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2 September 2014

Review: A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

Fun Mail-Order Bride Story

Eliza Cantrell is a mail-order bride on her way to Salt Flatts, Kansas, in 1881, when her train is stopped by robbers, who steal all her savings and leave her needing stiches on her face. Her fiance, Axel Langston, isn’t in town, but his business partner, Will Stanton, is at the store. Will’s dream is to become a doctor, but he’s stuck in Salt Flatts as co-owner of the store until he can save enough money for medical school.

Will doctors Eliza's face, and finds himself inconveniently attracted to his partner’s fiance, even though she does keep wanting to make changes in his store. Eliza fights her attraction to Will, while wondering when Axel will get home … Southey can work together in the store and make the reader changes that will turn the store around financially.

A Bride in Store is the third of Melissa Jagear’s Salt Flatts mail-order bride stories, and while there are some characters from the earlier books, this novel stands alone. While the characters were excellent, and it was a good combination of Western romance and Christian principles, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I enjoyed the previous novel and novella. Parts of the story felt contrived, and I wasn’t convinced by the decision Eliza made towards the end of the story. I could see it was the big dramatic gesture, and I don’t want to say too much, for fear of giving spoilers, but I thought there could have been a better solution. However, it’s still an enjoyable read. Recommended for fans of Mary Conneally, Tracie Petersen and Carol Cox.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Melissa Jagears at her website.

1 September 2014

Review: Test of Magnitude by Andy Kasch

Pure Science Fiction

Alien abduction, addiction, a far-off galaxy, space battles, and a mysterious race … what more could any sci-fi reader want?

Mip7 is a guide on Cardinal-4, the spectacular new space station in the Torian system, one of many systems under Erob law. A briefing with the Azaarian ambassador leads to unexpected summons to meet with the governor of the station, where he receives an unusual assignment from a prophet: to revive the Earthlings who have been kept in suspended animation, as they will be needed in the impending interstellar war.

Brandon is one of two Earthlings who are revived. He’s the newest, taken twenty years earlier, and the other is the oldest, and turns out to be a hippie. It’s a complex plot, incorporating several races and dozens of characters (perhaps too many?), but it all draws together well as Mip7 and Brandon have to work together to find the source of the infection and bring the worlds together to defeat the enemy.

It’s always a little hard reading the first of a science fiction series, as the author has the difficult task of introducing the reader to the world he has created without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary detail. Test of Magnitudemanages this reasonably well, and I’m sure the second book in the series (Flash Move) will be better as the reader will have the basic understanding of the Erob worlds.

While Test of Magnitude isn’t specifically Christian fiction (which is what I normally review), there is an underlying spiritual theme, and there is no sex or gratuitous violence. While it’s perhaps not to my personal reading taste, Test of Magnitude is an enjoyable read for science fiction and space opera fans.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Andy Kasch at his website. You can also see the book trailer on YouTube:

29 August 2014

Friday Fifteen: Jenny Blake

Friday Fifteen: Fifteen books which have influenced your life or your writing. Today, a warm welcome to well-known Aussie book blogger Jenny Blake, who brings back some familiar names from my childhood!

Fifteen authors who have influenced me

Enid Blyton

One of my first Enid Blyton books was Mr Gilliano’s birthday and I loved the book and series, but my favourite was the Magic Faraway series. I just loved it and wanted to climb the tree.

Colin Theile

In grade six my teacher was reading Sun on the Stubble then February’s Dragon when Colin Theile visited our school to talk to the grade 7’s. When he heard that our class was reading his books he came and talked to us and read some of February’s Dragon to us. How exciting!

Margaret Davidson

Helen Keller’s teacher was one of the books that really touched me. Reading about Annie Sullivan and how she overcame her start in life to then teach Helen Keller. I read this book so many times.

Dorothy Canfield

I read Betsy and loved the story of an orphan who goes from living in the city with her great aunt and aunt to living with relatives in the country. I still own this book and its falling apart from being read so much.

Johanna Spyri

I loved Heidi and the whole series and loved reading these books. It was another series mum read as a child.

CS Lewis

After reading these books I tried to get my wardrobe to take me to Narnia. Didn't we all!

Dorothy McKay Martin

I read the Peggy series so many times as a teen. I loved those stories.

Mary Bruce Grant

Reading the books my mum read as a teen felt special and that they were set in Australia which is even better. Loved the books.

Agatha Christie

I just loved reading the mysteries and trying to work out what happened. Agreed! I never managed to get it right, but it always seemed so obvious after Miss Marple explained everything.

Janette Oke

Janette Oke rekindled my love for reading. I read When Calls the Heart, the first in the Canadian West series and fell in love with Canada, Mounties, and reading again. I certainly remember reading this, and falling more than a little in love with Wynn myself.

Gilbert Morris

What can I say? He is such a great writer—his Civil War series taught me so much about the Civil War and I love the way he weaves history into the story.

Cheryl Wyatt

What can I say—I fell in love with Cheryl’s books when she mentioned cricket in the first book. It bonded us after I wrote a letter to her about her book, how much I loved it and my love of cricket which she also has.

Virginia Smith

One of Virginia’s books had a secondary character who resonated so much with me and the way she wrote her I could see so much of my situation in it and it gave me hope.

Kaye Marshall Strom

I read Once Blind the story about John Newton and it really moved me and seeing his life and what it was to what it became really had an impact on me.

