Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mary Ball shares about her book Stone of Destiny

Stone of Destiny
12.99 paperback
2.99 eBook
Taylor has given up on everything but her work. After becoming the youngest CEO of Mugful’s Beverage Company, she believes life is complete--until her grandmother asks her to oversee the renovations of the family home, in addition to searching for a missing heirloom. 

Her first contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. Taylor experiences strange. Unexpected feelings surface that she doesn't understand. Thoughts that should remain unspoken are voiced. 

Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself and forcing her to question everything she believes. 

Is this a fairytale, or simply her soul reaching out for a different world--a life she can only find through faith and a divine trust in God?
Mary says:
The most favorite part of Stone of Destiny is the chapter where Taylor and her mom talk about life, It's not an earth shattering moment for Taylor, but for the first time she sees the world from her mom's prospective. Taylor then begins to understand what happiness really is about.        
Two things I have learned during writing and publishing are:
1. Having a critique partner is a must. 
2. Weasel words are a bad habit. :)
When readers finish Stone of Destiny I hope they share the lesson Taylor learned.    
                        ~~Now that sounds intriguing, Mary! ~Lisa   

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

I live in North Carolina between the wondrous mountains and beautiful beaches. Every chance I get to explore these two picturesque places I travel three hours (in either direction) and bask in the splendor. I love the outdoors, there is so much creativity to look at, and I'm always amazed at the vast world God gave us.
My favorite pastimes is fishing and of course, reading, not necessarily in that order and often together. Last year, I caught a forty-five-pound Red Drum. Hey, for me that was a milestone!
Just like everyone else, I sometimes get bogged down. I have to step back and take a look at the big picture. On those occasions, I seek solace in the Lord. Jesus endured much for us, so we're sure to face the adversary at times. Religious traditions will not define my novels. I depend on God's word to lead the way.
Being there for my family and supporting my husband's ministry reminds me that life is more about what we have, than the things we don't. I also enjoy singing gospel music.
Readers can connect with me on Face Book and Twitter.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Gingerbread House novella review

The Gingerbread House
Jacqueline Hopper
Prism Book Group
October 2013

buy on Amazon

From the publisher:
Keren Joel has a phobia and, without realizing it, she's passed it on to her son, forcing her to seek professional help. What she doesn't expect to find is the man who'd been her best friend twenty years earlier, and his shrine to a moment that forever changed the adults they became.

My review:
The Gingerbread House is a novella, a quick read, about family, the past and the present, and what we hold dear.

Hopper's characters, the divorced Keren and her little guy Sawyer, and the man from her past who couldn't let go, Jared, are in a real pickle. Keren unwittingly transferred her fears onto Sawyer who now needs professional help to avoid a lifelong existence of stranger fear. I worked in a mental health dept. and encountered such issues.

Keren seeks help from a child psychologist who uses revolutionary methods to work with children, one of which is about to be exploited by Hollywood. When Keren realizes the depth to which her former neighbor and friend, Jared, had never forgotten their past, she jumps between flattery and outrage and a terrible guilt for a past wrong. They each have far to go to using the past in a way that helps them move forward with their lives in a healthy way, while also helping Sawyer.

In a novella there isn't the space or necessity to provide lengthy treatment details. While Sawyer seemed to quickly resolve his issues, the point is that two adults in his life worked together to make that happen. Nice story, enjoyable!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meet Lindsey Paley, author of Stiletto Heels or Bicycle Wheels? and Recipe

About the Book

When stressed out New York executive Rosie Hamilton inherits her Aunt Bernice’s run-down cottage, it couldn’t have come at a better time. With her love life, if she could call it that, exploded in her face and suspension from her job swinging through the corporate jungle, she reckons a couple weeks in Devon could be just the escape she needs from the glamorous, yet trauma-strewn landscape of her life in Manhattan.

