Monday, February 23, 2015

COTT: January New Releases Clash

Hostess: Gail Pallotta January 2015, brought us many great fiction books. Contemporary, historical, young adult futuristic and a suspense novel round out this month’s Clash. Which of these will you put at the top of your to-be-read list?
During the 1960s, Henry Youngblood feels the call to plant a new church. Meanwhile, his wife
wonders how to pay the bills for the new baby, keep their teen-aged daughters under control, and temper the family’s dreams with reality.  
Spain 1493: In order to flee the Inquisition, Isabel, accompanied by the husband she was forced to marry, must sail with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Indies. There, amid the hardships of the New World, her character is forged and her destiny reshaped as she comes to terms with who she is.  
When Jen unravels the family scandal within the walls of an English country manor, will she reveal the truth she’s hidden for so long as well? Or will she choose to live the lie in order to keep the man she loves?  
Sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins never questions her country’s pregnancy termination law for underage girls until she becomes pregnant. Now she must comply or fight to save her unborn child, but fighting means Vivica must abandon her mother, a powerful governor, and side with a rebel organization that’s determined to start a revolution.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

COTT: Featured Novel: "This Redeemer"--Not All Prisons Have Bars

“An exhilarating ride full of suspense and hope...” 
“…hits the ground running and never lets up…” 
“A riveting story with great characters…”

About This Redeemer:

Not all prisons have bars.
Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in one for years. She can handle getting slapped around by her boyfriend, Tommy, and even being forced to do things she would never choose, but when Tommy turns on her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte must try to escape. With nowhere else to turn, Charlotte runs to the stranger her dying mother believed would help her.
Looking only for shelter or cash, Charlotte finds a family she longs to call her own and a gentle man she could learn to love. But if Tommy catches up with Charlotte, these strangers could discover the truth about her. Will they send her back to Tommy? Or can a Father’s love set her free?
"Jerusha keep up the good work I cant wait to read the next book!"
"I just finished reading This Redeemer by Jerusha Agen, and it was excellent -- the best of the series!"
"Love Jerusha's writing style!"
"I am excited for you! Jerusha Agen this is just the beginning of more great things to come!"
"I loved This Redeemer and think it's Jerusha's best book yet. Great characters!"
"Jerusha Agen, your writing is amazing! Thank you very much for sharing your incredible talent!"
"Jerusha! Keep up the excellent work!"

About Jerusha:
Jerusha Agen is a lifelong lover of story--a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and The Love Boat Bachelor from Write Integrity Press. Jerusha relishes snowy Midwest winters spent with her three large, furry dogs and two small, furry cats.
Visit Jerusha’s website at
Follow Jerusha on Twitter @SDGwords and Facebook (Jerusha Agen – SDG Words).

Q&A Interview with Jerusha Agen, author of This Redeemer, Book Three in the Sisters Redeemed Series:

What message do you hope your readers will take away after reading your novel?

I hope and pray that women who are in abusive relationships, poverty, depression, or any other type of seemingly hopeless situation will see in this story that there is hope even in the most desperate of situations, and that His name is Jesus. For readers who have no experience with such desperation, I hope that they will be convicted of the need to selflessly love the “unlovable” in the world and to humbly forgive the “unforgivable.” For all of us, there is hope! 

Do you have any practical advice for writers on how to keep their sanity in our run, run, run world?

Staying sane in our hectic culture is my daily struggle! Some things that help me most are setting writing goals for each day and actually quitting for the day when I reach the goal. I’ve found that I have to limit when I’ll allow myself to check email or go online, so that I don’t end up letting my sleep or work time disappear into the Internet vacuum.

As a writer, it’s also too easy to work whenever I’m home, even on Sundays, which translates into no day off from work and eventual burnout. I believe that rest, especially on our day set aside to worship, is crucial to staying in the rat race for the long haul, so I’ve now made every Sunday a no-writing, no-Internet day. I end up with a free, restful day away from social and work pressures that allows me to recharge for the work week ahead. The other essential for sanity is sleep!

Monday, February 9, 2015

COTT: Plundered Christmas--Pirates, Storms, Murder!

Pirate legends, unexpected storms, murder.
Will Jeanine discover the truth before someone else winds up dead?

About Plundered Christmas:
Compelled to spend Christmas on a private island with her father’s future bride and family, Jeanine learns that Margo Banet is descended from a pirate queen.
Relatives and friends all have their reasons for attending the festivities—including the legendary treasure. But when Margo’s nephew winds up dead and a violent storm cuts them off mainland, Jeanine has to wonder if they will solve the mystery before someone else dies trying.

