Christian Fiction Review: Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

Thursday, March 31, 2011

by Liz Curtis Higgs
Copyright 2011
Waterbrook Press
464 pages
ISBN: 9781400070022
Historical Fiction

My Review:
When Elizabeth and Marjory Kerr lose everything they own to the Jacobite cause, they have no choice but to leave the lives they knew for a village in Selkirk, Scotland. Along the way they encounter King George’s dragoons who are searching for anyone who may have been loyal to bonny Prince Charlie to imprison, torture, or worse. Once safely arrived in Selkirk, still unsure of what their new life will bring, they must face yet another potential loss, their faithful manservant, Gibson.

Elizabeth and Marjory learn to rely on the one constant in their life – their God. With the aid of a distant cousin, the ladies learn to scrape by, and with seemingly no hope of attaining the wealth they once had. However, the arrival of a handsome and wealthy bachelor could mean a life that is beyond Elizabeth’s wildest imagination. As faithful servants of God, they just may reap His rewards.

From the beautiful cover to the rich details on the pages in-between, Mine is the Night is a real treasure. Where Here Burns My Candle (the prequel to Mine Is The Night) was a bit depressing, with Elizabeth Kerr and her mother-in-law, Marjory, facing so much loss, Mine is the Night is a story of redemption and true love. Anytime you pick up a Liz Curtis Higgs’ novel you can expect something epic and this is no disappointment.

I don’t know much about Jacobite Scotland, but the details that the author provides for the reader are great in helping understand the background of the story. These details alone really showcase Liz’s dedication to research without overwhelming those who are unfamiliar with the setting. Also if you’re not fluent in Scottish dialogue, the glossary is a huge help.

While faith is central to most of the story I don’t think it’s “preachy” in the least. I loved the scripture notations and how they pertained to the story. Faith is also intricately woven into the dialogue. I also absolutely loved the quotes that prefaced each chapter from the likes of Aristotle, Virgil, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Each and every one fit so nicely with each chapter and alluded to what was to come. Mine is the Night is a must read for Christian fiction fans everywhere. I really don’t know how she is going to top it!

This review was edited by Lara Van Hulzen, Radiant Lit

To learn more about the author visit:

*I received my copy from the publisher through their Blogging for Books program. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.*

This review is also posted at Radiant Lit. I'm a new member there and I would love for you to visit and leave a comment. You can also check out my bio and "meet" the other reviewers as well! It's a great site and if you're a fan of clean reads (not all are necessarily Christian books) please stop by.


Love These!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I absolutely LOVE these pics, I'm not sure who came up with them but they are amazing! Some are sad, some are funny but all make you think.

"When the Fairy Tale Ends, Real Life Begins"

Thanks to my friend Aubrey @ Modern Vintage Blog for posting/linking these!



I know right?! Who wants a baby panda now? If this doesn't make you smile...

cute baby animals - Monorail Panda is Ready to Dock!
see more Daily Squee


Mailbox Monday!

Monday, March 28, 2011


While I didn't get a Kindle this week I did get some awesome books! Thanks again to Barbara Vey @ Beyond Her Book (a Publishers Weekly blog) I got the last of my book prizes that I won from one of my favorite authors, Janet Dean and a new to me author, Camy Tang! I'm so excited to read all these books, they look great don't they?

Books I won:

Book Swag
(all from author Camy Tang)

(from author Janet Dean)

For review:

What did you get to read this week? Be sure to visit I'm Booking It to see what was in other's mailboxes!

Stay tuned to my blog in the next few days I have an exciting announcement that you will want to read!!!!!


Trailer for The Conspirator starring James McAvoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I love historical films, books, tv series' etc. I'm kind of sick of reality tv and action films that seem so popular so when I saw this trailer today on Yahoo I thought, "It's about time!" With films like Jane Eyre and now The Conspirator I'm hoping period/historical films are making a comeback!


Historical Fiction Review: The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Linen Queen
by Patricia Falvey
Center Street, Hachette Book Group
Copyright 2011
320 pages
ISBN: 9781599952000
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-centered, unstable mother, Sheila McGee cannot wait to escape the drudgery of her mill village life in Northern Ireland. Her classic Irish beauty helps her win the 1941 Linen Queen competition, and the prize money that goes with it finally gives her the opportunity she's been dreaming of. But Sheila does not count on the impact of the Belfast blitz which brings World War II to her doorstep. Now even her good looks are useless in the face of travel restrictions, and her earlier resolve is eroded by her ma's fear of being left alone.

When American troops set up base in her village, some see them as occupiers but Sheila sees them as saviors--one of them may be her ticket out. Despite objections from her childhood friend, Gavin O'Rourke, she sets her sights on an attractive Jewish-American army officer named Joel Solomon, but her plans are interrupted by the arrival of a street-wise young evacuee from Belfast.

