Saturday, March 31, 2012

Interview with Murray Pura and giveaway



To be entered for a giveaway for this contest, answer Murray's questions below, and leave a contact email. Void where prohibited by law.

Why do you write the kind of books you do?
*So far as fiction goes, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances & times has always been my favorite theme. Perhaps it’s a way of wondering, in print, what I would do in the same situations. And also a way of challenging my readers to to think about how they themselves might react.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
*And you probably need to count out falling in love with the woman who became my wife or the birth of my children as well. Other than that? Probably the day an editor phoned from Toronto to tell me they wanted to publish my first novel and were offering me a contract. I was ten feet off the ground all week!

How has being published changed your life?
*Eventually it led me into full-time writing which has utterly changed my schedule and my focus and how I spend my months and years. Formerly I was a pastor working with local congregations. Now I write books that people read in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, even Israel. I chat back and forth with my readers, sometimes about quite serious matters. Publishing completely opened up my world & my ability to interact with others internationally.

What is your current work in progress?
*A story for Harvest House that takes place overseas in the United Kingdom.

What would be your dream vacation?
*Southern France, italy, Greece with acres of sunlight and old stone houses. Other than that? I’d kind of like to hang out at a monastery in the American desert and write something. I wouldn’t say no to Australia or New Zealand or the US Virgin Islands either. But I need a pen and paper wherever I go.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
*I think the idea for the story comes first. That usually sorts out the locations pretty quickly. You know, if I have a story about the American Civil War, a romance, that narrows down my choice of settings. Or of I want to write something with a snowy winter in it because the story needs a snowy winter, well, it’s not going to happen in Hawaii or Florida or Spain. The story idea comes first.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
*I’d actually like to talk with Toni Morrison about life and faith and writing. If she’s not available, then I’d like to spend the evening with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel and Nomad.

What three things about you would surprise readers?
*I’ve never owned a laptop. I’ve never tasted Amish food – yet! (But I’ve enjoyed lots of Mennonite food, which is close.) And although I use a desktop most of the time I still write some chapters in longhand, using pen and paper.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
*Hiking, wilderness camping, guitar, weight training, star gazing. I want to learn to fly fish this summer as Alberta and Montana are prime fly fishing country.


What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it
*When I’m exhausted & physically incapable of writing more that day but still have ideas flowing – what do I do with the hot lava of story that’s still erupting within my mind? That’s when I use pen and paper (because I’m weary of the computer screen by that point) and scribble all the ideas down, even snatches of dialogue and portions of scenes. Then it’s there to consult & get the flow going again the next day.

What are you reading?
*An anthology of poetry from Britain, America and Canada. Poetic images enrich my writing as much as anything else. I’m also reading a book by the English pastor John Stott called The Cross of Christ.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
*Make sure you write what gives you pleasure. You can switch genres for a publisher or change titles or alter locations but you still have to take pleasure in what you create. Once you start writing only for others, and begin to detest going to the keyboard every day due to that, your days are numbered. Don’t let it happen. If you write well enough they will let you be you. So do that.


Tell us about the book.
*It’s 1917 and it’s a turning point for the Amish. The things that will define them in the 20th and 21st centuries are being decided upon – telephones, electricity, mtorcars, airplanes, modern technology. A young Amish man loves flying and, because his bishop has not yet said no to planes, is given freedom to pursue his dream. His girlfriend loves to fly with him but her parents are against it and work to end the relationship between the two. At the same time, America enters World War One and the Amish are persecuted for not enlisting. The young Amish flier has an opportunity to spare his community further persecution and follows through – he joins the American pilots going to France to fight the air war against Germany. Immediately the Amish, who are pacifists, cut him off, further separating the two lovers. The story is about how they fight to keep their love alive in the midst of war and shunning.

What do you want readers to take away from the book?
*Those who fight for their country’s freedoms by refusing to go to war or rely on violence but choose prayer and worship and love instead are as much patriots as those who bear arms. Such a stance takes real courage just like being a soldier does, especially if society turns against you. In the story, a military unit salutes the Amish community because the soldiers have come to realize this truth.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?
*What one thing would you really enjoy about being Amish? And what is the biggest thing keeping you back from joining the Amish faith? (so two questions joined at the hip)

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.
*Three autographed copies of The Wings of Morning with personal dedications to each of the winners.

Friday, March 30, 2012

River's Call


Title: RIVER’S CALL
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Abingdon Press
February 2012
ISBN: 978-1426712678
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Its 1959 and Anna and her new-husband Clark have just returned from their honeymoon. Anna is not expecting to get a call from her college-age daughter, Lauren. Lauren claims to have the flu, but she wants her mommy—so Anna goes up to the college to pick her up. Lauren’s condition is odd; she is sick in the morning and feels great the rest of the day. Anna suspects pregnancy, so she takes Lauren to the doctor where her suspicions are confirmed.

Lauren is insisting on getting an abortion since having a baby without being married is not accepted back then. And despite Anna’s attempts to help and encourage her daughter, Lauren is hateful.

Is there any hope of this troubled teenager and the newlywed couple having a happy-ever-after?

RIVER’S CALL is book two in The Inn at Shining Waters series. Readers will want to read book one first as this book is a continuation. Readers might not get lost without reading the first book, but they’ll definitely be out of the loop a bit.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did the first book. I found this book by Melody Carlson’s more telling than usual and I wasn’t drawn into the story. I’m not really sure I buy the attitude of Lauren—if she felt great all day, except in the morning, why didn’t she stay in school? Why did she whine for mommy and then treat her mom so badly when mom jumps to rescue her. And Lauren’s grandmother is just plain hateful. Anna is realistic, ashamed of the stigma of having a pregnant daughter outside of marriage, but yet she realizes she can’t hide it so she talks about it with her husband and close friends.

I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I didn’t. Still—if you are looking for a women’s fiction—or just plain love Melody Carlson and devour everything she writes, then you will want to buy RIVER’S CALL. $14.99. 315 pages.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Race Against Time


Title: RACE AGAINST TIME
Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-373-44486-1
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Madison Jacobs is a single mother of a preschooler. After taking her son to preschool one day, Madison is running late. She goes home to do a few things but hears a ticking sound. When she goes to investigate, she discovers a man hiding in her shower, with a knife.

Brody Philips is a detective on vacation, staying in a friend’s house. He’s out on a jog when he hears Madison scream. He goes to investigate, but doesn’t find any potential killer, just Madison, hanging in the bathroom, almost dead.

The killer doesn’t seem to want to give up, and each tick of the clock seems to bring him closer to his goal. Brady vows to catch the serial killer plaguing the town, especially when he realizes the madman has trailed him to the city. Everyone seems to be at risk. Will Brody find the killer and keep Madison and her son safe?

RACE AGAINST TIME is Ms. Barritt’s newest romantic suspense. Madison seems like a typical single mom, trying to make ends meet after her divorce and provide a stable home for her son. Pulled in too many different directions, she doesn’t do the wise thing when she senses something wrong at the beginning and call for police. Brody is a real hero, kind and gentle, and going the extra mile to take care of Madison even though she initially is no one important to him. I did find it odd that he can hear her screaming and things crashing and when he goes to investigate she’s almost dead by hanging. That seemed kind of contrived. I also wondered why he didn’t call for backup when he found the situation.

If you are looking for a romantic suspense, then RACE AGAINST TIME is one that will keep you guessing. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 218 pages.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Common English Bible

Leave a comment to possibly win a free copy of this Bible. Include contact information.



Why do you need to try the CEB?

It’s easier than any other Bible translation to read and understand. English words that were once readily understood by Bible readers even ten years ago, today may not carry the same meaning or context. Words such as “alas,” “alien,” and “ephod,” are more quickly grasped in the 21st century when they become “oh my!,” “immigrant,” and “priestly vest.” The Common English Bible is the only translation using terms you naturally speak—a common language.

