Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Words Spoken True Review and Giveaways

The cover is what grabbed my attention on this book. But it didn't take many pages before I was pulled into the story of a strong-willed independent woman who was trying to find her place in a world that severely constrained the opportunities available to women. Imagine 1855 Louisville. It's a time just a handful of years before the Civil War. A time when politics is heating up and cities like Louisville had several newspapers competing for the right to communicate their spin on current happenings.

A new editor is in town and the news leader is feeling the pressure -- at least his daughter is. To the point she is willing to take crazy risks to track down the person who is killing poor women on the wrong side of town. Problem is her father has agreed to an engagement for her to a man she likes but doesn't love. Then she collides with the new editor and the sparks fly even as her intended pushes her to rush forward. 

This book has touches of suspense, undertones of political scandal, and a romance that will bring you back to the book again and again. 

Today is the last day to enter the author's contest. Just click on the picture above to go to the contest. And if you leave a comment, I have a copy of the book I'd love to give away to a fellow lover of historical fiction. Just make sure you leave a way for me to reach you if you are the winner. 

Here's more about the book. Be sure to read the excerpt from chapter one here.

One woman stands ready to defend her newspaper...even if it means losing out on love.
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 a failing competing paper 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 theTribune'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.

The publisher provided a copy of the book, but the opinions are mine alone. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Sweethaven Summer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Sweethaven Summer
Guidepost Books (February 7, 2012)
Courtney Walsh
A Sweethaven Summer tells the story of a young woman trying to find her roots after her mother dies. I found myself pulled in to the story that melds past and present and weaves a story that's hard to put down. Even though I usually prefer books with historical or suspense settings, I will definitely read more books by Courtney Walsh. Her writing has a lyrical feel that transported me into the characters and their journeys.


Suzanne's daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother's history.Suzanne's three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven't spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne's letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed, and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Summer, go HERE.

Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooker, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She’s also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum. She works as the PR Manager for Webster’s Pages from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and three kids, who range in age from 4 to 10. Courtney drinks entirely too much coffee.  


Suzanne's daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother's history.Suzanne's three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven't spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne's letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed, and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Summer, go HERE.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monday Meditations: Finding God in the Pauses

In January, I received disappointing news from a publisher. It was one of those good rejections...the kind that said we'd love to work with you, but this book isn't quite right yet. Lots of great feedback -- which is so valuable. But still it was a no. A no that hurt after I'd let my heart hope that this was the right time.

Then a couple weeks ago, it looked like summer plans that we've had in the works since last fall were falling of those God has to intervene or this is dead. I could see dreams spiraling toward death as I sat at my computer...stunned and if I'm honest...crying. Something I don't do. Really.

I stared at my computer screen and kept asking God what He was up to. Then I had to go to church to lead a women's Bible study -- the timing was so ironic. After that I took a walk through the neighborhood, with more questions.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Looking for a small group resource for married women?

Have you ever talked to someone who needed help learning how to build a good marriage? Someone who really struggled and you weren't sure how to help? Have you wandered bookstore aisles looking for a book that might help you become the wife you want to be, but aren't sure how to get there? Then this resource might be for you. The book focuses on helping women through small mentoring groups. The Mentor's Guide provides step by step ideas and guidance for a mentor, taking the mystery and concern out of leading a group. The Mentor's Guide provides tips on how to start a program, potential problems that could arise, how to choose mentors, and how to lead the actual groups. The Beautiful Wife book provides the curriculum. Each chapter ends with reflection questions to help women personalize what they've read. That then leads to First Steps which takes the study deeper in the Bible, prayer, and the prayer journal while also suggesting concrete examples.
If you feel called to work with married women and a burden to help them thrive in marriage, then this set of books could be a wonderful place to start.
Here's more from the publisher: 
There was a time when Sandy Ralya's marriage was in trouble. While she eventually sought guidance from godly mentors and Christian counselors, she didn't forget the fear and isolation she experienced and knew other women were feeling the same. So in 2003 Sandy started Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry, to help other women know they are not alone in their struggles. Being a wife has always been a difficult role to understand. It's not a one-size-fits all formula and with that in mind, Sandy has written The Beautiful Wife o that all women can benefit from her "messy" story and her insights into the value of marriage mentorship. 
"...An incredible handbook that every woman needs. I believe this book will be life-changing for many, many women and their marriages."  -Best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn 

"Sandy Ralya candidly shares her experiences, others' personal stories, and God's wisdom to mentor women for great marriages." -Florence Littauer, speaker and best-selling author of Personality Plus 

"Simply and honestly, Sandy speaks to the real issues that wives deal with and gives practical guidance on how to become 'beautiful' in Christ." -Dan Seaborn, author and founder of Winning at Home

{About Beautiful Womanhood}

{More about Sandy}

Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry based near Grand Rapids, Mich. Her marriage testimony was the focus of a popular three-day interview on FamilyLife Today, TV's Walking by Faith, and Time Out for Women. Sandy is a sought-after speaker, presenting Beautiful Womanhood seminars to hundreds of women each year at MOPS groups, women's retreats, and church leadership conferences across the country and in Canada. Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980, and have a growing number of grandchildren.

