Friday, October 31, 2008

A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Authors: Cathy Messecar, Terra Hangen, Trish Berg, Karen Robbins, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-89112-564-8
Genre: Inspirational/holiday

Is your December cluttered?
Does Christmas leave you fretting instead of singing “Joy to the World”?
(from the back cover)

A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS is a heartwarming collection of family traditions, recipes, favorite things, short holiday stories that are guaranteed to warm your soul, tips on how to grow myrrh and care for poinsettias, and so much more. .

The book has different categories, such as:

Ø Family snapshot (which includes stories about a holiday campout, and other sweet essays)
Ø Gingerbread genealogy (history of Christmas traditions)
Ø Vintage poetry and lyrics
Ø Stocking stuffing traditions
Ø Cookie Canister
Ø Favorite things
Ø And much more

A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS starts out with scripture reading to get your mind on the things that is most important about Christmas – the birth of our Savior. Then each chapter starts out with a verse.

I easily read through this book in a day, but it is a book intended to be savored and enjoyed over the course of the holiday season. In hardcover form, it is also ideal for giving as a gift to someone you love at Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will look forward to reading it over again in holiday seasons to come. Don’t miss A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS. It is sure to become a favorite, whether its for the recipes, the stories, or the tips for simplifying your holidays. $16.99. 157 pages.

Scrap Christmas Stress!
Discover Secrets for Celebrating Christmas in Hassle-Free Holiday Fashion
Take six women who have never all been in the same place at one time, add an online mentoring group and a love for the Christmas season and what do you have? A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts!
If your idea of a joyfilled Christmas season seems less than attainable, look no further! Cathy Messacar, Trish Berg, Leslie Wilson, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins compiled a one stop resource book for all your Christmas concerns and delights. Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts highlights ideas, inspirational stories, tips and hints for making this coming Christmas season one filled with Christ-centered memories and joy.
About the Book:

Is your Christmas cluttered? Does it leave you fretting instead of singing "Joy to the World"? In A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, discover how to bring harmony to this busy season. As you turn the pages of this practical book, you'll find tips for family traditions, children, gift giving, how to grow myrrh and much more. Try the scrumptious "Cookie Canister" recipes, read heart-warming stories about families who experienced Christmas firsts and enjoy the feelings of nostalgia and home. This is a book to help you uncomplicate Christmas, rediscover the real source of joy and usher in the celebration of faith, family and a Savior. The eye-catching scrapbooking designs used throughout the colorful book make this an ideal gift as well as coffee table book.
The first time something happens in your life is usually a significant moment and often a transforming event. Who doesn't remember their first kiss? Christmas is a time of year when events become even more significant because of the importance we place on the holiday. The First Christmas truly changed lives--and this compilation of "Christmas Firsts" show families enriched by the holiday, the beginning of new traditions, and a fond remembrance of why we continue to celebrate that First Christmas.
A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts invites you to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas. Laugh with the light quotes and quips, learn about the origins of many Christmas traditions, and enjoy holiday tips to make your celebrations complete.
About the Authors:
These women have never all been together at one time, they haven't even all met each other in person! If you are looking for a great interview...schedule them all for an informative interview that's sure to be sprinkled with a family reunion feel.

You can find out more about each of the contributing authors at their blog or at their personal websites:

Brenda Nixon:
Cathy Messacar:
Karen Robbins:
Leslie Wilson:
Terra Hangen:
Trish Berg:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Queen of Sleepy Eye

Author: Patti Hill
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Fiction
September 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8054-4750-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/women’s fiction

Amy Monteiro is a recent high school graduate, and has applied to and been accepted at a college in California. One as far from her mother has she can possibly get. But when her mother’s 1958 Pontiac Bonneville Sports Coupe’s transmission dies in the middle of Colorado, it doesn’t take Amy long to realize that her mother is out of money and in no hurry to let go of her daughter.

The small town Amy and her mother land in is full of surprises – from a funeral home that will let Amy and her mother live there as unpaid caretakers, to the residents of the town, which includes geeks, jocks, hippies, young and old, etc. And as Amy struggles to find her place in this town, both she and her mother grow up.

THE QUEEN OF SLEEPY EYE is an unforgettable novel by this acclaimed author. I enjoyed reading this story about Amy, and getting to know her mother and a host of other secondary characters as seen through Amy’s eyes.

Part of the story made me cry, so I recommend keeping a box of Kleenex nearby when reading this book. The faith message is strong, and borders on preachy at times, but that is the way the character is developed. THE QUEEN OF SLEEPY EYE is a fantastic story about love and loss, and discovering there is more to everyone than what we see on the surface. Don’t miss this book. Discussion questions and a yummy sounding cookie recipe is included at the end of the book. $14.99. 389 pages.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dangerous Heart

Author: Tracey Bateman
Publisher: Avon Inspire
October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-124635-7
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Ginger Freeman has run with a bunch of outlaws—since that is what her pa was—since she was little. And she holds a grudge. Her older brother died from a gun shot wound when he was holding up a wagon train, and the doctor on board refused to treat him. Ginger determines that she will hunt down this doctor and shoot him. Never mind that the doctor’s wife died by Ginger’s brother’s hand. She tracks the doctor to a westward bound wagon train, and joins the train, determined to kill, the first opportunity she gets.

Grant Kelley is caring, and firm, and he and Ginger are at odds from the beginning. For the first time he has feelings for a woman since he lost his wife. But Ginger doesn’t seem to know how to obey the rules and the leadership of the wagon train is wanting to lose her at the first fort they come to.

