I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Zondervan First--Adapting to The Way We Read

Are you a big reader of e-books?

Some of us still prefer the feel of a book in our hands, the lingering odors of paper and ink and the cracking of the spine when we open a book.

But even those of us who like traditionally published books still enjoy the convenience and ease of our e-readers. I like how I can take multiple books with me in something as small and lightweight as a Kindle. I'm not alone, either, because sales of e-books are definitely skyrocketing.

Enter Zondervan First.

Zondervan, which publishes Christian books, has started a direct-to-digital publishing imprint which "will provide fresh and relevant content across all reading devices. Authors who publish under this model will have the same access to the Zondervan editorial and marketing teams as those published traditionally, which sets this program apart from other direct-to-digital publishers...By publishing through the new imprint, authors will have the full backing of the Zondervan brand."

If you download a lot of e-books, you know how many e-publishers there are out there. Some are fabulous. Some are, well, not. One of the strengths of Zondervan First is that the books receive the same editing and marketing assistance that Zondervan's traditionally printed books receive, so readers know these selections have been carefully chosen, polished, and presented.

To debut the line, Zondervan First chose Dina Sleiman and her historical romance, Love in Three-Quarter Time. Here's a brief teaser:

 In the style of Deeanne Gist, Dina Sleiman explores the world of 1817 Virginia in her novel Love in Three-Quarter Time. When the belle of the ball falls into genteel poverty, the fiery Constance Cavendish must teach the dances she once loved in order to help her family survive. The opportunity of a lifetime might await her in the frontier town of Charlottesville, but the position will require her to instruct the sisters of the plantation owner who jilted her when she needed him most. As Robert Montgomery and Constance make discoveries about one another, will their renewed faith in God help them to face their past and the guilt that threatens to destroy them in time to waltz to a fresh start?

I've thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Sleiman is a talented author and she's woven a rich setting, historical detail, spiritual growth, rich characters, and a compelling story into a true page-turner.

Love in Three-Quarter Time is available from Zondervan and Amazon for the bargain of $3.99.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wild Grace by Max Lucado and James Lund

Wild Grace (What Happens when Grace Happens) is an adaptation for teenage readers by James Lund of Max Lucado's book Grace.

Wild Grace is suitable for kids with varying levels of knowledge of the Good News: whether a lot or a little, the message is powerful and understandable without being dumbed-down. The subject of grace is well-presented and soundly Biblical.

Others may shoot me for saying this, but most of Max Lucado's insights aren't new. They have been spoken by pastors and theologians for generations--but he has a way with delivery and offering fresh examples. In Wild Grace, the illustrations are about half-and-half Scripture and true tales of teens who've been in tough spots. There is also room to journal one's thoughts.

Even adults will be encouraged or instructed by the book, as I was, but if you're looking for a book to help drive home God's love for your teenager, this might be an one to try.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. A positive review was neither promised nor expected.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

Start your engines! At Every Turn by Anne Mateer is a fun, fast-paced inspirational story about an impetuous female race car driver in 1916 who speeds off with a dream to grow the church…but she has to keep a huge secret in order to do it.

 Alyce Benson is a spunky young woman whose heart breaks for the children of Africa, and when she pledges $3000 of her own money to support ministry to them, she challenges her church to do the same. Surely her daddy, the richest man in town, will give her the money, even though he doesn’t share her faith. When he refuses to give a dime toward the church, Alyce tries to come up with the money herself, but learns holding onto it is much harder than she thought. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Alyce convinces her father’s mechanic, Webster Little, to help her achieve her goal the only way she knows: she’ll earn prize money by pretending to be a man and secretly racing her father’s automobile.

I loved Mateer’s first book, and now that I’ve read the second, it holds my affections equally. The plot is pitch-perfect, and Mateer is a smooth writer with a fresh perspective, delightful dialogue, and deep characters. Alyce is a well-rounded heroine, with a strong faith but her share of flaws. Although her intentions are good and her goal is compassion, she nevertheless compounds her problems by taking matters into her own hands. She’s also easy to sway, which one character uses to his advantage. Still, she’s utterly relatable and likable. I rooted for her through every scene.