{More about The Beautiful Wife book, Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide}

The Beautiful Wife uses these inspiring stories along with biblical principles to guide and encourage any wife looking for God's best in her marriage. The Beautiful Wife answers serious questions women have about their roles as wives. Discussing everything from romance and money to beauty, communication, and sex, Sandy challenges women to open up and share their journeys so that together they can see God's plan for their marriages. "It is my passion to help women discover God's heart for their marriage, just as the other women helped me," writes Sandy. "When women share with each other the details of their journeys with God as wives, it's a beautiful thing indeed." The Beautiful Wife has two companion resources - Prayer Journal andMentor's Guide.

Celebrate with Sandy by entering her Kindle Touch Giveaway and coming to her "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party {3/8}!

One beautiful winner will receive:

  • A Brand new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi

  • The Beautiful Wife By Sandy Ralya

  • The Beautiful Wife Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/7/12. Winner will be announced at Sandy's "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party on 3/8. Sandy will be hosting an evening of chat, laughter and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, prayer journals and a live chat with Sandy for your Bible study or small group!

So grab your copy of The Beautiful Wife and join Sandy and friends on the evening of March 8th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on March 8th!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Susan Sleeman here. Do you have an e-reader or maybe an iPad? Then I'd like to tell you about a line of cozy mysteries that has recently released with most books retailing for only .99 for a limited time.

Spyglass Lane Mysteries are published by a group of cozy mystery authors who have joined together to bring you a new cozy mystery every week. Currently, there are over 25 wonderful mysteries in this line.

Stop by the website to view all of the available books and while you're there, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter where we announce each new book that releases and our authors share behind the scenes stories about the books.
I'd also like to share a little bit about my Garden Gate Mystery Series that is releasing as part of this line. The first book, Nipped in the Bud has already released and book two, Read Between the Tines will release in February 23rd. Here's a little bit about both books.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girl Talk: a great resource for tween & teen girls

Are you looking for a resource for the teen or older tween girl in your life? One that answers the questions buzzing through her head? This colorful, magazine-like book could be just the ticket. It's like sitting down with a big sister and couple of friends and asking them the questions plaguing you. With its colorful and wisdom filled pages, this book is designed to be a go-to for young ladies with questions about life.

Questions about life stuff–relationships, body image, fashion. . . ? Look no further! This fabulous resource offers awesome advice from popular author of teen fiction, Nicole O’Dell. 180 days of Q&As plus related scripture selections will encourage and challenge your faith walk.

Popular blogging trio--mother, Nicole O'Dell, along with daughters, Emily and Natalie--offer trustworthy, biblically-based advice with a devotional flavor for girls ages 10 to 16. Culled from actual questions they've encountered on their blog site, this fabulous resource offers real-life helps for girls on issues including relationships, character, body image, fashion, gossip, and more. 

Girls will find 180 questions along with answers and related scripture selections that will both encourage and challenge them in their faith walk. Girl Talk, presented in a trendy format that reads like a magazine, is a super tool for girls' small groups or for individual use. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Evaluating Scholastic Progress in Your Homeschooled Student

It's that time of year. The time of year where if two homeschooling moms get together -- even if it's in the aisles of Wal-Mart -- their thoughts turn to how their kids measure up.

It's that time where we wonder if we've really done a good job. How would our kids compare to others? What if they got thrust into a traditional classroom? Would they be okay? Where would they be ahead? Where might they be behind?

Ack! What's a mom to do?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Meditations: Where is God?

Recently I was reading prayer requests from friends. These friends have battled and battled. They are so weary.

Maybe you feel the same way. If so, let the following encourage you.

When we're in a place where we can't sense God even when we've begged Him to move, I’m reminded of Daniel. Remember in Daniel 10...Daniel’s prayed and prayed, but there’s no answer. Daniel mourned for three weeks. He fasted during that time. Still no answer.

Then after three weeks the angel finally comes to him. His first words were "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed." Really, you're calling me highly esteemed? The one God has ignored? The angel continues with "do not be afraid." Maybe Daniel was thinking it'd be a lot easier to not be afraid if God would actually answer.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Halflings: an alternative to mythic stories

Halflings is the debut release by author Heather Burch. It is targeted to teens and has strong supernatural characters. I've been waiting for this book since meeting Heather at ACFW in September. My daughter stole the book the moment it arrived at our house. She literally couldn't put it down, reading it in the car, at the gym and everywhere in between.