Frustrated, Sheila fights to hold on to her dream but slowly her priorities change as the people of Northern Ireland put old divisions aside and bond together in a common purpose to fight the Germans. Sheila's affection for Joel grows as she and Gavin are driven farther apart. As the war moves steadily closer to those she has grown to love, Sheila confronts more abandonment and loss, and finds true strength, compassion, and a meaning for life outside of herself.

My Review:
On the edge of World War II, Sheila McGee longs to escape life as a mill girl in the small village in County Armagh, Ireland. With no money of her own and an unstable mother, she has little hope of escape. The annual Linen Queen competition may be her last and only chance to leave and when she unexpectedly wins the competition things begin to look up. That one glimmer of hope is dashed however by news of the Belfast Blitz that brings Allied troops to the area but makes travel nearly impossible. Little does she know that one Jewish soldier and one refugee from Belfast will change her life forever.

As a reader I've become a fan of coming of age stories like this one. I like to see characters who grow and mature from seemingly childish, selfish people into thinking, caring individuals. Most of the time I can relate to the characters and I like them even at their worst, unfortunately Sheila was not likable. Yes, she did evolve and grow but she was way too whiny at the start and seemed very immature for one who had to deal with so much in her life. I thought Grianne, the evacuee from Belfast was more realistic and was much wiser and more mature and suffered so much more that it made Sheila's gripes seem trivial.

Although I didn't care for Shelia I was still able to enjoy this book because of the amazing supporting characters. Joel and Gavin, let me tell you if they don't make you swoon and want to go out and find a soldier or a seaman of your own...whew! The soldier and the local boy stick by Sheila even when it could mean they both could get hurt or worse. Don't get me wrong they aren't prefect and they do let Sheila know that she isn't either but somehow as a reader I just knew that they were going to be forces for good in her life and they were. Characters like them and Mrs. Hollywood, who came in towards the end of the book, added so much life and color (pink to be specific) to the story that made it so enjoyable.

All in all I enjoyed The Linen Queen. I wish Sheila would have been more agreeable but not everyone can like every character, I guess. I really respect Patricia Falvey and her story-telling abilities. She definitely knows Ireland and I felt as if I were there. Anyone who can write a story like that is on my must read list and I will certainly be looking for more from her in the future.

*Content Note: Book contains strong language throughout and one brief but not detailed love scene.*

To learn more about the author visit:

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


Mailbox Monday!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Hi All! It's been a while since I participated in the Mailbox Monday meme and I figured since I brought in a pretty good haul this weekend I thought I'd share it with you! Thanks to Barbara Vey @ Beyond Her Book and all the authors who offered giveaways to celebrate her 4th anniversary I won A LOT of great stuff and it started to come in late last week. I know some of things I posted aren't technically books but they are from bookish folks so I thought I'd share. Here's what I got from those giveaways, publishers and swapping...

To review:

Kindle from author of The Heir, Grace Burrowes
Handmade Glass Pendant from author Dianna Love
Cover flat of Feast from author Merrie Destefano

So as you can tell I'm going to be one busy gal in the next few weeks! I hope your week was as good as mine and that you got a bunch of great books to read too. :-)

This week's MM was hosted by Laura @ I'm Booking It, be sure to stop by her site HERE and check out what the post office brought others!

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Clash of the Titles: Special Article by Jennifer Slattery

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clash of The Titles

Increasing the Odds as You Climb Towards Your Writing Destination
by Jennifer Slattery

Writing is definitely not for the thin-skinned, nor for those seeking instant gratification. It is one of the few jobs where the applicant can spend years, decades even, doing all the right things with nothing to show for it. So much of the writing industry is beyond the writer's control, at times it may appear to be an endless upward climb with a perpetually elusive destination. And although it is true there will be much that forever remains beyond our control, there are concrete steps a writer can take to increase their chance of success.

The first thing a writer needs to do is develop a long-term focus. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, quite the opposite. If you want to be successful as an author, expect years of sweat and tears and start by focusing on the foundation.

This is where contests come in. At the American Christian Fiction Writers conference last September, I reported on one of the late night agent panels, and something Kathy Helmers from Creative Trust, Inc, said really resonated. When discussing the importance of developing a platform she said it was easier for an unpublished author to land a contract than it was for a published author with low or diminishing sales. What this means is, before you sell that first novel, make sure you have a wide reader-base to support it.

That's where Clash of the Titles comes in. Each week, we draw readers from over nine different countries, including the Ukraine, Peru, India and Germany. Competing authors point readers to our site and search-engine friendly key-words draw even more. This ensures a great deal of exposure for all participants, which in turn, offers the potential for an increased reader-base.

We also offer authors valuable reader feedback. All contests provide great feedback, but Clash of the Titles is unique in that we provide unbiased, authentic reader feedback. Let's face it, you can do everything right technically and still pen a dud. If your characters don't grab the reader and your plot falls flat, so will your book. And although editors, agents, and traditional contest judges have learned to "read the market" so to speak, they'll never be able to dive in the reader's head. But we can, in a way. By inviting readers to choose their favorite excerpt and leave comments in our survey, we get a glimpse into their psyche. We learn what they like and what they don't.

