25 April 2017

Review: A Secret Courage by Tricia Goyer


Too Many Mistakes


Tricia Goyer has written over fifty novels, but I think this is the first I’ve read. The big-picture historical background was new to me, and fascinating. I’ve heard of the codebreaking work that went on at Bletchley Park in World War II England, but I’d never heard of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at Dansefield House near Henley, England. Reading about the work these men and women did was fascinating, and was the novel's greatest strength.

The details were less strong—tea with cream, a fried egg for breakfast (rationing, anyone?), references to sidewalks, signposts, the United Nations, and majoring in history in college (a Brit would read history at university).

There was unintentional comedy in the references to British efficiency (if we’re talking national stereotypes, Germans are efficient. The British are bureaucratic). And while I’d like to think the typos in my review copy were all were corrected in the final published version, I don’t think that’s the case. I was able to search the Kindle Look Inside and find Blenheim Place (should be Palace), and American accident (should be accent). Awkward …

In terms of the plot, I found the first quarter confusing. While it was obvious Will was a double agent, it was less obvious where his true allegiance lay. This made it difficult to engage in the developing romance as I didn’t know whether I was supposed to like Will or loathe him. This made it impossible to engage in what was supposed to be a romance. The middle of the novel often dragged to the point where I considered giving up several times, and I didn’t feel the suspense aspect of the plot really kick in until the last quarter.

This is the first book in The London Chronicles series, but I can’t say I’m interested enough to follow the rest of the series, even though World War II is one of my favourite historical fiction genres.

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read the introduction to A Secret Courage below:

24 April 2017

An Irish Hero and a Seattle Beauty



Guest post By Christine Lindsay

Sofi’s Bridge shows a variety of dialects from the many different immigrants who settled in Washington State. Here is a sample of Neil’s Irish-ness.
Neil returned the smile Sofi gave him. “To a new day then.” He took a sip and held the cup away from him, crinkling his face. “My, how you Swedes like your coffee strong.”

“Too robust for your delicate tastes, Neil Macph—.” Her eyes danced.

“Not at all. We Irish like our tea just as strong.”

“But is the coffee to your taste?”

He leaned against the wall, and his voice came out husky. “ ’Tis grand. Sure I prefer it, so I do.”

“If we’re starting off a new day, then tell me—you prefer tea, don’t you?”

“I do miss a pot of tea, one where the leaves have been stewing so long the spoon can stand straight up in the cup. Does that satisfy ye?”

Their combined laughter lifted to the eaves, filtered down on them, and their gazes locked.

While I know my Irish, I researched the correct phrasing and tone for my other immigrants. Sofi is second generation Swedish, but here is a sample of her mother’s strong cultural roots.
“As the child of poor Swedish immigrants I grew up on the old saying, ‘Manure and diligence make the farmer rich.’”
But the cadences of language and culture disappear in the universal language of a kiss.
Neil could have been strong if Sofi had stayed away. But with the perfume of her nearness, the low, melodious kindness of her voice she exposed his wants, his dreams for his life, a wife, a home. His blood ran brighter through his veins.

He took her upturned face in his hands, his breath going shallow.

If things were different, this girl, this woman could be his. Sofi was the only woman who’d ever penetrated his self-reliance and made him aware of his own needs. She brought wholeness to him, healing to him.

She closed the gap between them. Wind whispered through the pines and cedars as he grazed his lips along hers. He trailed his mouth upward, along her cheek and down the warm softness of her neck. He returned to her lips, drawing in the sweetness of her mouth.

But it wasn’t right, and he pushed away from her. He may be a lot of things, but his father had taught him to be an honest man. By kissing her he was saying he wanted to marry her. And he could never marry Sofi.

Ah yes, the language of human love.



About Christine: Irish born Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction and non-fiction. Readers describe her writing as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with historical detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama.

Christine's fictional novels have garnered the ACFW Genesis Award, The Grace Award, Canada’s The Word Guild Award, and was a finalist twice for Readers’ Favorite as well as 2nd place in RWA’s Faith Hope and Love contest.

