Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

For Such a Time
By Kate Breslin
Bethany House
April 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-0764211607
Print $14.99
E-book $9.99

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Buy the Book:

See  my interview with the Author HERE for more about this special book.

From the publisher:
Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther
In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. 

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. 

Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

About the author:
A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. Author of several travel articles, award-winning poet, and RWA Golden Heart finalist, Kate now writes inspiring stories about the healing power of God’s love. For Such a Time is her first book. She lives with her husband and cat in Seattle, WA. Learn more at www.katebreslin.com.

My review:
Breslin’s debut novel is a masterful tale of sacrifice during the depths of the age of despair near the end of World War II.

The characters come to terms with truth and lies, reality, choice, and monsters within and without as they struggle to survive in the moment and in the future. Rich in detail, readers who appreciate fiction of the era will be entranced. Readers who are perfunctory in fact will want to know that the author created a fictional best-case scenario out of tragedy.

Hadassah was raised by a loving uncle after being orphaned. When Hitler attempts to create his blond-haired, blue-eyed master race and exterminate everyone else, particularly Jewish people, Uncle Morty creates a false identity for Hadassah. Through an accident of paperwork, the young woman is still sent to a death camp but miraculously escapes murder at the hands of a newly-appointed German commandant whose conscience is hanging by a thread.

Together with commandant’s strange collection of a mute housekeeper and one-eared little houseboy they become a family of misfits who must rely on each other for survival in the midst of brutality.

Romance was a necessary part of the genre, and while lovely, it was less natural than the time span allowed for my taste, as well as the faith elements of Jews and Christians. Nevertheless, I loved the characters and their story told from multiple viewpoints left me breathless with anticipation on many moments. I applaud the excellent vocabulary. Those who love historical, suspenseful inspirational fiction will find much to love about For Such A Time. Kudos to the author.

Caution: there are portrayals of graphic cruelty and murder of characters of all ages. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fun new cozy by Susan Bernhardt

The Ginseng Conspiracy
By Susan Bernhardt

Ebook 5.95
MuseItUp Publishing
January 2014

About the Book:
On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the judgment, Kay decides to uncover the truth for herself. Through her personal investigations, Kay exposes a complex conspiracy, woven deep within the thriving local ginseng industry, that involves some of the more prominent figures and families of Sudbury Falls.

With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa's Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. As Kay gets closer to the heart of the conspiracy, additional murders happen in quick succession. Before long, Kay learns that the villains are gunning for her, too. Phil, her musically talented but preoccupied husband, determined to keep her safe, withholds from her the one thing she needs most: the truth.

My Review:
I was eager to read and review Bernhardt’s new cozy from my publisher, MuseItUp. The Ginseng Conspiracy is set in the fictional town in Wisconsin near where I set my own—I think I recognized a couple of characters, too. Big Smile.

Unlike the typical cozy, Bernhardt’s story unravels much like Columbo. The crime of murder appears after the stage was set, readers know who dun it, and we follow the amateur sleuth as she and her sidekicks dig up clues. We want to scream “duck” or “don’t go there!” as conspirators lurk around every corner. The bad guys have a few scenes of their own, and there’s something else going on with our sleuth’s marriage that is part sideline and part red herring. The author did leave a surprise suspect which kept me turning pages in a hurry.

Ginseng Conspiracy is a longer mystery, filled with yummy food and lots of descriptions. Mostly told in first person from Kay, the sleuth’s, point of view, the reader will occasionally wander into other character’s perspectives. Kay’s friends are a blast, and the mythical town of Sudbury Falls is a great place to visit. Fun for those who like meatier cozies. Looking forward to more of Kay and her buddies to come! Recipes? Please!

About the Author:
Susan Bernhardt’s town in northern Wisconsin was an inspiration for the quaint setting of her novel. Like Kay Driscoll in her cozy mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy, Susan is a retired nurse who volunteers at her local free clinic. She lives with her husband, William, and has two sons, Peter and David.
An avid reader of mysteries, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. Her other published works include October 31st, Midsummer, and John and Madeline.

When not writing, Susan loves to travel, bicycle, kayak, and create culinary magic in her kitchen. She works in stained-glass, daydreams in her organic garden, stays up late reading mysteries, and eats lots of chocolate.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Women's Expo starts next week April 17!

