Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Clash of the Titles holiday CLASH!

It's the end of our CLASH year, and we've lined up some awesome holiday reading (and gift ideas!) for this month's Clash of the Titles.
Vote for your Ideal curl up in front of a fire read!

Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your perfect idea of a next read.
It's a tough choice, but it's up to you to determine our Clash Champion!


Risking Love
Brenda S. Anderson

A play-it-safe bank employee falls for a down-on-his-luck, risk-taking widower. Can she risk loving a man whose home she may have to take away?


An Unexpected Role
Leslea Wahl

Josie's island getaway becomes the summer of her dreams as friendships grow, romance blossoms and a series of thefts surround her with excitement. But as she sets out to solve the mystery she has become entangled in, she not only realizes the importance of relying on her faith but along the way also discovers her true self.


Forest Child
Heather Day Gilbert

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life and is Book Two in the bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.


Can't Help Falling
Kara Isaac

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.


The Cautious Maiden
Dawn Crandall

In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. With danger stalking her and a new fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust and who to leave behind. 


The Thorn Healer
Pepper D. Basham

A wounded nurse battles resentment against a German prisoner as the two work together to save an Appalachian town from deception and disease in the wake of World War 1.


If you have trouble viewing the entire survey Click Here to load a dedicated page to the survey. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Historical Romance debut from Lindsay Barlow


Beneath the Heavens
Lindsey Barlow

ISBN-13: 978-1611531473
October 2016
Light Message Publishing
Historical inspirational romance

ebook $7.99
Print $14.99
Buy on Amazon 

About the Book
When the beautiful and coddled Abigail Silvers is sent from her parents’ lush Texas ranch to the untamed wilds of Tall Pine, Colorado, her mother is hoping that Abigail will learn independence and self-reliance. What Abigail finds among the Colorado mountain people is a community built on hard work, faith, and family––she also finds the handsome Pastor Will who, much to her dismay, seems only to have eyes for Esther, the community’s midwife hiding from a dark past. Fiercely protective of her young son Michael, Esther’s determined not to let anyone ­close enough to hurt them––even if that means sacrificing true love. But when the Texas Ranger Joseph Silver, Abigail’s brother, shows up, Esther’s past is unearthed and her heart is exposed. Abigail and Joseph’s brash Texas manners rattle the people of Tall Pine, but ultimately the brother and sister may be an answer to prayer the townspeople didn’t know they needed. Lindsey Barlow’s inspirational debut introduces readers to a rich cast of characters and picturesque scenery that will leave readers falling for Tall Pine.

My review
The power of women generally makes for great reads, and Barlow shows her storytelling chops in this debut novel. More than a romance, Beneath the Heavens is a story of four women attempting a new life on the late nineteenth century mountains of Colorado. Each represents choices of womanhood, and a challenge to rise above and become the person God calls into being.

The midwife who scorns men, remains aloof and independent, learns her lesson when her son reminds her that he, too, will someday become a man. The frilly rich man’s daughter is showered with with hard love, but learns her true worth is more than a trophy wife. The spunky dress shop owner gets over herself and accepts true admiration and love, and finally, a hard-knock Bonnie who chooses her Clyde over everything gets what she wants.

Lovingly fleshed-out characters in a beautiful setting with a wealth of detail that brings the reader into the story keep the reader turning pages. Unforgettable hardship, lessons in self-determination, both positive and negative, balance faith elements that fall naturally. Blossoming love unfolds for a preacher who is looking for the right kind of wife, and a hardened Texas Ranger who wasn’t looking for a wife at all. A kindhearted baker and fool of a slimy criminal round out the cast. Told from multiple viewpoints of the two female and male protagonists, there is a fair amount of leaping from one perspective to another without warning, but it’s nice to hear all sides and watch the growth. Fair warning: there is some limited cursing and suggestive imagery, along with mild fist fighting and shooting.