Things come to a head when Ginger’s pa comes after her. He’s determined she kill the good doctor in a week and then return home so they can rob somebody else. But Ginger’s younger brother is sick, and possibly dying, and Ginger needs Grant alive to care for Buddy. Will she give into her pa’s demands and kill the doctor? Or does God have something bigger in mind?

DANGEROUS HEART is the third and final book in the Westward Hearts series by talented, award-winning author, Tracey Bateman. It was interesting to reconnect with some of the characters from earlier books, yet there were a host of new characters to get to know too.

At first, I didn’t care too much for Ginger. She was rough around the edges, inconsiderate, unkind, etc. Grant, on the other hand, was a loveable hero, one that the reader couldn’t help but cheer for. As I got to know Ginger however, the hurting individual she was began to show through and I wanted to see her come to know Christ, and to give up her desire for revenge.

If you’ve read the earlier books in this trilogy, you won’t want to miss this unforgettable conclusion to the series. DANGEROUS HEART is a powerful story, one that the reader won’t soon forget. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.95. 240 pages.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marcia Gruver interview

I read this and reviewed it earlier this year – you can find the review listed in my blog. Great book!


Marcia Gruver Diamond Duo Interview
Tell us about Diamond Duo.Bertha Maye Biddie’s in love. Trouble is, she’s not sure the object of her affection feels the same. He seems to be interested, but something’s holding him back. So when opportunity rides into Jefferson on the northbound train out of Marshall, young Bertha leaps at the chance to learn a few tricks. A charming, charismatic stranger offers to take Bertha under her wing and teach her the art of wooing a man. But when the woman is unable to keep her promise, Bertha realizes their chance meeting held far more eternal significance.
Where did the idea for Diamond Duo come from?On a trip to Jefferson, Texas, I heard the true story of the unsolved murder of the infamous Diamond Bessie, aka Annie Monroe. In 1877, a flashy, well-dressed couple rode a train into town for a short visit. They checked into a hotel as A. Monroe and wife. The woman seemed to go by more than one name, one of them Bessie Moore. Because she wore several large diamond rings, supposedly gifts offered in exchange for immoral favors, the locals soon dubbed her “Diamond Bessie.”
On the last day of Bessie’s life, she and her companion, Abraham Rothschild, took a picnic basket into the woods. He came out alone, wandering the streets of Jefferson by himself for several days. When asked about Bessie, he said she was staying with nearby friends, and would return in time for their departure. However, he left by himself two days later, carrying Bessie’s luggage along with his own.
A local woman discovered poor Bessie’s body in the woods several days later. Jefferson officials went after Abraham Rothschild and tried him for her murder, but due to his money and considerable influence, he was acquitted.
While standing over Diamond Bessie’s grave, assuming her eternal fate, I found myself wondering: “What if?” Maybe history had been unkind to Bessie. What if she wasn’t as bad as some claimed? Suppose God had arranged a surprise finish for her—a loving, merciful end that no one would’ve expected?
How did you become interested in the real life murder of Annie Monroe?It’s hard to visit historic Jefferson, Texas without tripping over Annie’s story. Diamond Bessie has become a tourist attraction, and the locals seem more than eager to tell the account. The shops abound with books on the topic, one penned by Jefferson historian, Fred McKenzie. Every year, during Jefferson’s annual Pilgrimage Festival, the residents perform in a play entitled “The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.” The play is derived from court transcripts, and it’s really quite an event!
You have several themes woven into Diamond Duo. Could share them with us?Young Bertha Biddie schemes to win the affections of Thaddeus Bloom, a man bound by honor to his father’s dream. She gets a lesson on honor herself when God asks her to risk her future with Thad to help a stranger.
Thad learns the importance of listening to his mama the hard way, but wonders if it’s fair to expect him to sacrifice his happiness in obedience to his father’s plans for his life.
Sarah King is used to better treatment from her fellow man regardless of race, but forgets her husband deserves the same regard. Her unbridled temper and acrid tongue threaten to drive him away, until the pure heart of a tragic stranger teaches Sarah a lesson in colorblind acceptance.
In Diamond Duo, Bertha feels solely responsible for leading Annie Monroe out of her lifestyle and into a believer’s world. Have you ever had a similar experience in your life?I think every Christian feels a strong compulsion to share God’s grace once they’ve had a taste. If you think about it, given the Great Commission, we’re all solely responsible for leading those in our paths to God.
How do you research a historical project for accuracy?Actually, I begin most of my research on They have books on every imaginable topic. No, I don’t own shares of stock, but I should by now.
After I pore over written material to get a visual of the period, I plan a visit to the area where the book is set. For my Texas Fortunes Series, I spent a week in Jefferson, Texas researching Diamond Duo, book one. Book two was easy. I live just a few miles from Humble Texas, the setting for Chasing Charity. My family all work in the oil patch and have for generations. My contractor husband is currently on a job in South Texas, so I was fortunate to spend several months in Carrizo Springs researching book three, Emmy’s Equal. There’s no substitute for walking the streets, exploring the sites, haunting the libraries, and talking to the locals. However, I’ve discovered the little details that provide historical accuracy need constant verification. I do my best, but I don’t know if it’s possible to get all the facts right. I use the Internet some, but you have to be careful with information gleaned from the web. Not every source can be trusted.
You have so many wonderful and unique characters in Diamond Duo. Which of the characters do you identify with and why?This question makes me smile. I’ve been accused of being the inspiration for Bertha Maye Biddie—a free-spirited rebel with an aversion to shoes. I think that’s me on the inside.
Can you tell us about your next book?Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, picks up in Humble, Texas, several years after Diamond Duo ends. Charity Bloom, Bertha’s daughter, stands at the altar watching her best friend flee the church on the heels of her departing fiancé. This is the final straw for Charity, who is distressed by the many changes taking place in her life and in her hometown, most notably the devastation wrought after oil is discovered near Humble. Imagine Charity’s surprise when one of the men responsible comes to her rescue, and she finds her heart torn between two suitors—the handsome roughneck and the deceitful rogue who broke her heart.
Please tell us a little bit about who Marcia Gruver is.Which Marcia? Like everyone else, who I am depends on the hat on my head. I’m wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, granny, and just recently, great-granny to a little sprite of a girl who seems well qualified to carry our legacy into the future. Even more recently, I’m a published author of inspirational fiction. How about that? Marcia Gruver is content, well loved, fulfilled, and grateful to God for every second of her life.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?Guilty secret time? I love to play video games. I look for any slip of time and any excuse to play. I also love to read and watch movies in all genres.
In Diamond Duo, your character Bertha is a breath of fresh air with her fun and refreshing sense of humor. If I were to ask those close to you about your sense of humor, would they describe similarities between you and Bertha?Oh, boy! I’m afraid so. I’m actually dry and rather reserved at first—so much so that I’ve been accused of having a split personality. When I’m very relaxed and get to know a person well, the real me comes out to play. Yep, the lights are on and a whole bunch of us are home.
When you sit down to read for pleasure what authors do you choose?Linda Nichols, Kristen Heitzman, and Brandilyn Collins are at the top of the list. But I have so many books in my ‘To Be Read’ pile, I just know there are favorites sitting there waiting to be discovered.
What three books that you’ve read this past year would you recommend others rush to the bookstore and purchase?That’s a tough one. Readers’ tastes are so diverse, especially in fiction. For instance, I write quirky, sweet historical romance with a thread of adventure to spice it up a bit. I realized going in that this wouldn’t appeal to every reader. In the same way, there’s a huge fan base for the spooky novels written by Brandilyn Collins, yet I happen to know people too scared to read them. A great testimony to the quality of her work, by the way. It breaks my heart to read a scathing review of an author’s hard work, written by a person who had no business picking it up in the first place.
Nonfiction? I highly recommend The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. This book almost reads like fiction and is an incredible ride.
If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go and who would go with you?I once would’ve said England. I love the Brits. After watching Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, I’m now captivated by Tuscany. Whichever destination I chose, my traveling partner would have to be my hubby. He’s great to talk to. But since he wouldn’t take off work to go, I’d take my daughter Tracy, the most fun person I know.
Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing. Recently awarded a three-book contract by Barbour Publishing, she’s busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock.
Marcia’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); the Christian Authors Network (CAN!); Faith, Hope, & Love (FHL)-the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America; Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW); The Writers View; and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3, her brilliant and insightful critique group.
Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaugh ter—so far.

