Faith Readers Book Club Review: Edge of Grace by Christa Allan

Faith Readers
Book Club
(we were missing some)

First off, let me say a big thank you to Marji Laine for awarding me with the Versatile blogger award Yay! I blame it on my MPD and so do I! Me too!

I’ll follow the rules for it on Friday. Now, on with the show this is it!

I love books! I love talking about books. And that’s why I enjoy Faith Readers! An inspirational fiction, book club. Forming friendships through faith and fiction.

We kicked our first book off with Christa Allan’s the Edge of Grace. A book that will definitely make you talk!

Dunkin Donuts, homemade desserts and coffee, along with our cool Cornerstone Church Cafe made for great food & atmosphere. So many women, all ages, various backgrounds. I wasn’t sure what everyone would think.

After some dessert, we set up skype and had the chance to chat with the lovely Christa Allan. She made us feel at home by telling us up front that there was nothing we couldn’t ask or say to her. 

Her book is controversial and I’ve never read anything like it in the Christian market. (CBA) The big question was: 
“Can you be gay and be a Christian?”
Many answers came to that question!

“Absolutely not.” “It’s rebellion.” “I don’t know.” “Yes.” “I think you can, just like you can have sex outside of marriage and be straight, you still love God, but you struggle.” “We’re not supposed to judge.”

These are just some of the answers among our book club.

I asked, “Would you ladies recommend this book?”

One said, “I already gave mine away. A lady is dealing with an issue like this in her life, and starting a book club at her church. I thought this would be good for her.”

Another said, “No. I didn’t agree with the issue and I didn’t particularly like the main character; I thought she was whiny.”  

A reply came. “Wouldn’t you be whiny if you found out your brother was gay, you lost your husband to death, and you could barely pay bills?”

“I think that was the point, ” another said. “She whined about her brother because how it affected her. Everything revolved around her, but she evolved toward the end. We have a hard time loving people because we’re selfish.”

“I would recommend the book because this kind of issue isn’t going to go away. It needs to be out there for us to discuss.”

“We need these kinds of books! As Christians, we don’t have anguish for the lost, and we need these books to remind us to love.” 

What did you take away from this book?

“I had more compassion for homosexuals than before.”

“I’m still confused.”

What are some things you liked about the book?

“I liked that she didn’t stereotype them. The brother and his partner watched football and didn’t act like we assume they would. They were regular guys.”

Did the question get answered? No. Did we express our opinions and have a great time doing it? Yes!

Bottom line is this, the main character, Caryn, had a choice: Never speak to her brother again, never darken his door or…love him unconditionally. 

Christa said she had to come to terms with the fact that her own brother wasn’t going to stop being gay. He just wasn’t. So she chose to love him anyway. That’s what Caryn, the main character chose to do too. 

In  a controversial, yet touching novel, Christa Allan weaves a story of love, forgiveness, and family. Even if it isn’t the family that the main character asked for. Her wit and humor was exactly what you expect out of her, if you’ve read her debut novel, Walking On Broken Glass. Spot on. 

It’s a book that will make you stop and think, pray, and remind you that people are people and they deserve agape love, no matter what they look like, or which sex they prefer. 

You can analyze it all day long (and we did): Are they born that way? Were they molested? Did they have a bad home life? You think they have too much testosterone or estrogen? And so forth and so on. 

And at the end of all that debate, when answers did not come, it boiled down to one simple word: LOVE.

Christa Allan

Here’s the back cover:
“An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker’s world. Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay,  Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent life as a young widow and single mom. But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith, and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.”

Care to weigh in with your thoughts, opinions, or experiences? And, have you read the Edge of Grace? 

*We chose The Chair by James Rubart as our October book!

Must Read Monday: Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills

First, I want to let you know I’m so doing a dance right now for my friend Jodie Bailey, who just signed a contract with Steeple Hill! Yay for debut novels! I’m so excited! Go by and congratulate her!

Now, on with the show this is it!

“Do you believe in demons?”

“What did she mean? ‘I believe in a power stronger than demons.”

“Then you’d better be calling on it.”

I loved this small piece of dialogue in Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills. It leaves you with a sense of doom approaching and the possibility of not being strong enough to fight off the evil.

Agent Meghan Connors and Agent Ash Zinders are tossed together to protect the Vice President’s alcoholic and drug addicted daughter when threats are made on her life, but Ash doesn’t like female agents and Meghan resents it almost as much as she’s determined to prove her worth.

To add more conflict, they both want the same promotion. Eeek! 

