31 August 2015

Review and Giveaway: Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

Will Brianna and Colleen have the courage to stand up to their father's schemes to save their horse farm and instead pursue true love? Don't miss Irish Meadows, the newest book by Susan Anne Mason! As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, their father grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father’s machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

Join Susan in celebrating the release of Irish Meadows by entering to win her Kindle Fire giveaway and RSVPing to her September 1st author chat party!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
  • One copy of Irish Meadows
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 9/1. The winner will be announced at the Irish Meadows Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Susan and other readers, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 1st!

My Review

I almost didn't read Irish Meadows. I bypassed it several times—the description didn’t entice me one bit—but I was captured by the striking cover. The cobalt riding habit. Those eyes. Unfortunately, the cover was the best part, and I should have remembered the old adage about books and covers.

It didn’t start well. The opening scene is Gil confiding his life history to a horse. Original, yes. Good, no. I thought after that unengaging start things could only get better. It didn't. I didn't like any of the main characters, the plot didn't engage me and it seemed as though some of the most interesting parts (e.g. Colleen's character change) were all told, not shown, which didn't make it seem realistic.

I've had a look at the other reviews on Amazon, and it seems I'm in the minority in not loving this book. It got a starred review from Library Journal (but so did another Bethany House historical novel which has recently been hitting the news for all the wrong reasons). I wanted to like Irish Meadows, but I really don't. At this point, I can't even finish it (one reviewer assures me the last quarter is the best, but I don't know if I want to put myself through that).

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

28 August 2015

Book Promotion: A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis

Coming August 14th!

Deep in a forest glade, the fey folk dance with Isidore, a young human child. Their kinship is the very fabric of her childhood. When her mother dies and her world darkens with sorrow, Isidore finds her belief in the fey folk wavering.

The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

Driven to desperation, Isidore turns to the fey folk once more. She has only one wish to claim from them, one chance to make things right. But she must tread carefully. For wishes, like hearts, are easily broken. And obtaining the one thing she desires could mean destroying the one thing she truly needs.

Author Bio:

Ashlee Willis is the author of fantasy for young adults. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and being a stay-at-home mom, she also finds time to enjoy forest rambles, crocheting, and playing the piano. She lives in the heart of Missouri with her family.

5-Star Review Excerpt:
"A story of wonder, beauty, heartbreak, healing, a story to remind us that we are not made for this world. This story is a beautifully written, descriptive fairy tale." - Clare Farrelly, excerpt from a Goodreads review

Twitter Page:

Facebook Page:

Author Website:

26 August 2015

Review: Jaded by Varina Denman

A Book with a Colour in the Title

I passed on this book when I first saw it available for review. The cover looked boring, as though it was about the Amish, or perhaps their Mennonite cousins. The blurb didn’t attract me, although it did make it clear that the book was set in small-town Texas, with no Amish or Mennonites in sight. It looked boring.

But then reviews started coming through, specifically a review from Andrea Grigg. She raved about Jaded … which convinced me that maybe I’d misjudged Jaded, and persuaded me I had to read it (and I’d missed the opportunity to get a review copy, so I actually had to BUY this one!)

I admit that at first I wondered what Andrea was so excited by. Ruthie Turner hates church and works two jobs to support herself and her depressed mother and desperately wants to escape the tiny Texas town of Trapp (although I didn’t pick up on that obvious pun while I was reading). Dodd Turner is the new high school maths teacher, and the new town preacher. The teaching job puts him in regular contact with Ruthie, who he is attracted to but who will barely give him the time of day.

It all seemed a bit mundane and annoying. Ruthie annoyed me because I couldn’t see why she didn’t just up and leave (if she can get two jobs in a town as small as Trapp, surely she can get a job anywhere). The people of the town of Trapp annoyed me because of their small-minded attitudes. And the people of the Trapp church especially annoyed me, for their judgemental and ignorant attitudes (they probably believe King James wrote the Bible).

But I persevered because the writing was excellent. It mixed first person (Ruthie) and third person (Dodd), which is something I’ve seen more novels fail at than succeed at. Once I got past the initial glitch that Jaded was written in both first and third person, both points of view flowed well. Ruthie was a particularly strong viewpoint character: I didn’t necessarily like her, but she had an engaging way with words:
“My uncle was pushing seventy and moved slower than a horned lizard on a cold day.”
Great image.
“I thought how nice it would be to keep inching back, crawling to a place where memories couldn’t meet me.”
That evokes an emotional response, a feeling of recognition. It’s strong writing.
“Loneliness floated over me like a snowdrift. Loneliness so thick I could smell it. Taste it. Hear it. Not even why my daddy left had I felt anything like it. Not even when the church shunned us. Not even when Momma became a ghost.”

