Monday, February 28, 2011

CFBA: When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
When All My Dreams Come True
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2011)
Janelle Mowery


Beginning in 1998, Janelle Mowery coordinated and wrote for the Children’s Ministry of a Christian website called The Invisible Connection. When the holder of that site discontinued the ministry and website in the year 2000, she began writing inspirational fiction romance novels.

Janelle became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the year 2002 and is an active member and leader in one of their critique groups, which has provided many opportunities for growth and development. In 2003, she entered her first novel in the Noble Theme contest and was named one of the top ten finalists in the historical category. In 2004, she had a short story titled ‘A Fair Chance’ published in the e-magazine, Romancing the Christian Heart. In 2005, her third novel, entered in the San Gabriel Writers’ League ‘Writing Smarter’ Contest, won first place. Also, Janelle’s fifth novel made it to the top ten finalists in the Noble Theme contest.

In 2006, she signed her first contract with Barbour Publishing in their Heartsong Presents Mysteries line. The novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Elizabeth Ludwig, released in spring of 2008. The second and third mysteries of the series, Died in the Wool and A Black Die Affair, is set for release in 2011.

Janelle has signed with Harvest House for a historical series set in Colorado. Release of the first book is set for early 2011. She has also signed with Summerside Press. Her novel, Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho, released in October 2010.

Janelle has been married twenty-one years and is the mother of two sons. She is a member of Sandy Point Bible Church and serves as Treasurer. She also assists in the church’s teen program.


Bobbie McIntyre dreams of running a ranch of her own. Raised without a mother and having spent most of her time around men, she knows more about wrangling than acting like a lady. The friendship of her new employer awakens a desire to learn more about presenting her feminine side, but ranch life keeps getting in the way.

Ranch owner Jace Kincaid figures the Lord is testing his faith when a female wrangler shows up looking for work. Bobbie has an uncanny way of getting under his skin, though, and he’s surprised when she finds a home next to his heart. But when his cattle begin to go missing and his wranglers are in danger from some low-down cattle thief, can Jace trust God, even if it may mean giving up on his dreams?

An adventurous novel of faith, hope, and love in the Wild West.

If you would like to read the first chapter of When All My Dreams Come True, go HERE.

I did not receive my book from the publisher for this tour. I won this book from Trish Perry! Thanks Trish! I hope to have a review of this one soon! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

And the Winner Is.....

The winner of the CSN Store $25 gift care is.....


I checked out the pottery by Jonathan Adler and found these divine King & Queen mugs: 

Enjoy your new mugs (or whatever you decide upon!) Michelle! :)

Digitalis by Ronie Kendig

Digitalis (Discarded Heroes #2)Digitalis by Ronie Kendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! When you pick up this book to read (because everyone should!) you'd better settle in because you won't be able to put it down! Ronie Kendig has a way of grabbing her readers from the prologue and holding them prisoner until the last word is spoken!

I am surprised I let this one sit as long as I did, but then again, I am a student now and don't have much time for pleasure reading. Nothing like a beautiful Saturday and the flu to give you time to read!

I'm a bit of a sucker for a man in a cowboy hat and Colton (aka Cowboy) is the star of this sequel (check out Nightshade for the first book in the series). Colton, in the midst of having some horrible flashback from his days in Fallujah, is being called up to help disarm an Israeli nuclear crisis. He just thought he was out of the military!

Nightshade's men are supposed to be ones that can keep their heads in the game. After all, that's one of the reasons they were chosen. Enter Piper Blum...beautiful, smart, and has a magnet attracting Colton so fast his world is spinning. Can he keep it all together in midst of the drama?

I would say more about this book but it would give too much away! Ronie Kendig is one of my top 3 favorite writers and she has the number one suspense spot! Don't miss out on this great read full of suspense, adventure, and of course, love.

Thanks to the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Barbour Books for providing a copy for review.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another COTT Victory!

This week Elaine Marie Cooper takes the crown over at Clash of the Titles.  The category was Most Romantic Moment and the excerpt was from her novel The Road to Deer Run.  She beat out her competitor Lorna Seilstad with a 54% to 46% vote. 

Elaine is a wonderful addition to the COTT hall of fame, her warmth and enthusiasm making her Clash one of the most enjoyable yet.  And Elaine is no stranger to the site.  She's been a participating reader and sponsor for months.  So when she got the news she had been chosen, she responded:

I am shouting for joy that my submission has been accepted! Thank you so much!! I am very honored to be a COTT contender!