Here's what she has to say:

Halflings was a really interesting book. It has a Percy Jackson feel minus the Greek mythology. It has a Christian spin with angels, hell hounds, demons, and other supernatural characters called halflings. All are battling over a teenage girl. The halflings are tasked with protecting her from the dark forces chasing her for unknown reasons. Nikki changes from a normal teenager to a girl fighting for her life. When the halflings first save her, she has no idea what they are other than they are gorgeous. Then she learns they are half angels/half human and determined to save her. She's just as adamant about protecting them. The battle is happening in a realm no one else can see. The Halflings look like normal teenagers to her friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When the Smoke Clears Review

Lynette Eason is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. This book continues to build on the strength of her prior books. 

This book has all the elements to be a book you can't put down. Alexia Allen is a heroine with a past filled with pain and a present filled with questions and danger. Hunter Graham is a detective who wanted to catch Alexia's eye in high school, but didn't. Now they are thrust together when Alexia reluctantly comes home in time to try to save a man who's been attacked in her mother's basement.

Everything is stacked against them...from any hope of a relationship to trying to prove Alexia isn't the murderer. This books shows such growth in characterization from the author's first full length novel, that I literally couldn't put it down. I had to see how Alexia would overcome the intense pain of her past and whether she would risk hurt in the present or remain walled-off. 

One comment: this book is clearly the first in a series. Not all threads are wrapped up neatly in the end. I can't wait for the next book! 

"I love this book. It will keep you guessing until the very end."--Dee Henderson, bestselling author
After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smokejumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson--and a handsome detective.

But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she struggles to accept and forgive her family's past, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Do-It-All Mom? Who me?

This week I'm starting a new venture. I'm a regular columnist at the multi-talented Nicole O'Dell's Choose Now Ministries. She's dubbed me the Do-It-All-Mom among a sea of really qualified columnists. Do-It-All-Mom? Me?

It's a wee bit intimidating. Ya know?

So I've been thinking about it. Do I do it all?

Yes, I'm a mom to the four amazing kiddos in the picture. I am forever grateful that God has entrusted them to us.

Yes, I'm an attorney, but I'm definitely in a season of slowing that down. I stay involved in a couple areas, but I'm not doing litigation, my favorite area, because it doesn't fit with my life right now. A choice I'd make again -- even though I love litigation.

Yes, I'm a contract lecturer at a University and adjunct faculty at a community college. I LOVE teaching and am so grateful God opened these doors. Lest you think otherwise, remember this too is part time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Meditations: Missing the Miracles

Last week a writing friend of mine when through a family crisis. Her granddaughter was born and almost immediately labeled as having serious issues. An undefined syndrome that the coming days and countless doctors would surely confirm as they examined this tiny baby. My friend quickly asked for prayer.

My heart broke for them.

A time of joy had been clouded with the unknown that could alter all of their lives.

Five days later she was back with a praise report. After being examined by countless doctors the verdict was no syndrome. This little girl might need glasses at some point -- don't most of us? -- and one other cosmetic, minor detail. So far from a prognosis of genetic syndromes.

Praise God! But was captured me was the end of Trish's email, which I'm sharing with you with her permission:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Three Reasons I Chose a Legal Setting for my Characters in Cherry Blossom Capers

One of the lessons I learned early as a writer was to write what I know. That's why my first heroine had the name Dani, lived in Lincoln, NE, and worked at a TV station. That's why my second hero and heroine were based on my grandparents and their love story in my hometown of North Platte, NE. That's also why Ciara Turner, the heroine of Dying for Love in Cherry Blossom Capers, is an attorney living in the neighborhood she does in the D.C. area.

You see, I went to law school inside the Beltway at George Mason University School of Law. One goal of many law students is to land a prestigious clerkship between graduation and that first law firm job. We start preparing for the application process in our second year. Then we send out approximately 100 packets of information to sitting judges. In my case, that packet included a copy of my published casenote, plus cover letter, resume, and more. I was targeting judges in Indiana, Virginia, Maryland, Iowa, Nebraska, and a couple other places.

Because I thought I might want to teach at some point, a clerkship was an important piece of the puzzle. It plain looks good. But it also gave me an incredible opportunity to see the legal system from a judge's perspective. After interviewing with several US district court or magistrate court judges, I was blessed to land a clerkship with Senior Judge Loren Smith of the Court of Federal Claims. It was a great experience. One that has  opened many doors for me.

