Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Neat Stuff!

This is brand-spanking new for me, so please be patient.  I've been invited to be part of a author "blog-hop."  For those of you who are old enough, like I am, to remember "sock hops"...well, this is nothing like that.

Dr. Barbara Lavi contacted me on Author Central in FaceBook and asked if I'd like to participate in a blog hop. I replied, "Sure!...What is it?"  (Note to self:  it's usually better to reverse the order of those two clauses.)  Anyway, I discovered through Barbara's patient tutelage that it's an opportunity for readers to meet new authors of all different genres--fiction and non-fiction alike--by linking information on our work to each other's blogs in kind of a serial fashion.  Right.

Actually, it looks like fun to me, but maybe you can leave a comment telling me how far off the deep end I've gone after the dust settles on this.

The object of the game?  Well, I answer ten questions about my most recent book, and I ask a few other authors with blogs to do the same on their most recent books.  I post my answers--along with other pithy stuff like this concise and coherent introduction--answer the questions, and then provide links to the other authors at the bottom of the page.  As the reader, once you've become enraptured by my clever answers and simply can't imagine yourself not reading onward, buying thousands of copies of my book, and then clicking the links to the other authors' blogs and do the same for them.  Well, okay, maybe not thousands, but you get the idea.

Sound easy?  Sure, easy for you.  But now I've got to find other author-bloggers who are either naive enough to dive in like I did, or astute enough to know that things like this can really be fun.  For your sake, I'll try to find more of the latter than the former.

So, here are the questions and here are my answers:

What is the working title of your book?

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here:

Where did the idea come from for the book?

 For Maria is the sequel to Katia.  It follows to minor characters from that story, characters who are really only briefly mentioned, but are very important.  For those of you who have not yet read Katia, click this link (if you like video trailers, here's one for Katia).  It automatically orders a copy from Amazon, so feel free to click it several times.  I'm kidding, I'm kidding!  It only takes you to the page on my website where you can read a synopsis of the book and see some great photos of scenes that are included in the story.  To read more about For Maria, click this link.  Go ahead.  I dare you.  :-)

What genre does your book fall under?

For Maria is actually a hybrid contemporary-20th-century historical.  There are parallel storylines in both settings.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There is no question that Amy Adams has to play Madeline, the main character from the contemporary storyline.  That's my only prerequisite to the many Hollywood producers who I'm sure are on their way here this very moment to line up at my front door.  (Note to all:  Steven Spielberg gets first dibs).  As far as the main character from the historical period, Rosa Dudek, I'd have to say...hold on a minute, let me ask my wife...................okay, Jodie Foster; excellent actress and the eye color is perfect.  What do you say, Jodie?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Madeline Sommers, a young journalist, makes it her single-focused mission to find her grandmother's long-lost twin girls, who disappeared in WWII, before it's too late.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was recently released by OakTara, LLC, a small traditional publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Interestingly, it only took me 30 days to write the first draft of teh prequel Katia, but it took me nearly a year and a half to get For Maria down.  The subject matter was very research-intensive and, frankly, emotionally exhausting.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'd have to say that Sarah's Key is closest, but For Maria is far more uplifting.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As noted, For Maria is a sequel, so events from Katia inspired the idea.  However, the impetus to involve the Kindertransport in the historical storyline was due to research, which included making some wonderful friends of some of the people who lived through the events I portray in the book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you like stories with a great balance of drama, romance, action, and humor, then you'll enjoy both Katia and For Maria.  Historically accurate, poignant, and honest, you'll remember these characters long after you turn the last page.

There!  That's me, now let me introduce you to three more authors whose work may interest you.  I cncourage you to visit their blogs by clicking their names.

Mr. Markus Heinze, non-fiction, who has written a must-read for parents on the controversial topic of infant immunizations and serious side-effects.

Mr. Bernie Dowling, from Down Under, who blogs to introduce readers to different styles and genres of books.

Mr. Tommy Ufert, a 46-year-old quadriplegic who writes and speaks inspirational messages has self-published a book, Adversity Builds Character.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Disaster Status, by Candace Calvert (Tyndale)

Disaster Status, Mercy Hospital Series #2   -     
        By: Candace Calvert
I recently found myself in the unenviable position of being way behind on my Calvert reading.  Quickly remedied by downloading Disaster Status to my Kindle, I was shortly on the mend.  And what better mend to be on than with this story?

Second in the "Mercy Hospital" series, Disaster Status steps away from its prequel, Critical Care, in theme and intensity, but not in quality.  Okay, maybe in quality, too, for as the theme and the tension wratchet up, so does Ms. Calvert's storytelling.

The story follows Erin Quinn home to California where she resumes her career as an ER charge nurse and her life as a care-giver for her widowed grandmother.  Erin carries family baggage that encases her heart and her mind away from all, including herself.  Her job and her grandmother are all the life she needs.  At least she thinks so...