The romantic elements are slow-burning and sweet, and the faith elements are incorporated naturally. I loved reading to see how everyone turned out. I can’t wait for Mateer’s next novel!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was neither expected nor promised.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Winner of Impressed by Love...and Another Opportunity!

The winner of Colonial Courtships--including Lisa Karon Richardson's novella, Impressed by Love--is:

Suzanne W!

Congratulations, Suzanne! I'll contact you privately to get your mailing info.

Thanks to all who entered. For those whose names weren't drawn, you have another opportunity to win Lisa's book. Hop over to Inkwell Inspirations, where I'm interviewing Lisa today. She's graciously offered another copy of Colonial Courtships to a lucky winner, so please visit and enter the drawing!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ten Things ... With Author Lisa Karon Richardson--and a Giveaway!

Welcome Lisa Karon Richardson, author of novella Impressed by Love from Colonial Courtships, to Tea and a Good Book!

Influenced by books like The Little Princess, and The Secret Garden, Lisa’s early books were heavy on governesses and creepy boarding schools. Though she’s mostly all grown-up now, she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling new adventures—starting a daughter-work church and raising two precocious kids. Her other full-time job is managing medical malpractice litigation for a large health system in Ohio and Indiana.
Ten Random Facts about Lisa:

1. My husband is the first, and only, man I've kissed.
2. I think "Once upon a time..." is still a perfectly legitimate opening for a story.
3. I read more YA than adult fiction.
4. My ringtone is a Veggietales song.
5. We have two fish named Finn and Goldy.
6. I love Pinterest, but am ambivalent about Facebook.
7. History fascinates me. 
8. I have been to 10 countries and 4 continents. 
9. I'm more interested in a time machine than a transporter (like on Star Trek)
10. I can be easily distracted at times and this list took a lot longer to compile than it should have!
Lisa has graciously offered to give away a copy of the Colonial Courtships Collection to one lucky commenter. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment and include a way to contact you. US and Canada only. We'll draw a winner at random on Sunday, Oct. 14, and on Oct.15 I'll announce it here!

Don't forget to visit Lisa on her website
More on Impressed by Love:
Following her parents’ deaths, Phoebe Carlisle travels with her uncle, captain of the H.M.S. Aries, to live with cousins. An attack by a French ship-of-the-line forces them to seek refuge along the Connecticut River. Doctor Alden Ingersoll prefers to be in control of any situation, but his fate is ripped from his grasp when he’s pressed into the Royal Navy to tend an injured captain. In Phoebe’s company, Alden finds his desire to escape the ship fading. But pursuing her means abandoning hope of returning to his medical practice and his family.
Colonial Courtships is available from your favorite Christian retailer and on Amazon,CBD, and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Midnight in Austenland

Some books are so delicious, you want to savor them. But they're too tasty and you just devour them.

That's how Shannon Hale's Midnight in Austenland--the pseudo-sequel to Austenland--was for me. I read it so fast, I'm going to have to go back and read again.

In Austenland, we are introduced to Pembrook Park, an estate in Kent, England, which offers a unique vacation package: immersion into a Regency house-party. At Pembrook Park, it's always 1816, and the female guests are schooled in whist and manners before they're sent, clothed from night-rail to corset in era-appropriate fashions, to the main house, where gentlemen callers (hunky actors) await to sweep them (chastely) off their slippers.

The heroine of Austenland--a fan of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy--revolts, but learns to love during her time at Pembrook Park. The story rings with Pride and Prejudice at every turn.

Midnight in Austenland, however, is definitely influenced by Northanger Abbey. While the setting and many secondary characters are familiar, this story offers a fresh heroine on a new adventure. Charlotte Kinder needs escape from her cheating ex-husband, and when her kids spend a month with him, she grabs hold of the opportunity to live like one of Jane Austen's characters.

What she doesn't expect is a mystery. But are the intrigues--and possibly murder--just part of the illusion of Austenland?

The novel contains a lot of heart and humor, some romance, and a bit of suspense. Now out in paperback, it might be prove a worthy escape for an Austen-fan.