About the author:
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of kids’ comedy, "Guzzy Goofball" and the "Homeschool Play from Outer Space" and the cozy mystery trilogy by Harbourlight Books which includes the recent Plundered Christmas, is a wife and homeschool mother who writes early mornings in the shadow of our nation’s capital. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers online through Write At Home, and by teaching middle and high school co-op classes. Learn more about her and her projects at

What COTT Voters Had to Say:
--Susan Lyttek, you are an amazing and talented writer.
--Susan, I can't wait to read your new book!
--Looking forward to reading Plundered Christmas!
--Love Plundered Christmas.
--Susan, your work continues to thrive, all for the Glory of God! I'm proud to know you, and can't  wait to read this one! A. Montgomery.
--Susan Lyttek, enjoy reading your books.
--I really enjoyed Plundered Christmas--between the character dynamics and the plot twist I never saw coming--well done!
--Great series by Susan Lyttek!

Chat with Susan:

Why do you write the kind of books you do? I homeschooled and am homeschooling. These are the people I’ve been around for the last seventeen years. That’s also why I weave history in. Every homeschool resource I know targets multiple subjects and levels of learning.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life? My goal is for today, whatever day that is, to be the happiest. It doesn’t always work, especially when I get a piece of bad news or insufficient sleep, but it’s my goal. I want to live contentedly in what my Lord hands me each day.

What is your favorite season of the year? Christmas. Hands down. What’s special about it for you?? I love my heritage and the special traditions that we have. Every Christmas creates new memories that adds to the woven tapestry of what it is. I also love celebrating the arrival of the son of God in human form!

What is something that very few people know about you? I like to read my Bible in French. C’est vraiment la belle langue!

What three things about you would surprise readers? I have a second degree black belt in tae kwon do. I like LOUD music. (I’m a quiet person, so the music thing surprises most people.) I earned a marksman ribbon with the M-16 when I was in the Air Force.

What can you tell us about your current project? I assume you mean Plundered Christmas. In this mystery, we need to figure out why the Banet family has hidden their heritage all these years, in addition to learning who killed Margo’s nephew. Secrets can poison a family and damage relationships. As the Talbotts uncover the truth about Anne Bonny/Banet, it leads to healing for those who accept it.

Find more great reads at Clash of the Titles!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Murder at Mirror Lake by Nancy Jill Thames

This was my first Jillian Bradley Mystery and I loved it. Murder at Mirror Lake is number 9 in a series. In this one, Jillian Bradley makes a trip to a resort at Lake Placid, New York, with her friends Ann Fieldman and Nicole King to watch the leaves turn colors. Of course, Teddy, Jillian's Yorkie, accompanies the women. Having the dog along on the trip means Jillian can't stay at the inn with her friends, but this only adds to the mystery.

Lake Placid may sound familiar to you, and it should. It is the site of the winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. The author uses this angle to make the story even more interesting.

As usual, I suspect, the women get involved in a murder. But, or course, I can't tell you about that. I wouldn't want to ruin the fun you'll have reading this book.

Now I get to go back and read the other eight Jillian Bradley Mysteries.

Thanks to Google, I spent the day in London—without leaving my office.

That's me having coffee atop St. Paul's Cathedral in London
In The Vengeance Squad Goes to England the gang is looking for the man who stole Liz's bookmobile fund. Chris goes over to England to visit Angela, but he's joined soon by the rest of the group.

The first day in London, I wanted Angela to show Chris around some and keep him awake so he could adjust his inner clock to London time. I decided on a bus ride from her flat near Victoria Station to St. Paul's Cathedral because I had done that once or twice myself, for the same reason.

To make the trip more interesting, I wanted to point out the sights along the way. That's where Google comes in. I plotted a trip from Angela's flat to the church using Google Maps. Then, as I viewed the route, I switched to the photo view and looked for interesting landmarks along the way. Big Ben, London Eye, etc. But, I also saw other bits of information that I felt might be interesting to readers. I saw lots of black cabs, for example. Cars and busses driving down the wrong side of the road. Red double-decker buses everywhere. This gave me scenery, but also an idea for Liz to buy a double-decker bus that had been converted into a bookmobile.