Thursday, April 17, 2014, time 1-4 PM CT 

Here's a taste of what you can expect:

1 PM CT - Lisa Bevere starts off our Expo with the story behind her book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero 
1:15 CT - Dr. Jackie Roese will share the story behind Inhabit: A Study on the Holy Spirit.
1:30 CT - Kathy Howard will share the story behind, God is My Refuge: 12 Weeks of Devotions and Scripture Memory for Troubled Times.
1:45 CT - Enjoy prize drawings and a mini-concert with Frances Drost, from her recent release, Nobody Sees.
2 PM CT - Jenifer Jernigan shares the story behind her book Dive Deeper: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion.
2:15 CT - Gail Dudley shares the story behind her new Bible Study book Who Told You That? The Truth About the Lies.
2:30 CT - Rhonda Stoppe shares the story behind the Bible Study Book for Moms, Moms Raising Sons to Be Men.
2:45 CT - Enjoy prize drawings and a mini-concert with Sharon Lee Beavers, from her recent release, Jesus Staring Back at Me.
3 PM CT - Jessie Seneca starts off our 3rd hour with the story behind her book Road Trip.
3:15 CT - Jennie Allen shares the story behind Restless: Because You Were Made for More.
3:30 CT - Sue Edwards shares the story behind the Bible Study Book, Ephesians.
3:45 CT - Enjoy prize drawings and a mini-concert with Dawn Yoder, from her recent release, "Love Me Back to Life."

While You Are Waiting
Check Out Previous Bible Study Expo Interviews Below
& Access Leader Training with "7" Author, Jen Hatmaker HERE!


This is how it works: go to the above link and register. On Thursday, April 17 
go to the site and log in!

During the live event, the webinar box on the site, that looks like the one below, will go live via computer or by phone at (425) 440-5100 type in the Pin Code on the site. In addition, there will be Facebook and Twitter parties going live throughout the afternoon so you can meet the authors and other Bible Study enthusiasts. Register now for frequent updates.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Authors in Bloom - fun stuff, giveaways, tips, eReader prize drawing

10 Days of Giveaways - Gardening Tips – Recipes - and more!
Plus a GRAND PRIZE* you’ll be digging to win!

What will be given away? Everything from books to swag, promotional products and more! The grand prize is a Kindle or Nook (a $200 value) and a $25 gift card worth of ebooks!!! (Winner’s choice which ereader and ebook retailer gift card.) A second prize of $25 ereader gift card will also be given, available to INTL residents (VOID where prohibited by law). Authors will note US or INTL for their giveaway eligibility. Where US or INTL is not specifically noted, US eligibility will apply. The grand prize is available for US entrants only. 

Dianne will also be 
hosting a Facebook Party for the entire 10 
days, including more garden tips, recipes, fun facts, etc. at 
http://www.facebook.com/DianneVenetta (Click open in a new tab in your browser if direct click 
doesn't work. Feel free to join in.

GRAND PRIZE: We are giving away a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a $25 gift card for the same. We are also giving away a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. To be eligible, you must visit, comment and leave your email address on each of the stops on this blog hop. The link list is posted BELOW for your convenience. Winners will be posted on both the first Dianne Venetta and last A Cozy Reader’s Corner, websites on April 19, 2014.
Happy Hopping!

LOFOL PRIZE: By leaving a comment here on my blog along with your e-mail contact, I’ll pick one winner for a copy of my book The Newspaper Code, a cozy mystery in which deadheading the Petunias has a whole new meaning. The prize is an eBook copy of your choice to anyone, or a pBook (only to those residents in the lower forty-eight United States for the pBook, please).

If you subscribe to my blog network (on the right side), and like my Facebook Author Page, you’ll be eligible for multiple entries into the GRAND PRIZE…and if you happen to be the thousandth person to like my Facebook Author Page, you’ll get to pick a book of mine as a gift – eBook or pBook (only lower forty-eight US residents for the pBook mailed to you, though, please).

Who doesn’t like tulips! I have always liked them, but since my youngest son married a cute Dutch girl who adores tulips, I’ve discovered a whole new appreciation. Here are some of mine.

