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21 October 2014

Review: Bound by Blood by Scott Springer

Book Description

Julia has accepted the Lord and is busy returning her life to order. She is not ready for love, especially when the new site foreman at work stirs up forgotten feelings. She knows a playboy when she sees one, but to Rick Mercado the attraction between them is surprisingly real. Other girls no longer interest him, and if she wants to play hard to get that's fine with him. Let the games begin!

What he doesn't realize is that her dangerous secret is not a game.

Julia's brother has returned from the street, strung out and in trouble with rival gangs. Loyalty to her brother draws Julia deeper into a world of drug deals and thugs. Rick doesn't understand why Julia won't simply go to the cops, especially once the bullets start flying. As Julia slips further into a world of violence, Rick realizes how easily his heart can be broken. His brain says to run, but his heart isn't listening. It may already be too late.

BOUND BY BLOOD. Love and suspense, heartfelt moments and guns a blazing.

What a killer combination!

My Review

I recently read an article on gender bias in fiction—whether men are more represented as published writers, as reviewed writers, and as characters. It got me thinking, because I predominantly read and review titles written by women. I suspect, after reading the article, it’s because I mostly read and review in two areas—romance and Christian fiction—which are dominated by women (the membership of writer’s organisations such as RWA, RUAus, RWNZ or ACFW are 80% women or more).

I’ll also make an admission: I’ve discovered I prefer novels written by women, because I like the internal conflict, the character development and relationship, and I think that on average, women write people better than men. My reading history shows men are more likely to write shoot-em-up novels with little or no character development (e.g. James Patterson, Dan Brown). Yes, they make good movies. Yes, there are exceptions.

So Bound by Blood is a novelty for me: a novel written by a man. A man who knows how to write good characters with strong internal conflict who change and grow by the end of the novel. Yes, there was a lot of action in the novel, but it was action driven by the plot, not action for the sake of filling a chapter or two.

Bound by Blood has a different setting than most Christian novels. I find most of the novels I read are set in a sanitised middle-class America, where even people whose lives go wrong have strong Christian support networks to help them get back on their feet, whether family or friends. If people have financial or health problems, it’s because it’s a plot point, not a reality of daily life.

Bound by Blood is different, in that it’s showing a side of American life that’s representative of how many people live, and it’s not pretty. It’s gritty and edgy, and offers a real insight into the difficulties new Christians can face in moving away from their old lives and on in the faith. Well done.

Release Date: September 23, 2014, from Anaiah Press.

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Author Bio:

Scott Springer spent his youth playing pretend and dreaming of being a writer. As an adult he worked as a carpenter before becoming a software developer. Having produced much, his two children remain his proudest accomplishment. His wife led him to the Lord, and he’s glad that she did. You can find him at his website, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.

Bound by Blood is available to buy at
Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.

20 October 2014

Trailer Reveal: Hunter by Renee Donne

Hunter trailer reveal banner

Anaiah Press is proud to present the trailer reveal for YA novel HUNTER by Renee Donne.

Hunter coverMoving across the country isn’t Hunter’s ideal start to her Junior year of high school. She has no friends to hang out with, no beaches to lounge on, and she’s living just a few miles from the secluded hiking trail where her father died when she was a baby.
Living in Wyoming isn’t all bad, though, thanks to Logan, the handsome veterinary assistant at the animal clinic where she lands an after school job. And he seems just as interested in her as she is in him.
As Hunter begins to settle into her new home, she learns more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s tragic death, and it may not have been the accident everyone believes. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, and Hunter might be the next victim.

Release Date: June 9, 2015
Add HUNTER to Goodreads!
And now for the trailer...

About the Author
Renee DonneRenee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she's a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she's a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.


Review: At Bluebonnet Lake by Amanda Cabot

Excellent Contemporary Christian Romance

When advertising executive Kate Sherwood and her grandmother, Sally Fuller, arrive at Rainbow’s End resort in the Texas Hill Country, it’s nothing like the beautiful Christian resort her grandmother had described. It’s not even like the brochure’s “faux-tography” (I like that word!). She meets Greg, who she thinks is the resort handyman, but soon finds out he’s another guest. So why is he repairing the cottages? Why is he even at Rainbow’s End?