Google Maps Takes the Fun Out of Research

In The Vengeance Squad, the protagonists travel a lot. To make it easier for me, I only let him go to places I've been. That way I can create better descriptions of the locations. As I was writing,however, I wished I was in Albuquerque again to get a bit a detail I needed for a scene. I wanted there to be a house close to the Petroglyph National Monument, but I didn't know if there was or not. In the old days, such research might require a tax-deductible trip to look around first hand. But, no longer.

I opened Google Maps in my browser and typed in Petroglyph National Monument. Then I clicked on the little orange Google man and moved him to the streets around the park. I found just what I needed. There was a whole neighborhood near the park's parking lot. Close enough to serve my needs.

From Albuquerque, my characters went to Rowe, a small town in Massachusetts I know quite well, but had not been there in the winter. Also, I had not been to a private airport in nearby North Adams that I wanted to use in my story. With Google Maps I was able to start at the airport and follow the road to Rowe. I learned there are many turns along the way. I looked for photos as I made my virtual trip in hopes of finding a winter scene but there were none. Luckily, a friend there sent me some photos taken while there was snow on the ground.

So, no longer must we go to a villa in France or spend time on a barge in the Netherlands to absorb details enough for a realistic description. All we have to do is turn on the computer.

Monday, February 2, 2015

COTT: Novel Feature: Secrets and Lies by Janet Sketchley

A single mother must protect her teenage son—from organized crime and from himself.

Secrets and Lies, by Janet Sketchley

 About the novel:
Carol Daniels thinks she out-ran her enemies, until a detective arrives at her door with a warning from her convict brother. Minor incidents take on a sinister meaning. An anonymous phone call warns her not to hide again. Now she must cooperate with a drug lord while the police work to trap him. Carol has always handled crisis alone, but this one might break her. Late-night deejay Joey Hill offers friendship and moral support. Can she trust him? One thing’s certain. She can’t risk prayer.

What reviewers are saying:
“Secrets and Lies delivers engaging characters and a sweet romance in the midst of a single mom’s worst nightmare.” ~ Sandra Orchard, award-winning author of Deadly Devotion and Blind Trust

“Secrets and Lies takes up where Heaven’s Prey left off, and is another great thriller by Janet Sketchley. With the backdrop of music and family, Secrets and Lies could really be defined as a retelling of the Ultimate Redemption. Sketchley is very adept at writing about the sometimes intricate and confusing relationships that make up a family. This one is not to be missed.” ~ Linda Hall, award-winning author of Steal Away (Christian fiction) and Night Watch (mainstream)

A note from the author:
Secrets and Lies is a book 2 in the Redemption’s Edge series. I met Carol, the heroine, through writing her brother Harry’s story in Heaven’s Prey, and I knew her life had not been easy. I also knew she needed the Lord. Secrets and Lies gives her the chance to find Him—unless her enemies find her first. For more about Carol and the other key characters, visit the Secrets and Lies book page. Scroll past the buy links, and you'll find interviews and features, plus a YouTube playlist of the classic oldies (with a few extras) mentioned by title in the novel. This is a Christian novel, but Carol loves her mainstream classic rock. Check out the Secrets and Lies playlist on YouTube. There are a few other things in there that only make sense if you've read the book.

What COTT voters had to say:
"Janet Sketchley writes with care and integrity, creating suspenseful stories that stay with the reader for a long time."
"I love a good mystery/suspense read and Secrets & Lies looks fantastic!"
"Secrets and Lies by Janet Sketchley intrigues me and I think, of the six books shown, I would be most likely to add this one to my pile of books to read."
"In "Secrets & Lies", Janet Sketchley has written another "can't put me-down book". It equals "Heaven's Prey" and may even surpass it. Can't wait for the third "Redemption's Edge" novel to be published. Keep up the good work, Janet!"
"Janet Sketchley - this book sounds like something I would love!"
"Almost finished Secrets & Lies. It's another "page turner" like Heaven's Prey."
"Secrets and Lies - great cover for a great read."
"It's such a busy month, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to "Secrets & Lies."
"Janet Sketchley, keep on doing what God's calling you to do! Exciting things lie ahead!"
"Janet, despite the darkness indicated in your title, I'm confident that in "Secrets and Lies" you bring forth the light of truth and the triumph of redemption."
"Janet, You continue to inspire me! You went for it and look at where you are now? 2 novels under your belt! Can't wait to see what God has in store..."
"I thoroughly enjoy reading Janet Sketchley's novels. I feel like I personally know the characters. Best of luck Janet!"

About the author: Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven’s Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption (available as print and ebooks). She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she enjoys music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn’t related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true!

Find Janet online.

Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet’s writing journey through her monthly newsletter.