I enjoyed this romantic suspense. Her characters were believable, real, and courageous, but not invincible. When it came to personal relationships, they were vulnerable, timid, and frightened. 

I happen to love reading books about flawed characters. I love watching and journeying with them as they grow and mature. And I love books filled with danger!

If you do too, you’ll want to pick this one up!

DiAnn subtly weaved renewed faith, healing, and trust in God into an action packed book without being preachy or obvious.  
*Thanks to Tyndale for letting me review this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

I gave Attracted to Fire 3 out of 5 stars! 

Here’s a sneak peek at the book:

“Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.”

Fall is here! What is your favorite thing about the season?

Bonded by Faith and Fiction…and a Little Dessert

Not everyone could make the
first group, but look at all these
lovely ladies!

Reading, dessert, (some even weight watcher friendly), and coffee. Who doesn’t love that?
Last night we launched FaithReaders, a bookclub/lifegroup at my church, in our sweet cafe.

Four years ago, my husband and I pastored, and yes I say pastored, even though it wasn’t a paid position, our young adult group. 18-28. Tim had led the choir previously, and I had led Women’s Ministry. We loved every minute of it.

But where I felt the most connected, was teaching the young adults on Sunday mornings. I wanted to impart so much to them. I wanted them to have a voracious appetite for the Word. To understand it. Long for it. Live for it.

So I began writing Bible studies. They called them Patch Packets. I did it for 2 reasons. 1. I wanted them in their Word, studying–not just skimming and wondering, “Huh?” and 2. I wanted them to understand the Old Testament. To see it as more than an angry God with tons of rules, smiting this and that.

I loved those few years. They learned. I learned. We both grew, and I never felt more connected in the body of Christ as when I was teaching. To watch nearly 20, and sometimes more, young adults pull themselves from bed to show up early on Sunday morning was amazing. It was an honor for me.

Our church cut Sunday morning teaching aka Sunday school, because they didn’t feel there were enough attenders to keep it going, or it wasn’t relevant with today’s generation of church goers. Maybe there weren’t. Maybe it’s not.

But it was to me.

 We still led our group, but I wasn’t as actively involved. My husband preached on Friday nights and while I was available, I wasn’t connected. I wasn’t a big toe or a pinky. It was a lonely time for me.

After a few years of service, we felt like it was time to pass the torch to someone else. A young couple in our church took the group, and they’re amazing. They’re taking it to a level we couldn’t. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I’m proud of them.

But now, we really had no fit. We picked up nursery, because it’s something we could do, and we felt like we needed to be doing something. See a need, fill a need (Robots the movie). Tim loves harassing babies, ahem…loving on babies!

I kept feeling God nudge me to start a book club at church. I kept telling Him I didn’t have time. I wrote out a list of why and held it up to Him. Not really, but basically.

He said to me, “You’re going to do it. Period.”

“Fine! Geez, You don’t have to be so Bossy about it.”

He gave me “The Eye.” I know He did.

And then…when I surrendered in my Jessica-kind-of-way…

Ideas began to spring to my mind, like wildfire. I felt that old giddiness well up in my heart. Excitement raced through my body at the possibilities! I stood at my table during two Sundays and watched as 25 women signed up. Bonded already by faith and the love of fiction.

We’re not simply reading books and discussing them.

We’re praying about which books to read, asking God to speak to us–minister to us through the stories. We’re praying for the author each day we read (let’s face it, us writers need prayer), and we’re going outside the walls and into the community. Oh yes, we can share our faith through books.

We can volunteer our time at libraries, one of our members is a librarian in our community! We can can help with literacy programs. The ideas are limitless and we can show, through our love, time, and service who Jesus is. We don’t have to keep it contained within our group.

That’s not what it’s about.

And once again, I feel connected. I feel part of the body of Christ again. And it feels good!

I had a great time last night. We talked, laughed, shared. I missed the women who couldn’t be there and look forward to them laughing with us in September.
Next month we’ll be discussing our first book, The Edge of Grace by Christa Allan. And…each month I’ll be posting our GROUP REVIEW! How fun will that be? You’ll get to meet our members, and hear what they all had to say.

Are you in a book club? What books have you read, and do you get involved in your community?

Blood Spatter, Latex, and Richard Goodship

“I could never be a forensic investigator, I’d toss my cookies and contaminate the crime scene.”

“That’s why we don’t eat them.”

That’s not a line from Richard Goodship’s novel, The Camera Guy. It’s a conversation we had over twitter, where I met Richard.