Marcia’s website http://www.marciagruver.comMarcia’s blog: http://www.yieldedquill.blogspot.comDiamond Duo on Amazon of the bloggers scheduled on the tour. (HTML provided).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Treasure at Blue Heron Lake

Authors: Susan Page Davis and Megan Elaine Davis
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-60260-043-0
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Emily Gray and her friend, Nate Holman, go out to visit Nate’s friends hunting lodge. While there, an intruder thumps around in the night. As a journalist, Emily is intrigued, especially when she learns that there is a mysterious legend involving a hidden treasure. She asks permission to write an article about the lodge and the mystery, and the owner, Jeff Lewis, is quick to give it.

Soon after that, one of Jeff’s guides is murdered, and Jeff is the prime suspect. Emily and Nate are anxious to clear their friend, but things are looking even grimmer when additional crimes point to Jeff as well. Is the legend of the lost treasure behind the murder and the other crimes?

I read this duos first cozy Homicide at Blue Treasure Lake but I think TREASURE AT BLUE HERON LAKE is definitely the best of the two. I enjoyed getting to know Nate and Emily better and watch as they interacted with Jeff and the other secondary characters.

The legend of the hidden treasure was definitely a positive factor for this book, as I couldn’t help but wonder if the treasure really existed, and if it did, who hid it, and who would find it. I thoroughly enjoyed TREASURE AT BLUE HERON LAKE. $6.95. 247 pages.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

White Christmas Pie

Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Books
October 2008
ISBN: 978-1-58789-937-6
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Will Henderson’s father abandoned him when he was six years old. Even though Will is raised by a loving, childless Amish couple, he still suffers from abandonment issues. Now Will has joined the Amish church and is about to marry Karen Yoder.

Karen Yoder can’t seem to break down the barrier Will has constructed. An old boyfriend is beginning to seek her out, and Will is suddenly acting extremely immature. There’s a chance their wedding won’t happen. Especially since someone is targeting Will.

Frank Henderson never meant to abandon his son. He just wanted help with raising him after his wife dies, because he can’t take a small boy with him on a over-the-road truck. At least until Frank finds a new job. But when he settled down and tries to find his son, he discovers the family he left them with is long gone. Sixteen years have gone by. Will Frank even recognize his son if he sees him again?

WHITE CHRISTMAS PIE is a sweet Amish romance by popular author Wanda Brunstetter. Sweet and hopeful, the whole book is a delicious read to while away a few hours.