The story hits the ground running with a major disaster involving a chemical spill.  The emergency situation is eventually resolved, but it leaves an undetected undercurrent in its wake that will resurface in a most unexpected way.  During the course of the incident, Erin collides repeatedly with fire Capt. Scott McKenna, a by-the-book, self-driven, overachiever who also carries family baggage:  living in the shadows of a herioc father and with the shadows of a self-perceived failure to protect those he loved the most.  His job and...well, his job is all he needs.  At least, he thinks so...

Thrown together whether they like it or not, oil and water seem better suited to each other than Erin and Scott, at least at first.  But as concern for others around them force their attention away from their own hang-ups, a curious bond begins to develop that neither of them wants or understands.  It isn't until a shocking crisis explodes onto the scene do they see themselves and each other for who they really are.

Ms. Calvert doesn't skim the surface of our sensibilities as so many romances do.  She dares to bring in a dark element, something sinister, that threatens everyone in the story either directly or indirectly.  There is an evil afoot that you're not quite sure what to make of throughout the tale, something you even find yourself pondering after closing of the novel's back cover.

Tightly written, heartwarming, inspiring, and thought provoking, Disaster Status is a great read.  Something a little different, something a little daring.  Bravo to Ms. Calvert for daring to be different, and for doing it so well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Harvest of Rubies, by Tessa Afshar (River North)


Ancient history with a modern heart.

For some reason, I expected Biblical fiction when I downloaded Harvest of Rubies.  And sure, it touches an ancient Biblical figure (nope, you have to read it to find out who), but only as a minor character.  Instead, I found myself immersed in a tale of ancient Mesopotamia, complete with intrigue, action, and romance--in short, everything a novel like this should have.

With her love of Persian history and culture evident on every page, Ms Afshar has crafted yet another delightful story that brings to life the spirit and soul of an era long dead.  What's so great about this book, though, is that she's done so through the eyes of an unforgettable character, Sarah.  The thing about Sarah is...how do I put this?...well, you love her to death, but you're not quite sure whether you love her as you would a wife, a daughter, a best friend, or a sister.  Yeah, I know.  Maybe it's because Ms Afshar portrays her so well in all of those roles.

Sarah is a gifted linguist and scribe, something unheard of in a woman of ancient Persia.  Her cousin (the unnamed Biblical character) gets her an interview with the queen, who just happens to be in need of a senior scribe.  Introverted, plain-looking, and self-deprecating, Sarah immerses herself in her work.  She performs very well...too well, in fact.  To thank her for a particularly insightful service, the queen arranges a marriage for Sarah to a very upstanding and promising nobleman.  Sarah passes out when the queen announces the engagement, but not out of joyful surprise as the court interprets her reaction, but out of horror as her entire world--quiet, peaceful, solitary, and intellectually fulfilling--hits the floor as hard as she does.

The description of the disastrous wedding ceremony Ms Afshar delivers is priceless; the cover price of the book is worth that scene alone.  But it's the ensuing story, after Sarah bottoms out, that she begins her journey of personal restoration and true fulfillment--not in abandoning who she is and what she loves for the sake of tradition--but in perfecting that tradition through who she is and what she loves.  Traveling with a solid cast of supporting characters, Harvest of Rubies takes us on a journey framed around a character who will live in your heart on far beyond the turn of the last page.

Captivating story, skillfully crafted, delivered with great finesse.  This is a sure bet for lovers of ancient history and personal triumph.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

At Last!


After a four-month delay, For Maria is finally scheduled for release on 15 September!  It can be ordered directly through www.oaktara.com (click on the Store tab to go to the book store) on that date, from me directly through my website at www.brucejudisch.com/for-maria.htm (use the Contact Me button at the bottom of the page) anytime now, or, after a couple of weeks for the online outlets to catch up, from Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, Barnesandnoble.com, etc.

It'll start out being available in hardcopy (paperback), but will eventually appear for Kindle, too.

Thanks for your patience.  I hope you'll find the wait to have been worthwhile.

Friday, August 10, 2012

October Baby, by Eric Wilson (B&H Books)

I'm sure October Baby the movie is wonderful, but, having read Mr. Wilson's novelization, I feel no overriding need to see it.  Experience has shown time and time again that the written page can attain a multidimensional property, depth of insight and characterization, richness of viewer/reader involvement, that the silver screen struggles--often in vain--to achieve.  Don't get me wrong, I can immerse myself into a great movie as much as the next guy.  But the film version would require a near-magical quality to approach what the author delivers in October Baby the book.

For those not yet acquainted with the story, Hannah, a high school student with aspirations for the stage, falters during a prime performance.  In fact, she passes out in the middle of one of her lines.  Attempts to discover the source of this and other niggling maladies that plague the otherwise seemingly healthy girl lead to a stark revelation.  Not only is she adopted, but she's the survivor of a botched abortion.  This knowledge sends her on a quest to find her birth mother, despite the protestations of her adoptive parents and the cautions of her best friend, Josh.  Still, Hannah, ultimately with Josh's help, embarks on her journey under the guise of taking a spring break trip to New Orleans with a group of friends; a trip that just happens to take her past the city in which she was born.