Wow. One paragraph manages to pack in Ruthie’s entire backstory as well as several rounds of emotional punches. If only every novel I read had such good lines.

But it’s one thing to say the writing was strong. Great writing is nothing without a good story and engaging characters. And it took a while, but I did eventually connect with Ruthie and the other characters, perhaps a quarter of the way through. After that, I didn’t want to put the book down. It was that good. The writing may have pulled me in, but it was the characters who kept me there. And now I want to read the sequel, Justified.

Thanks, Andrea. I really needed more books on my to-read pile.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book with a colour in the title.

24 August 2015

Review and Giveaway: A Heart's Home by Colleen Coble

A hidden pregnancy, a promise sure to break hearts, and a tragic loss at Fort Phil Kearny: Don't miss the gripping conclusion in book six, A Heart's Home, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie’s solemn vow threatens her happiness from within. Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart—and Isaac’s? Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

Colleen is celebrating the final book release of her A Journey of the Heart series by giving away the entire series and the chance to host Colleen virtually at your book club, local library, or women's group to talk about the series.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Books 1–6 of A Journey of the Heart series
  • A chat with Colleen via Skype or Google Hangout
  • A custom book-club kit PDF, featuring Colleen's favorite recipes and group discussion questions
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 31st. Winner will be announced September 1st on Colleen's website.


My Review

I haven’t enjoyed this series, partly because the beginning of each book has included what turned out to be a plot summary (i.e. detailing what happens at the end) rather than a book description (setting up characters and conflict to entice the reader to read). A Heart’s Home managed not to include the spoilers (yay!), but still didn’t deliver for me.

Basically, my problems have been the same throughout the whole series. It’s been driven by external conflict to the point it’s crossed the line from drama to melodrama, and this final book was no exception. Emmie is now engaged to Isaac, although she still hasn’t told him her Big Secret, and she’s afraid jealous Jessica will tell him first …

Then I-don’t-want-to-tell-you-what happens (because that would definitely be a spoiler, and the series has had quite enough of those already, thank you), which puts Emmie’s engagement in danger … and the whole plot turns and more Bad Things happen and the Big Secret is completely forgotten (as is Jessica, although that might not have been a bad thing).

I got to the end and, yes, there’s a big Happy Ever After and cliché epilogue but no mention of Jessica or the Big Secret (that’s not a spoiler: this is marketed as a romance series, and I’d have hated it if we didn’t at least get the promised HEA ending. As it is, I merely disliked it). At this point, I’m not even clear with the Big Secret was. Unless it wasn’t such a big secret and somehow I missed it. There’s also the implication that Jessica must have Something Horrible in her past to make her into the horrible person she is, but this isn’t followed up on either.

Overall, there was too much drama (melodrama?), too little character development and too many plot holes for me to consider this even okay. It’s a shame—I like Colleen Coble’s contemporary romantic suspense novels. But I’ve read all six books in this series and one or two of her other historical romances, and I have to say I’m not sold. Even discounting my preference for romantic suspense over regular romance, Coble’s historical offerings simply aren’t as good as her contemporary stories.

Thanks to Litfuse and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

21 August 2015

Book Promotion: Space Kitties

"Close your eyes. Imagine kitties were in space. Open your eyes. Read"

Light-hearted tales of feline adventure from across the cosmos, by a collection of authors from across the country. Many sci-fi fans have noticed the lack of an animal element in their fare for a long time.. and now we have changed that! Eleven far thinking spec-fic authors banded together for a collection of fun, unique and suspenseful stories about kitties in space. What could be better?

Subtly humor-slanted focus, to be in keeping with the cute and fuzzy kitty on the cover. A variety of styles... and varying lengths: from 300 words to 10k... and a wide range of subjects & themes.... all with a cat involved with outer space in some way.

Join this twelve pack of literary entries as kitties take to the stars amid the cosmos of your imagination...

