Monday, November 30, 2015

The Golden Braid

The Golden Braid 

by Melanie Dickerson  

YA Fiction
Thomas Nelson 

Litfuse, Thomas Nelson, andMelanie Dickerson are excited to bring to you Melanie's newest fairy tale retelling, The Golden Braid.

The one who needs rescuing isn't always the one in the tower. . . .
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.

Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again---this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.

The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight---Sir Gerek---Rapunzel, in turn, rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to him than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?

As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery are about to be revealed after seventeen years. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?

Reviewed by Jenna

My thoughts:  THE GOLDEN BRAID  was an awesome book. Mom had to practically pry the book away from me to get me to do my schoolwork or practice the piano.  I loved it very much. It had a lot of twists and turns and surprising events. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good romance. My copy is going on my keeper shelf.  Exciting! The ending caught me by surprise. Loved it! 

Purchase a copy:

 Meet the Author
Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor's degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany, and the Eastern European country of Ukraine.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

Connect with Melanie: websiteTwitter,Facebook, YouTube

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Merry Kisses

Valerie Comer
Love's Gift series
Christmas contemporary romance
Fired from her retail position for saying Merry Christmas to a customer, Sonya Simmons chafes at the over-commercialization of the season and the difficulties of finding a new job. If only she’d actually said Merry Christmas instead of Merry Kisses to the tall, good-looking man buying enough toys for at least a dozen children. How embarrassing!
It was fun to fluster the pretty toy store clerk, but Heath Collins, the mall’s volunteer Santa Claus, hadn’t meant to get her fired. When his elf assistant comes down with a bad cold, Heath offers Sonya a few days’ work, only to discover she believes Santa is nothing but a liar and a fraud instead of an opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives.
Can Sonya and Heath embrace each other — opinions, traditions, and all — in time to share merry kisses for Christmas?
I love Ms. Comer's stories, and MERRY KISSES ranks right up there near the top, maybe because it's set at Christmas, my most favorite time of the year. Sonya didn't actually say "Merry Christmas" to a customer, but she was a master of getting close to it so she wouldn't get fired. So she'd say things like "Merry princesses" or "Merry crystals", and "Merry kisses..." which is what got her fired. Her boss thought she'd said the forbidden C word. 
This story goes into the one big thing I hate about this holiday. No one believes in saying Christmas anymore! You say it in the store and you get cold stares, and if they bother to respond at all, it's Happy holidays.  In the words of Go Fish, call it like it is! You don't say "happy holidays" for Valentine's day! No, you call it like it is! 
I really liked the approach Ms. Comer shared regarding merging Santa and Jesus in the same holiday. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Why not use Santa to point the way to Jesus? Especially since Santa came from a missionary named St. Nicholas, centuries ago. 
Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Grab your colored pencils because Julie Klassen is hosting a coloring contest!

The Painter's Daughter Julie Klassen

Grab your colored pencils because Julie Klassen is hosting a coloring contest!

Get creative! Download and print The Painter's Daughter coloring page. Once you've finished coloring, scan and email your entry to Amy Green with the subject line "The Painter's Daughter Coloring Contest" for the first round of judging.

The deadline for entries is December 8, 2015
Then check Julie Klassen's Facebook page beginning December 10th to vote for your favorites!
Julie will announce the winner at her Facebook event on December 15, 2015, at 7 p.m. CST

The winner will receive a signed copy of The Painter's Daughter, two grown-up coloring books (Enchanting English Garden and Live Loved), and a set of 24 Prismacolor colored pencils.

The Berenstain Bears: The Very First Christmas / The Beginner's Bible: A Christmas Celebration

The Berenstain Bears, The Very First Christmas 

Berenstain Bears/Living Lights


October 6, 2015

by Jan & Mike Berenstain 

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • 24 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310751021

Join the Bear cubs as they learn all about Jesus’ holy birth. From the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary to the visit from the three wise men, join Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Honey as they discover the story of the very first Christmas.