Richard Goodship served Queen and Country for over 26 years, the last 22 years as a Forensic Investigator.  Richard’s last 5 years before retiring were spent working out of the Office of the Attorney General.  Richard now, spends his time writing, having completed 3 novels, and taking pictures of living things.
I’ve always been fascinated with forensics and crime and I’m sure that’s why I write it. So when I discovered what Richard had done for a living, I had to invite him over to share a little about what he used to do. And when I have a question about evidence, I’ve got a new friend to go to. (another plug at why you should twitter)
Richard, you wrote the novel, The Camera Guy. By the way, everyone, it is not an inspy book. Tell us why you wrote it.
The Camera Guy is one of the nicknames given to those who work in the Forensic section. The book was to say the least ‘cathartic’ for me.  Gave me a chance to lay some old ghosts to rest.
Intriguing. Share with us your job description, while working for Queen and Country. Love that.

During my time in Forensics I became an Arson Investigator, Bomb Tech (E.O.D.), Post Blast Tech, fingerprint examiner, firearms reconstructionist, Expert Photographer/Videographer and led several skeletal retrievals (Forensic Archeology) 
Come on, people, you know that’s fascinating. Ok, pretend you’ve arrived on the crime scene. Show us how it would all go down once you started working.
>first priority upon arriving at a scene is to ensure scene has been secured
>Determine who has entered the scene and why
>Begin a photographic and video documentation of the scene prior to entering
>Determine a path into the scene that will be least damaging to possible evidence. (contamination)
>Photograph and video all evidence found at the scene prior to any handling or examinations
>Determine what is evidence and what is not. (we don’t ‘hoover’ a scene) but if in doubt, collect it
>cursory examination of a body if present. Extensive photography and video at this point..
>Determine what the scene is. Break and Enter with a Homicide, Suicide, Sexual Assault, etc…
>Label evidence and again photograph and video it prior to collection
>collect the evidence properly, ie some evidence requires paper bags, cardboard boxes, plastic evidence bags, vinyl bags etc…
>once the evidence for the scene is collected, then the body can be removed.
>photograph and video the area under the body. Examine the side of the body not visible during initial examination
>Ensure body is escorted and secured at the morgue
>Secure warrants for post mortem exam and burial from Coroner. (In Canada the Coroner relies on the expertise of the Forensic Investigator to determine if a post mortem exam is necessary. In Canada all sudden deaths are treated as a homicide until otherwise proven and will require the post mortem)
>Copious notes are to be taken during all stages of the scene and body examinations
>The Forensic Investigator will then allow the detectives onto the scene and given a ‘walk through’ and confer regarding what took place at the scene.
If you write suspense, crime mysteries, or thrillers, you should be taking notes! Richard, will we see any grizzly scenes that mirror some of your past experiences?
The Camera Guy does contain scenes that I’ve investigated. I have made some changes for moral reasons and to help fit into the story.
Let’s talk about “the perfect crime.” Is there one? Can it be done? Give us your expert opinion.
There is no such thing as ‘the perfect crime’.  All Forensic Investigators live and work by the philosophy that all contact leaves a trace.  When you handle something, you leave something of you behind and take with you something from the object/scene/body.  Some crimes may take years to solve but only because the person doing the crime may not have a prior record or the technology isn’t available at present to detect the evidence.  This last is fast becoming a thing of the past. (lets not reference CSI please)
LOL! Ok, no CSI references, that show went to pot after William Peterson left anyway. Alright, enough expertise talk, what do you do for fun?
I ride horses, spend time with my daughter and take pictures and write.  Travel has always been a love of mine as well.
I love traveling as well. I can’t ride horses anymore. Scary story. Save it for another blog!
If you’d like to connect with Richard, here’s how:
@RGoodship on twitter and facebook 
You can purchase his book on Amazon
Here’s a peek at The Camera Guy:
“Life was not easy for Forensic Investigator Bill Walters. His ability to see the spirits of the victims at his crime scenes gave him an edge, but it kept him isolated from his fellow Officers and gave him the reputation of being a ‘Nutbar’ on the force.
Bill could live with this. He could even live with the family of ghosts that haunted his apartment, the loss of his friends and religion and the estrangement of his daughter, Eryn.
What Bill couldn’t live with was the Demon that came to town hungry for those spirits.

And his own.”

Question from Richard:                                                                                      
If Identical twins have identical DNA, why don’t they have identical fingerprints?
Good question. Dang! I don’t know the answer. Thanks for coming by today, Richard. It was fascinating and fun. Side note* The cover of your book creeps me out!