It’s broader in its development than any other translation for greater trustworthiness. More than 700 people, including Bible scholars, pastors, and everyday readers, collaborated to make sure you can trust the CEB to accurately reflect the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages in which the Bible was originally written. The Common English Bible translation is academically rigorous and denominationally neutral because 120 translators from 24 denominations built it on common ground.


Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me.

~ Deut. 8:17 (CEB)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Amish Family Reunion


Title: AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION
Author: Mary Ellis
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4487-8
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/women’s fiction

Julia Miller’s children have all grown and have families of their own, but Julia misses the houseful of laughter and joy. She hopes to gather the family for a summer celebration.

Julia’s niece, Phoebe, goes on a rumspringe trip with other Amish youth to Niagara Falls. Her father is initially against the idea, but he relents when he learns the trip is well-chaperoned. It isn’t as well-chaperoned as Phoebe thought, as she as plenty of time with another Amish youth Eli, from another district. Eli is enthralled by Phoebe’s artistic talents, and encourages Phoebe to join him in a venture—he’ll write stories, if she illustrates them. Can their love for literature develop into something that will last forever?

AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION is the next book in Ms. Ellis’ Amish series The Miller Family, but enough information is given about each character that you don’t have to read the previous books, though I’d suggest that you’d want to, to get the full story.

There are many different characters in this book, each of them having a place in the prior books, so you get a lot of continuing stories in AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION. The main story (Eli and Phoebe) is a romance, but the rest of the stories are with married couples and since they make up the majority of the book, I’m classifying it as women’s fiction.

If you like Amish fiction, then you will want to read AN AMISH FAMILY REUNION by Mary Ellis. It is rich in description, leaving you see both the Ohio countryside and Niagara Falls in New York. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eli and Phoebe’s story and catching up with the other characters. Discussion questions and some yummy sounding recipes are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 303 pages.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Shadow of Your Smile


Title: THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale
December 2011
ISBN: 978-1414334837
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Noelle Hueston was headed home from Duluth, after talking to Admissions about enrolling in the art institute. On the way home, she stops for coffee, and interrupts a robbery. She escapes, but falls, hitting her head on the pavement. When she awakes, she’s in a hospital, twenty-five years of her life gone, and a man in there claiming to be her husband. Two boys who claim to be her sons…

With no where to go, Noelle has to allow these strangers to take her home. But she has no memory of this place, these people. Moreover, she is shocked that the life she is living is nothing like the life she’d always thought she’d live. Did she loose herself in this marriage?

Why was her husband, Eli, sleeping in the den? What happened to her ambitions? Does she even have any friends in this remote town? And if she had this life, what was she doing talking to Admissions in Duluth about enrolling in college?

THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE is the newest novel set in Deep Haven, Minnesota, by Susan May Warren. It is rare when you pick up a book that seems to minister to all your deepest emotions, but this book did. I found my self crying with some of the lyrics, praying with some of the prayers, and even quoting the verses, begging God that they might be true in my life too.

I absolutely LOVED this book. I can’t say enough good things about it. Noelle, her husband, Eli, their son, Kyle, a neighbor lady, Lee and her daughter Emma all had point of views in this book, all main characters, and I fell in love with every single one of them. My heart broke, it soared, I cried. THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE is going on my keeper shelf. I highly recommend it. 5 stars. 368 pages. $13.99

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Heart's Frontier


Title: THE HEART’S FRONTIER
Author: Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith
Publisher: Harvest House Publisher
March 2012
ISBN: 978-0736947527
Genre: Inspirational/historical Amish

Emma Switzer is traveling from Apple Grove, Kansas, to Troyer, Kansas, to help an elderly aunt. But enroute, her family’s wagon is robbed of everything, leaving them stranded and alone in the middle of no where. They manage to walk to a town that has not much more than a saloon, but who can they find to help them?

Luke Carson is heading up his first cattle drive, pushing to get his cattle to Hays in time to catch the train. But when his best friend deserts him in favor of whiskey and women, Luke heads in to the saloon to rescue him. Instead, he finds himself landing in the dirt in front of four Amish people, with the man saying, “Thank you, Lord, for sending us help.”

Luke had no intentions of helping anyone, least of all four destitute Amish. He had cattle to get to market. Besides, what happens when Amish meets the Wild West? Will they be able to mix?

THE HEART’S FRONTIER is the first historical Amish fiction I’ve read and the first book in the Amish of Apple Grove series. Luke is a total sweetheart, the stuff cowboy dreams are made of. He is a true hero. Emma is a mixture of characteristics, quiet and demur one moment, the next running and screaming, and the next manipulating people to do what they want. The father’s faith is enviable and I—and most readers—could learn from him. Mammi, Emma’s little sister, and Luke’s best friend added comic relief to the story. I laughed out loud in several places.

If you are looking for a different sort of Amish—a historical, instead of contemporary—then THE HEART’S FRONTIER is a book you might want to consider. It is interesting, and it held my attention all the way to the end. I never would have thought of mixing Amish and the Wild West—but it worked for these two talented authors. Discussion questions and an exerpt from the next book in this series, A Plain and Simple Heart is included at the end of the book. $13.99. 296 pages.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Playtime Manners for Little Monkeys


Title: PLAYTIME MANNERS FOR LITTLE MONKEYS
Author: Susie Lee Jin
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4508-0
Genre: children’s board book

PLAYTIME MANNERS FOR LITTLE MONKEYS is a book to teach your little monkeys how to behave on play dates. It teaches small children that you need to learn to share, to take turns, to encourage each other, and to be polite. It also reminds children to have a positive attitude, to decide what to play together, and to clean up and put away their toys.

If you have small children then you’ll want to teach them to have good manners. PLAYTIME MANNERS FOR LITTLE MONKEYS is a fun, colorful book that will teach while it amuses your small children. Recommended for preschoolers. $5.99 board book. 10 pages.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Wishing Pearl



Title: THE WISHING PEARL
Author: Nicole O’Dell
Publisher: Barbour Books
October 2011
ISBN: 978-1616264543
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Olivia is sixteen and is anxious to get away from her step-father’s sexual abuse. But Mom won’t listen to her when she tries to talk to her, and just accuses her of being unkind to Charles. But then Olivia’s new friends introduce her to alcohol and drugs, and Olivia finds that when she’s drunk or stoned she doesn’t worry too much about her step-father.

When Olivia’s Mom finds out, she also learns about a home for trouble teens. She takes Olivia out for a visit, but Olivia isn’t interested in staying. She wants to be with her friends, she wants her mom to listen, and she wants things to be made right.

But things go from bad to worse. When Olivia comes to the brink of a complete breakdown, she finds herself at a crossroads. Will the demons of her past be too much to beat? Or will she find hope and healing?

THE WISHING PEARL is a gritty book about the side of life that is down and dirty. Olivia has a lot of issues to deal with to begin, but add in an abusive stepfather, a clueless Mom who doesn’t seem to care, and a bad group of friends and everything skyrockets out of control.

If you have a teenager, then this would be a good book for them to read, but I suggest reading it first and then discussing the book with your teen as they read it. Make sure the topics are all addressed, there is a lot to deal with in here. Recommended for the mothers of teens and teen girls themselves. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $9.99. 367 pages.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interview with Virginia Smith, fun contest, and giveaway



Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I love to read entertain stories with strong characters who grown and change
and learn. To me, writing is like taking reading to a deeper level. A writer
lives in a story world for months, not just for the few hours it takes to read a
book. So if I’m going to live there for a few months, I want it to be someplace I
enjoy, with people I care about. Those are the kind of books I write.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your
life?

