Saturday, June 30, 2012

Month in Review | June 2012

Believe it or not, it's time for another Month in Review post! (Thanks to Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl for the great idea!) The year is halfway over—how did that happen?! This month was a bit different for me. I had all these goals of what I was going to read, but I ended up in a bit of a slump. At one point, I went NINE DAYS without finishing a single book! Crazy, huh?! I did read some really great books, though, so without further ado, here's my Month in Review!

Books Read [9]

Favorite book this month?
I'm going with my gut on this one: Glamorous Illusions. It was so good . . . too bad I have to wait several months for the next installment!

Reviews Posted [9]
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren (Litfuse Tour)
Montana Rose by Mary Connealy
Love Lifted Me by Sara Evans w/ Rachel Hauck
The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer
Spring Hope by Martha Rogers (FIRST Wild Card Tour)
Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate (Litfuse Tour)
Stars Collide by Janice Thompson
Hello, Hollywood! by Janice Thompson

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson (Revell Tour)

Blogside Chats

Glamorous Illusions Giveaway - Winner: Christine A.
Birthday Giveaway - Winners: Liz R., Kelly B., and Erleen A.
Trauma Plan Giveaway- Winner: Vera G.
(in)courage Tote Giveaway -  Giveaway ends TODAY (6/30)!

* I had a TON of fun with the giveaways this month. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on contentment, telling me where you want to travel, give up the dirt on your most embarrassing fashion mishaps, and for all the sweet birthday wishes! *

Update on Reading Challenges
Here's an update on each of my challenges for this year. If you want to see which books I've read for each challenge, you can do that here.

2012 Goodreads Challenge - 63 / 113 books
100+ Books in a Year - 63 books
2012 Ebook Challenge - 14 / 25 books
New Authors Challenge - 33 / 50 authors *Completed and increased goal in May*
2nds Challenge 2012 - 15 / 20 books *Completed and increased goal in May*
Just For Fun Reading Challenge 2012 - 5 / 12 months (7 books)
What Are You Reading? - 24 / 50 states
50 States Challenge - 24 / 50 states
2012 Christian Suspense Reading Challenge - 12 / 15 books
2012 Christian Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - 27 / 24 books *Completed in May*

Other Noteworthy Posts / Happenings
  • I started posting a few Summer Reading picks on Mondays and hope to do so through the end of the summer. Hopefully, it will help you find just the book you're looking for while you have a little extra time to read this summer!
  • I'm going to start posting a travel feature called The Travel Bug when the mood strikes. I'm hoping this will be a regular occurrence. :)
Well, it seems that June was a bit busier than I realized. What have you been up to this month?!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Revell Blog Tour | The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson

The Director's Cut
by Janice Thompson
Backstage Pass series, Book 3
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available June 2012
320 pages

About the Book
The one thing she can't direct is her heart.

Tia Morales is used to calling the shots. She's the director of the popular sitcom Stars Collide, and her life on the set is calculated and orderly. Well, most of the time. Life outside the studio is another matter. If only she could get other people to behave as well as her stars do! When she starts to have feelings for handsome cameraman Jason Harris--with whom she's been butting heads for months--it's enough to send a girl over the edge. Will she ever learn to let go and take life--and love--as it comes?

Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives you an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance.

My Thoughts
After reading the first two novels in Janice Thompson's Backstage Pass series (read my reviews here), I was excited to read the final book, The Director's Cut. In this book, we get to know Tia, the director of Stars Collide better. While being in control and giving orders works well in her job, it doesn't work so well off stage. As Jason and Tia get to know one another better (and stop driving each other crazy!), Tia is challenged to let her guard down and learn to be vulnerable.

As with the previous books in this series, I found The Director's Cut to be warm, romantic, and funny! Tia's family plays a large role in the story and as a result, we get to see into her past and truly understand what makes Tia the way she is. (At times, they drove me crazy too!) I especially liked how her relationship with her family evolved. I think there's a lesson there for all of us in how we interact with our families - and others whom we "have" to have a relationship with.

Jason was a strong character as well. He consistently challenged and encouraged Tia to open up, to trust God, and to be vulnerable with her friends. It was neat to see him really leading the relationship, rather than Tia chasing after him. The progression of their relationship and the growth of Tia's character was more "realistic" than some of the other stories in the series. (Or maybe I just identified more with her "control-freak" ways!) I also really appreciated the short "epilogue" that Janice included in the author's note at the end of the book - a great way to give a little more closure to our time with such great characters.

This entire series was a lot of fun and I'm so glad I read them all! If you're looking for a fun story with great life lessons mixed in, this series is for you! [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Janice has been blogging about her real-life adventures as a director. I've really enjoyed these stories and know you will too! And ... Janice was recently featured in Family Fiction. I enjoyed getting to know more about her in this article!

About the Author
Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at TV land, drawing on her experiences as a screenwriter. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series, Stars Collide, and Hello, Hollywood! She lives in Texas.

Janice Thompson Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Friday Five

It's been quite a while since I've posted a Friday Five, but there were just SO many great posts circulating this week that I wanted to share! Enjoy!

1. If you don't read Jody Hedlund's blog, you should! She writes an incredibly thoughtful blog that has given me a lot of insight into the life of a write, the publishing process, and lots of issues related to writing, publicity, etc. Earlier this week, Jody posted 20 Easy Ways Readers Can Help Promote a Book. Loved her ideas!

2. My friend Jenny re-posted a fantastic post about Responding in Tragedy. Speaking from experience, she shares a few things NOT to say and a few things TO say instead. Great timing in light of the horrific fires in Colorado, but I think you'll find these helpful anytime you're not sure what to say.

3. Tricia Goyer is posting a series called 30 Free and Fun Things to Do This Summer. She's only posted 4 so far, so I'm assuming we have 26 creative ideas to look forward to. Whether you have kids or are looking for something new to do with friends or your spouse, these are some great suggestions!

