Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book of Days


Title: BOOK OF DAYS
Author: James L. Rubart
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
January 2011
ISBN: 978-14336-7151-7
Genre: Fiction/Christian/Suspense
Reviewed by Steve Hilton

Inspired by Psalm 139:16, which reads, “Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” (HCSB), BOOK OF DAYS is also a very personal work for author James L. Rubart. He was led to write this book as he saw his own father’s memory failing. He writes in the afterword, “I started to wonder where my dad’s memories were going. Were they mist? Or could God somehow, someday restore them. When I found Psalm 139:16, it was a huge comfort. I knew that his memories would be returned to him when he crossed over into eternity. God had recorded them in His book.”

Cameron Vaux has endured more grief than can be imagined. His wife, to whom he had been married for only two years, died behind the controls of a small plane that had crashed during a routine landing. His father died at the age of 48, from a disease that slowly stole his memories. And now, with his own memory mysteriously failing him, the one thing he knows is that he needs to find the Book of Days. The book in which God, Himself, has recorded for every person their past, and their future.

Frustrated by a congregation of New-Age religionists, who see in the book an opportunity to seize their fates in their own hands, Cameron is also assisted by unexpected friends as he tracks down the fabled book. But what he ultimately finds is forgiveness, grace, mercy, and unconditional love from the One who wrote his life in the first place.

While the personal circumstances provide a passionate ethos to the work, Rubart’s skill at crafting believable characters who wrestle with deep, difficult life situations truly makes this a book that is easy to get into, and difficult to leave behind. 381 pages. $14.99.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Great Catch


Title: A GREAT CATCH
Author: Lorna Seilstad
Publisher: Revell
May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3446-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Emily Graham’s meddlesome aunts and grandmother are at Lake Manawa resort in Iowa. But they aren’t there exactly on vacation. Emily’s aunts want to find someone to marry Emily off to. That’s all well and good, except Emily doesn’t want to get married. She is actively involved in the women’s right movement and doesn’t want to even consider answering to a man for any reason.

Carter Stockton grew up with Emily, and lost out to her at the student newspaper at their school. But still, when they run into each other (literally) at the skating rink, he can’t help the flair of attraction to his old school mate. He is involved in the Manawa Owls baseball team as a pitcher and to fully enjoy every moment of the summer before he’s forced into the straitlaced business world.

If they fall in love, one or both will be forced to give up their dreams. Or—will they strike out?

A GREAT CATCH is the second book in Ms. Seilstad’s Lake Manawa Summers series, but it easily stands alone. I didn’t find this book quite as compelling as the first book, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with Carter. While he just wanted to have fun, he also was a charming heroine, going out of his way to check in on Emily—despite her lack of welcome—and even making himself invaluable to her elderly aunts and grandmother.

Emily had a bit of growing up to do in her attitudes. While women’s rights was a worth-while pursuit (without it where would we women be today) she put it first above everything and even above love and family. I hoped that she would come to put things in the right order and see Carter for the treasure he is. $14.99. 380 pages.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mine is the Night


Title: MINE IS THE NIGHT
Author: Liz Curtis Higgs
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7002-2
Genre: Inspirational/history


Lord and Lady Marjorie Kerr have just moved to the Scottish Highlands after the Jacobite uprising of Prince Charles against the King of England. Their sons marry two of the local women, but then Lord John passes away leaving his estate to his wife and sons. However, the foolish actions of the sons end up destroying the family’s happiness.

Both sons support the rebel Jacobite cause, which eventually leads to their deaths and the family’s ruin when the King’s forces crush the rebels. All their property and titles are taken by the King.

Broken, penniless, and alone, except for her daughter-in-laws, Marjorie decides to return to her home town, taking her daughter-in-laws with her. But one decides to stay with her family, but the younger son’s wife, Elizabeth Kerr goes with Marjorie. But Marjorie isn’t as easily accepted at home either. She is treated with resentment and hatred.

What will it take to turn the community around? Will Elizabeth and Marjorie find acceptance? Possibly love? If so, at what cost?

MINE IN THE NIGHT is a historical story, set in Scotland, but based strongly around the biblical account of Ruth and Boaz. If you know the Bible story of Ruth, you know how this story will end, but it is all in the telling, and Ms. Higgs is a best-selling author for a reason. Plus, she has done her research well, even to the point of the way people talked back then, so if you are reading it for the historical aspect, you won’t be disappointed.

If you are looking for a good historical romance to read then MINE IS THE NIGHT is one to consider. It will not disappoint. A fascinating author’s note about her research and the historical time period and discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 464 pages.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fully Engaged


Title: FULLY ENGAGED: How to Do Less and Be More
Author: John Busacker
Publisher: Summerside North
May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-609361150
Genre: Personal growth/success

People, they say are the only creatures that speed up when they are lost or overwhelmed. But busy isn’t better—it just leads to exhaustion. What if you could slow down—and experience life as it’s meant to be lived?

FULLY ENGAGED is an action plan that will help you identify your passions and your talents, so you can realign your work and day-to-day activity.

FULLY ENGAGED includes little quizzes to determine how satisfied you are, what your life is worth, your life story, life values, and more. Plus it includes personal stories and suggests three key components:

1. Living with Awareness (live intentionally)
2. Living with Alignment (what do you want out of life)
3. Living with Action (the direction you want to go)

“You have gifts to give, family to love, and dreams to live,” writes John Busacker. If you are burned out, replicating and repeating, and want to feel happy, connected, and alive, then FULLY ENGAGED is a book you need to read. Includes a handy yellow ribbon bookmarker. $14.99. 144 pages, hardcover.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, Canada



To possibly win a copy of this book, go to the interview with Susan Page Davis - http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/2011/05/interview-with-susan-page-davis.html and leave a comment

Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND CANADA
Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Summerside Press
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60936-109-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Molly Orland’s father has just broken his leg, and her family needs Molly go to work to help support the family for awhile. The governor is hiring twenty Island girls to work as maids during the Prince of Wales visit, and to Molly’s excitement, she is hired to work as a chamber maid.

Peter Stark is an understeward for the royal party. Peter is attracted to the beauty of the island and of Molly, whom he wants to protect from the playboy prince.

When Peter discovers that Molly’s family has a tie to his royal employer, Peter is torn between being a loyal servant or helping Molly’s family get the justice they deserve.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND has the distinction of being the first book set in Canada. I enjoyed reading the history of the island and the author’s notes about the historical aspects.

Molly and Peter are both realistic characters with a familiarity about their histories that give them something in common. I wasn’t surprised by some of the twists in the book, but others took me completely by surprise. I enjoyed reading about the romance set on this idyllic island. Highly recommended. $12.99. 320 pages.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Place Where Friendship Grows


Title: A PLACE WHERE FRIENDSHIP GROWS
Artist: Susan Winget
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2983-9
Genre: Inspirational/gift book/friendship

Do you have a special friend? A PLACE WHERE FRIENDSHIP GROWS is an adorable hardcover gift book designed to recognize friendship. Full of beautiful artwork, and quotations and poems about friendship, this book will be sure to encourage you to grow and nurture your own friendships as well as to be friendlier to others.

A PLACE WHERE FRIENDSHIP GROWS is a book that you’d be proud to give a friend too. Some of the contributors to this book are William Penn, Aesop, Thomas Fuller, Henry van Dyke, Ralph Waldo Emerson among others.

If you are looking for a good gift for your friend, then A PLACE WHERE FRIENDSHIP GROWS would be ideal. It is also perfect to give as a secret sister gift. $12.99. 36 pages.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Life Book Movement and giveaway


leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for this book. please include your email address. Getting the Word out in public high schools

The Life Book Movement nears the half-million mark in books distributed

Are we trading in our right to free speech, especially our freedom of religion, in exchange for being non-offensive and politically correct? Separation of church and state may restrict public prayers in schools, but there is still an avenue for high school students to rightfully distribute God’s Word in their schools.

Founded by The Gideons International, The Life Book Movement is an innovative strategy to reach high school students with the Word of God. The movement is a Christian mission centered on The Life Book, a unique presentation of Scripture designed to engage high school students with the truth of God’s Word, created by Carl Blunt, president and CEO of The Life Book Movement. The Life Book presents a brief overview of the Old Testament and the Book of John using an interactive format with honest student comments and real-life questions in the margins. Readers are drawn into the only story that can change their lives forever.