I especially enjoyed the youthful pastor who is not a typical city preacher, but a charming and hard-working single man who is willing to listen to a teacher he respects, and the lawman who goes to the ground for a child. Barlow can only grow her skills from here. Good job. Those who love prairie dramas with grit and teeth will enjoy Beneath the Heavens.

About the Author
Lindsey Barlow has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Religious Studies from California Sacramento State University. She has traveled throughout Eastern Europe as a missionary teaching English and serving those in need. She has worked in the Saint Petersburg Hermitage Museum and has visited the Mayan ruins in Mexico. When Lindsey is not writing, she enjoys discovering new bookstores, going on hikes with her children, and pretending she knows how to sew. Lindsey resides in northern California with her husband and children in a house with too many books.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Everstone Chronicles book 2 The Bound Heart

The Bound Heart October 2015, Everstone Chronicles Book2
Whitaker House
Buy on Amazon

About the Book:
One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or desire to fall for her best friend Lawry Hampton. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn. Now Meredyth can't deny that what's holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she's convinced she deserves, and accept that God's plan for her life includes redemption...and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

My review:
The title offers a great glimpse into what readers can expect in this sisters about a powerful and elite New England family at the close of the nineteenth century. The Everstones have everything…particularly heir to the hotel and lumber empire, Vance Everstone, who lives more like a Regency-era rake and gets almost everything he desires. The somewhat spoiled Meredyth Summercourt, family friend, harbors a secret for years that keeps her emotionally stunted and too blinded to her ambition of pretending marriage will redeem her from a bad choice.

When a man from her past returns with one goal in mind, Meredyth is thrown into a kaleidoscope of pieces of her life swirling out of control. The secrets were never as concealed as she had always believed, and their revelation is her absolution or her shame.

Told through Meredyth’s perspective, this historical drama of past, present, and future love meld in a passionate romance right under her nose. Our choices can both haunt and free us, and journeying with the author’s characters as they learn their lesson and that God is bigger than any dilemma, is a page-turning delight. I enjoyed the historical elements, but also wished for a greater world-wide picture to help solidify the time period.

Book 3, The Captive Imposter, will be reviewed on this site in December.
Book 4, The Cautious Maiden, is now available, and will be reviewed on this site in December.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Provoctive missionary fiction from Jim Baton

Someone Has to Die

Peace Trilogy book 1
Jim Baton
June 2012

In the midst of a global clash between international terrorism and an American congressman’s peacemaking effort, a poor Muslim-majority neighborhood in Indonesia holds the keys to victory. While some in the neighborhood are making efforts to understand the truth behind the Muslim-Christian divide and build new bridges across it, others are determined to perpetuate and intensify the hatred that has plagued the region for years.

When a tragedy reveals an unexpected villain, it will be up to two unlikely heroes to set aside their differences and save the day. What will it take to keep hope alive? And who will be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of peace?

This intense thriller will encourage you to reexamine your understanding of love and forgiveness, and reconsider what it means to be a true hero.

ISBN-13: 978-1616389222
$2.99 eBook
$14.99 Print

Amazon US 
Lisa's review:
Provocative, thought-provoking, challenging. Jim Baton, long time missionary to Asia, writes a call to action in his novels. Aptly named Peace Trilogy, the first two novels in the series are a virtual visit to life in the streets of a little-known nation torn by differing faith practices. Baton explores why Muslim youth are able to be drawn into jihad, especially those who have nothing but themselves.

I read the books in reverse order, not necessarily on purpose, but also to see how they stand up. A Way Out of Hell (read about the book and my review here), is a story of the result of actions taken by families in a close-knit neighborhood in this book. The reader is drawn into Indonesian culture at its most intimate level, from intact family life, to single parentage to second wife status, from making a living, to education and religious life. Readers can’t help but empathize with the widows who live on handouts, the angry youth who feel purposeless, the women who must keep their deepest secrets, teens with a Romeo and Juliet story, and especially the fear of anything that rocks the status quo. When a neighborhood matron takes charge of bridging the gap and getting to know the neighborhood Christian lady better, she opens a Pandora’s Box of woe that drives a storm of retaliation across the planet. Who will step into the miasma of hatred and show what love can do?

