Monday, July 27, 2015

COTT: Five Summertime Reads!

What a great bunch of books to take on vacation or read under a shady tree this summer. Selections include a Regency romance, a thriller, the story of an abandoned child found by the shore and two Westerns. Peruse below and let us know which one you’ll put on top of the stack in your beach bag. Scroll down and vote in the survey box. Then let your friends know about these interesting reads.

Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley      

A young woman reconciling the lies of her birth must learn her true worth, unmasking her heart to true love, but will she find her soul mate in a duke running from scandal? With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by a powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?

Rodeo Reunion by Shannon Vannatter
Slade Walker, the bronco-riding rodeo chaplain breaks all of widowed Raquel’s rules—find a father for her son with a safe occupation, who’s home every night. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too.
Two Days in Caracas by Luana Ehrlich
In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed, a Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official.
Finding Mia by Dianne J. Wilson
Isobel is on the beach hunting for her muse. What she finds is a toddler, sunburnt and close to death.
The Rancher Takes a Cook by Misty Beller
When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch. When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands...and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?
Create your own user feedback survey

Monday, July 20, 2015

COTT: "Until the Harvest" by Sarah Loudin Thomas

This follow-up story will delight readers of Thomas’ previous novel, but, it reads perfectly as a standalone as well.                                      
                                                  – RT Book Reviews Top Pick – 4.5 stars

About the book:
When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she’s his grandmother’s housekeeper and helper, so she’s always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn’t care about his loss, before beginning to understand she’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry’s future and Mayfair’s life are put at risk.

Until the Harvest


A note from the author:

Good Books and Great Food

Eating and telling stories are two of my favorite things so it’s only natural that food turns up in my writing over and over again. The second book in the Appalachian Blessings series—Until the Harvest—opens with the hero, Henry Phillips, enjoying one of his favorite dishes–venison steak. And a little later he partakes of . . . fried squirrel.

Now, before you turn up your nose, understand that in my growing up years we ate quite a bit of game including squirrel. Plenty of folks still enjoy it. And my mother made the best squirrel gravy. If you tried some on a biscuit, I bet you’d think so, too.

My books aren’t about food, but food plays an important role in each one. Life on the farm—in West Virginia or anywhere else—centers on raising and harvesting food. Readers often comment that my books make them hungry, so today I thought I’d share a couple of recipes with you. One for Emily Phillips’ fried squirrel (courtesy of my mom, Nancy Loudin) and one for Margaret Hoffman’s egg salad (courtesy of WV chef Dale Hawkins).

Hope you enjoy the book AND a good meal!

What COTT voter had to say:
--I have enjoyed "getting to know" Sarah Loudin Thomas via social media and eagerly look forward to reading both of her novels.
--I absolutely loved Until The Harvest, by Sarah Loudin Thomas!
--I love Sarah Loudin Thomas's books! She is a favorite of mine!!
--Absolutely LOVED Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas. UTH has it all--life lessons, "get real" God moments, and the sweet stirring of love--all set amidst the beautiful backdrop of Appalachia country. No ten dollar words here--just great storytelling at its absolute finest!
--Sarah Loudin Thomas, I have loved both of your books! Keep 'em comin'!
--Sarah Loudin Thomas: keep up the good work and allowing God to reach people through your writing!
--Sarah Loudin Thomas is one of my favorite authors. I love the way she tells a story! I can always feel what the characters are feeling.

Fried Squirrel with Gravy

Makes 4 servings

2 large squirrels
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Oil or lard for frying
Milk and water

Soak the cleaned squirrels in a pan of water in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Cut into pieces, place in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the meat is tender, but not falling off the bones. Drain. Season the meat with salt and pepper and roll in the flour. Heat oil or lard to shimmering in a cast-iron skillet and add the pieces without crowding. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove to drain on a brown paper bag. Leave about two tablespoons of oil in the skillet and add two tablespoons of the flour left over from dredging the squirrel. Stir the flour until it’s lightly browned. Add milk and water alternately, stirring constantly, until your gravy is as thick as you like it. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with hot biscuits.

Egg Salad

8 eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool. Peel and grate on a box grater. Place the eggs in a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, and green onion. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir and serve.

About the author:
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to
live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House and won the 2015 Selah Award and an INSPY Award for debut fiction. Book #2, Until the Harvest, released May 2015.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and play tug-o-war. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

Monday, July 13, 2015

COTT: When Heroes are Not Heroic: An Inside Look at "Blue Columbine"

Blue Columbine, book one in the Grace Revealing series by Jennifer Rodewald

Welcome, readers! This week we're going behind the scenes of Jennifer Rodewald's new book, Blue Columbine!! Find out why her hero, Andrew Harris, drew such a reaction, and why this "non-heroic" hero makes the perfect star of this beautiful contemporary romance. 

The main character isn’t your typical Christian Fiction hero. What is he like?

Andrew Harris insists on living on his own terms. Angry because of life’s injustices, he is determined that failure will not cross his path again. He is also adamant that he is not an alcoholic. When he reunites with Jamie Carson, finding her to be rooted in the faith they’d grown up with, and every bit as sweet and lovely as he remembered, he is plunged into an emotional whirlwind. Guilt, a longing to be better, frustration that he is not enough, and a rekindled love for his childhood sweetheart all swirl inside with maddening strength.  But for all his faults, he is still loyal, supportive, and generous when he wants to be—all qualities that keep Jamie’s attention and devotion.  Which keeps their close friendship—edging on more than friendship—complicated, to say the least.

What was the hardest part of writing this story?

