Tag Archives | Giveaways

On Faith In Love

Today’s post from author Sarah Healy | @SarahEHealy

Sarah Healy

I’m fairly certain that my book confuses people. What is this? I imagine them thinking as they pick it up, running their fingers over the cover. What is this strange book with a question mark in the title? They might assume that it’s faith fiction, then read a few pages and realize that it’s not—not in any conventional sense at least. It’s funny and irreverent, does that mean it’s a satire? Perhaps it’s women’s fiction, since it deals with relationships and family.

In the simplest terms, CAN I GET AN AMEN? is a story about love— the limitations we put on it, the mistakes we make despite it.   The heroine, Ellen Carlisle, loses her job and her husband, and has to move back home with her evangelical Christian parents, though she doesn’t share their brand of faith. Oh, you might think, it’s another book about hokey, misguided religious-types who shove their faith down everyone’s throats. It’s not that either. Not in the end.

Let me first be candid and tell you that I, like Ellen, grew up in a very religious household. And I, like Ellen, do not currently practice any form of organized religion. However, this book was not written to deride or promote Christianity, but to present it, honestly and fairly, and in a way I haven’t often seen it done before.

Mainstream fiction tends to represent faith as a flaw or a weakness. In Christian fiction, it seems to always be the beacon by which the right and just path is lit. I don’t think that either characterization is necessarily accurate. Faith—how and if and why we have it—is an expression of our humanity. And it’s the humanity of Ellen and her family that I wanted to convey. Through the course of the narrative, they hurt each other and they make mistakes and they fall down and get back up, and ultimately, they love each other.

So what is this book? How do I categorize it? To be honest, I don’t really know. But the more I hear from readers, the less that concerns me. Enough of you have told me that you saw your mother or your sister or yourself in it. Enough of you have said that even though you grew up a Catholic or an Atheist or a Jew, you related to it. Enough of you have told me that you love it. And it’s in love that I have faith.

We’re giving away two copies of Sarah’s novel CAN I GET AN AMEN? (US and Canada residents only) Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win.

When the last thing you want is the one thing you need, you’ve got to have a little faith….

Growing up, Ellen Carlisle was a Christian: She went to Jesus camp, downed stale Nilla Wafers at Sunday school, and never, ever played with Ouija boards. Now, years later, when infertility prevents her from giving her ambitious attorney husband a family, she finds herself on the brink of divorce, unemployed, and living with her right-wing, born-again Christian parents in her suburban New Jersey hometown.  There the schools are private, the past is public, and blessings come in lump sums.
Then Ellen meets a man to whom she believes she can open her heart, and she begins to think that maybe it’s true that everything happens for a reason—until all that was going well starts going very badly and Ellen is  finally forced to dig deep to find her own brand of faith.

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June Book Club Selection

Update: the winners of our June giveaway have been randomly chosen using www.random.org. They are as follows: Mary C has won the gift basket and novel. Evelyn and Mary Beth (not to be confused with our own Marybeth Whalen) have won copies of The River Witch. And Shelly Cantrell has won the Kindle. All the winners have been notified by email. Thanks to all who entered and please come and visit us again soon!!

Summer has arrived and with it comes our newest book club selection. Apart from having the prettiest cover (let’s be honest, we all judge books by their covers) it also happens to have the most charming characters and compelling story we’ve read in a long time. Those spending time near the water this month will find Kimberly Brock’s THE RIVER WITCH to be a very fitting read. We’ll be hanging out with Kimberly and discussing her novel all month long so grab a cup of tea, find a comfy chair, and join us! It will be time well spent.

As always we’ve got a number of amazing giveaways for you. The main giveaway winner will receive a southern gift basket packed full of items similar to those found throughout the novel: a crochet shawl, a pumpkin bread mix, jam, a southern cookbook, ocean scented bath salts, music from Anna Kline and the Grits and Soul Band, a lovely piece of pottery, and a copy of The River Witch. It is a basket of “sacred things,” just as the characters in the novel search for and gather and offer to one another. Two additional winners will each receive a copy of the novel. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.