In order to keep the blooms large and lush each spring, I use this tip: As soon as the petals fall off, I nip off the seed head. This allows the bulb to keep all the energy that normally would go to growing those seeds. Try it! You’ll end up with a bunch of headless stems, but…well, it’s only a little different from bulbous seed heads, right?

Remember, leave a comment with your e-mail connection, and share a tip of your own if you’d like, to be entered in my drawing for a copy of The Newspaper Code, as well as to entered in the Authors in Bloom GRAND PRIZE.

I polled a few friends on Facebook for their tips:
  • Naomi Musch Don't let your goats near the tulips or the hostas.
  • Jane McCarty Osypowski Tulips in the bathroom will put everyone in a spring mode.
  • Ann-Elizabeth Phelps Schrock I got the kind advertised to "naturalize" so they come back really nice every year. Here's a tip -- every fall, plant more bulbs
  • Nancy Parker Planted seeds in little containers. It is fun to see my sunflowers, nasturtiums, and kale growing. I will put them out for some Sun this weekend and then back in until some more nice days.
  • Linda Smith Lisa, maybe google gardening tips.
  • Dixie Philippe Jarchow plant milkweeds for monarch butterfly preservation!
  • Emma Right Yes! Hire a gardener

Here’s a fav recipe of mine, using lots of garden veggies.

Wisconsin Cheddar Chowder

A nice hearty soup with garden vegetables, ham and cheese.
Serve as a meal or a first course.

For six-ten servings – very easily adjustable according to desired amount.

Tip: Have all the ingredients ready before you begin cooking.

2 very large or 4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
4 baking-size potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cups either fresh or frozen broccoli flowerets
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 gallon milk or more
1 cup chopped cooked ham, if desired
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup or more flour, depending on desired thickness of soup

Salt, pepper, other herbs as taste such as: caraway, rosemary, savory, parsley, chives, celery seed, parsely; can also add mushrooms, parsnips, rutabaga, peppers, cauliflower or adjust any of the above vegetables

In a dutch oven or largest size sauce pan over medium heat melt 1/3 cup butter or margarine, 1/4 cup flour, 1 T. salt and 1/2 tsp white pepper.
As the mixture thickens, very gradually add a little milk to make a sauce. Gradually add, alternating, cheese and milk, slowly, so that a smooth sauce forms. Stir constantly—do not let the mixture stick or boil. When all the cheese is added and there’s about three cups of sauce, begin adding prepared vegetables and ham. 

When all the ingredients are incorporated, add as much remaining milk as needed to cover the vegetables. 

Turn heat down to very low, cover and cook up to an hour or until vegetables are soft. Stir often – do not boil or the milk and cheese tend to curdle. Whisk if this happens. 
Adjust seasonings before serving. Good with a hearty rye bread and a salad. 

*This soup doesn’t keep very well in the refrigerator as the potatoes tend to turn dark if not completely covered with sauce.

About The Newspaper Code:
Judy Wingate’s NOT-BFF, Olivia Hargrove of the Robertsville Reporter, discovers a Civil War-era secret newspaper code that may lead to a seven million dollar windfall.

Not long after Judy and Hart’s baby is born, Judy and Ardyth are embroiled in another murder. This time it’s 99-year-old Esme Espe, the queen of the Petunia Society, Robertsville’s Garden Club. Dead-heading petunias has become a serious undertaking in Robertsville.

Esme’s gruesome murder by garden claw soon catches the attention of the Robertsville Reporter’s chief editor and nosy correspondent, Olivia Hargrove. Clueless Olivia decides to befriend Judy and burrows into her life. Judy still holds a grudge but in order to learn more about Olivia’s secret project with the dead Esme, Judy reluctantly agrees to spend time with Olivia who is in desperate need of advice…and a makeover.

Circled letters of a Civil War era newspaper vex Olivia, and when she learns Esme found an historic discrepancy in the town treasury, she and Judy must solve the riddle in the newspaper and race for the treasure before the murderer gets to it first.

Judy’s best suspect is the new guy in town. But how can she tell Olivia her boyfriend might be a murderer?

Available at your favorite online retailer or for order from your favorite book seller.