This author’s non-fiction memoir Finding Sarah Finding Me is the true-life story that started this award-winning career in Christian fiction and non-fiction. This book is a must for anyone whose life has been touched by adoption. Christine is currently writing a new fictional series set on the majestic coast of Ireland and loaded with her use of setting as a character that will sweep the reader away. Subscribe to her newsletter on her website www.christinelindsay.org




https://www.amazon.com/Sofis-Bridge-Christine-Lindsay-ebook/dp/B015M9SR6CAbout the Book: Seattle Debutante Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father's death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Nei, the gardener continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.


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21 April 2017

Friday Fifteen: Pamela Poole

This week I'm pleased to welcome author Pamela Poole to share her Friday Fifteen—the fifteen authors who have most influenced her life and work. Welcome, Pamela!

Fifteen Authors that Changed My World

I grew up when classics were still revered as required reading in school, so they shaped me at an impressionable time. Looking back, I’m grateful that such powerful literature filled my heart and mind, in contrast to the book market of today.

Christ will always be first in my life for every role model, and His words have molded me as no other author can. Scripture is the sieve through which I filter my comparisons of worldviews and morality, and it inevitably influenced the choices I settled on for this post.

1.      Robert Louis Stevenson
I love anything by Stevenson, but the two books that often still come to play in my life are Treasure Island and A Child’s Garden of Verse. I truly admire this man, for he conquered the pitiless adversary of chronic illness and used the forced periods of rest to write books that contributed immeasurably to the world. He’s also a terrific example of how writers can enthrall audiences by creatively crafting rough characters and situations to make them readable without course language.

2.      James Herriot
When I was a teenager, I babysat for a professor and his wife who lived across the street from me. They introduced me to James Herriot’s work by giving me All Creatures Great and Small. Herriot’s true accounts of his escapades as a veterinarian in the English countryside were profoundly insightful peeks into human nature, and he told them in ways that left me gasping in laughter!

3.      Margaret Mitchell
This author’s classic story of the war-torn South has always been a favorite for me because of her fascinating characters in Gone With the Wind, though I personally think that she failed readers in the ending. The line that shocked so many was also the point where Rhett had a chance to shine as a hero, but he fell, and Mitchell left readers unfulfilled. I’m so glad another author, Alexandra Ripley, came through in the 1990’s with the sequel, Scarlett. The sequel was satisfying in her redemption of Scarlett and Rhett.

4. Jane Austen
I know, this is predictable. But on so many levels, she is the ultimate in classy romance writing.

5. Catherine Marshall
Christy was the novel that opened my teenage eyes and heart to the need for missionary work in the mountains not far from my own home. She also taught me that romantic love doesn’t conquer all.

6. Jules Verne
I love adventure, and Around the World in Eighty Days is unforgettable!

7. Lew Wallace
Ben-Hur, a Tale of Christ was a story that deeply affected me, and the movie adaption is still one of my all-time favorite Biblical tales. This profoundly moving story covers almost every universal situation in one timeless epic.

8. C.S. Lewis
Narnia, Mere Christianity, and the Screwtape Letters are truly books to study, not just read through.

9. J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are gold mines of life truths and encouragement for spiritual battles.

10. Bram Stoker
Many people don’t realize that the original Dracula is written from a deeply Christian perspective, and that we battle spiritual “monsters” every day. Hollywood deviations are far from the spirit of Stoker’s masterpiece.

11. Frank Peretti
This Present Darkness gave me new eyes to imagine the dimension of the spiritual battles I already knew were raging around us.

12. Robert Whitlow
The List was another nudge for me in the direction of Southern fiction and the spiritual dimension behind so much that happens in our lives, sometimes for generations.

13. Jeanette Windle
This author’s missionary background and the way she crafted rough, dark settings and characters into art, rather than communicate with offensive words, inspired my writing style. Crossfire and DMZ are so well written that she’s been interviewed by governments about her knowledge of the settings!

14. Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
The Left Behind series was eye-opening for my family, for we were reminded of the impact that scripture could have when presented in a dramatic story.

15. Edgar Rice Burroughs
While there is a wide gap between this author’s outlook and philosophies compared to my own, he created an amazing character in Tarzan. Derivatives of this novel stirred my imagination for years, and a few elements from it influenced Jaguar, my latest novel release in the Painter Place Saga. My worldview of Tarzan leans toward marveling at God’s provision for a man whose only environment in his formative years was survival in the jungle, and how the man’s reactions play out with the Biblical truth that we are not evolved from animals but created in God’s image, with His moral truth stamped into our very essence of heart, soul, and mind.


