Christian Fiction Review: Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Amy Inspired
by Bethany Pierce
Copyright 2010
Bethany House Publishers
320 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0850-8
Contemporary Fiction

From the publisher:
With rejections piling up, she could use just a little inspiration...

Amy Gallagher, aspiring writer, has an unabashed obsession with words. She gave up a steady, albeit unexciting, job to pursue a life of writing. However, two years and one master's degree later, she finds herself almost exactly right back where she started. Discouraged by the growing pile of rejections from publishers and afraid that she has settled, Amy knows something has to change.

Then she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. Amy finds herself struggling to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as she tries to cope with the feeling that her friends and family are moving on without her. When the unexpected begins pouring in, Amy doubts the love and fulfillment she seeks will ever come her way. Forced to take a close look at who she has become, the state of her faith, and her aspirations for her life, she must make a choice: play it safe yet again or finally find the courage to follow her dreams.


My Review:
I was very confused by this book, I really don't know how to rate it. I'm a reader of both general market/secular fiction and Christian fiction, usually there is a pretty clear line between the two, for me Amy Inspired blurred the line. If I were to classify it as anything it would be women's fiction with faith elements since there is not a lot of romance but rather a relationship between two girl friends and their struggles with men, family, etc. Amy lived in an apartment with a guy she was attracted to and even slept with him, no sex but I definitely do not see my grandma reading this! I'm absolutely fine with authors mentioning sex, alcohol, etc. but I guess I'm just not used to it mentioned casually in Christian fiction. That said I would definitely say this is an "edgy" book.

On one hand this story is very realistic with Amy wondering about her love life, career and writing which I liked reading about but on the other hand it's almost too realistic. Did I really need to know about basic bodily functions? no, these were definite "TMI" moments for me. On the other hand this book had some great lines that made me say, "Oh wow! How true!" I won't say that I didn't like Amy Inspired but it will definitely take some getting used to. Readers who don't generally read Christian fiction might want to give this a chance as it is not too "preachy."


To learn more about the author visit:
Her WEBSITE
Her BLOG

*I received my complimentary copy as part of the Bethany House Publishers book review program.*

Contest Alert for YA/Paranormal Fiction Readers!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Check out Bitten By Books (follow the links below) today for info on author Lisa Desrochers latest YA paranormal release, Personal Demons! This book has been on my wishlist for a while and I've read nothing but great reviews for it. Hopefully I'll be able to read it soon.



http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=33635

First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: A Path Less Traveled (Miller's Creek, Book 2) by Cathy Bryant

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



A Path Less Traveled (Book 2 in the Miller's Creek novels)


WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Bryant for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A Texas gal since birth, Cathy Bryant continues the Mayberry RFD--only Texas Style!--stories with Book 2 in the Miller's Creek series, A Path Less Traveled. Her debut novel Texas Roads was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Cathy lives in a century-old Texas farmhouse with her husband of almost 30 years and a phobia-ridden cat.

Visit the author's website.






Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431128
ISBN-13: 978-0984431120

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Chapter One ~ Tolling Bells


In spite of the thousands of winking lights surrounding Trish James, a wedding somehow lost its luster in the wake of death. She nudged her shucked shoes out of the way with her big toe and adjusted the tulle on the wedding arch, the soft netlike fabric billowing beneath her fingertips as she encased the twinkle lights. The church sanctuary, with its white pews, stained-glass windows, and smoky blue carpet, served as the perfect backdrop to her design.

“This wedding must be hard on you after Doc’s death.” Dani spoke the words as if uncertain she should speak at all.

The ache in Trish’s heart started afresh, a wound that never healed, but she pushed it aside with practiced expertise. This wedding wasn’t about her. “I’m fine. It’s not everyday my brother marries the most wonderful woman in the world.” She forced a bright smile. “I’ve never seen Steve so happy.”

Her sister-in-law-to-be didn’t return the smile. Instead the area above her clear blue eyes creased. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Yep.” Trish snipped the word and bent low to snag a sprig of silk ivy, then inserted it in the proper place and blinked away tears. In truth, it would be great to have someone to share her concerns with, but within boundaries—not right before the wedding, not with anyone who lived in Miller’s Creek, and definitely not with family members. The last thing she wanted was for them to feel like they had to come to her rescue.

She’d told Delaine some of the situation, but her best friend since high school now lived the fast-paced, Austin lifestyle, their conversations limited to when Delaine didn’t have something else on her agenda.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be both mother and father to Little Bo.” Dani lowered her head, blonde ringlets framing her face. “And then trying to start a business on top of everything else.”

Oh, no. She wasn’t going there. Trish clenched her teeth. Steve had already given her this lecture. With his best brotherly concern, he’d told her she didn’t have to be Superwoman. Yeah, right. Try telling that to her empty checkbook and refrigerator. She glanced at Dani, who sat atop the piano railing swinging her legs. “Are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”

A happy glow wreathed her friend’s face. “And the day after, and the day after that. I think I’ve been getting ready to marry Steve my entire life.”

“I’m happy for you both.” Though it hurt to speak the words, she meant it. It wasn’t their fault her life was in the doldrums.

Dani sprang from her perch and trotted down the steps to view the stage. “You have such a gift, Trish. Everything looks magical.”

Trish gazed at the curly willow branches she’d ordered and spray-painted white, now wrapped with tiny sparks of light. The fairy tale forest blanketed the stage and meandered down the side aisles in an aura of enchantment. Once the ribbons and flowers were placed, and candles inserted into globes and nestled among the boughs, her vision would be complete. “I hope it’s what you wanted.”

“It’s better than I could’ve ever imagined.” Dani hurried over and draped an arm across her shoulder. “Once everyone in Miller’s Creek see this, you’re gonna get loads of business.”

A heavy sigh whooshed from her before she could contain it. “From your lips to my bank account.”

Dani’s eyes clouded. “I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it and get it over with. Are you okay? I mean…do you need to borrow money or something?”

No. Yes. Yes. She wasn’t okay. She needed money. She needed…something. “I’m fine.” The lie popped out as she stepped to the box perched on the piano bench. With care she lifted two delicate cracked-glass globes and moved to the candle stands. The words “I’m fine” were her constant mantra these days, like saying them made everything all right. Who was she kidding?

She closed her eyes and reopened them with a slow blink, weary of pretending. But what choice did she have? Her brother’s wedding wasn’t the time or place to air her personal problems. Besides, she was thirty-two years old, more than old enough to handle life on her own. A glance at her wristwatch sent her pulse on a stampede. Still so much to do to make the decorations perfect. God, please let this bring me business.