So why would an unpubb'ed author subject themselves to a contest on Clash--one where their work will be read by thousands and perhaps even dissected line by line? Because we offer great exposure, the potential for an increased reader-base, and honest feedback.

Yep, it's a win-win. (And remember, we're not just for the unpubb'ed. In fact, most of our competitors are published, but every once in awhile, we open our clash to the unpubb'ed, giving our audience a chance to get to know emerging authors before they make it big.)

So, hop on over to our submissions page to find out how you can throw your excerpt into the ring. Remember, every tweet, fb share and comment enters you in our drawing to win a free book and builds up an author who very well may be in need of encouragement.

Bio: Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, columnist and freelance writer living in the midwest with her husband of fifteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. She writes for Christ to the World, the Christian Pulse, Samie Sisters, and Reflections in Hindsight, reviews for Novel Reviews and is the marketing manager for Clash of the Titles. Find out more about her and her writing at

**Please remember to cast your ballot in the month long clash featuring 3 finalists! Check out the great book giveaway going on too!***

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Something to Think About

It's Friday and it's almost 70 degrees so I am a happy camper. Unfortunately not everyone is enjoying such a beautiful day today and many people across the world are coping with sadness and loss in lieu of the earthquakes, tsunamis and floods that have hit areas like Haiti, Australia, and Japan. It's easy to take for granted the comfort and safety we have here in the US but we need to remember that someday it could be us. So the next time you complain about the cold and the snow and the rain just remember Japan and war torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and be thankful for what you have! I know I will be thinking twice!

Please remember to donate or help out with the relief efforts in Japan in anyway you can, the Red Cross is always taking donations. If you can't donate or are unable to help, everyone (including you) can say a prayer!


As a dog lover this video really grabbed my heart and made me think, how many of us as humans could say we would do the same thing as this dog did for his friend, standing by him even when he was hurt and risk being hurt or killed ourselves? Something to think about huh?

My favorite moment was around the 2:00 minute mark when the brown and white dog puts his paw around his friend as if to encourage him and let him know that everything will be okay. I tear up everytime I watch this!

I hope you all have a great weekend and be safe!

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Nonfiction Review: Road Racing, Drivers of the 60's and 70's by Linda Weldon

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Road Racing: Drivers of the 60's and 70's
by Linda Weldon
Copyright 2010
98 pages

From Goodreads:
This book is a compilation of pictures taken at a time when photographers were able to get very close to the action. Using a Nikon camera with various telephoto lenses. Tri-X and Plus-X film was utilized. Each shot had to count, so very little color was used.

Hopefully, these pictures will bring back many exciting memories from this era of Road Racing of the 60′s and 70′s.

My Review:
You may not know it but I am a huge car nut and have been since I could talk. While I didn't grow up with a wrench in my hand I've always had an appreciation for the style and freedom that is offered by the automobile. The 60s and 70s were the peak of the "muscle car" era with some of the greatest cars ever produced being built, driven and raced everyday across American on the road, the track and at the drag strip. With a dad who grew up during the midst of the pony car wars it was natural for me to become interested in the goings on of the automotive and racing world. Of course you know there had to have been one certain car that caught my eye and it has been my favorite ever since, The Ford Mustang and if you're like me you wanna know the who, what, where, when, and why of your favorite car. For Mustang fans Carroll Shelby and Parnelli Jones are household names.

In her book, Road Racing, Drivers of the 60s and 70s, Linda Weldon shares some of her experiences track-side where she, along with her camera, captured some of the greatest venues, the hippest cars, and the most iconic drivers such as Shelby, Jones, Andretti and many more. The photos of each driver are accompanied by a short biography featuring their accomplishments and careers in racing. I really loved the sleek and sophisticated set up of this book and it's uncluttered feel. Sometimes books that are mostly photographs can get a bit cluttered, not so with this one. You can really tell the passion Linda has for cars and photography as it shines through in this book. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this book in PDF form, I can only imagine how cool the "real" book must be! This book is a must have for anyone who loves cars, racing, the 60s and 70s or just great vintage photography.

To learn more about Linda Weldon and how to order her book visit:
There are a bunch of really cool photos from the book on her site too, so check it out!

* I received my complimentary pdf copy in exchange for posting my honest review.*


Christian Fiction Review: Raider's Heart (Backwoods Brides, Book 1) by Marcia Gruver

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Raider's Heart (Backwoods Brides, Book 1)
by Marcia Gruver
Copyright 2011
Barbour Books
320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60260-948-8

From the publisher:
Steal away to the Old South with Marcia Gruver’s Backwoods Brides series. Two brothers—one violent and one gentle—belong to a family of bandits. While Duncan McRae can hardly stomach their raids, his brother Hooper revels in the violence perpetrated by the band of thieves. When they meet mild-mannered Dawsey Wilkes, the competition steps up a notch as the brothers vie for her hand. Which marauder will steal Dawsey’s heart? Meanwhile, Dawsey holds the key to Dilsey McRae’s past. What will Dilsey do when she discovers the truth?