Rizzoli & Isles, The Surgeon, Thrills and Chills


If you haven’t watched Rizzoli & Isles, you’re missing a great show!

Angie Harmon’s tomboy and witty character mixed with Sasha Alexander’s no-nonsense, no humor’s makes for a great crime show set in Boston.

As a suspense writer, I love all things that thrill and chill. This show is excellent! My friend Tiffany White has a really cool blog and one of my favorite days is Tele Tuesday, where she talks all things TV! Check out her blurb on Rizzoli & Isles, here.

Also, the show is based off the book, The Surgeon–the first in the Rizzoli & Isles series–written by Tess Gerritsen.

The Surgeon is not an ABA book. It’s graphic, disturbing in subject matter, and colorful (not just the tons of splashed blood red)–the language.

Right now you’re asking, “Why do you read such things?”
My answer:  I don’t know. I love thrillers. And I love when evil is triumphed by good. Which it was, but not without danger on every page.

Books are always better than movies…or shows, so I wanted to know. I picked a great time to read The Surgeon, during a week when my husband was out of town. Every tiny pop or creak had my attention. It was that night, I realized I’d given my business card to a server at a restaraunt I didn’t know, and it had my phone number and address on it. (I’ll tell that story another day) It was hair raising, heart pounding, eyes wide open all night, kind of reading.

Turns out, Rizzoli isn’t the main character in this book.  Thomas Moore is, and he was great. I enjoyed his soft, compassionate character. He respected the victims and was good at his job. He was honest, loyal and protective.

I also loved the female main character–Dr. Cordell. She was a victim, but she wasn’t weak. She had overcome, and fought with her head high all the way through. I cheered her on, respected and admired her. Tess Gerritzen did a great job writing about such a tender subject matter. This wasn’t a light bathtub read.

You know who I didn’t like?

Jane Rizzoli. (Maura Isles wasn’t in this book)

She wasn’t a likable character at all, and I hardly if ever say that. Now that wouldn’t be a big deal, if she was only a minor character in this one book, or even the series, but I’m expecting her to become the main character as the series goes on. I don’t want to dislike the main character!

Rizzoli was overbearing, grouchy, inconsiderate and lacked compassion. In fact, she pushed victims to answer questions they weren’t ready to. Yeah, she was fighting for survival as the only female detective, and yeah, the guys gave her a hard time, but dang!

She never showed any softness. When she wasn’t pouting, ranting, or getting jealous over Moore’s romantic relationship, she was whining about her lack of good looks and outcussing every other character.

Now, having said that, I’m going to read on and maybe, over the series, her character will evolve as she takes on more of a lead role. I hope so. If not, I’ll just keep watching the awesome show. Here’s a peek at The Surgeon:

“He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer’s methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him “The Surgeon.”

The cops’ only clue rests with another surgeon, the victim of a nearly identical crime. Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed her attacker before he could complete his assault. Now she hides her fears of intimacy behind a cool and elegant exterior and well-earned reputation as a top trauma surgeon.

Cordell’s careful façade is about to crack as this new killer re-creates, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s own ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. Her only comfort comes from Thomas Moore, the detective assigned to the case. But even Moore cannot protect Cordell from a brilliant hunter who somehow understands-and savors-the secret fears of every woman he kills.”

Question: Do you watch Rizzoli & Isles? Do you read Thrillers?

Walking on Broken Glass: Christa Allan


Christa Allan

“So that was my epiphany for sobriety. Apple juice.”

Christa Allan’s Walking on Broken Glass was the bright surprise I clicked on when looking for the next read amongst a billion books downloaded on my kindle.

I scanned the first pages of many, but Christa’s book held my attention from the first line.

Cruising the sparkling aisles of Catalano’s Supermarket, I lost my sanity buying frozen apple juice.”

I had no idea what the book was about because I hadn’t even read the backcover blurb. Downside of kindle books.

How does a woman lose her sanity buying juice? I read on.

What I discovered about Christa and WoBG.

As a reader, I was hooked, immersed in the story and into Leah’s–the main character– life, thoughts (which cracked me up often), and sensory details.

As a writer, I was mesmerized by Christa’s fresh voice, interesting and new metaphors, and style of writing. And that is why as a reader, I was hooked.

I kept thinking, “This is briliant. What a fabulous debut novel!” (I had to immediately find out who  Christa Allan was and I discovered WoBG was her first book.)

Leah Thornton is a strong character, with many flaws, who fights for sobriety by admitting herself into rehab at the suggestion of a close friend.