A snippet from Elaine's excerpt:
Mary began to relax. Daniel’s voice was soothing to her spirit. By the time the brush had reached the crown of her head, she was closing her eyes, the tension falling from her face.

Daniel smoothed her soft locks with his hand. “There. Your hair is lovely.”

If you missed it, you can read the full excerpt here.
What did Elaine think of her Clash? It's clear she's enjoyed every minute, even before knowing the verdict:

I'm so excited for this opportunity, Michelle and again, I so appreciate having my excerpt chosen. Thank you.

And once the Clash was underway:

It's a thrill to be here at COTT!

It's a thrill to have you! Elaine's energy infused the entire two weeks of the Clash with excitement and fun.  It ended up being one of the most commented-on clashes, for both contenders.

Readers were just as delighted.  A few comments:

  • Caught me up in what is behind the attack this woman faced and how can she get over it. Such a compassionate man at her side

  • The quiet strengthening of a bond between the characters, apparently in the aftermath of a terrible experience. That's wonderful! But what did it for me? He was brushing her hair. /sigh/

  • This sounds wonderful. I love reading about the revolutionary war and I like your cover!

Way to go, Elaine! Find out more about Elaine in her COTT interview here.

Professional History:
Christian, Wife, Mother, Grammie to triplets, Registered Nurse, Novelist, Blog Writer for Reflections in Hindsight and The Barn Door , Magazine Freelance writer, Newspaper columnist.

Fun Bio:
I have three favorite grandchildren: Jack, Chloe and Luke. :-) I love my family. I drink hot tea all year and LOTS of it (caffeinated of course). I want to rescue all the shelter dogs but my husband says, "NO!" (we already have three dogs...) I cry at Hallmark commercials. I love Hallmark movies. I love to read, write, crochet, cross stitch, watch Jane Austen movies. I love to look at my flower garden (after I have weeded it and when there is no snow!) I hate mushrooms. I dream of living closer to my grandbabies.

Make sure to come take part in our next Clash on Monday: Emotional Intensity from our waiting-to-be-published authors.

FIRST: A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.

Visit the author's website.


There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910


A Fine Romance

Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.

That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.

“Katie,” a voice said.

The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must  be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.

Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.

Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.

“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”

Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.

“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”

Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.

Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.

As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.

“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”

“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.

“I did. I sent my regrets.”

“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”

She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.

“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”

“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”

“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.

If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.

“Give me one reason.”

She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”

Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.

He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.

“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”

Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.

He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.

The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.

“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.

The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.

“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”

“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”

“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”

“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”

“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.

“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.

“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.

“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”

“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.

Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”

Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”

“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”

“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”

Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.

“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”

The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.

“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”

“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”

“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”

But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.

“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”

Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”

Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.

Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.

“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”

“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”

“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”

“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”

“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”

The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.

It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?

“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”

She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”

“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.

Apparently the small talk had ended.

“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”

Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.

“And who you date is my problem, how?”

“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”

“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”

“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”

“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”

“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”

e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”

He flinched. “Below the belt.”

A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.

Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”

“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”

He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”

“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”

“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”

She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”

“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”

“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”

That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.

“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”

“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”

“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”

She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.

“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”

“Engaged?” He stepped away.

She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.

“I’ll give a call to your fiancĂ© and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”

The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.

“You know what I meant.”

“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”

She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.

“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”

“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”

“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.

“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

A Billion Reasons WhyA Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can think of a billion reasons why Katie did what she did, but I'm not sure that I like the final outcome! That being said, I did enjoy this book!! I had a good suspicion of how the book would end about halfway through, until another player came into the view. Then I changed my mind on who I wanted Katie to spend the rest of her life with. Actually I changed my mind several times but she ended up with who she thought best (not who I would have wanted her with though!)

This is a super cute book that reads very quickly. It's hard to put it down! I got so irritated at Luc and his arrogant billionaire multimillionaire ways. He just sucks you into his story and you want so badly to ring his neck! Poor Katie doesn't quite know what to do with this man who publicly humiliated her eight years ago. Does she forgive and forget? What about Dexter? Where does he fit into all of this? Then there's the issue of her engagement ring...and closure with her father's death. Can she handle it all? What's a girl to do?

I recommend this book for lovers of chick-lit. I have heard that Kristin Billerbeck is the "queen of chick-lit". This is the first book of hers that I have read but I'd readily pick up others to read! Very enjoyable!