So if you read Dying for Love and wonder if the relationship between former clerks and their judge is realistic, it is. When you are working for a judge and taking his thoughts and legal theories to craft drafts of opinions and legal memos, you develop a deep relationship. One that would make you think you are better equipped than the marshals or deputies assigned to find his killer.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Blue Moon Bay

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Blue Moon Bay
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Lisa Wingate
I love Lisa's books. Her Daily, Texas series was brilliantly funny and romantic. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to enjoy Blue Moon Bay yet. As soon as it moves from the top of my to be read pile to the read shelf, I'll let you know what I think of this book. But I can see that in general, I really enjoy her books.


Heather Hampton returns to Moses Lake, Texas, to help facilitate the sale of a family farm as part of a planned industrial plant that will provide the area with much-needed jobs. Heather's future fiance has brokered the deal, and Heather is in line to do her first large-scale architectural design--if the deal goes through.

But the currents of Moses Lake have a way of taking visitors on unexpected journeys. What was intended to be a quick trip suddenly morphs into Valentine's week--with Blaine Underhill, the handsome banker who just happens to be opposing Heather's project. Spending the holiday in an ex-funeral parlor seems like a nightmare, but Heather slowly finds herself being drawn into the area's history, hope, and heart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Blue Moon Bay, go HERE.

Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of sixteen books.  Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its eighteenth printing from Penguin Putnam.  Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen (2010).  Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, a general market publisher.  Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader's Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, Crossings Book Club, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read.  Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Jerk Magnet Review

When this book arrived at our house, my daughter scooped it up immediately. A day later she returned with it and plea for the next book. Melody Carlson is quickly becoming one of her favorite authors. 

Here's more from my daughter:

What if beauty is more than just skin deep?

Chelsea Martin is a teenager who blends in and is tired of it. She wants to be noticed, but isn't sure how to make that happen. In steps her future stepmother with the expertise and her dad opens his wallet. The next thing she knows, she's going shopping, her old clothes are in the trash, and her eyebrows are waxed. She's gone from plain to jaw-dropping, a transformation that changes her life in more ways than she anticipated. The girls start ignoring her while the guys start gawking. She's not sure she likes the transformation.

After she's moved to California and made a friend, she and her friend hide their identity at youth camp. Chelsea transforms back into her original self with her wallflower ways. She learns that beauty is so much more than skin goes to who you are. 

I enjoyed reading this book because it was filled with humor. At the same time Chelsea made lots of mistakes as she worked through her transformation. She learned to moderate her changes as she learned who she truly was. There are lots of lessons in that as we learn how to become who we really are. 

Monday, February 06, 2012

Fun Photos from writing

Someone needed some photos of me at booksigning events. So here are a few fun ones. Hmm, I'm wearing that same jacket today!
With a reader at Christian Book Expo
With a reader at booksigning
Booksigning after the month I had two books and a baby. With Colleen Coble and Robin Jones Gunn
Right after I won the Carol Award in 2008

Anybody else watch the Super Bowl last night? It was so fun to watch one of the guys my brothers grew up with catch a Super Bowl pass for a touchdown. Go, Danny!

And in the spirit of winning, selected the four winners of the books I was giving away Friday. There were 41 comments, so I added one of my latest release Cherry Blossom Capers to the mix. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I wish I had enough books for all, but I can't afford the postage :-) Here are this round of winners. A couple of you didn't leave emails, so please contact me by this Friday or I will select new winners:

Deborah Hardt
Aly Logan

Friday, February 03, 2012

Three books you should add to your reading lists...giveaways!

Yesterday, I was looking through my bookshelves and realized I ended up with multiple copies of a few books that I really enjoyed. Either the winner didn't claim them or I didn't realize I had multiple copies. So today...with cold winter nights perfect for reading and spring breaks coming up soon, I want to give you an opportunity to get some new reading material. These book are wonderful and a mix of genres. So comment, comment, comment -- but be sure to let me know which book you want to read!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

In Too Deep Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
In Too Deep
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Mary Connealy

Each time I think Mary Connealy can't possibly find another plausible reason to have two people hoisted into an arranged marriage I'm wrong. And there are always kids to add to the fun and chaos. This time, Ethan Kincaid wakes up one morning a bachelor and goes to bed married to Audra Gilliland and her two young children. Audra needs protection from the men after her deceased husband, and her children need protection from Ethan's brother who ambles into all kinds of scrapes. In 1866 life is rough on the Colorado frontier, but not as rough as trying to fall in love with someone you barely know. With doses of humor and traces of danger, the author draws the two together while also providing plenty of obstacles. And through the story's twists and turns, the two have to decide whether they will risk trusting their darkest moments to the other. This is another great book in a line of others from Mary.


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