I think it was the day I married my wonderful husband, Ted. We’d both had
painful relationships in the past, so we knew how rare it is to find someone
with whom to share a deep, abiding love based on respect and genuine
enjoyment of each other. That was twenty-one years ago!

How has being published changed your life?

With my first book contract, I did what everyone says not to do: I quit my day
job. I became a full-time writer instead of a corporate director, and that was
a huge change! I’d managed a staff of 60 or so people for years, and suddenly
the only person I had to ‘manage’ was my husband – and he completely resisted
being managed!

Beyond that, being published has changed my perspective of the business.

Before, I had a kind of misty-eyed view of what a writer does. Now, I am so
much more aware of the intricacies of the publishing industry, and of all the
structure and procedures and decisions that go into producing a book. There’s
still that mystique of writing a story, but that’s only a small part of the job. I
didn’t realize that before.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a fantasy novel called Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day
George. She’s an awesome writer who takes fairy tales and puts a unique spin
on them, and tells a compelling new tale.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m working on Unleashed, the third book in the Falsely Accused suspense
series. Book one, Dangerous Impostor, came out last month, and the second
in the series, Bullseye, comes out this fall. So I’m trying to hurry and get this
third one finished so there won’t be too big a gap between them!

What would be your dream vacation?

My husband and I are talking about that right now, in fact. We’re considering
a long trip to Great Britain. We want to visit Dublin again, and Edinburgh
Scotland, and then go up into the Highlands. And we want to ride motorcycles
around the Isle of Man.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I pick a place I want to visit! I can write a book far more vividly if I’ve been
there, so I love doing the research. When I wrote Into the Deep, for instance, I
set it in Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Now that was a fun research
trip!

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who
would it be and why?

This probably isn’t the kind of answer you’re looking for, but it would be my
Aunt Patti. She’s an awesome woman who I admire more than I can say, and we
go far too long without seeing each other.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

(1) I’m a huge science fiction/fantasy fan.
(2) I have never watched a single episode of Survivor – any season – or American
Idol.
(3) I’m an introvert, by the classic definition. Because I’m an energetic
presenter, and a pretty lively person, everyone assumes I’m an extrovert. But I
recharge my batteries by being alone.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Motorcycle riding. I’ve ridden on the back of my husband’s bike for years, but
I got my license last October so now I can ride my own. I love scuba diving. And
recently I taught myself how to crochet. I’m lousy at it, but I’m enjoying it.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

I have a hard time forcing myself to get started. When it’s time to sit down and
get to work, I find myself distracted by everything – laundry, email, whatever! I
have to make myself sit in the chair and put my hands on the keyboard. Once I
begin, I get drawn into the story.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Plug yourself into the writing community. Don’t try to write in a vacuum. Join
a critique group, or an online writing organization, go to conferences, take
writing courses. I think God created us to be part of a community, to help each
other.

Tell us about the book.

The Heart’s Frontier is my 17th novel. I co-authored the book with the amazing
Lori Copeland, who has written westerns many times, but this is my first
historical. I loved it! The research was so much fun! Here’s a blurb from the
back cover:

A lot can happen on a week-long cattle drive. Kansas 1881 - Halfway through a six-day
journey to visit relatives, Emma Switzer's Amish family is robbed of all their possessions,
leaving them destitute and stranded on the prairie. Walking to the nearest trading
settlement, they pray to the Lord for someone to help. When a dusty cowboy lands in the
street at her feet, Emma looks down at him and thinks, "The Lord might have cleaned
him up first." ... Plain and rugged -- do the two mix? And what happens when a dedicated
Amish woman and a stubborn trail boss prove to be each other's match?

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

Sometimes God’s plans aren’t ours, and sometimes accepting the life He has in
mind for us involves some tough decisions. But His plans for us are always good,
always better than our own.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers? Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

Lori and I are running a fun contest to name the cow that appears on the
cover of The Heart’s Frontier. We’re looking for fun, cute, creative names
for that adorable cow! The winner will receive one of those delicious edible
fruit bouquets. For details, check out this page of my website: http://
www.virginiasmith.org/readers.html

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Broken Trust


Title: BROKEN TRUST
Author: Sharon Dunn
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-373-44482-3
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Christine Norris used to love Wyatt Green. But when he failed to make a commitment, she married a Montana rancher, Dustin. Now Dustin is gone, leaving Christine struggling to support a five year old and a ranch. She becomes acting Sheriff of her small town, one that could pass for Mayberry.

Special Agent Wyatt Green has been sent to Montana to find information on an anti-government ring, but undercover of finding a small boy, kidnapped from his mother. Christine insists there is no sign of either the boy or the anti-government ring in her town, yet all the evidence insists there is…

As Wyatt continues to investigate and as Christine gets sidetracked by a car bomb, a missing teenager, and a fire, it soon become apparent that something is going on and someone is prepared to do anything to keep their secrets. Who in her town isn’t who he or she seems, and what exactly is going on?

BROKEN TRUST is the latest suspense by award winning author, Sharon Dunn. Both Wyatt and Christine have BROKEN TRUST between them, and the trust is rapidly being broken between Christine and her town. Christine is a realistic heroine, hurting from past actions and struggling to keep the walls up that are meant to keep herself from being hurt again. Wyatt wants to renew the relationship, but recognizes the hurt and is struggling to remain indifferent and just do his job.

I thoroughly enjoyed BROKEN TRUST and figured out some of whom were involved early on in the book. Some were obvious. Others seemed obvious and weren’t involved. If you are looking for a good romantic suspense, then BROKEN TRUST would be a good choice. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 217 pages.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Every Body Matters


Title: EVERY BODY MATTERS
Author: Gary Thomas
Publisher: Zondervan
November 2011
ISBN: 978-0310290810
Genre: Inspirational/physical & spiritual health

Pastors address the sins of pornography, lust, greed, and other issues from the pulpit, but they never address the sin of overeating—a sin that many pastors suffer from themselves.
Gary Thomas addresses this issue, reminding us that we need to watch our weight and get into shape for reasons other than our physical health.

A person who is physically fit has the stamina necessary to go out and further the work for God’s kingdom. Mr. Thomas maintains that you’ll have increased sensitivity to God’s voice, renewed energy for God’s work, a greater joy for living, and a fortified soul better able and more willing to serve and love others.

I am not in the best physical condition, and this book has motivated me to get out and try to do something about that—for the kingdom, as well as for me. I encourage every believer who struggles with food or the unwillingness to exercise to read this book. It’s written in a nonjudgmental way, but will remind us that we are created for a purpose and we can better serve this purpose if we are physically fit. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book making it ideal for small groups. $14.99. 241 pages.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride


Title: SIXTY ACRES AND A BRIDE
Author: Regina Jennings
Publisher: Bethany House
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0980-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Rosa Gardner and her mother-in-law, Louisa, return from Mexico to Texas after the death of their husbands in a collapsed mine. But when they get to Texas they discover that they have only a few months to earn a huge amount of money in back-taxes or the land would be sold. Rosa and Louisa move in with another widow Gardner, Mary, and start working to save the ranch, planting crops, taking in sheep, and doing whatever else needs to be done.

Weston Gardner has been a recluse since the death of his wife, but he still does whatever he can to help Rosa and her family. He is attracted to the lovely Mexican lady, but vows to keep his distance since he will never remarry. Rosa too swears she’ll never marry again, but when push comes to shove, how far will she go to save the ranch?

SIXTY ACRES AND A BRIDE is the debut novel by Regina Jennings. It is a different sort of historical, with some laugh out loud moments, some delicious sexual tension, and lots of conflict.