5-Star Review Excerpt:
"If you like cats and if you like science fiction, you will get a kick out of this delightful little book. There are stories with serious points and there are stories that are just plain fun." - Steve Mathisen, excerpt from an Amazon review

E. Kaiser Writes' Facebook Page:

Author Website:

19 August 2015

Review: Oslo Overture by Marion Ueckermann

Sheppard meets Angel

Anjelica Joergensen—Angel—is one of the few females in the male-dominated world of professional wingsuit flyers. Not only is it a dangerous occupation, it’s one which attracts daredevils with too little thought for safety. She’s lost her heart to a fellow wingsuiter once before, and isn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

Kyle Sheppard has travelled all the way from New Zealand to Norway with his wingsuit team to participate in a record-setting jump as part of Norway’s National Day celebrations. He immediately gets off on the wrong foot with the pretty wingsuiter, which is unfortunate as he is attracted to her. But he’s not interested in anyone who doesn’t share his Christian faith, and she doesn’t seem to be interested in him, either …

It’s great to see a Kiwi character in a Christian novel, especially one who is recognisably Kiwi without being cliché. Some might see the team performing the haka as cliché, but who’s going to argue with men performing a war dance, especially when the translation—it is death, it is life—is so apt for those participating in such a dangerous sport. For those of you who have never seen a haka performed, get thee to an All Black test … or visit YouTube.

It’s also great to see fictional women in unusual surroundings and occupations, and to see two characters for whom the Christian faith is a lifestyle, not something to be mentioned once or twice to qualify them for the Christian bookstore (sorry, but I’m getting a little tired of “Christian” novels which aren’t. If they aren’t, that’s fine. Just don’t publish them as Christian novels. Sorry. Rant over).

The main characters were likeable, and I wanted them to get together right from the start. There were also some good minor characters, especially Eric and Luke, and I’d like to see more of them … (hint, hint). The writing is strong, and the novella was an enjoyable if brief break from daily life.

There are a couple of characters in Olso Overtures who were in Marian Ueckermann’s previous novella, Helsinki Sunrise, but the two novellas are standalone stories (I haven’t read Helsinki Sunrise, but am tempted to add it to my ever-growing to-read pile. I’m told self-control is a virtue. When it comes to books, it’s not a virtue I possess).

I’m always a sucker for a good romance, especially one with an out-of-the-ordinary setting, and Oslo Overtures ticks all the boxes for what I think a Christian romance should be. Recommended for those who like extreme sports and exotic locations (whether participating and visiting in real life or vicariously through fiction!).

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

This counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book set in another country. Yes, most books I read are set in another country but I figured Norway was a whole lot more exotic than my usual US/UK literary destinations!

17 August 2015

Review: True to You by Liwen Y Ho

Cross-cultural romance with plenty of complications

Melanie Koo has been the perfect Chinese-American daughter—done well in school, become a doctor, and now agreeing to marry Melvin, another doctor and a member of their Chinese Church. There is the slight problem that Melanie wants the American dream of falling in love with her fiancé, and she’s not in love with Melvin. In fact, he brings her out in hives. Literally. Oops.

Then she has a chance meeting with Ben, who brings the butterflies to her stomach along with all the other falling-in-love clichés she’s read (and who doesn’t bring her out in hives). But he’s everything her mother doesn’t want in her future husband. He’s not an engineer. He’s not a doctor. And he’s not Chinese.

True to You is a romance novella with a difference, in that it features a heroine from a minority not often seen in US Christian fiction (Camy Tang is the only other author I can think of who features Chinese-American heroines with an emphasis on the cultural aspects). It’s lots of fun, with excellent characters and plenty of awkward situations (many of them caused by Melanie’s interfering and opinionated mother).

There were a few minor writing glitches, but nothing sufficient to take me out of the story, which was an excellent mix of romance and foreign culture with some more serious themes of racism and faith.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Liwen Ho at her blog.

14 August 2015

Giveaway: Keely Brooke Keith

Regular readers will remember I've reviewed all three books in Keely Brooke Keith's debut Uncharted trilogy over the last year. You can read my reviews here, here and here, and Keely also shared her favourite authors in a Friday Fifteen post.

Lots of readers (including me!) wondered at the backstory to Uncharted: what motivated the Founders to leave 1860's America, and how did they find the Land?

The answers are coming ...

Cross River Media Group announced today the signing of a book deal with Keely Brooke Keith, author of the ground-breaking Uncharted series.

In her highly anticipated fourth book, Aboard Providence, Keith explores the history of her first series Uncharted. It follows the story of the founders as they leave everything they know to form a new colony. After an arduous voyage, Providence runs aground on an uncharted land in the South Atlantic Ocean. While the rest of the settlers celebrate finding the land they wanted, Jonah Ashton leaves the settlement to explore, expecting to find civilization nearby. He discovers a startling truth that will change his plans, but can it change his heart?