A cast of unique supporting characters colors the storyline with grit, hilarity, and poignancy brought to their fullest brilliance under the skilled pen of best-selling author, Eric Wilson.  It's quite apparent from the characterization and dialog that Mr. Wilson is very much at home with this genre.  He pulls you from the softness of your sofa onto the bumpy back seat of a dilapidated van trundling down the interstate toward the Big Easy, sharing the sights, smells, and sensibilities of teenagers on a lark.  Transports you from the comfort of your own existence into the troubled world of a young girl whose life has suddenly been turned upside down and now has no idea what part truth plays in it.  It just grabs you and doesn't let go at the turn of the last page.  If it doesn't grab you, you might want to check yourself for a pulse.

This tale relates one of the realities of abortion smothered by politcal correctness.  Those on the pro-abortion side will dismiss it as lopsided propaganda (as has already happened in reaction to the movie).  Those on the pro-life side will laud it for its honesty and fearlessness in addressing such a heart-wrenching issue.  Those in the middle, those who don't want to care...well, they'll continue not to care.  Maybe.
Sound heavy?  No, not really.  The journey is often painful, but the destination is emotionally satisfying, like most great novels.  Highly recommended, especially for those in the middle.

Oh, and yeah, I'll see the movie.  I mean, you know...

And another 'oh'.  October Baby is due for release on September 1st.  Get in line.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Discovery, by Dan Walsh (Revell)

Had to review this one for two reasons.  First, it's a hybrid contemporary-historical piece.  I love those.  I've written two of them.

Second, the historical part covers WW II, the Greatest Generation era.  I love that era.  I've written in 1.5 of them.  But then, this isn't about me--no, really.  I just have this weakness of wanting to identify with really good authors who write the kind of stuff I love to read, and with novels I'd really love to have written.

Dan Walsh and The Discovery fall very neatly into each of those categories, respectively.  Here's why.

First, the book.  Micheal Warner, an aspiring writer, has just lost his grandfather, Gerard Warner, a world-renown best-selling author. That's another reason I'd like to identify with this--(Stop it!  Sorry, back to the book).  Michael has inherited a sizable estate from his grandfather, including his historic house in Charleston, SC.  It's not the real estate Michael values, though.  It's the enduring spirit of his beloved--and reclusive--grandfather and writing mentor that pervades every room.  But Gerard Warner has left his grandson something more than an aura.  He's left a manuscript--yellowed with age, never before seen--for Michael to find.  And read.  And, well, discover.

Mr. Walsh takes us back to the historical period using a book within a book, a story within a story.  Michael settles back to read with the notion of publishing it into what would be sure to be a best seller.  I mean, a secret manuscript by a renown author coming to light after his death; how could it miss?  But what lies between the age-tinged pages, revelation after revelation, urges Michael back forward in his seat.  Why?  To tell you more would spoil it.  And you don't want me to do that.

Second, the author.  Bravo to Mr. Walsh for penning so well an unforgettable tale with equally unforgettable characters.  His gentle prose glides the reader along effortlessly; his writing voice, though unique, never interfering with the story.  The tale delivers bittersweet poignancy and romance, but not without action, that settle on your mind and spirit in an emotionally satisfying way.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Stars Shine Bright, by Sibella Giorello (Thomas Nelson)


I preordered The Stars Shine Bright well in advance, because that's both a safe and advisable thing to do with a Giorello novel.  Think about that when the next one is on deck.

FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is back with perhaps the most complex challenge--professionally and personally--to her troubled career and life thus far.  And that's saying something.

Someone appears to be fixing horse races at Emerald Meadows, Seattle's premier thoroughbred race track.  Raleigh goes undercover as the niece of horse-owner Eleanor Anderson, who has requested federal assistance in investigating a most irregular trend of events at the track.  Apparently, horses favored as winners suddenly falter, and long shots triumph, all in a disconcertingly consistent fashion.  Who's manipulating the outcomes?  Who has the most to gain from such a scenario?

Out of the starting gate, the Mob surges into first place on the list of suspects in the person of Salvatore Gigliardo, an owner and bookie at Emerald Meadows.  But not all the brightly shining stars align to support this notion, so Raleigh reins back her initial impressions in the face of steadily diminishing evidentiary odds that Sal is the true culprit--as convenient as that might be--since Sal's horses are as much victims as the other owners' steeds are.  Her probing, some of it sullied by the unorthodoxy that has her at odds with her FBI chieftains, reveals a surprising tangent to everything she thought and felt to be true.  What is it?  Sorry, I'm already on the verge of a spoiler, so I shall share no more.

The personal complexity focuses on her complicated relationships with not only the Bureau (and one fellow special agent in particular), but with her relatives, especially her mother, who is now under observation in a mental institution.  Enter DeMott Fielding, the fiancé she's so studiously avoided in the prequel, The Mountains Bow Down, and Raleigh's inner turmoil noses into the turf like a drunken mudder.  Unlike in the prequel, however, at last we see Raleigh beginning to grow through her previously almost debilitating spiritual, emotional, and personal struggles. The prayers she lifted seemingly in vain before finally begin to bear fruit, prayers no longer short-circuited through eyes squeezed shut in agony, but filtered through up-lifted tears of submission.  Not only do the stars shine bright, but a singular light appears at the end of the proverbial tunnel for Raleigh.  Decisions clamoring to be made are attended to, and the results of those decisions begin to manifest in a most satisfactory way.