Dani plopped back onto the railing. “Is Little Bo doing better?”

How could he be? “Sure, if you don’t count the nightmares and barely letting me out of his sight.” She omitted the fact that he was a hairsbreadth away from flunking kindergarten unless she could help him catch up before the school year ended.

“So the psychologist is helping?”

Before Trish could respond, the double white doors at the rear of the church burst open. Incessant rain poured from the April sky and silhouetted the form of a man. Dani let out a squeal. “Andy!”

The petite blonde flew down the steps toward a man who looked vaguely familiar. He wore a lightweight suit with a loosened necktie, and had an easy-going smile that brightened the room. “Hey, how’s the bride?”

Dani looked up at him, her face radiant. “Never better.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

She tugged his arm. “Come here. I want you to meet someone.”

His loose-limbed gait gave the impression of someone always relaxed, like he’d just returned from a vacation at the beach.

“This is Andy Tyler, my friend from Dallas. Andy, this is Steve’s sister.”

Sea-green eyes sparkled. “Well, does Steve’s sister have a name?” He jogged up the steps and held out a hand, his smile still bright.

Trish laughed and took his hand. “I’m Trish James. Nice to meet you.”

Dani’s face took on a crimson hue. “Sorry. Guess my mind is elsewhere.”

Andy’s gaze rested on her bare feet. “Glad to know you have a name. What about shoes?”

She couldn’t help but smile. “I have them, but kicked them off hours ago.”

The hall door squeaked behind them, and Mama Beth, Dani’s mother and the mother figure of all of Miller’s Creek, bustled into the room. Along with her came the smell of fresh baked bread wafting from the fellowship hall. Trish could almost taste the melt-in-your mouth rolls. Maybe she could sneak a few leftovers for her and Bo to nibble on next week.

“My goodness, Trish, if this isn’t the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.” Mama Beth hugged Andy’s neck. “Hi, Andy.”

A tender gleam lit his eyes as he wrapped his arms around the older woman’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “Hi, sweet lady.” He turned raised eyebrows to Trish. “You did all this?”

She ducked her head, and pushed a silky strand of hair behind one ear.

“All of it.” gushed Dani. “And wait until you see the fellowship hall.”

“Speaking of fellowship hall, I could sure use your help in the kitchen.” Mama Beth’s voice took on a commanding tone as she scuttled to the door. “We’ve got enough work to do for this rehearsal dinner to keep an entire army busy.”

Dani looked torn. “But I can’t leave Trish down here to do all this by herself.”

Trish wrestled the wieldy greenery in place, longing to comment that she didn’t need help. It would suit her just fine if they’d all go away and leave her alone.

Andy rested his hands on his hips in mock protest, his tan jacket pulled back. “What am I? Pork belly? I’ll help Trish. You go help Mama Beth.” He held up a hand. “Trust me when I say I’ll be more help here than in the kitchen.”

“Good point. I’ve had your cooking.” Dani grinned and rushed after Mama Beth. “Y’all know where to find us if you need help.”

Andy chuckled and shed his jacket, then laid it across the front pew and turned her way. “What can I do to help?”

Trish mentally checked her to-do list. “I was actually waiting for someone with more muscles than me to come around. There’s a box full of candles I need brought in from my Suburban.” She pointed toward the side door. “It’s out there and it’s unlocked.”

He gave a mock salute that bounced his sandy curls. “Yes ma’am.” Andy’s stocky frame loped down the steps and disappeared through the doorway.

Her eyebrows rose as she made her way to the pile of greenery on the front pew. Dani’s friend was more handsome than she remembered. Trish burrowed through the tangled mess, remembering the promise she’d made Dani to help Andy feel welcome. As if she needed a man to take care of along with her other responsibilities.

The door slammed, Andy’s eyes and forehead barely visible above the box he white-knuckled. She ran to him. “Let me help. I know that’s heavy. I loaded it this morning.”

“Nah, I got it.” The words wheezed out. “You loaded this by yourself?”

She ignored the question and pointed to the stage. “Can you bring it up the steps?”

He shot her a ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding’ glare then labored up the steps, his face red, his breath coming in agonized spurts. As he reached the last step, the toe of his leather loafer snagged the extension cord snaking along the edge of the stage.

Trish tried to speak, but her words congregated behind locked lips. Andy stumbled, and the box flew from his arms, the candles launching like small missiles. He hit the floor with a thud, the box crash-landing at the base of the first tree.

In slow motion, like carefully-placed dominos, the trees rippled to the floor in a sickening staccato of crashes and breaking glass. As if to punctuate the effect, the white metal archway in the center leaned forward with a creak as it teetered, then toppled forward with a bang.

Her mouth hinged open, and her hands flew to her cheeks. All her hard work…ruined. In shock, it took a moment to realize Andy still lay face down on the carpet. “Are you all right?”

He pushed himself up on all fours and surveyed the devastation.

Assured he was okay, she slung herself down to the top step. The scene replayed in her mind. A giggle gurgled out then burst forth in an almost-maniacal laugh.

Andy chuckled and crawled to sit beside her.

Without warning, her laughter turned to sobs. She covered her face with trembling hands, rage surging at yet another unexpected crying jag. Now she’d never be ready on time. No one would be impressed. No one would want her services. No business. No money.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Andy slid a hand down her arm. “I’ll fix it, Trish, I promise. I’m so sorry.”

Trish fisted her hands, then straightened her spine and swatted at the tears on her cheeks. “Will you please stop apologizing?” There was no controlling her snappish tone. “For Pete’s sake, it was an accident. I’m not gonna sue.” She clamped her lips, rose to her feet, and waded through the ruins. Fingers at rest against her lips, she knelt to retrieve shattered slivers of glass from the broken globes. These weren’t even paid for.

Andy stooped beside her, his eyes boring a hole into her skull. “Here, let me get that. You start putting things back where you want them.”

Trish could only nod at his softly-spoken words, a knot wedged in her windpipe. She lifted a tree into position, the light strands dripping from the branches like a child had thrown them in place. So far her determination to prove herself capable had been met with nothing but industrial-strength resistance.

* * *

It’s all your fault. The familiar words in Andy’s head relentlessly accused, ushering forth memories and ghosts from the past. Trish obviously spent hours on the wedding decorations, and he’d managed to undo her work with one false step. He forced the finger-pointing voice to the back of his mind and attempted to burn off the chill that now hung in the room. “You live here in Miller’s Creek?”

“Yes.” Her answer sounded pinched. “My son and I live here. At least for now.” She didn’t look at him while she maneuvered the lights back on the branches with agile fingers.