4. Since I've been blogging and sharing my love for books with all of you, I've enjoyed learning more about the process of writing and publishing ... you know, all that stuff that has to happen to a book before I get it in my hands to read. I enjoyed Olivia Newport's post about how a book gets its title.

5. I also loved this post from Faith in Fiction about cover designs. They discussed the idea of motion in covers, which I've never really thought about. So much to think about!

Those are just a few of the incredible posts I've stumbled across. Have you read anything interesting this week? Grab the button and write your own Friday Five or let me know in the comments!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Backstage Pass series by Janice Thompson

Stars Collide
by Janice Thompson
Backstage Pass series, Book 1
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available January 2011
336 pages

About the Book
Her future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades

Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy don't just play two people who are secretly in love on a television sitcom--they are actually head over heels for each other in real life. When the lines between reality and TV land blur, they hope they can keep their relationship under wraps. But when Kat's grandmother, an eccentric star from Hollywood's golden age, mistakes their on-screen wedding proposal for the real deal, things begin to spiral out of control. Will their secret be front-page news in the tabloids? And can their budding romance survive the onslaught of paparazzi, wedding preparations, and misinformed family members?

From the soundstage to a Beverly Hills mansion to the gleaming Pacific Ocean, Stars Collide takes you on a roller-coaster tour of Hollywood, packing both comedic punch and tender emotion.

My Thoughts
With The Director's Cut on my review schedule for the end of this month, I wanted to read the first two books in the series. The Backstage Pass series takes us behind the scenes of a Hollywood television series, and Stars Collide features the story of Kat and Scott, the stars of the show.

Janice Thompson knows how to write romantic comedy! Stars Collide was funny from beginning to end, and I truly liked the characters. I did find the story to be a bit unbelievable on several points, and it seemed highly unlikely that so many Christians would be working on the same television show in Hollywood. But once I got past some of those initial "disbeliefs," I found myself more and more invested in the story and interested in the outcome. If you like to laugh, you're sure to like Stars Collide! [3 stars]

I reviewed my personal copy of this book. I was not asked to review it. All opinions expressed are my own.

Hello, Hollywood!
by Janice Thompson
Backstage Pass series, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available September 2011
278 pages

About the Book
Athena Pappas is the head writer on one of the most popular sitcoms in television history. But when Vegas comedian Stephen Cosse is brought in to beef up the show's suddenly sagging ratings, she starts to worry about her job. Sparks fly as the competition--and attraction--between the two writers heats up. Athena has never had a problem scripting the romances of her characters. So why is her own love life so hard to script?

With humor and a Hollywood-insider viewpoint, Hello, Hollywood! delivers lots of laughs as the characters discover that not being in control of the plot of their lives might just be the best thing that ever happened to them.

My Thoughts
Diving into Hello, Hollywood!, the second installment of the Backstage Pass series, I found that I liked this book even better than the first. Athena Pappas, the talented screenplay writer, was introduced in the first book and the focus of this book. Simultaneously attracted to and threatened by her new co-writer Stephen, she's not sure what to think. Her big Greek family is convinced they are made for each other, but it will take more to overcome past hurts than a handsome face.

I thought the book started off a tad slow, but once I got into it, it was a great read! In reading "part two," I think I figured out what bugged me in the first book. It seemed like every character, struggle, and situation was a complete extreme. The more I read, though, the more I realized that the extremes were what made the book so funny! Think of your favorite TV sitcom, and you'll see what I mean.

I loved Athena and Stephen. Athena's family added a new dimension to the story as well. Plus, it was nice to catch up with Kat and Scott from Stars Collide. Hello, Hollywood! is another funny, romantic story from Janice Thompson. I think the whole series makes a great summer read—or anytime read. [4 stars]

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library. I was not asked to review it. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author
Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at TV land, drawing on her experiences as a screenwriter. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series, Stars Collide, and Hello, Hollywood! She lives in Texas.

Janice Thompson Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All you have to do is answer three quick questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? Easy enough, right? Click on over if you want to join in the fun!

What are you currently reading? I just started Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis. I'm enjoying it so far!
What did you recently finish reading? Just finished reading The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson. Great vacation read. Review to come later this week!

What do you think you'll read next? Well, I didn't read NEARLY what I had hoped to this month, so there are quite a few to choose from! Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang may be up next. :)

Blogside Chat | Becky Wade

If you've been reading here for the last month or so, you may remember me gushing about a new book by a new Christian fiction author, Becky Wade. Well, guess what?! Becky Wade is here today for a Blogside Chat! I'm so excited to learn a little bit more about her book My Stubborn Heart and the woman behind the story! (You can read my review here.) Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance. 
Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not.
When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

i blog 4 books: For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Becky Wade: I'm a southern California girl who attended Baylor University, met a Texas boy there, married the Texas boy, and lived overseas for four years before settling in - you guessed it - Texas! I'm the mom of three kids (ages 11, 8, 3). I drive around in an SUV, usually toting children or my Cavalier Spaniel (who adores carpool). I spend a lot of my time trying to keep up with my household's childcare, cleaning, grocery, meal, and laundry demands. But while I'm doing all that, my imagination is often immersed in my manuscript and my characters. I'm a huge fan of romantic books and movies, beach vacations, dinners out, and See's Chocolates.

ib4b: Sounds like you're a busy lady! What was the inspiration behind My Stubborn Heart?

BW: I wanted to write a story about healing. That's it! That was the initial inspiration. In order to do it, I knew I needed a wounded main character. In answer, Matt Jarreau (My Stubborn Heart's hero) began to take shape in my mind.

For those of you who haven't read My Stubborn Heart, Matt was once a great NHL hockey player. Then his beloved wife died of cancer. He was so stricken by his loss that he left behind his sport, the money, the fame -- all of it -- and returned to his small hometown to live as a hermit.

The entire novel grew, layer upon layer, from Matt's character.

ib4b: I loved Matt's character ... interesting that the rest of the story stemmed from him. What message or lesson do you hope readers will take away from reading it?

