Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review Manila Marriage Ap by Jan Elder

Passport to Romance Series
April 2015
Pelican Ventures, White Rose Publishing
Romantic novella
115 pp

Ebook - $3.99

Buy on Amazon

About the Book
It all began as a lark. Shay Callahan’s life was just fine, thank you, but when the seemingly misogynistic missionary, Timothy Flynn, places an advertisement in a Christian magazine for a wife, Shay decides to give it a whirl. Why not? After all, she’s not currently seeing anyone, and this man truly needs to be taught a lesson. 

When Dr. Flynn picks Shay's application, she hops on a plane and flies to the Philippines. The strategy is to jet in, enjoy an exciting two-week vacation, and jet out again, all at his expense. Instead, her plan backfires. The handsome missionary man is not what he seems, and the foreign land has far more to offer than Shay could imagine. 

Embark on a tropical adventure with Shay that challenges everything she believes. 

My Review
For a sweet romantic novella, a lot of good reading and adventure is packed in. Shay’s character is never in doubt, even if she is, about her personality. From the moment she cheerfully but regretfully changes her ruined heels for too-big flip flops after being baby barfed on en route to meet her prospective fiancĂ© with dried peas in her hair, the reader knows we’re in for a great tale. Timothy is nothing like Shay expects, and the author has fun unpeeling his tough outer hide.

The Philippines grow on Shay the more time she spends there; an accident, an unexpected visit, and a life-threatening illness draw this couple together. If anything, there is too much packed into this short little read and some clues could be drawn out. Told from Shay’s point of view in first person throughout, readers are treated to a whole lot of fun introspection, subjective cues, and tangled emotions. Nicely done. Those who like a quick and clean romantic read with a too good to be true hero will love Manila Marriage Ap. Check out the Passport to Romance series.

About the Author

Jan Elder is a Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling stories other women can relate to. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader's faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. Pelican Book Group/White Rose is publishing her first novella, Manila Marriage App, one of many in their successful Passport to Romance series. 

Besides writing romance, she enjoys the occasional hazelnut cappuccino while watching Turner Classic Movies. Always an avid reader, she devours books voraciously, both Christian and secular. She was born a cat-lover and all future books will, no doubt, feature a feline in some way or another. 

Happily married for twelve years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.

Avalon by Vanessa Morgan
Non-fiction, memoir
105 pp
June, 2015

From the publisher:
Some cats need nine lives to make a difference. Avalon only needed one.

From Amazon bestselling author Vanessa Morgan, Avalon is the heartwarming and once-in-a-lifetime love story of a girl and her neurotic Turkish Van cat.

With humor, the author details how Avalon made other creatures cringe in distress whenever he was around, how he threw her dates out by means of special techniques, and how he rendered it almost impossible for her to leave the house. Avalon was so incorrigible that even her landlord ordered her to get rid of him. But beneath Avalon's demonic boisterousness, Vanessa recognized her own flaws and insecurities, and she understood that abandoning Avalon would be the worst she could do to him. Thanks to her unswerving loyalty, Avalon transformed into a tender feline, and even landed a major role in a horror movie. In turn, Avalon made it his mission to be there for his human companion.

By turns jubilant and deeply moving, Avalon is a memoir for anyone who has ever been obsessively in love with a pet.

My review:

Vanessa Morgan is a Belgian and author and screen writer.
Anyone who quotes Dean Koontz as an epigraph gives you a certain expectation.
You’d think Europeans would have a different take on animal obsession, but apparently not. Even after visiting Greece and Turkey last summer where cats roam at will and become beloved but not possessed by locals, it’s apparent that kitty love exists on a different plane of reality.

Morgan writes the memoir of a twelve-year relationship with a found feline in her neighborhood in Belgium where she lives and works. Her cat love for the rare species of Turkish Van helps her see her life and career through different eyes. On one hand Morgan uses Avalon, the cat, to excuse difficult relationships with people, and on the other, she uses him to realize and bring out the qualities of love and self-fulfillment she has buried within her.

Told in first person, real time. Recommended for those who like true pet stories, from bringing the critter home, through antics, feeding, and all the difficult choices one makes regarding lifestyle and life end.

