Monday

A Really Great Escape...

I picked Summer's Love up on a day when about three catastrophic things had crashed down on me. Too upset to work or think, I grabbed it of my “to be read” pile that evening and dived in. What a refreshing plunge!

It was light and funny (I love that kind) and even made me laugh out loud in several places. In spite of my own circumstances, too. But somewhere along the line there was some real wisdom in it. It sang through the characters in a very touching way. Which—in my opinion—is the best kind of inspiration there is. Because it's catching.

I finished Summer's Love within twenty-four hours. And the really wonderful thing was that I came away not only feeling better about life, but about myself, as well. Which is why I would recommend this book to anybody. Especially if you can't afford a vacation, because this is the next best thing. For me, it was truly a great escape!


About the book...

Following the collapse of her interior design business, Kate Winston moves to Georgetown with hopes of making it as a sales rep for Tasmania, a company selling personal protection devices for women. With rapes, robberies, and domestic violence on the rise, the nation's capital is a ripe market. But Kate's stun gun party implodes when her guests demand she sweeten the deal by providing autographed copies of In Heat, the latest best-selling novel by Stu Summers. With creditors breathing down her neck, Kate drives to Page Me Books, where adoring fans clamor for an autograph with the New York Times sexy and single romance writer.

Stu expects the flirty smiles and women fawning praise, but when his editor phones to inform Stu that his latest manuscript failed to impress the publishing board, his carefully crafted career begins to unravel. Stu has one week to deliver a complete rewrite that meets his reader's demanding standards. And he would if only he could write. But he can't. Not a lick.

For years Stu has paid a church secretary to ghostwrite his novels.Only now Hattie May Hall feels God calling her to write paranormal prairie Amish thrillers with an evangelical, Cinderella twist. With Stu's career on the line and Kate's big taser sale in jeopardy, an unlikely pair of hearts collide, providing a shocking climax at the world's biggest stun gun ball. 

About Stu Summers...

Stu Summers is an award-winning novelist and a Times best-selling author of In Heat, Puppy Love, Paws On My Heart, Hound Dog Heart, and That Dog Won’t Hunt.When Stu was in high school, he dreamed of moving to an island and writing love stories. Though a girl in high school broke his heart, Stu never lost his passion for telling funny stories on and about about his awkward romantic encounters. (Stu once closed his eyes, puckered up and kissed a wall when the girl eased away.) Today Stu is living his dream. While fiercely protective of his privacy (he refuses to divulge the name of the island from which he writes), Stu remains loyal to his readers, giving them glimpses into his pain while lacing his stories with laugh out loud humor.

A Special Gift...

I always look forward to reading a Clare Revell book. Almost all of them take place in Headley Cross, and I find it enjoyable to feel familiar with the surroundings, right away. There are also characters from other stories that show up, now and then, and that adds to the sense of reality. I like the feeling that I've “met” those people before. Friday's Child is about one such person, as—being an M-15 agent—he has shown up at just the right time in a couple of other books, already. He is a well-loved member of one of the prominent families in the series, too.

Patrick Page has spent the last ten years with his life centered around his job, and little time for anything else. But when his working world collides with a woman from his past, his normally reliable confidence is shaken. Something that adds yet another element of suspense to Ms Revell's style of dishing up one horrendous thing after another in all of her action-packed stories. Things that keep you turning the pages just to see what happens next.

However, the thing I enjoy most about all of these books is the thread of tangible hope that runs strong and true through each one of them. So much so, that you can actually take that part home with you, no matter where you live. At it's heart, Friday's Child is a testament to the faithfulness of God to not only set us up for “second chances,” but continue loving us during those times when we have become unloveable even to ourselves. A theme so universal, it's the kind I like to tuck away in my own spirit for the inevitable hard places we all seem to run into, from time to time.

Which is why I would recommend this book to anyone. Because it goes beyond entertainment and gives you something of value, besides. A gift that is worth more than just a pleasant bonus, when one considers how priceless such things become should you ever need them along your own journey. So, many thanks to Clare Revell... who has done it, again!