The amount of detail was both wonderful and frustrating as I was sometimes impatient to find out what would happen next. For those who love detailed virtual visits to exotic places where you can live with the natives, the books of the Peace Trilogy will meet your expectations. A bonus is Baton’s character’s struggle with how to practice what they believe, an in-depth look at the misunderstandings and lies that have kept people of different religions and denominations within the religions in hate. There is no pussy-footing around American or Christian values for that matter, but love is the foundation of miracles. Told in multiple viewpoints. Nicely done.

About the Author
Jim Baton (pen name) has spent the last 20 years living in the Muslim world, where he’s been involved in a variety of peace and reconciliation activities including interfaith dialogue, training elementary through university students in peace principles, and bringing Christians and Muslims together to pray.  His real name and photo won’t appear on this site to protect his identity from radical groups where he lives out his faith.  When in America, Jim is available to speak to groups that have a heart for loving those of the other religion and can protect his identity.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Gift Package offer from The Man with the Black Box

The Black GIFT Box

New from the author of The Black Box

A special holiday or anytime gift package!
What a great idea for the book lover in your life.

The Black GIFT Box

Give the spine chilling gift of mystery. Perfect for any holiday, birthday or just for a thrill.

What’s in the black GIFT box?

  • A signed copy of The Man with the Black Box by Colin P. Cahoon
  • A Bookmark with special recipe for “The Jenkins” cocktail
  • A 4 oz bag of “The Jenkins Blend,” a custom tea created by The Cultured Cup of Dallas, TX
**Order received after December 15th may not arrive before Christmas.

$36.95. Visit Colin's website to order the package.
Buy the book on Amazon.

Friday, November 11, 2016


November 11, 2016 from Prism Book Group
From the Back cover:

When nobody loves you, you have nothing to lose.

Lily Masters is not getting involved with any fake job scheme covering a sex trafficking operation supposedly cooked up by her stepbrother, prison guard Art Townsend. Hoping to get help at a friend’s place deep in the woods of northern Wisconsin before a blizzard, Lily loses her way. At first, she doesn’t realize how fortunate she is to be found by Cam Taylor, a poetry-spouting former lit professor. Cam has his own reasons to hide while writing a biography of his Civil Rights activist grandparents and accidentally stirs up a cold case murder involving a potential Supreme Court judge. When trouble follows, either of them is the likely target.

Beneath every story is layer upon layer of trust and lies. Who can they believe when things go from surreal to devastating?

$3.99 eBook

JOIN ME FROM 2-2:30 EST for a book discussion 
and giveaway

The underlying theme of UnderStory is prejudice—how we look and perceive others and judge them and ourselves by the way they look, whether we can see the physical or emotional scars. Lily Masters is born with a genetic condition, Poland’s syndrome, which colors her world, makes her feel unloved and unwanted, and although she’s learned to hide her condition and feelings, get a good job and function in public, she can never again connect with someone who would learn about her physical problem and reject her. When Lily is rescued by a biracial Literature professor, Cam Taylor, who is dealing with prejudice on so many levels, and they are stranded together, she begins to learn not to judge people and situations by what others say or even by her own standards. Lily and Cam’s journeys are about learning that shame is a reaction they choose based on others’ perceptions and standards, not something they have to accept. Learning to free herself from the bonds of self-loathing, Lily realizes how to be strong and fight for her family and how to accept love as well as give it. Cam comes to a peaceful place as he learns to see the world through what is, not through what he anticipates.