There are times when the story slowed down and I skimmed more, but as a whole, the story held my interest and I wanted to keep reading—especially for the ending of the romance. Rosa, Weston and the secondary characters were all realistic. I especially enjoyed Weston’s sister and her husband. The ending was cut and pasted from another part of the book. It was a good scene initially, but felt wrong to read it again at the end. Over all, a good read. 4 stars. $14.99. 366 pages.

About the book:
She's Finally Found a Place to Call Home... How Far Will She Go to Save It?

With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. They welcome her vivacious spirit and try to help her navigate puzzling American customs. She can't help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention.

Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future. Read an excerpt: http://ow.ly/9sK2C.

About Regina:

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. Meet Regina here.

Learn more about Regina by visiting her website, www.reginajennings.com.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764209906/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=sprightly-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0764209906&adid=0QCM8KYQ2MZMAD1E5XZ6

About the giveaway and party:

Celebrate with Regina by entering to win a Kindle Fire and coming to her Author Chat Party on 3/27!



One fortunate winner will receive:

A Kindle Fire
Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/26/12. Winner will be announced at Regina's Author Chat Facebook Party on 3/27. Regina will be hosting an evening of chat, fun trivia and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and some beautiful silver jewerly!

So grab your copy of Sixty Acres and a Bride and join Regina and friends on the evening of March 27th for an evening of fun.


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!


Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13460958/reginajennings)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More than 2 Million Students Receive Gospel in Public Schools




More Than 2 Million Students Receive Gospel in Public Schools
Christian students give The Life Book to their classmates
in public schools throughout the United States

For nearly five decades, religion has been consistently pushed out of the public school.As a result, studies show that only four-percent of today’s teenagers are Bible-believing Christians. According to Carl Blunt, President and CEO of The Life Book Movement, “teenagers today represent the most Biblically illiterate generation ever in the history of the United States.”
Christian students are rising to the challenge to change that dynamic. Through The Life Book Movement, over 75,000 Christian students in forty-seven states have given the gift of The Life Book to over 2 Million classmates, in school – during school.



Founded by The Gideons International, The Life Book Movement is an innovative strategy to reach high school students. 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 Gospel 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.

To request copies of the Life Book for your local schools,
view video and more, visit www.thelifebook.com.

The Life Book Movement works in collaboration with churches throughout the country to provide the books for free to students to “saturate” their schools with God’s Word. Blunt’s organization brilliantly threads a separation-of-church-and-state opening by getting his publication into the hands of Christian high school students and having thempass the books out as a gift to classmates at school—a practice within a student’s religious freedoms, as long as the books are not distributed by school staff or other adults.

Blunt says, “Working with local youth leaders, we help students take 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.

The Life Book Movement works with local church youth ministries to provide everything students need to offer The Life Book as a gift to their classmates. The churches receive the books at no cost from The Life Book Movement and provide the books, along with some training, to the students in their youth groups. The students then spend a week or two giving them as gifts to their friends and classmates at school.

Since January of 2010, more than 2 Million copies of The Life Book have been distributed. According to Blunt, over 3 million copies are being printed for distribution in the 2012-2013 school year.

www.thelifebook.com http://twitter.com/thelifebook
http://www.facebook.com/thelifebookmovement

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him


Title: WHAT EVERY MAN WISHES HIS FATHER HAD TOLD HIM
Author: Byron Forrest Yawn
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4634-4
Genre: Inspirational/men

What does real manhood look like?

Are men tough, or sensitive? Society says one thing, then the other. No wonder men are confused. But no matter what society says, God is left out of it. Byron Forrest Yawn shows through the pages of this book that if you even look in the pages of the Bible or study the history of Christianity, then you will see that God is at the center of the life of a real man.

In the pages of this book are chapters with names such as:

Accountability: You are not your own best counselor
Wives: Don’t live in fear of your wife, lead her
Pornography: Hugh Hefner will die alone
Marriage: It comes with a basin and an apron

And other chapters that show that there is a touch of humor included in the wisdom within these pages. And it’s all biblically based.

Also are a few just for fun pages, such as Man Laws. Curious, I asked my adult sons and husband about some of the laws and they answered correctly according to this book. I asked my husband how guys know this stuff and he shrugged and said “It’s ingrained.”

This is a book that men will want to read, or need to at least, and it’s highly recommended. $11.99. 189 pages.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walks Alone


Title: WALKS ALONE
Author: Sandi Rog
Publisher: White Fire Publishing
Ebook: January 2012
Print: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0983455653
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Anna and her father have a dream of settling in Denver City. Even though Anna is only ten years old, she sees the passion in her father’s eyes when he mentions going west. But he dies soon after they arrive in New York from Holland, and Anna is forced to live with her mother’s brother, a cruel man. Six years later, Anna finds an opportunity to escape her enslavement, and takes a train west, hoping to get to Denver City and start teaching. But the train doesn’t go all the way to Denver, and the next stage will be in two weeks. Anna doesn’t have so much money, so she talks to a walk train, and even though the man is cruel, he agrees to let her walk behind them for a steep price.

Anna agrees, but when they are within hours of arriving in Denver City she and another woman are kidnapped by Indians. Anna is scared, but is determined not to be enslaved anymore. She vows to escape. But what will it take to escape these men who are determined to take her to their village? Men that won’t hesitate to kill her if she crosses them? Will she ever find a home?

WALKS ALONE is the first book I’ve read by Sandi Rog, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Anna is a hurting child, desperate to be loved, and from the first pages I wanted to see her find a home and someone to love her. I did figure out the path the story would take to get her from onboard ship to traveling to Denver City so that wasn’t a surprise. But some of the events that happened after that was, and I had to keep reading to see what happened next.

White Eagle might have been an Indian, or a Savage, according to Anna, but he was a gentleman even when she lashed out at him, fighting for her freedom. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him, and couldn’t wait to see where this unlikely couple would end up.

If you are looking for a historical romance where different cultures clash, nonstop action and lots of twists and turns, then you’ll want to read WALKS ALONE. You won’t be able to put it down. Great book. $14.99.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Interview with Crystal Paine



What drove you to write the book? What's the story behind the book?

Nine years ago, my husband and I got married and committed to stay out of debt while he went through law school. It was an audacious goal, but we learned so much through living in a little basement apartment barely eeking by and wondering how we were going to pay the next bill.

Not only did we learn how to creatively pinch our pennies and maximize the mileage of our money, we also learned to trust God’s provision and see Him faithfully take care of us--even when we weren’t sure how the ends were going to meet!

During those years, I landed upon this thing called blogging. It was a new phenomenon at the time, but I discovered I loved it--and, to my surprise, people started showing up to read it! And I realized that people were hungry for information on how to lower their grocery bill and get their finances in order.

I ended up starting MoneySavingMom.com--a blog exclusively on finances--in the Fall of 2007. This was close to the time when the economy began to tank and there was a much-heightened interest in coupons and money-saving strategies.

Within two years, MoneySavingMom.com was garnering hundreds of thousands of visits each month and had grown beyond what I could have ever dreamed. AOL asked me to write a weekly money-saving column for them that they featured on their homepage. Near the end of 2010, a vice president from Simon & Schuster stumbled across this column, clicked on my bio and explored my blog, and wrote later that day to offer me a book deal.

While I’d always thought it would be amazing to be a published author, I figured that was something I’d pursue in five or ten years. But after much prayer, seeking wise counsel, and streamlining our lives, we accepted the book deal.

Writing and publishing it has been a stretching and growing learning experience for me, but I’ve loved (almost!) every minute of it. And I’ve learned so much through it that will impact me for the rest of my life, regardless of where God takes me in the years to come.

What are the advantages of an audio book over a hard cover book?

