Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Painter by Rick Loveday

The PainterThe Painter by Rick Loveday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review contains hints that may be construed as spoilers.

Martin and Rebecca are a happily married couple living by the ocean in South Carolina's Lowcountry. They hold to hope when Rebecca is diagnosed with cancer, but Martin is shattered when the love of his life succumbs to the disease. Dazed and angry, he returns to their beach house and shuts himself in to grieve. Months later, he remembers the promise he made to his wife to finish her portrait. After the painting of Rebecca is complete, creepy things (I couldn't read some chapters at night) begin to happen, causing him to wonder if grief and solation have driven him insane.

A little southern gothic, a little suspense in the spirit of Twilight Zone, The Painter is a beautifully written, haunting story that captivates from the start. The ending is unconventional, but as Martin wonders if he saw what he thinks he did, the reader will have to ask themselves if they read that correctly.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heavy Weather by Normandie Fisher

From the author of Becalmed and Sailing out of Darkness comes a novel destined to touch hearts.

It takes a town to save a child. That town is Beaufort.

Annie Mac’s estranged husband vows that nothing will stop him from getting his baby girl. Not Annie Mac and certainly not that boy of hers.

Only four blocks away, Hannah Morgan lives in comfort with her husband and dog, making pottery and waiting for her best friend to come home. When she discovers the two children cowering in the bushes and their mama left for dead, it doesn’t take her long to rally the sleepy town of Beaufort, NC, and to set her coterie of do-gooders to some extra-strength do-gooding. Add in Clay, a lonely police lieutenant yanked out of his comfort zone and into the heart of this small family, and who knows what will happen?

Beautifully written, Heavy Weather is true southern fiction with an element of suspense that kept me turning the page. I love how Fisher weaves details, whether related to the character or the setting, into the prose, and how she portrays the townspeople coming together to help a woman and children in need, despite their initial (and warranted) hesitation and the emotion subsequent events stir. While Annie Mac's situation is unsettling at times, Heavy Weather is charming and sophisticated.

To set the stage, here are a few of my photos from the charming little town of Beaufort:

About Normandie

A life-long sailor, Normandie Fischer has been writing and editing professionally since the seventies. She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico in their ketch, Sea Venture, to care for her aging mother who accompanied them in 2013 when they sailed from Beaufort, NC, to NYC to publicize Becalmed and to welcome Normandie’s first grandchild into the world. Heavy Weather is Normandie’s third novel.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Deadly Decision by Regina Smeltzer

In Deadly Decision, South Carolina author, Regina Smeltzer, touches on supernatural forces some Christians prefer to ignore while others take a personal interest in it. I'm in the middle of reading it now, and I have to say Regina does a good job of both telling and showing evil. So much so, the faint of heart (raises hand and readily admits it) will want to read this well-crafted novel during the day.

I asked Regina what prompted the story. She replied, "For many Christians, paranormal events are a source of entertainment. They see little harm in the experiences, even though the Bible tells us to flee from such activities. My goal in writing Deadly Decision is to create fiction that is entertaining, but shares the dangers of straying from God’s guidance. Satan is the great imitator and can disguise his devious maneuvers to look non-threatening and even spiritual at times. God can do anything, and if a Christian experiences a supernatural event, God’s explanation must be sought."

About Regina:

I love the diversity God created. I love the unusual, the unexpected, and ALWAYS cheer for the underdog! My favorite experiences include riding a runaway camel in Egypt and catching camen in the Amazon. 

I wrote my first story in grade school for my friends, and had my first short story published in a Christian teen magazine at age fifteen. After graduating from college and earning my RN, life was filled with marriage, four children (one homemade, and three foreign-born), and all that comes with a family. During those years I created puppet shows for VBS, and holiday dramas.

Professionally, I returned to college and earned a Master of Science in Nursing. My nursing career has taken me from pediatrics to geriatrics, emergency room to hospice. During the career years my writing focused on the technical; developing protocols, writing grants, and creating workshops.

My fiction writing focuses on entertainment that has the potential to lead the reader to a stronger Christian walk.

You can find Regina at www.ReginaSmeltzer.net

Bill Iver visits his daughter at her new historical home in South Carolina and sees two ghosts in her attic. Could one be the young boy that recently went missing? And why is he with a boy in 18th Century garb? As a Christian Bill doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the Bible often mentions spirits. Is God trying to tell him something, or is Satan trying to destroy him?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice Wisler

Under the Silk Hibiscus
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Release date: November 11, 2014

This novel takes place in an internment camp in Wyoming where many Japanese-Americans were sent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. There's upheaval, frustration, pain, and sorrow. Families are separated. Some members are accused of being spies, like Nathan Mori's father.

To balance the discrimination that evolved during this time period, I had to rely on humor and romance.

One of the most fun relationships I enjoyed crafting was between the main character, Nathan, and his aunt Kazuko. Even though she's single and has no children of her own, Aunt Kazuko knows how to keep Nathan and his brothers in line. But even she knows a body can't live on hard work alone. She loves cookies and keeps morsels in her sweater sleeves, taking them out when she needs “a pep".

And of course, there's young romance. Nathan dreams of the lovely singer, Lucy, and wants her to notice him, but she seems more interested in his older brother, Ken.

There are two characters which are not people---one is Heart Mountain, the mountain viewed every day from those in the barracks at the camp.  Then there is the Mori family's coveted gold watch, a family heirloom from Japan.

Will Nathan get the girl?  What happens to the family heirloom during the war and after the war ends? Does Nathan's father return?  How does war and discrimination change hearts?  How does God's love prevail?