BW: The message that in His time, God can (and will) masterfully work out the destinies of His people.

ib4b: How do you see yourself in the book?

BW: I most see myself most in Kate's wry outlook on life. Her sense of humor, her emotions, and her insecurities are all very much mine.

ib4b: The more I read, the more I appreciate the research that authors do to deliver a realistic story. Tell us about your research process for this book.

BW: Kate (My Stubborn Heart's heroine) loves antiques, so I checked out some books on antiques from the library. I photocopy pertinent sections of research books so that: a) I can highlight all over them and b) I can easily consult them later. I researched things like Kate's career as a social worker, the Pennsylvania setting, and hockey online.

ib4b: It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?

BW: Well, strangely, I was also an author in my "former life". So you could say that my CBA debut is my "second life" as an author. And you could definitely say that My Stubborn Heart is God's "second chance" gift to me.

Before kids, I published historical romances for the general market. Then two things happened simultaneously...
  • My oldest child was born.
  • My publisher decided not to offer me a contract for more books.
God spoke to me through those events. I knew He meant for me to leave the writing behind and concentrate on mothering my baby, so for the next seven years I did exactly that. My husband and I had baby #2 and baby #3. I grew more sure with every child and every passing year that I'd never write again.

But eventually, to my great surprise, God called me back to it. This time I knew unequivocally that He wanted me to write for the Christian market or not at all. So whenever I could find a quiet or solitary moment (not easy for stay-at-home moms of young kids!) I sat down and at my computer and worked on a manuscript. That manuscript became My Stubborn Heart.

ib4b: That's quite a journey to where you are today! I (for one) sure am glad that the Lord called you to write for the Christian market! Where do you like to write?

Becky's Desk at Home
BW: Two places. My first choice is at home at my desk, which is situated right in front of a big window overlooking the front yard. I like home best because I have my dog's company plus ready access to snacks and the bathroom. :)

My second choice is the library. Because quiet can be scarce at my house and because I need quiet to concentrate, I take my computer to the study floor of my local library one afternoon each week. I plant myself there and work for hours. Here's a shot of my favorite spot at the library. When I arrive to find someone in "my" spot, I'm grumpy!

ib4b: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Becky's Favorite Spot at the Library
BW: The Little House collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder! My mom read the series out loud to me when I was too small to read them myself. I still remember sitting next to her on the living room sofa, listening, enthralled, completely carried away. I credit my mom and those books (I cherished the TV show, too) for first breathing to life my lifelong love of reading.

ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?

BW: Love On The Line by Deeanne Gist

ib4b: Ooh ... that was a great book! What's on your nightstand?

BW: A lamp, framed photos, a piece of coral from the Caribbean island of Anguilla, an empty bottled water, 6 books (I'm currently reading Short-Straw Bride), sweet notes and mementos from my kids, and my toddler's baby book. I placed the baby book there in hopes that seeing it daily would inspire me to work on it. Uh huh. Yeah. Like that'll ever happen.

ib4b: What is your dream vacation?

BW: A lavish trip to Paris with my husband. In my imagination we'd stay at the Ritz, sleep late, consume croissants and coffee for breakfast, explore the city, eat crepes, see shows, buy Chanel products. ...Did I mention eating crepes?

ib4b: Sounds like a great vacation to me! What’s a talent you wish you had?

BW: Any shred of musical talent would be welcome. I can't read music, play a single instrument, or sing a single note on key.

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?

BW: "He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30

ib4b: Such a powerful verse, and one I need to spend more time meditating on. Write your memoir in six words or less.

BW: She loved: God, family, writing books.

ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?

BW: My next novel will be called Undeniably Yours and it will be available around this time next year. Like My Stubborn Heart, it's a modern, fun, and emotional Christian romance. Here's a sneak peek:
When Meg Cole's father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft spoken and tenderhearted -- more interested in art than in oil -- she's forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father's empire.
The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father's thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

But the more time Meg spends in Bo's company, the more she realizes that the straightforward cowboy with the steady gaze and the trustworthy heart might be the one thing on the ranch well worth keeping.
ib4b: Wow! That sounds like a great book! If it's anything like My Stubborn Heart, I know I'll enjoy it! Thanks so much for stopping by, Becky!

Becky Wade Online

Oh ... and one more little surprise ... here's a sneak peek at the Prologue of My Stubborn Heart!


There once was a girl who'd been praying for a husband since the fourth grade.  Over the years she'd prayed for his health, his happiness, his protection, and -- okay -- sometimes for his good looks.  She'd prayed that she would meet him when she was meant to.     

Except that she hadn't. 

She'd been avidly expecting and watching for him all this time, from the fourth grade straight up to the age of thirty-one.  And though she tried hard to be positive,  the truth was that she'd grown tired of waiting.  Tired of dating.  Tired of breaking off just two bananas from the bunch at the grocery store.  Tired of the singles group at church.  Tired of living alone. 

Worse, she was beginning to doubt that her nameless, faceless husband existed at all.  Maybe, late at night in her kid bed, her college bed, her adult single woman bed, she'd been praying for someone who wasn't coming.  Ever. 

Perhaps her husband had run in front of a bus as a child.  What did God do in that situation?  Swap in an understudy?  Or maybe she'd missed her husband during the bustle of her college years, never knowing that the shy guy from physics class was the one.  Or perhaps, right from the start, God had never intended for her to marry.

Or maybe, just maybe -- and this was the hope she still clung to despite the evidence to the contrary -- her husband was still on his way.


There once was a mother who'd been praying double hard for her son ever since he'd stopped praying for himself. 

From earliest childhood, he'd been extraordinary - a perfect, miraculous blend of athletic ability and focused determination.  She and her husband had supported and loved him, but never expected of him what he'd made of himself.  How could it even have entered her mind to dream a dream that big?  She'd watched with a mixture of sentimental pride and stunned surprise as he'd climbed up every level of the sport of hockey. 