We live in a fast-paced culture with many demands on our time. While many don’t have time to sit down and read a book, almost everyone can find some time in their busy lives to listen to an audiobook--whether it’s while you’re driving, or folding laundry, or making dinner. Plus, listening to an audio book read by the author brings more life, passion, and clarity to the chapters since you get to hear the author’s words in their own voice.



Who is the book written to? How would someone know they should read your book?
My heart’s desire in writing The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget is to give women hope and inspiration. I want to communicate the message that you’re not stuck–no matter how much of a financial mess you may feel like you’re in right now!

In this book, I give women the motivation and practical step-by-step help to turn their finances–and their lives around. You’ll be inspired to set big goals and follow through with them, to get a handle on your time and home management, to create a realistic budget, to start telling their money where to go instead of it just slipping through their fingers like sand, and to live a rich and fulfilling life--no matter you income level.

If you're discouraged with your financial traction, if you're feeling "stuck" financially, if you're struggling to have hope in the midst of financial setbacks, if you feel like you're in a financial mess, or if you could just use some practical ideas for how to live well on a shoestring budget, this book is for you!

What will a reader gain from reading your book?

I hope that a reader gains not only inspiration for wisely stewarding their money so they can save and give more, but I also hope that readers are inspired to live purposefully and intentionally by setting goals and getting their home and lives in better order. This book is not about putting a bandage on the problem or providing a quick fix; it’s about making gradual changes over an extended period that will propel you to greater financial success than you ever dreamed possible!

What are your top tips for women seeking financial freedom?

First off, one the most important things is to set goals. Goals give you purpose and momentum for financial stewardship. They give you the motivation to continue to live simply, clip coupons, cook from scratch, or drive an old car because each of those things are propelling you one step closer to your financial goals.

Consider where you want to be next year, five years from now, and ten years from now. Write your goals on paper and then break them down into monthly and weekly bite-sized pieces and start chipping away at them.

You might not be where you hope to be in six months or a year from now, but if you start taking small steps in the right direction, I can guarantee that you’ll be much farther along than if you did nothing at all.

Secondly, cultivate a positive, grateful attitude. You can choose to go through life seeing the worst in everything or the best in everything. You can complain about the thorns, or you can be grateful for the beautiful roses.

No matter what you’re going through in life, there is always something to be grateful for. Choose joy--even in the midst of difficult circumstances--and it will change your whole outlook on life!

You have some fun things planned for readers in the next month. What's happening?

I’m so excited to be hosting my first ever live chat on April 4, 2012! I’ll be sharing some practical financial encouragement and inspiration and then interacting in a live format with everyone who attends. Not only will you have the opportunity to get your questions answered, you’ll also get to engage in discussions with thousands of other women around the nation who will be a wealth of practical information on saving money, getting the best bang for your buck, and living within your means.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Would You Rate Your Life?




What Do You Want?
Excerpt adapted from TEN:
How Would You Rate Your Life by Terry A. Smith

I don’t think people want enough. An opinion piece in the New York Times claimed that most of our problems result from wanting too much. I couldn’t agree less. I think we should want more.

Jesus Christ said that His purpose is to give us “life—life in all its fullness” or “more and better life than [you] ever dreamed of” (John 10:10, NCV, MSG). Why would He say that if we aren’t supposed to want it?



TEN
How Would You Rate Your Life?
by
Terry A. Smith

Higher Life Development
Services, Inc.
January 2012
ISBN: 978-1-935245-50-6
249 pages/hard cover/$24.95
http://livingten.com

The “more and better life than you ever dreamed of” is the future that exists in God’s mind. It’s the dream He has for us. We can tap into this dream and create a preferred future for ourselves and others.

A seminal moment in my life happened when I was eighteen years old. I spent some time with a middle-aged man who was living a relatively uneventful life. He’d experienced moderate success in a career entered on helping people. He had a nice wife and nice kids and a nice house. He was a good and decent man. I liked him a lot.

One day, in kind of a dramatic way, he tried to offer me some life advice from his personal story. “Terry,” he said, “I never asked God for too much. I just told Him I wanted a nice, quiet life and to be able to help a few people along the way. And I told God that I didn’t want to suffer too much. That’s exactly what I have.” I was only eighteen, but at that moment I knew that I wanted more. Maybe instead of telling God what was in his mind, this nice man should have asked God what was in His. I bet God was thinking more—more than this guy had ever dreamed of.

I don’t think many people launch their lives wanting to be average. Regardless, that’s where many of us land. I don’t think wanting less is our God-given first instinct. Somehow, we learn to want less along the way.

You may feel that you are living a life that is good enough. You may be well-educated, have a good job, and involved in a life-changing volunteer organization in your community. But there’s even more out there. Open to the possibility that there are dreams and purpose and meaning inside of you—opportunities you’re not yet aware of.

Or you might be someone who feels your life is not successful and are altogether unfulfilled. You are unsatisfied with how things are turning out and may not be sure if more exists. Many people are bound by a survivor’s mentality because they cannot understand the opportunity to partner with God in creating inspired futures and, ultimately, a better life for themselves, those they love, and even for the world.

In my worldview, a TEN is defined by the gospel of John, chapter TEN, verse TEN. The more and better life. Abundant life. Until we can describe the whole of our lives like this, we are experiencing less than what’s possible. I believe you can experience the best possible future.

View videos, read sample chapters and find out more about TEN Circle Projects at www.livingten.com.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Love's Sacred Song


Title: LOVE’S SACRED SONG
Author: Mesu Andrews
Publisher: Revell
March 2012
ISBN: 978-0800734084
Genre: Biblical Fiction


Arielah is a shepherdess who has known ever since she met Solomon that it’s her destiny to become King Solomon’s bride—but Solomon finally reluctantly agrees to take Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom. Aielah is content, as it seems all her dreams will come true.

King Solomon is standing in King David’s famous shadow, and Solomon wavers between fear and bravado. He does take Arielah as a treaty bride, but he adds her to his harem, something Arielah never expected or wanted.

Can Arielah live as part of Solomon’s harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself to just one woman? Or will duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

LOVE’S SACRED SONG is the latest release by biblical fiction author Mesu Andrews. Those who are familiar with the biblical stories of King Solomon will know some of the details of this story, and the rest is pure imagination that vividly brings the time period, the characters, and the setting to life.

Arielah becomes real on the pages of this book, as does King Solomon. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and seeing where this story would take them. Knowing that Solomon had many wives and a huge harem, it seemed unlikely Arielah would get her dreams of a forever love, but I hoped that she would. Author’s notes are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 448 pages.

Monday, March 12, 2012

More Beauty Less Beast



Title: MORE BEAUTY LESS BEAST
Author: Debora M. Coty
Publisher: Barbour Books
March 2012
ISBN: 978-1616263478
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/women’s issues

Is your self-esteem “soul”-ed out?

Are you tempted by the Dark Side? (Talkin’ chocolate here, girlfriend)

Maybe it’s time for a healthy dose of truth gift-wrapped in humor.

MORE BEAUTY LESS BEAST is just that. It is divided up into four sections:

1. Outer Beauty
2. Inner Beauty
3. Under Garments by Fruits of the Spirit
4. Beautifying my World

With topics such as:

Judging by appearance
Keeping fit
Body awareness
Behavior
Achieving goals
Raising self-esteem
Powerful prayer
And more

Each chapter starts out with a verse, a relevant story, an application, an inspirational quote, and a few questions over what you read (your thoughts, experiences, opinions). This is short enough to be read in spurts, such as for a devotional, or to take along with you and keep in your desk drawer, your car, or on your dresser, if you need to find a pick-me-up related to a particular topic. Like, you just had a fight with your spouse over money and the only thing that’ll make you feel better is a major dose of chocolate, then you can reach for this book, instead of adding to your calorie intake and read one of several choices such as guilt, discernment, forgiveness, etc. to make you feel better and a little happier, more in control.