Who wants to read a whole book in one character’s head about rehab?


Leah is a witty, snarky character, full of sass and strength. I loved her. I loved the journey she took, as her painful past surfaced and answers to why she relied on alchohol came to light.

I shed a few tears in this book and I laughed a lot, mostly at her sarcastic wit. As me and my husband say when watching movies/TV, “That’s good writing.”

My only disappointment

I walked on broken glass with Leah through the entire book. I stayed up late to finish it up, because I had to know how her marriage was going to turn out as well as a few close personal relationships involving illness, but those things weren’t resolved.

Leah’s husband had some serious issues and I never knew where all of them stemmed from. I wanted to know if he and Leah would end up the way I wanted them to. It eluded to that, but I didn’t know for sure.

So I’m disappointed the book ended! I would have read on and on, but alas, I suppose all good things must come to an end.

Will Christa write a sequel and dive deeper into Leah’s husband’s past? (amongst other questions, but I don’t want to spoil any of it for you)

I don’t know. I can only hope. In the mean time, I’ll be reading her new novel,  The Edge of Grace, because Christa Allan is a fabulous author, even if her book ended before I wanted it to! 🙂

4 out of 5 stars

Here’s  a peek at Walking on Broken Glass:

“Leah Thornton, already sloshed from one-too-many at a faculty party, is cruising the supermarket aisles in search of something tasty to enhance her Star-bucks—Kahlua, for example. Two confrontations later—one at the grocery and the other with her friend Molly—Leah is sitting in the office of the local rehab center facing an admissions counselor who fails to understand the most basic things, like the fact that apple juice is not a suitable cocktail mixer.  Rehab is no picnic, and being forced to experience and deal with the reality of her life isn’t Leah’s idea of fun. But through the battle she finds a reservoir of courage she never knew she had, and the loving arms of a God she never quite believed existed.”

Question for you: What book/s have had you screaming, “No! Don’t end! Not yet!”

Wacky Florists and Diana Prusik: Delivery!

Fun, Hilarious, tear-jerking. Those are a few words that come to mind when thinking about Diana Prusik’s, Delivery. I met Diana at the 2010 Writing for the Soul Conference. She and her husband are wonderful, God-loving people! 

Note: I had to retype everything Diana said due to funky glitches. If there are any errors, they are all mine, sadly. 🙂

Everyone, meet Diana! Diana, meet everyone!

Diana Prusik holds a bachelor’s degree in English, graduating summa cum laude as an honors scholar in English, and a master’s degree in secondary education. She served as a Parents as First Teachers parent educator and an English instructor on the middle school, high school, and community college levels. In 2005, she departed from her education career in order to create art, photography, and fiction. A happily married mother of four, she lives in her native Sullivan Missouri, where she draws and paints in her in-home studio, searches for God’s beauty with her camera lens, and writes with every opportunity the Lord grants her. She is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Her debut novel Delivery placed three times in the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest: 2008 finalist, 2009 semifinalist, and 2010 finalist. Diana’s first place of employment, a small-town floristry rich with story ideas, inspired Delivery. She is blessed to still work there part-time as a floral designer, a position she has held since 1981.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I began writing Delivery with no idea how I would find a publisher. I studied literature and taught English for years, but I knew nothing about the publishing industry. Then in the summer of 2008, I read Tom Morrisey’s, In High Places. In the novel’s back matter, I learned about the Christian Writers Guild. Upon visiting the Guild’s website, I discovered the annual Operation First Novel contest.

With fewer than twenty chapters written, I set to work, completing the first draft in time to meet the contest’s October 1 deadline by overnight mail. Amazingly, Delivery became one of four 2008 finalists. At the 2009 Writing for the Soul conference, I received manuscript feedback from experts like Jerry B. Jenkins, Brandilyn Collins, and Tyndale editor Jan Stob. Through attending the 2009 and 2011 Writing for the Soul Conferences and networking via email and Facebook, I built relationships with wrter friends like C.J. Darlington and Jennifer Slattery, who also offered valuable feedback. I scoured writing blogs, followed author/agent/editor Facebook posts and links, and devoured novel after novel. With the editorial assistance of teaching colleague and and dear friend Carol Lueken and other early readers, I revised, revised, revised—and prayed. Twice more, I submitted to Operation First Novel, all the while striving to improve my manuscript. Delivery placed two more times: 2009 semifinalist and 2010 finalist.