About Friday's Child...

Friday's Child is a man obsessed...
MI-5 agent Patrick Page is on the trail of a drug smuggler. He doesn't have time to revisit his past when he reconnects with the girl who got away--his girlfriend from college working at a library. He's more than surprised to see sweet Ellie singing on stage when he slips into a nightclub to gain intel on the club's owner. Why is she working two jobs? Why is she using an alias? Is she somehow involved? And is her involvement with his suspect merely a business relation or is there more to their partnership?

Ellie has a secret she doesn't want Patrick to know. His daughter. She'd turned custody over to her parents, however now she wants to be a mother not just a sister. But her own mother can't seem to let go neither has she forgiven Ellie for her past. So Ellie works two jobs and supports them both. Her one light is her music. The career she abandoned, and her boss has promised to make her a star. But now with Patrick back in her life she's questioning her choices. And is he interested in her, or does he have some hidden agenda? Does Patrick have a secret too?

About the series...



Clare Revell lives in a small town in England with her husband, whom she married in 1992, and her three children. Writing from a early childhood and encouraged by her teachers, she graduated from rewriting fairy stories through fanfiction to using her own original characters. Now, she enjoys writing an eclectic mix of romance, crime fiction and children's stories. When she's not writing, reading, sewing or keeping house or doing the many piles of laundry her children manage to make, she goes to Carey Baptist where she is one of three registrars. You can find out more about her at her website.


Tuesday

Seriously Good...



Hello, dear readers! It's been a while since I've posted a spotlight over here at my book club (lots happening in my world, right now, as you can imagine--Alaska, here we come!). But there are so many good books coming out, this spring, I can't pass up telling you about. So, here we go with the first one, written by my good author friend, Sharon Srock. Number three in her "Women of Vally View" series, and it's called PAM. Following is my review, and a short excerpt...enjoy!

My Review...

Pam is another woman of Valley View. Part of a group who meet and pray for each other every week in the small town of Garfield, Oklahoma. They attend the same church, and a few have grown up there. Some haven’t. But they still have a history together. It comes from being open and transparent with each other about what is really happening in their lives. Something not everyone is willing to share, especially when things aren’t going so well.

Such is the case when Pam is suddenly confronted with someone out of a past she would rather not remember. Someone who not only threatens to topple her wonderfully peaceful life, but snatch away the people closest to her who have made that new life possible. A person so entangled in those horrible secrets of her past she could never admit them to a prayer group. What would they think about her?

Thus begins the slow decline of Pam as she tries to deal with things that are much too big to handle all by herself. In watching her struggles, readers begin to wonder what they might do in similar situations… what can anyone do?

This book deals with huge issues. But they are intensely personal ones. The kind that cross the paths of ordinary people sometime during their lifetimes, no matter who they are. So, even though this is a fictional story, it plays out in a way that shines a truthful light on the way things happen in real life. How one might actually deal with such things should they ever happen to you. Sharon Srock’s talent for creating worlds one can step into and literally “live in” for awhile, gives this book the potential to become priceless.

I would recommend it to anybody.

Excerpt...

"Oh, dear Jesus. What have I done?"

Four years later
1

A fall storm system hovered over Garfield, Oklahoma. Rain fell in sheets. A vicious wind whipped acorns from the trees and skipped them across the roof with the sound of rapid gunfire. Pam Lake paced her shadowed living room. The tempest in her spirit rivaled the one outside. If Alan Archer thinks I’ll take this lying down...

The Old Testament prescribed death by stoning for individuals caught in adultery. That was a punishment Pam could stand behind. God must have known that if cheating ex-spouses were dead, they couldn’t resurface four years later to rip your soul out a second time and threaten your newfound happiness.

The rational part of her brain shifted her troubled thoughts into neutral. You need to stop. You’re giving him too much control over your life. What would Dr. Sylvester say? Pam stopped her pacing. Her counselor had warned her about this four years ago.

Pam could still see Dr. Sylvester, hands clasped on her desk blotter as she leaned forward. “Pam, there are a whole bunch of fancy words I could use for the scars and trauma caused by the emotional abuse you’ve suffered. If you don’t start learning how to deal with it, it’s going to eat you from the inside out.”