My Review:
If you're like me there are probably a few author's who you turn to if you want a guaranteed romantic read, a few you go to for that suspense laden drama and a few you turn to just for an escape. Marcia Gruver is one of the author's whose books I turn to when I want to read a book that has an out of the ordinary setting. Don't get me wrong her stories have romance, some suspense and they are definitely great escapes from everyday life but the thing that grabs me the most about Ms. Gruver is her knack for picking an incredible setting for each of her stories. Yes she has set her books in late 19th century which has been done before but I've never encountered bandits, gamblers and oil all in one little town before!

This latest series is set in the South, not in the cotton fields, on a plantation or a bustling city like Charleston but rather the backwoods and swamps of North Carolina! When you read a lot (and I mean a lot) of historical fiction like me, sure the characters are usually always interesting but the the settings are just kind of...well...blah. I never thought that a place called Scuffletown and the folks who reside there could have captured me so fully. Life on the swamps may be simple but it is far from easy!

The McRae family and the entire Scuffletown gang are about as closely knit as any group of folks you'll ever meet in a story. I loved the Robin Hood like feel that this story had. It was so cool to see the old legend kind of brought to life in this book but with a new, unique twist! Although that wasn't the whole of the story, it was what I liked the most about Raider's Heart.

To me this wasn't really about romance, although there was a bit of a love triangle, it was more about family and forgiveness. I loved to see Dawsey Wilkes evolve from a somewhat spoiled"city" girl to accepting the McRae family. I also enjoyed seeing Ellie aka Dilsey, stubborn as she was, soften up a bit. To date, Raider's Heart is definitely my favorite book by Marcia. I can't wait to see what happens next in the swamps of the Carolina's in Bandit's Hope due out this Fall!

To learn more about the author visit:

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


Make Your Own Shamrock Shakes!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Check out this great recipe I found on the local newspaper's website! I am a HUGE fan of the Shamrock (mint) shake but since my local McDonald's milkshake machine is NEVER in working order I've been thinking about how I could make my own. I was super excited when I learned that the Post Gazette was going to feature this recipe. Check it out and let me know what you think! I hope to make it soon! Sorry in advance that the video is so large but I can't figure out how to resize this one!


Clash of the Titles: Shake it Up Baby, Now!

Blog Alliance.jpg

Shake It Up Baby, Now

Clash of the Titles loves to shake things up. Recently, things have gotten fun with the opening of the sparring arena to self-published authors (leading to a quick victory for Elaine Cooper's The Road To Deer Run), and currently with a month-long Clash among six pre-published writers. (Stop by next week for Round 3). But did you know that YOU now have control? Yep, that's right.

Readers, want some say in what kind of excerpts COTT features? Well, now you can send in nominations and share your favorite reads. For doing so, you receive three free entries into any of our book drawings. Awesome, right? We thought so!

And authors, we've given you more control as well. Now you can send us any 500-word excerpt from your book in the new Author's Choice category. Visit our Upcoming Clashes page for details.

Also, please remember that following our blog, facebook, or twitter account lands you an extra entry in any drawing you enter. Just be sure to mention it in your comment.

And now we bring you the newest face on the team, Gail Pallotta...

Clash of the Titles Welcomes New Staff Member

It's my extreme pleasure to introduce to you today the newest COTT staff member, author Gail Pallotta. Gail also happens to be a previous Clash of the Titles Champion! Last November, she took the cyber-laurel for best description of nature. Go, Gail!!

Let's take a moment to get to know this special lady...

Gail’s husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with someone’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. Working as an editor and freelance writer, Gail published a couple hundred articles.

to continue reading the interview, click here.

article by Michelle Massaro (


Great News Whovians!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Squee! I'm so excited only a little over a month til the premiere of series 6 of Doctor Who! BBC America will be airing it on April 23 at 9pm (EST). Although I don't get BBC hopefully I'll be able to download it on iTunes or on Amazon's Video on Demand! In the meantime I'm re-watching series 5 and loving it. I don't know about you but I need another dose of the Doctor ASAP!

Check out the cool promo poster for series 6! LOVE!


For more details check out Entertainment Weekly!


Waiting on Wednesday: Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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 love author Mary Connealy's cowboy comedies so when I heard that she was branching out a bit, writing a darker suspense novel under a penname I was super excited! Read the description below and you'll be waiting on this one too I'll bet!

