Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: December 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours...
Wishing you a joyous, Son-kissed Christmas! 
May you experience God's peace and joy in the coming year.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Perfect Gift

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Eph 2:8-9, NIV 

While our children were growing up, we lived in Florida, where winters and cooler temperatures were non-existent. Every winter break we loaded up the car with snow sleds, Christmas presents, and our portable Christmas tree. Singing Christmas songs along the way, we traveled to some faraway state, a place guaranteed to find snow.

After arriving at our rental condominium, we tucked all the presents under that miniature tree and turned on the sparkling lights. Then, we snuggled in front of the fireplace and cheered for our favorite football teams or watched a movie, sipping hot chocolate loaded with whipped cream and sprinkles.

In the morning, we rushed to the window to catch that first glimpse of a newly fallen snow. Snow so clean, perfect and unspoiled, and shimmering like diamonds.

On a trip to Minnesota, we discovered the destructive nature of those beautiful white flakes. During our two-day drive through single digit temperatures, it snowed, soaking some of the items secured on top of the car. Then, they froze. Care to guess what we packed on top of the car? Right. The Christmas presents. How do you tell your children that they’ll have to accept an IOU for Christmas?

We learned something that year. One, always pack the presents inside the car, everything else on top. Second, that snow isn’t always pristine. Snow can be dirty and destructive.

Just like sin in our life. Sin stains our heart. Destroys our relationships. Harms our body and inflicts serious emotional scars. Leaves us feeling dirty, like the leftover sludge after tires have trampled through snow.

There is only one gift that won’t spoil or freeze. During this hectic holiday season, I thank God for the “perfect” gift given to me.

What is that perfect gift?

It’s a chance for a fresh start. Paint bright enough to cover grimy walls. Spring-cleaning from the ceiling to the floor. The shimmering purity of freshly fallen snow.

Salvation is a gift offered to you by a loving Father with no strings attached. This Christmas season, will you accept the gift He offers?


Are you suffering from the consequences of sin? Do you want to dust away the cobwebs and deep clean your heart? You can’t do it yourself, but Jesus Christ can and will, if you ask Him.

Oh, God, I ask for that perfect gift, salvation offered through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please wash away my sin and make me clean and pure as a freshly fallen snow. Amen.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7 NIV

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Countdown by Vicki Hinze ~My Review

The back cover~

A simple trip home for the holidays is all former FBI profiler Maggie Mason wants. But a serial killer has other plans. Trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Maggie finds an ally in Lost, Inc. with private investigator Dr. Ian Crane. The handsome widower is reluctant to love again, and the last thing Maggie wants is to put Ian in the line of fire, too. Love could cost them everything…unless they can find their way to each other, in time for Christmas.

My take~
Intense, fast-paced suspense scenes left me holding my breath at times. I'm not a nail-biter, or I imagine mine would have been bitten to the quick. I read it through in two evenings ~while my hubby was home~ but I wouldn't recommend reading it late at night. 

The main characters, Maggie and Ian, had been friends while Ian's wife was alive. Since Ian's wife's death, Maggie has helped Ian through his grieving process, mostly over the phone. Their transition from friends to romance progressed naturally over the course of the book, and I enjoyed cheering them towards their happily-ever-after. Uncle Warny played a huge role in this book, and he was such a lovable extra! 

One aspect of this book caught me by surprise, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Typically, in Love Inspired Suspense books the hero and heroine meet early in the book. Maggie and Ian don't talk until the 6th page, and then only by phone call. They don't actually meet until Chapter 3. Because the action was so fast-paced and the opening scene so intense, I wasn't disappointed in the slightest, just surprised. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Hinze's writing style. How has this author escaped my reading radar? I'll definitely be looking for more of her books!

Disclaimer: I purchased a copy of this book for my reading enjoyment.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Meet K. Dawn Byrd and Double Identity

Good morning, all. Today, let's welcome K. Dawn Byrd and her newest release, Double Identity

Good morning, K. Dawn. Tell us a little about yourself. What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Finding time to write. I work a full-time job and also a lot of weekends, which means that I have to be really devoted to my writing time. I set aside at least an hour every night, six days a week if possible. The fact that I start with a well-developed plot makes things move faster.

Wow! That's amazing. Talk about discipline. What accomplishment are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
I'm proud of earning a master degree in professional counseling from Liberty University. I believe this degree helps me to understand my characters better and what makes them tick.