Highly recommended. Wisdom with humor. Can’t be beat. $9.99. 220 pages

***

About the book:

With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses heart needs of women struggling to tame that out-of-control inner beast that unexpectedly pounces, roaring and shredding, as it threatens to destroy the divinely beautiful princess hidden within. In More Beauty, Less Beast, women will find simple, practical techniques for embracing the true beauty rightfully theirs as cherished daughters of the King. Whether jaded by emotional wounds, unrealistic standards, or lack of confidence, this laugh-out-loud, girlfriend-to-girlfriend encouragement will help women transform their destructive inner beast into the exquisite beauty they were always meant to be.

About Debora Coty:

Debora Coty is an occupational therapist, a piano teacher, and a freelance writer. She's also involved in the children's ministry at her church and is an avid tennis player. Debora began writing to fill the void when her last child left for college, and it has since become a passion. Debora has a real knack for getting across sound biblical concepts with a refreshing lightheartedness as attested in her monthly newspaper column entitled "Grace Notes: God's Grace for Everyday Living."

Visit www.deboracoty.com for more about Debora and her books.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1616263474/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=sprightly-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=1616263474&adid=1AE0QCKRNXKRH61AMMQH

About the giveaway and party:

Using Biblical advice and her trademark humor, Debora Coty urges women to conquer guilt and re-institute hope in More Beauty, Less Beast. Celebrate with Debora by entering to win a $150 Visa Cash Card!



One "beautiful" winner will receive:

A $150 Visa Cash Card (Treat yourself to a spa day or weekend get-away!)
A Debora Coty Library (More Beauty, Less Beast, Too Blessed Too Be Stressed and Everyday Hope)
Chocolate (Every good things begins with chocolate!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/22/12. Winner will be announced at Debora's "Divine Beauty" Facebook Party on 3/22. Debora will be hosting an evening of chat, fun beauty trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Debora via Skype.)

So grab your copy of More Beauty, Less Beast and join Deborah and friends on the evening of March 22nd for an evening of fun.


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 22nd!


Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13460931/morebeautylessbeast)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Illusion


Title: ILLUSION
Author: Frank Peretti
Publisher: Howard Books
March 2012
ISBN 978-1-4391-9267-2
Genre: Fiction/Christian/General

Duane and Mandy were physically, emotionally, and professionally bound to one another for life. Until death appeared on the scene, snatching Mandy from Duane in the form of a traffic accident, which left Duane emotionally and spiritually shipwrecked. Mandy . . . gone.

Or is she? Mandy awakes in the present as the 19-year old, fair-going, fun-loving teenager that she had been in 1970, possessing a unique ability to pass invisibly through time and space. And her illusions have improved. Word gets around and Duane is drawn to the coffee shop where Mandy is performing illusions that even he cannot figure out. What is most puzzling is that this fresh-faced young girl is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.

As Duane and Mandy begin a furtive relationship as protégée and mentor, they are watched by secretive interests who not only understand Mandy’s ability, but also have the ability to decide what will become of her. Is life and love just an illusion? Or can Duane and Mandy find the reality behind it all?

This is your typical Frank Peretti novel. And that’s a good thing. All of the details that have made Peretti one of my favorite authors is in this novel. The tight story-line, the detailed characterization, the mind-boggling attention to detail that brings every scene, every emotion, every experience to life; it’s all there.

At the same time, this is not your typical Frank Peretti novel. As should be expected (and yet so often does not occur), even the best of writers improve with age and experience. The depths of emotion to which the author takes you is just a little deeper; the tensions to which one is exposed are just a little sharper; the nuances that make a good story great, they are just a shade subtler. The plot twists are sharper, and the rising action is fuller. Which makes for a far more explosive and unexpected climax. As is typical with Frank Peretti novels, have a full stock of drinks and snacks handy, and select your most comfortable reading chair. You’re not going to want to get up until you’ve reached the last page. 495 pages, hardback. $26.99.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When Rain Falls


Title: WHEN RAIN FALLS
Author: Tyora Moody
Publisher: Kensington
March 2012
ISBN: 978-1601628220
Genre: Romantic suspense/Urban Christian

Candace Johnson is the widow of a police officer, and she still keeps in contact with her husband’s former partner. She has two tween children, and is owner of a beauty salon. Her best friend, Pamela Coleman, called her late one night and said she had something to tell her, but she was tired, and they decided to put it off until the morning when Pamela had a beauty appointment. But Pamela never showed up for her appointment. Candy hears on the news that Pamela has been murdered.

Dectective Darnell Jackson is the investigating officer and his captain is coming down hard on him because Pamela is the daughter of a high-profile judge. The police have no leads, but knowing Candy is her best friend, they show up asking questions. The murder appears to have been a crime of passion, and to Candy’s knowledge, Pamela’s only ‘boyfriend’ is a ‘happily-married man.’

The leads die out, but Candy can’t let her friend’s death go. Her questioning leads her straight to the killer—and now the murderer has Candy on her hit list as well. Now Candy has to trust God with her own life.

WHEN RAIN is Ms. Moody’s debut novel, and the first book in the Victory Gospel series. Candy is a very realistic heroine, still hurting after the death of her husband two years earlier, and not ready to move on. The death of her best friend was adding insult to injury, and suddenly, Candy is left floundering, hurting, and wondering why everyone she loves is taken away from her.

I enjoyed reading WHEN RAIN FALLS by Ms. Moody and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. If you like Urban Christian and romantic suspense, then this is a book that you’ll want to read. It kept me guessing until the end who the killer might be. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.95. 288 pages.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stand by Me


Title: STAND BY ME
Author: Neta Jackson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59554-864-1
Genre: Inspirational/womens fiction

Kathryn Davies is a premed student in Arizona. She goes to Chicago with some friends and ends up accepting Christ, and then her whole life changes. Against her parents’ wishes, she enrolls in a university in Chicago, ditches her premed studies and takes up teaching. Her family all but disowns her.

Avis Douglass is a principle in a inner-city school, and she’s struggling with her daughter, Rochelle’s choices. Rochelle has a young son, and she has disappeared from Avis’ life after a pair of Avis’ valuable earrings goes missing. Avis is desperate to find her daughter, but she’s also praying about the possibility of going overseas to serve as missionaries with some friends.

Kat discovers SouledOut Community Church, where Avis attends, and wants to worship there. But a lot of the members, Avis especially, think that Kat is full of herself and she gets on their nerves fast. But is it possible that God has planned for Kat and Avis to meet and that the two women need each other?

STAND BY ME is the first book in Ms. Jackson’s newest series A SouledOut Sisters. I couldn’t wait to read this book and was so glad when I got it to review. Avis is a character I’m very familiar with from Ms. Jackson’s first series—and actually, the second one too. Kat is a sweetheart, and someone I could relate greatly too, especially some of her more outrageous activities which were controversial, but needed to be addressed.

I loved STAND BY ME and am looking forward to reading more books in this third series by Ms. Jackson. Highly recommended. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $15.99. 394 pages.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Lady's Maid


Title: THE LADY’S MAID
Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Barbour Books
October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-81626-439-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Lady Anne Stone’s Uncle David is supposed to be the new Earl of Stoneford. However, he has disappeared somewhere in America. Last known location was St. Louis, and that was ten years ago. Left destitute and homeless until a rightful heir is claimed, Lady Anne has no choice but to go to America, her Lady’s Maid, Elise Flinster at her side, and look for Uncle David.

However, St. Louis has yielded no clues, other than he might have gone further west or back to England. Since he hasn’t made contact with family in England, Lady Anne feels that is unlikely, so they go to talk to a wagon train headed to Oregon.