Son? Now he remembered. Dani had mentioned something about Steve’s sister losing her husband in a freak accident. A cow kick, or was it a horse? And how long ago? “You’re leaving town?”

“I don’t want to, but we don’t always get what we want, do we?”

True, but sometimes what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you needed. Andy rose, his hands cupped to contain the glass shards. “No, we don’t. You have a trash can?”

Trish’s tawny eyes looked his way. She grabbed an empty box and hurried to him. “Here.” She glanced around the stage, her face gloomy, her shoulders slumped. “Are they all broken?”

“Don’t know.” He dumped the pieces in the box, where they pinged against each other. “Is there some place I can buy replacements?”

She rubbed one arm and shook her head. “No. I had them shipped in. I’ll drive to Morganville tonight after the rehearsal to see if I can find something that’ll work.”

The sadness on her face made his breath stick in his throat. He’d been in Miller’s Creek less than an hour and had already goofed things up. “I’ll go with you and pay for them since it’s my fault.”

Trish’s shoulders rose then fell. “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just something that happened.” She returned to the branches and hoisted another one back into position.

Just something that happened. A shaft of light streamed through the stained glass windows and rested on her, and she slumped over like she couldn’t bear the weight of the world any longer. Was she remembering the accident? He removed a pack of peppermint gum from his shirt pocket and popped a piece in his mouth. Her problems made the mess with Sheila seem trivial. What could he do to make things better?

“Dani told me you’re engaged. When’s the big day?” Trish strung lights along a tree branch. Perfectly.

He shifted his weight to the other leg then squatted to pluck glass from the carpet. “Uh, we’re not…I mean…well, it’s over between us.”

She raised her head, and her brown hair shimmered under the light. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Don’t be.” He stood. “It’s for the best.”

“How so?”

Andy let out a half-laugh. “Turns out she still had a thing for her ex-boyfriend.” Thank the Lord he’d found out in time. A wife would be wonderful, but not the wrong wife.

For a moment she didn’t speak, but her face took on a knowing look. “That must’ve been painful.”

He nodded, his lips pressed together. “It was hard, but God can bring good from hurt.”

Trish stared at him like she was trying to get a read on him then turned back to the lights. “So neither one of us are really in the mood to celebrate. Especially a wedding.” Her face matched her cynical tone.

Out in the hallway, muffled voices grew closer. The hall door swung open, and the smell of Mama Beth’s home-cooking watered his mouth. A little boy that looked like Trish raced toward them, then stopped, his dark eyes round. “Whoa! What happened here?”

Dani and Mama Beth followed, their mouths ajar. After them came Steve Miller, the mayor of Miller’s Creek, and Dani’s soon-to-be husband.

“It’s all right. Don’t worry.” Trish rushed to the two women and laid a hand on each of their arms. “It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, I promise. We just had a little accident.”

Andy watched through narrowed eyes. Now she comforted the two women when just a few minutes before she’d been in tears. A good way to get a severe case of whiplash.

Steve sauntered toward him, his boots scuffing against the carpet, a friendly grin on his face.

He shook Steve’s hand. “How you doing, Mayor?”

The other man’s grin expanded as he tucked his fingers in jeans that looked new. “I’ll be doing a lot better in a couple of days.” Lightning fast, Steve untucked one hand and grabbed the boy’s arm as he streaked by. “Hold on, tiger. I don’t think you have any business up there. Have you met Aunt Dani’s friend?”

The boy skewed his lips in a thoughtful pose and shook his head.

“This is my nephew, Bo.”

Andy stretched out a palm. “Give me five, buddy.”

Bo reared back and delivered a hearty slap.

“Ouch!” Andy pretended to shake off the sting. “Man, I’ll bet you can throw a baseball really far with that kind of muscle power.”

The boy nodded, his face creased with a grin. “Yep, but I can’t catch so good.”

“Well,” corrected Trish, as she came to stand with them. “You can’t catch well.”

Andy assumed a catcher’s position beside him. The little guy had to be missing his daddy. Maybe he could help. “I used to be a catcher, so I can give you some pointers later. Would you like that?”

Bo’s eyes lit. “Yeah.”

“Yes sir.” Trish’s tone held a warning.

“I mean, yes sir.” He looked toward his Mama. “Is it okay if we play catch, Mom?”

She sent Andy a tight-lipped smile, her expression cloaked with reserve, but when she turned toward her son her face softened, and she tousled his hair. “Of course, but it might be tomorrow since Mr. Tyler’s already promised to help me clean up this mess.” “Almost looks like a tornado touched down in here.” Steve rocked back on his heels and jangled the coins in his pocket.

“A tornado named Andy.” Trish gave a play-by-play account.

Steve laughed, but Mama Beth and Dani still fussed about like a couple of hens. “That’s one way to get out of carrying more boxes.” Steve winked. “I’ll have to remember that move.”

“Hey, look at me!” Little Bo perched on the piano railing, one foot in front of the other, his arms out to balance. Andy’s heart moved to his throat. One wrong step would hurdle him toward the carpet, still full of glass.

All of them raced for the railing, but Andy arrived first. He grabbed him by the waist and slung him over one shoulder, amused at Bo’s contagious belly laugh. “Come here, buddy, before you fall and hurt that amazing pitching arm.”

Trish joined them, eyes wide with panic, her face white and strained. She gripped Little Bo’s arms. “How many times do I have to tell you not to pull stunts like that?” Her voice shook as she bent down, her face inches from his.

The boy said nothing, his lips stuck out in a pout.

Steve laid a hand on her shoulder. “Sis.”

Volumes passed between the brother and sister before Little Bo bolted for the door. Trish raced after him, her dark eyes full of hurt.

Both men faced the door, an awkward silence between them. Steve cleared his throat and turned, his eyes fixed on the floor. “Sorry about that. Trish is…uh…going through a rough time.”

Andy nodded. An understatement if he’d ever heard one. Based on what he’d seen, he was pretty sure not even Steve knew exactly how rough.




My Review:
Once again author Cathy Bryant has written a story full of romance and drama that will make your heart melt. Just when I thought I couldn't like anyone more than Steve from Texas Roads, Andy Tyler comes along with his sweet, sensitive determination to help single mother Trish James and her son Bo and I fall in love too! Ms. Bryant definitely has a knack for writing characters that are realistic, three dimensional and interesting to boot. Trish is so stubborn she just made me want to scream throughout the entire book. Proud doesn't even begin to describe her. And Bo? well he's just a little sweetie pie who just wants his mama to be happy again.