View all my reviews

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Angel Harp by Michael Phillips

Angel Harp: A NovelAngel Harp: A Novel by Michael Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If Michael Phillips always writes like this, please sign me up for more! Obviously, this is the first book by him that I've read. I almost put it down, as it has a slow start. I'm so glad that I gave it a chance. It's a mesmerizing masterpiece!

Marie is a 40 year old widow out to change her life. She leaves her homeland of Alberta, Canada and sets out for Port Scarnose, Scotland with a few of her possessions, most notably, her harp. She finds a beautiful spot near the ocean and plays her harp when a beautiful 12 year old girl, Gwendolyn, comes by. She is mesmerized by her harp and before long, Marie is giving her lessons. Or is it Gwen giving the lessons? This is just the start of a beautiful friendship that will also introduce her to the curate Iain Barclay, and the Duke. Will Marie make the changes she was hoping for or is something else in the works like she'd never imagined?

So many things about this book that I love!! First of all, I have always loved harp music. The beginning of each chapter features the words to a Scottish ditty of some sort that Marie plays sometime in the book. I read this book while outside, enjoying nature and my children paying, and I believe that may have added to the beauty of the book! The story (once I got past the first few chapters) grabbed me and I read this fairly quickly. The ways the characters intertwine is mysterious and, at times, unnerving. There is suspense, romance, drama (plenty of that!), and raw emotions.

One thing that other readers such as myself may struggle with is the Scottish dialect. I finally started getting the hang of it and could read through it fairly quickly. I fear that I may have missed some of Ranald's story due to the dialect. I also wonder where he was in the end. He sorta melted into the background and I thought him to be a bit more important than that.

Warning: Kleenex needed for laughter and tears. :) I'm still a bit haunted by it all!

View all my reviews

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children by E.D. Hirsch Jr.

The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American ChildrenThe Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children by E.D. Hirsch Jr.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, it's important for you to know that I had to read this for a class. That being said...

The first chapter was great! It really grabbed my attention and I thought "Wow, for an educational book, this one is going to be pretty amazing!". That was short lived unfortunately. The beginning of each subsequent chapter grabbed me but after the first paragraph, the information became repetitive. Towards the end, the last few chapters were repetitive on the previous ones.

There were others in my class who thought this book was fantastic. I just didn't feel it like they did. I *wanted* to like this book but I don't do repetition well (except for in writing this review about how repetitious this book is!)

I'm disappointed that I still have a knowledge gap when it comes to closing education gaps in American Children. I believe my professor might as well.

View all my reviews
The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children

COTT: Laying Bare

Reading all the excerpts shared at Clash of the Titles this month, and discussing falling for heroes, has made me think back to other tender scenes I've encountered. Many stories make our hearts beat faster or awaken a deep longing within us—both in books and movies—and one such story is The Notebook. Yeah, yeah, it's often ridiculed by the guys. But women everywhere swoon. Why? Because in the movie we see a man who loves a woman—even when she doesn't know him.
Sound familiar?
We've been having a pitter-patter love fest here at COTT the past few weeks with all these Romantic Moments--by Lorna Seilstad, Elaine Marie Cooper, Joanne Troppello, and Karen Witemeyer--and as we come down off the sugar rush of Valentine's candy it occurred to me that no Valentine's month would be complete without focusing on our first love. And I don't mean the boy you kissed behind the bleachers in seventh grade, or even prince charming. I'm talking about the King of Kings. Today I thought it only appropriate to turn my eyes upward.
John 1:10 tells us that He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
So The Notebook in this way is a picture of Christ loving his bride, the church. Christ is the lover of our souls!
We also read in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. And from John 15:13 we know Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
His love is not based on what we do or how we look. It's not based on seduction, flirtation, or how we make Him feel. He loves us for who we are; He loves us when we are exposed.
Isn't it breath-takingly romantic when a husband finds his wife most beautiful first thing in the morning, before she's applied her makeup and arranged her hair just right? So also, we need no "beauty tricks" to win Him. We don't need to hide our flaws, whether physical or spiritual. We couldn't if we tried—all things are laid bare before Him. And yet He loves us. Enough to die.
That's what I call a hero.

Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me and drawing me into your embrace; for loving me with all my flaws exposed.  I'm deep in love with you, Lord.

What other pictures of Christ have you found in romantic stories? Or, share how He captures your heart.

