Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell

First, I must say that I admire Siri Mitchell to an infinite degree. She is a most excellent author, developing characters that you really, really care about... characters that make you cry and that make you laugh. That is an extremely wonderful habit in a novelist.

That said, I also have to say this, I was disappointed with Love's Pursuit. I ordered this book because of Mitchell's name only. I saw her name and said "That will be a great book!" Then I get it and I find that this is not one of her best efforts. The characters are a bit flat, and the love story is forced... almost like the two did not want to fall in love, but Mitchell forced the issue.

That said, I must say that the premise of the story is very good. Mitchell takes you on a journey back in the time when women really didn't have a choice in how they were treated or who they would marry. She opens the door to some historical facts that would make the women of today shudder and strap on firearms and give a great battle cry. Although, the kind of work those women had to do back then kept them very slim and trim. We women of today would do well to do half the work they did... it would mean fewer athletic clubs for sure.

Side note: How refreshing to actually be productive while exercising rather than walking or running a great deal and getting no where. Hmmmm.

If you like historical romances, then this would be a good nightly read.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love's Pursuit

Bethany House (June 1, 2009)


Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

A Constant Heart was her sixth novel. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. She has been called one of the clearest, most original voices in the CBA.


In the small Puritan community of Stoneybrooke, Massachusetts, Susannah Phillips stands out both for her character and beauty. She wants only a simple life but soon finds herself pursued by the town's wealthiest bachelor and by a roguish military captain sent to protect them. One is not what he seems and one is more than he seems.

In trying to discover true love's path, Susannah is helped by the most unlikely of allies, a wounded woman who lives invisible and ignored in their town. As the depth, passion, and sacrifice of love is revealed to Susannah, she begins to question the rules and regulations of her childhood faith. In a community where grace is unknown, what price will she pay for embracing love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's Pursuit, go HERE


Shepherd's Fall by Wanda Dyson

I have this picture in my head of an extremely large man, with long blond hair, sun wrinkled skin and bright blue eyes as a bounty hunter... you know, Dog! Then my world gets turned all topsy turvy with another bounty hunter who has a lot of the same problems that Dog has--it's called life. Although, in Shepherd's Fall, the problems are a lot more serious such as divorce, a kidnapped daughter, accounts receivable are way down and there's sibling troubles too.
The man has a black cloud hanging over him. On top of all that, he has troubles with God, to boot.
But, let's put the story line to the side for a moment. From the first page, the reader is set down in an impossible situation and it is nail-biting terror. And... the girl is killed anyway. That's within the first chapter. Then we skip forward in time. Sort of a jerking from the story to tell the story, which is very laborious on the imagination. We don't have time to truly start caring deeply for the characters before we are set down into another set of problems which seemingly don't have anything to do with the previous problem except it turns out the girl was the daughter's best friend. Talk about some trust issues! So, in the character development department, Dyson gets two stars. There is a problem with back stories. The reader should not be bogged down with background stories because that lends to confusion. When you don't know what to care about, you tend to lose interest in the story.
The story line has too many rabbit trails that don't lend a great deal to the story line. It's a lot like walking down the hall and opening doors to catch a bit of drama, then close the door and open another to catch a bit of different drama. All this does is drag down the suspense. But, hey, this is a problem that a lot of accomplished authors are having these days. Stuart Woods has the exact same problem in his latest Stone Barrington novel. Sigh...
But, the premise is very interesting. I would buy the rest of this series because the interplay between the brothers and the other characters is interesting, and sometimes quite funny. I think the spoiled brat wife has seen the light and grown up a bit. Whether the spoiled brat daughter has, is yet to be seen. Those characters were, quite frankly, extremely irritating and I nearly quit reading the book because of them. That kind of drama is not my cup of tea. If its an action book, then give me action. Don't bog the thing down with contrived character flaws.
Please don't get the wrong idea here, though. It is definitely a two star novel and worthy of the money. Check out the first chapter and see if I'm not correct.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Shepherd's Fall

WaterBrook Press (April 14, 2009)


Wanda Dyson


Wanda Dyson lives with her severely autistic teenager on a busy farm with horses, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, and the occasional fox, deer, groundhog, and snake. She could seriously live without the snakes, but that's life in the country.

