of combating the elements, her salvation comes in the form of a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick. Will Charlisse free herself from the seductive lure of this pirate captain and find the father's love she so ardently craves?


While battling his attraction to this winsome lady and learning to walk a more godly path, Edmund offers to help Charlisse on her quest--until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruelest pirate on the Caribbean. Can Edmund win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice?


Can the supernatural power of God rescue Charlisse and Edmund from the danger and treachery that await them as they ride upon the tumultuous waves of the Caribbean?
***
A few of the comments from readers:


I loved the Excerpt B.....I look forward to reading the book..it seemed more historical and the genre of books I enjoy reading. I am personally blessed by many of the Christian fiction authors and want to say thank you for all you for your readers. God bless you both!


Someone turning to Christ at the last moment is always a touching scene. It tugs at your heart to know that someone you would never see again, now you will. Very touching!

Keep writing as God leads you. You are bringing God's truth to readers; some who really need those truths in their lives.

About the author:



MaryLu Tyndall, a Christy Award finalist, and author of more than ten novels is known for her swashbuckling historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. 


MaryLu dreamt of tall ships and swashbuckling pirates during her childhood years on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Unfortunately, instead of pursuing that dream, she worked as a miserable, landlocked software engineer for fifteen years. Only by the grace and providence of God, did she decide to answer His call to write a Christian Pirate series. Today, while writing her eleventh novel, she manages a home, husband, and six kids while battling three cats who have decided that her keyboard is the best place to sleep!  She believes that without popcorn and chocolate, life would not be worth living, and her sole motivation is to bring others closer to God.
***
What fun! For a sneak peak at the book, check out the winning excerpt here. You might also enjoy her fascinating interview here.
Right now, COTT is in the middle of a brand new clash so be sure to head over there to cast your vote. You just might win a free book!




Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Praline Apple Bread

Love this recipe from Southern Living!  
This is one of the BEST breads I've ever made or eaten!  
It's more of a dessert...a moist, tasty pound cake! 

INGREDIENTS

  •  1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
  • (8-oz.) container sour cream 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • large eggs 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 lb.) 
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes.
  2. 2. Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.
  3. 3. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.
  4. 4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.
  5. 5. Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).
  6. Note: To freeze, cool bread completely; wrap in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweeter Than Birdsong {Book 2 in the Sadler's Legacy} by Rosslyn Elliot

Book Description:  Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles…but real freedom is sweeter.
In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance--and use it to mask her flight. 
Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.
A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.
Sweeter than Birdsong is a stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real historical people and events.

My Review:  Sweeter Than Birdsong is one of those reads that captures the reader's attention from page one!  The sweet notes of hope and love reach out with enthralling joy as the reader delves into the mysterious life of Kate Winter.
Kate is the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College.  She had high hopes that being a college graduate would help her to escape into another world...far from her family but her mother has a deep seated, uncanny urge that Kate will and should marry.  Marry the man of her choice.  Kate is determined that she will not marry such a creature!  She will run!
Then Ben hears Kate sing and he wants her to join the musical.  The musical is just a small part of the big picture.  Kate and Ben, both, will need the Lord and their faith to see them through a dark tunnel. 
This is a wonderful, historical novel filled with the sweet sounds of faith, courage and hope....sweeter tan birdsong! 
*This book was provided for review by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*

Protection For Hire by Camy Tang

Book Description:  Tessa Lancaster's skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo's Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn't commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa's abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son. But there's a problem or two ... or three .... There's Elizabeth's abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There's Uncle Teruo, who doesn't understand why Tessa's new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there's Elizabeth's lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn't know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa's and Charles's families and you've got some wild dynamics---and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

