1 December 2016

Clash of the Titles Oct-Nov 2016

It's the end of our CLASH year, and we've lined up some awesome holiday reading (and gift ideas!) for this month's Clash of the Titles.
Vote for your Ideal curl up in front of a fire read!

Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your perfect idea of a next read.
It's a tough choice, but it's up to you to determine our Clash Champion!


Risking Love
Brenda S. Anderson

A play-it-safe bank employee falls for a down-on-his-luck, risk-taking widower.
Can she risk loving a man whose home she may have to take away?


An Unexpected Role
Leslea Wahl

Josie's island getaway becomes the summer of her dreams as friendships grow,
romance blossoms and a series of thefts surround her with excitement. But as
she sets out to solve the mystery she has become entangled in, she not only
realizes the importance of relying on her faith but along the way also
discovers her true self.


Forest Child
Heather Day Gilbert

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable,
conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life and is Book Two in the
bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.


Can't Help Falling
Kara Isaac

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a
mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and
picturesque Oxford, England.


The Cautious Maiden
Dawn Crandall

In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with
a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. With danger stalking her and a new
fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust
and who to leave behind. 


The Thorn Healer
Pepper D. Basham

A wounded nurse battles resentment against a German prisoner as the two work together to save an Appalachian town from deception and disease in the wake of World War 1.


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29 November 2016

Review: The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

Amazon Description

Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.

My Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel set in America’s Colonial era. It’s an interesting time, as Europe (and even the bigger American settlements) are relatively sophisticated, but out in the back country, Americans are still living in tents and hovels.

The novel begins in 1770, before the American War of Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, but it’s easy to see the hotbed of political activity the country will become.

There are social tensions, as the country is a mix of free immigrants (religious or economic) and those who have immigrated as indentured servants, those who were forced to immigrate as convicts, or the growing number of slaves. There are also the racial tensions—between American settlers and the local Indians, between the Indians and the English, and between the English and the American settlers who want more rights.

The Captive Heart touches on many of these issues without making them the central focus of the plot—which is good. The central focus always remains on Eleanor: on her understandable difficulties in adapting to the hard life of an American settler, on her feelings for Grace, her charge … and her feelings for Samuel Heath, her owner and her husband ... who I liked a lot, mostly because of lines like this:

Samuel has secrets, a lot of secrets, and these are gradually revealed throughout the story. This keeps the plot moving, and gives us more and more reason to want to see Samuel and Eleanor together properly. The writing is excellent, with shades of early Deeanne Gist novels such as A Bride Most Begrudging (which remains my favourite, and which shares a similar time and setting to The Captive Heart).

There are also some minor characters I’d have liked to have seen more of: Molly and Biz, Eleanor’s forced companions on the voyage from England. I’m hoping they will be the subjects of a sequel or two (hint hint).

Overall, I enjoyed The Captive Heart and recommend it to fans of American Colonial fiction from authors such as Jack Cavanaugh, Laura Franz and early Deeanne Gist.

Thanks to Shiloh Run Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Michelle Griep at her website, and you can read the introduction to The Captive Heart below:

25 November 2016

Author Interview with the authors of Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy!

Today I'd like to welcome the authors of Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy to share a bit about themselves. Welcome, ladies!

1) How does your faith play into your writing?

Trisha Grace: Jesus loves you regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. That’s the message behind my books. I’m blessed to be planted in a church where my pastor preaches the grace message, reminding me each week that I’m loved and blessed despite of my flaws and sins. And that’s the same message I hope my readers will get when they read my book.

2) Why do you write the kind of books you do?

Jenn Faulk: I write Christian chick lit and romance, and my intention with every book is to point readers to Christ and His sufficiency. I think there’s great biblical truth that can be communicated through a love story about two normal, believable, imperfect people who need and find redemption in Christ as they deal with relationships and real life issues. It’s my hope that someone would read my book and enjoy the story while they’re also being encouraged and challenged to know Christ better, love Him more deeply, and serve Him more fully.

3) What advice would you give to a beginning writer?