From CBD:
Join the breakneck chase through Chicago for a murderous maniac. As the victims begin piling up, detective Keren Collins’s spiritual discernment is on high alert. Will she capture the killer before another body floats to the surface? Ex-cop, now mission pastor Paul Morris has seen his share of tragedy, but nothing prepared him to be a murderer’s messenger boy. Will his old ruthless cop personality take over, leading him to the brink of self-destruction? Can Keren and Paul catch the killer before the corpse count reaches a perfect ten?

Releases October 2011! Preorder today!


First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour County, Book 1) by Laura V. Hilton

Monday, March 7, 2011

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:

Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour V1) (Amish of Seymour County)

Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Laura V. Hilton is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author, and book reviewer. Although for her formal education she studied business, books have long been Laura’s passion. Her first two novels, Shadows of the Past and Hot Chocolate, were published by Treble Heart Books; she’s also a contributor to Zondervan’s It’s The Year Life Verse Devotional. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Laura reviews primarily Amish fiction for the ACFW ezine Afictionado. She also serves as a staff reviewer for the Christian Suspense Zone. At last count she’d published over 1,000 reviews appearing on her book review site,, as well as Dancing Word, Faith Webbin, A Romance Review, and Christian Review of Books among others. A stay-at-home mom who home schools her children, Laura lives in Arkansas with her family.

Visit the author's website.


Since returning from her rumspringa pregnant and unwed, Becky Troyer has been a pariah in her Seymour, Missouri Amish community, shunned by her peers. Her world changes when Jacob Miller arrives from Pennsylvania to work at her family’s farm for the summer. What Jacob doesn’t know is that his father, who disapproves of Jacob’s sweetheart, Susie, sent him away with the hopes he’ll find a more suitable mate.

Product Details:

List Price: $6.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742557
ISBN-13: 978-1603742559


Jacob Miller hunkered on the middle seat of a white van. He wasn’t a prisoner, but he might as well have been.

Could he say, “I quit”?

Could he say, “Stop this ride, I want to get off”?

No, to both questions.

Despair roiled in his gut as the van passed a McDonald’s on the right, then pulled off the southbound lane of Highway 60, turned left at the light, and continued down a road covered with snow. The ice-laden trees, while beautiful to behold, did nothing to settle his inner turmoil. The heat from the van’s air vents only dispelled the outer chill. This was possibly the worst thing that ever happened to him—having to leave his girl as he was tossed out like an old copy of the Amish newspaper, The Budget.

Jacob leaned forward, his black felt hat clutched in his hands, as the vehicle lurched over a bump. Or something. Seymour, Missouri, wasn’t too far from Springfield, which the driver called the “Queen City of the Ozarks.” But the trip dragged by as if in slow motion. Maybe because he’d been dreading it for so long.

Fearing it.

Having nightmares about it.

Mama’s fourth cousin twice removed lived somewhere in this rural Missouri town. What would his family be like? Would Cousin Daniel be a harsh disciplinarian like Daed? Or would he be more easygoing, like Mamm? Jacob blinked hard, remembering Mamm’s tears when he’d boarded the transport driver’s van for a ride to the bus station.

He wished he could use his contraband cell phone to call home to talk to Mamm. But his parents didn’t own a phone; there was only the community one in a shack a couple of miles down the road.

Jacob grimaced as the van rumbled past several small businesses and then turned down a narrow dirt road.

“Not too far now. A bit anxious, are you?” The driver glanced at Jacob in the rearview mirror, then reached forward and adjusted the heat. “Getting a mite warm in here.”

Jacob made a noncommittal grunt and looked away. The driver had made a couple of attempts at conversation since picking him up at the bus station, but with nausea clogging his throat, he didn’t want to risk opening his mouth to speak.

How could Daed do this to him? It seemed wrong in so many ways.

Instead of building his farm in Pennsylvania, Jacob would be working the rocky red clay of southern Missouri. If he were home, he could be drinking a mugful of hot apple cider made from the family’s orchard and then going out to prune the fruit trees, working alongside his brothers—something he’d always imagined himself doing for life.

Jacob pushed that thought away. Better not to think of what might have been.

Instead of marrying sweet Susie during wedding season, he’d be spending a year helping out a distant cousin he’d never met. Susie’s warm, brown eyes flashed in his mind. Her quick laugh. Her willingness to try new things, never content to settle for the old. Ach, he already missed her. He reached for his cell phone to send her a text message but couldn’t get a signal. No coverage.

Well, if Daed thought this would destroy their love for each other, he had another thing coming. Jacob couldn’t imagine living without Susie for a week, let alone a year.

Bare trees dotted the edges of someone’s property, and in the distance, the rolling hills made a rather hazy background picture. Pretty, though not at all like home.

Would he be able to get past the homesickness—and this streak of bitterness toward Daed—to embrace this as an adventure? A chance to learn about another part of the country, to expand his boundaries, and, more important, to minister to this needy relative and his family?

Too bad his pep talk wasn’t working. He didn’t like his bad attitude, but it seemed impossible to get rid of it.