I enjoyed getting to know Karen and some of the secondary characters, but I found Will extremely immature at times. I wanted to tell him to grow up. I sympathized with Frank wanting to find his son, and regretting the choices he made that caused him to lose the boy, and hoped he’d find him. A delicious sounding recipe for WHITE CHRISTMAS PIE is included at the end of the book.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Holiday Illusion

Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
November 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-44316-1
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Dr. Lucas Bennett needs to take Paublo to the states for a heart transplant. Paublo is number two on the transplant list and without the operation, Paublo will surely die. Dr. Lucas asks Anna Freeman to go with him, since he needs a top orphanage official to sign for Paublo’s operation.

Anna used to be an FBI agent, but when she was shot at she fled to Brazil. The guy she was after was imprisoned for embezzlement, but not for murder or the other crimes he’s committed. Now he’s being released from prison—at the same time Anna is in the states to sign for Paublo’s operation.

It doesn’t take the bad guys long to realize Anna is back in town. And Anna is quick to ditch her orphanage duties and jump back in with the FBI, desperate to put her man back behind bars and keep him there. Will she succeed this time. Or will Anna be next in a long line of murders?

HOLIDAY ILLUSION is a heart-breaking story of a young child dying and the two adults who love it. Set during the Christmas season, Paublo has a desire to see Christmas, and snow, for the first time in his life, and I couldn’t help but hope that Paublo will get both his wishes.

Lucas is a kind, compassionate hero, one the reader can’t help but cheer for, and Anna is nice, with lots of secrets. I had to keep reading to see how she’d catch the bad guy. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 218 pages.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Bone Box

**reviewed by my 18 year old son**

Author: Bob Hostetler
Publisher: Howard Books
October 2008
ISBN: 1-4165-6647-2
Genre: Inspirational/Suspense/Action and Adventure

Randall Bullock is an archeologist in Israel, near Maresheh. He’s hoping to rebuild his career, and restore some meaning to his life. He’s heading up an excavation. Most of the stuff he’s found so far was unimportant, except for telling about the people who used to live there.

Randy’s boss, Yagal Havner, asks Randy to go to a different archeological site, where he meets with Miri Sharon, his new partner. She goes on ahead to the archeological dig. On the way to the new site, Randy caught in the middle of a political revolt.

Once Randy finally gets to the new site, he and Miri uncover a stone casket with the markings Joseph, son of Calaphas, which include fragile scrolls documenting the death and resurrection of Christ. An unbeliever, Randy struggles with his own beliefs while fighting to get his discovery the proper attention – attention that Palestinian leaders want to keep secret.

THE BONE BOX includes a lot of political matters, a lot of description, and a lot of action. I enjoyed getting to know Randy, and reading about archeology. Parts of the book are really exciting. The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy, and I enjoyed watching Randy struggle with his lack of belief when faced with the truth.

I highly recommend THE BONE BOX. Don’t miss this exciting page turner. 352 pages.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon

Author: Debbie Fuller Thomas
Publisher: Moody Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-8024-8733-9
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Marty Winslow’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Ginger, has recently died of a devastating genetic disease, throwing the family into a tailspin. But the genetic disease Ginger died from does not run in the family. Marty does some investigating and discovers that due to a hospital mix-up, her precious Ginger and her real daughter were switched at birth. When Marty looks into it further, she discovers that her actual biological daughter was recently orphaned, so Marty decides to sue for custody.

Andrea Locklear has been living with her grandparents in their retirement community until this stranger sues for custody and wins. Andie is heartbroken to leave her grandparents, even though she knows that since the retirement community learned she was living there her grandparents were being evicted and had no place to go. Still, being forced to live with strangers is difficult.

Andie and Marty both must go through healing as they try to juggle running a Drive-In theatre, with other jobs, school, and a sometimes difficult family life. Will Andie learn to adjust to her new family? Or will she insist on living with her grandparents?

TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE BLUE MOON is Ms. Thomas’ debut novel. It is definitely a winner and we will see more from this talented author. I enjoyed getting to know Marty and Andie, and identified with both of them.

At times, TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE BLUE MOON is heart-breaking, and other times heart-warming. Written in both Marty’s and Andie’s points of view, the reader has the opportunity to get to know each character very well. Add to the mix a Goth older sister, and an inquisitive younger sister, as well as a grandfather and there is plenty of conflict. There’s even a hint of a romance in the book which makes me want to keep reading about this family.

Don’t miss TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE BLUE MOON. It is guaranteed to be a winner. $13.99. 367 pages.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Love Starts with Elle

Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
July 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59554-338-7
Genre: Inspirational/ contemporary romance

Elle Garvey loves her life in Beaufort, South Carolina. She owns a successful art gallery, and is engaged to be married to the dynamic pastor of her church, Jeremiah. When Jeremiah accepts a position at a huge church in Dallas, Texas, Elle is prepared to sell her gallery and follow him to the ends of the earth, if necessary.

But things go wrong from almost the beginning. First, the tenant she rents her house to arrives a month early, with a sick daughter in tow. Elle can’t move in with Jeremiah before the wedding, but she doesn’t want to kick her new tenant, Heath McCord, out in the cold either. And as she gets to know him and his four year old daughter, Tracey-Love, she isn’t really sure she wants to leave South Carolina after all.

But Jeremiah is waiting on her to join him for their upcoming marriage—and Elle is a woman of her word. Is love transferable across the miles?

LOVE STARTS WITH ELLE started slow and I was starting to get frustrated with the story a bit. I read this in the hospital when I was recovering from surgery and it seemed Elle’s problems were so trivial. However, as I kept reading, the faith message in this book really reached out and touched me—a strong message from God that I needed to hear. I’m so glad that God brought this book into my life when He did.