We find out Greg’s secret background soon enough: he’s a Silicon Valley boy wonder who sold his majority share in an extremely successful software company for an obscene amount of money, and now he’s staying at Rainbow’s End while he works out what God wants him to do with his life. This initially caused me some concern, because the “Career Woman meets Secret Billionaire” concept had the potential to become a cheesy cliché.

It didn’t.

Yes, it seemed at first that Kate was the archetype of the driven career woman who resents the fact that she’s being made to spend a month at this run-down resort, at the expense possible of a much-desired promotion. And there was the potential for Greg to be little more than the software nerd he saw himself as, but Kate saw more in him. As a result, what could have been a cheesy romance turned into something more complex as Kate and Greg got to know each other, and subtly challenged each other to rethink their long-held beliefs about career (Kate) and family (Greg).

I’ve read a couple of Amanda Cabot’s historical romances, but At Bluebonnet Lake is her first contemporary novel. Not all authors can write both historical and contemporary fiction convincingly, but Amanda Cabot can, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading Firefly Valley, the sequel to At Bluebonnet Lake, when it releases next year.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Amanda Cabot at her website.

17 October 2014

Cover Reveal: Bricks by John Davidson

Bricks Banner

Today Anaiah Press is proud to present the cover reveal for John Davidson's YA novel BRICKS!
Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting a family she didn't know she had and by helping friends she never appreciated.

BRICKS release February 3, 2015 but you can add BRICKS on Goodreads today!
And now for the cover...

Bricks cover

About the Author:
John D authorMarried to my bride for twenty-four years, I have an amazing son and a wonderful daughter.

Born and raised in central Oklahoma, I work in education, first as a teacher now in technology curriculum. I write. I read. And in the summer I make snow cones. 

Find John on Twitter @jdavidsonwrites or connect with him at his website and on Goodreads.

16 October 2014

Review: The Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance

Too Many Glitches

I liked the concept of The Covered Deep: It's set in 1877, and follows a young woman from a small town in Ohio wins a competition to travel to London, and on to the Holy Land. Bianca Marshal is twenty-five, well-read, and holding out for True Love (encouraged by her father). It’s soon apparent to the reader, if not to Bianca, that Sir Adrian Hartwith has selected his travel companions based on their unknown relationships, and this is what provides most of the conflict in the story. He has an ulterior motive, but I thought this didn’t come out until too late in the story.

I had two main problems with The Covered Deep. The first is common to many American authors who use historical English settings and characters: they get the details wrong, to the point where it detracted from the story. Bianca can’t have read Sherlock Holmes, because the first Homes novel wasn’t published until 1887, ten years after the setting of The Covered Deep. English girls wear plaits, not braids, there has been no national flag of Great Britain since 1801 (when it became the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland), and the British were subjects, not citizens, in 1877. And Bianca’s assumption that Paul Emerson is single because he doesn’t wear a wedding ring is anachronistic: British men only started wearing wedding rings in the 1960’s. Pedantic? Maybe. But these are the details which pull me out of the story.

That’s not to say the writing isn’t good: some lines are brilliant. But parts of the story felt as though the author was trying too hard, often because she used a word in the wrong context (e.g. bee’s knees, which dates from 1922), or used the almost-correct word (e.g. “her acute eyes” or “howbeit” where “albeit” would have been a better choice). This brought to mind a Mark Twain quote:
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Although, in hindsight, Madeline referring to herself and Bianca as “women” not “ladies” might have been deliberate …

My second problem was with the character of Bianca, as illustrated by this conversation between Sir Adrian and Madeline:
“Have you ever met anyone so uncultured? So innocent? So naïve?”
Bianca is twenty-five, unmarried, and this is the first time she’s ever left her home town. But she’s spent those twenty-five years living with parents who barely like each other, a mother who has continually encouraged her to marry, a father who has encouraged her to hold out for true love, and with books. How could she have read authors like Shakespeare, Austen and the Bronte sisters, and not realised that some people will lie, cheat and scheme in order to get what they want. (Not to mention reading The Bible, which is full of object lessons in what not to do.)

The result is I found it hard to care for Bianca, and harder still to care for any of her travel companions. Finishing The Covered Deep
was a chore, not a pleasure. I liked the concept, and the spiritual applications were excellent, but the characters didn’t resonate with me.

Thanks to Worthy Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Brandy Vallance at her website.