Through entering those contests, attending conferences, and lifting countless prayers, I gained Tyndale’s interest. As a result, I learned in April 2011 that Tyndale selected Delivery as one of four fiction titles to be released as part of its Digital First initiative. Amazon launched the e-book in late June, and other e-tailers soon followed. I wake up every morning needing to remind myself this isn’t a dream. If it is, please let me sleep!

You aren’t dreaming! That’s amazing. So tell us how Delivery was born. Pardon the pun…or not!

Personal crises like my mother’s battle with cancer, on son’s brain surgery, and another sons’ car accident taught me that God does some of His most amazing work during some of our toughest times. He works through our social circles.  He works through our professional circles. And yes, He works through flower shops, which often act as community hubs. From birth to death and everything in between, flower shops see it all, including the one I’ve worked at for over thirty years. When my growing understanding of God melded with my decades of florist experience, Delivery begged to be told.

God does do some amazing things in tough times. I’m glad He’s allowed you to bring glory to Him, through them. Delivery was a perfect title. How did you come up with it?

Delivery has been the title since Day One. The idea literally popped into my head (divine intervention?) before I had the storyline worked out. My protagonist works in a flower shop. She yearns for deliverance from guilt, grief, etc. She stumbles upon key scripture that contains the word. The title fits the story on multiple levels.

I agree! There’s lots of humor in your book. I love Greta’s antics and the banter between sisters. Are you as funny outside your book?

I’m usually the one laughing, not causing the laughter. While I may not be very funny in my daily life, I’m blessed to have one of the zaniest friends on earth. Her antics remind me how therapeutic laughter can be, convincing me that a novel with issues as serious as Delivery’s requires a few good doses of humor. When times are hard, who doesn’t feel better after a good chuckle?

Your blend of perfectly times comedic relief was exactly what I needed in between tears. If you could cast your characters on-screen. Who would play Livi and her sister Gretta (as adults)?
Livi requires an actress who can let her character’s inward struggle seep through her façade, hardened yet vulnerable. Helen Hunt gets my vote. Or maybe Reese Witherspoon.
Gretta demands an actress who can handle heavy scenes but who doesn’t take herself too seriously. She needs to be comfortable performing wacky antics and providing comic relief. Nia Vardalos, Sandra Bullock, or Anne Hathaway could fill the roll—after adding a few extra pounds.

I can see Helen and Sandra for sure! Especially  Sandra at City Hall at Christmas!

Before you go, tell us 3 random fun facts about yourself.
I I have such a knack for stopping hiccups that other teachers often sent hiccupping students to my classroom to be cured.
2.      I LOVE the mountains, but I’m so terrified of heights that I have hiked mountain trails in tears. During one such sob fest at Glacier National Park, fear so paralyzed me that I could neither continue climbing nor descend. After much coaxing (and a few sighs and eye rolls!), my husband convinced me to bury my face in the back of his shirt and clench his belt while he led the way, inch by inch, to lower ground. Even after this, I can’t wait for my next trip to snow-covered peaks!
3.      I play Pokeno once a month with eleven girlfriends. The game, when we stop chatting long enough to play it, requires using poker-style chips (We rebels use flat marbles—they’re prettier!) to cover thumbnailed images of playing cards arranged in a Bingo-like grid on game cards. The goal? To be the first player to cover the row—like Bingo. My problem? Numbers intimidate me, and unless they are face cards or aces, playing cards are numbered. My solutions? I turn my game card sideways. In my math-challenged brain, this makes numbers less noticeable, allowing me to concentrate on my marked rows. There’s a reason I taught English instead of math, folks!

I’m with you on the whole math thing. No. Can. Do. Thanks for being with us today, Diana! It’s been fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Delivery. Congratulations.
Here’s a peek at Delivery:

Livi finds new purpose in her troubled life when she joins her family’s small-town florist shop.  There, the strong and wacky Wilson’s Florist gang monitors the pulse of Mount Helicon, where customers carry stories even the local newspaper does not contain. Tales of birth and death, sickness and sorrow, love and betrayal, and even forgiveness—Livi hears them all. Privy to some of the community’s deepest secrets, she sometimes wishes she didn’t know so much, especially when news arrives that a dear family friend is dead. Faced with servicing his funeral, she is blasted with painful memories she’s struggled for decades to ignore. Soon, guilt and grief over childhood and adult tragedies close in. Instead of turning to loved ones or God for comfort, she leans on alcohol, her long-time clandestine companion—but secrets rarely escape the close-knit flower shop crew, who makes Livi’s business its own. Fumbling through life’s challenges together, the Wilson gang often delivers more than flowers, yet when Livi needs delivery, can the bonds of faith and friendship dissolve her defenses? 