If you decide to read A Path Less Traveled I can almost guarantee that you will cry, shout, and finally cheer Trish, Bo and Andy on. Where Texas Roads made me laugh this book was serious but it was every bit as good as, if not better than Cathy's debut. I definitely am excited for the next story The Way of Grace which is going to feature Andy's younger brother, Matt and Grace Soldano, both whom we met briefly book 2. I can't wait till next year!

2010 National Dog Show!

Friday, November 26, 2010

While lounging around the house after eating Thanksgiving dinner I was channel surfing and came across the National Dog Show! I always love to watch the various breeds prance around the ring (they know they are champions) and really I like them all, but of course I do have a soft spot for a certain breed... ;-)

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.



Who did you cheer for? Although the Collie didn't win another beautiful breed, an Irish Setter named Clooney took the honors for top dog and he deserved it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

funny pictures of cats with captions

Happy Thanksgiving!

Christian Fiction Review: Pursuit of Justice (Call of Duty, Book 3) by DiAnn Mills

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pursuit of Justice (Call of Duty, Book 3)
by DiAnn Mills
Copyright 2010
Tyndale House Publishers
376 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2052-6
Fiction/Romance/Suspense

From the publisher:
Special Agent Bella Jordan is assigned to investigate a series of murders in West Texas that are linked to the Spider Rock Treasure. Since she spent the first fifteen years of her life in this area, FBI authorities believe she can get the job done. What they don’t know is that one of their prime suspects—a man who’s been on their wanted list for years—is deeply connected to Bella’s past.

The other prime suspect is Carr Sullivan, the man who owns the ranch where the murders occurred. Carr was once one of the wealthiest businessmen in Dallas and has a shady past a mile long. But it appears he’s turned his life around. Can Bella trust him, or is he just trying to cover his tracks?

As Bella probes deeper into the case, threats on her own life convince her the killer is someone she knows. But it soon becomes clear he’s not working alone, and she’ll need to face the past she’s tried so desperately to forget in order to solve the case and prevent more murders.


My Review:
I really enjoy DiAnn Mills' books whether historical romances or contemporary suspense, I'm rarely disappointed. Her latest book is Pursuit of Justice, the third installment of the contemporary suspense series, Call of Duty. While not as believable a story and not as much romance as the previous books I still enjoyed it.

First off if you have an aversion to reading about murder and corpses turning up you might want to steer clear of this story. It's not graphic but it's probably not for the most sensitive of readers. That said even though there were a lot of murders I felt that they were almost skimmed over. I don't like grisly stuff but I like to read details that involve CSI, forensics, and things like in suspense novels and that just wasn't present in this story. I will say this however, usually I can pick out the "bad guy" pretty quickly but Ms. Mills threw me off! I was genuinely surprised by who one of the villains turned out to be!

The characters themselves, Bella and Carr, weren't the most dynamic and original but still I had an interest in them and what would happen with their lives. I knew right away that Carr, the reformed bad boy/ladies man would be a favorite of mine and he was. Bella, was a tough as nails girl which is what one expects of an FBI agent so she didn't disappoint in that sense but I felt rather detached. She was almost too tough! While she finds redemption by the end of the story I felt that everything wrapped up too quickly. With the lifelong difficulties that she faced with her father which shaped her life, I felt that one or two chapters at the end didn't do them justice. Don't get me wrong I still enjoyed this book and DiAnn Mills is still a go to author of mine this just wasn't my favorite. I'm really looking forward to seeing what direction she takes with her next series.


To learn more about the author visit:
Her WEBSITE

* I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

Mailbox Monday!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Photobucket


This month Knitting and Sundries is hosting Mailbox Monday. This is the chance for you to showcase all the great reads that you have received during the past week. Also it gives you an opportunity to check out what great books others received too! Be sure you stop by the Knitting and Sundries site...you never know, you might get some ideas for your wishlist!

Unfortunately I've had to cut back on reviewing books and sending out books for various reasons so I haven't been getting a lot of books in return. I only got one book to review and one dvd from SwapADVD (sister site to Paperbackswap)that is based on a book so I'm sharing that too. Here they are...

The Shadowed Mind (Dinah Harris Mystery, Book 2) by Julie Cave




The Magic of Ordinary Days based on the book of the same title by Ann Howard Creel


What books did you get this week?

Christian Fiction Review: A Suitor for Jenny (Rocky Creek Romance, Book 2) by Margaret Brownley

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Suitor for Jenny (Rocky Creek Romance, Book 2)
by Margaret Brownley
Copyright 2010
Thomas Nelson
315 pages
ISBN:
Fiction/Christian /Romance

From the publisher:
Jenny Higgins is certain falling in love and finding a husband are matters of the mind. Her heart has other plans.

After their parents died, Jenny felt responsible for seeing that her two younger sisters were well taken-care of. Tipped off by an article naming Rocky Creek the town with the highest number of eligible bachelors, Jenny rolled into this Texas town with a clear objective: find suitable husbands for her two sister and then start fresh somewhere far, far away.

Jenny believe that women who fall in love at first sight often wish they'd taken a second look, so she diligently begins to follow all the rules set forth in her handy manual on how to land a husband.

But while Jenny is interviewing the less-than-promising candidates, her sisters are falling in love the old-fashioned way--with men of their choosing. And the longer Jenny stays, the more her sense of control slips away. The town isn't living up to her expectations, her sisters are rebelling against her practical choices, and soon her own heart starts to betray her, as US Marshall Rhett Armstrong stirs emotions in her that weren't part of her plan.

To relinquish her control to God and calm her restless spirit, she'll need to give her foregone conclusions about marriage, love, and faith.


My Review:
Is there anything more fun than reading about three husband hunting sisters invading an Old West town? In my opinion, no. When the Higgins sisters aka the "Hussy" sisters invade Rocky Creek, Texas, the male citizens must prepare for battle. The chaos that ensues is both fun and heartwarming.

As a reader I find stories set in the West with cowboys, outlaws and strong willed ladies often are the best reads. A Suitor for Jenny is definitely one of those good reads. As my first book by Margaret Brownley (although it's the second in the series) I was not disappointed in the least and her writing has lived up to the rave reviews that I have read. There are sassy sisters, a handsome marshal, an opera singing barber and a curmudgeonly older gentleman who looks out for the town men's best interests...or so he thinks. It's fun and has a ton of romance and even a little bit of drama. Throw in a lot of faith and you get one terrific book that will have you begging for more from Rocky Creek, Texas!