Once I got past the beginning of the book, I enjoyed getting to know Elle and her friends. This is a sequel to Sweet Caroline, but it is not necessary to read these books in order. The reader will want to read Sweet Caroline though to find out the story of that romance as it is alluded to in LOVE STARTS WITH ELLE. Don’t miss this romance. It is sure to minister to you in ways that most romances don’t. $14.99. 328 pages.

Please visit this fun book trailer video -- Here is the embed code:

Also, you can win a copy of the book by leaving a comment on Rachel’s blog tour post, here:

About Rachel: Rachel Hauck is the author of ten, going on eleven novels, and has recently become an "acclaimed" author. (Yeah, funny how that happened. Some dude found her lottery stub stuck to the bottom of his shoe and tried to "acclaim" her. But her husband refused to pay out.)
Since then, she's gone on to become a best selling author of Sweet Caroline.
Living in central Florida with her husband of sixteen and a half years, one sweet little dog and one ornery cat, Rachel is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeye football fan. One day she hopes to stand on the sidelines next to Coach Tressel as a famed, acclaimed best selling OSU alumni, beloved for her work in literature and letters. (She's written at least a couple hundred letters in her life time.)
Her current release, Love Starts With Elle (July 2008, Thomas Nelson) is set in the South Carolina lowcountry, and earned 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times Book Club.
Look for her next release next spring, The Sweet By and By, the first book in the Born To Fly series with award winning country artist, Sara Evans.
Of the writing journey, Rachel says, "I'm humbled by the amazing things God is doing in my life. I love what I do, and am so privileged to work with Thomas Nelson fiction and am excited to see what God has in store for all of His authors and writers. Just keep praying and writing!"
Visit her blog and website at

Buy the book Link:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanks for the Mammogram!

***get your mammograms, ladies!**

Author: Laura Jensen Walker
Publisher: Revell Books
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3130-4
Genre: Women/Health Issues

Getting breast cancer isn’t funny. It’s a terrifying experience. And scary. But when Laura Jensen Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer on her first wedding anniversary, she shows that even life threatening diseases can be fought with humor, strength and dignity.

In this short humorous book, Laura addresses topics such as:

Ø For Better or Worse – not part of the happily-ever-after plan
Ø Beauty and the Beast – reconstruction surgery
Ø To Baldly Go Where I’d Never Gone Before – coping with losing hair
Ø How to lose 30 lbs in 30 days: the Chemo Diet way – not recommended

Plus much more.

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and started the process without reading this book. However, during my recovery after the mastectomy a friend send me this book. It was laugh out loud funny in spots and I even shared parts of it with my husband.

Not all women will get breast cancer. But all of us have known somebody who has been touched by this disease. This book is for all of us, the ones who are afflicted, the ones who are cured, and the ones who haven’t had it but have a friend or acquaintance who’ve had it. Pick up a copy today, read it yourself, then pass it on to someone you love. $10.99. 170 pages.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My God Box

Ms. Iuculano had a difficult -- actually, horrible -- childhood. This book is difficult to read, especially for a parent, but how she found her way to God in spite of her circumstances is inspiring. ~~Laura

Our country is in a crisis with an overloaded Foster Care System and children falling through the cracks daily and being put into homes to provide safety only to be left neglected again. How can we expect these children to become productive adults growing up in this environment? How can we teach these children how to have faith in God and then themselves to correct the wrongs being committed in their lives? How can we help Foster Parents to recognize the difference they can make in a life of a child and the importance of their role? And most importantly, how can we teach to break the Cycle of Abuse so we can shrink the numbers of children going into foster care in the future?

There's a truth I came to realize that changed my life and can change the lives of others. Have Faith in God - put your troubles into his hands and allow him to use you for the purpose you were born for. Once I started to follow this truth in my life I came out of despair to complete happiness and peace. I recognized my ability to help others and the importance of viewing each other as Gods children, people who possess a lot of value and have a mission just like I do for God.

When I began to see that God had a mission for my life, I started to embrace my challenges and learn from them without looking back. I was able to rid myself of the victim mentality and succeed where I was told I never would.

My prayer is that you see the message in My God Box and that it will inspire you to learn to overcome a traumatic experience and more importantly help someone else. I pray that you will agree that all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to realize your God Given potential.

God Bless You, Margaret Iuculano

How many kids in the U.S. are in foster care?

On any given day the statistics show over 500,000 children in the US in the foster care system. The number has reached an epidemic level which has burdened a system not built or equipped to handle the issues facing these children.

How long do they stay in foster care (on average)?

2.5 years is the average across the US - the federal government has asked the individual states to try and reach a permanency solution for these children within 9 months but unfortunately the system is not equipped to meet this goal.

Do they live with the same foster parents the entire time?

If they are lucky! I personally experienced over 15 different living environments and see the same movement between homes and shelters happening today.

You grew up in foster care - what was your experience like?

My experience was most of the foster parents were not equipped to handle a troubled child who needed help. I was in poverty struck homes as well as abusive homes within the foster care system and these are the homes I advocate against. Children removed from their abusive home environments should not be put into a system that is not providing them a better environment than the home they were removed from.

There are many wonderful foster parents who want to help children. But there are people who take in foster kids for the money - how can that be changed?

Not all but too many foster parents see their role as a job not wanting to get too attached to the child as it is a temporary situation thus making the child feel like a 2nd class citizen. The daily stipend a foster parent receives is not a lot of money but if you take in a few children it can be more than a welfare check.

Do you think there’s enough training for foster parents?

There is not an easy answer to this problem with continual budget cuts within the foster care system but there really can't ever be enough training to learn how to cope with a child who needs help. You can become a foster parent in many states with only a few days of training and a criminal background check. Foster parents need so much more to make them successful.