You can connect with Diana on Facebook, Facebook author page, twitter, her blog, and her website.

Question for you: What’s your favorite flower and why?
*Thanks to Tyndale for the complimentary book, via Netgalley. All opinions are mine.

Must Meet AND Read Monday: April W. Gardner

April W. Gardner

Morning, everyone! Today I am pleased to introduce you to, April Gardner.

April resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.
Librarian, reviewer, and avid reader, April adores anything books. She writes a regular column for the joint blog, Reflections in Hindsight, and is the founder and senior editor of the website, Clash of the Titles. She is the author of the best-selling novel, Wounded Spirits.

I met April through a mutual friend, Michelle Massaro, and through COTT (Clash of the Titles). If you haven’t checked it out, you should. It’s a literary website where authors compete and readers judge! Tons of fun!

Everyone, meet April. April, meet everyone! Tell us about your first novel?       

My first published novel is Wounded Spirits, which is set in 1813 during the Creek Indian War in what is now Alabama.

I had the pleasure of reading Wounded Spirits when I won a drawing on a blog! I loved the book, felt like I was right there with them as they experienced war…and love! Sigh. 🙂 How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I grew up hearing that my many times great-grandfather was Chief Red Eagle/William Weatherford. Turns out, he’s probably not, but I still cherish as my own the stories of his bravery in the face of Jackson’s overpowering army. It was the story of his extraordinary leap from the bluff that made me wish to read the account in novel-form.

I’d never written more than a high school paper, but I figured that if this particular story was ever going to be written, why not do it myself? Eight years later, I held the book in my hands.

I loved that this book was set to real events. Which character was the toughest to write?                                                                                                       

Zachariah was probably the toughest. I have nothing in common with him, and he’s been through some pretty horrific stuff. Stuff I could only take a stab at imagining. How a person might respond emotionally, physically, and spiritually wasn’t the easiest to create. I pray I did it justice!

You did! My heart broke with him and cheered with him. Even though you haven’t been through some of the things Zachariah went through, would you say a little piece of yourself is in one or all the characters or not?                              

I actually try to steer clear of putting myself into my characters. It probably comes down to the fact that I’m a very private person, and even if no one ever knew that that particular part of my heroine was a look into myself, it still makes me uncomfortable. Yeah, I’m weird.

That makes sense. Now when we read we’ll always get the mystery of wondering if a little piece is you or not. At least the stalker in me will! What do you find most rewarding about writing and most challenging?                        

Most rewarding? Creating worlds and people to fill them. Most challenging? Returning to my own! I love every bit of my real life, but there’s something addicting about stepping into my pretend world. Once there, I get sucked in. Kinda like Facebook. Lol!

As they say in MS, “You ain’t just whistlin Dixie!” Or at least I think they say that here, I’ve never actually heard anyone but myself. I think all writers would have to agree. Stepping into storyworld is like crack.  Don’t even get me started on fb!

Tell us 3 random fun facts about yourself!                                                                           

  • I can solve a Rubik’s cube. It takes me about ten minutes, but I can do it!
  • I’ve visited 24 different countries on three different continents. Lived in five of them.    
  •  I frequently choke while drinking or swallowing my own spit, and, yes, it’s embarrassing.

 ROFL!! We’re going to have to Skype so I can experience the choking. 🙂 I couldn’t solve a Rubik’s cube if a gun was pointed to my head. 

If you could live off one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?    

Rice. Love all forms of rice. Maybe because I was born in Asia?

That’s the only reason I would think , lol!
 What have you learned about the craft that you would like to pass on to other writers? 

I’ve learned that there is never an end to learning! Just when you think you’re arriving, bam! You realize how much further you have to go. Recently, I discovered author K.M. Weiland’s website. She’s a talented author who has boat loads of great tips for writers.

Thanks for sharing the tips and the website! Great advice. April, it’s been so much fun and I know everyone has had a blast getting to know you. What are some other ways they can connect with you?                                                         

I love to hear from my readers! You can reach me on Facebook, at my site  or at Clash of the Titles

Awesome! Just my own little plug here, Clash of the Titles has unpubbed weeks and it’s great exposure! I won my round and semi-finaled in the final clash. It was through semi-finals that I met my dear friend, and clash buddy, Jodie Bailey!

Here’s a sneak peek of Wounded Spirits and April has a question for you!

“On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born.
A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate–and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.
Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission – he’ll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can’t see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him…or has He?”