We will also be giving away a Kindle to one participant of our online book club discussion this month. It’s free to join and every comment left on the forum equals an entry. Kimberly will be on hand all month to answer questions and participate in the discussion. All of these prizes were provided courtesy of Kimberly’s publisher, Bell Bridge Books.

And now a bit about this amazing debut novel:

Can the river heal her?

Roslyn Byrne is twenty-four years old, broken in body, heart and soul. Her career as a professional ballet dancer ended with a car wreck and a miscarriage, leaving her lost and grieving. She needs a new path, but she doesn’t have the least idea how or where to start. With some shoving from her very Southern mama, she immures herself for the summer on Manny’s Island, Georgia, one of the Sea Isles, to recover. There Roslyn finds a ten-year-old girl, Damascus, who brings alligators, pumpkins and hoodoo into her sorry life.

Roslyn rents a house from Damascus’s family, the Trezevants, a strange bunch. One of the cousins, Nonnie, who works in the family’s market, sees things Roslyn is pretty sure she shouldn’t, and knows things regular people don’t. Between the Trezevant secrets and Damascus’s blatant snooping and meddling, Roslyn finds herself caught in a mysterious stew of the past and present, the music of the river, the dead and the dying who haunt the riverbank, and finding the courage to live her new life.

You can read the first two chapters here.

Kimberly Brock

Kimberly Brock is a former actor, special needs educator, and native to the north Georgia foothills. Her debut novel, The River Witch, is a southern mystical work set against the backdrop of Appalachia and the Sea Islands. Her work has appeared in the anthologies “Summer in Mossy Creek ” and the forthcoming, “Sweeter Than Tea “. She spends her non-writing time enjoying her husband and three children, and encouraging storytelling in all its many forms. Kimberly lives north of Atlanta, where she’s made her home for the last eight years.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links. ” This means if you click on the link and purchase the book, She Reads will receive a very small commission. These commissions help us pay for the site and the services we offer. Regardless, we only recommend books that we have read and loved.  

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If Antiques Could Talk – Guest Post by Lynda Rutledge

Lynda Rutledge

I’ve come to believe writers don’t have ideas, ideas have writers. And the one that inspired my novel Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale occurred to me so long ago, it had to bide its time until I figured out what it wanted to say to me. You see, years ago, my mom, who still lived in our old two-story house full-to-busting with stuff that five kids left behind,  began having garage sales. I found this out, living thousands of miles away by that time, when she called to tell me she’d sold, for a dime apiece, my long-forgotten stash of comic books yellowing in the back of one of   her closets (My dad owned a drugstore; I had hundreds).

“Do you want the money? ” she asked.

“No, Mom, that’s ok, ” I said, “keep it. ”

But I felt suddenly, inexplicably sad. I remember laughing at myself, surprised by my feelings. Why was I so attached to those old things? Heaving a nostalgic sigh, I shrugged it off. Then, not a month after that, I heard the first Superman comic book sold for a million dollars, and I knew exactly what I was feeling: shock.   And awe. And sadness that I didn’t own that comic book.

I was already watching PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow ” series with the rest of the world, mesmerized by the spotlight sections–the “omigod” stories in which, garage-sale finds were treasures unaware.   Or the stories revealing that Granny’s chamber pot, say, was worth a fortune, the grown grandchild admitting to using it as an ashtray, and the fun speculation of whether the family keepsake gets kept or sold. I began to think not just of an object’s value, but its history, its provenance—its own “life story” often consisting of dozens of lost human life stories. How objects live on after their owners vanish with the memories that made the objects valuable, and how poignant that was in such a human way.

May Book Club Selection

And that’s when the ah-ha bolt of inspirational lightning struck.   What if our antiques could talk?  I glanced at my granny’s antique bookcase in my office.

“Hey, ” I asked it, “what would you say? ”

My spouse and my dog both looked at me askance, but since this sort of behavior from me was not all that unusual, they let it pass, although I think they both secretly paused to see if I got an answer.   Later, I learned the bookshelf was not really my grandmother’s; it was my great-grandfather’s, a sheriff in the little Texas town in which my family lived for a century.   And then I really wanted the bookcase to talk. Alas, it kept mum.   But that long-ago garage sale idea gave me a poke:   Garage Sales + Antiques = Hmmm. Are we possessed by our possessions? Or are we possessed by our memories of them? Or both?  Glancing at my granny’s bookshelf, I realized it does talk to me in it own way, as all our most precious possessions do. Don’t they?