The Life Book Movement works with churches throughout the country by providing free copies of The Life Book for students to give as gifts to their friends and classmates during school. Blunt’s organization brilliantly takes advantage of a student’s freedom to distribute religious literature by getting The Life Book into the hands of Christian high school students and having them pass the books out to classmates at school—a practice that is acceptable, as long as the books are not distributed by school staff or other adults.

Blunt says, “In mission-speak, it’s like we’re helping students get God’s Word into a closed country (public high schools) to reach an unreached people group because studies show that only 4% of today’s teenagers are Bible-believing Christians.” The goal is to ensure that every student in every high school in the United States has an opportunity to receive the gift of The Life Book. This approach presents a phenomenal opportunity to impact a generation with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Local churches contact The Life Book Movement to schedule saturations, described to students as a short-term mission trip to their local high school. Local church youth ministries work together in targeted areas to ensure The Life Book is offered to students in each chosen high school. The churches receive the books at no cost from The Life Book Movement and provide the books, along with some evangelism training, to the students in their youth groups. The students then spend a week or two passing them out to their friends and classmates at school.

In less than a year and a half, almost 320,000 copies of The Life Book have been distributed. That number is expected to increase by 200,000 by the end of May 2011. This year alone, saturations have occurred in over 80 locations in 26 states. According to Blunt, 1.2 million copies are being printed for distribution in the 2011-2012 school year.

www.thelifebook.com – www.twitter.com/carlblunt – www.facebook.com/carlblunt

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Killer Among Us


Title: A KILLER AMONG US
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3371-5
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Kit Kenyon is a hostage negotiator, and she’s just been teamed with Noah Lambert, a good detective with excellent skills. They haven’t even had time to get used to each other when they are thrown into a case involving a serial killer. Evidence mounts up, but then they realize that who ever the killer is, he or she is targeting one of them as well.

Kit is still struggling with her role as an adopted child and getting to know her biological family in addition to getting used to a new partner. Noah is all about God, and Kit doesn’t want anything to do with a God that would allow her to be given up for adoption.

But when the killer has them pinned, then only one who can possibly come to the rescue is God…but is that enough?

A KILLER AMONG US is the third book in Ms. Eason’s Women of Justice series, but it easily stands alone. I did enjoy getting reconnected with Sam and Jamie from the earlier series, and figured that Kit would be the heroine of this book. I also figured out who the killer was right away, and couldn’t believe that the police hadn’t figured it out before they did.

Still, the suspense kept my interest and I read this book from start to finish in one day, neglecting my own work. I couldn’t put it down. The romance isn’t as strong in this book as it was in some of the other books, but it was there, and there were occasional really sweet moments. I totally enjoyed this book from start to finish. $14.99. 350 pages.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blood Covenant


Title: BLOOD COVENANT
Author: Lisa Harris
Publisher: Zondervan
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-310-31906-1
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Fighting has erupted between government forces and Ghost Soldiers in the Republic of Dhambizao. With thousands murdered, Dr. Paige Ryan, Nick Gilbert, and others want to help rescue survivors and take them to a refugee transit site. As the team pilot, Nick needs to fly workers and supplies in and out of the area.

But the refugee camp is experiencing overcrowding, raids and uprisings and a group of American mountain climbers is attacked by the Ghost Soldiers. The medical team rescues those survivors, but then learns that one of the trekkers is carrying an infectious disease.

With the Ghost Soldiers blocking the only road out until their demands for amnesty are met, it won’t be long before the disease is out of control…and there is no where to run.

BLOOD COVENANT is the second book in Ms. Harris’ Mission Hope series, but it easily stands alone. Painfully realistic, this isn’t an easy book to read. In fact, in the author’s note at the end of the book, she says that she glossed over the events in Africa to make them “sound more realistic.” Which means that the descriptions in the book are even worse in real life.

This book is a tear jerker, leaving you hurting for the residents of this third world country, with all they have destroyed, loved ones shoot down in front of their families, women raped, and children dying from lack of care, and want to do something for them. This is a book for those who want the nitty gritty realism in their books, the ones that aren’t afraid to hurt and cry for others, the ones who might want to do something… Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 300 pages.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waves of God's Healing


Title: WAVES OF GOD’S HEALING
Author: Carol Hamblet Adams
Illustrator: D. Morgan
Publisher: Harvest House Publisher
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2438-2
Genre: Inspirational/gift book

Going to God’s shore has always brought me peace~Carol Hamblet Adams

Is your heart restless? Do the winds of life’s storm overwhelm you? Carol Hamblet Adams returns to the soothing waves of the sea to share the peace, and the healing power of God’s waves of hope, faith, gratitude, and so much more.

WAVES OF GOD’S HEALING is a beautifully done gift book with absolutely gorgeous artwork. Like Carol Hamblet Adams I love the sea, the lighthouses, the sand, the waves, and everything there is about it. And D. Morgan is a wonderful artist that was able to bring my memories to life.

Written as sort of a devotional, each section starts out with kind of a story, and ends with a prayer, and a Bible verse for mediation. I love this book and will be putting it on my keeper shelf, but this is a book to give anyone, and one to even keep in the church library. An excellent book. $12.99. 32 pages hardcover.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Missions of Mercy -- three books






About Susan: Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of thirty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

For more about Susan and her other books, please visit www.susanmaywarren.com.

About The Mercy of Missions series:

Three heroes, all on missions of mercy, who discover that God not only saves us from evil, but from the darkness inside.



Point of No Return: An American boy and a warlord's engaged daughter have disappeared-together-in an Eastern European border country. Only one man can find them in time to prevent an international meltdown-Chet Stryker. But Chet is taken aback when he realizes the boy is the nephew of Mae Lund, Chet's former flame. When Mae insists on rescuing her relative herself, Chet knows he has to protect her from the enemy on their trail. Yet can he protect himself from falling for Mae again?

my review: POINT OF NO RETURN is the first book in Ms. Warren’s new series Missions of Mercy. I was looking forward to reading this book since I heard that it was coming out since I liked Ms. Warren’s previous books set in the former Soviet Union. Filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, they can’t be beat.

Mae and Chet are both strong willed characters suffering from the back-lash of bad decisions they’d made in their lives. I hoped they’d be able to find their peace, find Josh (and the Princess), and love. Once I started the book, I had to keep reading. Mae is the queen of sarcasm and her witty comebacks were funny. Plus the action and suspense were non-stop. Discussion questions are included at the back of the book.




Mission: Out of Control: Brody "Wick" Wickham is a former Green Beret turned security agent-with a 100 percent mission success rate. No way is his new assignment changing that. Even if it's protecting a diva American rock star while she's on tour in Europe . Except Veronica "Vonya" Wagner isn't just a beautiful celebrity used to having her way-she's the daughter of a U.S. Senator. And she's hiding a dangerous secret. When Wick discovers what's at stake, how far over the line will he go to keep them both alive?

My review: MISSION: OUT OF CONTROL is the second book in Ms. Warren’s Missions of Mercy series. I must say that neither Vonya nor Veronica is someone that I can relate to. But her third persona, Ronie, tugged at my heart strings and made me sit up and take notice. Brody, from the beginning, was a wonderful hero, strong, considerate, and willing to do the right thing, despite his initial opinions (shared by me) of the heroine.

Readers will be caught up in the deep point of view story, swept into the action, and sitting at the edge of their seats as they thumb through the pages of this book. Don’t pick this book up to read it unless you have the time to finish it, because the tension and suspense doesn’t let up. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book.




Undercover Pursuit: The only way to get security agent Luke Dekker to a wedding? An undercover mission as groomsman. He'll bust the groom, a drug cartel heir, before anyone can say "I do." Then Luke can escape all this love and romance nonsense-and the too pretty bridesmaid/agent assigned as his "fiancée" for the weekend. Until Luke discovers that sweet, vulnerable Scarlett Hanson isn't his contact. Isn't an agent.

Isn't trained for the high-stakes mission now trapping them both. And worse, Luke's falling for her-which is not part of the assignment.

My review: UNDERCOVER PURSUIT is the third book in Ms. Warren’s Missions of Mercy series. It easily stands alone. I think UNDERCOVER PURSUIT is the best book of the trio, it has a hero and a heroine that I could cheer for from page one, a fun plot, and a simple misunderstanding that led to a huge disaster in the making.