My Review: Tessa is one strong and feisty lady.  She's also very loyal to her family and being such a loyal person placed her in prison for a crime she didn't commit.  Her uncle Teruo understands the sacrifice Tessa took for his son {I thought this was interesting parallel about Jesus, the sacrifice, as God's Son} but Uncle Teruo doesn't understand why Tessa won't come back into the "family" --- the Japanese mafia.  
Tessa is not the person she used to be...she turned her life over to Christ in prison and He means everything to her, even above family!
I truly love Tessa!  She sticks to her guns and even though her family doesn't understand her or her new found faith Tessa lives by the Book.
Then she meets Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is a classy, well to do lady but with a very abusive husband.  Elizabeth is living at Wings the home for abused women and their children when she meets Tessa and asks Tessa to be her body guard.  This is where the story really begins to fly off the page!  Tessa along with the very handsome and kind, Charles, are together trying to bring Elizabeth's husband to court for his very unsavory character and abusive ways.
This read is filled with fast action, faith {in ourselves through Christ and in others who are of like faith} and fantastic foods! 
Camy Tang does an excellent job of writing and describing family dynamics and the outcome of our words and deeds.
Camy Tang is a new favorite author of mine! And I look forward to her next novel in this series...don't miss this fantastic read! 
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan*
Meet the Author:
I grew up in Wahiawa, Hawai'i, a small town right in the center of the island of O'ahu. My family is still there, but they love to fly up to California to visit on the way to Las Vegas.I majored in Psychology and took pre-med Biology and Chemistry classes at Stanford University. I decided not to go to Medical School (well, at least, I got an invitation to interview at a medical school, but I turned it down), and instead worked as a biologist researcher for nine years. I did compound development studies for a major pharmaceutical company and product development and method-of-action studies for a smaller biotech company.I've loved to write ever since Junior High, but I put it aside because I felt convicted that my motives were not pure--I was more interested in being a published author than in serving God and writing for His honor and glory. But in 2003 I felt God's calling to write again, and I've been loving every minute. I've learned so much about writing technique from books and articles on the web, and from the writers' websites and groups that I've joined. As of right now, I am active in American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW, formerly American Christian Romance Writers) and the Faith, Hope and Love chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America).My writing has been heavily influenced by my interests: reading and action/adventure movies and shows. I am addicted to the TV show "24," and will watch anything with Jet Li, Chow Yun-Fat and Jackie Chan.I also love Japanese anime--does anybody else besides me remember Star Blazers, Voltron, Robotech, and Bubblegum Crisis? I love the mangas Ranma 1/2 & InuYasha.  Visit Camy's page HERE!

Heart of Ice (A Triple Threat Novel) {Thomas Nelson} by Lisa Wiehl with April Henry

Book Description:  Fans of James Patterson's Women's Murder Club books will find the same friendly crime-solving vibe in Wiehl and Henry's appealing third Triple Threat novel (after Hand of Fate) featuring federal prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI special agent Nicole Hedges, and Portland, Ore., TV crime reporter Cassidy Shaw. At the Portland Fitness Center, Cassidy joins the boot camp class run by the beautiful instructor Elizabeth Avery, unaware that Elizabeth served time in a juvenile facility for two horrific crimes committed at age 13 when she was known as Sissy Hewsom. The icy sociopath has already had her fellow former inmate, firebug Joey Decicco, burn down the home of Sara McCloud, her gorgeous lawyer boyfriend's money-grubbing ex-wife, and Elizabeth now wants Sara and Sara's small son, Noah, dead. The authors smoothly bring together the various story lines, including a sharp subplot centered on Nic's breast cancer diagnosis. -- Publishers Weekly

My Review:  Lis Wiehl and April Henry have done it again!  A triple threat, triple home run of a read!  Having read Hand of Fate I couldn't wait to read Heart of Ice!
It you're new to the Triple Threat novels then let me introduce you to three friends:  Allison who is a prosecutor, Cassidy the TV news reporter and Nicole (Nic) the FBI agent.
Three close friends who love the Triple Threat Chocolate dessert!  They are once again involved in solving a case of arson and murder.
Then there are the subplots of this wonderful read:  Allison must confront here sister, Lindsay, and her drug addiction. Nicole (Nic) is faced with the possible breast cancer, surgeries and treatments, and Cassidy joins a boot camp class at her fitness center where she meets the instructor, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is the epitome of deviously beautiful.  But people only see the beautiful outside package.  Is Elizabeth a threat or is she merely a pawn in this ugly scheme?!?!
Nicole's courage to face an unbeatable enemy, cancer, is at.times. a real tear jerker!  Going through the process of a possible mastectomy brings the three friends closer.  
Three strong, courageous ladies ready to meet the challenges thrown there way with a little romance to sweeten the day.
Each of the Triple Threat Novels are stand alone reads; however, they are rather addicting when you get to know these ladies and want to follow their lives.  If you enjoy reading mystery/suspense then you'll want to read this book!  
*This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson/BookSneeze*

Monday, January 16, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . . Laurel Award-Winning Novel, Fairer Than Morning

*by Sr. Editor, April W Gardner


“I knew that I had just been given an amazing true story that needed to be told.” –Rosslyn Elliott, Clash of the Titles 2011 Laurel Award Winner


Portions of that story—Fairer Than Morning—won the majority of COTT reader votes in June when it took the victory in the “Best Protagonist” ring. In November, it competed against a long list of other COTT champion novels then took home the Laurel. More hearty congratulations go to author Rosslyn Elliott for her win.