Is abuse a common problem in foster care?

It is too common and this is due to lack of resources and money to create a system that rewards foster parents based on outcomes versus number of children per day you take in. Local Department of Children and Families needs to be monitoring these children more effectively to eliminate the abuse taking place in these homes. It is not okay to have 1 child abused within the system and this issue needs to be addressed as a priority.

What compelled you to write My God Box?

I feel I was blessed to have found God amid all the pain and misery I endured during my growing years. However, I also feel it’s time to give thanks and give back. I struggled for over two years with doubts and mixed feelings about setting my life in print, but whenever I took a step back, I was energized and encouraged by the awe-inspiring certainty that God wanted me to tell my story—for self-healing, but more importantly to open the minds and hearts of other suffering individuals to the mercy and goodness of God. God is hope. Without God there is no hope. Without hope there is no life.

Who is your target audience?

My God Box is addressed to anyone struggling to overcome the traumas and challenges of a dysfunctional or broken life. It is also for anyone associated with someone living in pain and misery. Furthermore, it is for anyone who wants to live a serene life in harmony with the wishes of their Creator. In other words it is for everyone who seeks happiness and fulfillment for themselves and/or others.

What are some of the stark realities surrounding Foster Care Programs?

The truth is that children are not ‘OK’ just because they have been removed from an abusive home and entrusted to a foster family. Although there are kind, nurturing people enrolled as foster parents, on the flip side there are individuals interested only in the monetary aspects of the program; individuals often just as, if not more dysfunctional, emotionally unstable and abusive than the child’s biological parents. This is one of the reasons why I wrote My God Box—to bring awareness to the plight of foster children—and to hopefully fix the shattered parts of a system in desperate need of repair.

What are your long range goals?

My goal is to promote awareness of childhood abuse by using My God Box as a vehicle to become and advocate for children’s rights. I want to inform and encourage others to join with me to make a difference in the life of an innocent vulnerable child who needs to be protected and defended from society’s evils. I am planning speaking engagements/seminars which will help motivate people to start thinking about making changes in their lives and in the lives of others.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I am a wife, mother, entrepreneur and children’s rights activist with an unwavering faith in God that has led, leads and will undoubtedly lead me to the successful outcome of all my projects.

Thank you for allowing me to share my book and God’s mission for my life with you. If you would like to learn more about me and my mission please visit - and and know that 100% of the book proceeds goes to Angles for Foster Children. Please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Baker's Fatal Dozen

Author: Lisa Harris
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-59789-712-9
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Pricilla Crumb steps into her favorite bakery to order a baker’s dozen of her favorite shortbread cookies—and instead orders a second helping of murder when the owner of the bakery is found dead, murdered in the backroom.

Pricilla is close friends with the murdered man’s wife, and Annabelle is quick to ask Pricilla for help in locating the murderer. Especially since Annabelle is at the top of the suspect list. Pricilla agrees, but her boyfriend, Max Summers isn’t thrilled when he learns that Pricilla is once again on a murderers trail.

But as Pricilla chases after clues and Max chases after Pricilla, who will catch who? A murderer? Or a love?

BAKER’S FATAL DOZEN is the second book in Ms. Harris’ A Cozy Crumb Mystery series. The first book is Recipe for Murder. It is not necessary to read the books in order as they both stand alone, but you will want to read the first book to find out the beginning of certain events that are referred to in a BAKER’S FATAL DOZEN.

I love this new cozy mystery line by Barbour and have enjoyed each of the books I’ve read so far. The faith message in a BAKER’S FATAL DOZEN is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy and the setting of a small town in Colorado with a hunting/fishing resort lodge is a perfect setting. I find myself rooting for Pricilla and hoping that she would find not only the murderer, but also a lasting love. $6.95. 249 pages.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shadow of Danger

Author: Jeanne Marie Leach
Publisher: Treble Heart Books
ISBN: 978-1-932695-68-7
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Rachel Ringhold is forced to leave the orphanage she lived in and told that she needs to run for her life and not return. Rachel doesn’t know where to go, until she remembers an old friend, Seb Jemeson. Seb had moved to Colorado, so Rachel starts out to Colorado, walking, much of the way.

When Rachel finally arrives in Colorado, she is malnourished and in bad health. Seb takes her to the doctor, and then to his fiancé’s house. But Seb’s fiancé is not nice to Rachel, so she soon tries to find a new place to live.

When the danger Rachel fled from catches up to her, Rachel wonders if there’s anyone out there who would even try to save her. Can she trust God to see her through?

SHADOW OF DANGER is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Leach. Rachel is a sweet character, quite accepting of what life hands her, and doesn’t make many waves. At times I found her overly naïve for her age, but that could be due to being raised in an orphanage.

The faith message was a bit preachy at times, but the overall message was good and did speak to me and the trials I’m facing at this point. I did like Ms. Leach’s first book better, as this one seemed a bit over-edited with the life sapped out of it, but overall SHADOW OF DANGER is a good story and as well written as several published by more mainstream publishing houses. We will see more by this author. Available from Treble Heart Books at $11.95. 193 pages.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bon Appetit

Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
October 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7328-3
Genre: Inspirational/ chick lit

Lexi Stuart has taken a huge risk. She left her home, her job, her dreamy boyfriend, Dan, and even her country and went overseas to work in bakery in France and attend baking school there. Her dream is to become a pastry chef. Only problem: to be rehired at her job or even hired in France, she must graduate in the top ten percent of her class. Not an easy task—especially when someone seems to be sabotaging her work.