Endorsements sample:
Lisa Lickel weaves together a masterful tale of intrigue and romance, and the multilayers of complexity will leave the reader turning the pages. The characters are well-developed, and overarching themes involving racism and prejudice will resonate with the reader. The story takes place in the Midwest—in a small town that harbors a big secret—perhaps more common than anyone dares to imagine. UnderStory is one of those rare books that’s not only a great read but makes a statement about what’s most important—in the midst of depravity, unfairness, and greed.
—Lorilyn Roberts, award-winning author and founder of the John 3:16 Marketing Network

Drugs, human trafficking, and corruption all play their part in Lisa Lickel’s atmospheric thriller, UnderStory, but it’s the characters and the love story you’ll remember most. In some ways, the book reminded me of the movie Fargo—quirky locals, investigators facing not only ruthless criminals but also a frozen winter landscape of snow and ice in an isolated far north town. The blizzard is the catalyst that brings together two emotionally damaged strangers when Cam finds the mysterious Lily unconscious near his isolated cabin. When he brings her inside, he becomes involved in both love and dangers he never expected when he hid himself away in the woods.
—Robin Johns Grant, author of Summer’s Winter.

Here's an Excerpt
Cam had borrowed Lily’s car to get home last night. As he drove back into Barter Valley in the morning, slipping around on the car’s bald tires, for his appointment with Minerva Thorsten, he kept a running commentary of his current situation spiraling in his head. Stone cold stupid. This whole deal with him and the Internet and research was a separate thing going down from the case Forbes was on, just like the man said. Cam could not believe him at first.
Uncle Sam was monitoring his personal business. But Cam had beaten a mess before. He’d been acquitted. He wasn’t on any sex-offender registry or felon watch-list. He didn’t think so, anyway. How ripped from the headlines was that? “Illegal Wire Tapping in Small Town Library.” “Free Speech Rights Stomped Again.” “Sex Trafficking Stopped.” All of Matt’s dreams would come true when he broke both stories. And if Matt was right, this Minerva was the perfect legal representation for a person whose constitutional rights were being violated.
He parked, pulled up his hood and jumped frozen waist-high piles of snow to get to the newspaper office. At least the weather was changing. The high temp might make zero today. The dogs would be all right. They’d stay together, keep warm. He’d water them later. What day was it? Logan possibly had his truck ready. He caught a glimpse of a shadow on the walk, the prickle that something was in his way. He stopped and looked up. And swallowed. “Hi, there, Ole. What’s happening?”
Ole took off his gloves and cracked his knuckles. He slowly pulled the gloves back on. “Lily isn’t like the other girls around here. She sorta got a little stuck-up from living in the cities, but she’s still a nice girl.”
After the big guy’s little display of assumed prowess, Cam decided to refrain from eye-rolling, sighing, or any other possibly misunderstood gesture of superiority. Besides, he liked Ole and felt a little sorry about maybe taking Lily away from him…if he could even pretend like that. “I agree she’s a nice girl. Pretty early in the morning for a conversation like this, pal. And I’m on my way to an appointment. Spot you a coffee later?”
Ole plunged right on. “And good. She’s not going back there with you, all alone, to stay at your place again.”
At this, Cam let out a chuckle. “I agree she’s not going back there alone.” He watched Ole’s jaw muscles clench and held up a hand. “It’s not what you think, man. I care about her safety, and it’s not safe out there.”
The other man snorted as he breathed in. His mouth opened. “I kin keep her safe.”
Cam nodded as if he agreed and said softly, “Or your mother can.”
Ole’s apple cheeks turned an even darker shade of red, while his expression became wounded.
“Just so we understand each other, brother,” Cam said. “I trust you. Lily trusts you. We don’t trust anyone else.”
Cam swallowed and wiped his mouth as he watched Ole stride away, each step like a league, until he disappeared around a corner. A hugely smiling fox-faced Sven drove the snowplow past and honked.
They had to have been fraternal twins.
Ten seconds later, Matt moved his face from the computer screen at the Freeman office to notice Cam stood at his side. “Buddy! I gotta tell ya, this is the third most exciting thing to happen in Barter Valley. Since I can remember, anyhoo. Take a load off.”

Cam set his coat on the back of a chair and rubbed his hands. “Third?”