By the age of eighteen he was playing professionally.  From there, at what she'd thought would be the pinnacle, his star had only continued to rise.  He'd been photographed for grocery store magazines.  He'd moved into a house surrounded by a wall of security.  He'd married a beautiful girl in a grand wedding ceremony filled with the flashes of cameras, wedding planners, and peach colored roses.

Her son had accomplished it all.  The height of success in his career.  National fame.  Wealth.  The best personal happiness with his wife.

And then it had all come apart, crashing and rolling out of reach like a handfull of spilled marbles.  His wife had been diagnosed with cancer and nothing -- not the most money, not the best doctors -- had been able to save her.  When she'd died, he'd walked away from his sport, from the big house with the wall, from the fame.

In the years since, he'd retreated inside himself to a place where none of his family or friends could reach him.  So his mother prayed.  She prayed that God wouldn't forget about him, this son of hers, who'd gained and lost the world in just a third of his lifetime.  She prayed that God would send someone who could find him and save him from his prison of grief.  And she prayed that maybe, somehow, in time, his heart would soften and he'd find love again.


Funny thing about prayers.  God hears them.  But you just never know if, when, or how He's going to answer them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday | Heart of Stone

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

Lovie spit on her palm and smoothed back Megan's brown hair. She cupped her sister's chin in her hands and smiled down into her eyes. "It's going to be grand," she whispered. "You'll see. It's going to be grand."

"You promise?" Megan whispered.

Lovie closed her eyes. A shiver slid down her spine. She wanted to scream, "I don't know! I don't know anything. I'm only a little girl myself!"

Instead she whispered, "I promise."

Heart of Stone
Jill Marie Landis
pg 14

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Reading | Historical Fiction

It seems like everyone is going on vacation or just taking time off and looking for a book recommendation. I thought I'd highlight a few of my recommendations in case you're looking for a book but don't want to wade through the entire blog to find one that strikes your fancy.

I didn't like historical fiction until the last couple of years. Now, I read a TON of it ... and have found some really wonderful books in the process! Here are three of my favorites so far this year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
Published January 2012
Bethany House

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt--and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Observing both brothers as an "invisible" servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?

On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of "serve one another in love."

Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart
Published February 2012
My Review

Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story--and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold readers in its grip until the very last page. Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart once again delivers an enthralling and enduring tale for her loyal and ever-expanding fan base.

A Texan's Promise by Shelley Gray
Published October 2011
Abingdon Press
My Review

Past promises will be tested as new ones are given...

When Clayton Proffitt, foreman of the Circle Z Ranch in Texas, discovers Vanessa Grant is the victim of her stepfather’s advances, Clayton knows he must protect her honor and move her far away from the ranch—and from the man she fears.

As they make their way West, an unexpected, deep bond develops between Vanessa and Clayton—far more powerful than a mere friendship or his sense of duty to her. But Vanessa’s stepfather won’t let her go so easily. As Clayton and Vanessa place their faith in God and their trust in each other, will they find healing and hope for the future together?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tour | Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate

Hope Springs 
by Kim Cash Tate
Christian Fiction / Contemporary
Available June 2012
Thomas Nelson
336 pages

About the Book
Hope Springs is the epitome of small-town life—a place filled with quiet streets where families have been friends for generations, a place where not a lot changes . . . until now.

Janelle Evans hasn’t gone back to Hope Springs for family reunions since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn’t long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened.

Becca Anderson is finally on the trajectory she’s longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she’s been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women’s conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father’s church in Hope Springs. Will small-town living affect her big ministry dreams?

Stephanie London is married to a doctor in St. Louis and living an ideal life. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels compelled to do the same. It’s a decision that will forever change her.

As these women come together, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches that have long been divided along racial lines. God's plan for them in Hope Springs—and for Hope Springs itself—is bigger than they ever imagined.

My Thoughts
The Sanders family gathers in Hope Springs for their annual fun-filled, family-packed Christmas. When Grandma Gerri is diagnosed with cancer, cousins Stephanie, Libby, and Janelle volunteer to stay in town to help care for her. They quickly become friends with Becca, newly arrived in Hope Springs following her father-in-law's sudden death. Family and lifelong friends are reunited for an emotional journey. They will all be changed forever.

After reading Cherished last fall, I knew I had to read more from Kim Cash Tate. I was excited to learn that Hope Springs follows more members of the Sanders clan and I wasn't disappointed! Hope Springs is a warm yet emotional story of three women trying to live the life God wants for them. While some stories like this leave me feeling sad or a little down after reading them, Hope Springs was filled with hope and left me with a satisfied sigh at the end.

The characters were completely real, and Kim shared the good, the bad, and the ordinary about each of them. There were quite a few people and stories going on simultaneously. I often get confused with so many characters, but it didn't bother me in this book. (And the family tree at the beginning helped as well!) I was drawn to each of the characters for one reason or another, which helped me connect with them and want to know how their particular story turned out. Similarly, several plot lines ran throughout the book, but they were told in such a way that it seemed just like . . . well . . . real life. :)

Tate certainly didn't shy away from dealing with tough topics either! Death, adultery, disunity in the Church, single parenting, racism, pride, and sexual immorality are brought up in this book. Every issue was presented realistically and with grace and redemption in mind.

Kim Cash Tate is quickly becoming one of my must-read authors. With realistic characters and engaging plots, I highly recommend Hope Springs to anyone who enjoys stories filled with drama, faith, emotion, and romance. My fingers are crossed that we'll be reading more about the Sanders family in the (near!) future! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Kim Cash Tate is the author of Cherished, Faithful, Heavenly Places, and the memoir More Christian than African American. A former practicing attorney, she is also the founder of Colored in Christ Ministries. She and her husband have two children.

Kim Cash Tate Online
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Find out what others are saying about Hope Springs or buy the book now.

Win a Kindle Fire at @KimCashTate's Hope Springs Author Chat Party {7/10}!

Celebrate the release of Hope Springs with Kim Cash Tate by coming to her Author Chat Party on Facebook.