About the Author:

Vanessa Morgan is an author, screenwriter, and blogger. Two of her works, The Strangers Outside and A Good Man, have been turned into films. Her short film script Next to Her is currently in pre-production. When she's not working on her latest book, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, digging through flea markets, or photographing felines for her blog Traveling Cats. http://travelling-cats.blogspot.com/ She lives in Belgium.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Uncharted Inheritance by Keely Brooke Keith

About the Book: Bethany Colburn finally turns eighteen and Everett Foster is about to confess his love for her. When a new man arrives in the village of Good Springs, he brings charm Bethany has never encountered and illness the Land has never known. While the medicinal power of the gray leaf tree is put to the test and the Colburn family’s strength is stretched thin, Bethany must learn to protect her true inheritance. Uncharted Inheritance weaves heartbreak and hope while delivering long-awaited answers in this suspenseful story of life in a hidden land.

Electronic $3.99
Print $12.99
Audible $17.46

Links to the book online:

Purchase these at Amazon:

My review:
This third book in the series offers a true test of mettle for the people of The Land Uncharted. Just to prove he’s not nuts more than a desire to regain control of his errant life, a colleague of outsider Connor Bradshaw, first book hero, Justin Mercer, manages to get to the mysterious island where he last saw Bradshaw. The Land Uncharted appears like Brigadoon out of the mist every so often on the equinox.

The youngest Colburn daughter of the leader of the community of Good Springs, Bethany, is about to reach her majority. For all of her teen years she’s wanted to know the admiration and love of a unique man like the outworlder Connor, who married her oldest sister, the village doctor. When Mercer washes ashore, Bethany wonders if she’s found her man. It doesn’t take long before Bethany realizes Justin is not like Connor, who adapted to the quaintness of this strict, faith-based community. When Justin realizes just what might be involved in staying away from the carnal pleasures of the near future outside world, he seeks only to return. But will he take their secret closeted existence and its treasure with him?

It’s never really a question of how much The Land will be affected by outside influence; the story of whether The Land’s principles will affect Justin is a question readers can decide. The real tale, though, is how this pristine community lives out its original moral premise. The concept of protecting women vs. allowing them to act as a critical asset to life is explored with an underlying power that subtly defies the delicacy that is threaded throughout the narrative.

Grow along with Bethany as she learns the art of adulthood in this lovely story. Readers of gentle Christian fantasy fiction will enjoy this addition to The Land Uncharted series. I know, it’s supposed to be a trilogy, but we can convince the author to write more, can’t we?

About the Author:
Keely is a bass guitarist and lives on a hilltop south of Nashville. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores. 

Author links:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From Newton, Einstein to God: a poetic memoir by Dr. Leong Ying

 From Newton, Einstein, to GOD: A Poetic Memoir
Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: Emerald Book Company (January 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937110710
ISBN-13: 978-1937110710

buy on Amazon

From the publisher:
2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Winner

From Newton, Einstein to GOD is a poetic memoir that follows the amazing life of Leong Ying, beginning with his birth into poverty in 1961 in the former British colony of Singapore. After a short time, his family is able to make their way to England. There, as a child with prophetic abilities and a penchant for daydreaming, Ying turns away from his spirituality and toward the logic of science, ultimately earning a graduate degree in nuclear physics. Shortly thereafter, Ying immigrates to the United States and, for a time, chases what he sees as the declining American dream.
In this new land, the duality of Ying's life comes into focus, and he uses science--which he'd formerly applied to deny the existence of God--to reveal the ''ultimate godly secrets.'' In doing so, he discovers the Twin Universe, a grand cosmic cycle that will lead us into a new phase, one that will have a dramatic influence on the existence and evolution of humankind and our humanity to come.
Through his unique writing style, Ying's philosophy and ideas come vividly to life. Interspersed with photographs from his youth and adulthood, each page is a unique dance between words and images that will inspire and enlighten.