My thoughts: My youngest daughter is a huge fan of the Berenstain Bears, so she was super excited to get this book and read it.  She loved the pictures and loved the story. I enjoyed the simplistic way that the author presented the message of Jesus' birth. I also loved how they were careful to get the facts right, showing Jesus as a young child when the wisemen came.  This is a great Christmas story for fans of the Berenstain Bears or those who want to get Christmas stories (Christian ones) for their favorite child. 


The Beginner's Bible A Christmas Celebration Sticker and Activity Book 


October 6, 2015

  • 4 - 8 years
  • 16 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz; Act Stk edition 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310746706

The Christmas story comes to life through age-appropriate puzzles, activity pages, and 50 reusable stickers in this friendly and fun sticker and activity Book featuring The Beginner’s Bible classic art and simply written content.

My thoughts:  As mentioned above, this has 50 stickers included and spots to use some of them. It also includes a Bible story about Jesus' birth, a seek and find, coloring pictures,  mazes, a word search, find the differences, find how many there are of different items, a code to solve, a dot-to-dot, and a color by number. This would be a great activity book for a child on the way to Grandma and Grandpa's house for the holidays. It is too short in my opinion, but my girls love it. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

When Secrets Strike

When Secrets Strike 

October 27, 2015

by Marta Perry

  • 368 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373788569

In Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, a community once united must suspect one of their own 

Amish quilter Sarah Bitler's dreams no longer feature a husband and family. Instead, she searches for success in the quilt shop within Blackburn House, a place once tarnished with deadly secrets. She refuses to let the past influence her future…until an ominous fire forces them to collide. 

Firefighter Aaron King was the first to touch Sarah's heart—and the first to break it. Now a widower and father of two small girls, his return to Sarah's life brings her buried feelings to the surface. As a string of horrific incidents tears apart their community, an arsonist's wrath threatens to destroy them all. With Aaron as the only suspect, Sarah must follow her instincts to find the truth. But to protect an innocent man, she might risk her heart to Aaron again…and risk her life to an unknown killer.

My thoughts:  WHEN SECRETS STRIKE was slow paced, but then, it was set in a quiet, peaceful world.  An arsonist is hitting all the local barns, seemingly random--but he's also targeting Sarah's life, as if he thinks she knows who he is. She doesn't. It was good reading the sweet romance between Aaron and Sarah as they work together, along with their close circle of friends to solve not one, but two mysteries. I read this book through in an afternoon and enjoyed every page. 

This suspense isn't as scary as some, so if your a member of the Honkin' Chicken Club, this would be a good one to read. You won't be kept up all night, jumping at every noise. But you might be afraid to go out to your barn alone after dark. 

Recommended. 4.5 stars. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Andi Unstoppable

Andi Unstoppable 

An Andi Boggs Novel

Hardcover, ebook 

October 6, 2015

by Amanda Flower 

  • 8 - 12 years
  • 176 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310737667
  • Reviewed by Jenna

Andi Boggs and her best friend Colin Carter are at it again … in this third book of the Andi Boggs series, Andi Unstoppable, school has begun for the two Killdeer middle schoolers and the science teacher has a great idea! He is an expert birder and wants his class to share in the fun. In a birding group with Colin and her biggest school rival, Ava, Andi sets out to be the first student in class to spot the elusive Kirtland warbler but ends up spotting the town’s resident ghost instead!
Together with her friends, Andi takes on another small town mystery—is the legend of the ghost of Dominika Shalley more than just a story? And does her sudden appearance have anything to do with the holes the friends find in the Shalley graveyard as they look for the rare bird?
My thoughts: ANDI UNSTOPPABLE is a great book. I loved it. It was full of mystery and suspense and it kept me on the edge of the seat. I was actually surprised at the outcome, but I'm not going to give any spoilers. I also loved that she became friends with one of her moderate enemies. This book is the third in the series, but it kind of stands alone. There are a few parts where it would help to have read the first two. I highly recommend this book! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

An Endless Christmas

Cynthia Ruchti Endless Christmas

An Endless Christmas

by Cynthia Ruchti    

Holiday Novella
Worthy Publishing 

Litfuse, Worthy Publishing, and Cynthia Ruchti are pleased to bring you Christmas a little early this year.

Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined.

Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says, "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.

My thoughts: I absolutely loved AN ENDLESS CHRISTMAS. It did start a little slow and draggy, but by the second chapter I was entirely hooked and in love with the host of characters. I absolutely loved some of the Christmas things they did as a family. A play, put on by the grandkids. The Grandfather singing one verse of Amazing Grace every night. Everything. This was an absolutely charming Christmas story that ended with a sigh of contentment (the best kind of book ever) and will go on my keeper shelf.  Love, love, loved it.  5 stars. 

Purchase a copy:

 Meet the Author
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories "hemmed in hope." She's the award-winning author of sixteen books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

Visit our blog Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook

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Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘An Endless Christmas’ and Holiday Cheer Giveaway
There's no getting out of Christmas now, despite Katie rejecting Micah's marriage proposal. Cozy up this holiday season with Cynthia Ruchti's new novella, An Endless Christmas. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

Celebrate the holidays with Cynthia and An Endless Christmas by entering her $100 Target gift card giveaway!

endless christmas-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of An Endless Christmas
  • A $100 gift card to Target

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 30th. The winner will be announced December 1st on Cynthia's blog.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Candee Fick Blog Post and Giveaway

Candee is graciously giving away a copy of Catch of a Lifetime to one lucky winner. To enter answer Candee's question below and include contact information. If we don't know how to contact you or who you are, you will be disqualified. 

Why I Wrote About Football

There’s a saying among authors to write what you know. This means to start with a subject or emotion you know well enough to communicate clearly to readers. Personally, I know about a lot of things and one of them is football.

Not only did I grow up playing football with the boys at recess and then my dad and brothers while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to finish roasting, I am married to a high school coach and our oldest son plays the game.

So when I first felt God’s nudge to write a book, football and faith were my top two ideas. I immediately saw a number of parallels between life and the game of football including two teams in a struggle, wearing armor-like protection from life’s hits, and following a playbook. Originally published in 2007,  Pigskin Parables: Exploring Faith and Football  ( has since been re-formatted and republished as an 11-week devotional journey along with a shorter collection of devotional blog posts to complement the  non-fiction side of writing about football.

But my dream was to write fiction.

I wanted to craft the types of stories that captured my own imagination and create characters that lived beyond the pages. In the collection of story ideas flitting around in my head and on scraps of paper for years, the characters ranged from a Regency kitchen servant to a pioneer school teacher to a formerly Amish young woman to a diner waitress to a dinner theater actress … to a college student who hated football but had to work with the athletes.

Some of these ideas grew into full length manuscripts while others fell to the wayside (at least for now). But the story nugget revolving around football kept niggling at the corners of my mind until I finally figured out why someone would hate football. Not just apathy or confusion. Hatred. Loathing. Disgust. Rooted in deep pain.

Then, what reason would be big enough to keep them locked into a situation where they had to be around football players every day?

And better still, what kind of a hero would it take to change her mind?

As I thought about these two characters, they had to be in a college football setting. Beyond the intense on-field preparation, conflicts, and pressure to win, my hero was so passionate about football that his players pitied the hypothetical girl would have to compete with a game. When I added in the athletic stereotypes (only so I could bust them to pieces!), what other sport is known for self-absorbed, I’m-king-of-the-mountain-because-I-play-football egos? And what about the whole fraternization between staff and students angle? Built in conflict to make this writer’s job easier!