By Michelle Massaro

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CFBA: Words by Ginny Yttrup

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
B&H Books (February 1, 2011)
Ginny Yttrup


Ginny Yttrup is an author, freelance writer, and writing coach. As she writes, speaks, and coaches, her prayer is that God will use her words to replace the lies so many believe about themselves with the truth of His unconditional love and grace. To see someone grasp, perhaps for the first time, the truth of God's love, is truly an honor. Through a relationship with the Truth, Jesus Christ, the bonds of shame are loosed and freedom abounds!

When Ginny is not working, she loves spending time with her two college-age sons or with friends. She is surrounded by the most amazing people--each a gift in their own way. If she can spend time outdoors with those she love, it's even better. And she thoroughly adores her dog, Bear. He's a book lover too.

She has two grown sons and lives near Sacramento, California. Words is her first novel.


"I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I'd like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I'd open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can't take them."

Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn't speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter's death, Sierra's control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Words, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer video:

I'm anxiously awaiting this one. It's running a little late from the publisher. Look for a review to come (hopefully) soon! :)

It's Giveaway Time!!

Are you looking for new decor this new year? Well, I am so pleased to announce this fabulous CSN Stores Giveaway!!! 

If you are not familiar with CSN Stores, let me tell you about them. CSN Stores is an online store that has more than 200+ stores to shop at!! Very impressive huh? You can find anything from modern dining room furniture to plates, baby items, lighting, toys and the list goes on and on!

They also have tons of popular brands like Rachel Ray, Sanyo, Kartell and so much more!

Why Shop with CSN Stores?

"Here are four of the main reasons we are confident you will become a lifelong shopper at CSN Stores:
Selection - We have the largest selection of products in the largest variety of categories on the web. In addition to being the largest retailer of home furniture online, did you know that we also offer everything from baby toys to generators to commercial office desks? And it's easy to find exactly what you want among our hundreds of choices with only a few quick clicks. Can't find what you want? Call or email us. 

Low Prices - We comb the web to make sure our prices are the lowest anywhere. If you see an item for less, email us. We can get you a better deal almost every time. We are proud to help you save money on the products you want.

Service - Whether you are thinking about buying, or you have already made a purchase, our knowledgeable sales and service staff is only a phone call or email away. We're here to serve your needs. Give us a call! You'll never wait on hold! Our team is available from Mon-Fri 8-9, Sat and Sun 10-5 EST to get you the answers you need.

Quality - We sell merchandise from the top manufacturers in the world, from Serta mattresses to Steelcase office chairs to Graco strollers. We stand behind the quality of the products we sell, which is why we provide you with helpful Quality Ratings for every item on our sites, offer a variety of merchandise protection plans, and will replace any item that you receive that is not 100% as described."


1 of my followers will win a $25 gift code to CSN Stores 200+ online stores!!! (It does not cover any of the shipping costs.)



**Visit and tell me which item you would love to have. If you don't tell me what you'd like to have, you will not have a valid entry.
You must leave your email address (yourname[at]hostname[com] for less spam!) so I can contact you if you win! No email=no entry.

I will draw the winner on Feb. 25 at 11:59 pm EST using a random number generator. 

Best of luck! :) 

Many thanks to Jorden at CSN for providing this contest for my readers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TLC Tour Stop: Triumph of the City by Edward Glasser

*NOTE* I had this set to post on 2/15 but for some reason it did not. My apologies to the author and publisher. *

About Triumph of the City

• Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: The Penguin Press (February 3, 2011)
A pioneering urban economist offers fascinating, even inspiring proof that the city is humanity’s greatest invention and our best hope for the future.
America is an urban nation. More than two thirds of us live on the 3 percent of land that contains our cities. Yet cities get a bad rap: they’re dirty, poor, unhealthy, crime ridden, expensive, environmentally unfriendly… Or are they?
As Edward Glaeser proves in this myth-shattering book, cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live. New Yorkers, for instance, live longer than other Americans; heart disease and cancer rates are lower in Gotham than in the nation as a whole. More than half of America’s income is earned in twenty-two metropolitan areas. And city dwellers use, on average, 40 percent less energy than suburbanites.
Glaeser travels through history and around the globe to reveal the hidden workings of cities and how they bring out the best in humankind. Even the worst cities-Kinshasa, Kolkata, Lagos- confer surprising benefits on the people who flock to them, including better health and more jobs than the rural areas that surround them. Glaeser visits Bangalore and Silicon Valley, whose strangely similar histories prove how essential education is to urban success and how new technology actually encourages people to gather together physically. He discovers why Detroit is dying while other old industrial cities-Chicago, Boston, New York-thrive. He investigates why a new house costs 350 percent more in Los Angeles than in Houston, even though building costs are only 25 percent higher in L.A. He pinpoints the single factor that most influences urban growth-January temperatures-and explains how certain chilly cities manage to defy that link. He explains how West Coast environmentalists have harmed the environment, and how struggling cities from Youngstown to New Orleans can “shrink to greatness.” And he exposes the dangerous anti-urban political bias that is harming both cities and the entire country.
Using intrepid reportage, keen analysis, and eloquent argument, Glaeser makes an impassioned case for the city’s import and splendor. He reminds us forcefully why we should nurture our cities or suffer consequences that will hurt us all, no matter where we live.