All too soon, the van arrived in the gravel driveway of a large two-story farmhouse. The trees surrounding the house would provide plenty of shade during the hot summer months, though now they were decorated with dripping icicles. Jacob imagined the wide front porch would be a good place for shelling peas or shucking corn for the womenfolk during the harvest. A porch swing hung at one end, possibly a silent testament to a courtship from days gone by.

A whitewashed barn stood sentry several yards away. With a casual glance around, Jacob noted cows, horses, chickens, goats, and pigs, plus the usual array of dogs and cats.

The driver pulled to a stop in front of the house. Almost immediately, the front door opened, and a woman appeared, her honey-blonde hair pulled back into a bun and tucked under a prayer kapp.

She peered out at the van, then disappeared behind the door before reappearing with a wrap tossed over her slim shoulders.

Jacob opened the sliding door and clambered out of the vehicle as the driver went around to the back to get his luggage.

“Hello, Tony.” The woman stopped on the porch. She spoke to the driver, but her blue eyes were fixed on Jacob.

“Miz Becky.” The driver bumped his hat in what Jacob took as a greeting. “Brought your cousin by.”

Becky nodded. “Jah. That I see. Welkum, Jacob.”

She didn’t smile, and her eyes remained somber. Distant. As cold as the wind that howled around the corner of the house.

Jacob hoped the rest of the family wasn’t as distant. Maybe she wanted him here as much he wanted to be here.

Not so much.

Jacob straightened his shoulders. Like it or not, he was here. He pulled in a deep breath, trying to get the nausea under control. “Hello, Becky.” He hoped that the smile he aimed in her direction would convey excitement about this new venture. Might as well turn on the charm and start making the best of a bad situation.


Becky Troyer didn’t want to look at this Jacob. She didn’t want him here. Not now. Not ever. Besides, she thought the bishop had said that they were sending several boys—not just one—down from Pennsylvania to settle in this area, bringing new blood to the small district. And not the middle of February. In the spring, sometime. Or maybe early summer.

Maybe the rest were coming later. Or maybe not. All Becky knew was that Mamm had gotten letters from her family in Pennsylvania saying that they were sending Jacob out. Now. In February. Made her wonder what this man did to make his family send him away so soon. And did they really want him here, potentially defiling the community?

Ach, her attitude. Becky thought she’d gotten it all worked through, but seeing this stranger brought it all back.

Still, she couldn’t keep her eyes off this man. He was tall, even standing next to Tony, and she’d thought Tony was big. Jacob stood at least half a head higher. And he was very handsome, with sandy blond hair and eyes that were so blue, he might have fallen straight from heaven and soaked up the color from the skies as he passed through on his way to earth. He was clean shaven, too, a sign he wasn’t married. Broad shoulders. A dimple in the left cheek.

Her stomach flipped.

There was a spark of something in his eyes, a glint that reminded Becky of the mischievous boy who used to sit across from her at the one-room schoolhouse when she was young enough to go, right before he reached forward and stabbed Lindy Beuler’s braid to the wood desk with his pocketknife.

Jah, this one was trouble. Too cute for his own good, and dangerous underneath.

Becky straightened, realizing she was being rude, staring like she was. The driver had unloaded the van of luggage, along with a blue bicycle, and now he and Jacob stood there next to the vehicle, both of them staring up at her. Behind her, her younger sisters jockeyed for position, trying to move her out of the doorway so they could see.

Becky forced herself to move and felt the hem of her skirt brushing against her bare ankles. “Ach, sorry. Please, welkum, welkum. Won’t you kum in? Daed is in the barn, and Mamm has gone to a quilting, but she should be home soon.” She gripped the shoulder of whichever sister was pressed up against her and looked down. “Abbie, run to the barn and tell Daed that Jacob has kum.”

Abbie twirled a lock of hair around her finger, stared at Jacob for a second longer, then took off at a run toward the barn.

Jacob reached down and picked up some of his bags with one hand while removing his felt hat with the other. “Nice to meet you, Becky.” His accent was different from those around here. As he climbed the steps, Becky moved further from the door, allowing him access to the house. He’d be sleeping in the dawdi-haus next door, in the spare room upstairs across from Grossmammi and Grossdaedi’s room, but Grossmammi had gone to the quilting bee with Mamm, and Grossdaedi had taken the buggy to the store an hour ago. She didn’t feel comfortable sending him over there for the first time when no one was home.

It was getting hard to breathe with Jacob standing so close to her. She backed up another step and noticed that her fourteen-year-old sister, Katie, held the front door open. “Go on in. I’ll make you some tea. Or coffee. Whichever you’d like.” She looked back at Tony, who had followed Jacob with another bag. “Can you stay for lunch?” she asked him.

“Oh, no, no. Have to get back to the missus. Thanks for the offer. We’ll be seeing you, Miz Becky.” He placed the rest of Jacob’s luggage inside the door.