Scarlett is hurting, betrayed by her sister and her ex-boyfriend. Luke is struggling to remake his life after he realized he didn’t like the man that he was turning out to be. This is a combination with sparks from page one, and it didn’t let up. I loved this book from start to finish.

Link to buy the books:

Point of No Return: http://www.amazon.com/Point-Return-Love-Inspired-Suspense/dp/0373444249/ref=sprightly-20

Mission: Out of Control: http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Control-Love-Inspired-Suspense/dp/037344432X/ref=sprightly-20

Undercover Pursuit: http://www.amazon.com/Undercover-Pursuit-Love-Inspired-Suspense/dp/0373444400/ref=sprightly-20

Susan May Warren is thrilled to announce the release of her 3 book Missions of Mercy series!

Three heroes, all on missions of mercy, who discover that God not only saves us from evil, but from the darkness inside.

Point of No Return: Can God deliver us from our mistakes? This question is posed to Chet and Mae as they race to save Mae’s nephew from an evil warlord in the Republic of Georgia.

Mission: Out of Control: Does God turn his back on us when we fail? Brody and Vonya discover the answer as they conspire to capture an international smuggler and free a child soldier from war.

Undercover Pursuit: What if we deliberately sin and harbor bitterness in our hearts? Is there a rescue from the dark places inside? Luke and Scarlett find out as they work to protect a bride-turned-informant whose courage could dismantle a human trafficking web.

To celebrate the series, Susan is giving away a Missions of Mercy Prize Pack worth over $200! One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new FLIP HD Camera

* The entire Missions of Mercy series

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. You may enter once per email, facebook, and twitter. The contest ends on May 31st. Tell your friends! Winner will be announced on June 1st at the Litfuse Publicity site and at Susan May Warren's website. (While you're there, check out her rockin' new website!)

Blog Tour Schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13307091

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Hidden Gifts of Helping


Title: THE HIDDEN GIFTS OF HELPING
Author: Stephen G. Post
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0470887813
Genre: Self-help

“Everyone stumbles on hard times. After all, mo one gets out of life alive. Today, even those who had considered themselves protected from hardship are being touched and their lives changed by volatile economic markets, job uncertainty, and the increasing isolation ad loneliness of modern life…”

Researchers have discovered that when we show concern for others, such as empathizing with a friend who lost a loved one or has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease, doing yard work for an elderly neighbor, or volunteering to mentor a child, we improve our own health and well-being and embrace and give voice to our deeper identity and dignity as human beings.

Stephen Post takes the time in THE HIDDEN GIFTS OF HELPING to show us how we can make “helping” a lifetime activity. The book shares Post’s personal story and his family’s experience with how helping people changed their lives.

The book is filled with personal stories, supporting scientific research, and spiritual understanding. THE HIDDEN GIFTS OF HELPING includes questionnaires, scripture, and applications for you to find your own gifts, as well as other things. Invaluable resource for pastors and lay members alike. If more people learned from the ideas in this book, not only would their lives improve, but so would society as a whole. $19.95 hardcover. 224 pages.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Huge the Night - and Giveaway - and interview



contest information below

Title: HOW HUGE THE NIGHT
Authors: Heather Munn and Lydia Munn
Publisher: Kregel Publications
April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8254-3310-8
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Julien Losier is fifteen years old. Hitler’s troops have just started their invasion, and his family feels they’ll be safer in the south of France than in Paris. But Julien doesn’t want to run. The boys in the town don’t accept him and won’t let him play soccer; he is made fun of in school. But things get worse when his family take in a fifteen year old Jewish boy named Benjamin. News is grim when the family huddles around the radio at night. Julien becomes angry and frustrated, but is unable to do anything.

Nina and her brother Gustov are Jewish orphans. Right before their father died, he gave them detailed plans to get them to safety. Unfortunately, none of his plans worked and soon Nina and Gustov find themselves without a plan, reacting to circumstances. After they are robbed of everything they own, they do manage to make it out of Austria, but instead of safety, they find themselves not even one step ahead of the German army. And not every place was accepting of two Jewish orphans.

As the Germans invade France, Julien and the Jewish refugees are thrown together in a conflict too big for them to understand. But is it possible that there is a greater purpose in the shadows of this terrible war? Will their choices put them in greater danger?

HOW HUGE THE NIGHT is based on actual events. As I started to the book, I tried to remember whether Germany invaded France I tried to remember the details. Did they go to the south of France? Would Julien and his family be safe there? I seemed to remember that the Germans did stop near or at Paris, but I wasn’t sure. I found the parts written in Nina’s and Gustov’s points of views the most compelling. Their chapters were very short, but they were in grave danger the entire time and I had to keep reading… But Julien was a confused, hurting, angry fifteen year boy. He was struggling to fit in, struggling to understand the war, and there were more struggles added.

HOW HUGE THE NIGHT is a wonderful coming of age story set during a horrible period of time. The historical events are faithful to the actual events of World War II, and young adult readers will learn a lot about this particular historical time during the pages of this book. Excellent for homeschoolers, for church libraries, for school libraries, and for young adults. Highly recommended. $14.99. 304 pages.





Kregel Publications is sponsoring an $50 Amazon.com giveaway.

About the Giveaway!

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about How Huge the Night or share about it on Facebook!

If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use the hashtag (#litfuse). If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (info@litfusegroup.com). Easy.

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea.

TWEET THIS: How Huge the Night - compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens and adults alike turning the pages! #litfuse http://ow.ly/4RBXc

FACEBOOK THIS: How Huge the Night by Heather & Lydia Munn is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens and adults alike turning the pages late into the night! http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13181161

Or: Leave a comma here at this blog answering Lydia's question (NOT on facebook) http://lighthouse-academy.blogspots.com/ to possibly win a copy. Void where prohibited by law.

About How Huge the Night:

Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens. Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father's dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria . Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux , France , dangerously ill and in despair.

Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.

Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon-the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust-How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Huge-Night-Heather-Munn/dp/082543310X/ref=sprightly-20

About the Munn's:

Heather Munn was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in southern France where her parents were missionaries like their parents before them. She has a BA in literature from Wheaton College and now lives in a Christian intentional community in rural Illinois , where she and her husband, Paul, host free spiritual retreats for the poor, especially those transitioning out of homelessness or addiction. When not writing or hosting, she works on the communal farm.

Lydia Munn, daughter of missionary parents, grew up in Brazil . She received a BA in literature from Wheaton College , and an MA in Bible from Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions. With her husband, Jim, she has worked in church planting and Bible teaching since 1983, notably in St. Etienne, near the small town in the central mountains of France which forms the background of How Huge the Night. The Munns now live in Grenoble, France.

***

Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Heather: I wrote How Huge the Night for my Mom, at least at first. It did come to be very rewarding because I like to write about people who are up against more than they can handle & who have to let go of the illusion that they're in control of their lives. I also write stories re-telling events from the Bible, basically for the same reason! You look at stories in the Bible, God really strips away people's illusions, and it's very painful, and then when they're at their lowest point he gives them something better & more real than they imagined. I think that's amazing.

Lydia: I write books that I would enjoy reading. Basically that means that they are driven by the characters, and not mainly by the plot. I want to learn to care deeply about the characters of the books I read.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Heather: My wedding day. I used to think I'd never say that because it implies it was downhill from there, but the truth is, the joy was more concentrated on my wedding day. We'd been waiting so long, and we were so happy the day had finally come. We had a simple, not very “perfect” wedding, outdoors with guests sitting on folding chairs, the bridesmaids wearing their own dresses, & contra-dancing at the reception—and wow, we had fun.

Lydia: My husband Jim had been away for a month, traveling in Iran during the period of Islamic revolution which ended with the Shah of Iran being ousted. I had no way of communicating with him for a whole month, though he was able to send enough news for me to know that he was okay. But the day when we were finally reunited was wonderful. And better yet, I had news to tell him! While he was gone I had learned that we were going to have a baby. Our first.

How has being published changed your life?
Heather: Not a whole lot. Some people I know view my writing differently now I'm getting paid for it, but it's the same to me. It sure is nice to know that people out there are reading the book, though, and to read reviews. I always love hearing that someone's enjoyed it.