Liwen Y. Ho: Writing is a solitary exercise, but it should not be done alone! For beginning writers, I’d recommend joining a writer’s group, whether online or in person. The best thing you can do is to share your work with other writers and get their feedback. And read, read, read! Read books in the genre(s) you want to write and discover what you like/dislike about certain stories. Read about writing techniques and how to create characters that come to life and how to keep a story flowing from beginning to end. Then do what you love to do the most—write! And don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

4) What’s on your reading list?

Lindi Peterson: My reading list lately has been amazing. Over the summer I read RITA winner Kristi Ann Hunter’s A Noble Masquerade. Awesome book. Then I read The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. I couldn’t put this book down. Three different generations whose stories intertwined. Loved it. I read a cool short story, A Spoonful of Spice by Liwen Ho. Right now I’m reading The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry, one of my favorite authors. I have so many books on my TBR pile. What a good problem to have, right?

5) How do you celebrate the release of a new story?

Tanya Eavenson: Growing up my parents would celebrate special occasions by taking the family out to Red Lobster. Fast forward twenty years, my wonderful husband takes me out to celebrate a new release. Can you guess where? Yep! Red Lobster. Love that man!

6) What do you like to snack on while writing a story?

Cindy Flores Martinez: I love this question because I can just picture it in my mind, casually reaching over and grabbing a snack while writing. I’m sure every writer would tell you that there isn’t time to stop when you’re in the middle of writing, especially if you’re working on an important scene. Sometimes I find myself feeling weak because I’ve skipped a meal. And just in case that happens, I always have fruit or a granola bar nearby that I can reach for. But that’s only if I am absolutely about to lose consciousness.

7) What type of research do you enjoy doing for your stories?

Cindy K. Green: I love research! I’m a trained historian so research is exciting to me. In fact, when I am stuck on a project whether plot or otherwise, research is one of the best ways to get out of a bit of writer’s block or it just inspires me to write period. I write both contemporary and historical novels. Of course, every story includes some research. I had to research golf & golf courses, as well as, how a company goes through the process of going public for one contemporary novel. But the historical ones are the ones I love to research most. I’ve been working on a historical western series for the last few years. It has been such a joy learning more about old Carson City, Nevada; the 1870’s clothing and hats; and everything else relating to the period of the booming silver mines in the area of the Comstock Lode. My father lives in that area, and he is a terrific resource for background information.

Snuggle up with seven Christian winter romances from bestselling and award-winning authors. Kisses and kids abound in this collection of novellas that will warm your heart all winter long.


24 November 2016

Review: The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Amazon Description

Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy.Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Review

I’ve read several favourable reviews for Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings, so I was when The Silent Songbird came up for review, I was keen to read it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it. I suspect I’m not the target audience, even though I often read and enjoy Young Adult novels (e.g. Intermission by Serena Chase).

I didn’t warm to either Eva/Evangeline or Westley as characters. Westley was too perfect—his only fault seemed to be that he was too trusting. Evangeline seemed too modern in her thinking, and I wasn’t convinced someone with her sheltered upbringing would have the gumption to refuse marriage at the order of the King.

I found the writing wooden, mostly because of the lack of contractions. Yes, I know the English didn’t use contractions in the 1300’s, and avoiding contractions was probably intended to add an air of authenticity. But I still think it made the writing seem stilted and artificial.

The novel seemed well researched, if a little Disneyfied. It’s loosely based on the story of the Little Mermaid, and if I remember my childhood fairytales correctly, her punishment for choosing to live as a human was that every step would feel like she was walking on knives. Disney ignored this, and The Silent Songbird also ignores some of the seedier side of medieval life—which made it read more like fantasy than the historical romance I thought it was going to be.

And perhaps that’s my actual problem. I’m not a fantasy reader. Sure, I’ve read some of the classics, but I much prefer dystopian or science fiction to fantasy. Perhaps that’s because I’ve studied history and visited English castles, and know a little too much about what goes on in a torture chamber, which means I don’t find anything romantic about novels with this kind of time setting—whether true historical fiction or some kind of wishful fantasy, as this is.

This is the seventh book in a series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. I’m sure those who have read and enjoyed the previous books will also enjoy this, as will readers who enjoy historical fiction/fantasy.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.