But life hidden away in the thatched lodge is dull and how can she contemplate tackling the jungle of a garden in her Louboutins and Armani skirt suit? Rosie, uncomfortable with the invasion of privacy masquerading as community spirit, yearns to return to her old life of social indifference, until she stumbles upon her aunt’s old, hand-illustrated recipe book .With no other activity to occupy her time, she bakes, bakes, bakes as if her life depends on it. With no form of transport either, Rosie takes to the road on Bernice’s ancient bicycle, warm Devonshire scones in the wicket basket up front.

She even has time to date! Austin, her aunt’s handsome, sharp-suited solicitor, is straight from her New York wish list of boyfriend material; and Charlie, the local luxury Spa Hotel’s general maintenance guy, definitely not her type, irritatingly chirpy and lacking in life’s ambition.

With recipes from Aunt Bernice’s own baking book for you to try at home; Corporate Manhattan or rural Devon? Austin or Charlie? Stiletto Heels or Bicycles Wheels? Which would you choose?

3.99 ebook

Lindsey says:

What I most love about the story is that love and romance can be found when, where and with whom you least expect it. Rosie's life in NYC is so hectic that she has no time for love or relationships, but even when there is an enforced change of pace, it takes her some time to realise that happiness can be found in the most unexpected of places. 

I have always had a herb garden in my back garden. Every recipe in the novel has been tried and tested and, like Rosie in the novel, they didn't always work out first time. But if at first you don't succeed......! And I think that adage can be a writer's resolution, that despite the hurtful rejections and criticisms of our work we all encounter, we must keep on trying, again and again.

I hope every reader of Stiletto Heels will feel an affinity with the character of Rosie, maybe see a little of themselves in her, particularly her desire to make everyone happy, sometimes at her own expense. Of course, I also hope they thoroughly enjoy the heart-warming story with an uplifting message and happy ending

One of the fun things about the novel is that Rosie delves into her Aunt Bernice's illustrated recipe book and attempts to recreate her recipes with varying degrees of success. My favourite recipe is for Lavender Shortbread. It has a deliciously subtle aroma of lavender. Here it is - if you decide to try it out - it would be awesome if you posted a photo of the finished product to my author page

(NOTE FROM LISA: While Lindsey is DELIGHTFULLY British, I've Americanized some of her terms, and added the equivalents to the recipe in case you want to try it---WHICH I WILL because I have Lavender Sugar from Canada I bought last summer!!!)

Aunt Bernice’s Lavender Shortbread
(1 cup) 200g softened, unsalted butter
(1/2 cup) 100g lavender sugar
(1 1/2 cup) 200g plain flour, sieved
(3/4 cup) 100g semolina (flour)

Beat the butter until smooth, then add the lavender sugar and mix until incorporated. Mix in the flour and the semolina until a dough is formed. Knead very lightly. Try not to overwork. Roll gently and cut out 5 cm (2 inch) rounds. Place on a greased baking tray and chill for an hour. Bake in a preheated oven, Gas Mark 4 for 25-30 mins, taking care not to overbake, like Rosie did. Leave to cool before transferring to a wire rack. Sprinkle with lavender sugar, or if you wish, lavender petals.

Home-made lavender sugar is easy to make. Wrap a tablespoon of fresh lavender flowers in muslin and tie securely. Place into a sealed jar with 500g of caster sugar (Lisa says: 2 1/2 cups - we talked about this in the group: caster sugar is ground granulated sugar-not quite powdered sugar quality. I make mine in a little coffee grinder; others in a food processor or grinder). Shake daily and after a week the lavender aroma will have permeated the sugar. Discard the muslin bag and the sugar is ready for use.

About Lindsey Paley
Lindsey Paley grew up in Yorkshire, UK. She relocated to Newcastle Upon Tyne in the North East of England where she lives with her husband and young son and as many books as she can cram into the four corners of her spare bedroom.

An avid baker, with a willing family and neighbours as tasters, when she is not scrutinising her fellow human beings for ideas for her next novel, she is to be found perfecting her swing on the golf course – a hopelessly over-optimistic ambition.