Lydia: Not much, yet. It means people ask a lot of questions (like these!) and conversations tend to center around the book. I hope people will continue to see me as an ordinary wife, mother, teacher, Christian, and not only as a writer of this book.

What are you reading right now?
Heather: I just finished reading Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell, which is a re-imagining of the King Arthur myth set among Celtic tribes in Britain just after the fall of Rome. Really good book, feels very historically accurate.

Lydia: A book about the French resistance during World War II, a book about how to care for aging parents, and A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens (not for the first time)

What is your current work in progress?
Heather: A sequel to How Huge the Night, focusing this time on Magali, Julien's sister. As the war progresses, she gets involved with the work of a young woman who gets kids out of the internment camps where the collaborationist Vichy government was locking up Jews and other “undesirables.”

What would be your dream vacation?
Heather: I'd really like to go to Israel. I like to write stuff based on Biblical stories and being really grounded in the setting is really important to me when I write. Sometimes I feel like that's missing so what I'd really love is to have a lot of time to spend immersing myself in the culture. Take a walking tour around Lake Galilee, sleep in a tent. Something like that.

Lydia: a small, attractive inn high in the mountains in the Alps or the Appalachians, with good food cooked by someone besides me, hiking trails, beautiful views, and lots of peace and quiet.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Heather: If at all possible, it has to be a place I know really well. Setting is important to me because I want to communicate a rich experience, and when people ignore their physical surroundings & the place they live in they don't tend to experience things richly. So, it has to be a place that I'm really connected to. A lot of times that means France.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Heather: Quite a few dead people come to mind! But for someone currently alive, I think I might pick Katherine Paterson. I love her books; they are what showed me that young adult novels could be literature. I've heard her speak at a conference, and I like her way of thinking and her sense of humor. I think she'd be a wonderful person to talk with.

Lydia: It would be great fun to be able to discuss literature once more with Dr. Beatrice Batson, one of my Wheaton professors, and one of the best teachers I ever had.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Heather: In the summer I garden a lot—partly as my daily work (to help with the small-scale farm run by friends here in the community) and partly because I enjoy it a great deal (on the good days!) At home I grow flowers, a little vegetable patch of my own, and an herb garden that I keep expanding. This morning I found that my marshmallow plants seem to be coming up, so I'm excited about that. I also love wandering in the woods, learning about the plants and trees, and trying to figure out where the coyotes live that I hear howling at night. In the winter I like to sit by the fire, cross-stitch, and split wood. I love splitting wood. It's so satisfying.

Lydia: Gardening, cross-stitch embroidery.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Heather: The blank page and I are not friends. I'm not good at coming up with stuff from scratch, which is the main reason I have done re-tellings and collaborative projects! Not that I never write from scratch. It's good to work on your weaknesses, but you are also allowed to work around them sometimes!

Lydia: I need quiet and a rested mind to be able to do creative work. There are periods of life when busyness and stress make these hard to come by.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Heather: Three things. First, don't hang your self-esteem on it. It's a terrible place to get your self-esteem from. Second, write for the joy of it. Write what you love to write, enjoy the process, and don't think about getting published until you've got something you're really satisfied with and that people really enjoy. Third, reading really good books and practicing is better than getting any kind of post-graduate degree in writing.

Lydia: Read a lot of well-written books (including classics) of the kind you want to write. They help give a taste for good story telling. Share your efforts with others, writers or non-writers, and take what seems good from their advice. Write, and then revise. Keep trying!

Tell us about the book.
Heather: It's a story about coming of age in a very scary time in history. Julien, a French fifteen-year-old, is trying hard to make a place for himself as “the new guy from Paris” in the village in southern France his family has just moved to—just as WWII begins. As Germany invades his world changes beyond recognition—over and over again. Nina, a sixteen-year-old Jewish girl in Austria, promises her dying father that she will follow his instructions and flee the country with her younger brother—but she cannot even imagine the dangers she will meet on the way. Both of these teens face hard truths and hard choices that propel them towards adulthood fast.

Lydia: This novel is based on a story from World War II in France that I discovered while living here. It’s one I’ve wanted to tell for twenty years. Julien, the protagonist, is coming of age in a very unusual town in central France, at a time of crisis for himself and for his country.

Is there anything interesting about this book that you want us to know?
Heather: Mom and I worked very hard on making it as “true”, in a fictional sense, as we could. All the history in it is true, down to the political speeches, all except for one thing they hear on the radio that's false because it was Allied propaganda. Even some of the fictional events are based on similar true events. Because we wanted to respect the reality of what happened.

Lydia: Coauthoring this book with Heather has enriched and deepened the story beyond what I could have made it on my own. It is her writing that makes the book one I hope you will love.

What influence has living in France had on the writing of this book?
Heather: Probably neither of us would have written this book if we hadn't lived in France. I think I put all my love for France into it, and was glad of the chance to show the side of France a lot of Americans never get to see: the little towns in farming country, the ordinary people who are so grounded in their culture and traditions, and in the land. I love that land very much… the hills and the genêt bushes, the little footpaths and little patches of woods, the stone farmhouses, the wilder places with boulders and wild blueberries carpeting the ground. I think that probably comes through in the book!

Lydia: When you live in a country for almost thirty years, you grow to love it and its people. I’m glad to be able to tell a very positive story that comes from France, to counter the negative opinions that I often find when visiting the USA. Living close to the area where the events happened also made it relatively easy to get a good sense of the context of the story. For instance, I used the actual home of friends of ours who lived in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon as the model for the Losier’s home in Tanieux.


Tell us why you wrote this book.
Heather: Largely because Mom asked me to and I wanted to help make her dream a reality. I also agreed with her that the story deserved to be told, and I did really come to love the book and the characters as I worked on it.

Lydia: I learned about what happened in the town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon after I had already lived in France for about ten years. At that point I wanted to learn more, and I became more and more convinced that this was a story that was well worth telling. I also knew that it was not well known in the English speaking world. So began a long process of research, writing several drafts, and finally working with Heather to produce the book.

How much research was involved in writing about historical events? How did you know how much historical detail to provide?
Heather: Mom did almost all the research, which was a lot. I was very lucky; I could ask her anything I wanted to know and she knew. I did try to immerse myself in the feel of the period somewhat through documentaries. I'm interested in history chiefly as story, and that means giving the details that affect the characters' lives. In this book, you get details about Germany's invasion of France because Julien is glued to the radio, trying to convince himself there's some way it can be stopped. You also get details of the anti-Semitic laws passed after the defeat because Julien's family is boarding a Jewish boy named Benjamin.

Lydia: I have always felt that wartime is a fascinating period to study, though difficult at times, because war is so ugly. War brings out the worst in many people. But it brings out the best in others. And that best shines all the brighter for the very dark context in which you find it. My own interest in this period of French history came about because I wanted to tell the Le Chambon story. I read all the primary sources I could find, visited the town, and talked with a few people who had lived through the events. I also read all that I could about World War II seen from the French viewpoint.

Do you have any plans to develop these characters or this story further?
Heather: Yes, Mom and I are working on a sequel that focuses on Magali, Julien's younger sister, who was a minor character in How Huge the Night. We see the next period of the war through her eyes: the crack-down on Jews (and other foreigners) getting worse, the organized rescue and resistance movements starting to find their feet.

What is the story behind the story?
Heather: It's the story of a small French town called Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, kind of in the middle of nowhere, where something very unusual happened during World War II: not only did a large number of people there get involved in taking in and hiding Jewish refugees (especially children), but the whole town became a kind of safe haven for them. It's like there was a tacit agreement among everybody to protect them. And they were remarkably effective, too: over the course of the whole war, only one Nazi raid ever found a handful of the thousands of people in hiding there. It was a town of about 3,000 people and over the course of the war they saved the lives of at least 3,000 Jews—some say as many as 5,000.

What do you hope readers take away from reading How Huge is the Night?
Heather: I’d love readers to understand the title. That phrase is from a scene in which Benjamin explains to Julien just how scary the Nazis really are. He doesn't have details, he doesn't really know what the Nazis are going to do, but he knows they are coming—and Julien gets this very intense feeling: “suddenly he felt how large the world was, how huge the night, how small they stood on the road in the light of the waning moon.” It's that sense of our own smallness, of how little we know and how little we can necessarily do. A lot of WWII books about rescuing Jews focus on teens getting a chance to be heroes, but this one is more about teens faced with realities that are too big for them, and figuring out what to do in the face of that. I think that's true—that life is too big for us—and that truth drives us to humility and to dependence on God.