“I most enjoyed fleshing out the mystery of how the founders arrived in the Land and what it was like for them,” Keith says. “Not only from the perspective of the characters who wanted that adventure, but also those who didn't.” “We are excited to have Keely join the CrossRiver family of authors,” says Tamara Clymer, founder and President of CrossRiver Media Group. “She is a talented writer with a history of intriguing and entertaining stories that ignite a woman’s relationship with God.”

Aboard Providence is scheduled for release in 2016.

And there's a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can't see the Rafflecopter form, click here to enter.

About Keely Brooke Keith

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely Brooke Keith was a tree-climbing, baseball-loving ‘80s kid. She grew up in a family who frequently relocated. By graduation, Keely lived in eight states and attended fourteen schools. Keely is a bass guitarist and plays on worship teams and for Christian artists.

When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys having coffee with friends, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Keely resides on a hilltop south of Nashville with her husband, Marty, and their daughter. You can visit her online at:

About CrossRiver Media Group

CrossRiver Media Group is a Christian publishing company based in western Kansas.Founded in 2010, CrossRiver publishes books and other materials which help Christians in their daily walk with the Lord. It has grown to cover several genres - non-fiction, fiction, children, Bible study and Christian living and includes winners of the CSPA Book of the Year, SELAH Award, and Grace Awards.

12 August 2015

Review: The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice of forensic expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter.

When Gwen Marcey’s dog comes home with a human skull and then leads her to a cabin in the woods near her Montana home, she realizes there’s a serial killer in her community. And when she finds a tortured young girl clinging to life on the cabin floor, she knows this killer is a lunatic.

Yet what unsettles Gwen most is that the victim looks uncannily like her daughter.

The search for the torturer leads back in time to a neo-Nazi bombing in Washington state—a bombing with only one connection to Montana: Gwen. The group has a race-not-grace model of salvation . . . and they’ve marked Gwen as a race traitor.

When it becomes clear that the killer has a score to settle, Gwen finds herself in a battle against time. She will have to use all of her forensic skills to find the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her—and the only family she has left.

2015 Reading Challenge: A Book that Scares Me

There are certain places around the world that simply aren’t safe. Top of the list in both TV-land and book-land is anywhere Miss Marple is visiting, because Miss Marple visiting a friend means someone is about to die. Other dangerous places in TV-land include most out-of-the-way villages in England (thanks, BBC), and Hawaii (we expect murders in LA, Miami and New York, but not in the paradise that is the Hawaiian islands). In book-land, we have the tiny English village where Drew Fathering lives, certain Amish communities (thanks, Vanetta Chapman), and that part of Utah where Carrie Stuart Parks has set her forensic thrillers: A Cry From the Dust, and now The Bones Will Speak.

As with any good thriller, there were several likely suspects (evildoers, as my daughter would say), plenty of red herrings, and that sense of impending doom for the characters that keeps me turning the pages in the vain hope that if I read fast enough, I’ll somehow be able to prevent whatever evil plan the villain has cooked up. That might sound delusional, but it’s indicative of the level of suspense the author has managed to achieve.

Gwen Marcy is a fascinating character. She’s a single mother of a rebellious teenage daughter (her husband divorced her while she was going through cancer treatments), and she’s trying to pull her life back together. She also has an interesting occupation: she’s a forensic artist, which means she takes skulls and reconstructs them to help identify the victim. It’s an interesting occupation and brings to mind Tim Downs and his forensic entomologist (an occupation Gwen could never have: she hates bugs). However, Gwen is a more well-adjusted character than Downs’s Bugman.

The one slightly odd thing about The Bones Will Speak is the way the story is told: it’s a combination of first person (Gwen’s point of view) and third person (the other characters). This is an unusual writing choice and it did jar me at first, but I forgot about it once I got into the story, partly because the story and characters were so compelling.

Overall, The Bones Will Speak was an excellent thriller, and while it’s not exactly a tourist advertisement for Utah, I’ll certainly be on the lookout for the next Gwen Marcy book.

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

(This counts as a book that scares me because any book about a missing child is scary. Because it could really happen.)