Yes, there are quite a few football-related scenes in Catch Of A Lifetime and not just because of the setting and the secondary characters. My hero is a coach and football is all he thinks about. It wouldn’t have been realistic to have his mind consumed with sappy, romantic thoughts about the heroine when surrounded by game action with his future job on the line. And while I toned down the technical stuff I hear over dinner conversations nightly, I couldn’t have the hero describe a slot receiver as “that guy who catches the ball” and still maintain credibility.

But in case you’re worried there might be too much football, several of my endorsers and beta readers are NOT football fans and loved the story. In fact the amazing Laura Hilton said Catch Of A Lifetime “is sure to score a touchdown with football fans and romance readers alike.”
Just what I wanted to hear when I set out to write a story about football.

What about you? Do you know about football or not? Would reading a story set around a college football team excite you or turn you off? Why? If you were to write a book, what do you know that would find its way onto the pages?

As a bonus, I recorded this fun video a few weeks ago for my book launch party in order to explain the basics of the game from a woman’s perspective.
Football Explained Video:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Homecoming

Interview with Candee Fick and Giveaway

Candee is graciously offering to giveaway a copy of her book! To enter, answer the question at the end and leave contact information. (If we don't know who you are, you won't win without that!)  

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve loved to read since an early age and my favorite characters lived on in my imagination long after the story ended. As I grew up, I came across books that fell short and I wondered if I could do better. I always did well in school putting my thoughts into words, so writing non-fiction came naturally. However, the fiction craft took much longer to hone in order to do the stories in my imagination justice.

What does your writing process look like?

I tend to have several ideas percolating on the back burner, but when it’s time to start a new project, one seems to rise to the top. After developing my characters enough to know what they want, their fears, and what lie they currently believe, then I move on to craft the signpost scenes that anchor the flow of the story. I’m old school enough to place index cards out on a chart to check the pacing and spot any weak spots. When it’s time to write, I try to get a very rough draft written as fast as possible while ignoring my internal editor and then go back to layer in the emotions and senses before passing it on to my critique partner. (I used to try to write clean copy the first time through but found myself stalling out.)

Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action?

The romance is the hardest for me to write. In fact, I can feel my face heating up right now just thinking about it. Something about imagining my husband or my mother reading the kissing scenes makes me want to crawl in a hole. However, I’ve learned that those scenes are easiest if I can just get into character and write the scene as fast as I can with as much emotion as possible before my embarrassed internal editor can get a word in edgewise.

How did you decide upon the title of Catch of a Lifetime?

I wanted a title with multiple meanings that would be understood by the readers. This phrase implies a good romantic match, but it also applies to a football player making a great play worthy of a highlight reel. Since Reed coaches the receivers, it fit perfectly. And then when I gave Cassie a background in gymnastics, I could add in the metaphor of catching the bar before crashing to the mat below.

Are any experiences in Catch of a Lifetime based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?

I love the classic football movie “Rudy” and listened to the soundtrack while writing the football action scenes. In addition, I’ve watched countless football games and so that understanding of the game naturally helped in certain scenes. But on a more personal side, there’s a scene where Cassie tries to encourage Reed after a loss and he takes it personally and is unable to think logically. As a coach’s wife, I’ve been there and done that many times!

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes, I do. (It’s my first book, so that might change!) In addition to gleaning tweetable quotes for marketing purposes, I want to know what is resonating with readers and what disappointed them. For bad reviews, I look for the nuggets of truth while graciously thanking them for actually reading the book and taking the time to offer their opinion. But then, it’s time to remind myself of the good reviews, the truth that was spoken, and move on to the next story. (And if I ever get slammed by a troll, I’m not the first author to experience it and I believe readers are smart enough to spot the difference between an honest review and an attack.)