Lydia: I was struck, when I first learned about what happened in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon during the war, with the fact that people made the choice to help Jews in a country where most people did the exact opposite. I asked myself, why were they able to do so? One thing I hope readers will see in Julien’s story is that choices are important. But also, that all is not lost if you make a mistake. Julien does not always choose well. Part of his growing up is to learn to acknowledge those mistakes and learn, with God’s help, to do it right the next time.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?
Heather: I love conversations. I’d love to know if any moment or person or situation in the book remind you of a person or situation you've known? How and why? I invite readers to come visit our website at www.howhugethenight.com, and answer the question in our forum there and we can have a conversation.

Lydia: Does this book contribute to your understanding of the country of France, or change in any way what you think of it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interview with Susan Page Davis and GIVEAWAY



Answer Susan's question at the end of the interview (at http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/) to be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Susan's book! Entries on Facebook do not count! Void where prohibited by law.

Interview—Susan Page Davis
Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island

Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Many reasons, but some of the top ones: I like to read these types of books; both history and mystery resonate with me and a lot of other readers; I write topics and genres that people want to buy and read; I want to encourage my readers and bring them a message of hope.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Probably the day after my oldest child was born. (Not the day of.)

How has being published changed your life?
I spend a lot more time at home, since I no longer work as a news correspondent. I’ve met some wonderful people. And I have boxes and boxes of books in my family room.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading The Amish Midwife, by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, and A Cavalcade of Arizona History, by Marshall Trimble.

What is your current work in progress?
I’m working on Lady Anne’s Quest, the second in a new series called Prairie Dreams. In this series, Lady Anne Stone is searching for her uncle, the new Earl of Stoneford, who disappeared ten years ago into the American West.

What would be your dream vacation?

Doing The Amazing Race with my three sisters

How do you choose your settings for each book?
This one (Prince Edward Island) was chose for me by the editor, but I usually choose the setting that best presents the story I want to tell.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Genealogy, embroidery, and logic puzzles.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it
Right now it’s having time to do all the writing-related chores. I have to set priorities and give up some activities.



Tell us about the book.

Prince Edward Island pulls out all the stops to prepare for the visit of Prince Albert Edward (Queen Victoria’s son, later King Edward VII) in 1860. Molly Orland, a farmer’s daughter, is hired as a housemaid at the governor’s mansion, where the prince and his entourage will stay. Peter Stark is sent ahead of the royal party to ensure the arrangements are in order. Though Peter and Molly are attracted to each other, there seems to be no future for them, since Peter must soon leave with his master, the Earl of Washburn, and Molly will lose her job if discovered to be engaging in a flirtation with one of the visitors. However, Molly’s family harbors a secret that connects her family to Washburn’s. Can she and Peter overcome the past and set right a 60-year-old wrong?

What do you want readers to take away from the book?

Forgiveness is always possible.

Where can reader's find you? www.susanpagedavis.com


What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

What do you hope to get from a novel when you read it?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

White Roses and Soaring Home (Two books)

Two books - one contemporary, one historical


Title: WHITE ROSES
Author: Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60260-755-2
Genre: Inspirational/Contemporary romance

Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife. Unfortunately, Sara died two years ago, but Grayson still keeps his standing order for white roses, and he delivers them to the cemetery. He’s still grieving his wife’s death, to the point where he’s neglecting his son and his church duties, and the church wants him to get an associate pastor to help carry the load.

Adrea Welch is the florist who fills Grayson’s order, but she always works in the back of the shop so she doesn’t have to deal with the customers. Like Grayson, she also has a broken heart, but because her fiancé was caught in the arms of another woman. Now Wade wants her back. Adrea is torn. Stay alone or return to the man who hurt her.

Grayson’s and Adrea’s heart’s recognized another broken heart and they naturally are gravitating toward each other. Grayson can’t deny his attraction to Adrea, but can these two people move past their loses to find a lasting love?

WHITE ROSES is the first book I’ve read by Shannon Taylor Vannatter. It was rather a heartbreaking novel, as it was so sad to read about Pastor Sterling’s deliveries to the cemetery. It made me cry. It also made me care about him. Adrea is also hurting, and I grew to care for her as well. The book was tinged with sadness, but the characters were well-done and I had to keep reading.

This is a short contemporary that is an easy read, I read this in a few hours during a power outage. It is also in a small, easy to carry size so you can slip it in your purse. If you are looking for a contemporary romance, then WHITE ROSES would be a good choice. Available at www.amazon.com, www.heartsongpresents.com, and www.cbd.com. $4.95. 174 pages.

***


Title: SOARING HOME
Author: Christine Johnson
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
November 2010
ISBN: 978-0-373-82848-7
Genre: Inspirational/Historical romance

Darcy Shea has a love affair with aeroplanes. She dreams of being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. All she needs is a plane, flight lessons, a man willing to teach her, and to avoid the shackles of marriage, because a husband would never allow her to fly.

Jack Hunter is a test pilot, and when his engine locks up, he lands in Darcy’s small town. He is shocked by the number of news hungry people, including Darcy, chasing him around as he attempts to contact his mechanic and get out of there. And he definitely won’t let a woman’s libber like Darcy anywhere near his plane—not for a flight, not for lessons, not for anything.

Darcy is determined that what she wants she will get what she wants—and what she wants she usually gets. But what is the real reason Jack Hunter is keeping her grounded? Will she realize her dreams?

SOARING HOME is the debut novel by Ms. Christine Johnson. It is set during 1918 and the story takes place in Michigan (a point in it’s favor). It is war time and all the good men are off fighting, leaving the no-accounts, and physically challenged ones home. Darcy’s friend is engaged to be married (I missed the reason her fiancé isn’t off at war) and she’s saying that no one believes Darcy can’t find a boyfriend because of the war… I found that unbelievable.

Jack isn’t at war, and Darcy is instantly attracted to him, but she wants his story (for the newspaper) and she wants a plane ride and lessons, and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Jack seems like a really nice hero, a bit stunned and shell-shocked perhaps, to have landed in the town he did, where everyone trailed him and he couldn’t breathe without someone trying to get his story or a flight. But he reacted well. Strong, courageous, and still nice in a firm sort of way. He was also a real gentleman, acting completely courteous. I liked Jack a lot. Darcy, I didn’t care much for. She was too bossy and overbearing for my taste. However, if you like super strong heroines in your historicals, then you will love SOARING HOME. Available at www.cbd.com, www.amazon.com, and www.steeplehill.com. Discussion questions are available at the end. $5.50. 282 pages.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Heart Divided


Title: A HEART DIVIDED
Author: Kathleen Morgan
Publisher: Revell
May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1884-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical/romance

The Caldwells and the Wainwrights have been feuding for decades. Still, Sarah doesn’t want to cooperate when her father pressures her into distracting a ranch hand while he and her brothers rob the Wainwright’s. But the man is no hand—he’s actually Cord Wainwright. And her father and brothers attempt to kill him. Sarah knows things have gone too far.

When Cord recognizes Sarah in town, he exercises a citizen arrest and takes Sarah back to his ranch, since the sheriff is out of town for awhile. But things go from bad to worse. When another brother risks life to rescue Sarah, and Sarah cares for him as well as Cord’s injured brother, the passion between Cord and Sarah boil over. Will they end up betraying each other—or their families?

A HEART DIVIDED is the first book in Ms. Morgan’s Heart of the Rockies series, and it is very good—and also very familiar. In fact, I was convinced I read this book before—but I couldn’t find any information on whether this is a reprinting or not. From all appearances it appears not. Maybe I read this book as it went through critique groups—or maybe I read one eerily similar.

Notwithstanding, this is a book that held my attention, even though I knew what would happen next. I loved the passion between Cord and Sarah, though Cord struggled with a spirit of anger (not saying it wasn’t deserved) and Sarah also struggled with her loyalty to her family (even though she didn’t agree with them) and the man who arrested her—yet cared so kindly for her and her brother.

If you are looking for a really good historical romance with the flavorings of the Hatfields and the McCoys, then A HEART DIVIDED is a great book to pick up. You will not be disappointed. $14.99. 329 pages. 4.5 stars

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Project Dad and giveaway!