Add Ms. Giorello's most intricate plot so far to her phenomenally detailed research and inimitable writing voice, and you simply have a can't-put-it-down novel.  Note that I normally make a concerted effort to avoid the overused "couldn't put it down."  But sometimes it's just true.

Too little, too vague?  Sorry.  If you've followed Ms. Giorello's journey with Special Agent Harmon to this point, you'll get it.  If you haven't, back up and begin with The Stones Cry Out (a Christy Award winner), through The Rivers Run Dry, and The Mountains Bow Down, then on to this point of Raleigh's story.  It's well worth the ride.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jewel of Persia, by Rosanna White (WhiteFire Publishing)

If there's an Old Testament figure who has been novelized more than Esther, I'm not sure who it might be.  And I've read a few really good ones--even have another one queued up--but, honestly, none have been like Jewel of Persia.  Are you ready for this?  First, Esther isn't even the main character.  Second, the Biblically identifiable story doesn't even start until (according to my Kindle) the last ten percent of the book.  Wait!  Stick with me.  You'll be glad you did.

Ms. White has taken an extremely novel approach (okay, pun intended) to Esther's story.  She begins her tale with Esther as but a young child.  Her best friend and confidant, a few years her senior, is Kasia.  Now you've met the main character.

Jewel of Persia takes Kasia, a beautiful Jewess from the poor quarter of Susa, into the harem of King Xerxes.  She is believed to be dead by drowning, the cover story for her disappearance her father propagates when he disowns her due to the dishonor it would bring on the family.  Esther mourns her loss, unaware of the truth and the role it will play in her own life a few short years into the future.

As the story progresses, Kasia captures the king's heart by loving him as a man instead of manipulating him for favors as the king.  She also earns the distrust and resentment of the rest of the king's concubines and wives, including the now deposed Queen Vashti.  But all of this is part of the plan, part of Jehovah's preparation for the salvation of His people.  Hang on; we'll get there.

Ms. White takes us on an enthralling journey through the early years of Xerxes' reign, his costly victory over the Spartans at Thermopolae and his ill-fated clash with the Greeks at Salamis.  Beginning to sound like a war book?  Nope.  Ever at his side, Kasia provides the balance of support and reason to her husband only a woman of her caliber in love is capable of.  Through Kasia, Ms. White reveals Xerxes' personal trials, his mistakes, his uncertainties, in a campaign he felt compelled to launch for the honor of his father rather than out of his own ambition.  She also weaves with remarkable skill the scheming intrigue inherent to the court and even the family of the king of all kings, most of whom aspire him to be the god beyond the man he wants to be.  Stalked by Haman, who would see her dead, Xerxes' son, Darius, who would see her in his bed, and the demon-god Ahura-Mazda, who would see her influence utterly destroyed.  But none has any chance against Jehovah, who would see her preserved as a dutiful child of his and as an essential part of His plan to rescue His people from a future annihilation.

Thoroughly researched and artfully penned, Ms. White delivers a wonderfully romantic story that is both historically accurate, Scripturally sound, and emotionally satisfying.  Her characters display a genuinely believable depth and balance of virture and foible.  Most notable was the intricacy of intrigue and guile in the politics pervading both the palace and the harem Ms. White expertly embeds into the plot.  Actually, her peceptions were so cunningly portrayed, she began to worry me.  Has her husband read this?

Oh!  And yes, after all of this, Esther--remember her?--does get her day in the sun. :-)  And another, oh!  How on earth does Kasia figure into Esther's story?  Huh uh.  Ya gotta get the book.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, TBCN!

I'm honored to be associated with The Book Club Network, an online Christian forum that brings together authors and members of book clubs not just in the US, but overseas as well.  TBCN has been a great resource to connect readers and authors through chat, discussion forums, and special events. So...

...as a departure from my normal posts of book reviews, I'm featuring an interview with Nora St. Laurent, a co-founder of TBCN.  She discusses its history, philosophy, and the specials being offered during the month of August--namely, ten free books given away every day for the entire month.  Hint:  You don't want to miss this!

Here's the story in Nora's own words:

What inspired you start TBCN, Nora?

The Book Club Network was born out of a desire to share Christian Fiction authors with other book clubs, share book club ideas with other leaders and to encourage the authors who are writing such amazing books. The economy has been really tough for a few years and people are not parting with money like they used to. Through TBCN they can take their time and find the right book or win it. We have give away opportunities each month. ALL of our contests are from the 19th – 21st of the month.

I run two face-to-face book clubs, one at the Christian Book Store I work at and the other at the church I attend. It’s a position I never imagined I’d be in since I didn’t read for pleasure much before I started working in a Christian book store 11 years ago.