10 August 2015

Review: Counting on a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

Bo Monahan is happy for his brother, who has just married a journalist who is popularising Wishing Spring, Texas, as a location of single men looking for wives. Bo might be single, but that doesn’t mean he’s looking for commitment. But commitment finds Bo, in the form of Levi, a baby who is left on his doorstep, apparently his son.

Abby Knightley lost her husband two years ago, and still has recovered--or stopped blaming herself. She’s read Maggie’s columns, and decided a move to Wishing Springs is what she needs. She’s not looking for a husband, just for hope. But she can’t help falling for Levi, and being attracted to his handsome father.

I did like progression of the relationship between Abby and Bo, although I found Abby annoying at times. Sure, I could understand her animosity towards drunk drivers, but that didn’t (in my view) necessitate her hatred of a character merely because he drank. That’s like hating all men because one hurt you, or hating all Australians because they beat us in rugby (sometimes). It just seemed immature.

Counting on a Cowboy is the second book in Clopton’s new Four of Hearts Ranch series. Like the first, it’s a little formulaic, with most of the focus on the main couple but some slightly awkward scenes from the viewpoint of minor characters (mostly awkward because I was wondering why bit players were viewpoint characters). There were also some oddities around Levi—he was first described as a baby, then we found out he turned one a month ago, then he was twelve months old, then he was less than a year … I suspect I was reading an unproofed version, so let’s hope those glitches are picked up before it is printed.

The other thing missing was the Christian content. Counting on a Cowboy is from Thomas Nelson, a major CBA publishing house, yet the Christian content is best described as sparse. Abby goes to church once; Bo not at all. Both characters make occasional references to God or prayer, but faith isn’t a major theme for either character, despite forgiveness being a major issue for Abby. (In fact, God seems to be more important to the minor characters).

Overall, Counting on a Cowboy had potential, but felt as if it was trying to replicate a successful formula at the expense of originality. A solid read, but not something I’d re-read.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Debra Clopton at her website.

7 August 2015

Friday Fifteen: Chris Elston

Today I'd like to welcome debut author C.S. Elston to share fifteen books and authors who have influenced his life and writing. Welcome, Chris!

1. C.S. Lewis

While the list is in no particular order, I thought I’d start with C.S. Lewis and his fantastic Chronicles of Narnia series because of obvious comparisons to my debut novel, “The Four Corners”. Not to mention the fact that we share the same first two initials (although, I’m Christopher Scott – not Clive Staples). The Narnia books were staples (pun absolutely intended) in my house when I grew up. “The Screwtape Letters” also blew me away in high school. C.S. Lewis has had as big of an impact on me as a writer and a person as anyone else on the planet. Absolute genius.

2. Harper Lee – “To Kill A Mockingbird”

This book (as well as the 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck) made me want to write about real people and real problems. It also cemented, in both my writing and me as a person, themes of justice, redemption and truth. This is not only the greatest novel of the 20th century, it’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, novels of all time. Lee’s long-awaited follow up (55 years?!) “Go Set A Watchman” is the next book on my “To Read” list and I simply can’t wait!

3. The Stephen King & Frank Darabont combination

Stephen King is a brilliant and prolific writer. No question. But, I would argue that his best work is after it has been polished into a screenplay by Frank Darabont. This is how we got the movies The Green Mile (adapted from King’s serial novel of the same name) and The Shawshank Redemption (adapted from King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”). The latter is a particularly wonderful screenplay to read.

4. Richard Matheson – “Somewhere In Time”

Richard Matheson is another excellent writer who has had a lot of his books turned into movies (“Stir Of Echoes”, “I Am Legend”, etc.) including the well thought of “What Dreams May Come” which was both enjoyable and disturbing for me due to it’s distorted view of heaven. But, I first discovered Matheson when I saw the movie “Somewhere In Time” and loved it. It was captivating to me. So, I read the book (originally called “Bid Time Return” but changed for marketing reasons to match the film title) and liked it even better.

5. J.R.R. Tolkien

The entire Middle Earth saga (“The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and “The Silmarillion”) is a breathtaking masterpiece. The Peter Jackson films are awesome, too. But, the books the movies come from were a revelation when they were written in the 1950’s. Tolkien made me realize that both the devil and God can be found in the details.

6. H.G. Wells

Novels like “The Time Machine, “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” and “War of the Worlds” captivated my imagination when I was growing up. Wells had a brilliant mind and he made me realize the importance of romance in stories that, on the surface, seem to have nothing to do with love but the deeper you dig the more you realize that’s what they’re all about. That’s not just a lesson on writing, but on life.