Leave a comment ON this blog only http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/ to be entered for a chance to win. Be sure to follow directions at the end of this post. Void where prohibited by law.

Project Dad is a humorous and practical guide book written by a dad to other dads. Todd Cartmell’s warm and engaging style will have fathers laughing from the first few pages, and gives doable hands-on advice for becoming a better dad. This book will make an excellent Father’s Day gift!


Title: PROJECT DAD
Author: Todd Cartmell
Publisher: Revell
April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1999-9
Genre: Inspirational/parenting

What does it take to build a great dad?

Men like to build things, usually, and Todd Carmell maintains that they can take this God-given talent to help them become great fathers.

Cartmell has a friendly and even humorous style of writing that will draw you into the book—taking you on an action-packed journey into becoming the dad God intended for you to be—and the dad your kids want you to be.

Some statistics, in case you’re wavering:

. Boys whose fathers offered praise and compliments performed better on tests of cognitive achievement.
. Harsh and inconsistent discipline by fathers has a negative effect on their son’s emotional behavior.
. High levels of father involvement mean fewer behavior problems.

In the pages of PROJECT DAD, you will learn how to:

. look at your children
. talk to your children
. connect with your children
. act toward your children
. lead your children

You already have the raw materials available. Now all you have to do is pick up this blueprint and start building.

PROJECT DAD is, as it says on the cover, the complete do-it-yourself guide for becoming a great father. This book is a necessity for all dads, whether your children are not-yet born, babies, or even teenagers. It might even be helpful for dad’s whose children are grown if they want to find ways to reach their sons.
I highly recommend PROJECT DAD for both your personal library, and the church library. This would also be a good gift for father’s day. $12.99. 225 pages.

What makes a great dad? Or, what are some memories of your dad? Answer the question and leave your email address (in this format janedoe at yahoo dot com to possibly win a copy of this book. Void where prohibed by law.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Lightkeeper's Bride


Title: THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BRIDE
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59554-266-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical suspense

Katie Russell works as a telephone operator in Mercy Falls, California, a job she loves. A well-off suitor has just asked for her hand in marriage, and her father has agreed. Even though Bartholomew Foster doesn’t stir her heart Katie does know that their engagement promises a secure financial future.

Will Jesperson is the new lighthouse keeper in town, and he has witnessed pirates hijacking a ship. First on the scene he is able to save two men, but unfortunately, the rest drowned. When his brother arrives on the scene, he sends Will into town to talk to a woman informant.

While working the phones, Katie overhears a chilling exchange, and when she goes to check on her friend, she’s discovered that she disappeared, leaving her young baby daughter unattended. Will shows up on the scene unannounced, and even though Katie doesn’t believe his explanation, they form an unlikely alliance. Could the crime Will witness and the one Katie overheard be related?

THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BRIDE is the second book in Ms. Coble’s Mercy Falls series, but it easily stands alone. In fact, I read the third book in the series before I read the second one. Ms. Coble is a master at suspense, and she is able to make the reader feel every bit of the tension.

Katie is a realistic heroine, and Will a strong, courageous hero, the type the I was glad to cheer for. I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened to woman who vanished during the scuffle, and how it was possibly related to piracy. I also wondered if Katie would make the right decisions. If you like historical romances coupled with suspense, you won’t want to miss THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BRIDE or any of the books in this series. 14.99. 292 pages.

Friday, May 13, 2011

AURORA OF NORTH MANITOU ISLAND


Title: AURORA OF NORTH MANITOU ISLAND
Author: Donna Winters
Publisher: Big Water Publishing
April 1993
ISBN: 0-923048-81-2
Genre: historical romance

Aurora loved Harrison, but when he didn’t show up with the preacher on their wedding day, she knew he was dead. Luckily he wasn’t, but he’d been badly injured in a boating accident. When the weather calmed, some friends took Aurora to Harrison, but he refused to marry her, thinking that he’d never be more than half a man.

Aurora was stubborn and refused to take no for an answer, and so was Harrison’s new housekeeper, Serilda Anders. Aurora is convinced that Harrison is really in love with Serilda, but she doesn’t know whether to go home or to stay and hope Harrison regains his health and his senses.

AURORA OF NORTH MANITOU ISLAND is fifth in Ms. Winter’s Great Lake Romances series, set, obviously, in Michigan. It seems that years and years ago I happened across one of these books in a store somewhere in Michigan, but for whatever reason I didn’t buy it. I do remember seeing it though.

The story is fairly predictable, but it was interesting seeing what would happen to the characters to get them from the beginning to the end. I didn’t really grow to care for any of them, and the head-hopping was jarring, drawing me out of the story.

However, if you are interested in a historical romance set in very real tourist spots in Michigan, then you’ll want to pick up Aurora of North Manitou Island or any of Ms. Winter’s other romances. Available online at Amazon and at http://www.greatlakesromances.com/. Prices vary by site. 300 pages.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Love Finds You in Carmel by-the-Sea, California


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN CARMEL BY-THE-SEA, CALIFORNIA
Author: Sandra D. Bricker
Publisher: Summerside Press
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60936-027-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Annie Gray has just moved to Carmel by-the-sea to live with her grandmother. Grandma Dot is a former film star who is still friends with some recognized stars. Recently let go from her job, Annie is looking to start fresh. A new job, a new apartment, and a list of other must do’s to reinvent her blah life.

When Annie lands a job as a Private Investigator’s assistant, she is thrilled. But everyone else has negative things to say about it. Unfortunately, Annie messes up the first assignment—and the second. Will she be able to salvage her career before it nosedives? And what about the three new men in her life? Could one of them possibly be the one?

I have read almost all the Love Finds You series, and LOVE FINDS YOU IN CARMEL BY-THE-SEA, CALIFORNIA is another fun one by Sandra D. Brinker.

Annie is a fun character, trying to find herself in the midst of her changing life. Not having a lot of support, she feels, other than her grandmother, Annie wants to make something of herself. Something that will make her over-achiever brother proud. Something her mom won’t be ashamed of. And maybe she might even find a man in the mix—someone to love.

If you are looking for a great contemporary romance, be sure to pick up your copy of LOVE FINDS YOU IN CARMEL BY-THE-SEA, CALIFORNIA. $12.99. 315 pages.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rooms


Title: ROOMS
Author: James L. Rubart
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
April 2010
ISBN 978-0-8054-4888-7
Genre: Christian Fiction
Reviewed by Steve Hilton

This book will change you. You’ve been warned. Author Robert Liparulo comments that this is “Part The Screwtape Letters, part The Shack.” I agree, but I would also add another comparison. Years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a cassette tape of a wonderful sermon-story entitled, My Heart, Christ’s Home. This book is that sermon-story, in print.

Micah Taylor seems to have it all. A multi-millionaire software CEO at the age of 25, a penthouse on the 21st floor, the requisite BMW and drop-dead-gorgeous girlfriend who is expecting a ring any day now. Then, he receives The Letter.

It seems that Micah has inherited a beach-front mansion on Cannon Beach. The scene of the most horrific events of his young life, Cannon Beach is the last place in the world that Micah would be interested in visiting, much less retiring. And yet, the letter draws him as nothing else could. A casual visit, just to satisfy his curiosity, sends Micah’s world into chaos.

I’m not going to share anymore in this review, because to do so would necessitate telling the whole story. And this story cannot be told. It has to be experienced. And it’s not a book that I could review by simply skimming the first three chapters. This book has changed me. This book will change you. You’ve been warned. 385 pages. $14.99.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Abigail's New Hope


Title: ABIGAIL’S NEW HOPE
Author: Mary Ellis
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-3009-3
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction/Amish


Abigail Grabber is an unlicensed midwife. She loves assisting in births, but due to educational laws in her Amish community she is unable to become licensed. She works with a doctor who is willing to make house-calls, sitting with the mother while she’s in labor, and staying after the birth to help out. But then the unthinkable happens. A call from an Amish family where the mother has never seen the doctor…she’s in labor. Abby calls the doctor but finds out he’s tied up with an accident, so she calls for an ambulance. But when she arrives, the labor has progressed so far, she has no choice but to deliver the baby.