Find out what readers are saying here.

Grab your copy of Hope Springs and join me for an Author Chat Party on July 10th at 8:00 PM EST (that's 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)!

During the evening Kim will be sharing the story behind her new book, posting book club questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways - books, gift certificates and (I'm so excited about this) - a Kindle Fire!

But, wait there's more – she’ll also be giving you a sneak peak of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on the 10th ... and bring your friends!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blogside Chat | Candace Calvert + Giveaway!

Please join me in welcoming Candace Calvert to i blog 4 books today! If you haven't read her books yet, you're missing out! She writes what I call "medical romantic suspense," which is essentially romantic suspense with a medical flair. And they are incredible books! Candace is here to talk about her latest release Trauma Plan. (You can read my review here.)

i blog 4 books: Candace, welcome! I'm so glad to have you here today! For any readers who might not be familiar with you, please tell us a bit about yourself.

CC: Candace Calvert: I’m a veteran ER nurse, native northern Californian, wife, mom, and proud grandmother to seven. Plus I’m a passionate cook. Folks who follow me on Twitter and Facebook hear apron tales regularly.

ib4b: What was the inspiration behind Trauma Plan?

CC: We recently lived several years in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, and I was eager to share that colorful setting with readers. Featuring a nurse sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, then pitting her against a controversial “maverick” of a physician added plenty of conflict and adventure.

ib4b: I've heard a lot about the Hill Country from my aunt, so it was fun to read a story set there! What message or lesson do you hope readers will take away from reading it?

CC: Trauma Plan explores the universal emotion of fear (at odds with faith) and shows the triumph of hope. Folks often describe me as the author of “medical hope opera,” and I consider it a compliment.

ib4b: How do you see yourself in the book?

CC: There is quite a similarity between heroine Riley Hale’s journey and my own: I too was a trauma victim. An equestrian accident landed me “on the other side of the stethoscope” as a patient in my own ER. I suffered multiple rib and back fractures, a bleeding lung, broken neck and spinal cord injury. Like my heroine, I feared I’d never return to my nursing career, and I doubted God’s plan for my life.

ib4b: The more I read, the more I appreciate the research that authors do to deliver a realistic story. Tell us about your research process for this book.

CC: Because I’m a nurse, I’m fortunate to have many professional connections for my medical scenes. Living near San Antonio was the perfect opportunity to get a great taste of the Trauma Plan setting, including country western music, an armadillo in our swimming pool, and incredible barbecue. I was also able to use my skydiving experience for an exciting and realistic scene, numb teeth, stomach butterflies and all!

ib4b: It seems like most authors have quite an interesting journey to getting published. What did you do in your "former life"?

CC: I was an Emergency Department nurse for three decades, great background for writing medical drama. Like my heroine, I’ve also been trained as a lay chaplain. Interestingly, it was my devastating riding accident that directly led to my first published work: an inspirational account of the event, “By Accident,” appears in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul.

ib4b: Where do you like to write?

CC: I love my office, which I share with my husband. But we’re fortunate to have a wonderful garden and patio, and I often sink onto the couches out there, sharing the space with hummingbirds, butterflies, and the occasional chattering squirrel.

ib4b: Your garden / patio sounds incredible! What were some of your favorite books growing up?

CC: I was (and am) a horse lover, so I fondly remember Black Beauty. But I read widely when I was growing up, from Nancy Drew to Tolkien to Ian Fleming and Robin Cooke to Danielle Steele romances. Very eclectic, still am.

ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?

CC: My critique partner Nancy Herriman’s debut historical, The Irish Healer. It’s wonderful!

ib4b: What was your biggest fashion mishap?

CC: A Wonder Woman costume within camera range.

ib4b: Ha! Love it! The beach or the mountains?

CC: Beach

ib4b: What's your favorite comfort food?

CC: A tie between mashed potatoes and cream of tomato soup

ib4b: Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?

CC: Several, but I’m especially heartened by the Scripture I used as a foundation for my novel Critical Care, Jeremiah 29:11: 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'

ib4b: Write your memoir in six words or less.

CC: Funny, warm, joy-filled, hopeful encourager.

ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?

CC: The second book in my new Grace Medical series, Rescue Team, is now in the edit stage. It’s set in Austin and features nurse Kate Callison from Trauma Plan and a wonderful new hero who is dedicated to search and rescue. This new book should release around the beginning of 2013.

CC: Thank you so very much for the opportunity to connect with your readers, Brooke. It’s an honor to have you all “scrub in” with these hopeful stories.

ib4b: Candace, thank you so much for stopping by! I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better and am looking forward to reading Rescue Team!

Candace Calvert Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Candace has graciously offered a signed copy of Trauma Plan to one of you! This giveaway is open internationally and will end on June 28. Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FIRST Wildcard Tour | Spring Hope by Martha Rogers

Spring Hope 
by Martha Rogers
Seasons of the Heart series, Book 4
Christian Fiction / Historical
Available May 2012
Charisma Media
304 pages

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:

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

About the Book
Can runaway Libby Cantrell finally get a new start?

Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to worse since her mother’s death. After working in a brothel to support her abusive father, she sees no hope for her future until one cold winter night when she finds the courage to escape.

When she collapses in Portersfield, Texas, exhausted, ill, and hungry, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her and takes her to the doctor. Against Cory’s better judgment, Seth and Erin Winston take her in and offer her a job as a nanny for their young son. As a minister, Seth sees it as his duty to take care of her. As a deputy, Cory needs to know the truth about her even as he is attracted to the waif of a young woman.

As Cory’s feelings for her grow and winter becomes spring, will he be able to accept her as she is now and truly forget and forgive her sordid past?

My Thoughts
Spring Hope is the conclusion to the four-book Seasons of the Heart series by Martha Rogers. When Deputy Cory Muldoon finds Elizabeth Bradley in an alley, he knows he must do whatever he can to help her. He begins to suspect that Elizabeth has secrets and commits to finding out the truth. What will the truth do to their budding friendship?