This is a tough one, because the greatest difficulty didn’t come during the writing part. The hardest thing was taking in the amount of very strong negative reactions to Andrew as a Christian fiction character during the critiquing stage of the novel. Andrew’s a mess. An alcoholic in denial, angry at life and at God, selfish, and overall just not pretty. I knew that, but I didn’t expect to have vehement reactions insisting that such a character did not belong in Christian fiction. One comment labeled him “unredeemable.” That broke my heart, because as I shared before, God reminded me through this story that no one is beyond the Hand of Grace. I think it’s important that sometimes Christian fiction confirms that truth, even if it means starting with messy characters.

 Where did Blue Columbine, the story, come from?

I’m not sure there’s one single, straight shot answer to that. The story unfolded in my mind and I was compelled to write it. I’ve had several years to look back and wonder, “Why this story?” since it first gripped me. Looking at it from hindsight, I think God was pouring truth into me through this book. I was at a point in my life when I was praying for loved ones…and losing hope. I see now that God was teaching me that nothing is beyond His reach. I needed to see that, to believe it again.

 What messages/ themes do you hope your readers will get out of this book?

The first is this: NO ONE is beyond redemption. No one. I need to know that, because I love some messy people. God showed me through this book that my prayers do not go unheard, that His hand is more powerful than I give Him credit for, and His time and storyline are not necessarily mine.

And second: Jesus saves. From white lies to powerful addictions,  Jesus saves the lost, washes sin completely clean, and offers new life with real hope.

What an amazing message! This book's hero proves that when our characters are not perfectly heroic, that only proves that God is! Thank you for sharing your book with us.
Now for a closer look at this book--and the gorgeous cover that sets the tone!

BLUE COLUMBINE, Book 1 of the Grace Revealing series

Best Friends—maybe more—until addiction shatters everything.
Childhood sweethearts reunite, but Andrew is not the boy he had been, and Jamie hasn’t changed. Their connection, however, outlasts time and offense.

Loyalty, love, and then betrayal….For Jamie, one thing becomes clear: Andy needs a savior, and she cannot be it. Will Andrew allow the hand of grace to redeem his legacy of addiction, or will he and Jamie remain the casualties of heartbreak?

What her readers are saying:
~ “Delicate. Humorous. And plumbing the depths of God's redeeming love.”

~ “This book does not disappoint. Instead it takes you through the emotional upheaval of loving someone with a problem you can't solve--and lets you witness the glory of the One who can.”

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.

Aiming to live with boundless enthusiasm, her creed is vision, pursuit and excellence. Blessed with a robust curiosity, she loves to research. Whether she’s investigating the history of a given area, the biography of a Christian icon, or how nature declares the glory of God, her daily goal is to learn something new.

Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.

She would love to hear from you! Please visit her at or connect with her on Facebook. Author Jen Rodewald.


Monday, July 6, 2015

COTT Presents Sedona Sunset

Welcome, readers! As summer moves into full swing and fireworks can be heard ringing through the skies, we’re still cranking out a steady stream of must-read books! Today we are taking a closer look at one of our recent competitors, Sedona Sunset by Tanya Stowe

About the Book

After an auto accident leaves her crippled and takes her mother’s life, Lara Fallon completes her mother’s dream of opening a school and offering scholarships to promising young artists. Although Lara is struggling with survivor’s guilt, she is thrilled to fulfill one more of her mother’s dreams when she hires Alexander Summers, world-renown Flamenco player and professor of art, to perform at the grand opening of The Fallon School of Art.

But Alex has a secret. He investigates art theft for UNESCO, and when pieces of Chaco pottery suddenly appear on the black market, Alex is certain The Fallon School of Art is a cover for this illegal operation. He’s determined to uncover the link...even if it means romantically pursuing the lovely Lara Fallon.

Alex’s investigation leads him on collision course with Lara’s inner struggle to cope with her mother’s death and her own wavering faith in God. Now, Lara’s school and her heart are in danger. But is her life as well?

Woo! Art! Flamenco! Scandal! What's not to love??

Readers’ Comments

A great story. Wonderful characters. A joy to read.
Lara is a woman coming into her own potential and personal power. She is encouraged to create a new life for herself by a mysterious man hoping to be there when she does. Alex is just as intriguing as Lara with his secrets and double life. The characters were strong and real, both individually and together. I was impressed with how Stowe beautifully handled the budding relationship with passion, but without the need for graphic sex. The Sedona, AZ area has always had a special mystique and it is a perfect location for this tale. Add in a well-thought out mystery and you have one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.
I was given this book in return for an honest review and I am very happy to give it high marks. It's a truly well-written story that I can recommend highly. This book makes it to my “save and reread” list.
~Amazon reviewer K. Frost

I loved the characters. Lara is left to finish what her mom started a school for the gifted and being able to offer scholarships to the young artist. Lara hires Alex Summers to help bring in the donations needed for the school. But there is something shady going on at the school and Lara is determined to see what is going on. She is wondering what happened to the 3 missing checks? Who all is involved ? Loved the story and has a romance but done in good taste which Tanya always does. Look forward to what is next. You like mystery with some romance you will want to read this book by Tanya Stowe.
~Amazon reviewer D. L. Montgomery

Ready to dive in? Purchase Sedona Sunset here:


About the author:

Tanya Stowe is a Christian Fiction writer with an unexpected edge. This Pelican Book Group author fills her romances with the unusual…gifts of the spirit in Tender Touch and spiritual warfare in Haunted Hearts. In Never Ending Night she explores the horrors of a Civil War battle and unravels a mystery. Tender Trust treks to the Old West. Leap of Faith brushes wings with an angel and White Christmas wraps romance in the traditions of a small town holiday. No matter where Tanya goes…on a journey through the past or contemporary adventures in new lands…be prepared for the extraordinary.