When the mother starts hemorrhaging, Abby gives the husband her cell phone and orders him to recall the ambulance and tell them they are needed STAT, and then she administers a drug to the woman to stop the bleeding and hopefully, save her life. But it doesn’t work. The woman dies.

Abby is saddened by the death, but it is even worse when Abby is arrested for illegally practicing medicine, using illegal drugs, and other charges. And when she learns that her Amish community won’t post bail, she is left with some hard choices. Will God help her—and her family—get through this trail?

ABIGAIL’S NEW HOPE is the first book in Mary Ellis’ Wayne County series, and it’s completely engaging. The book did start a little bit slow, but it quickly picked up and held my interest through the end of the book.

Abby, her husband Daniel, and Abby’s sister, Catherine, all have difficult choices to make, decisions, and things to follow through on, and they all learn painful lessons during the process. This will be a book that will stay with you after closing the last page. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 4.5 stars. $13.99. 288 pages.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vicious Cycle



Title: VICIOUS CYCLE
Author: Terri Blackstock
Publisher: Zondervan
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-310-3314-3
Genre: Inspirational/suspense


Fifteen year old Lance Covington was just trying to help a school mate. Jordan is a pregnant junkie who ran away from a drug treatment center just before her baby was due. When Lance gets to Jordan’s house, he discovers a wild house. Jordan has just delivered a newborn baby girl and learns that her mother ‘sold’ the baby to a couple for $40,000. Jordan had planned to give the baby up for adoption, but through an agency, so she hides the baby in a car—the car Lance “borrowed” from his sister—hoping Lance will help.

Lance doesn’t know what to do when he finds the baby in the car. He knows it needs help, but is afraid to tell his mother. When his mother gets home from work and learns his secret, she yells at him, but agrees to take the baby to the hospital. But they’re barely out of the driveway when the police arrive and arrest Lance for kidnapping the baby.

Suddenly Lance and his mother, Barbara, find themselves in the midst of the criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse. As Barbara struggles to help her son, she must turn to Kent Harland, and they begin the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting the homeless baby, and helping a teenage mother hiding behind lies.

Terri Blackstock is a prolific, best selling author, and VICIOUS CYCLE is the latest spell-binding release by her. I love Ms. Blackstock’s suspense novels and this one was no different.

Terrifyingly realistic, I felt for Lance, a clueless teenage boy, who didn’t know how to handle what was thrown at him, an innocent by-stander. And for Barbara—a woman about my age, who was being asked to handle so much more than she bargained for. If you like suspense, you will love VICIOUS CYCLE. Pick up your copy today. $14.99. 324 pages.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Lightkeeper's Ball and interview with Colleen Coble


Title: THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BALL
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5955-4268-7
Genre: Inspirational/historical romantic suspense

Olivia Stewart’s mother is desperate for a suitable match for her daughter. She has one engaged to a diamond miner in California, with the promise that the family would gain a percentage of the profits with the marriage, but Eleanor drowned in the ocean. Mrs. Stewart offered Olivia to the wealthy man instead, and he agrees, but Olivia wants to go west to meet him unknown to see if they suit. She also believes that someone killed her sister, Eleanor. So, she takes on her titled name, Lady Devonworth, to keep from being recognized as Olivia Stewart.

Harrison Bennett has dreams of his own, other than mining. He wants to build and fly aeroplanes. A pastime that the elite believe pure foolishness. Plus the nosy Lady Devonworth keeps asking private and hurtful questions.

On the ship nearing the port in Mercy Falls, someone pushes Olivia overboard. She believes someone tried to kill her as well. Harrison Bennett—her sister’s intended—jumps in to rescue Olivia, but Olivia thinks that Harrison might have even been the one who pushed her in. Is there anyway these two strong characters can get past their initial dislike and distrust to find love? And can they do so before the killer strikes again?

THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BALL is the third book in Ms. Cobles A Mercy Falls series, but it easily stands alone. I didn’t have the privilege of reading the second book in this series yet, but it is on my to-be-read pile. I had no trouble understanding what was taking place in THE LIGHTKEEPER’S BALL.

Olivia and Harrison are both very strong, opinionated characters, and the story line is Ms. Coble’s favorite genre—historical romantic suspense. One can see the love she has for this style evidenced in the writing. The story is engaging and captivating and will hold your attention from page one to the end while you struggle along with Olivia to understand the mystery of her sister’s death, and as she discovers that Harrison might not be what he seems. $14.99. 304 pages.

####

What do I have to offer this world? Can I really be loved for who I am on the outside and not for how others view me? Where does my true significance come from? In her third installment of the Mercy Falls series, The Lightkeeper’s Ball, award-winning author Colleen Coble will answer these questions while leading her readers down a path of betrayal, desire and ultimate fulfillment.

The Mercy Falls series centers on a small town in California and its lighthouse. Coble uses the lighthouse as a reminder that Jesus is our lighthouse always leading us home. In her latest addition to the series, the main characters must wrestle with their desire to find fulfillment in more than their work and money while being hunted by those who are holding on to resentment and unforgiveness.

With murder, suspense and desire, readers will enjoy peeling back the layers and discovering that this is more than your average romance novel. They will be perched on the edge of their seats trying to solve a mystery while discovering that the true worth of an individual never comes from a name or accomplishments. True worth can only be found in Christ.

An interview with Colleen Coble, author of The Lightkeeper’s Ball

Q: Did you always dream of becoming a writer? Why did you choose the romance genre?

I wrote my first story in the first grade. It was about a horse that had twin colts. The teacher praised it and the writing seed was planted. I love illustrating God’s love through romance. I especially love the suspense I put into all my books as well. I have a strong streak of justice and it plays out in the suspense element.

Q: What inspired you to write a historical series based in the early 1900’s? What would you have enjoyed about living in that time period and what would you have found the most difficult?

I happened to read an article about the Gilded Age and it mentioned how that era was so similar to today’s. I was intrigued with that, plus I wanted to choose a time period that wouldn’t be too much of a departure from my contemporary books. In that era, there were still cars and telephones!

I would have loved the simpler lifestyle. However, I would miss my jeans! How vain.

Q: Society at the turn of the century was very preoccupied with appearances and impressing other people. How is that not so different than our society today and how can we keep from falling into that same trap?

That’s exactly right! The parallels between the two eras are astounding. I’ve been at the cancer hospital this week with a dear friend, and it was a reminder of how fragile this life is. We seek THINGS when God wants us to seek Him. We need to keep our eyes set on eternity and remember that THIS life is the real dream. When we reach heaven, we will finally start to really live.

Q: Bitterness and unforgiveness led to the death of Olivia’s sister. Why is it so important to forgive those who have wronged us?

An unforgiving spirit hurts us much more than the person we hate. It makes us ugly and crowds out the love we want to show other people. God is love, not hate. Bitterness is the very opposite of the attitude God wants us to have.

Q: This is the third book in your Mercy Falls series. Addie and Katie were the main characters in your first two books. Olivia was given a true gift in the friendship of Katie and Addie. What does it take to find trustworthy and loyal friends? Why do you think that we all desire to find friends like these?

You have to first be a friend. You have to be open and giving of yourself to have those kinds of friends. A true friend tells you the truth in love, and that’s an important component of the give and take of real friendship.

Q: What do you hope that your readers will take away from reading The Lightkeeper’s Ball?

I hope the readers who feel they have to earn love will take away the realization that their true worth is that Jesus loves them and died for them. They are valuable beyond comprehension. When we can step into the role of daughters and sons, we can realize our true potential.

The Lightkeeper’s Ball by Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson/April 19, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5955-4268-7/304 pages/paperback/$14.99
www.thomasnelson.com ~ www.colleencoble.com

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Larkspur Cove


Title: LARKSPUR COVE
Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Bethany House
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0821-8
Genre: Inspirational/Women’s fiction

Andrea Henderson is a social worker, new to Moses Lake, Texas. She’s just moved there from Houston in order to build a new life for herself and her son. As a counselor, Andrea is assigned to work with families on the “wrong side of the lake.” She is used to an exclusive resort area where her parents live on the “right side of the lake.” When going to her first assignment, Andrea’s car breaks down in the middle of no where and her “rescuer” is the town recluse who has a small child with him. Andrea senses something is wrong and refuses to get into his vehicle.

Mart McClendon is the game warden at Moses Lake. He grew up there, and moved away, but then something happened and he can’t move past it. So he returns to his boyhood home to find escape from painful memories.