My review:
Dr. Ying’s varied experiences and education lead him on a journey to explore the universe and all the knowable that dwells in it, but also the ultimate question of how and why it came into being. The book is a biographical memoir written in a wrenched poetical scheme that leaves some gaps and lapses into narrative sentences upon occasion, disrupting the rhythm until it finds the flow again.
Filled with an interesting picture of an immigrant family leaving China and finding a new life in Great Britain, the dynamics of working parents and distance, a young man forced to find a way to fit into an alien society and grow up to make his own way in life, Newton, Einstein to God is an interesting story. Readers must read behind the lines to get a fuller picture of the emotion, or as admitted by the author, lack of emotion and only belated ability to really connect to others, particularly his parents. Dr. Ying’s courage to venture into education, reason about his culture and delve into matters of faith is admirable. An English class, he says, led him to attempt this type of story-telling for his book. There are memorable nuances, an interesting reference to appearing in a Star Trek movie, which had me reviewing my copy to find his performance. I may have caught him in two very brief spots, though I’m not sure and there are no credits for him in my version.

Regarding the proof of God segment, Dr. Ying comes up with his theory, though it’s a little hazy to me how he actually decided there is a God and changes his life because of this inspiration. He writes a series of commandments he calls edicts: cherish life, earn your own values, defy oppression, and so forth. He mentions more than once belief in a great power, or a primary supercomputer, that permeates the universe, but a lack of emphasis on Christ makes me think the faith described is not Christian but deity-central. “Try to divide or multiple GOD and you still get total unity.”

Those who are poets might find the scheme a bit difficult, but there are moments of lyricism: “Universal Laws of Thermodynamics was to be the crowning culmination. On the last fourth page I wrote the conclusion as the Proof of GOD. Determine to garner a Noble Prize in Physics against mighty odds.” The lack of consistent tense and some punctuation which would not affect the syllable count in the attempted couplets was problematic. Those readers who enjoy a quirky style would find this book an interesting read. I enjoyed this little venture into the life of an intriguing personality.

About the Author:

Leong Ying is a nuclear physicist, science fiction author, stage director, and poet. His spiritual journey and scientific research helped him discover the Twin Universe theory, with the goal of proving God's existence from a scientific perspective. He's releasing a documentary this fall.

Kathy Carlton Willis Grin With Grace Blog Tour

Grace Turns “Frowns” Upside Down

Kathy Carlton Willis

Release Date: May 1, 2015
Retail: $14.99
Publisher: AMG
ISBN-10: 0899574785
ISBN-13: 978-0899574783

Praise for the Book:
Grin with Grace is perfect for women on the run, since there is no set daily reading schedule. The blend of humor, transparency, biblical concepts, word studies and opportunities to plug what I learned into my life gave me a fresh approach to doing my devotions or reading a Bible study.
Dr. Thelma Wells (Mama T)
President of A Woman of God Ministries
CEO, That A Girl & Friends Speakers Agency Speaker, Author

It Might be Time to Grin with Grace!

Have you ever felt the need to bite your tongue or grit your teeth? With humor and candor, popular women’s speaker Kathy Carlton Willis explores ways to smile in the face of adversity and challenging circumstances. Her go-to phrase Grin with Grace is the title of her latest book. She explores the word “grace” in Scripture, revealing how God’s grace blesses us and how it impacts our relationship with Him and with others.

Grin with Grace is part of the Grin With…Bible Study Series. This line of books is designed to help women on the run focus on a central theme. The “study, story and steps” formula helps readers assimilate new traits in small sections, all the while anticipating the next insight.

“You can never have too much of God’s grace,” says Kathy. “While writing this series, I dealt with multiple health issues, surgeries, cancer, and hospitalizations. At the same time, I moved to a different town, diving in to a new church ministry with my husband. Very little in life seemed familiar or comfortable. But God infused grace into each challenge and turned them into opportunities.” Kathy learned anew what the Bible means when it says:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

Quote from Chapter 7, Grin with Grace:
God’s grace strengthens us to live the lives He directs us to live. When we’re weak, grace makes us strong through Christ. His grace is not frail; it’s power-packed.
– Kathy Carlton Willis

There’s an important element about grace. It’s not meant to be hoarded, regardless of its wonderful value. Once God blesses us with grace, we are then recruited to His team to be instruments of His grace to others. Grin with Grace tells stories of real-life grace and gives suggestions for creating new grace moments for others. Every Bible passage is contained in the text, accommodating ease of reading anytime, anywhere. Read it straight through as a book, use it as a personal study, or join with a group to discuss the material together. The chapters are short enough to combine—resulting in a seven-week group study.