As Lexi begins to settle into her new home in the small village, her relationship with God grows as she has no friends, and the French people seem distrusting of her. Yet Lexi finds an adorable child, Celine, as well as her widowed father, Philippe, to be good companions.

Will Lexi decide to stay in France when she graduates—if she is in the top ten of her class—or return to Seattle? And who should she choose—Dan or Philippe?

BON APPETIT is the second book in the French Twist series. Readers will want to read Let Them Eat Cake first as the story is a continuation of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with Lexi in this fun series, and am looking forward to the third book in the series, coming in the fall of 2009.

Sandra Byrd is a multi-talented author, and this series is definitely a showcase for her work. The faith message is expertly woven in and will the message is strong, it isn’t preachy. Readers will not want to miss this armchair trip to France, and the literary tasting of all the goodies Lexi bakes. There are also several recipes included in the pages, if you want to try your hand at some French baking. $13.99. 289 pages.

Friday, October 10, 2008

For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls

Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-60260-132-1
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Ivy Towers is finally getting married! But before she can walk down the aisle she has to plan the wedding of her dreams. Doing that isn’t as easy as she dreams, especially since she is trying to run a rare bookstore, and help the town get a jump-start on a new library.

When new resident Delaphine Shackleford steps in and offers to be Ivy’s wedding planner. Seeing this as the answer to her prayers, Ivy accepts. But Delaphine’s ideas are so off the wall wacky that Ivy doesn’t know quite what to do.

Hiring Delaphine not only drives Ivy to the brink of madness, but it also plunges her into the middle of a bizarre murder mystery.

FOR WHOM THE WEDDING BELL TOLLS is the third book in the Ivy Towers Mystery series. Readers will want to read the books in order so they won’t miss a delightful part of this story set in Winter Break, Kansas, but it is not necessary to read them all in order to understand what is happening in FOR WHOM THE WEDDING BELL TOLLS. It easily stands alone.

I enjoyed the faith message in this book, it spoke truths that I really needed to hear as I read the book. I appreciate how God sometimes uses fiction to convey to the reader what He wants them to hear. I thoroughly enjoyed FOR WHOM THE WEDDING TOLLS and the entire series. Don’t miss this cozy mysteries trio or this talented author. A recipe is included at the end. $6.95. 245 pages.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Snowbound Colorado Christmas

Authors: Susan Page Davis, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, Tamela Hancock Murray
Publisher: Barbour Books
October 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60260-116-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Thalia Bloom hosts a Christmas party on December 3, 1913, and it is the talk of Denver. However, the gently falling snow turns into a blizzard and lasts six days…

Fires of Love by Tamela Hancock Murray: Thalia Bloom looks forward to having her party, except for seeing heartbroken Maximilian Newbolt. Inexplicably, sparks fly between them. After the party, Maximilian is forced to stay in Thalia’s home due to an allergic reaction to a food he ate at the party. Will God use this experience to help the two find love?

The Best Medicine by Lena Nelson Dooley: Thomas Stanton’s arrival at Thalia’s party reminds Rose Fletcher how much she adored this dashing cowboy when he worked for her father. But Thomas doesn’t share Rose’s faith in God. Will God use a party to show Rose and Thomas they are on the same wave-length after all?

Almost Home by Susan Page Davis: When Patricia Logan leaves Thalia’s party, she goes to visit her uncle. However, she ends up snowbound with handsome Jared Booker, and an outspoken midwife. Will Jared and Patricia develop a lasting love in a remote cabin?

Dressed in Scarlet by Darlene Franklin: Natalie Daire has a car accident on the way home from Thalia’s party and ends up snowed in at a hotel. The mechanic, Fabrizio Ricco, who fixes Thalia’s car is also snowed in. Can a rich heiress and a poor mechanic find love?

SNOWBOUND COLORADO CHRISTIMAS is a collection of four novellas all centered around the same theme—Thalia’s party and a blizzard. It was enjoyable reading about these four couples finding love from the same set of circumstances and how God moved in each situation.

SNOWBOUND COLORADO CHRISTMAS was a quick read, each story not taking more than a few hours of reading time. Set during the Christmas season, the faith message is well-woven in. I enjoy reading Christmas stories, and this collection was especially heartwarming. Don’t miss SNOWBOUND COLORADO CHRISTMAS. $12.95. 344 pages.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When the Soul Mends

Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
September 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7294-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Hannah Lapp has received a desperate and confusing call fromher sister, urging her to return home to her Old Order Amish community in Pennsylvania. Two years earlier, Hannah ran away from home after a terrible rape and has settled in the Englischer world. She’s engaged to be married to the wealthy Martin Palmer and isn’t really sure she wants to return home—even for a short visit.

Reluctantly, she answers her sister’s summons, and immediately after her arrival, she meets up with those who ostracized her, including family and former friends. Hannah senses that her sister, Sarah’s mental health is not good, and so she contacts her former fiancé Paul Waddell to work with her. But as Hannah is with Paul more, she begins to doubt her relationship with Martin. Will she ultimately chose Martin and the Englischer life, or Paul and the Plain life?

WHEN THE SOUL MENDS is the third book in the Sister’s of the Quilt series. Readers will want to read When the Heart Cries and When the Morning Comes before reading WHEN THE SOUL MENDS as the story is all tied together.