To learn more about the author visit:
Her WEBSITE

*I received my complimentary review copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

Funny, Black 'n Gold Style!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Even if you're not a Pittsburgh Steelers fan chances are you've seen the Head and Shoulders commercial featuring Troy Polamalu with "thicker looking hair" and laughed out loud. Well today I found the newest commercial and I gotta say it's pretty good! I'm just hoping that nobody decides to look for the "Polamolecules" by putting shampoo in their eye...ouch!





It's a Celebration!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birthday Button



To help Casey @ Writing for Christ celebrate her one year Blog Birthday I along with five other blogger friends were interviewed! Please be sure to stop by and visit and wish Casey a happy blog birthday and enter to win the book giveaways! She is celebrating all week so be sure to visit past posts (Nov. 14-16) and her posts to come all the way through November 21st!

Christian Fiction Review + Author Interview: Nightingale by Susan May Warren

Nightingale
by Susan May Warren
Copyright 2010
Summerside Press
320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60936-025-2
Fiction/General/Romance

About the book:
Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancĂ©—she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion.

Still, she grieves him when he’s lost in battle, the letters sent to her by the medic at his side giving her a strange comfort, so much that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter Hess, an Iowa farmboy. Or is he? Peter Hess is not who he seems. Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life. A bittersweet love song of the home front war between duty and the heart...a battle where only one will survive.


My Review:
The Brothers in Arms collection had me right from the start with Sons of Thunder and this book, although very different has captured me as well. Where the faith message was not as overt in Sons of Thunder, Nightingale does not shy away. As for action there isn't quite as much but it does not make this book boring in any way. The short of it is I very much enjoyed this novel from Susan May Warren and Summerside Press. It takes a real talent for an author to write one style of fiction well but Ms. Warren can do it all. She has a rare gift. To pen a fun story about a thoroughly modern female missionary, write a story about a rancher and then write an epic WWII romance takes skill and this author definitely has it in spades.

In Nightingale we meet a former Red Cross nurse with a past and a soldier with a secret, both risk everything for love. While some may find this a bit "edgy" it definitely deals with issues that are relevant even today. A one night stand in the thick of war leads to unthinkable consequences that not only affect Esther but entire families and complete strangers. The love triangle is so complex I honestly didn't think it was going to be resolved peaceably! At times things seemed to move too quickly between Esther and Peter and was a bit less detailed than Sons of Thunder but Nightingale still deserves at least 4.5 stars for it's Christian message dealing with consequences of sin and ultimate forgiveness and for being straight up good entertainment!

Available now @ Christian Book.com and other retailers!

Read what others are saying about Nightingale HERE!

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Meet Susan May Warren!

When did you first know that you were meant to be a writer?
I have always been the kind of person who loves stories and words. I believe the storyteller inside was birthed first – evidenced by my very active Barbie worlds! (and GI Joe, of course). But I became a bookophile early one – spending every Saturday in the library, devouring books even as I sat in the aisle between racks of paperbacks! Writing became my way to connect with my emotions, and even what God was doing in my life…so I suppose, I never really thought I was meant to be a writer – I just was a writer.


I know this is probably almost like asking you to pick your favorite child but what has been your favorite book to write?
Yes! That’s like asking me who my favorite child is! I love them all! Historical is definitely more difficult to write because of the research involved, but I love historicals because they bring me into a different world and I learn so much. But I’m a contemporary romance girl, too, and probably the most fun for me to write. By far, my “mom” novel (The Great Christmas Bowl) was my favorite to write. I admit that I laughed at my own humor the entire way through the story. My children rolled their eyes.


I LOVED the Noble Legacy series, any more plans for a series with cowboys/ranchers ? ;-)
I love cowboys, so perhaps, someday. Right now I’m returning to Deep Haven and writing a Contemporary Romance entitled, My Foolish Heart. And, also diving into the Gilded Age for a novel entitled Heiress.


Tell us a little bit about Nightingale.
Did you know that, in 1945, Wisconsin and Minnesota hosted German POWs in over 140 POW camps throughout the state? In fact, America held over 200,000 German POWs from 1942-1946. What’s most interesting is that these POWs worked on farms and in canneries throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, (and other states), right next to first generation German immigrants who, ten years earlier, might have been their neighbors. Indeed, some of the German immigrants had family fighting for Germany, and relatives in the very POW camps nearby.

During my research, I read a newspaper account about a woman who was moved because she heard hymn, sung in German (her native language) coming from inside the camp which was housed just across the street from her home. It made me realize that beneath the stamp of enemy just might be a fellow Christian, pressed into serving their country.

I also wanted to write an epistolary novel that explored the power of correspondence. I’d never written such a novel, and the challenge inspired me. I also wanted to write a story about a Daniel…a Christian caught in enemy territory. I think many Christians find themselves in “enemy” territory in their own country, and I fear America isn’t too far away from that. How then shall we live? I’m anxious to hear what readers think of Nightingale.


What 3 words would you use to describe the heroine, Esther?
Survivor, Repentant, Compassionate.


Can you give us a teeny bit of info about Book 3?
Well, since it’s not a series – but a collection, we’ve decided to actually veer away from Book 3 and into a new book collection – an American Dynasty series. It is a four part family saga starting in Gilded Age (1890’s), that journeys through the Roaring 20’s, the Great Depression and finally World War 2. I love stories of family, and seeing God work through generations. It’s similar to my Heirs of Anton series about a Russian family, only much more epic, and while each story stands alone, there is a thread that binds them together. History allows us to understand our present, and it gives us opportunity to see God’s plan. The first one is called Heiress, and comes out in July 2011.
Maybe after that I’ll return to the Brothers in Arms collection!

Thank you for having me today! (and for featuring Nightingale!)

To learn more about the author visit:
Her WEBSITE

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Contest info: The Letters From Home Giveaway!
Enter the Contest
: Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. 5 runner's up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale. There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters.
1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.
2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you'd like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.
Enter here or at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website. Or simply click on the button to the right.

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*I received my free review copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review during the book tour.*

Waiting on Wednesday: To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer


Jill over @
Breaking the Spine hosts a weekly meme that features one book that you can't wait to be released! Be sure to visit Jill's site to see what she and other readers can't wait to get their hands on.


I loved Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride and when I saw the cover for her May 2011 release, To Win Her Heart I knew I HAD to have it! It quite possibly has the potential to be my favorite cover AND book of 2011! With so many great books releasing next year I'm not going to be doing anything but reading!


To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer


From the publisher:
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets....

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Levi's renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she's finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?


Available now for preorder, releases May 2011!

2010 Christmas Christian Fiction Reading Challenge!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Challenge Requirements: (by Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama blog)
1- Challenge will start Monday, November 15 and will end Friday, December 31.

2- You can read anywhere from 1 to 5 books for the challenge or even more!