More about Grin with Grace

Each chapter features five sections:
  • Grin with Grace contains real-life stories and observations. You’ll laugh at the humorous confessions and wacky insights, and relate to Kathy’s transparent honesty. Be inspired to see grace in your everyday life.
  • Grow with Grace features a grace word study. Kathy examines Bible verses and personalizes the meaning to your situation. Workbook prompts allows you to write down your thoughts as you read along.
  • Go with Grace offers life application. Pick one action step and make it work for you, or pick all of them—but do something to live out your grace-walk.
  • Give with Grace advances life application further, equipping you to become an instrument of God’s grace to others. You’ll be inspired to take what you’ve learned and give it away to others. This is when faith becomes ministry—when your focus expands to see the needs of others.
  • Your Grin with Grace Challenge describes a grace-challenging scenario to give you an opportunity to exercise your newfound grace. It allows for speculation and judgment calls, to prepare you for the what-ifs that happen in life.
Grinning with grace means...
  1. Grinning w/ grace means—I swallow my words rather than share them before it's time. I’ll wait. 
  2. Grinning w/ grace means—I give the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming the worst. 
  3. Grinning w/ grace means—letting the other person have the spotlight and being willing to be in the shadows. 
  4. Grinning w/ grace means—forgiving a wrong that really hurt your heart even when they don’t know they messed up. 
  5. Grinning w/ grace means—treating my neighbor like I wish she’d treat me, even though she doesn’t deserve it. 
  6. Grinning w/ grace means—I don’t lose it at my job when a co-worker takes credit for my project. 
  7. Grinning w/ grace means—not always trying to defend myself when I’m misunderstood. 
  8. Grinning w/ grace means—not taking it personally when my friend declines my invitation & goes elsewhere. 
  9. Grinning w/ grace means—speaking the truth in love rather than taking the easy way out and fabricating a lie. 
  10. Grinning w/ grace means—not passing along the juicy bit of gossip I just heard. bit.ly/1DyNIOY
  11. Grinning w/ grace means—not holding a grudge even though I have a really good reason! 
  12. Grinning w/ grace means—looking past their prickly exterior to see a wounded heart beating out of tune.

About the Author:
Kathy Carlton Willis writes and speaks with a balance of funny and faith—whimsy and wisdom. Not many funny girls also have Bible degrees! Kathy’s a pastor’s wife, which gives her plenty of opportunities to grin with grace. She shines the light on issues that hold women back and inspires their own lightbulb moments. Almost a thousand of Kathy’s articles have been published in books, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Kathy’s tagline describes her best: Light & Lively: His Reflection/Her Laughter. Kathy lives with her pastor/husband, Russ, in Rockdale, Texas.

WEBSITE: www.kathycarltonwillis.com


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Frankie Bow and her mystery The Musubi Murder

First released in Audio Format, Frankie Bow's debut cozy mystery The Musubi Murder is now available in Print from Five Star/Cengage


Buy the Book:

About the Book:
     Small town life, big academic egos, corruption, revenge, and Spam musubis! The Musubi Murder is the first campus crime novel set in Hawaii, and the perfect read for mystery lovers, Hawaii expatriates, disillusioned academics, and anyone who fancies Spam (the meat).
     Professor Molly Barda is a born and bred big city girl. But thanks to the academic job market, she finds herself at remote Mahina State University, using her top-ten literature PhD. to teach resume-writing to business majors. Molly just wants to keep her head down and stay out of trouble until she gets tenure, so naturally she ends up getting dragged into the middle of a grisly murder case.

A brief Interview with the Author:

What I love about this book: The Molly Barda mysteries (this is the first in a series) are exactly
what I like to read. You could call it a PG-rated cozy mystery. There's no explicit sex or violence, but plenty of humor and snark.

Who are the bad guys? In The Musubi Murder, as in life, no one thinks of themselves as the bad guy. Everyone is the hero of their own story. 

For example Molly's bottom-line-focused dean refuses to antagonize the "customers" (aka tuition-paying students) so Molly is forced to give two plagiarizing students a penalty-free do-over. Naturally this makes the other students cry foul and blame Molly for playing favorites. The dean thinks he is looking out for the financial health of the college; Molly thinks he is undermining her teaching and destroying the value of a Mahina State University education. Neither one is entirely wrong.

What I hope readers will tell others when they're done: That the book made them burst out laughing, preferably loudly and in a public venue. 