Eli Bentley works as a scout for the wagon train and he’s skeptical about taking two refined British women across the wild untamed lands. Will their adventure turn into a nightmare? Is it possible that these women will even survive the trip? And where is their uncle?

THE LADY’S MAID is a very intriguing story. At first I thought, oh, another Oregon wagon train story. But this story is completely different. Elise is one of the main characters and she might have been a lady’s maid in England, but she is made of sterner stuff and quite capable of adjusting to hardships.

There is one major untied thread in this story, but there is another book in this series (or two) so I anticipate that it will be settled in one of the future books. If you are looking for a different sort of Oregon Trail story, then THE LADY’S MAID is definitely a book you’ll want to read. There are some funny moments in the book. $12.99. 318 pages.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Creation


Title: THE CREATION
Retold and illustrated by: Janice D. Green
Publisher: Honeycomb Adventures Press
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0983680802
Genre: Bible/childrens

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth – Genesis 1:1

Are you looking for a quick Bible story to teach your young child about THE CREATION? If so, then this is the book for you. Ms. Green has developed a cute, hardcover book, which takes you and your child on a day-by-day accounting of creation.

Each page covers part of the creation story, but at the ending of the page are questions for you to ask your child so that you can discuss it and the child will gain a deeper understanding of what occurred.

The book ends with a brief message about sin and God’s forgiveness. There is a note to the parents with suggestions on how to use the book, and a craft for children and adults to work on together to help make the lessons stick.

If you are looking for a good Bible-based creation story for your child, then THE CREATION is a book to consider. $14.99 hardcover. 24 pages.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mystery of Puzzle Bones


Title: MYSTERY OF PUZZLE BONES
Author: T. A. Smith
Publisher: Catacomb Publishing LLC
November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9841847-1-2
Genre: Inspirational/young adult/mystery

Jaydon, Caleb, Ethan, and Brandon are all best friends, and they have the coolest hide-out. It’s a layout of unused sewer lines in the new subdivision. The boys take their skateboards down there and skate via flashlight to a big room, where they have rigged up electric and fished chairs and lamps out of dumpsters to have a comfortable place to hang out.

But one day, Ethan is afraid someone has found them. He saw a gray shadow moving in the background. He doesn’t want to say anything, thinking his friends will make fun of him, but soon his friends notice and they go to investigate. What they find, leaves chills running up their spines. Someone has left a strange puzzle of bones near the clubhouse.

Someone knows about their secret hangout, and is leading them deeper into the sewers. But what they find is a place that doesn’t want to be found and people that will do anything to protect their secrets. The danger become extreme, and the boys are forced to run for their lives. Will they survive?

MYSTERY OF PUZZLE BONES is the first book in the Adventures of the Boardunders Club for children ages 8 – 14. There is also a dog, Roscoe, who is a member of the club, and the dog is a key player, involved in everything.

Only one of the boys, Caleb, is a Christian, so the boys have some discussions, about horoscopes and the supernatural, ghosts and demons and such. Caleb has a real good testimony though, so his friends ask him questions about God, but realistically don’t make an immediate decision for Christ.

Written for boys, this is a book that girls won’t be afraid to read, even though there aren’t many female characters. Tweener boys will find this book hard to put down. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $6.95. 151 pages.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Common Denominators for Success


Title: COMMON DENOMINATORS FOR SUCCESS
Author: Kenny J. Anderson
Publisher: Brigham Distributing
November 2010
ISBN: 978-0615390024
Genre: Self-help

Kenny Anderson is a stockbroker, and he has researched for many years what makes people succeed in life. Though years of study, he has concluded that there are seven universal formulas that people follow when they achieve their goals.

Mr. Anderson also maintains that these same formulas will apply whether you are pursuing a life-long dream, meaningful relationships, wanting optimal health, or want to make the most of your time and money.

The seven formulas are:

 Within each of us lies unlimited potential. The only limitations in life are those we place upon ourselves.
 Success is not a matter of chance but a matter of choice.
 Results stem from natural laws adhered to or broken.
 Wisdom is knowledge applied.
 Real success is the consistent application of correct principles in every aspect of life.
 Focus is achieved as we overcome roadblocks to success.
 A lifetime commitment to success is found in the persistent pursuit of excellence.

You’ll have to read the book to learn how to follow these formulas, but Mr. Anderson promises extraordinary results when these seven formulas are applied.

This is a great self-help book, one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen in some time. If you are looking to improve your life in some area, then COMMON DENOMINATORS FOR SUCCESS is a book you might consider reading. $16.95. 190 pages.

**this book has a strong smell - it gave me a headache, so I could only read it in small bits of time. It might be the type of glue. But if you have allergies, you might prefer the kindle or nook editions instead.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Interview with Janet Syas Nitsick and GIVEAWAY


Interview with Locket and Lanterns and Seasons of the Soul Best of Year author Janet Syas Nitsick

Enter for a giveaway by answering Janet's question below: Leave contact information

Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Both my current book, Seasons of the Soul, and my April 24, 2012, released inspiring-historical romance, Lockets and Lanterns, are based on my background. Seasons of the Soul, a book similar to Chicken Soup for the Soul books, includes faith stories and a spattering of accounts of my two different autistic sons - one nonverbal and low-functioning with the other verbal and high-functioning.
My debut novel, Lockets and Lanterns, also contains elements from my past. The romance - ... His secret ... Her broken heart ... - is loosely-based on my grandfather who had red hair, was a fireman, exhibited a thumb-twiddling habit and whit as the character in the book. However, this story is not his story, but an imagery one seeped in the early-twentieth-century and the character’s secret is one I witnessed.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
It is not a day but a life reflection in seeing my eldest sons, being men of God and raising their children as such, and in my two autistic sons finding their place in the world.

How has being published changed your life?
More people know you and are intrigued by your profession. They celebrate your joys and trials. It also teaches you to take criticism with a grain of salt and to realize not everyone is going to like your books but those who do make your days brighter and lighter.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading Return of the Aliens, a science-fiction novel that takes you to the time of Revelations. It is written by Ruth Ann Nordin. She is the author of several best-selling romances and wrote this as a change of pace. Visit her Web site : www.ruthannnordinbooks.com.

What is your current work in progress?

Right now, I am in the midst of writing a prelude novel, Cameos and Carriages, which sets up the scene prior to the soon-to-be-released romance, Lockets and Lanterns.
What would be your dream vacation?

Would like to take an Alaskan cruse or go to Simi Valley, Calif., and visit former President Ronald Reagan’s library.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Settings occur in places I am familiar with thus my novel, Lockets and Lanterns, takes place in Omaha.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

Talk show host Sean Hannity because we are of the same political mind, he defends Christianity and tries to persuade people to live moral lives.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

(1)I am the daughter of late Nebraska State Sen. George Syas who served in the Unicameral for 26 years. He was well-known for his knowledge of Nebraska’s constitution. He received the school bell, many wildlife and conservation awards and has a wildlife area named after him, George Syas Wildlife Management Area in Genoa, Neb.

(2)My father was a common man. He earned more money as a Union Pacific machinist than as a senator. In fact, my mother had three nervous breakdowns for lack of income since he did not receive a check from U.P. when he was in session.

(3)Because of my background, I love politics and am a political junky. I follow the national and local scenes through a variety of medias.

What are your hobbies besides writing and reading?

I like to walk with a friend when weather permits. It is a long winter because we cannot go out. I love to decorate, coordinating color schemes with curtains, bedspreads, etc.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Life keeps interfering with writing. Last week, I planned to write but something came up about my one autistic which put that to rest. God has a way of humbling us into the realization that family is more important, and everything else can wait. We are here a little while, and what family members will remember is what we did with them not our writing.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Nothing in life is easy. Writing is the same. You have to rewrite, rewrite and rewrite and listen to your critique group to improve your skills. The best will come with time if you preserve.