3- They must be Christmas Christian Fiction related books.

4- The size of the book does not matter, nor does the genre. It is also okay for the book to overlap with other challenges. YA is okay. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, and other formats are all allowed. As long as the book can be purchased it counts.

5- To sign up – leave a link back to your challenge post. There will also be a post for review links as well as one for challenge wrap-ups.

6- And…. there will be presents. At the end of every week that the challenge is running Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama and Christian Historical Fiction will choose one winner from the review links. Meaning the more books you read, review and link up, the more chances you have at winning a “present”.

If you’d like to sign up for the 2010 Holiday Reading Challenge, please link up your challenge post with the list of books you plan to read (this list is not set in stone and can be changed as you please)


Head to Creative Madness Mama on November 15 for links to review posting and wrap-ups.

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***So far the only Christmas book that I own that I haven't read is A Forever Christmas by Missy Tippens. Hopefully I find a few more to read before the challenge is over!***

REMEMBER if you'd like to sign up visit Creative Madness Mama or Christian Historical Fiction, NOT THIS BLOG or you won't be entered to win the giveaway goodies!

Winner!!!

Thank you to everyone for leaving comments on my interview with author Holly Weiss and telling us about your small town lives! I loved reading your responses. I used random.org to chose the winner and that lucky person is...



The winner has been emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.

Don't worry if you didn't win you this time I will be offering more giveaways in the future! :-)

YA Fiction Review: Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl + Special Post by Author!

Prisoners in the Palace
by Michaela MacColl
Copyright 2010
Chronicle Books
368 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8118-7300-0
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza's dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady's maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servant's world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen?

Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this riveting novel is as rich in historical detail as Catherine, Called Birdy, and as sizzling with intrigue as The Luxe.

My Review:
Not only are the cover and dust jacket of this book gorgeous but the words on the pages between create a story that is both beautiful and intriguing. Michaela MacColl has spun a tale that is both informative and romantic. For me the best books are those that combine true history with fictional but completely believable characters, romance and events and Prisoners in the Palace does that. From the somewhat mouse-like character, "Inside Boy" to the death of a former servant, to the character of the princess herself no detail is spared.

I absolutely fell in love with the film The Young Victoria earlier this year which chronicled the early life of Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria and ever since I can't seem to get enough of the complexities as well as the luxuries that is/was life as a royal. The picture of her teen years that is painted in this book is more vivid and descriptive than film. By inserting tidbits from Victoria's actual journals Ms. MacColl has given a glimpse of the transitions that a young girl had to make in order to become a queen whom all the world could take seriously.

Liza, who is also a central character had to learn what it meant to serve Queen and country and her life is not without drama. The manipulation of power is not just a tool of the wealthy but the lower classes as well who were clawing their way to the top of the household staff ladder at Kensington Palace. With the help of Will Fulton, an up-and-coming broadsheet publisher (similar to today's tabloid) Liza and Victoria get into some trouble for their impulsiveness which young people often do. It's fun to imagine that the stuffy old Queen of England actually may have done this and acted like a real teenager who was not so very different from anyone else after all.

I couldn't put this book down. I recommend it for anyone who likes historical fiction with a lot of drama and a little romance thrown in the mix. Although this is geared towards the teenage/young adult reader I definitely recommend it for older folks as well. An awesome debut novel, I can't wait to read what Michaela MacColl pens next!


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Read an Excerpt:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/31940598/Prisoners-in-the-Palace

A Word from Michaela on Victoria and Albert's romance! Click each of the pictures below to read!



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To learn more about Michaela visit:
Her WEBSITE

To order the book visit:
*or*
Chronicle Books (When checking out type in the code PRISONER and you will get 25% your entire order and free shipping!)


*I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

Mailbox Monday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

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This month Knitting and Sundries is hosting Mailbox Monday. This is the chance for you to showcase all the great reads that you have received during the past week. Also it gives you an opportunity to check out what great books others received too! Be sure you stop by the Knitting and Sundries site...you never know, you might get some ideas for your wishlist!

This weekend while I was away visiting Ohio's Amish country I got two books in the mail! One was a new release by debut novelist Jody Hedlund and a paranormal book by Melissa de la Cruz that I'm going to give to my cousin. Check them out!


The Preacher's Bride
by Jody Hedlund
Copyright 2010
Bethany House
384 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0832-4
Historical Fiction



The Van Alen Legacy (Blue Bloods, Book 4)
by Melissa de la Cruz
Copyright 2009
Disney/Hyperion Books
369 pages
ISBN: 9781423102267
Fiction



What books did you get this week?

First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Crestmont by Holly Weiss

Friday, November 12, 2010

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



Crestmont


Star Publish (April 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Holly Weiss for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Holly Weiss is a vocal instructor, retired professional singer and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A polio survivor, she lives in upstate New York with her husband. Crestmont is her first novel.


Visit the author's website.








Product Details:

List Price: $18.95
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Star Publish (April 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935188100
ISBN-13: 978-1935188100

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



En route to Eagles Mere

1925



People buzzed around the Allentown train station the next day, stopping only to check departure times or to collect their children and suitcases. Gracie bought her ticket, hurriedly counting the rest of the money in her purse. Selecting a magazine called Time from the newsstand next to the ticket counter she leafed through it, lingering over an article about President Coolidge.

“Watch it, Missy,” growled a man pushing a huge steamer trunk on a dolly. She jumped out of the way and hastily handed the vendor the money for the magazine and a Milky Way candy bar. Thinking she might feel less overwhelmed outside the station, she checked the board for the departing platform for the Wilkes-Barre train and dodged her way out of the terminal.

On the platform, people were crammed into each available seat, but quickly rose to board when the train to Philadelphia was announced. Gracie sat down alone, set her red suitcase between her legs, and wolfed down the candy bar. She glanced distractedly at the cover of the magazine, realizing she hated the news and politics, but instructed herself to read it on the train to Wilkes-Barre so she could be better informed.

Ducking her head nervously when people filtered in to catch the next train, Gracie spied a book someone had abandoned called Sister Carrie. Quickly, she snatched if off the bench and browsed through it. The main character was a girl who wanted to go to Chicago and be a famous actress. Excited now that she had a friend with a similar goal to keep her company; she put it in her suitcase just as the conductor called “All aboard!” Nervously climbing the steep steps onto the train, she settled into a brown leather seat and opened the Time magazine. She tried to read, but remorse gnawed at her concentration like a woodpecker hammering her skull.