7. John Grisham – “The Testament”

John Grisham is a commercially very successful writer. And, some of his works are excellent and have even been made into good movies (“The Firm,” “A Time To Kill,” “The Client,” “The Pelican Brief”, etc.) but, “The Testament” taught me that you can present Christianity in a real, non-cheesy and non-preachy way. If Hollywood ever lets me adapt another movie from a book that’s not my own, I’m praying this is it.

8. Michael Morris – “A Place Called Wiregrass”

I could probably copy/paste elements from my comments for both Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” and John Grisham’s “The Testament” here. “A Place Called Wiregrass” is another novel that made me want to write about real people with real problems and a real God.

9. Shel Silverstein

Not only is “The Giving Tree” one of the greatest stories ever written, it is also the first time I can remember a story making me cry when I was a kid. Silverstein’s collections like “Where The Sidewalk Ends” and “A Light In The Attic” also hold a special place in my heart from childhood.

10. Richard Connell – “The Most Dangerous Game”

This short story was assigned reading when I was a freshman in high school and I loved it. I have since realized that, not only did Hollywood make the movie back in 1932 and then again in 1945, 1953, 1956, 1972 and 1987, but they’ve also ripped it off without giving it credit too many times to count.

11. William Goldman – “The Princess Bride”

Yes, Rob Reiner’s 1987 movie is a modern classic. And, this is another case where the movie got me so excited I then read the book. It was back in high school and I ended up loving the book just as much, if not more. Fun, imaginative, and hilarious.

12. Diane Kinman – “Franca’s Story”

This biography marks the first time I was hired to adapt a book into a screenplay and it’s probably my favorite script out of all those I’ve had the pleasure to be involved with. Meeting Franca was a true highlight of my life. Unfortunately, the movie hasn’t been made. But, Hollywood, I’m sitting on a great script and I’m just a phone call away…

13. Dean Koontz

The “Odd Thomas” series is very popular and very fun. Koontz is another prolific writer with great commercial success. One of the more underrated books he’s written is called “Relentless” and may be a compilation of every author’s worst nightmares.

14. John Steinbeck

This is another author who made me want to write about real people and real problems. “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men” are simply brilliant. But, too many of his works are. I can’t list them all. “The Pearl,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “East of Eden,” “Cannery Row,” etc. Too many…

15. David Baldacci

Yes, another prolific and commercially successful author. But, I wanted to end on something that I’ve enjoyed very recently. A few years ago, my parents turned me on to Baldacci’s book “The Winner” and I’ve recommended it to countless others. Just this last year, my mom introduced me to his first foray into the Young Adult Fantasy genre because she knew I was wrapping up “The Four Corners” for publication. I’m so glad she did. I couldn’t put it down. I’m thrilled that Vega Jane is getting her own series and that the sequel, “The Keeper,” will be out in September.

Of course, I could easily go on and make this list a lot larger than 15. The longer list would include the likes of J.K. Rowling, Madeleine L’Engle, Arthur Miller, Richard Adams, Tennessee Williams, Chaim Potok, Dante Alighieri, Horton Foote, and Nora Ephron to name a few. So, I appreciate the restriction of just 15. I also appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts and reflections on some of the superb writers who have influenced me over the years. Happy reading…

Thank you, Chris!

If you'd like to find out more about Chris and his debut novel, Four Corners, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and his website. Visit his publisher, Electric Quill Press, for a free classroom literary unit, or free faith-based study.

3 August 2015

Review: Love on a Deadline by Kathryn Springer

Lovely Romance Novella

Journalist Mackenzie Davis is working for the Red Leaf Register, the paper in her home town, while she waits for her big break in a major publication. Meanwhile she’s left covering insignificant local interest stories. And now her high school nemesis is marrying a rising movie star, and she’s been asked to cover the wedding preparations … which are being undertaken by her high school crush, the boy next door, the brother of said high school nemesis.

“This was Hollis Channing they were talking about. The girl who’s been taking selfies a decade before there’d been a name for it.”

The characters were well-developed, with a convincing and believable rationale for the big misunderstanding she and Ethan had in high school. I was especially impressed by the way she was able to show change in the various characters—not just Mac and Ethan—and the way she brought all the threads of the plot together. The plot was another strength, as it had more complexity than I usually see in a novella.

I think this is the first book I’ve read by Kathryn Springer, but I’ll certainly be keen to read more, as Love on a Deadline was a thoroughly enjoyable short romance

Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.