While I enjoyed going back to Portersfield to catch up with the Muldoons and others we've met in previous books, Spring Hope didn't capture me like the others did. I had trouble keeping up with who all the characters were. It was difficult to remember who each person was and their relationship to the others. The book really seemed to be more introspective than others in the series—with Elizabeth and Cory each evaluating their own lives—and therefore moved fairly slow at times. The relationship and romance was not really the main focus of the book, but I still enjoyed reading their stories.

If you've read and enjoyed the previous books in the series, I think you'll enjoy this one as well. (I would suggest reading them in order, though.)  [3 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Charisma Media and FIRST Wildcard Blog Tours in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Martha Rogers’ novel Not on the Menu debuted on May 1, 2007, as a part of Sugar and Grits, a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. Her series Winds Across the Prairie debuted in 2010 with Becoming Lucy, Morning for Dove, Finding Becky, and Caroline’s Choice. Her other credits include stories in anthologies with Wayne Holmes, Karen Holmes, and Debra White Smith; several articles in Christian magazines; devotionals in six books of devotions; and eight Bible studies. Martha served as editor of a monthly newsletter for the writer’s organization Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state president. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, for whom she writes a weekly devotional. Martha and her husband are active members of First Baptist Church.

Martha Rogers Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook


Porterfield, Texas
February 1891

THE COLDEST NIGHT of winter thus far chilled Deputy Sheriff Cory Muldoon to the bone as he made his rounds in the alleyways of Porterfield. Cold wind howled around the corners of the buildings now closed up for the night. Most everyone in Porterfield had gone home to their families and warm homes. This was all the winter he cared to experience, and even this would be only a few days, as the weather in Texas could change in a heartbeat, summer or winter.

Lights and music from the saloon rang out and mocked the dark silence of its neighboring buildings. Friday nights found cowboys and lumberjacks both squandering their hard-earned money on liquor and women. Tonight would be no different despite the cold, near freezing temperatures. Most likely at least one or two of them would end up in the jail for a spell.

Cory turned up the collar of his sheepskin-lined jacket and shoved his hat farther down on his head. When he rounded the corner of the livery, the gentle nickering and snorts of the horses boarded there broke the quietness of the night.

A cat skittered out from behind the general store, and a dog barked in the distance. Ever since the bank robbery last fall, he or the sheriff had roamed the alleys behind the main businesses every night to make sure everything remained locked tight and secure. So far he’d seen only a typical Friday night, with everything as routine as Aunt Mae’s boarding- house meal schedule. Of course, being Friday the thirteenth, anything could happen.

They already had two men put up for the night back at the jail. Sheriff Rutherford took the night duty to keep the jail cells warm so Cory could have Saturday off for his Aunt Mae’s wedding. Ole Cooter probably got drunk and disorderly just so he’d have a warm place to sleep tonight and not have to go out to his shack. Cory held no blame on the man for that. Durand, the saloon owner, caught the other man cheating at cards and had him arrested. Maybe the card shark would move his game on to some other town.

He shivered despite the warm coat and hoped Abigail and Rachel would have dinner waiting for him back at the board- inghouse. What with Aunt Mae’s wedding tomorrow, those two women had taken over mealtimes until his aunt returned from her wedding trip.

What appeared to be a pile of trash sat outside the back door of Grayson’s mercantile. Ordinarily the store owner wouldn’t leave a heap out in the open like that. Cory hesitated in making an investigation, but the snuffling and nickering of a horse grabbed his attention. His hand caressed the handle of his gun. No one and no animal should be here this time of night.

The horse, a palomino, stood off to one side. He wore a saddle, but the reins dangled to the ground. Cory went on alert, his eyes darting about the alley in search of a rider. He reached for the reins and patted the horse’s mane, then ran his hand down its flank. “Whoa, boy, what are you doing out wan- dering around?” No brand on his hindquarters meant he didn’t belong to a ranch around here, and Cory didn’t recognize the horse as belonging to any of the townspeople.

Then the pile by the back door moved, and along with the movement, a moan sounded. With his hand on his gun, Cory approached the mound. An arm flung out from the heap, and another cry. This was no animal. He knelt down to pull back what looked like an old quilt.

When the form of a young woman appeared, Cory jumped as though he’d been shot. Every nerve in his body stood at attention as he reached out to remove more of the cover. A woman lay huddled under the quilt, and her body shook from the cold while a cough wracked through her chest, followed by another cry.

On closer inspection he realized she was younger than he first thought. Her smooth, unlined face and tangled hair were that of a young woman. She couldn’t be more than twenty, the same age as his sister Erin.

He bent over her to pick her up, and she started to scream, but another coughing spell prevented it. When her blue eyes peered up at him, they were so full of fear that they sent dag- gers of alarm straight to his soul. This girl was in trouble.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m the deputy sheriff. I won’t hurt you, but tell me your name and let me take you to the doctor.” He pointed to his badge in hope of reassuring her.

Instead her gaze darted back and forth as she pulled the blanket up under her chin. Her ungloved hands trembled with the cold. He removed his glove and reached out a hand to touch her forehead then yanked it back. She burned with fever. “You’re sick. We need you to get you to Doc Jensen’s right away.” He slid his hands beneath her to scoop her up into his arms. He almost lost his footing as he rose, thinking she’d be a heavier burden than she was. Light as a feather meant she was
probably malnourished too.

She moaned against his chest. “I’m so cold.”

Her voice, weak and hesitant, touched a nerve in him. He had to get her warm. Cory made sure the blanket covered her then grasped the horse’s reins. A low whistle brought his own horse closer. “Follow us, Blaze. We’re going to the infirmary.”

He held the girl tight to his chest to transfer some of his warmth to her. The quicker he could get her to the doctor, the quicker Doc could warm her up and treat that cough.

No time to worry about drunken cowboys or lumberjacks tonight.