Stiletto Heels or Bicycle Wheels? – which would you choose? is Lindsey’s latest romantic comedy. Her first two – The Wish List Addiction and Ugly Paradise are under contract with Prism Book Group and due to be published in 2014. She is currently hard at work on her next novel – The Wedding Yarn.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inspirational thriller: Brother Half Angel book review

Brother Half Angel book review
Martin Roth
November 2013
Amazon Kindle 3.99
Paperback: 10.40
buy on Amazon

From the publisher:
In this book from Martin Roth's series of international thrillers, Brother Half Angel is the leader of a secret new church military order, dedicated to helping Christians under attack around the world. He is sent to China, where an underground seminary is under siege from fanatical sword-wielding members of a local cult who still pay homage to the bloodthirsty extremists who tried to expel all foreigners from China in the nineteenth century.

But while under attack from external forces, the seminary has its own internal divisions. The director, Uncle Ling, a hero of the underground Chinese church, holds secrets that he cannot reveal. And now the tensions are threatening the marriage of idealistic young American missionaries Daniel and Jenny Westloke.

This gripping thriller offers relentless suspense while raising serious questions – how far can Christians go to defend themselves? When should they turn the other cheek? What happens when a Christian kills in self-defense? And should those who live by the sword really expect to die by the sword?

My review:
Without spoiling the ending, I just want to say that it comes very abruptly. This book is part of a series, but the story stands alone. There are brutal moments, but they aren’t gratuitous; faith prevails through every page. I very much enjoyed the story line and felt a lot of frustrations with the missionaries and the church involved.

Roth is a beautiful writer with the ability to take his reader directly to his settings and plunk them right into the action. Although I felt a bit of whiplash when Brother Half Angel came to an end, it was a thought-provoking stopping point, and not wholly unexpected when I think about it. And that’s what we want as writers, isn’t it?

Idealistic missionaries, as the author describes Daniel and Jenny, is correct. Their story of following God’s will above the advice of their earthly supervisors leads to challenges and revelations which they need in their young marriage. Brother Half Angel is a character I plan to spend more time with in other novels of Roth’s. He is willing to wear and act upon his faith in what seems to be an undisciplined way until the people around him stop to analyze his actions.

Powerful read. Gripping. Recommended for those who like inspirational action in multicultural settings.

Monday, January 20, 2014

NEW YEAR NEW GOALS with Prism Book Group

Celebrating Jacqueline Hopper's one hundred thousandth blog viewer, a few of us teamed up to present a host of NEW YEAR GOALS and GIFTS for a special blog winner. Don't forget to sign up on rafflecopter, and hop along to the others in the group.

Here are Lisa's

Goals and Achievements 

I had the craziest year ever – reached goals I hadn’t even set out for, along with some that I did. I don’t know which surprised me more, but I know I’m leery of trying to set any for this year. I had way too many novels release (four, though one was a re-package, and one was part of an anthology—terrible problem, I know—but it is: you can really wear out your welcome in promotion circles), found a great new publisher, was asked to participate in another project, wrote a full-length novel and co-authored another, was nominated for mentor of the year by ACFW, won a state award for a children’s book, and made my earnings goal for the year. 

Those are just the tangible things. It’s not something I’m going to try to top, but I can put these things in perspective with what didn’t happen (pretty much anything with my agent), to set some goals for this year. I have one book release with Prism Book Group already, which I’m excited about. I have a lot of work lined up. I have a few writing projects started because of failed proposals. I can’t worry about my job as a freelance editor because that fluctuates, though the Lord was always there, carrying me this past year. 

Goal number one is to make a decision with my agent – done.
Goal number two – do final tweaks and get the manuscript I wrote last year submitted
Goal number three – finish at least two of the novellas I have started
Goal number four – publish the last four books of my children’s series, The First Children of Farmington
Goal number five – raise my earnings by ten percent

Finally, this is a goal I’ve set in motion, but perhaps there are multiple ways to work it out: seeing a book I’ve written distributed by ChrisitanBook.com How do you work out goals? What keeps you back, what propels you?