Following Abbie, Daed approached from the barn, so Tony turned away to speak to him. Becky followed Abbie, Katie, and Jacob inside to the warm kitchen. The scent of bread baking filled the air. Pans of cookies waited to go into the oven as soon as the bread was done. Daed’s sweet tooth always expected a couple cookies when he came in from the fields, and their supply had run low.

Katie had already seated Jacob at the long table and had filled the kettle with water, putting it on the stove to heat. Becky grabbed some potholders, peeked inside the oven, and checked the bread. It was nicely browned, so she opened the door and removed the five pans one at a time.

“Care for a crust, Jacob?” Katie lifted a knife.

“Jah, sounds good.”

Becky glanced around in time to see his nod. But his eyes weren’t on Katie. Instead, they were locked on her.

Her heart pounded. Could he feel the strong attraction that made her almost forget to breathe? She told herself to concentrate on the cookies so that she wouldn’t drop them or burn herself on the hot oven rack. But she couldn’t look away. Instead, she wished she could pull up a chair, plunge into his friendship, and delay the inevitable.

The door banged open. Cold wind swirled in with her father.

“So, Jacob. You have arrived. You had a gut trip, jah?”

“Jah.” Jacob’s jaw lifted, his gaze still holding Becky’s. Then he glanced away. She looked at the open oven door and silently slid the tray of cookies inside the oven. She knew Daed had seen the whole exchange. And she knew what he thought.

She didn’t turn to check. After all, he’d be wrong. No man would want her. Not when he learned the truth.

My Review:
Becky Troyer, through no fault of her own was attacked by her "Englisher" boyfriend and ends up with child. In the midst of her close knit Amish community she becomes something of an outcast, not fitting in among her single girlfriends or the young married women. She has all but given up on finding the love and acceptance of a good Amish man.

Jacob Miller, "new blood" from Pennsylvania was led to believe he was sent to Seymour, Missouri, to help out a distant cousin for the summer. Little does he realize that his daed had other plans and his heart will too. Can her learn to like Missouri? Will Becky learn to smile again? Can they both leave their pasts behind them and forgive? All of these questions and more are answered in Patchwork Dreams. All fans of Amish fiction will certainly want to read this story!

While not perfect or the most original of stories, I enjoyed it. I liked Becky, she was realistic and relatable. She was pressured into sex by an aggressive boyfriend, she had doubts about her faith and she had doubts about herself and her self-worth. I think all young girls can relate to at least one of these issues. I like to read stories that address those issues especially in fiction where most of the time characters can seem so perfect with lives as sweet as candy.

That said I thought that Jacob was a little too perfect. I didn't really like him, he never seemed to get into trouble and everything just seemed to fall in his lap. There were times towards the end of the book when trouble showed up in the form of an old friend from the past and in Becky's ex-boyfriend. I don't know why, I just didn't seem to feel as connected to him as I did Becky which is unusual for me, most of the time I like the hero and want to shake the heroine! All in all this was a good start to a new series of which I'm really looking forward to the next release. I want to read the goings on of the community of Seymour!

Clash of the Titles: Unpublished is a State of Mind by Lisa Lickel

Friday, March 4, 2011

Unpublished is a State of Mind by Lisa Lickel

Here in Clash of the Titles World we believe in you. We are authors in various stages of publication ourselves. We believe in the process of creating a gripping read, getting it published and introducing it to readers.

Although I'm multi-published, I still get turned down quite a bit. I get turned down because I keep submitting, and yes it's disappointing when I get that note that says, "Hmm, just didn't grab me," but that's what I have to do order to chance an acceptance.

I learn.

Why didn't the story grab the editor? What is he or she looking for? Usually the answer has something to do with "Make Me Care."

What makes us care? And the most important answer is: Creating that Intense Moment of no return – the one that makes you turn the page.

I tend to start out slow and build up to a crescendo of incidents. It might work for opening credits of a movie, but not with readers who aren't on a date in a dark theater. It's easier to put a book down than get up and leave a movie. So, multiple comments from publishers, agents, and editors taught me to make an opening commitment to the reader that promises an unforgetable experience.

What do you care about? Intense emotions tend to fall into positive and negative; neutral only rarely.


The reactions these emotions evoke are symptoms. For example, why do you cry? What makes you angry? When are you sad? How do you show love?

Pain can be emotional or physical – my reaction to it can be anger, tears, inward focus, lashing out, among others. Oddly enough, desire, lust and greed are results of pain and fear.

Fear often also elicits an anger response. My anger-elevated heart rate, intense desire to cause pain, unhappiness that a situation did not go as planned, helplessness and tears are common reactions.

Joy can also be the wellspring of a tearful reaction, as well as feelings of relief, release from fear and pain

Love, pure love, is commonly as empathetic emotion, bonding one to another in achieving common good.

Desires are outside of self-gratification. Occasionally love is characterized as a result; people act out the desire to achieve common benefit, but actions are not mindless or instinctive in humans. They are the result of internal reasoning based in part on experience.