I enjoyed reconnecting with Hannah, and enjoyed reading about the work she did in the medical field in her new lifestyle. Her long awaited return home was difficult, and I found myself hoping that she could work things out. The faith message is expertly woven in, and the writing is stellar. Don’t miss this series or WHEN THE SOUL MENDS. It is definitely a series worth reading. A glossary of Amish terms is included at the end of the book. $13.99. 352 pages.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Take Flight

Author: Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Hannan
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 1-59052-537-X
Genre: Devotional

Based on Robin Jones Gunn’s popular Sisterchick series, TAKE FLIGHT takes a quote from one of the Sisterchick novels, and uses it to combine key Scripture verses, wit and whimsy wisdom, with a devotional to minister to someone who wants to dig deeper into God’s grace and TAKE FLIGHT.

Using the theme of birds, TAKE FLIGHT has sections entitled:

Ø Bird’s-eye view
Ø On a wing and a prayer
Ø Take a flying leap
Ø Under the shadow of His wing

TAKE FLIGHT explores the grace stories of life, and will be reminded that even in moments that seem graceless, God’s hand kept you from tumbling into oblivion. And His grace will keep you from future free falls, regardless of what awaits you.

I read this devotional while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery—a surgery I didn’t want and never dreamed I’d have—all the while facing a difficult road that I don’t want to travel down. But God used portions of this book to minister to me in my moments of distress. Even though the tone of the book is warm and humorous, it does have moments of seriousness and there is even spots for you to pen your own thoughts about the scriptures, the devotions, or whatever. $14.99 hardcover. 136 pages.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The S.O.S. for PMS

Title: THE S.O.S. FOR PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms
Author: Mary M. Byers
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
September 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2170-1
Genre: Women/Parenting

Every month our attitude changes and we become short-tempered and more-demanding. Our husband and children learn to avoid mom during ‘that time of the month,’ if they are wise. Mary Byers has suffered with the same dramatic mood swings and other symptoms. As a fellow sufferer, she offers help, hope, and relief and she shares what she’s researched, discovered and tested.

Written in a friendly, over-the-morning-coffee type style, THE S.O.S. FOR PMS offers plenty of encouragement as well as:

Ø specific symptoms and their causes
Ø foods and activities to avoid or indulge in to minimize PMS
Ø ways to ease the PMS impact on your spouse and kids
Ø God’s first aid for stress, depression and anxiety
Ø How to enlist help from others when PMS strikes

I enjoyed reading THE S.O.S. FOR PMS and might have even learned a thing or two. My home remedy for PMS is listed under things to avoid. That was a surprise to me. Learn how to cope with PMS and not let it steal any more of your time and energy. You and everyone you love will benefit from reading THE S.O.S. FOR PMS, especially if you implement the things that you read. At the end of the book, Ms. Byers offers to correspond with you personally to encourage you with a monthly newsletter. $11.99. 186 pages.

About Mary: Mary Byers is a professional speaker and writer whose passion for transforming lives is evident in every project she takes on. In her first book with Harvest House Publishers, The Mother Load: How to Meet Your Own Needs While Caring for Your Family, Byers teaches women how to take care of themselves so that they can nurture a happy, healthy family. The mother of two lively children, she offers down-to-earth suggestions, spiritual truths, and real-life advice on how to juggle family responsibilities while creating a balanced life through supportive friendships, stress-relieving laughter, regular exercise, rejuvenating solitude, and an intimate relationship with the Lord. The founder of Word Works, Byers graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Telecommunications. She is also a Certified Association Executive. Byers and her husband, Stuart, reside in Illinois with their two children. To learn more about Mary visit her website at

To read an excerpt go here:
A Word from the Author
"It’s my hope that this book will bring help, hope and healing to moms who suffer from PMS. It’s been a source of despair in my own life but things are looking up now that I’ve developed my own coping plan. Those I interviewed for this book shared intimately about their own battles and I believe their stories, along with that of Callie’s (the main character in the book) will convince other women that it is possible to change their current response to PMS and encourage them to start today.”

Win a copy of the book:
Mary is giving away 4 copies of SOS for PMS. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog tour post!

I’m also giving away two copies of this book for postage. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Make sure you include your email address so I can contact you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Christmas Star

Title: A CHRISTMAS STAR: a Cape Light Novel
Authors: Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer
Publisher: Berkey Books
October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-425-22358-1
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Life during the Holidays aren’t always easy. Jack Sawyer had lost his wife two years ago. He still owns the Christmas tree farm, but after loosing both his wife and son in quick succession, the place has gone down hill. He’s thinking of putting the tree farm up for sale, especially after he breaks his leg. But when a young divorcee with a small child ends up stranded in his lane with car problems, Jack sees her as an answer to prayers. She can clean up the house and sell Christmas trees—and maybe even rekindle some of the Christmas spirit in Jack.

Jessica and Sam Morgan love Christmas. Jessica always goes out the day after Christmas and buys a Christmas tree and decorates it. This year is no different. But that night, everything changes. Their old farm house burns to the ground, and nothing is left. Jessica and Sam with their two children are forced to live with one family member and then another, and nothing is going smoothly. What will it take for their Christmas to be made bright?

A CHRISTMAS STAR: A Cape Light Novel is the second in this series. I didn’t have the privilege of reading the first book in the series yet, but A CHRISTMAS STAR easily stood alone. Longer than a little stocking stuffer Christmas story, this is a book with some meat in it. Perfect for those who want to read a longer story during the holiday season, complete with snow, Christmas trees, family and friends.

The faith message is not really strong, but it is present, and there are some issues with point of view, but all in all, the story is very well told and enjoyable. It provided a lovely afternoon escape for me while I was in recovery from my recent surgery. Don’t miss A CHRISTMAS STAR. It is a Holiday story that is sure to stay with the reader for years to come.