“Ne-e-xt stop, Wilkes Ba-a-are.” Clutching her red suitcase, Gracie stepped off the train with an unsettling combination of anticipation and fear. After consulting a man in a maroon uniform with a name tag on his breast pocket, she found the east entrance of the train station where she was to meet the Crestmont car. The clock on the wall said 10:45. Sitting on a bench in the sun, she nervously paged through her magazine while she waited.

A huge black Buick Touring Car pulled up to the curb with “The Crestmont Inn” painted on the side in yellow letters. A spindly man in his mid twenties climbed out. He was impeccably dressed in gray and black pinstriped trousers and a gray jacket. Gracie guessed the yellow of his tie had been chosen to match the lettering on the car. He was so skinny that she giggled, imagining herself pushing him over with one finger. He had a very prominent Adam’s apple, a broad forehead and a face that narrowed into a pointy chin.

Waving to someone behind her on the tracks, he shouted, “Dorothy, still keeping those students of yours in line?” His wide smile made Gracie relax a bit.

Shyly, she stepped forward. “Hello, my name is Gracie Antes. Is this the shuttle to the Crestmont Inn?”

“You must be the new girl.” He stuck out a bony hand. “I’m PT, driver, bowling alley attendant and gofer for Mr. Woods, Crestmont’s owner. Hop in.”

“Well, I don’t know. I mean, my interview is this afternoon. Will we make it on time?”

“Yup.” Feeling like she had been given an order, Gracie slid into the middle seat of the car.

The generously proportioned middle-aged woman he had called Dorothy ran from the platform to the car, straw hat flopping, struggling with a suitcase and hatbox. She threw her free arm around PT and kissed him loudly on the cheek. “Oh, my word, if it isn’t PT. Isn’t it a long time between summers?” He stashed her suitcase in the trunk along with Gracie’s, and Dorothy slid into the passenger seat in the front.

A sickeningly sweet odor of roses filled the car. Gracie discretely wound her window down a few inches to let in some air.

“I nearly missed my trolley to the station. Dear me, I am just neither here nor there without my car. I need to pick it up next week, PT, so I’ll be shuttling back here with you. Hello, there, dear,” she said, extending a hand back to Gracie. “I’m Dorothy, one of the antique waitresses.”

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am. I’m Gracie Antes.”

“Oh, please don’t ma’am me. My students do it all year and it makes me feel old. I need my Crestmont summers to liven up these forty-five-year-old bones. Call me Dorothy. Whew, it certainly is hot enough. Oh look, there’s Isaiah and Olivia. Yoo-hoo!” She beckoned to them from the car window. “All aboard the Crestmont shuttle.”

A burly man with skin like coal and big apple cheeks protectively ushered a dainty woman with copper skin into the car. The woman’s elegance and quiet nature made Gracie like her immediately.

“Guess that’s it for this run,” PT said, starting the engine.

After they introduced themselves, Isaiah pounded Gracie on the back and said, “One big happy family, right, Olivia?” He drew the palm of his wife’s tiny hand to his lips and kissed it. Sniffing suspiciously, he wrinkled his nose. “Lord Almighty, Dorothy, I hate that roses stink stuff you wear. Don’t you bring that smell into my kitchen, hear?”

“It’s imported Ashes of Roses eau de cologne, Isaiah,” she corrected him. “It was Lawrence’s favorite, bless my dear husband’s soul, and as long as Sears carries it, I will continue to wear it. And as far as your kitchen goes, there are so many aromas floating about no one will notice a little perfume. Besides, Mrs. Swett loves it and says so each summer when she hands me a fine tip.”

“I don’t know how you can be so hotsy-totsy to those old biddies in the dining room. They act like they run the place instead of Mr. Woods. You are crazy to take those tables near the lakeside windows, Dorothy. Why, you have to deal with all three of them at once, plus two husbands. Who’s that one always feeling like she’s sick—Mrs. Pennyswoon?”

“Mrs. Pennington, Isaiah. Be kind, now,” Olivia said softly, with a slight accent Gracie couldn’t identify.

“First of all, Isaiah,” Dorothy instructed, “if you ever stepped out of your kitchen you would see that the west window tables afford a commanding view of the lake and are therefore reserved for our, shall we say, more faithful, well-to-do guests. Secondly, Mrs. Woods has graciously assigned them to me because she feels I have the maturity and skills to mitigate some of their outlandish behavior.”

“Hey, PT,” Isaiah chuckled, “translate, please.”

“Dorothy is good at keeping the Rude Regals in line, so Mrs. Woods gives her the tables where she gets really great tips.”

“Thanks, pal,” said Isaiah.

“Oh, my word, I simply am beside myself when I hear people call them the Rude Regals. They are people with problems, just like you and me. Mrs. Pennington’s ailments are an indication that she needs some attention. Miss Woodford simply feels she is of a higher station than anyone else. If I can show some special attention or give deference to make someone happy, then I will do it. Besides, I find it a challenge to use my people skills on a higher level with the adults at the Crestmont than with my elementary students.”

The more everyone else talked, the more Gracie knew it would take some doing to feel like she fit in. Her stomach grumbled, and she wished she had bought more than a candy bar for lunch. The clouds she watched from her window glided like wavy streamers in the sky. As they motored toward the Crestmont, her eyes got heavy. Realizing that she would need a lot more energy before the day was over; she turned her head toward the window and tried to sleep. “Dear God,” she prayed, “Please make this be all right. If I was wrong to do it, then turn it for good.”

After a long drive, PT slowed the car when they passed through stone pillars on either side of the Crestmont driveway. They ascended a steep hill to an immense three-story brown building with yellow awnings. PT parked the car. Gracie stood nervously by while the others grabbed their luggage and dashed off in a flash, saying, “See you soon!”

“Come on, I’ll show you to Mr. Woods’ office,” PT said, lifting Gracie’s suitcase out of the trunk. Gracie took in the immensity of the porch as they walked up the center steps. Once they were inside the striking lobby area, PT pointed to a huge grandfather clock. “That’s my favorite. Name’s Old Tim,” he explained. “Mrs. Woods’ father had it shipped from England when he built the place.”

Gracie’s heart started to flutter. Oh, honestly, what had she gotten herself into? She tried not to trip over her own feet.

PT knocked on an office door, flicked his eyes toward it and said, “They’re swell people. Good luck.”

“Come in!” called a high-pitched, authoritative male voice.




My Review:
I'm a citizen of the Keystone state so anytime I have the chance to read a novel set in Pennsylvania I jump on it. I was pleasantly surprised by this debut from author Holly Weiss and hope that she has plans to write another historical set in the 1920s. While at times I was a little distracted by some of the errors as far as editing went I enjoyed life in Eagles Mere and the Crestmont Inn.