But since I love talking with people and the main thing to talk about in a book store is books I started reading Christian Fiction (publishers sent ARC copies to our store and I started checking them out) The first book that rocked my world and got me hooked in Christian Fiction was a book by Linda Nichols called Not a Sparrow Falls her next book did me in and I couldn’t stop talking about it.  At the Scent of Water was her next book that prompted me to contact the author and let her know how much her book touched my spirit.

After reading these two books and telling customers about these reads I had a reason to read. The books spoke to me because I wasn’t expecting it. It reminded me of the stories in the Bible. Jesus is the greatest story teller and He knew a story could change a life or prick our spirit and move us in a direction we never thought we’d go.

I tell you all that to say I’m dyslexic, and I have not been a fan of reading. Movies were more my thing. I could watch a movie of a book and have a lot more fun. Reading Christian Fiction changed my life in more ways than one. I wanted to tell everyone about the greatest book I read, and I’d do that at the book store. It was possible to talk about the new book I read and loved for about a month or more but when At the Scent of Water and Not a Sparrow Falls were not on the shelf anymore, I had to find some other books to talk about at work. I’m not a very fast reader, so discovering the next new book was a challenge. Would I get the book read before it disappeared from the shelf? How long do books live on a book shelf? The shelf life of a book was a mystery to me and still is.

I was whining to my husband Fred about my problem. How can I get the word out about great books for a very long period of time??? Being a man who likes to face challenges head we began to talk about how we could do this and the fact that I can’t read books fast enough to keep up with it’s shelf life at the store.

I also told him, as a book-club leader, I wanted to promote great books and share them with other groups. Not everyone has the advantage of working at a book store and see what new books hit the shelves each week. Another struggle I had was, if I had an author speaking at my book club, I wanted to share them with other book clubs in the area. How could I do that? Where are book clubs meeting?

Our answer to many of these questions and more was the birth of The Book Club Network - TBCN. Connecting authors to book clubs and readers to their books; it’s also a network of book clubs, as they post what they’ve read and how the meeting turned out.

It’s a place to find where a book club is located. We have a member map where you can find a book club near you. Message them and see if they are accepting new members. I envision it to be similar to be similar to the Weight Watchers program (don’t laugh J) you can go to a meeting anywhere in the country right? All you have to do is look on line and get connected. This is my hope for the future of TBCN.

Have there been any surprises for you at TBCN, anything serendipities? What benefits have you seen by bringing readers and authors together?

I’ve been encouraged and fascinated by our growth. I can see there were other people out there like me, wanting to connect with other book club members.

I’ll tell you what has surprised me is the author/reader interaction each month. This is something I didn’t foresee as I’ve watch the authors having a blast interacting with the readers and visa-versa. The beauty of this discussion is it’s there forever for all to read no matter when you join TBCN.

The authors have done a great job coming up with questions for reader to answer that give them a peek into their book – create interest and then the discussion helps book club leaders connect with the author. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of authors that want to be featured at The Book Club Network. It’s been a great thing.

The interaction with the authors is almost like having a book club meeting on line. It’s a huge benefit for both the authors who’ve wanted to ask clubs questions and readers who want to get to know authors. The authors are catching on. Our sponsors have loved the interaction as well. Members have told me that they love the author interaction from the 19th-21st as much as having a chance to win all these books. It’s hard to know if a book will be a fit for your group so these interaction times are helpful for that and so much more. Another thing I love about TBCN members is the fact they are not afraid to share what they think in a good way. I’ve learned so much and laughed out loud in some discussion where the questions lead to sharing funny moments.

My hope is that book club leaders and/or members participate in the discussions and make that book connection with the author and their book. I want TBCN to be a tool for them in picking out their books. Maybe invite the author to speak to their book club on the phone. It’s my hope. The discussion will be there forever. No worries about a books shelf live here atTBCN. So, everyone has time to get to know each other!! It’s a beautiful thing!

How can readers join in the anniversary celebrations?

It’s easy to sign up to be a member of TBCN. We ask a few questions for you to answer and for other information that helps us keep spammers and other information seekers out of the network. It’s also FREE. You have opportunities to win lots of books. For our BIRTHDAY BASH we are giving away 10 books a day and announcing winners once a week. You’ll have all week to enter the daily featured contests.

Do you have any other comments for my readers?

If you are avid reader this is the place for you to learn about the latest in Christian Fiction and interact with the author each month.

Are you a book club leader? Well this is the place for you to find your next book club pick. We’d also love for you to set up your book-club page at our site for others to see. It’s a place to share your latest featured book. Post pictures of your club and the field trips you’ve taken, the authors you’ve met and the book fun you’ve had. Learn from other book clubs that have already set up their pages.

Want to start a book club but felt it was too overwhelming? You can learn from other experienced book-club leaders, and you can start right away making your book club list!

Do you like to win books? This is the place for you. You’ll have a chance to get to know the authors and their books and read genre’s you normally wouldn’t. We’ve been giving away about 100 books a month, and for our birthday bash it’s going to be 10 books every day, starting August first. Winners are picked and announced weekly.

Thanks, Nora. You've got a great thing going and I'm excited about the future of TBCN.