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Jazz Age Fiction Guide Me Home by Connie Cortright

Guide Me Home  Book one of the Grace Alone series
Connie J Cortright

ISBN 978-0996844109
Milk Door Publications
November 5, 2015

Buy on Amazon 

About the Book
What comes to mind when you hear the 1920s? Flappers? Jazz? Speakeasies? Bobbed haircuts? Cloche hats? Roaring Twenties?
In 1926, this answer wasn’t so simple for a Christian school teacher. A young, naïve Emma Ehlke left her family’s Wisconsin farm and took up a new teaching post at a parochial school in Racine. Excited by the prospect of leaving her dodgy rural life, she looked forward to experiencing life in the Jazz Age. Emma soon fell under the charms of her dashing neighbor Freddie, who offered to be Emma’s guide to the exciting adventures ahead. Under his guidance, she experienced a life she’d only dreamed about.
However, she didn’t take into consideration her actions in light of her new career. Newly ordained and single minister, Pastor Neil Hannemann was left to deal with Emma’s impetuous actions as she attempted to join the Jazz Age. He longed to take her under his wing, but not like Freddie! He was forced to confront Emma about her naïve decisions and pointed out to her that a Christian’s life in the Roaring Twenties should be totally different than how she was acting. Under his shepherding, Neil attempted to guide her home by the godly course.
Emma found herself torn. Should she choose the novelties and excitement offered by Freddie, or the faithful path on which Pastor Neil wanted to lead her?

My Review
Cortright’s fiction explores a side of the excitement of the Roaring Twenties that is often neglected. How does the community of faith respond to the exuberance and overindulgence of an era of good times?
Newly adult Emma Ehlke, fresh from college with her teaching degree under her arm, leaves home for her first job in a new community. She soon learns how classroom preparation and the real world meet only through experience. She also realizes how much she has to learn about the real world and how to handle the opinionated members of her Lutheran congregation. When her neighbor begins a carefully crafted seduction, Emma takes much of the story to learn the truth of the necessity of relying on God first, her gut and conscience always, and the people who have her best interest and her true heart in mind, forever.
Emma’s neighbor, Freddie, might be the admirer her self-esteem preens for, but the man whose admiration grows in her soul proves that true love might just lie nearer than next door.
Told in multiple viewpoints with delightful historicity in a familiar community in Racine, Kenosha, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Cortright’s multi-layered historical romantic fiction explores the reliability of true faith and friendship, the heart and spirit of an exciting period of time, and the nature of unconditional love.

About the Author
Connie Cortright has been a history buff all her life, reading biographies and history since grade school. Naturally, when she considered writing a story, her first thoughts turned toward historical fiction. Her novels are set in America's Midwest and reflect her own Wisconsin farming roots. Snippets of her childhood experiences pop up in her stories. Her life has been the fulfillment of her girlhood dreams: becoming a Lutheran school teacher, marrying a pastor, and having lots of children. Her life has taken her to both coasts (California and New Jersey) as she followed her pastor-husband in his service to various churches with their four sons.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Wheels of Wisdom book review Tim and Debbie Bishop

Looking for more out of life?

After three tours totaling over 10,000 miles, Tim and Debbie Bishop have discovered wisdom and truth from the seat of a bicycle. In Wheels of Wisdom, the authors share the life lessons they learned on the open road.

When you're looking for enlightenment, you can find it almost anywhere, be it from watching two herons saunter across a Florida road, pedaling to a dead-end in a Kentucky tobacco field, or observing eagles flying overhead in Montana. In each lesson of this book, you’ll find practical insights, inspiration, and encouragement—along with personal reflection questions that will help you:

-   Adopt the right mind-set
-   Conquer fear, worry, and inaction
-   Overcome obstacles
-   Relish life’s journey
Certain principles are universal whether you are bicycling across America or chasing your own lifelong dream.

You may be continuing your education, connecting with new people, looking to change jobs, or simply wondering about your future. Wherever you are in life, Wheels of Wisdom will give you a fresh perspective and new motivation for your own adventure. Not only will you encounter meaningful truth as you travel vicariously to new places and meet new people, you’ll also experience some genuine “God moments” and have some fun on the way.