There were so many central themes to this story including family, faith, and growing up. Throughout the story I could really see how Gracie grew from someone who was rather unsure about her life and love and where it was headed to a more confident young woman. Although there wasn't a lot of romance there definitely wasn't a lack of characters. I don't know if I can count them all! There were a few potential love interests for Gracie but they didn't really play out until the very last. If anything I would say this is a coming of age type story, maybe not the most romantic but with the unique setting and the richness of the Roaring Twenties setting I really liked this story and am looking forward to more from Ms. Weiss!

Interview with Holly Weiss, Author of Crestmont + Giveaway!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I recently had the privilege to interview a new author, Holly Weiss! Since she's just released her first novel, Crestmont I thought it would be fun to introduce her to you. If you have any questions for Holly feel free to email her at hollysing43(at)gmail(dot)com and put my name in the subject line so she knows you have a question about this post. Also I'm offering a giveaway of a signed copy of Crestmont. PLEASE read after the interview for the rules.

Without further ado here's Holly Weiss!


R: How did you get started writing?

H: First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to interview on your blog. I’m honored to be here.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but was not serious about it until 2006. I sang professionally for thirty-five years. My main means of creative expression was through song. But five years ago, I contracted Post-Polio Syndrome, a late-life extension of the polio I had as a child. The increased weakness and fatigue put an end to my singing career. God led me in the direction of writing. One voice led to another, so to speak. Writing is now my means of creative expression, but music will always be an integral part of me.


R: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

H: Here are the three most important things to me. Other authors may have different ideas.

Think about your target audience before you write and then keep them uppermost in your thoughts. I interviewed so many people who knew the “old Crestmont.” Every time I wrote a new section, I thought about them, hoping they would be pleased.

Believe in your characters and your ability to make them come alive.

Write even when you are not sure it is your best work. You can always edit later. The creativity has to gush out unchecked. The most destructive thought we can have about our writing is “will it be good enough?” The healthiest is “I will delight in this God-given ability to create and express my innermost feelings.”


R: Where did you get the inspiration for your characters? I really like the interesting secondary characters of Olivia and Isaiah.

H: Isaiah evolved from a comment made by a former employee of the Crestmont Inn during an interview—that African-American chefs were the only ones hired because they were the best. I wanted Isaiah to be a role model and mentor, a loving husband, and a lot of fun. His wife, Olivia, compliments him because she is more intuitive, quiet and sensitive.

The secondary female character, Margaret Woods was rather easy because I identify with her so. She and I are both type A people who have busy lives and must answer to a lot of people. Writing Margaret’s grief over her father’s death was therapeutic for me because my mother died while the novel was written. I decided to interject my grandfather, Warren Sloan, into the novel, because that would have made her happy. He invented the automatic pinsetter for bowling alleys (although he sold it shortly after) and gave me the perfect way to round out PT’s earlier life with Sloan as his mentor.

Singing has been a huge part of my life for over thirty-five years—as a soloist and as a teacher of singing, so I think it was inevitable that much of that spilled over into Crestmont. Because of my singing experience, the creation of the other characters came easily. When one plays an opera role, the singer must create a whole world for the character she sings. In a recital of fourteen songs, that many different characters must be refined to fit the poetry being sung. I had a great deal of practice, I suppose! My opera background was also instrumental in the decision to include the real-life opera singer, Rosa Ponselle, in the story and to infuse the main character, Gracie, with the desire to sing.


Any specific reason you chose to set the story in the 1920s?

H: What a fascinating era! Women fighting for the right to vote, prohibition, the growth of jazz, fashion, cuisine—I found all of this intriguing. I stayed overnight at the present day Crestmont Inn in 2006. An old staff dormitory built in 1926 has been converted into luxury suites for present day guests. I started to think about what life would have been for staff staying in a hot dorm while working hard over the summer at this inn. The research was fun. My husband bought me a 1927 Sears Catalogue as a gift, which helped me to understand everyday items people used back then. Did you know you could buy a house from the Sears Catalogue? They had several different models and would ship it in pieces with construction details. When I discovered that, I patterned Mrs. Cunningham’s house after a “Maytown Sears house.”


A strong theme of family runs throughout the book. How important is family to you and to Crestmont?

H: I wanted family to be key in the concept of the book, but not in the traditional sense. My father always said, “If you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.” I agree with him completely, but one thing I wanted to show in Crestmont is that family can also be found outside of one’s biological family. Neither Gracie nor PT has family to speak of, but find it at the Crestmont.

I also decided to include my husband‘s poetry – he is the “Paper bag Poet” whose poems prompt a yearning for love in Gracie. He actually wrote one of the poems to me while we were courting. How could I leave that out?


R: Do you plan to revisit the small town setting like that of Eagles Mere? I myself live in a small town so I enjoy stories set in out of the way places.

H: I’d love to if I could find another jewel of a town like Eagles Mere. The real reason Crestmont is set in Eagles Mere is because of the inn itself. May I tell you more about the Crestmont Inn and why it affected me so much?

I wrote the inn as a caretaker and an agent of grace. The inn functions as a refuge for many characters in Crestmont and has been a comfort in my own life. Gracie found family there that she never could imagine could be hers. The present-day innkeepers have been wonderful to me by telling me their stories and giving me pamphlets and newspaper articles about the inn’s past. They are part of my extended family now.

I travelled to Eagles Mere, PA, to the current day Crestmont Inn, several times during the writing of the novel to interview the current owners, former staff and townspeople. As soon as people heard I was writing a book about the Crestmont, they perked up and said things like, “My aunt loved working there.” Or “Oh, that old Crestmont was quite a place.” During one of my book signings, an elderly lady brought me photos and mementoes from when she worked there as a teenager. She was thrilled to share them with someone else who cared about the old Crestmont. Frankly, I felt a responsibility to these people who loved this place so very much. I wanted to be true to their memories.

I’d like to mention one more thing. The Crestmont Inn is a survivor. The “big house” that I wrote about in my novel, had to be torn down in 1981, but the Crestmont still exists in a different form. The laundry house was converted to a gorgeous dining room and reception hall. Luxury suites evolved from a hot, cramped dormitory. What clinched the concept of the book for me was the story about the Mennonites purchasing the wood from the old Crestmont, hacking it off the building and loading it onto their trucks to build barns and so forth. I saw the “big house” living on in different forms. The image brought tears to my eyes when I heard it and when I wrote the scene in the epilogue
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To learn more about Holly visit her website: http://www.hollyweiss.com/

Purchase a copy of Crestmont from Amazon!



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