“I am dealing with it..."


Author Sharon Srock writes inspirational stories that focus on ordinary women using their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Sharon serves her local chapter in the role of treasurer. Sharon lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. Her books include: The Women of Valley View: Callie and The Women of Valley View: Terri, Pam is the third in the series, and all are available now.
Connect with her at www.sharonsrock.com..

Friday

Stella Madison is Back!


The second Stella Madison Caper releases TODAY, dear readers, and I am very excited to let you in on a BIG secret… she is going places! More about that, later. Right now, she has just gotten herself out of another wave of unexpected trouble (it could happen to anybody), and actually survived to tell about it. 

So, if you find yourself with an hour to spend, think about using it on this uplifting little Dollar Download from Harbourlight Books (an imprint of the Pelican Book Group), you might come away with something that would come in handy, later on, along your own road. Just saying.

Anyway, welcome back, Stella… again!

About the story…


Stella Madison is back, 
this time with a bevy of friends. But just how far should a person go when it comes to sticking by their friends? 
There's a thief in the rambling old mansion she moved into. And while it was someone who was quick to lend help when Stella needed it most, how can she possibly return the favor without jeopardizing herself along with them? 

No person is obligated to go that far... right?

Monday

Bringing History to Life...


Elaine Marie Cooper has a talent for taking her readers places. The kind of places you can't get to any other way because they live in the past. Recently, I had the opportunity of reading  FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS, her newest release. It's about an eighteen-year-old girl caught up in a battle of the Revolutionary War, that brought the fighting right up to her doorstep. 

Here's my review...

FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS is a glimpse of the Revolution through a young girl's heart. Betsy Russell is someone who stands in that vulnerable place between youth and adulthood, when nearly everything touches one's passions. She is passionate about her family, about her beliefs, and--oh, is she passionate about the war and wanting to do her part.

Elaine Marie Cooper has done an excellent job of depicting the "coming of age" that occurs when ideas finally clash with reality in a young person's life, and the utter anguish that it can trigger in the human soul. Set against the backdrop of a little-publicized battle of the Revolution makes Betsy's eye-witness account spring more realistically to life. I especially liked that all the characters, both real and fictitious, were believable from beginning to end.

I like to call this kind of book a "time-travel book." Because not only is it possible for a person to "catch a glimpse" of a historical event through the true-life memoirs of people who actually lived through it, but it has been said that the difference between reading something that emotionally moves you, and having the actual experience, personally, is very small. I have also been amazed over and over by how much we can learn about our own lives by sharing in the lives of others this way.

I came away from FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS feeling as if I had seen exactly what had happened during that particular battle "on the road to Concord," and how it effected ordinary people. And how they are still effecting us today. Not only would I recommend this book to anyone who likes "armchair time-traveling," I'm going to go looking for the bullet holes in the "Russell House" the very next time I find myself visiting the east coast. Which-- having had only a passing interest in the Revolutionary War up to this point-- is something that gives Elaine Marie Cooper the true mark of a storyteller. 

Which led me to a few questions I wanted to personally ask Elaine about writing this book. So, here's our little chat about that...

Welcome, Elaine! So glad you could stop by my book club this week.

Thanks for having me, Lilly.

My pleasure. I have to say one of the first things that popped into my mind after reading FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS was how you discovered all the information. Having been raised near the heart of so much Revolutionary War history, was it taught more during your school years, or was it a personal interest that developed as you grew and began to notice the various historical places around you?

I think it was taught in more depth in New England schools than in other areas of the country. My husband (who grew up in California) knows all about that state’s history from his formative years. We had to share notes after we were married because we were each quite clueless about many historical events in each other’s states.

Betsy Ross House
But history always excited me and I would be the first to want to tag along on trips to Concord and Lexington when out-of-state relatives showed up for “the Tour.” I remember climbing the 100 plus steps to the top of Bunker Hill Monument and couldn’t wait to see the Betsy Ross House and Liberty Bell when we visited Philadelphia. History just came alive for me at these sites.