About Jaguar, Painter Place Saga Book 3

Caroline and Chad Gregory are happy on their island home at Painter Place. But an old vendetta against them puts Caroline in terrible danger. Her enemies are closing in, and the future of Painter Place is at stake. Her only hope of escape is a man known as the Jaguar, a legendary international operative and Caroline’s one-time boyfriend. Even if he and a miracle can save her, Caroline will never be the same sheltered woman who has been groomed from childhood to inherit the island.


About the Author
Pamela Poole’s love for the South inspires all her books and paintings, and is why she describes her work as Inspiring Southern Ambiance. She became an author after endlessly returning unread books to the library and her son challenged her to write the kind of novel she wanted to read. She and her husband Mark live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW-NC.

Where to Find Pamela Online
Main Website: www.pamelapoole.com
Southern Sky Publishing Website:
www.southernskypublishing.com
YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/PamelaPooleFineArt


20 April 2017

Book Review: Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith

Back in the Land in the 1860’s


Above Rubies is the second book in Keely Brooke Keith’s Uncharted Beginnings series. It is set in the 1860’s, two years after the settlers arrive in The Land.

The story focuses on Olivia Owens, who has a calling to be a schoolteacher. Unfortunately, the people of Good Springs don’t see the need for formal teaching—they need their children to be contributing to building the settlement. And they certainly don’t see the need for a dedicated schoolhouse. It seems the only person supporting Olivia is carpenter and flirt Gabe McIntosh.

And Olivia has a secret (all good characters have a secret). If people knew her secret, they’d never let her teach their children. Because Olivia has what we now call dyslexia: some days she can read words, and some days the monster comes and mixes up all the letters. And who’d want a teacher who can’t read?

Above Rubies was an enjoyable read. I liked the interplay between Olivia and Gabe, both in terms of their developing personal relationship, and the way he supports her to achieve her dreams.

The one fault was that the ending was somewhat abrupt. I’d been thinking there were a couple more chapters when the book just finished—the remaining pages were teaser chapters from The Land Uncharted.

Above Rubies is a standalone novel, although it’s probably best to read Aboard Providence first, so you understand the background and family relationships. However, it’s not necessary—all you need to know is the community have settled an uncharted island, and have no way of leaving.

A must-read for all Keely Brooke Keith fans, and anyone who enjoys historical Christian romance.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Keely Brooke Keith at her website, and you can read the introduction to Above Rubies below:




13 April 2017

Review: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

A New Series from Jen Turano


Jen Turano is one of my favourite Christian historical romance authors. I love her characters, her witty dialogue, and the underlying truth (Truth) in her novels. And Behind the Scenes is no exception.

The main character is the unfortunately named Miss Permilia Griswold, member of New York’s elite, and well-known (or perhaps unknown) wallflower. The story starts at the famous 1883 costume ball given by Mr and Mrs William Vanderbilt II, an event which let the media into New York society for the first time, for better or worse. The descriptions of the ball are excellent, and my initial suspicions that the descriptions might have been a little over-the-top were allayed when I did a little research. If anything, Behind the Scenes is understated.


The story has touches of Cinderella, with Permilia as the motherless girl, a self-centred stepmother and an even more self-centred step-sister, an absent but loving father, and Mr Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of New York’s biggest department stores, as Prince Charming.

But there is also a suspense element, after Permilia overhears a death threat against Mr Rutherford … and he doesn’t believe her. This leads a quirky troupe of characters on what is best described as a merry chase as Permilia and Asher spend more and more time together as they attempt to find the source of the threat.

My one issue was that there were parts of the story I didn't quite understand, almost as if I'd missed something ... I had. I'd missed At Your Request, the free novella introducing this new series (partly because the novella didn't release until January 2017 and I couldn't resist reading this as soon as the review copy was available. In December 2016). Anyway, I suggest you don't make the same mistake.


Recommended for fans of witty historical romance.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

11 April 2017

Review: The Hidden Hours by Sara J Foster

Cover image The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster

Not Christian Fiction. 