Tell us about the book.

Locked in the groom’s heart is a secret which once unlocked exposes his wife to much anguish. Lockets and Lanterns, a gripping tale of love, loss, and forgiveness, takes readers back to the 1900s when life was simpler, but sustaining love was just as difficult.

Lockets and Lanterns Excerpt: Red looked at his wife while the early morning sun drifted over their bed. Peace and contentment filled his being. He no longer pined over a lost love. He rubbed his head against the pillow as he pondered their future. He took a deep breath, knowing he did not tell his wife about the family secret.

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

We all face our challenges but Christ helps us through them.

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

I will send an autographed paperback copy of Lockets and Lanterns to the first person who responses with the correct two answers. If two accurate answers are unachievable, I will chose the person with one correct answer.

On April 2, 1914, my grandfather applied for the City of Omaha Fire Department. Besides his application asking for his address, age and weight, there were a number of character questions that today are considered taboo. See if you can name at least two of these.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Last Target

Congratulations to Aly Logan for winning a copy of June Foster's book and to Michelle Broeker for winning a set of The Beautiful Wife books.



Title: THE LAST TARGET
Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-373-44458-8
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Rachel Reynolds is expecting a normal weekend. She takes her son to the park to play on a normal weekend morning. While her son is standing at the tip-top of a high slide a gunman attacks, aiming for Rachel. Someone pushes her down, grabs her son, and hustles them off to safety, and then Rachel learns that she is the last living person named on a hitman’s list.

Jack Sergeant is hired to take care of Rachel. He’s been trailing her for awhile, without Rachel’s knowledge, and now he won’t leave Rachel’s side. He is unsuccessful trying to find any links between the other victims and Rachel. But he feels a connection to Rachel—her dead husband asked Jack to make sure Rachel and her son were safe.

When the killer makes several more attempts on Rachel’s life, even breaching the safety of the safe-house, it seems that she doesn’t have a chance. She’s desperate to make sure her son is cared for, and equally desperate to keep Jack at a distance. Will love—or the killer win?

THE LAST TARGET is the first Love Inspired Suspense I’ve read by Christy Barritt. I love her cozy mysteries, and was anxious to read this. Being a suspense, rather than a mystery, THE LAST TARGET does have a different feel, and since it is written in third person rather than third it’s different in that way, too.

Rachel is a realistic heroine. She’s shocked at the rather abrupt change to her life, shocked to learn someone wants her dead, and devastated when her friends and coworkers are taken down. Jack is a typical military man, gruff, stern and expecting to be obeyed without question. Ms. Barritt is very good at character development.

I enjoyed reading THE LAST TARGET. Available online or at some brick and mortar stores. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 217 pages.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Interview with Dorothy Love

Congratulations to Vickie Lynch for winning a copy of the Common English Bible


What can you tell us about the time period of Beauty for Ashes?
The story takes place in 1876, in the middle of an economic depression caused by too much railroad speculation. Banks failed, farm prices went down, and many families, like my character Carrie Daly, struggled to get by. Families were still recovering from the effects of the Civil War that ended in 1865. However, it was a time when new and exciting things were on the horizon, too. Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his telephone. By the end of the year, 3,000 were in use nationwide. Philadelphia held a Centennial exposition. The newspapers were filled with stories of General Custer's last stand against Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. The modern-day Kentucky Derby had begun the year before, and this interest in horse racing is what prompts my hero, Griff Rutledge to stay in Hickory Ridge to train a horse for a local race. P. T. Barnum toured with Jumbo, the elephant just acquired from London's Royal Zoological Society. At picnics and parties, people gathered to sing the latest tunes of the day, including, "Grandfather's Clock" and "I'll take You Home Again, Kathleen."

How does it parallel our own post-war circumstances?
For the past several years, we've seen our own economic hard times, haven't we? With the housing bubble, the bank bailouts, and the decline of manufacturing, families are struggling now, just as they were back in 1876. But we are looking forward to better times, too, with new inventions every day and new songs to sing. Americans are a resilient people. Like Carrie and Griff, they make the best of their circumstances and hold onto hope for a better future.

What would you like readers to come away with from reading Beauty for Ashes?
I hope that every reader brings her own experiences and expectations to the story and makes her own meaning from it. Some readers will focus on the love story between Griff and Carrie, some will be intrigued with the mystery of Rosaleen, and I hope everyone will enjoy the weaving together of the historical and the personal that is the hallmark of each of my southern historical novels.

What inspired you to write Beauty for Ashes?
It's the second of my Hickory Ridge novels. When I created Carrie Daly in the first book, Beyond All Measure, she was mourning the death of her husband at the battle of Shiloh. My heart hurt for her, so mired in grief and loneliness. I wanted to give her a second chance to build a life with Griff and find love again.
As in recent years the postbellum period in much of the South, including Tennessee, were difficult. A widespread depression made jobs scarce. People struggled not only to put their losses behind them but to figure out a way forward. Many people in our country today have struggled with the same kinds of losses. In writing Beauty For Ashes I wanted to tell a story that reminds us all of God's goodness and of his promise to give those who mourn beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.

Is there a character that you relate to most?
I feel a connection to all of them. Griff was such a wonderful hero to write. He's so dashing and adventurous, but underneath that, desperately lonely and vulnerable. And as I've said, I so wanted Carrie to be happy again. I even love Mary Stanhope, because even though she's impossible, she does change and grow throughout the story, and I liked her quite a bit by the end.

You're from Tennessee. Is Hickory Ridge a real place? What made you set Beauty for Ashes in Tennessee?
Hickory Ridge is not a real place. It's based loosely on the Cade's Cove area in the Great Smokies which was a farm community in the 19th century, although not as large or as prosperous as Hickory Ridge. I set the series there because of its great beauty, its rich history, and because the South in general is a place that is not as often chosen as a setting, compared to Texas or the far west. I hope readers will love spending time in someplace new and will come back to Hickory Ridge for one last visit when Every Perfect Gift, the final book in the series, comes out later this year.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Prayer that Changes Everything

congratulations to Angie Adair for winning a copy of Fay Lamb's book


Title: THE PRAYER THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING
Author: Stormie Omartian
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
2004
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4750-3
Genre: Inspirational/prayer/Christian Life

One of the most wonderful thing about God is that He loves to hear our praises. According to Ms. Omartian, He lives in our praises. Even though God is always with us, and we are never alone, when we worship Him, then He comes to dwell with us in power.

When we praise God, something changes within you, or about your circumstances. Hearts change, minds change, attitudes change, and lives change. You can’t be in God’s presence without being affected by it in some way.

There are reasons to praise God every day, and there are times when praise in necessary.

THE PRAYER THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING is divided up into two sections.

Part 1: Fifteen reasons to Praise God Now

Part 2: Fifteen Times when Praise is Crucial

Fifteen reasons to Praise God Now, includes ideas such as:

 Because He is my creator
 Because He is my Heavenly father
 Because He has forgiven me
 Because He is holy
 Because He is….

And Fifteen times when Praise is Crucial includes:

 When I am troubled by negative thoughts and emotions
 When I have fear and discouragement
 When I don’t see answers to my prayers
 When I suffer great loss, disappointment, and failure
 When I sense all is well

I totally believe in the power of prayer and in the power of praise, and there are times when I just have to praise Him. God is a great and wonderful God, and He deserves our total devotion and praise. I highly recommend THE PRAYER THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING as a must read. There are verses included and places for further thought and reflection, as well as applications. $14.99. 316 pages.