Recipe from Under the Silk Hibiscus:

My character, Aunt Kazuko, is all about eating a cookie . . . or two.  She often says she needs “a pep” to pep her up.  Here is her cookie recipe for raisin cookies, sure to add fun to anyone’s day.

Recipe for Aunt Kazuko’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (1946)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped nuts
1 cup seedless raisins

Cream shortening, blend in sugar and add egg. Beat until smooth and light.  Sift flour with salt, soda and cinnamon.  Stir half the flour in with egg mixture; add milk, the rest of flour, and then oats, nuts and raisins.  Stir till well mixed.  Drop from a teaspoon onto a buttered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes or until nicely browned.  Yields about 36 cookies.

During World War Two Nathan and his family are sent to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans. Nathan's one desire is to protect the family's gold pocket watch, a family heirloom brought over from Japan. He fails; the watch is stolen. Struggling to make sense of his life in a bleak camp as the only responsible man of the household, Nathan discovers truths about his family, God, and the girl he loves.

About the Author

Alice has authored four contemporary novels published by Bethany House:  Rain Song (Christy Finalist), How Sweet It Is (Christy Finalist), Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation, and Still Life in Shadows by River North/Moody. Her newest novel, Under the Silk Hibiscus (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) is her first historical romance. 

Since the death of her four-year-old son, Alice teaches grief-writing workshops and her devotional, Getting out of Bed in the Morning:  Reflections of Comfort in Heartache (Leafwood), covers the many losses we face and how God sustains us through each one.  In 2012, Alice and her husband started a business, Carved By Heart, where they carve memorial plaques/remembrances, house number signs, bird feeders, rustic clocks, and other home d├ęcor.   Her website is:  http://www.alicewisler.com

Where to Find Alice:

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Alice-J.-Wisler/e/B001J6GVNE/

Website:  http://www.alicewisler.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alice-J-Wisler/333751835453

Alice’s Patchwork Quilt Blog:  http://www.alicewisler.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Wishing Tide by NC Author, Barbara Davis

This is on my To-Read-Soon List. I loved Barbara Davis' debut novel, The Secrets She Carried, a beautifully-crafted story set on a tobacco-plantation-turned-vineyard located in the Piedmont, so I'm looking forward to The Wishing Tide. From Amazon:

The Wishing Tide

Five years ago, Lane Kramer moved to Starry Point, North Carolina, certain the quaint island village was the place to start anew. Now the owner of a charming seaside inn, she’s set aside her dreams of being a novelist and of finding love again. When English professor Michael Forrester appears on Lane’s doorstep in the middle of a storm, he claims he’s only seeking a quiet place to write his book. Yet he seems eerily familiar with the island, leaving Lane wondering if he is quite what he appears.

Meanwhile, Mary Quinn has become a common sight, appearing each morning on the dunes behind the inn, to stare wistfully out to sea. Lane is surprised to find a friendship developing with the older woman, who possesses a unique brand of wisdom, despite her tenuous grip on reality.

As Lane slowly unravels Mary’s story and a fragile relationship between Lane and Michael blooms, Lane realizes the three share a common bond. But when a decades-old secret suddenly casts its shadow over them, Lane must choose between protecting her heart and fighting for the life—and the love—she wants.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hearts in Defiance by Heather Blanton


Charles McIntyre built the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance practically with his bare hands--and without any remorse for the lives he destroyed along the way. Then a glimpse of true love, both earthly and heavenly, changed him. The question is, how much?

Naomi Miller is a beautiful, decent woman. She says she loves McIntyre, that God does, too, and the past is behind them now. But McIntyre struggles to believe he’s worth saving--worth loving. Unfortunately, the temptations in Defiance only reinforce his doubts.

Billy Page abandoned Hannah Frink when he discovered she was going to have his baby, and now he can’t live with himself. Or without her. Determined to prove his love, he leaves his family and fortune behind and journeys to Defiance. Will Hannah take Billy back or give him what he deserves for the betrayal?

On a mountain high in the Rockies, looking down the barrel of a gun, both men will come to some stunning conclusions.

~~ The sequel to the highly acclaimed, best-selling A Lady in Defiance! ~~


About Heather:

Heather started writing when she was five; her first tale was a ghost story that her mom typed up for her on a Brother typewriter. Over the years, she has worked as a journalist for newspapers, magazines, and blogs. She has also spent decades in the corporate communications field, marketing everything from software to motorcycles. (Did she really just say "decades"?)

A Lady in Defiance, loosely based on true events, is set in the majestic San Juan Mountains of Colorado, the most beautiful place in the world. While a romance, it is also an "ensemble" piece that weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance. Heather has two sisters whom she loves dearly. One is still with us, the other crossed over to be with Lord in 1999 and it is she who inspired the character of Hannah.

Heather grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne Westerns. Her most fond memories are of sitting next to her dad, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester! She loves exploring out West and would happily spend all her time researching and exploring ghost towns till the cows come home.

Heather lives with her husband and two adventurous boys on a farm outside Raleigh, NC. They enjoy riding practically anything with four legs or two wheels, and being outdoors.

Where to find Heather:


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chapel Springs Revival

Ane isn't a local writer and the story doesn't take place in either of the Carolinas, but it does fit my idea of Front Porch Fiction. Plus, Ane is a mentor, and hey, Georgia does touch both states, so here we go!

Chapel Springs Revival 

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel. 

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened.

With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages. With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.  

My thoughts on the story: With deft humor that reminded me of Erma Bombeck, Ane Mulligan brings to life the characters and town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, and touches on issues many long-term marriages face. An excellent debut novel and, I hope, the first of many Chapel Springs stories.  

About Ane: While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, bestselling novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.  

You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.