But It's Excellent Suspense.


The Hidden Hours took me a while to get into, but once I did, I found it was gripping reading. Most of the story is told from the point of view of Eleanor, and it’s in present tense (which I always find takes me a while to get my head around). To add to the complexity, each chapter begins with a short piece from the point of view of a minor character. There are also some shifts in tense and time which took a while to get used to, but which were used to great effect.

Eleanor is an Australian in London on her OE (that’s her Overseas Experience, a rite of passage for those of us from Australia and New Zealand). She’s living with her uncle’s family, and has a temp job as a personal assistant at her aunt’s employer. The story starts the day after the company’s Christmas party, when is discovered that an executive drowned in the River Thames following the party. The police investigate, and Eleanor finds herself in the awkward situation of being one of the last to see Arabella, but having no memory of the end of the party, or of getting home. Oh, and she’s found Arabella’s distinctive engagement ring in her handbag. Oops.

So at the most basic level, the story is a whodunit. Did Arabella fall, or was she pushed? If she was pushed, by whom? By Eleanor, who can’t remember? By Nathan, Arabella’s husband and Eleanor’s boss? But it’s also a study in messed-up families. Specifically, Eleanor’s messed-up childhood which has left her with ongoing nightmares and memories which intrude on her present life, to the point where they can get mixed up.

The writing was strong, with a unique voice and excellent characters, especially Eleanor. There was a real sense of place – the setting felt authentic to me as someone who lived in London for ten years (and I liked that feeling of recognition). My only complaint is a little swearing that I didn’t feel was necessary.

Overall, excellent.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

6 April 2017

Review: Home by Ginny Yttrup

Slow Start


I was super-impressed by Words, the first Ginny Yttrup book I read. The second, Invisible, was a little harder to get into. And Home was a little harder again. I know Words was partly based on Ginny’s own story, and I suspect part of Home is as well (a novel about a novelist? Who ends up writing a novel titled Home? It’s easy to see why I might think that).

I know authors are told, ‘write what you know’. And obviously, authors know writing novels. But I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of novels featuring novelists as main characters. I don’t mind novels about journalists or bloggers. But something about a novelist as a main character makes it harder for me to suspend disbelief—some novels have done it (Denise Hunter and Kaye Dacus are two, but their novels are fun romance. Home isn’t).

No, Home is a story about a novelist who’s having problems writing her novel, and who has a husband who is having problems with work—he’s a building contractor, and the work isn’t coming in the way it used to. Which means the money isn’t coming in either (I must admit, this was the part of the novel that didn’t work for me. He was a successful contractor until the Great Recession hit a couple of years earlier, they’d been living in the same house for twenty years—the house he built—and it wasn’t paid off?)

Home is told in first person point of view. This isn’t something that usually bothers me, but it bothered me with Home because it’s told from the viewpoint of several different characters, and I kept having to go back to the beginnings of chapters to work out who the viewpoint character was. I find it easier if first person is one character.

The result was it took me longer than normal to get into Home, and when I did, I found myself engaging less with Melanie’s story (the novelist), and more with the story of her neighbour and editor, Jill. I did get into Melanie’s story, and even into Craig’s (her husband), but it took a while.

And that makes it a hard novel to review. The ending was good, but it took a long time to get there. The writing was excellent, particularly in the second half, and there was a lot about Melanie I could relate to:


I also liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter:


And I liked the way the characters, especially Craig, had a solid Christian faith:


And I’m prepared to forgive a lot from a character who can say that. Overall, Home is a novel about loss and grief, and learning to cope with both. It’s uplifting and encouraging, but not a book to pick up if you’re looking for a light read.

Thanks to Shiloh Run Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read more about Ginny Yttrup at her website.

5 April 2017

ACRBA Blog Tour: Activate by Adele Jones


3 - 7 April 2017


is Introducing 
(By the Rhiza Press, 1 November 2016)
By Adele Jones

About the Book:


Josh Hammond’s not who he says he is. To stay alive, he must guard his identity, existing isolated from his former life and those he loves. The one enemy he can’t outrun is his failing health, and time is short. Desperate for a solution, Josh leaves the protection of his safe house unapproved. Instead of a cure, he’s left powerless against a cunning adversary. Determined to reclaim his life, he grasps an opportunity for escape, but things go drastically wrong. Can he find a way to expose the lies of a criminal mastermind, or will he be silenced? Forever.
About the Author:
Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and her broad ranging imagination.