After writing three critically acclaimed suspense novels, she was asked to write the true story of Tina Zahn (Why I Jumped), which was featured on Oprah. Readers characterize her books as "riviting" and "Packed with twists and turns."

Wanda serves on the board of several writers conferences across the country including the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

Wanda has finished the second in this series called Shepherd's Run,that will come out in 2010. And she's hard at work on the third and final installment of the Prodigal Recovery Series - Marti's story -- tentatively called Shepherd's Quest.


Bounty hunter Greg Price is fearless when it comes to chasing down criminals. It's his difficult ex-wife, rebellious teenage daughter, and dysfunctional siblings that keep him awake at night. In charge of the family business, the Prodigal Recovery Agency, he thinks of himself as a shepherd of sorts. When his "flock" is out of his control, Greg's well-ordered universe falls into chaos.

Prodigal Recovery's search for Zeena, a prostitute on the run, leads to a faulty arrest, complicating Greg's business. He is thrown together with Zeena's twin, the beautiful Annie, and the two find themselves on a desperate search. The stakes significantly increase when Greg's daughter is kidnapped. Now, to save someone he loves, Greg must risk everything.but will it be enough

If you would like to read a Prologue excerpt from Shepherd's Fall, go HERE


A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

I'm late, I know. Who knew that Ponca City, Oklahoma had city wide WiFi, but it didn't reach my aunt's house and I would be the family Taxi Driver for the week? Ah well. If only vacations were really vacations...
Deeanne Gist has done it again with a wonderful historical romance in the upper west of the U.S. right after the Civil War and all about logging... well, almost. Since my dad was a logger in the late 1940s, this was a very interesting nostaglia trip for me. I fully enjoyed the whole trip around the Horn and all the news articles (that were really and truly printed in for real newspapers). Also, the characters were well developed, for the most part. There were a LOT of characters in this book, but not so many that it was confusing. It was just that a lot were mentioned and not developed which gave the story a two-demensional feel at times. However, the other characterizations were most excellent. Nothing happened out-of-character, and it was a good plot line as well.
Gist is also getting much better at period venacular. So once, you get into the dialogue wagon, there aren't any hiccups that jerk you into the present. This one is a keeper and worth the money. If you like period pieces and historical romance, you'll like this one. It is a bit formulaic in the romance department up to about the three quarter mark, then you've got a most delicious story development that will definitely require a hanky.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Bride In The Bargain

Bethany House (June 1, 2009)


Deeanne Gist


Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.

Since the debut of those novels, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.


The Wedding Is All Planned...
Someone Just Needs to Tell the Bride

In 1860s Seattle, redwoods were plentiful but women scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free.

Joe Denton doesn't have a wife, though. His died before she could follow him to Seattle and now the local judge is threatening to take away his claim. In desperation, he buys himself a Mercer bride--one of the eastern widows and orphans brought to the Territory by entrepreneur Asa Mercer.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Mercer is an escape from the aftermath of the Civil War. She signed on to become a cook--not a bride. When she's handed over to Denton, her stubborn refusal to wed jeopardizes his land. With only a few months before he loses all he holds dear, can he convince this provoking, but beguiling, easterner to become his lawfully wedded wife?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride In The Bargain, go HERE


Held Hostage by Ken Cooper

Held Hostage: A Serial BAnk Robber's Road to Redemption

Who says miracles don't happen these days?

For instance, a young boy runs into his home and tells his mom that one day he was going to preach. "She nearly fainted and said she would be praying..." and she did for many, many years.

Ken Cooper was a decent sort of man, got excellent grades in school, went to college, but had a penchant for stealing. He loved the adrelenin rush of it, the "natural" high it gave him.

He met a girl that made him "see the light" so to speak and they had a baby. He resolved to be the best husband and best dad anyone could hope for. He was, too... until his wife died and he gave his child away because he couldn't take care of her. He felt like a failure, and that's when he decided to rob banks.

As a career, it didn't have much of a future. In fact, the last bank he robbed, he'd almost decided not to rob it. That had to be the worst, and the best day of his life, because Ken Cooper met Jesus for real while he was in prison. The fact that he was supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of parole and yet four years later, he was standing in front of a church crowd giving his testimony is nothing but a miracle.