The man who called himself a deputy carried her in his arms. With his gentle touch and voice, this man wasn’t like others she had known. Her body burned with heat then turned ice cold with shivers. So much pain racked her body that she didn’t have the strength to resist him anyway.

The man cradled her to his chest. “We’ll be at Doc Jensen’s in just a few minutes. Hang on, little lady.”

Little lady? Little, maybe, but certainly no lady by his stan- dards. Another cough wracked her chest and set her throat afire with pain. Her thin jacket and the quilt had been no match for the cold, especially after she’d crossed the river. Not enough heat in the day to dry her clothes before chilling her to the bone and causing this cough. She’d lost count of the days since she left home and had no idea how far she’d come. She’d avoided towns as much as possible, only entering long enough to pick up food at a mercantile.

Pa had to be on her trail by now, or he’d have others searching for her. Either way, she didn’t plan to get caught and be dragged back to Louisiana. Even now the memory of all that she had endured because of Pa made her stomach retch. She’d die before she let anyone take her back to that.

The man called for someone named Clem to go get the doc, and he’d meet him at the infirmary. Maybe he was a sheriff after all since he was sending for help. She didn’t dare open her eyes, lest he’d see her fears again. Until she could be absolutely certain he meant her no harm, she’d stay still and quiet.

She inhaled the masculine scent of horses, sweat, and leather. He smelled like hard work and not a trace of alcohol. Unusual for a man, even a lawman. In the background raucous music came from a saloon. She’d recognize the tinny sound of saloon piano anywhere. It disappeared in the distance, and they proceeded down the street and up what felt like stairs or steps onto what must be a boardwalk or porch.

He set her on her feet, and she peeped with one eye while he fumbled in his pocket then pulled out a ring of keys. In the next minute he had the door open and strode through it, car- rying her once again.

Antiseptics, alcohol, and carbolic acid greeted her nose. This must be the doctor’s office. Not until he laid her on a hard surface did she open her eyes, half expecting him to be leering over her. Instead he had walked away to light a lamp, which filled the room with flickering shadows dancing on the walls. A glass door cabinet stood against the wall, and another bed sat a few feet away from where she lay.

He returned to stand beside her, and she almost shrank in fear at his size. Well over six feet tall, he’d removed his hat to reveal a mass of dark red hair curling about his forehead. His hand caressed her forehead, but she did not flinch, even though every inch of her wanted to. No need for him to know her fears.

“I see you’re awake. The doc will be here in a minute. He’ll fix you right up.”

Instead of resisting, her body relaxed at the gentle tone of his voice. He certainly didn’t fit her idea of a lawman or a cowboy. No one but her ma had ever treated her so kindly. Most people treated her like trash under their feet and didn’t care whether she was well or sick. Still, he was a man. She had to be careful.

A woman’s voice sounded, along with another man’s. She turned her head to find a beautiful red-haired woman and an older man entering the room.

The one who must be the doctor stepped to her side.

“Well, Cory, what have we here?” His eyes held only concern and kindness behind his wire-rimmed glasses.

“I found her in the alley behind the general store. She must have come in on horseback and fallen there.”

The woman brushed hair from Libby’s face. “Can you tell us your name?”

Her heart thumped. What if Pa came looking for her? But if she lied and stayed here, she’d have to keep lying. Another fit of coughing had the woman holding her upright and rubbing her back. When the spell ended, Libby whispered her name. “Elizabeth Bradley.”

The woman helped her lie back down. “Hello, Elizabeth. I’m Kate Monroe, the doc’s nurse, and this fellow who brought you in is my brother, Cory. He’s deputy sheriff in town.”

Just having her there gave Libby a sense of safety she needed with two men in the room. Her kind eyes, a green color that reminded Libby of the fake emeralds some of the saloon girls wore, had a tender look to them.

The doctor listened to her chest with a funny-looking bell on something hanging from his ears. He frowned then pulled the contraption down around his neck. “I hear a lot of conges- tion in your lungs, young lady. How long have you been out in the cold?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s been several days. I left home in the middle of the night on Tuesday.” The days and nights had run together as she lost all track of time.

The doctor shook his head. “This is Friday night, so you’ve been out at least three days. No wonder your lungs are so con- gested.” He turned to the one called Kate. “Get a bed ready for
her. She’s staying the night and maybe longer.”

Libby tried to sit up but began coughing again. She couldn’t stay here. Pa would find her. Her plan had been to head west then south, where the winter temperatures were not as severe. She’d lost all sense of direction after the first night and had no idea which way she’d come.

Kate’s warm hands pushed her back down gently but firmly. “Lie still, Elizabeth. The doctor is right; you have to stay here.”

Tears welled in Libby’s eyes, and she squeezed them tight to keep the tears from falling. Though hard, this bed was so much better than the ground where she’d slept the past nights. Hospitals and doctors cost money. That’s why Pa wouldn’t go for the doctor until Ma was too sick to recover.

The doctor gave her something that tasted bitter, but she swallowed it and then lay back against the pillow Kate had placed beneath her head. The low murmur of voices ran together in a blur. One of the men said he’d stay, but the other one said something about a wedding. Who was getting married? Maybe they’d forget about her.

The tension ebbed from her body as the medication took over. Someone, most likely the deputy since the doctor was an old man, picked her up and took her into another room, where he laid her on the bed. She almost sighed at the cotton softness of the mattress beneath her. So much better than pine straw and hard-packed dirt.

Kate’s voice followed behind then shooed the man from the room. “I’m going to help her get settled for the night, so she doesn’t need you. Go on back to the boardinghouse. I’m sure you’ll find Abigail has something for you to eat.”

A few minutes later Kate had removed Libby’s still damp and dirty clothes and slipped a warm gown over her head.

When Libby slid her arms into the sleeves, she realized it was her own gown. “How did you get this? It’s mine.”

“Cory brought in the satchel you carried on your horse, and I found the gown in it. I warmed it by the wood stove in the other room.”