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale is Lynda Rutledge’s debut novel and this month’s featured book club selection. If you haven’t entered to win the Texas-themed gift basket for our May giveaway, click here to toss your name the cowboy hat. We won’t choose a winner until the end of the month. Good luck!


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November Book Club Selection

Congratulations to Nancy S. Connelly, winner of the quilted Civil War table runner and copy of Susan’s novel! We have notified Nancy via e-mail.


If you’re stopping by after reading Susan’s devotion with Proverbs 31 Ministries today, welcome! If you’re a regular, checking in to see what novel we’ve selected this month, welcome back! Either way we’re glad you’re here.


Three years ago I read my first Susan Meissner novel. It was a gripping story called The Shape of Mercy and I was a devoted fan by the time I turned the last page. She Reads has featured every one of Susan’s novels since. A Sound Among the Trees is her latest release and it is this month’s featured book club selection.


The setting for Susan’s novel is Holly Oak, a Southern plantation steeped in history and secrets. Keeping that southern atmosphere in mind, this month’s giveaway is this Civil War Farmhouse Table Runner and a copy of A Sound Among the Trees courtesy of Waterbrook Press. To toss your name in the hat leave a comment on this post:


This month's giveaway: a Civil War table runner


But fret not, even though we only have one main prize, two additional readers will each receive a copy of Susan’s novel. You can enter to win by signing up for our free monthly e-newsletter.


We will be discussing A Sound Among the Trees all month on our online discussion forum. If you don’t have local book club or if you’d like to interact with other readers would you consider joining? There is no charge and you can participate at your leisure. And because we’re all about encouraging book addiction here at She Reads, we’re giving away another prize to one reader who participates in this month’s discussion: fifteen novels published by Waterbrook Press, including all of Susan Meissner’s. (And yes, you can enter to win all three prizes, simply follow the entry directions for each one)



A House Shrouded In Time.

A Line Of Women With A Heritage Of Loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.


When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.


With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak–and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.


To download the first chapter of A Sound Among the Trees click here.



Susan Meissner

Award winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background of community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the Best Book of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.



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Young Adult Worth Reading

nicole o'dellToday’s post comes from Nicole O’Dell, author and She Reads YA reviewer.

“In this medieval fantasy debut, idealistic servant Achan Cham dreams of becoming a Kingsguard Knight, while Vrell Sparrow disguises herself as a boy to escape an arranged marriage. She has a supernatural gift of being able to communicate to Achan without words. This thoroughly entertaining and smart tale will appeal to fans of Donita K. Paul and J.R.R. Tolkien. Highly recommended for CF and fantasy collections.” –Library Journal–Library Journal, April 2009

I’ll start right off by admitting that I’m not a big fantasy reader. I can’t remember the last fantasy book I actually read. It’s not that I have anything against fantasy or spec fiction–in fact, I just may have to start adding it to my reading list now that I’ve been completely captivated by Jill Williamson’s debut novel, By Darkness Hid.by-darkness-hid-final

By Darkness Hid portrays a speculative world of danger as it lives out the age-old battle between good and evil with swords and the gift of bloodvoicing. (Intrigued, yet?) So many times, as I was reading, I forgot that Er’Rets wasn’t real. That’s the true mark of great fantasy, in my opinion.

I felt myself tense up at important scenes and wanted to shield my eyes at others–nope, not going to tell you what they were. Some of the danger and extreme situations would have been over-the-top and unbelievable if they weren’t crafted so well.

The underlying Christian message is that of God’s light prevailing in the darkness. That message is skillfully woven throughout the book without being overdone.

If you have a teen who enjoys this genre, or even one who doesn’t, this is a must read. I’d actually encourage readers of all ages to pick up all three books from the Blood of Kings trilogy as they’re available.

As a bonus, Jill answered some interview questions for us, letting us look a little deeper into her life.

Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?

JillHeadShotI grew up in Alaska with no electricity. My biggest dream was to get out of Alaska and experience “real life.” I wanted to be a fashion designer, so I eventually went to New York City for a year to finish that degree. We moved to Los Angeles next because my husband wanted to work in the movie industry and I could do fashion there. It didn’t take long for our hearts to change.

My husband went back to school to become a youth pastor. I stayed home with our kids and started writing articles and short stories. I got hooked on writing a young adult novel. So hooked that it drove me crazy and I had to put it aside and write another story, then another, and another†¦

We now live in Eastern Oregon where my husband is a youth pastor. Ministry is my life. Teens are a big part of that. God has allowed me to write and teach about writing and I’m thrilled about that. (Wedding dresses were a lot more work, believe it or not.)

Actually, I do believe that.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I get up and help my husband get the kids off to school. I try to have prayer/Bible study/worship time and a walk on the treadmill. My day is always better when I do all that first, but I’ve been known to skip parts of it too often. I try to write each morning, but again, I get distracted, usually by emails. I try to work on my writing until lunch, then after lunch, check emails and critique the work of others. The idea is to stop when the kids get home from school. Whether or not I do, depends on my deadlines.

Describe your surrounding while you write…

I sit in the back room of my house at a big desk covered in piles of paperwork. (My “to do” piles.) This room has a wall of windows on my right that overlooks the back yard, the John Day River, and the “mountains” beyond. It’s beautiful. (I put mountains in quotes because I’m from Alaska, and these John Day “mountains” are really more like hills in comparison. They are still beautiful.)

How did you choose your genre?

Could someone like me really write anything else? I love weird stuff. When I was nine, my parents rented a TV and a VCR and all three Star Wars movies. We didn’t have electricity, so Dad started up the generator and we watched them straight through. It was the most amazing day. I think it opened my imagination up to the speculative genre. And that same year, the first movie I saw in the theater was ET. I love to read all genres. I’ve even written some contemporary novels, but I just seem to gravitate toward the speculative stuff. When you love something, you’re drawn to it and you invest more in it. That’s true for me with my speculative stories.

With which character do you most identify?

With Vrell Sparrow. She is a girl who is pretending to be something she is not. What girl has never done that at some point in her life? Plus, Vrell has a controlling seed that comes from her own insecurities. I so have that problem too. God’s been working on me over the years and I’m learning to trust God and others, which is quite difficult and freeing. Arman is working on Vrell too. Vrell also tends to point out injustice, which is something I’m prone to do. She is also creative and extremely loyal.

6. Can you tell us about the other books in the series?

By Darkness Hid is the first book in the trilogy. It’s about how Achan and Vrell came to be in this mess, how they met each other, and how they discovered their bloodvoicing abilities.

And I’m working on book three right now. It’s called From Darkness Won and will probably be out April 2011. Sign up for my Facebook fan page or the E-zine on my website (look in the top right corner) to get updates on book three.

Where can we find you on the web and where can we buy your books?

I’m everywhere! My website is www.jillwilliamson.com. I’m also on Facebook, MySpace, Shoutlife, Shelfari, GoodReads, Twitter, Amazon†¦

On top of that, I run two blogs. The first is Novel Teen Book Reviews at www.novelteen.com. It’s a website that reviews clean teen fiction. This is a great resource to see what books are available in the Christian market for teens. The other blog is for teen authors, though adult authors may find some useful tips too. www.teenageauthor.com.

And if you are looking to buy one of my books, online go to Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or MarcherLordPress.com. You can also buy an autographed copy from me through my website. Many libraries have the first book and if they don’t they would likely order it if you ask. And you can request your local bookstore order my books too.

Thanks so much, Jill. I’ve loved hearing about your life and your writing area. For some reason, I’m fascinated by where authors write.

I hope you’ll all take a look at this fantastic book trailer. If this doesn’t make you want to read this trilogy†¦

Jill has graciously offered a winner the choice of a signed copy of either By Darkness Hid, book number one, or To Darkness Fled, book number two in the trilogy. As always, just leave a comment on this post and the winner will be selected at random on Friday.

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