About Edward Glaeser

Edward L. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He studies the economics of cities, housing, segregation, obesity, crime, innovation and other subjects, and writes about many of these issues for Economix. He serves as the director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Dr. Glaeser received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1992.

Edward’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, February 2nd: Proud Book Nerd
Thursday, February 3rd: I’m Booking It
Tuesday, February 8th: English Major’s Junk Food
Monday, February 14th: Books Are Like Candy Corn
Tuesday, February 15th: My Own Little Corner of the World
Wednesday, February 16th: Po(sey) Sessions
Thursday, February 17th: Books Like Breathing
Monday, February 21st: Take Me Away
Tuesday, February 22nd: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, February 23rd: Library Queue
Thursday, February 24th: Reviews from the Heart
Thursday, February 24th: Rhapsody In Books
Tuesday, March 1st: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, February 14, 2011

COTT: The Winner Is...Karen Witemeyer vs Joanne Tropello

At This Site They Bravely Battled...

It's time once more to announce a new Hero at Clash of the Titles.  Two authors fought not with weapons and warriors, but with gentleness and devotion.  This was a clash of Romantic Moments.  Our swooning excerpts were from Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride, and Joanne Tropello's Mr. Shipley's Governess.  Two fantastically romantic scenes.  And the winner is...

Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride!

Congratulations! A Tailor-Made Bride is Karen's debut novel and recently won the 2010 Best Western Romance contest. So it's really no surprise that she's won this week's honors at COTT as well.  A snippet from her winning excerpt:

"So…uh…did you like the sunflowers?" J.T. steeled himself as Hannah turned to pass him a platter.

Her eyes widened slightly and roses bloomed in her cheeks, but the smile that followed unclenched his gut. "I loved them. The other gifts as well. Thank you."
"You're welcome."

She bent back to her task, rummaging in the grayish water for something else to wash. "I had hoped they were from you."

J.T. forced a casual air to his voice he was far from feeling. "You got someone else courting you?"

Some reader quotes:
·         Beautiful excerpts, both of them! But, I confess, I was hooked from the moment J.T. dried Hannah's hands with his towel.

·         Ah, so romantic. What a wonderful way to start the "love" month!

·         I was pulled straight into the scene without even knowing it. Drying the hands up to tracing the "hollow at the base of the neck" was a detail that drew the reader in.

About writing such romantic moments into her novel, Karen says:
The joy in writing these scenes is that as the omniscient author, I know these two people are meant to be together, and I get to help them discover that truth for themselves.

Of her time at COTT, Karen comments:
It's been so much fun to participate.

Karen lives in Abilene, TX with her hunky, computer nerd husband who has heroically saved her sanity on several occasions when evil glitches arise to assault her laptop. They have three children who think it's cool that their mom writes books even if the people on her covers usually have no heads. Karen is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler.

To read about how she met that hunky husband of hers and the crush she has on her heroes, click HERE (

About the book:
When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!
Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

About the Author
Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House Publishing. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. Visit Karen online at

Congratulations once again, Karen!  COTT's next Clash begins Monday, V-Day, with two more Romantic Moments.  Don't forget to vote and enter the free book drawing!

Article by Michelle Massaro, COTT Assistant Editor

I read A Tailor Made Bride last year and LOVED it!! Karen is a talented writer!! Read my review here. The sequel, Head in the Clouds is another great read! My review for it is here. I look forward to more from Karen in the future! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

CFBA: Another Dawn by Kathryn Cushman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Another Dawn
Bethany House (February 1, 2011)
Kathryn Cushman


Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. After practicing as a pharmacist, she left her career to marry and begin a family and has since pursued her dream of writing.

Other books by Kathryn, A Promise to Remember was a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers Book-of-the-Year in the Women’s Fiction category, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

Leaving Yesterday, her third novel, was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award.