THANK YOU! You’ve been a grand host to have me here and let me talk about The Book Club Network and our Birthday Bash!! I hope to see you there at TBCN www.bookfun.org

You are a Blessing!!

Nora :o)
The Book Club Network CEO
Well, that pretty much says it all.  Please take a look at www.bookfun.org and check out the doings!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dragon Wall, by Millie Samuelson (Stone Light Books)

If I had a heritage like Millie Samuelson's, I'd entrust its novelization to her.  What a legacy, and how equally great its preservation in Dragon Wall: A Great Wall Novel.

Those of you who had the pleasure of reading Ms. Samuelson's Hungry River will not want to miss its sequel.  A poignant, personal, and illuminating account of a slice of history so underrepresented in America, Dragon Wall takes us to early 20th-century China, through World War II and into the communist era under Chairman Mao.  All this through the eyes of Christian missionaries who labored tirelessly through persecution and personal loss to bring hope to the masses bombed by the Japanese and exploited by the communists.

What qualifies her to write such a tale?  She was there; indeed, she has written herself into the story as one of the fictional characters.  What a neat approach!  As in Hungry River, she punctuates her historical narrative with modern diary entries that provide a touching modern perspective in hindsight of the events she witnessed herself, the era she lived through, and the lives of those close to her who lived through it with her.  Juxtaposed with the thoughts and words of her alter-ego character, whose outlook is fresh and unvarnished by life experience, Millie's thoughtful retrospection through the journal enhances the reader's journey through a turbulent period of the last century in a country now just coming into its own.

For the historical enthusiast who enjoys the personal touch an author who lived and loved the story she writes brings, you have a winner in Dragon Wall.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2 Seconds Late, by Eric Wilson (Kingstone Publishing)

Rarely does a sequel surpass its prequel; however, as good as 1 Step Away was, 2 Seconds Late does just that.

Mr. Wilson has ratcheted up the stakes by more than one notch and on more than one level in this second installment in the "By The Numbers" series.  And, if you've had the pleasure of reading 1 Step Away, you'll agree that's saying something.

The Vreeland family from 1 Step Away takes one step aside to cede center stage to Natalie Flynn, young governess to the Vreeland youngsters and stoic survivor of her own painful childhood. Natalie has moved on to better herself intellectually through education, spiritually through the church, and emotionally through a surprising (in more ways than one, it turns out) relationship with state representative Reuben King. But there's more at stake than Natalie's future. Much more.

Representative King chairs a committee charged to determine the future of Bill 6336, which permits the implantation of tracking microchips in people for the ostensible purpose of protecting them from harm: children from kidnapping, the helpless from exploitation, and the like. Ethical, political and sinister pressures for and against 6336 beat against him like the driven tide of a perfect storm. But what turns the tables for him is Natalie's influence, based upon her own abduction a year earlier. At least it does at first...

Sound fairly simple? What's more to tell? Oh my goodness, a whole bunch, springing from the capable keyboard of an accomplished storyteller like Eric Wilson. Mix Natalie's father's well-meaning (albeit misguided) agenda, the personal vendetta of an enigmatic Russian special ops veteran, and the greed of the ambitious owner of a multi-million dollar corporation that stands to become a multi-billion dollar corporation with the passage of 6336, stir well, don't bother to let set, and you've got a recipe for an explosive tale of political intrigue and personal danger.

Enmeshed in the storyline, Mr. Wilson presents thought-provoking moral, ethical, and spiritual conumdrums through a multi-dimensional cast of characters who defy you to love them purely or hate them wholly. Well, okay, a couple of them you might have no problem hating wholly. And there's one or two who are pretty lovable. But you know what I mean... :-)

There's a reason Mr. Wilson is a NY Times best-selling author. And he's proven it again. You really oughta get this book. It's available in paperback and eBook.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blog Giveaway!

Christina Rich is featuring my writing on her blog at http://christinarich.wordpress.com/ for the next month.  She's doing a great job.  Please stop by and take a look--even comment for a giveaway!  :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


For the next three days (19-21 May), I'm joining several other authors in a Q&A "Get To Know The Author" giveaway on The Book Club Network.  A total of 82 books are up for grabs, including 3 copies of Katia, 3 vouchers for For Maria (to be sent as soon as it's released), and a set of "A Prophet's Tale."  Here's the link: http://www.bookfun.org/group/tbcnfeaturedauthors/forum/topics/may-2012

Have fun!  :-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yahshua's Bridge, by Sandi Rog (DeWard Publishing)

Best-selling author Robert Liparulo's opening endorsement, "Sandi Rog has done it again..." is spot on.  She really has.

Book Two in the "Iron and the Stone" series, and sequel to the award-winning The Master's Wall, Yahshua's Bridge follows our beloved characters, David and Alethea, as they experience the trials and the victories of the early Church.  This time, however, a previously supporting cast steps to center stage and transports us from Rome to Alexandria to the depths of desert-bound Egypt, and beyond.