*“Giveaway ends April 16th at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Legal Residents (18 years of age or older) of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winner will be selected by Rafflecotper.com and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that Dianne Venetta, host of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop, is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. I will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you in obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you. The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.” VOID where prohibited by law.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast With Lillian Duncan

By Lillian Duncan

About the Book

Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules so Maria follows the rules--every rule. She's given up everything--her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future. Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster. When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she's wrong? Not knowing who to trust, she trusts no one...and that's her first mistake.

lil2011dLillian Duncan
Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.
Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com as well as her personal blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at www.lillian-duncan.com
Follow Lillian Duncan

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Lillian Duncan!

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!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Winner of For Such a Time

Using my magic picking technique of writing the initials on little squares of paper, throwing them in the air and seeing which lands face up....the winner is Jennifer! (Carlene my author friend is already a winner in her own right.).  Congratulations, Jennifer. I'll put you in touch with Kate.

Hey, all - all next week come in and comment with your fav gardening tips - it's the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop - eighty blogs to visit, prizes galore and a Grand Prize of an eReader and gift certificate.

Friday, April 4, 2014

New From Splashdown Books

Hello, friends, and welcome to Splashdown's new publishing season. We've got three new releases to present to you already - and plenty more awesome titles to come, but more on that later. Read on for a chance to win free books - but first, let me introduce the new members of our family!

Aquasynthesis Again is the follow-up to our award-winner Aquasynthesis from 2011. Despite the untimely loss of our first narrator Walt Staples, we can continue in capable hands as Fred Warren took over the reins. This time we have 16 mostly more substantial stories from 16 authors. 

New to Splashdown are contributors Mary Brock Jones from New Zealand (Yay!), the recently contracted Cindy Koepp and Mary Ruth Pursselley, whose novels you can expect later in the year, and Avenir Eclectia alumni Pauline Creeden and Kessie Carroll with brand new unpublished stories from that shared world. Theirs aren't the only connection with Avenir Eclectia - but I'll leave that for you to discover, along with far-ranging tales from our other novelists.

190 pages / Paperback $4.99 / Ebook $2.99

Buy Now



Barnes & Noble


Book Depository
Free shipping worldwide

All ebook formats

Isles of Myst by Robert McClain is one of those books that almost defies description. Part fantasy, part science fiction, and all alternate-history, you'll want to dive into the luscious world of these high-tech Celts from long ago. Castles and flying cars, mystics and Mars bases, lizard people and the threat of global disaster. Can you guess how all these come together? No? Then you'd better have a read!

266 pages / Paperback $13.98 / Ebook $2.99 - special introductory offer!

Buy Now



Barnes & Noble


Book Depository
Free shipping worldwide

All ebook formats

Brand new today! Alpha Revelation by P. A. Baines is the sequel to Alpha Redemption, another medal winner from four years ago. It's worth the wait! If you haven't read book one, don't worry. you can currently grab the ebook of Alpha Redemption for 99c. However, this sequel very much stands on its own if you want to dive right in. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster as Shor Larkin of Mars Colony Utopia uncovers the devastating truth about his past, everyone's future, and the deadly threat lurking in the colony's servant robots.

342 pages / Paperback $13.98 / Ebook $4.99

Buy Now



All ebook formats

(Other retailers coming soon)

There's a new way to keep up with Splashdown Books and connect with authors and fellow readers. Come and hang out - and hear the news as it happens! New authors and contracts, updates from behind the scenes, progress reports on coming titles, and yes of course you'll have the chance to win stuff from time to time. We look forward to seeing you there!

Contract News

So far we have three confirmed new authors and books for 2014, and I'm really excited about all of them:

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo - science fiction by Cindy Koepp
Song of the Wren-Falcon - fantasy by Mary Ruth Pursselley
The Darby Shaw Chronicles - superhero mystery series by Liberty Speidel

Further contracts have been offered just this week, so we're hoping for more news soon. Watch the Facebook group for details.

Reader Survey and Book Draw

Just one more thing! We'd love to hear from you about your reading preferences so we can serve you better. Please click below to fill out the survey and enter the draw. On April 15th, we'll give away one new release paperback of your choice, one ebook bundle with all three, and three single ebooks, so your odds are pretty good!

That's all for this time - thank you so much for reading!

Grace Bridges