How old were you when you discovered the love of reading, and which novel was it that first impacted you?

Flying Fish, Making Waves, and Happy 4th of July!

This is the Flying Fish in Memphis. I didn’t take the picture, but I did eat there Friday night with my hubby, and our best friends.

We dropped our tweens off at a birthday part, looking oh so cute. Bittersweet. Girls growing up.

We took our little ones with us. They’re a year apart. Little Miss thang is convinced she’s going to marry Myles. Myles tells her, “Stop saying that! It’s embarrassing.” 🙂

We had a great time.

I’m listening to Jason Mraz live in Chitown. He’s one of my favorites.  So that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods over the weekend. I thought since I ate seafood over the weekend, and since today is July 4th (this book has a great fireworks scene over the lake) it would be appropriate to review:

Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

I’ve been branching out–reading historicals. Glad I have! I’ve read so many great ones lately. This is one of them.
Normally, I’m not a big fan of people on the covers of books, but it obviously is popular because most of them are like this. But this cover seems to fit. I pictured the main character, Marguerite, much like this.
“When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn’t be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It’s also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews. But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father’s gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry
Roger to save her father’s name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart–even if it means abandoning the family she loves?”
My opinion

Marguerite is a feisty, fun character living in a time when women had a place and sailing or really anything it seemed wasn’t it. I loved her wit and sass. Some of the things she thought to herself while courting boring Roger made me laugh out loud.
Once she thought to herself that if God would strike Roger with lightning, she’d be happy to move over a few feet.  I’m still laughing over that.
I thought Trip Andrews was flirty and fun. I giggled at their bathing suits back then. Not something I’d find attractive on a man, but it’s a historical, so…
I felt transported back into the time. I wanted to wipe my brow due to the heat and have a glass of lemonade with them. My heart pitter-pattered as love blossomed and I was satisfied with the ending.
4 out of 5 stars
Do you have a favorite historical? Share. I need to dip my toe into the genre more and what are you doing to celebrate the holiday today?

Must Read Monday: Sunburn, Cupcakes, and Good Reads

Well, I hope you all had a great weekend. We spent most of it at the pool. I can’t seem to get my sunblock on correctly and have odd shaped burns in random places on my body.

I told my husband I was going to have to go to the tanning bed to even out the pasty white places to the golden areas (and the cherry red burns of course). He joked I’d probably be the only one in a tanning bed wearing sunscreen.
He might be right.
I ate a German Chocolate Cupcake from one of those fancy cupcake bakeries. Edible glitter, German chocolate filling and a mound of chocolate icing. About 5,000 calories later, I thought I might be sick. Oh but that one moment! And it was a moment indeed.

Okay, so here’s a couple of books I’ve read lately.

Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason

“Samantha Cash is the FBI’s secret weapon. Her methods are invisible, and she never stops til the case is closed. When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, Samantha is assigned to help local Detective Connor Wolfe find the killer. And he has two problems with that. There’s her faith—in God and herself. And then there’s the fact that she looks exactly like his late wife. As they get close to an answer, the case becomes personal. The killer seems to be taking an interest in Connor’s sixteen-year-old daughter, who thinks her dad is getting way too protective. Can’t a girl just have some fun?”

My Opinion

I liked this book. It’s the first book I’ve read by Lynette Eason. I figured out early on why the killer was doing it, but wasn’t sure who it was until about 75% in. Then I didn’t guess the “boss” until it was almost over. I liked the characters and the romance that blossomed.

Both characters struggled with their faith. I think the author made their spiritual joureneys realistic and touching.

I took a keen interest in the sister and want to read the next book that’s about her. I think it will be even better!

3 out of 5 stars

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer
2011 RITA® Finalist for Best First 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?”

My Opinion

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. I don’t often read historicals, but lately I’ve read several and I’m coming to realize, I enjoy most of them. I happen to like a lot of romantic tension and some spice, not all inspirational historicals meet my expectations.

This one did.

I fell in love with J.T. and Hannah immediately. I loved their banter, internal conflicts, and wit.  I felt like I was living in this time period and it was rather fun to spend a few hours, since I read it in two sittings, with these characters.

I predicted the villain, but I’m not sure that she was trying to conceal it. That didn’t matter to me, though, because I just loved everything else. Especially the romance. No wonder she won a RITA for first book.

I also think it’s a great parallel of the Proverbs 31 woman and a healthy look at beauty and nice things.

4 out of 5 stars

So have you read a book lately that you were unsure of, then turned out to be a pleasant surprise?


Okay then…what’d you do this weekend?