Now her fifth book, Another Dawn, has arrived in stores, and I’m very excited about it!

On the homefront, Kathryn has been married to Lee for over twenty years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of junior high and high school. They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for the last nineteen years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feels blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)


Grace Graham is back in Tennessee with her four-year-old son on a short unpaid leave from work, helping her father recover from surgery and spending time with her sister.

Shoal Creek seems more backward than ever after her years in California, and it's hard to find organic food anywhere. When the unthinkable happens and her son is diagnosed with measles, Grace's fears over modern medicine take a dangerous turn.

Worse, the town has fallen into quarantine and its residents focus their anger and blame on Grace. She is alone and scared, until one brave woman chooses to reach out a hand of forgiveness and mercy. But when the outbreak takes a life-threatening turn, will Grace be able to forgive herself?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Another Dawn, go HERE.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Love is in the Air

A Note on Romance in Fiction

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and romance is in the air. Clash of the Titles is highlighting Most Romantic Moments for the next four weeks. We’ve kicked off our month of romance with two wonderful excerpts. The names and faces of the authors who wrote those excerpts have just been revealed, so be sure to stop by COTT and find out who they are! If you missed the excerpts, click HERE.

There’s a reason why Romance is the best-selling and most powerful fiction genre. It makes a story relatable to the reader. Even if the story stars non-human characters, like some fantasy, sci-fi, or speculative fiction, the romantic relationship gives the story a human side with which the reader can sympathize. The romance in the story doesn’t have to be happy either. It can be anything from mutual admiration to unrequited love. I hope in most cases fictional characters have a harder time with romance than real people. Authors, including me, do their best to keep conflict between the romantic leads in a story in order to make the plot more exciting. It might not be the nicest thing to do to these characters we love so dearly, but it sure is fun.

Every story needs a little romance, doesn’t it? What do you think?

article by Amanda Flower

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TLC: Moonface by Angela Balcita

About Moonface

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (February 1, 2011)

“Angela Balcita’s love story takes a couple of artsy wanderers off the road and into the bright, scary world of transplants, dialysis, and neonatal intensive care.” —Marion Winik, author of The Glen Rock Book of the Dead

From the pages of the New York Times’ Modern Love column comes one woman’s moving and uproarious story of how love and laughter rescued her from life-threatening illness. Angela Balcita’s cathartic memoir of finding love while wrestling with kidney failure will strike a chord with anyone yearning for a poignant, true-to-life romance…with a real fairy tale ending.
About Angela Balcita

Angela Balcita received an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. She is an editor at Imagine magazine, a publication of Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has been included in journals such as The Iowa Review and Utne Reader and named a notable entry in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, edited by Dave Eggers. She lives in Baltimore.

Angela’s Tour Stops (Please be sure to visit these other bloggers to see what they have to say about this book as well)

Tuesday, February 1st: Books Like Breathing

Wednesday, February 2nd: My Own Little Corner of the World

Thursday, February 3rd: Take Me Away

Wednesday, February 9th: Reviews from the Heart

Thursday, February 10th: Rundpinne

Friday, February 11th: Debbie’s Book Bag

Tuesday, February 15th: Reading Through Life

Wednesday, February 16th: I’m Booking It

Monday, February 21st: BookNAround

Tuesday, February 22nd: Clever Girl Goes Blog

Wednesday, February 23rd: Life In Review

Thursday, February 24th: The Book Chick

I'm not a super large fan of memoirs. However, when Trish from TLC Book Tours asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing this book, I couldn't pass it up! 

Our author, Angela, bares her life and soul in this book. She shares her struggles of dealing with a serious kidney disease (glomerulonephritis) and the treatments and transplants required to keep her alive. She deals with all of these serious issues as if they were "no big deal". She uses a lot of humor (I laughed, I cried, I laughed until I cried) to keep her life so positive. The reader will see a different side of her towards the end though, so I don't want to mislead and have you thinking the entire book is positive. We are all human and I'm glad that the author chose to show this side of herself and her journey as well. Towards the middle of the book I was feeling that the story was a bit unrealistic, although enjoyable, until a tide of events changed her life and we see the other side. 

This is a great book to curl up with and read on a rainy day (or any day!) It's a super quick read as well. This one is going to school with me so my students can take turns reading it! :) Overall, it's a 4 out of 5 stars. You might want to know that there is some strong language in this book.

Many thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book!