I'll bet it did. Do you have relatives who also lived in the area during that time, or is your family "relatively" new to these historic places?

My own family lived in Massachusetts during the Revolution although not near Lexington and Concord. My earliest ancestors came on the Mayflower (John Alden and Priscilla Mullins) but then settled in the Bridgewater area. In the 1700’s they moved to western Massachusetts, which is where my 4th great grandmother met and married a British soldier who had been taken prisoner after the Battle of Saratoga. He escaped from the line of prisoners, then met and fell in love with an American woman and started a family in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, not far from Springfield. Their story was the inspiration for my first novel, The Road to Deer Run.

My immediate family moved to Arlington, MA (near Concord) in 1960.

That is truly fascinating--I think I better read that book, too. What is it about the Revolutionary time period that keeps drawing you back to it? 

I think it is partly the family connection that draws me to the era. When I started researching the time period, I realized how personally these events impacted my grandparents from long ago. My 4th great grandfather fought in the terrifying battle of Saratoga. When I was a child, I was embarrassed to be descended from an enemy soldier. As an adult, I see things in such a new perspective. I can’t begin to imagine the horror of that war—the fear, terror and bloodshed—and the risk he took escaping and making a new life for a family in America.

The events of the start of the Revolution were so real to me growing up in Arlington, they stayed in my heart and mind throughout my life—and eventually poured from my pen into the manuscript called Fields of the Fatherless. Long overshadowed by the events at Lexington and Concord, I am so gratified that my hometown’s history can now be told.

And told very well, too, because I practically felt I was there in that battle. What is it you enjoy most about writing historical fiction?

I enjoy the fact that history can be brought alive in a way that a textbook cannot. When you assign personality traits and dialogue into a story form, suddenly a character becomes a person, not just a name on a page. Suddenly, history seems amazing and real.

It certainly does. FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS is a very serious book. What age reader did you envision it for when you were writing it?

You’re so correct about it being very serious. I wrote it for adults and young adults. I believe it is far too intense for younger children.

What do you hope most that readers will take away from this story?

I hope that readers come away with a better understanding that, despite the most difficult circumstances or deepest grief, God is still our very present help in our time of need. 

That is so true, Elaine, no matter what era we find ourselves living in. Speaking of which... what's next for you?

What is next is a brief hiatus from historicals to complete a memoir of my daughter and the last two years of her life. She was only 24 when she passed away from a brain tumor ten years ago. My hope is that my story can help other families going through a serious illness with a loved one, to empower them to be advocates for their patient, as well as provide hope that they themselves can survive the pain, exhaustion and grief—with the Lord’s help.

Wow, what a monumental undertaking that sounds like, Elaine, but one that can be a lifeline to so many others. I'll definitely be praying for you during that project. Meanwhile, here's wishing you continued success with all your books, and the wonderful insights they have allowed so many of us to share.

Thanks, Lilly, it's been great to be here.


Novelist Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Fields of the Fatherless released October 2013. Visit her website at: 

Friday

Fields of the Fatherless...

Click on the cover to get the
Kindle version
Just downloaded this book by Elaine Marie Cooper, today, and can't wait to read. I'll be reviewing it later, but wanted to "spotlight" it for any who would like to join me in a foray into this little-known historic event that Elaine has has amazingly brought back to life. 

Not to mention I can see interesting discussions and parallels ahead. I absolutely love "armchair time-traveling" (less side effects than the real thing) so, come along with me and let's enjoy!

About the book...

In the early months of 1775, war is brewing in the American colonies. Although frightened, eighteen-year-old Betsy Russell of Menotomy Village, Massachusetts, wants to be prepared in case of attack by British troops. Her father, prosperous farmer Jason, is the fourth generation of Russells on this land, yet their very rights as British Colonials are being stripped away one by one. Will the King of England take their land as well? Tensions are growing here in the countryside west of Boston and the outbreak of battle seems a certainty. 