Frankie Bow

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fall From Grace by J Edward Ritchie


424 pp
January 2015

ISBN-13: 978-1502973863

About the Book: 
Heaven: a paradise of all that is pure in Creation. Led by brothers Michael and Satanail, the Angelic Host is a testament to cosmic harmony and love. But when an unprecedented revelation threatens to uproot their peace, a schism splits the Host’s loyalties. Every angel has to make a choice: faith or freedom. Good or evil. Salvation or damnation.

War consumes Heaven in the first and most destructive loss of life that Creation will ever know. As brother turns on brother, the fate of Heaven and Earth rests in the hands of the Creator’s chosen son, Michael. How far will he go, what will he sacrifice in the name of their Father, to protect his family?

Witness the tragic downfall of a civilization told from both sides of a bloody rebellion. More than myth, more than legend, Heaven’s war will forever stand as a harrowing warning that even the purest of souls can fall from grace.

My review:
The author approached me, offered me a copy in exchange for a review. I did my usual double check of legitimacy and some reviews, and yes, saw most were freebies, but I was still intrigued. A slight surge of temporary wealth and the 99-cent price led me to buy the book. I don’t mind supporting fellow authors who are serious. And Jeff was personable. Upon opening my copy, I learned it was well-written enough for me to stomach—as an author and professional editor, I’m basically ruined for reading—and discovered very few issues that would keep me from regretting the purchase.

The story of the war in heaven is a stunner. It’s fiction—necessary for me to repeat to myself and all other readers. The author is clear that it’s not religious. But it’s almost hypnotic. I had to stop and ponder several times and spoke to a friend numerous times while reading. I almost wish the author had not used the biblical names for his world and its characters, because for the first third of the book I went down paths of “what if” and “hmm, interesting angle” knowing it’s fantasy/fiction. And not Christian.

Some issues are irrelevant because it’s not religious fiction or biblical regarding the anatomy of angels and references to humanisms; even the term “Father” for the Creator in a world where procreation doesn’t happen, as well as occasional veiled scriptural references might make some dedicated readers of serious science fiction or Christian fantasy groan, but the author’s take on the different types of angels and what their realm might be like is intriguing.

The fantasy elements of the Fires of Creation and the weapons of warfare went a little over the top for me, but that’s because I was taking the story too seriously. As mentioned, the author pulls in a number of cultural and mythical references and once I realized I didn’t really know where the story was headed I had a very hard time putting the book down. It was long—too long, really, and if I’d been the editor I’d have asked him to trim it—but the elements were intriguing. There were very few mistakes that didn’t throw me out of the book. Told from multiple narrator viewpoints. I do admit to buzzing though some of the brutal war imagery. Fall From Grace is a worthy debut novel from a talented author.

Fall From Grace is fantasy fiction using religious names and concepts, but is not an inspirational story. In fact, the graphic violence, occasional language, and sensuality may turn off some readers, so be aware this book is not recommended for under mature later teens at the earliest or those who think it might be theological. It’s not. But it might spark some conversation. The author has a number of posts about the story and his research on his website.

About the Author: 
“J. Edward Ritchie is a novelist and screenwriter specializing in epic world creation. He lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts with his wife and golden retriever.”

That’s what my novel bio says. Too bland and impersonal? Well, let me tell you a little more about myself. Oh, and you can call me Jeff.

I was born in the rural town of New Milford, CT. Skateboarding, movies like Star Wars and Braveheart, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, video games, and classic literature all had an immense influence on my psyche and molded me into a Frankenstein’s Monster of pop culture and academia. I knew what I enjoyed in life and never made excuses for any of it.

For ten years I pursued a career in screenwriting and even sold a few scripts.
The great American novel was calling my name, as it has so many others…
My wife and I relocated to Cape Cod, MA where I finished my first novel, the fantasy epic Fall From Grace. Trust me––you’ve never read anything quite like my war between the angels. Inspiring and brutal, loving and bloody, it embodies all of the thematic and fantastical elements that made me who I am today.

Movies, TV, books, comics, video games––I dig all forms of creative escapism. That’s me in a nutshell: a nerd-of-all-trades. Throughout my years at the keyboard, I believe that I’ve found the most important piece of advice for all writers. Actually, a piece of advice for everyone: find someone to love.