So, pack up your dreams and passions and come enjoy the ride. It’s time to learn on the open road!

June, 2016
OpenRoadPress_logo_50x93ISBN 978-0985624866
264 pages
$7.99 eBook
$14.99 Print
Buy on Amazon

My review:
While Wheels of Wisdom might look like an average-size book, it is divided into 52 chapters, convenient for a year-long weekly devotional. It certainly won’t take an eager reader that long—you’ll be excited about the lessons and want to read more. Please don’t read more than one a day.
Tim and Debbie Bishop, veterans of long and cross-country bicycle trips, share their three-month plus journey to raise awareness and funds for a special nonprofit they passionately support. More about that later. And to get to know Tim and Debbie, I encourage you to read their earlier book, Two Are Better.

Wheels of Wisdom feels a like a personal cheer and a virtual bicycle trip in one. Each short lesson is a leg of their trip with a theme, a lesson and a Scripture verse, and a brief question section, Personal Reflections. The Lessons are written by either Tim or Debbie, sharing their experience of the day, a revelation, or one of those “God things,” like in Lesson 42 when they met a waitress whose son needed not only encouragement but also the ministry that TheHopeLine provides.

The Personal Reflections questions are purposefully challenging. From Lesson 28 when Tim and Debbie were about to face a test, they ask the reader to consider a first-time experience and whether it was easier the second time. Try a test run if we’re anxious about a new experience we’re about to undergo.

I found Wheels of Wisdom a truly multi-layered piece of encouragement and personal encouragement. Those who enjoy different ways to bolster themselves and their faith journey will find much to appreciate from Tim and Debbie’s story.

Find more information about TheHopeLine, a ministry that provides interaction and support for those struggling with emotional and physical issues with relationships, addiction, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Long awaited prequel Aboard Providence

Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith

Aboard Providence
Keely Brooke Keith

October 2016
CrossRiver Media
ISBN 9781936501359
Print $15.99
Ebook $5.99

Buy on Amazon

From the Publisher:
The Uncharted series has a past...

The Uncharted storyline begins in the 21st Century in a hidden land that was settled in the 1860s by Americans. Throughout the Uncharted books, the characters refer to their founders' history. Soon after the release of The Land Uncharted (Edenbrooke Press), readers expressed their desire for more. Why did the founders leave America in 1860? How did they plan the group migration? Where did they believe they were going? How did they establish what is now a fascinating culture?

I too was drawn by the founders' story. When I set out to write it, I enjoyed fleshing out the mystery of how the founders arrived in the Land and what it was like for them, not only for the characters who wanted that adventure, but also those who didn't. I was swept away on a journey of faith, sacrifice, and God's unfailing provision.

Join the founders as they embark on their voyage aboard the Providence to an uncharted land.

My review:
This is one of those books that make you sigh when you get close to the end and whisper “there better be more, please don’t end…”

Aboard Providence is the long-awaited answer to the series that began with The Land Uncharted in 2014, this talented author’s debut. Keith has begun to show me that not all DIY efforts are the same. In that story arc, the time is the near future, and a military pilot crashes on the proverbial lost island. Ultimately a romance, the pilot is part of a story meant to explore human nature and ultimately survival in a parallel commentary of a seemingly innocent world and a world about to self-destruct. Aboard Providence is the prequel journey of how The Land Uncharted came to be settled.

Keith always had a good sense of story and has continued to grow. My only commentary is that she has a tendency to introduce characters and situations that could add zest and conflict, yet drops them in favor of a less complicated plot, allowing situation, or internal turmoil, to take precedent over external conflicts. For example, intriguing interplay between the young adults aboard the ship could have been fleshed out. Her main characters, however, are well developed, handle their struggles in a realistic manner, and stay with the reader.

Told in multiple viewpoints between the two sweet and highly motivated main characters, the pace is swift and skillfully shows time passing on board a ship without the situation becoming dull. If this is your first taste of this compelling series, you’ll want to read the other books, a mixture of Swiss Family Robinson and O Pioneers.