Jillian Hart

I just love Jillian’s books, and through them I have become great friends with her.

JENNY BLAKE (aka AusJenny) is an avid reader. When not reading she enjoys watching cricket, in fact you could call her a cricket fanatic, scrapbooking and jigsaws. She volunteers at the local Christian bookshop where she can recommend books to customers. Her book blog is where she reviews books and interview authors. Her goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors. Her blog is at Come Meet AusJenny, she is a co-founder of and contributor to Australasian Christian Writers, and she is also the co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance.

Would you like to contribute a Friday Fifteen? If so, email me via my contact page to set a date. Contributions are welcome from anyone—readers, reviewers and authors. It's an opportunity to share some of the authors (and books) which have influenced you, and to pick up some ideas for new authors to read. The rules are simple: 

Take fifteen minutes and write down the names of fifteen authors who have influenced your reading life (or your life in general). If you've got a little more time, write down a sentence or two for each, explaining why you've chosen that author. That's it!

28 August 2014

Review and Giveaway: Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

The first book in Deborah Raney's new Chicory Inn series, Home to Chicory Lane, introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.

Deborah is celebrating the release of her new series with a $200 B&B Weekend Getaway and a Facebook author chat party.


 One winner will receive:
  • A B&B Weekend Getaway (via a $200 Visa cash card)
  • Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 9th. Winner will be announced at the Home to Chicory Lane Author Chat Party on 9/9. Deborah will be hosting a heartfelt book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at the next book in the Chicory Inn series!

So grab your copy of Home to Chicory Lane and join Deborah on the evening of September 9th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!

My Review

Romance fiction is a huge genre, and takes the reader through those early stages of a relationship and usually ends with an engagement or a wedding and the promise of happy-ever-after. But we all know that’s not the end. That’s only the beginning, and there’s more to marriage than roses and candlelit dinners. There’s life, and it’s not always happy. Home to Chicory Lane explores this from different perspectives, and it’s good to see fictional characters exploring real issues without it becoming angsty.

Audrey and Grant Whitman have spent the last year renovating their family home to turn it into a B&B, and it’s opening weekend. Landyn, the recently-married youngest of their five children, turns up on the doorstep needing a place to stay—she’s left her husband, Cory, because he made a major decision without consulting her—because he was sure God told him to do it.

My initial feelings towards Landyn were frustration. Yes, I could see what Cory had done wasn’t good, but immediately running home to Mommy and Daddy didn’t show Landyn in a good light. She came across as selfish and whiney (never attractive qualities), but this was the basis for her personal growth, both as an individual, as a Christian, and as part of a marriage. While I didn’t like her at first, I did by the end, and I could see how the youngest of five could be that way. Home to Chicory Lane did a good job of showing how she learned that there is more to a good marriage than, well, you know.

Cory was a good character. He never thought he was good enough, because of his family upbringing, so he had that to deal with, along with a flighty wife. His background meant he felt inferior to the Whitman family, and this came across in the way he interacted with Audrey and especially Grant. Meanwhile, Audrey and Grant had their own issues, with the financial stretch of starting a new business and Landyn’s unexpected arrival.

Home to Chicory Lane was a little confusing in the beginning, with Audrey, Grant, five children, spouses and grandchildren. But it soon settled into the main story: Landyn and Cory, and Audrey and Grant. It’s definitely a book written for the Christian market, as there is a central spiritual issue around Cory’s desire to be obedient to God despite Landyn’s uncertainty and frustration. There are a lot of lessons in here for newlyweds, and perhaps those with more established marriages. I'll be looking forward to future books in the series.

Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free
 ebook for review. You can find out more about Deborah Raney at her website

27 August 2014

CrossReads Book Blast with Anne-Rae Vasquez

By Anne-Rae Vasquez

About the Book:

Harry Doubt, a genius programmer and creator of the popular online game ‘Truth Seekers’, has a personal mission of his own; to find his mother who went mysteriously missing while volunteering on a peacekeeping mission in Palestine. His gaming friends and followers inadvertently join in helping him find her; believing that they are on missions to find out what has happened to their own missing loved ones. During Harry’s missions, Cristal and the team of ‘Truth Seekers’ stumble upon things that make them doubt the reality of their own lives. As they get closer to the truth, they realize that there are spiritual forces among them both good and evil, but in learning this, they activate a chain of events that start the beginning of the ‘end of the world’ as they know it.

Anne-Rae-Vasquez-500pixAnne-Rae Vasquez is currently writing "RESIST" book 2 of the Among Us Trilogy. Her latest novel Doubt, Book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy was released on November 9, 2013 at the Rain Dance Book Festival. Among Us Trilogy is a book series about a group of outcasts (online gamers) who band together to investigate who or what is behind the catastrophic events happening around the world.

Her previous novel, Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, was adapted into a screenplay and later produced into an award winning feature film and web series and was her directorial debut.

Aside from her artistic work, Anne-Rae is the creator/producer and host of Fiction Frenzy TV (, a VLog channel featuring indie artists and authors. She also freelances as a journalist for Digital Journal, an online magazine

Other works include: Gathering Dust – a collection of poems, Salha's Secrets to Middle Eastern Cooking Cookbook published by AR Publishing Inc. and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by (a division of Macmillan Publishing).

Follow Anne-Rae Vasquez

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

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This book blast is hosted by Crossreads.

We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!