While Jason desperately wants to protect his family and their future, Betsy makes every attempt to be prepared for the worst. But not even the American militia could have predicted the bloody massacre that was about to occur right on the Russell's doorstep... 

Based on a true story.

About Elaine Marie Cooper...

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of THE ROAD TO DEER RUN, THE PROMISE OF DEER RUN and THE LEGACY OF DEER RUN. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, only a few blocks from where the actual events in FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS took place. Find out more about her by visiting: 

Sunday

True or False?


There are a few things in life we would rather not have to deal with. Most of which have to do with the supernatural. If you were to see a ghost, for instance, nine people out of ten would not admit to it. Because what would others think? More importantly, what would they think of you?

Even so, whether ghosts, premonitions, or near death experiences, most people have had some kind of supernatural encounter at some time in their lives. Including those who are the least likely to believe. Such as people in the medical profession. Medical people experience certain "supernatural phenomena" on enough of a regular basis to be forced to give some of them a name. Which is exactly what happened with something they call "The Lazareth Syndrome." 

This is when a person who is pronounced dead, unexplainably comes back to life, again. In the book THE RISING by Lynn Chandler Willis, which I reviewed several weeks ago, the author dealt so ingeniously with a case of the Lazareth Syndrome, that I simply had to invite her back to answer a few questions...

Welcome back, Lynn. I don't mind saying your book has kept me thinking long after I read the last page. Such an intriguing subject! How did you come up with the idea of using it as the main premise for THE RISING? Was there an "ah-ha" moment when it all came together for you?

Well, Lilly, I love playing the "what if" game and with THE RISING, I just kept taking it one step further. What if a troubled detective came face-to-face with a miracle? But what if she could only see it in black & white? What if... 

Yes, you've done a great job of weaving Detective Ellie Saunders's questions and skepticism into the issue. Which makes me wonder if this is a pathway you have been down, yourself, or have you always been a believer in this phenomenon called the Lazareth Syndrome?

I've always believed in the Lazarus Syndrome. Once in awhile you'll hear about it happening but you seldom hear about it being disproved. 

What do you hope readers will take away from the story? 

The power of forgiveness, especially forgiving yourself, and the power of redemption. Just the term 'born again Christian' has so much meaning. 

It certainly does, and you have done a marvelous job bringing those things into question. Which makes me wonder if we will we see other "phenomenon books" from you, or was THE RISING  a one-time deal?

 I've had readers show interest in continuing Ellie's story but I can't say it will happen, and I can't say it won't! I've always been interested in the "unexplained" but my two current projects are strictly mystery/suspense of the natural kind.

What do you find so intriguing about writing crime fiction? The individual mysteries? The characters? The investigative process? 

Probably the characters. I'm so intrigued by human nature and why people do the things they do. Hopefully some of that passion works its way into my characters.

It definitely keeps a reader wondering "who done it" all the way to the end. But just out of curiosity, do you like working on jigsaw puzzles? Do you ever get nightmares? 

Laughing - I don't MIND working puzzles but they aren't something I do often. I don't have the patience. And I don't have common nightmares, but, I do have some irrational fears of things like clowns, dolls, and especially puppets! I can stare down a spider much better than I can a puppet with a creepy smile.

Hazards of the writing profession, when one has to let themselves explore avenues we wouldn't be caught dead looking into in real life, right? I can relate to some of that, myself. Any way you look at it, THE RISING  was a great read, Lynn. So… what can we look forward to seeing from you, next? 

My current WIP is NOBODY'S BABY. It's about a small town newspaper owner/publisher involved in the homicide investigation of her friend. And, WINK OF AN EYE, is a Private Eye novel about a PI running from a double-cross who helps a 12-year old prove the kid's father didn't commit suicide.  

Wow, both of those sound intriguing. I'll look forward to seeing them. As I'm sure others will, too. Meanwhile, thanks for such an entertaining and enlightening story with THE RISING, and I hope it sparks as many questions in "real life" as it does while reading the book. 

Thanks, Lilly. I hope so, too! 

You can find out more about Lynn and her work by visiting: http://lynnchandlerwillis.com