Sign up for prizes: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 17, 2014

Meet Michael Reynolds, author of Love One Another?

Love One Another?
By Michael Reynolds

About the Book:
God created you with an inner desire to have close friends who encourage you throughout life’s ups and downs. More than that, Jesus commands you to love other followers of Christ with the same intimate love that he pours out on you. How amazing is that? This is the kind of command I want to follow! Love One Another explores the meaning of this beautiful command and how obeying it can transform your life in exciting new ways. Michael gives practical ways to deepen the friendships God has given you and explores how living this kind of life draws you closer to Christ.

In a busy and fast-paced culture, we can find ourselves settling for friendships that are convenient and shallow. God desires us to experience extraordinary life-changing friendships that reflect the love he has for us. Following this one command is essential if we are to grow in our love for God, in our love for others, and become a more appealing image of Christ to everyone else. Christ’s love is intimate and deep, sacrificing his own life to save ours. Can you imagine someone saying that about you? Love One Another will start you on this journey towards deep friendships that will change your life. Are you ready for such an adventure?

August 2013
$4.99 ebook
$8.99 print
Buy on Amazon

Michael, what do you love about this book?

Each time I have read through it I am left in awe at the depths of Christ’s love for us. To be asked to love others in this close personal way is both inspiring and overwhelming. My life has truly been changed in fantastic ways as I have lived out the principals laid out in each chapter. Too many times I have read a book which has inspired me but have been frustrated because I had no idea how to get to such a place in my life. With this in mind I tried to make each principal very practical so that any person can begin down this journey towards deeper friendship.

What do you hope readers will tell others after they’ve read your book?

Honestly there are a bunch of places I hope readers land after reading this book. Some people may see Jesus’ command to love one another differently than before while others may find a longing for an intimacy with other followers of Christ. What would excite me the most though is if a reader told a friend they wanted to go through the book together with them. The whole point of the book is to pursue deeper friendships so what a great opportunity to start!

Two things I learned while writing and publishing this book?

Being that this was my first experience of writing a book I learned many things along the way, but there are a couple key lessons I took away from the whole process. First off, I learned the importance of finding the right editor, not simply any editor. Editors do more than proofread; they help with flow and content. This means you need someone who knows something about the content you are writing about too! Another thing I learned in the process is writing is only the beginning. After the content was written I was surprised at all the work it took to get the book published. Finding the right title, writing a catchy description, formatting, cover design, I was unprepared for the work required after the writing was finished.

Anything else you want us to know?

This book is only the beginning to the exciting adventure that can be found when you begin to love other people the way Christ calls us to. I could only focus on a few aspects of Christ’s love, but when you spend time abiding in His love, you come to find there is no end. Writing this book was a joy to my heart and I hope reading it brings joy to yours as well.

About Michael Reynolds:
I live in California with my wife Merry and my daughter Joy where I am a Christian Coach at Vintage Christian Coaching Center in Templeton. I worked in full-time ministry for over ten years and have a Masters in Ministry, Masters in Theology, and a Doctorate in Biblical Studies. Those are my credentials, but who I am at the core is someone who cares about people. I love to sit and talk to people about their stories, their lives, and begin to see God in new ways through them. As a Christian Coach, I have the unique opportunity to help people see how the Gospel can bring restoration to the deepest places of their lives. I believe God’s love is a rich and beautiful treasure. Spending my days unraveling its mysteries is an adventure worth living.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

book review: Ryan's Father by June Foster

Product Details

Buy on Amazon

Ryan's Father
June Foster

January 2014
WhiteFire Publishing
ISBN: 978-1939023186

From the publisher:
A young man at war with himself
The rippling influence of Ryan Reid's less than moral mother and absent father left a mark on his soul. Yet everything changed when the young teacher gave his life to the Lord...almost everything.
An earthquake hurls the beautiful Sandy Arrington into his life, tossing his world upside down. But when God calls him to build an annex for needy teens at his church, he finds himself battling an attraction toward his male partner in the project. His own struggles and Sandy's growing feelings for him force Ryan to face the issue he's long buried.