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Susan May Warren and the My Book Therapy gang. I bumbled and stumbled along in my first few manuscripts by going with my gut of what worked in stories I liked. Then at an ACFW conference (where I was actually up for an award!), I discovered one of her craft books in the bookstore. Suddenly the whole process was laid out in a way that I could easily understand and I’ve re-read her craft books many times since.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Dance Over Me will be releasing in September 2016 and I’m currently brainstorming and plotting the sequel. Set in a dinner theater, imagine Broadway meeting small town, a cast of tap dancers pounding out a rhythm, and the sounds of Big Band trumpet playing.

As a teaser, here’s the rough blurb for the first book: Danielle, a fledgling actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage, but a jealous cast member and numerous fruitless leads threaten to drop the curtain on her dreams and shine a spotlight on her longing for a place to belong. Meanwhile, Alex is living his dream except for someone to share it with. When Dani dances into his life, he hopes he’s found the missing piece to his heart but fears the bright lights of the stage could steal her away. Will the rhythm of dancing feet usher in their deepest desires or leave them stranded in the wings?

 Answer this question to be entered in giveaway:  Do you like football?   Which team is your favorite if you do?  Remember that all important contact information! 

BLURB: He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport. After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare. Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game he cherishes and the woman he loves.

BIO: Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, and Special Olympics games. In what little free time remains, she enjoys exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Thousand Shall Fall

Thousand Fall Andrea Boeshaar
Book info and Review
About the book: 

A Thousand Shall Fall: A Civil War Novel (Kregel, November 2015)

A story of love, hope, and healing set in the midst of the Civil War

Nineteen-year-old Carrie Ann Bell is independent and spirited. The only thing she really fears are the Union soldiers fighting against her Confederate friends. When her youngest sister runs away from home, brave Carrie Ann is determined to find her and bring her back. Disguised as a soldier, she sets off---only to find she's fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Her childhood friend Confederate Major Joshua Blevins has warned her against these Yankees: they're all devils, ready to inflict evil on unsuspecting young women. When Colonel Peyton Collier arrests her for her impersonation of an officer, it seems to confirm all her fears.

Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel. He rescued her, protected her, and has been every inch the gentleman. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally---and more than that, someone she could love. But the arrival of Joshua in the Union camp as a spy will test her loyalties. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, A Thousand Shall Fall is framed around compelling characters and a very romantic setting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Andrea Boeshaar's extensive research guarantees historical accuracy and romance genre enthusiasts and Civil War buffs alike will enjoy the Christian perspectives on actual historical events.

My thoughts:  I almost passed on this novel as I am not a huge fan of historical fiction. This would've been a mistake.  A THOUSAND SHALL FALL did start kind of slow - with Carrie Ann meeting up with an old childhood friend, but nothing clicked for me.   I kept reading then there was a click, about 50 or so pages in, that grabbed my interest and it was held through-out the remainder of the book. 
I enjoyed getting to know Carrie Ann and Peyton, and even Joshua. Set during the Civil War and not after as most books during this time period. As such, it is greatly different (and more interesting) than most.  A great book by a very talented author. I'm anxious to read the second book in this series. 5 stars. 

Purchase a copy:'

About the author: 

Andrea Boeshaar is the cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers and runs "The Writer's ER," a coaching service for writers. She is the author of thirty published works, including Threads of Faith, a finalist in the Inspirational Readers Choice Awards. Andrea is also the author of a popular devotional and regularly blogs on a number of sites.

Connect with Andrea: websiteTwitterFacebook
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Civil War Meets Romance in Andrea Boeshaar’s New Book (Plus a Kindle Giveaway)
The search for her runaway sister goes awry when Carrie finds herself arrested during the Civil War for impersonating an officer in Andrea Boeshaar's A Thousand Shall Fall. Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel who arrested her. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally—and more than that, someone she could love. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?

Andrea is celebrating the release of A Thousand Shall Fall with a Kindle Fire giveaway!

400 - a thousand shall fall 

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of A Thousand Shall Fall
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 10th. The winner will be announced December 11th on Andrea's blog.

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