Young Alexander has come into his own.  Tutored in the physical arts of the warrior and the spiritual disciplines of a believer by his mentor and de facto father, David, 'Zander' discovers himself and his surprising past--but that's not all.  He also discovers his future in the person of David and Alethea's daughter, Elianna.  Elianna's take on this?  Well, she's not so sure.

On her own journey of self-discovery, Elianna sheds the shackles of societal convention.  When Zander disappears, her persistent hope in his return to the fulfillment of his promise dwindles.  Meantime, David whisks her away from Rome in the charge of protectors on a journey from her enemies and from what he has become.  But he doesn't count on the Lord's intervention, as so few of us do.  Hold on for the ride, folks.  Oh, yeah.  It's dizzying.

Ms. Rog's in-depth research pairs wonderfully with her exceptional storytelling ability to yield a gripping 1st-century tale of betrayal and love, failure and faith.  You don't read about early Rome, you feel the paving stones beneath your sandals as you race with Elianna through the streets.  The wind-blown sands of the Egyptian heartland prick your face, and you blink in the intense rays of its blinding sun with Zander as he seeks his heritage.

Ultimately, the bittersweet conclusion will have you cheering and brushing the tear from your cheek at the same time.  Few authors can achieve that so fluidly.  Ms. Rog does.

Highly recommended for the historical-Biblical fiction enthusiast. You won't be sorry you took the ride.  Great read.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Distant Thunder, by Ann Gaylia O'Barr (OakTara)

A poignant story; intelligently written and thought provoking.

In Distant Thunder, Ms. O'Barr has melded a personal journey of searching and restoration with a candid, point-blank look at American culture and faith.  Okay, that's been done before.  A lot.  But what makes this book unique is the author's perspective on America through the eyes of Americans who have spent a considerable portion of their adult lives outside of America.  Herself a retired foreign service officer, Ms. O'Barr is eminently qualified to relate this tale through the lens of her characters' broadened experiences and observations.

But the story is much more than an examination of a nation.  No, there's a very personal rendering of a woman's search for meaning in the culture that has victimized her.  The woman?  Brooke Rohmer, who is a middle-aged divorcee facing an empty nest as her son prepares to enlist in the US Army.  Stuck in a dead-end job and anticipating the prospect of a personal life as mundane as her work life, Brooke books passage on a train from Georgia to Seattle to visit her aunt.  Just to get away.  And to think.

Neal Hudson, a foreign service consular officer, has just lost his wife and his best friend in separate automobile accidents in Beirut.  Reeling from shock of the double loss, and guilt-ridden at the way he and his wife parted that fateful day, he, too, opts for a train ride to his island retreat on Puget Sound's San Juan Island.  His greatest shock, though, is when he finally brings himself to read her death certificate.

Needless to tell you, Brooke and Neal encounter one another. In the company of two other State Department employees, Ethan and Kaitlin Coverwood, who also happen to be on the train, Neal and Brooke develop a faltering relationship, each afraid of letting the other in too far, understand each other too much, empathize with each other too deeply.  The foursome's discussions and blossoming friendship mirror the train's journey through the heartland of America, across the northern climes, and finally into the Pacific Northwest.

You'll learn a great deal about their perspectives--even what the Foreign Service is like--through their conversations that range from the personal to the professional--but always the profound.

Kudos to Ms. O'Barr for artfully interweaving her theme with her story, never allowing the former to obscure the latter, but delivering the pathos of each in a subtle and honest way.  Precise prose, a piquing underlying wit, and a solid grasp of her topic, the author is a pleasure to read.

Highly recommended for the thoughtul reader.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Martyr, by E.G. Lewis (Cape Arago Press)

The organism of a literary series owns a curious personality.  One may birth well, but struggle to keep its pace, its conclusion hinting that author was relieved when it finally ended.  Another begins a little off-balance, perhaps from too much anticipation of its conclusion, but matures from volume to volume until it ends with so strong a finale, you sense the author wished it hadn't--and the reader empathizes.  Others begin to languish soon after the beginning, dragging on from volume to seemingly endless volume until you give up and set it aside before you even find out what the conclusion might have been.  Mr. Lewis' Biblical-fiction series, "The Seeds of Christianity," displays a unique personality as well: a solid start with Witness, acceleration and anticipation through Disciple and Apostle, finally a heart-wrenchingly poignant finale with Martyr.  Just what you want from a series.

Mr. Lewis has novelized the founding and early growth of the 1st-Century Church with an excellent blend of meticulously researched fact, and well-written, imaginative fiction.  Remaining true to the Scriptural account, we experience with Rivka and Shemu'el the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, then travel with them to Antioch and finally Rome with Peter, Paul, Mark, Barnabas.  Mr. Lewis provides us with fascinating renderings of the early church fathers, but he delivers the real joy  through a solid supporting cast of fictional characters whose lives reflect the uncertainties, frailties, victories, and failures of our own--those to whom we can relate when the historical heroes of the faith seem so much bigger than life.

Martyr presents a very satisfying conclusion to the series, tempering the poignancy and sadness implied by the title with the certainty of hope we have not only through the arc of the story, but the knowledge of church history.  Vividly portrayed, deeply instructive, emotionally satisfying; there is much to commend the entire series.  It's a journey that will change you--for the better.