Can he dig his way out from under his secret to find Sandy's love?

My review:
First of all, kudos to June Foster for writing so sensitively about a subject that’s normally taboo in inspirational fiction, and thank you to WhiteFire for publishing it.

Lust, temptation, sin is a daily struggle for many people, forgiven or not, Christ-loving or not. Those who have even looked with lust upon another are guilty of sin…what if a faithful, Christ-professing young man looked with lust upon another man? Ryan Reid’s torture is very real and genuinely and eloquently revealed in this story. His anguish weeps from the pages, and readers can’t help but lift him up as he painfully struggles to realign his life.

Ryan’s female love interest, Sandy, is confused by Ryan, thinking at first that he has feelings for his friend’s girlfriend. Her journey to realization includes much self-healing as well; honestly felt, shared, and reckoned with.

Foster’s lovingly written story is fiction; she admits that the struggle and recovery period aren’t meant as a guide for those who truly want to take back their lives, but the story is one of hope and grace.

Recommended for those who can handle the tough side of faith matters.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast With Sharon A. Lavy

  cover pic
Deadly Secret By Sharon A Lavy
About the Book
The covering on Evalena Davidson’s head invites all kinds of confidences and sharing, a blessing on Denton Community Hospital’s oncology ward. But people expect her to be perfect, which makes living up to the promise of her Old German Baptist uniform a challenge. Pete Neper, head of the sanitation department senses unrest among the employees but finds it a challenge to track down the cause. Danni Wagoner, another oncology nurse is implicated in a drug scam. Old German Baptist Brethren with their adherence to traditional ways do not get involved with the law. But how can Evalena turn her back on a friend? This unlikely trio put their lives and reputation at risk to uncover a deadly secret in an attempt to identify a killer before someone else dies.

Sharon A Lavy Writer of Inspirational Women's fiction with a touch of Suspense. Sharon A Lavy lives with her husband in SW Ohio. When not reading, writing, or sewing for her family, she enjoys traveling with her husband in the German crafted Flight Design airplane they call PaPa. Sharon is best known in the novel writing community, as that German Baptist lady. In the Old German Baptist community she's a dressmaker, a pattern maker, and the sister who writes. And in her own mind she's a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, but above all a child of God. ~~ Her greatest desire is to be a woman after God's own heart~~ Sharon has a heart for hurting women, and writes women's fiction. Because when~~it's all said and done~~It's all about relationships.
Follow Sharon A Lavy
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Sharon A Lavy! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Non-fiction adventure book review: Two Are Better

Two Are Better book review
Tim and Debbie Bishop
ISBN: 9780985624828
May 2013
Open Road Press
buy on Amazon

19.95 full color paperback
7.99 ebook

From the back:
Go for it! This unique and entertaining story proves it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience bicycle touring—or marriage! While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?

My review:
Tim and Debbie Bishop are brave. They asked me to read and review Two Are Better, and I agreed, not realizing what an adventure I’d been given. My first shock was learning that the Bishops were my age when they undertook first-time marriage, followed by a cross-country bike trip for a honeymoon. My second shock was thinking, I wonder if I passed them, because some of the same roads they traveled out west were the same ones my husband and I took from the safety of our car, about the same time. We pass cyclists and shake our heads.

This book is not simply a travelogue, but a reflection on undertaking a life-transforming journey at what most people consider middle age. Changing one’s entire lifestyle by marriage is one thing, but then to go on a trip for which they both declared they were unprepared immediately thereafter is an interesting throw-you-in-the-deep-end method of learning to swim. The Bishops were honest about the trip and their feelings, and the events, throughout the trip.