A strong believer in embracing life's journey, Adele delights in sharing that adventure with others, be that through the pages of a story or engaging in a social or professional context. Through her broad personal and professional interests, she has welcomed diverse engagement opportunities, including science based student experience sessions, conference presentations, literary readings and musical exploits.

With a long standing interest in historical fiction, Adele based her Master's dissertation on this topic and is currently anticipating release of her first novel in this genre, A Devil's Ransom (www.roseandcrownbooks.com). She has also had a variety of poems, short stories, inspirational meditations, devotions and magazine articles published. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 Caleb Prize for unpublished manuscript, and is due to for release in September 2014. Replicate is the second book in this series and was released in October 2015.   

More information:
Adele Jones: www.adelejonesauthor.com

You can read my review for Activate here: Activate by Adele Jones

3 April 2017

Clash of the Titles Winner: Protective Custody by Jennifer Vander Klip

Congratulations to Jennifer Vander Klip
and the novel
Protective Custody
━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━



About the book:

A cop burned by love falls for a key witness in a crime implicating the town's rich and powerful.

Lifestyle magazine editor Heather McAlister was in the wrong place at the wrong time. What she saw sends her faith and life into a tailspin. As a key witness in a crime shaking the roots of the town's power brokers, doing the right thing may cost her everything. Including her life.

Detective Kyle Taylor is in the midst of solving the town's worst crime spree, a case that cold make or break his career, when the woman he thinks he might have a future with witnesses a gang initiation gone wrong before they can finish their first date. He has spent his entire adult life protecting his hometown. Now he's protecting a woman he'll risk everything to save.

With more than their future at risk, they must discern betrayal from trust, image from truth while avoiding a danger closer than they think.

Christian Romantic Suspense

What Reviewers Are Saying:

I just kept turning pages to see what would happen next! Can't wait for the next one!—R. Cole

This is my second novel from Vander Klipp and I continue to be impressed with her writing.--Kelly T.

Add this book to your must-read list!—Regina F.


What COTT Voters Had to Say:
~Great Book, Jennifer! Kept me on the edge of my seat!!

~Jennifer Vanderklipp, keep on writing. Some days it may seem as if no one appreciates your books, but believe me, we, your readers, are out here just waiting for your next
release. A. Zuniga

~You have an awesome cover.The book sounds great.

~In love with Jennifer's writings!!!

~Enjoying so many new titles from amazing authors that pour their hearts in to their work. However I have to say that Protective Custody is a nail biter beginning to end. I could not put it down. Kudos to Jennifer Vander Klipp. Looking forward to more great reads from her.

~I like suspense like Jennifer VanderKlipp writes!

About the Author:

I make beauty from neglect, order from chaos. I like fixing messes!

And I get to do that a lot since I’m a mom to two and stepmom to four, navigating the tweens and

teens while battling my daughter’s juvenile arthritis, exploring the delights of my son’s autism, and keeping gluten free. A California native transplanted to the Midwest, my favorite thing is discovering with my husband how much there is to love about seasons, snow, and the delight that is Michigan.


Upcoming Release:

Promise Me is a prequel novella to Protective Custody, and it is releasing in May. With the same great setting as Protective Custody, (Orange County, California) this story focuses on Cait Bellamy and Grayson Kendall, who make brief appearances in Protective Custody. But we also get introduced to the stars of Protective Custody, Detective Kyle Taylor and Heather McAlistair.

Marketing director for Samashima Family Farms Cait Bellamy, on a break from the endless restoration of her farmhouse, witnesses potentially-devastating vandalism at the farm. Car restoration hobbiest and real estate attorney Grayson Kendall finds himself intrigued by the happenings at the farm which seem to be related to his latest real estate development. He does some digging, unknowingly putting Cait and her beloved farmhouse in danger. Can they both learn trust each other and create something new out of the wreckage their pasts while trying to discover who wants to put the farm out of business?

To find out more about her books, her latest releases, and get free chapters sign up for her newsletter at www.JenniferVanderKlipp.com