The road between the two, however, was long, full of twists and turns and hair-raising-adrelenin-rushing-cliff-hangers. Ken called robbing banks, his "banking business". He conducted business with a loaded gun and numerous disguises. The amazing thing is that he became very well known throughout Kentucky as he was the state PR man as well as Cumberland College promotions man. He lead a double-life, and nair the twain should meet except on one hot, horrendous day.

Ken Cooper can tell a story. He weaves in and out like a well-honed loom. He does an amazing job of drawing the reader into his thought process. You become immersed in his woes and his highs. You hold your breath with him as is cellblock is chosen for him by Mrs. Joseph. You mourn with him the loss of his family and his seperation from loved ones. You cheer him when he realizes how Jesus cleanses the most vile and pulls those from the deepest mire. You rejoice with him when he rejoices that only God and His goodness could have arranged his shower mates, because Malo told him that "A muscle-bound homo they called Bear bought you." Only God could have made all points and purposes come together so that he stepped into the shower with a huge hometown boy who hated the sex traders, too.

This is a smooth read. It is not for the fainthearted, but is worthy of some late nights. I recommend it. It is worth the money and is a keeper. You can buy Held Hostage from Chosen Books but it won't hit the book store shelves until August. Look for it, don't miss it!

Ken Cooper, who served four years of a 99-year sentence, later worked with four others to found Prisoners of Christ, a faith-based reentry ministry for the transition of inmates plagued with addictions. Now he heads up Ken Cooper Prison Ministries, involved in prison ministry organization development, consulting work, and education on overcoming addictions. Ken has been featured in numerous media outlets including Time, The Christian Science Monitor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Associated Press.Ken and his wife, June, live in Jacksonville, Florida.


Scream by Mike Dellosso

Everyone by now knows how I feel about books that switch from one character and apparently different storyline to another. Back and forth, back and forth without one connecting thread until I want to SCREAM with frustration. It is a quirk of mine, and I can't seem to give the authors (and editors) a break when they use this gambit. It does NOT make the story more interesting and creates unnecessary tension, in my opinion. My old, feeble brain can't seem to make the connections between the dots that are so far apart they have no relationship. And please, don't tell me on the outside back cover what I won't find until the last half of the book. That is so totally unfair!
However, let me see if I can give it a fair shot...
Scream is an excellently written novel by Mike Dellosso with a great deal of suspense. I cannot imagine what it would be like to hear screams from Hell just before my best friend died. It would be mind numbing. Dellosso does a great job describing this and drawing you into a most satisfying mystery until you are jerked away into another, completely different mystery into the mind of a kidnapper and apparent serial killer.
Dellosso also does a very good job getting inside the head of an unfaithful husband who no longer believes God. The characters are very well developed, but you do not have an immediate sense of who the protagonist actually is because you slip inside the heads of a lot of characters right up front. That doesn't help the reader to latch onto, or begin to actually care about a particular person immediately. You really don't want to waste some emotion on someone who ends up dead within a few pages. That makes you draw back from the characters somewhat. But, don't. It is well worth it to the last page because the investment you make in Mark Stone (the guy who hears the screams from Hell) is a worthy character.
Unless you are a person who reads the last page of a novel, don't read that outside back cover. Well, if you do, please note the name Mark Stone. That's the guy that you'll need to develop an emotional attachment to in order to keep from getting dizzy the first half of the book. But, it does, even though you have strong doubts, have a happy ending.
This novel is not for the fainthearted. It has some heart-stopping pages that will keep you up at night. Happy reading...

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Realms (March 3, 2009)


Mike Dellosso


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted.

He was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years and has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets. Mike also has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters.

Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer's Network, and International Thriller Writers. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity.


Otherworldly Screams...
A Madman on the Loose...
This Time the Stakes Are Higher Than Ever

While talking to his friend on the phone, Mark Stone is startled by a cacophony of otherworldly screams. Seconds later, a tragic accident claims his friend's life. When this happens several more times--screams followed by an untimely death--he is compelled to act.

Battling his failure as a husband and struggling with his own damaged faith, Mark embarks on a mission to find the meaning behind the screams and hopefully stop death from calling on its next victim. When his estranged wife is kidnapped and he again hears the screams as she calls from her cell phone, his search becomes much more personal and much more urgent.

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