Maps with the stops accompany the narrative, most of which is written by Tim, with paragraphs inserted in a different color by Debbie. My husband is a teacher, and I kept thinking while reading, he’d never, ever, allow himself to get home only hours before starting a new school year. He’s a different kind of teacher, though. I read the account also from a perspective of being married for more than half my life. It takes special people to be brave and blissfully ignorant to attempt a trip like this. I loved the photographs and accounts of crossing our country, what they learned about each other and themselves, as they traveled. While Tim’s style of writing occasionally waxes eloquently, a few quotes stuck out: “A delicate balancing act of making progress on multiple fronts was an instructional tutorial on married life.” “Most fears have some basis in reality, but we usually give them too much power….Everyone has the opportunity to come face to face with discovery.” And from Debbie, “Later, I came to realize that life as I had known it was gone forever....Although change may be more difficult [as we age], that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t happen. When we stop changing, we stop growing.”

This is a great book for couples at any stage of their relationship, whether or not you’re planning an adventure. The Bishops are also working on a tutorial book about bicycle touring.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: The Love Thief novella by Daisy Jericho

The Love Thief
Daisy Jericho

Prism Book Group

From the Publisher:
When the jewelry gallery she works at is robbed, Sandra is not just the prime suspect; she is the only suspect. Desperate to clear her name, she reluctantly agrees to work with sexy former jewel thief, Alex Daniels, to recover the jewelry and catch a thief. 

He reminds her of the men who lounge half-naked across Ferraris in fragrance ads, aloof and confident in their looks. Alex can't believe anyone as naive and trusting as Sandra can be for real. Thrown together to solve the robbery, Alex feels his heart begin to thaw towards Sandra. As his feelings become stronger, Alex must ask her to rekindle a romance to her recently paroled ex-boyfriend, who holds the key to solving the robbery. 

In the end, Sandra must decide if it is more important to clear her name or follow her heart.

My Review:
The Love Thief author Daisy Jericho is from my home state, so of course I had to try it. A young lady with a boyfriend who set her up as a patsy in a past theft wants to keep her name clear when the jewelry store she works at is robbed. The consultant who works with a detective assigned to the case has a troubling history as well, and sparks fly when the young lady and the consultant match wits to catch the thief.

I enjoyed this quick read; the characters were fun, the story moved along quickly and the ending satisfying. Those who enjoy novellas--vastly different from full-length books-- and romances--which by nature are predictable--will enjoy Jericho's book. Enough twists and fun snarkiness, and a dog! to keep the reader enjoying each turn of the page.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Venture into Faeraven with Janalyn Voigt - special pricing today

Just seeing the cover of Janalyn's first book, DawnSinger, made me want to jump onto a wingabeast and fly into Faeraven. Naturally I was devastated when that first story came to an end. But now WayFarer is come! And hop on over to AuthorCulture for a special lesson about the fantasy creatures on Faeraven on January 8.

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble Nook

Books paperback

DawnSinger: A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her fly on winged horses to the Gate of Life above the Well of Light in a desperate bid to release the DawnKing, and the salvation he offers, into a divided land. Will they each learn in time that sometimes victory comes only through surrender?
WayFarer: When an untried youth ascends to the high throne of Faeraven, his mistakes tear kingdoms apart and allow just one chance at redemption. He must humble himself before the man he banished.

Enjoy the Trailer

About Janalyn Voigt
As children, my older brother and I would beg my father for bedtime stories, and he would give them.  His deep voice rumbled against my ear at his chest as he unfolded stories of exotic places like Oz and Neverland. My imagination carried on with the tales even after he closed the book for the night. When eventually he stopped reading stories, I began creating my own.

Within a few years I’d become storyteller of my neighborhood. The other children would gather in a circle on our lawn while I invented stories to entertain them. No one, including myself, thought of this as anything unusual. It wasn’t until my sixth-grade teacher pointed out my ability to spin a tale that I and my parents took note. This is how at the age of twelve I decided to become a novelist. At it turns out, the fulfillment of that dream took a few more years than planned. 

Find out more about Janalyn, her closet writing office, and her books at the author website for JanalynVoigt.