Readers, what makes you turn the page?
How do you empathize with the characters?
Every reader empathizes with different emotions. Some people prefer thrilling experiences of danger; some enjoy traveling the winding path of adversity toward inevitable marriage; some prefer the mind games of clue masters; others prefer the intricacies of world building.

In our examples this week, the first CLASH is between a first-person account depicting fear and pain while being held against his or her will that makes the reader wonder how the person came to be in the predicament; the other except is from a woman also in fear and pain, but outside in a forest with a stranger who can do even stranger things. An element of trust is added in this excerpt. Stay tuned: Our second CLASH features no-win situations. The stakes are high. Guilt is a powerful tool of an author.

I hope you enjoy these samples, and be sure to leave these authors an encouraging message, as well as join in our discussion today about what keeps you, the reader, engaged in a book. Thank you for coming by.

Giveaway Notice!

Hey everybody, as you know I'm a HUGE fan of Christian historical fiction and I absolutely love the community site that Margaret of Creative Madness Mama has created called Christian Historical Fiction. Not only do we talk books and new releases but there is always something bookish going on. Right now there is an interview featuring author Jill Marie Landis along with a giveaway of her latest release, Heart of Lies, second in the Irish Angel series. Please tell your friends about this giveaway because the more who enter means more giveaways in the future!!!

CLICK HERE to read the interview with Jill and to enter to win!

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My Sickbed Must Haves

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ahhh yes at the first sign of warmer weather it never fails, I always seem to end up sick. Normally I only get sick about once a year with something that requires medicine or a doctor's visit and usually it's during late winter/early spring. I'm sure you can guess where this is headed but yeah right now I'm sick with a sore throat, runny nose, headache and an overall icky feeling. When I'm sick there are certain things that make me feel better and here they are...

A Good Book...

For the hours when I'm awake without the headache I like to pick up a good book because what else am I going to do while I'm in bed not able to sleep?


Vitamin C...

Yep, gotta bolster my immune system



Yummm who doesn't love a hearty bowl of mummy's homemade chicken noodle soup when they're sick? If you don't have mummy around to make soup Ramen noodle's work too!


Tissues with lotion...

Upright Lotion Tissues Box - Water Lily Dune

(WARNING: This is graphic) Because who wants to see snot dripping from your nose, especially the green stuff? My tissues must have lotion because the Bozo look is not hot.

So these are just a few of the things that are in demand at my house right now. 3 out of 5 in my family are sick so it's not pretty around here!

What are some things that you like to have with you when you're sick?

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YA Fiction Review: Beautiful Dead, Summer by Eden Maguire

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Beautiful Dead: Summer
by Eden Maguire
Copyright 2011
Sourcebooks Fire
272 pages
ISBN: 9781402239465
YA Fiction/Paranormal

From the publisher:
Not alive. Not dead. Somewhere in between lie the Beautiful Dead.
It’s been months since Darina has seen her undead boyfriend and her heart is breaking all over again. The wait is slowly driving her crazy.

All she wants to do is be with Phoenix, to feel his arms wrapped around her. But to earn the pleasure of that embrace, Darina must track down the crazed killer that shot Summer Madison.

Was it a random shooting? Or was the gifted singer the victim of an obsessive fan? As time runs out, Darina will risk her own life to discover the truth.

But if she solves Summer’s murder, Darina knows it only brings her one step closer to losing Phoenix forever…

My Review:
We've all heard of the vampire craze, the angel craze and the latest craze seems to be...zombies! I'll admit to being a fan of quirky stuff like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I've even shot a Nazi Zombie while playing Call of Duty Black Ops with my little brother so naturally the trend towards zombies in YA fiction is something that I find interesting. The last book I read, Beautiful Dead: Summer, book 3 in the Beautiful Dead series combines zombies and angels which makes for one dark and mysterious paranormal romance.

I'll be the first to admit that I was very confused when I first started this novel but that's simply because I haven't read the other two books in this series. I have the feeling that if I had read them Summer would have gone so much better for me. That said I love the fact that this book is different from any that I've read. While it features "angsty" teens and young love it is more of a Nancy Drew than a Twilight type story. I thought the whole teen detective angle was very cool! While it wasn't what the story was centered, around I was very anxious to discover whodunit to see if Summer would finally be set free from being stuck between the worlds.

Overall this Beautiful Dead book was very interesting. I feel like the author should have included more about Davina and the others from the previous story so those who hadn't read the stories could still understand most of what was going on. I have read a great many series's starting with book 2 or 3 with no problem but then again I've read some where I was so confused I felt as if the book may have well been written in French. This was somewhere in the middle. Other than that, I think that teen readers and the YA readers who are a bit older (like me) will enjoy the Beautiful Dead: Summer. I hope to get the other books in the series so I can "catch up" soon!

To learn more about the author visit:

Content Note: Some strong language

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

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