I bet it does. Congratulations on that. What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?
I fill out character sketches in order to get to know my characters better. I ask myself what their goals are, what motivates them, and what's keeping them from reaching their goals. Sometimes, I start by writing a synopsis. This gives me information about the plot as it develops. I usually have a pretty strong plot before I actually begin the story because I write all of my books in 30-day marathons. That doesn't mean that sometimes the story doesn't take a life of it's own, surprising me when it takes me down a road I hadn't planned to travel.

In this past year, I made the transition from pantser to plotter and I found that writing a synopsis first does keep me more focused and on task. Tell me, K. Dawn, why do you write?
I write because I can't stop. It's more than a hobby, it's a passion. It's the most fun I've ever had in my life!

What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a thriller about a serial killer. It's a difficult story because there are several twists and turns and I have to be careful how I write it for everything to fall into place correctly.

Oooh, that's different. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
Probably still riding a Harley. I sold my bike in order to have more time to write. On weekends, I'd rather curl up with my laptop and the story in my head.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I must have total peace and quiet when I write. I hate it because it keeps me from writing sometimes when I'd like to.

Same for me. The only music I enjoy is my golden's soft snore in the office. What do you do for fun when not writing?
I love to read. Romantic suspense or young adult novels are favorites.

How can readers get in contact with you? 
Twitter: kdawnbyrd
Pinterist: kdawnbyrd
Facebook: kdawnbyrd

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today, K. Dawn. It's been a pleasure getting to know you better. Why don't you tell us more about your latest release,

Double Identity.

Seventeen-year old Bree has always wanted a sister. She's shocked when she learns that her father is alive and her identical twin sister, Cassie, is coming to live with her. She can't wait for Cassie to arrive. She just knows they'll be best friends. 

Bree soon discovers that even though they look alike, they're totally different. Cassie is wild and impulsive. She hates Bree's little town and everything in it, except Bree's boyfriend, Luke. When Cassie becomes obsessed with Luke, she'll go to any length to have him for herself. 

Luke has a secret, which Cassie learns and uses against him. She's off her medication and will stop at nothing. She says he's in love with her. He says he loves Bree. Will their secrets destroy them and their relationships?

K. Dawn Byrd
is an author of inspirational novels in several genres, including, historical, suspense, romance, and young adult. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, cars, and her pets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and riding down country roads in the passenger seat of her husband's Corvette Stingray. When asked why she writes, her response is, "For the simple joy of placing words on the page!"

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by JoAnn Durgin - My Review

About the book:
Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa's hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won't kiss a woman until he knows she's "the one." Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it'll ever happen. Then, he meets his best friend's sister, and Jake believes he's found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance. 

But somehow, everyone in the tiny town of Starlight learns Jake’s secret, and he's instantly transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake forget the humiliation and find his way under the mistletoe to share a forever kiss with Julia?

My thoughts:
Jake's the ideal hero: a firefighter who exudes boyish charm, a kid magnet, a guy who's been hurt by an ex-girlfriend who left him because she didn't appreciate his values, his vows, or his town. Julia's a pediatric nurse, who loves her family, but she's grown tired of them fixing her up with any and all available males. Her heart is set on Jake, but distance and other relationships stand in the way.

Don't you love books that leave you with an "awww" when you flip to the last page? Where the conflict stems more from the circumstances that keep them and their budding romance apart, rather than constant bickering between the hero and heroine? Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is one of those books,  immediately tugging you into the blooming romance between Jake and Julia and leaves you with a satisfied feeling.

Durgin plunks you into the heart of Starlight and weaves you into the lives of the characters. At 145 pages, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is a good length to read during snatches of time during the holidays. It wasn't too short, leaving me wishing for more, and not too long to stress me out. Just right for the holidays!  

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is offered as part of Pelican Book Group's Christmas Extravaganza for only 99 cents during December. To read an excerpt or to purchase Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, click here. 

Do you like reading stories that leave you with a satisfied feeling? 
Have you been able to squeeze reading into this already bustling holiday season?

Disclosure: I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ACFW December 2012 New Releases

Be still my heart! Check out all the new romances!

A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas by Annalisa Daughety — Violet and Jackson both need dates to special events, so they hire a matchmaker to find somebody. Horrified when they meet—they already know and dislike each other from college—but with no other recourse, they agree to “pretend.” After a planned kiss with unexpected chemistry, will this sham arrangement turn into love?. (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing).

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson — In this retelling of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fairy tale, Sophie has little choice but to trust her betrothed’s brother, Gabe, to help her escape the evil Duchess Ermengard. (Historical from Zondervan).

A Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio — When Sonia Pettit’s teenage daughter suddenly disappears for seven long years, Sonia faces losing her mind, her husband, and her son as she struggles to forgive her wayward daughter and trust God for her return. (Contemporary from Harbourlight Books (Pelican).

A Promise to Protect by Liz Johnson — Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend’s sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer-not on his watch. But Matt’s not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women’s shelter she runs. She’s sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can’t handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web far more sinister than she’d realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive… (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired Suspense).

Sagebrush Knights by Erica Vetsch — Evelyn, Jane, Gwendolyn, and Emeline Gerhard arrive in Wyoming Territory in search of husbands. But when the men awaiting them are not the knights-in-shining-armor they hoped for, it will take a hearty dose of faith to see them through. Will love prevail or bring a not so happy ending? (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Counterfeit Cowboy by Lacy Williams — A con man with a conscience meets and falls in love with a girl way out of his league. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

More details for each books can be found at ACFW's Fiction Finder website.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Everybody Loves Mickey by Therese M. Travis - My Review

About the book:
He’s a saint with a tarnished halo, and Aubrey Thomas can’t stand him…or can she? 

Handsome fireman, Mickey Hurst is loved by all. He volunteers at the local parish where Aubrey Thomas works as an administrator. He sings in the choir. He leads the youth group. He even acts as the church handyman, but Aubrey knew him before he became Saint Mickey—when he told her he’d have to be drunk to kiss her…and he was. What’s so infuriating is that despite his horrible admission, Aubrey loves Mickey as much as everybody else. 

Mickey doesn’t blame Aubrey for disliking him. After all, he kissed her when he wasn’t sober—and insulted her, to boot. Aubrey deserved a better man—a Godly man. But, since that fateful kiss, Mickey’s drawn closer to the Lord. With the intercession of God and the matchmaking parish staff, Mickey prays that this Christmas he will be able to prove to Aubrey he’s now the man for her.

My review: 
Don't you just love the cover? It looks so fun and playful, and that's exactly how I felt about this book. 

Mickey kissed Aubrey while he was drunk but apologized the next morning, blaming the kiss on the alcohol. Like he'd never be tempted to kiss Aubrey while he wasn't inebriated. Aubrey enjoyed the kiss, hated the apology. He hasn't been able to look her in the eye since that kiss years ago, and she hasn't forgiven him. Great conflict! The author even tucked in a little subplot with a theme: One sin is not greater or less than another. 

It's been a year since I read any Christmas novellas. I forgot how enjoyable, and how short, they can be. I would have liked a little more...ending. But, even so, the end was sweet. 

Overall, this was a great story to spend a couple hours relaxing with in front of the fireplace on a cold winter evening. Sure to make you smile. 

Available with White Rose Publishing as part of their 2012 Christmas Extravaganza offering. To purchase or to read an excerpt of Everybody Loves Mickey, click here

Disclosure: I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

JOURNEY'S EMBRACE coming March 1st!

He heard water running in the shower. Now what? He glanced around the room, his gaze stopping at her bedside table. Curiosity made him investigate. A raggedy stuffed doll with red stringy hair sat plopped against the lamp. Cell phone charger. A picture frame.

Who did she want to see when morning dawned? Who was the last person on her mind when she turned out the light at night?

He picked up the frame and stared at a picture of the three of them. Dane, Steven and Sage, at her college graduation. He smiled. Humbled, yet gratified, at the same time. She pictured them the same way he did.

As family.

“Why should I leave my house?” Her quiet words from behind surprised him.

He fumbled with the picture frame and settled it back on the table. He hadn’t heard the door open or the water stop. He turned around, gulped.

Dane’s shoulder length hair framed her face and rosy cheeks shimmered with goodness. Wearing jeans and a turquoise shirt that hugged her figure, she reminded him about what was good in life. Wholesome, outdoorsy.

It made him think about campfires and roasting marshmallows, about cooler temperatures and football games, about the spectacular colors and beauty of fall. How leaves fall from the sky to make room for new green buds in the spring. Seasons. And how life changed. How she’d grown from a pesky kid into a beautiful woman.

Dane made him forget the ugliness in the world.

But only for a minute.

After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers. 

Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her?

Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?

Coming March 1, 2013
White Rose Publishing.

If you would like to read and post a review of  Journey's Embrace on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or your blog, please contact me at 
Dora (at) DoraHiers (dot) com. 
I have a few pdf review copies available. 

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