That warmth, along with the medication earlier, eased away the pain, and Libby let her eyes drift closed. Perhaps this was the place she should stay after all. She pulled up the covers and turned on her side. She’d think about that tomorrow. Tonight she’d sleep warm and dry for the first time in too many days to count.

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All you have to do is answer three quick questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? Easy enough, right? Click on over if you want to join in the fun!

What are you currently reading? I'm floundering around right now. I've started about three books and am just not really interested in reading ANYTHING right now! What's a girl to do?! Most recently, though I've started Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond. Very intriguing so far.
What did you recently finish reading? Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate. Wow! Review to come later this week!

What do you think you'll read next? The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson is up for review next week. It will probably be next on the list. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teaser Tuesday | The Anniversary Waltz

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

She put her hands on her hips in mock disapproval. "If you're asking me on a date, it's only fair to warn you that I'm already going steady with Nathan."

The Anniversary Waltz
Darrel Nelson
page 69

Birthday Giveaway!

Today is my birthday and I thought I'd celebrate by having a little giveaway . . . or three. :)

Three winners will get to choose one of the following books:

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson
A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady
Beyond Molasses Creek by Nicole Seitz (ARC)
Pirate of My Heart by Jamie Carie (ARC)

(I'll select three winners. The first winner selected will get to choose their prize, then the second winner, then the third. Hopefully everyone can find something they like!)

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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer

The Last Plea Bargain
by Randy Singer
Contemporary Christian Fiction / Legal Thriller / Suspense
Available March 2012
432 pages

About the Book
Plea bargains may grease the rails of justice, but for Jamie Brock (introduced in False Witness, 2011), prosecuting criminals is not about cutting deals. In her three years as assistant DA, she’s never plea-bargained a case and vows she never will. But when a powerful defense attorney is indicted for murder and devises a way to bring the entire justice system to a screeching halt, Jamie finds herself at a crossroads. One by one, prisoners begin rejecting deals. Prosecutors are overwhelmed, and felons start walking free on technicalities. To break the logjam and convict her nemesis, Jamie must violate every principle that has guided her young career. But she has little choice. To convict the devil, sometimes you have to cut a deal with one of his demons.

My Thoughts
Having read several of Randy Singer's legal thrillers, I can honestly say he's become a favorite author, and The Last Plea Bargain may be the best one yet! Jamie Brock is a prosecutor now and is known for refusing to cut deals with criminals. However, when a criminal defense attorney is arrested for murder, he unites the prisoners and shuts down the legal system. Jamie must begin making deals in order to get the rest of the system back on track. And when her father's murderer's attorney claims an innocent man is headed toward the death chamber, everything she begins questioning everything she believes.

Singer delivers a brilliant legal thriller. It's not often that I can't figure out where the story is going, but he kept me guessing until the very end. The characters were well-developed, and the story was intricate. I also enjoy how the author uses his novels to highlight social issues and makes me think about things in a new light. I highly recommend to anyone who loves suspense or legal thrillers! And if you've never read the genre, this would be a great introduction! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House via Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children.

Randy Singer Online

Summer Reading | Romantic Comedy

It seems like everyone is going on vacation or just taking time off and looking for a book recommendation. I thought I'd highlight a few of my recommendations in case you're looking for a book but don't want to wade through the entire blog to find one that strikes your fancy.

Here are a few suggestions for romantic comedies. Love movies like Runaway Bride, The Wedding Planner, The Proposal, Sleepless in Seattle? You'll probably like these!

Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt
Available 5/1/2012
Howard Books
My Review

Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after?

Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.

Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancĂ©’s trust lead to a true happily ever after?

Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead.

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Available 5/1/2012
Bethany House
My Review

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded—hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

Emma Rae Creations series by Sandra D. Bricker
Abingdon Press

Always the Baker, Never the Bride
36-year-old Emma Rae Travis has been baking specialty cakes and melt-in-your-mouth pastries at The Backstreet Bakery in historic Roswell, just outside of Atlanta, for the last six years. But here s the rub about her job as a baker ... Emma is diabetic. When she tastes her creations, it can only be in the most minute portions. Emma is considered an artisan for the stunning creme brulee wedding cake that won her the Passionate Palette Award last year, but she s never even had one full slice of it. When Jackson Drake hears about this local baker who has won a prestigious award for her wedding cake artistry, he tells his assistant to be sure and include her in the pastry tastings scheduled at his new wedding destination hotel the following week. And for Jackson, that particular day has started out badly with two workmen trapped in a broken elevator and a delivery of several dozen 300-thread-count bed linens in the wrong size abandoned in the lobby. But when the arrogant baker he met a week prior in Roswell stumbles into the dining room with a platter of pastries and a bucketful of orders, he knows for certain: It s going to be a really rotten day. Can these two ill-suited players master the high-wire act and make a go of their new business venture? Or will they take each other crashing downward, without a net? And will the surprise wedding at The Tanglewood be theirs?

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride
(My Review)
As a wedding planner, Sherilyn Caine should have the perfect wedding experience. After all, she just landed her dream job at the wedding destination hotel, The Tanglewood. The rest should be a piece of cake for Sherilyn's Type A personality. But while everything else goes smoothly, her own wedding plans start to sink right before her eyes. One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiancĂ©?

Always the Designer, Never the Bride 
It’s taken Audrey Regan years to establish herself as a wedding dress designer, and to date she’s been roped into creating dresses for nine of her girlfriends. Request #10 follows her vow to “Just say no!” and comes from her very best friend. She can hardly turn Carly down!Audrey arrives in Atlanta early to perform all of her maid-of-honor duties along with final fittings for a one-of-a-kind dress. But Carly’s wedding is nothing short of an event, complete with Prince Charming, and the festivities make Audrey question whether there’s a prince of her own anywhere in her future. Enter the groom’s brother and best man. Shaggy-haired, tattooed bad boy J.R. Hunt couldn’t be any more different from Prince Charming if he rode in on a Harley Davidson. Oh, wait. He actually did ride in on a Harley!
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