Martyr is available in Kindle version through Amazon.com, but also in softcopy directly from Cape Arago Press.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Legacy Road, by Graham Garrison (Kregel)

Fine book; really good story.

Mr. Garrison has crafted a tale well worthy of its prequel, Hero’s Tribute, in depth and thought-provoking poignancy.

Set near Athens, Georgia, Legacy Road follows Wes Watkins, the sportswriter who had delivered the eulogy of hometown hero Michael Gavin in Hero’s Tribute.  Now a freelance writer, Wes is on an even keel and doing well—until the end of the first chapter.  His world begins to crumble with an disrupted attempt to propose marriage to Emmy, an ER nurse soon due to deploy to Afghanistan, and her awkward rebuff of that proposal.  Close on the heels of this jolt is the forced reappearance in his life of his wayward father, his mother’s suddenly deteriorating health, and the pressures of an overly demanding professor supervising Wes’ post-graduate studies.  All of these stresses combine to shake Wes’ personal world and his young faith.
Legacy Road examines the issues of forgiveness and trust with brutal, yet compassionate, honesty.  Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, part of his post-graduate studies, Wes’ own journey is mirrored through letters his father had sent him from prison, some of which he’d never read, and letters preserved from an ancestor who fought for the South in the very campaigns his course work focuses upon.  These thrust upon him decisions regarding that forgiveness and trust that he finds himself ill prepared to face.

If you’re looking for a novel filled with jeeps blowing up and grisly murder scenes, skip this one.  However, if you dare look past the sensational into an evenly written, thoughtful reflection of human fallibility, and how interpersonal relationships suffer but can recover from it, Legacy Road is a sure bet.
Happily, Kregel Publishers sent me this copy of Legacy Road free of charge to review.  I was planning to purchase it anyway.  J

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

For Maria, by Bruce Judisch (OakTara)


Shameful, isn't it? Two entries in a row of the same thing. Well, not quite the same thing.

Look what I got from my publisher today! The cover design for For Maria. So far, we're still on track for a May release date. Lots to do betwixt now and then, so please pray for me.

I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

For Maria, by Bruce Judisch (OakTara)

Great news! (Well, for me, anyway...) J I've heard from my editor and For Maria, the sequel to Katia, is scheduled for publication in May of this year. Here's what the story's about:
December, 1939: The Gestapo haul Izaak and Maria Szpilmann away to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, leaving their twin infant daughters behind to die. But the twins do not die. Rescued by a neighbor couple, Gustaw and Ròsa Dudek, they escape occupied Poland to Salzburg, Austria. They are not heard from again.

Today: Maria Szpilmann has survived Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. She is now grandmother to Madeline Sommers, a young journalist who, despite the odds, passionately clings to the belief that the lost twins are still alive. She makes it her single-focused mission to find and reunite them with her failing grandmother before it’s too late.

For Maria took a year and a half of research-intensive, emotionally exhausting work—work that has changed this author in ways he's still discovering. It is offered in honor of those survivors of the Kindertransport, children who, from 1934-1945, were rescued from the clutches of the Nazis and spirited away to foreign lands to await reunions with their families. Most of those reunions never took place. Some of those survivors the author as had the unlimited joy of befriending. Others he wishes he could.

But most of all, the book is dedicated to the 1.5 million children who did not escape The Shoah, what most of us know as the Holocaust. May their memories be preserved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reconciliations, by Susan Elizabeth Ball (Oak Tara)

A delicately written, but thought-provoking, story of lost love regained, and lost souls reconciled.

Ms. Ball has crafted a story that walks a thin line, and does it well.  In Reconciliations, you'll encounter a full and honest treatment of significant moral issues--the author does not shy away from the reality of our world--but in a way that doesn't slap you in the face, or deliberately shock your sensibilities.

Kevin is an honest, but worldly, man who appears quite unlucky in love. His wife, Christine, left him after adulterating their marriage with multiple affairs. The woman he dated for several months is now engaged to another man. And don't even ask about the most recent woman to enter his life!

Christine, a broken product of a dysfunctional family, continues in the way of the lost, rebounding from relationship to relationship, until one goes horribly wrong and she ends up in the hospital. Through Divine intervention (what the world sometimes misconstrues as 'coincidence') Christine and Kevin are thrown back together again, her welfare now dependent upon her ex-husband's--shall we say "reluctant" as an understatement?--care.

Enter Mark and Janet Vinson, and the congregation of Riverside Christian Fellowship, and the plot both deepens and softens into a genuine exhibition of Christian benevolence. Kevin and Christine must now deal not only with the turmoil of the unexpected return into each other's lives, but the inescapable and unyielding love of people committed to a faith neither Kevin nor Christine understand.

The tagline on the back cover promises, "A heart-warming story of a powerful love..." And that promise is kept between the pages of Reconciliations, the second in Ms. Ball's "Restored Hearts" series.

More about the author and this book can be found at http://www.susaneball.com/.

Reconciliations was provided by the publisher free for this review. But then, I'd have purchased it anyway.