Mart and Andrea meet each other through Andrea’s work, and both are confused by the young girl hanging out with the recluse. Who is she? Where are her parents? As they search for answers, Andrea’s and Mart’s wounded pasts collide.

LARKSPUR COVE is the latest novel by Ms. Wingate. I’ve read one of her Daily Texas series, Never Say Never, and really liked it, so I was looking forward to reading LARKSPUR COVE.

Mart and Andrea are both wounded and need to find healing. This fact makes the book a depressing read. The mystery of the unknown little girl was kind of flat, until the last bit of the book, then it became more interesting. I also thought that some of Andrea’s behavior was unacceptable, especially in light of the hurt that she survived from her ex-husband. If you are looking for a book about starting over and surviving deep hurt, then LARKSPUR COVE would be a book to consider. Discussion questions are included at the end. $14.99. 360 pages.

Friday, May 6, 2011

31 Days of Power


Title: 31 DAYS OF POWER
Author: Ruth Myers with Warren Myers
Publisher: Multnomah Books
January 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60142-338-2
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

Your power in spiritual warfare is as close as a whisper, as near as a prayer…

As a follower of Christ, we’re engaged in a battle against a treacherous enemy. But the might power of God is yours through Jesus’ victory on the cross.

31 DAYS OF POWER is an uplifting praise devotional, steeped in Scripture. It will bring fundamental truths to life to help you wield the available power of God in all our afflictions, every trial, and temptation.

I really liked the praise aspect of this devotional. Sometimes I don’t get as much praise to the Holy One into my day as I should and my soul cries out for it. This devotional is filled with praise, from the beginning of the daily reading to the end. Along with it are several scripture references, often from Psalms, but other books of the Bible are well-represented, that go along with the devotional reading.

If you are looking for a devotional filled with praise for the Lord, then 31 DAYS OF POWER is the book for you. It is small, and easy enough to be carried along with you (if you have a Bible along, you’ll be in good shape) and the devotions won’t take much time from your day. If you’re looking for a meatier devotional to help you learn more about God and scripture, then look further, but this is a wonderful praise type one. $12.99. 159 pages.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Holy Guacamole


Title: HOLY GUACAMOLE
Authors: Dan & Denise Harmer
Publisher: Lamp Post Publishers
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60039-183-5
Genre: Contemporary

Trace Domingo is a washed-up sports writer who decided to become a chef. He is accepted at Chef Bonnie Miller’s culinary boot camp, where he hasn’t quite decided what he is…He manages to get noticed the first day when a gun sounds off, and Trace tries to save Bonnie, and almost gets clobbered with an iron skillet for his troubles.

Bonnie Miller is a television chef and sees no reason to hire people when they are willing to pay to work for her. But she isn’t prepared for Trace to discover her closely-held secret. Bonnie is still trying to decide whether or not to trust the “bootie” when a crisis makes the choice for her.

HOLY GUACAMOLE is a romantic adventure for foodies. Bonnie Miller’s model is “If you are what you eat, make it hot, spicy, and irresistible.” But as they discover in the pages of this book “It is not the spices which add the most flavor, but how truly hungry you are.”

The story is written in first person in Trace’s point of view, the chapters are short, but filled with a wealth of wacky characters such as Jimmy the Knife, and Kelp. I had to laugh out loud at some of the things in this book, and others held me spell bound. If you are looking for a good beach read, this would be a great choice—but be warned. This book will make you hungry. $12.00. 284 pages.

About the Authors

Dan and Denise Harmer enjoy living in Southern California's "Avocado Capital of the World" where they maintain a laid-back lifestyle as they run a cabinet shop, raise four children, and tend a small ranch. (Okay, maybe it does get a little hectic.) Learn more about Dan and Denise at jointventurebooks.com.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to support the ministry of Outside the Bowl.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Heart Most Worthy


Title: A HEART MOST WORTHY
Author: Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Bethany House
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0795-2
Genre: Inspiration/Women’s fiction/historical

I’ve read and enjoyed most of Siri Mitchell’s books, so when this one came available for review I jumped at the chance to review it. This book is set up very differently from her other books, and to be honest I didn’t even have a clue how to begin to review it! The story is about three different seamstresses who work in the same dress shop, but they are all very different. Juliette is rather reckless, Annamarie is very shy and keeps falling for the wrong men, and Luciana has a secret past which could prove to be dangerous.

The story is told by a narrator, which I found rather difficult to read, resulting in the fact that I couldn’t get drawn into the story at all. However, the romance parts of the book are well done, not overly done fairy tale type romances, but more realistic. Not all of the romances end with a happily ever after.

The story takes place in an immigrant section of Boston, and Ms. Mitchell has included a lot of descriptions about the type of housing, the quality of life. It is obvious Ms. Mitchell did her research, and the facts she includes are fascinating.

This was probably the least favorite of all the books by Siri Mitchell that I’ve read. Like I said, I think that it was told by a narrator kind of ruined it for me since I was unable to get into the story the way I would have liked. I was kept very distant the whole time. However, if you enjoy Ms. Mitchell’s books, please do give A HEART MOST WORTHY a try. You might like it better than I did. I did really enjoy the note from the author included at the end, and there are also discussion questions. $14.99. 380 pages.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Firestorm and Crossroads Bay (two books)

Two books One contemporary and one romantic suspense


Title: CROSSROADS BAY
Author: Kathleen E. Kovach
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60260-773-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Meranda Drake’s dad was a fortune hunter, and everyone—family, friends, and community—believe he was insane, crazy for risking his life looking for a long-lost treasure which most probably didn’t exist. Meranda is determined to prove that the treasure did exist, and she would find it.

Paul Godfrey is a chef, hired to cater a meet onboard Meranda’s boat for whale watchers. But he doesn’t exactly envision meeting the woman of his dreams when he’s hanging over the rail of a boat losing the contents of his stomach.

When Paul is drawn into Meranda’s dream of finding this alleged treasure, Paul risks his reputation and his business—but soon they discover they might be risking so much more…maybe even their lives.

CROSSROADS BAY is a sweet contemporary romance with a surprise twist. To be honest, I was rather grossed out by Paul’s seasickness (though I sympathize, I was there once…) and Meranda was introduced as a kind of pirate wannabe, dressing as a pirate, having a pirate ringtone, and well, being as unfeminine as possible. However, these characters quickly grew on me, and I started to care for them. I also liked the interesting array of secondary characters. If you are looking for a contemporary romance with a twist, then you will want to read CROSSROADS BAY. Available on www.amazon.com, or www.heartsongspresents.com. $4.95. 170 pages.

***


Title: FIRESTORM
Author: Kelly Ann Riley
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-373-44403-8
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Kitty McGuire has returned to her home town of Pine Lake to clear her father’s name. She received a phone call from an unverified source claiming that he can prove that Kitty’s deceased father is an arsonist. Kitty drops everything and returns home, to find that her father’s cabin has been turned over to the city, and that she is being accused of breaking and entering.

Luke Tanner is an FBI agent working as a temporary fire chief in Pine Lake ever since the previous fire chief, Kitty’s father, was killed. Now, all the evidence is pointing to Mr. McGuire starting the fire that burned down the hotel and killed two men—even though Mr. McGuire was several miles away, dead, at the time the blaze started, as Kitty pointed out.

It soon becomes apparent that someone lured Kitty back into town with ulterior motives. A string of arson erupts that could engulf them all—unless they find the real arsonist…

FIRESTORM is the debut novel by Ms. Riley. I heard good things about it, on ACFW and I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t realize at the time that it was about a string of arsons, for some reason I thought it’d be about smoke jumpers. But that is not important.

The cover of the book is absolutely gorgeous, and Luke Tanner is a strong, capable hero, struggling with a traumatized son, the death of his wife, and a serious lack of trust. Likewise, Kitty is also suffering from a lack of trust, and has a tendency to act without thinking.

Throw these two characters together and you have conflict. And this doesn’t let up through the course of the book. I did grow to care for Luke. Kitty, not so much, though she did have her good points. Some of the events seemed rather contrived and even cliché for this genre. Still a good read, and if you are looking for a good romantic suspense, you might want to consider getting FIRESTORM. Available on www.amazon.com or at www.steeplehill.com. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 215 pages. $5.50.