Read June’s winning excerpt (excerpt B).
Read the Laurel Award winning excerpt (excerpt A)


The Saddler's Legacy series is inspired by a real family in American history--the Hanby family, who are to this day the most celebrated citizens of Westerville, Ohio.


About Laurel Award-winning novel, Fairer Than Morning:
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.


On a small farm in 19th century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann’s dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.


When Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her minister father on business, she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. Anne’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul.
Through his encounters with Anne’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage even in the midst of tremendous adversity.


When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?


Learn more about the book as Clash of the Titles staff interviews the author:


Hostess Raqul Byrnes asks, “What led you to use the inspirational Hanby family and how did you first come to know about them?”
Rosslyn: After I finished my doctoral dissertation, I decided to try my hand at writing my first historical novel. I was living in Westerville, Ohio at the time, so I decided to go visit a small local house museum so I could research all the kitchen artifacts and farm tools. Before the tour, a guide took me into an outbuilding and showed me a video about the Hanby family, who had lived in that house. By the time I stood up thirty minutes later, I knew that I had just been given an amazing true story that needed to be told. The Hanbys lived romantic, action-filled lives marked by courage, and most importantly, they served others out of faith and love.


Hostess Lisa Lickel asks,“Rosslyn, what does “nobility” mean to you and to the era of your story and today? What made you choose that character trait?”
Rosslyn: The origin of that word on the back jacket of the book is that when my publisher and I were creating jacket copy, I had to come up with a condensed way to describe what it means to find a man of true value. And both in Ann’s time and today, the words noble man mean a man of great worth and high virtue. It also made a nice contrast with the apparent gentility and breeding of one suitor, who would fit the other meaning of nobleman far more obviously than the ragged Will Hanby!


Assistant Editor Michelle Massaro asks, “What circumstances led up to Will Hanby's down-trodden situation?”
Rosslyn: In the novel, we learn that Will’s parents and his sisters all died of a virulent form of tuberculosis which killed much more quickly than ordinary TB. (The novel never reveals this in such specifics, but the TB was disseminated bovine TB, for those who care, acquired through milk ingested on a visit to a cattle farm, when Will and his brother were not with the others!). Their deaths left only Will and his younger brother, who were forced to indenture themselves to farmers to avoid infection and work in exchange for food and board. The farmers were kind, but Will ends up under a much harsher master when he signs a new indenture with Master Good.  The historical facts behind what happened to the real William Hanby were somewhat different, but the effect was the same: out of dire poverty, he indentured himself in his youth to Master Good, and much of what followed was what also happens in the novel.


Talent Scout Katie McCurdy asks, “Which character, not counting Ann or Will, is your favorite? Did you have a certain character that kinda suddenly took a main role that you didn't forsee when you plotted Fairer Than Morning?”
Rosslyn: My favorite supporting character is Ann’s father, Mr. Miller, whom I admire so much that I honestly wonder how I wrote him sometimes. His was the part of the novel that seemed most spirit-led. But the characters who suddenly appeared onstage who weren’t part of the novel at all, in the original sketchy outline, were Mr. and Mrs. Holmes and their daughter Amelia! They showed up on that steamboat and began to take on a life of their own, and before I knew it they were a major subplot.


Listen to Another Interview:
After her Laurel Award win, Author Rosslyn Elliott was also interviewed by Christian Authors Guild board member, Cynthia L. Simmons. This is a podcast you won’t want to miss. You can listen to in our sidebar or find it by visiting this link.


The second in the series, Sweeter Than Birdsong, releases next month and promises to be just as compelling as the first. Below, in two short, yet intriguing excerpts, the author shares a taste of what’s to come.


But first, here’s a brief summary of Sweeter Than Birdsong, book two in the Saddler’s Legacy series.


Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles… But real freedom is sweeter.


In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance--and use it to mask her flight.


Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.
A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.


Excerpts:


Chapter One


Westerville, Ohio 1855
Her customary walk across the college quadrangle had become an executioner’s march.
Kate’s heeled shoes clunked over the flagstones. Her full skirt and horsehair crinoline dragged from her waist, too warm even for this mild May morning.
She climbed the stone steps of the whitewashed college building and laid hold of the black iron door handle with a clammy palm. The dim foyer led to the lecture hall. Her breath came faster and her corset squeezed her lungs. It had not felt so tight when the maid laced it an hour ago. Up ahead loomed the dark rectangle of the hall’s oaken door, which stood ajar.
She paused on the threshold. Inside the hall, a baritone voice lifted in clear, well-balanced phrases. The speaker’s persuasive power carried even here. Ben Hanby. He was the best orator in the class. She laid a hand to her midsection to quell the pulsing nausea there. If she did not go in now, she would not go at all.
At her push, the door swung open to reveal rows of masculine shoulders in dark coats, all heads turned toward the speaker. Each gentleman’s neat coattails fell open over his knees, black against the polished wood floor. Each white collar rose to the sweep of hair worn according to the current vogue, longer than a Roman’s but never past the collar.
On the raised platform beyond them, Ben Hanby stood, as natural and poised as if he were alone in the room, his dark hair thick over his brow. His eyes were intent, his face alive with interest in his subject, but his words floated past Kate in a wash of sounds her jumping nerves could not interpret. Of course speaking came easily for him—his father was a minister.
He finished with a question to the audience, and even her disrupted attention caught the subtle humor in the lift of his eyebrow as he delivered his line straight-faced. A chuckle rose from the young men, echoed in the lighter laughter of the small party of young lady scholars seated with their chaperone on the end of the front row.
Ben Hanby descended the stairs, the barest smile appearing as he exchanged glances with his friends.
“Miss Winter.” Professor Hayworth’s bass rumbled across the hall.
Heads turned toward her. Her skin tingled in waves of heat, her heart kicked in an uneven cadence. Could it stop from such fright?—the thought made it worsen, like a stutter in her chest that could not move on to the next beat.
“I am glad you choose to join us today.” Professor Hayworth spoke to her from the dais, beside the podium, full bearded in his formal black robe. “You have arrived just in time to give the first of our ladies’ speeches.”
She avoided their curious stares as her pulse quickened and her mouth dried.
“Please proceed to the podium,” he said.


******


All was quiet and dark. The boat bobbed like a cradle soothing a baby to sleep.
It didn’t calm Kate, who sat immobile in the prow. She laced her hands together in her lap where John Parker could not see them and dug her fingers into the back of her knuckles. She couldn’t stop the faint tremble that had started inside her and traveled to her hands. He mustn’t see her shaking or he would think her unfit for the errand.
The chirp of crickets set a rhythm for little splashes from the oars as John rowed them toward the Kentucky side. They were quite close now.
 She must shake off this dreamlike state. She peered at the riverbank as far as she could see to left and right. At least there was no sign of a lantern.
They bumped up against the reeds. John jumped out, heedless of the mud and several inches of water. He lashed the tow rope of the fishing boat to a birch tree.
She must move now. She clambered over the side and into the dark water.
The unfamiliar feeling of the breeches increased her sense of having traveled to some different life, some strange body. It could not be she, traipsing around the wild in men’s trousers. Someone else entirely had come on this errand—someone braver and stronger who just happened to resemble her on the outside.
A few waterlogged steps brought her to where John stood on the riverbank, like the shadow of a tree in the moonlight.
“This way.” He walked ahead of her, straight towards the thickest tangle of thorny bush.
****
If you would like to join the COTT Blog Alliance tour for this award-winning novel (Jan 14-18), please email us at contactcott(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Everything Romance A Celebration of LOVE for Couples by Tom Winters and David Bordon

Book Description:  Romance is always in season when you’re in love.
 Ready to create romantic memories? If you’re looking for new and unique ways to celebrate love, captivate the heart of your true love, or simply enjoy each other’s company, Everything Romance offers all of this and much more. Inside you’ll find… Ways to engage your loved one with conversation starters for couples; Fun and creative date and gift ideas for any budget; Heartwarming love stories and poems; Love busters and love boosters to add fun, zing, and zest; Trivia about the history of love and romance; Recipes to fan the heartflames.

My Review:  Everything Romance A Celebration of LOVE for Couples is one of those must have books for all couples who celebrate their marriage with God's love.
This smallish book is delightful!  From it's victorian romance cover to the pink/grey/white sometimes trimmed in red pages to the celebration of a love that lasts a lifetime.
On page 101 there is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson celebrating the family:  We Thank You, Lord:
Lord, we behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day . . . 
for the health, the work, the food and the
bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Amen.
This poem pretty much sums up the "wonderfulness" of being a married couple!  
Included in this savory little nugget are also Love Boosters, melt.in.your.mouth.recipes, short stories, hymns, prayers (I personally love the Prayer for My Husband) and so much more!
Such a great book for helping you and your love create those meaningful memories as a couple and as a family!
This will make a grand Valentine for your loved one!  This would be a great "card" placed on that beautiful box of chocolates!  
*Romance is always in season when you're in love (from back cover).
*This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah*
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 0307729311
ISBN-13: 9780307729316
SKU: 9780307729316
Go HERE! to read a chapter!