Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Farmer Next Door

Author: Patricia Davids
Publisher: Love Inspired
July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-373-81557-9
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Adrian Lapp has lost his wife shortly after childbirth, and his young son a few years later when he was hit by a car. He swears he’ll never marry again. But that is until Faith Martin moves in next door. Faith also lost her husband and twin daughters, but she had an unhappy marriage and she doesn’t want to be beat by a man again.

Faith raises alpacas for their wool to spin into yarn. But when they get into Adrian’s beans he is less than happy. Still, he offers to help Faith get the animals properly enclosed so they don’t escape and eat up his beans.

Faith’s English brother died and she hopes to adopt his son as hers but the social worker is less than enthusiastic about letting an Amish woman adopt an English boy. Faith is the boy’s only living relative so she has to give her a chance but she keeps finding things to knit-pick about, including the fact that she is Plain. Will Faith get to keep her nephew and find love in the process? Or will she lose both the boy and Adrian?

THE FARMER NEXT DOOR is part of Ms. Davids Brides of Amish Country series. It is kind of simplistic and gives a lot of information that avid readers of Amish fiction already know, but if someone is new to the genre then the information is good to have. I enjoyed reading this sweet romance and getting to know Faith and Adrian and learning more about alpacas (which are kind of like llamas). This was an interesting book and it held my attention, though I think that not all the adoption facts are accurate. I didn't research though, so I don't know. I hoped both Adrian and Faith would find happiness and that Faith would be able to keep her nephew. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $6.50. 280 pages.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sound of Red Returning

Author: Sue Duffy
Publisher: Kregel
December 2011
ISBN: 978-0825425745
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Liesl Bower is an accomplish pianist, playing for audiences around the world. She is no stranger to the White House or for playing for presidents—but she is unaccustomed to finding scary, scowling faces in the audience. The face of a man she’d seen threatening her music mentor fifteen years earlier, shortly before he was murdered.

Now, it seems as if something has happened to set both Russian and CIA agents on her heels. Intelligence suggests that Liesl possesses a coded message critical to a resurgence of Soviet power.

The Russians are in a frenzy to find the code before the Americans. But Liesl doesn’t have any idea what she possesses, she only finds herself on a run for her life—a run that will take her through the wounds of her past, the love of man she never thought could be hers, and the prevailing power of God.

THE SOUND OF RED RETURNING is the first book I’ve read by Sue Duffy. It is book one in the Red Returning trilogy, and a very nice start. The book did begin rather slowly, but did pick up about midway. There are flashes in time period from present time to fifteen years earlier, and back, and I found the jumps a bit jarring. I did fall in love with Liesl, and innocent bystander, so to speak, thrust into an international spy ring and fleeing for her life without knowing for sure why and what they were after.

I did enjoy reading THE SOUND OF RED RETURNING despite its slow start and the confusing ending. I will look for Ms. Duffy’s other books in this series. If you like political suspense then you will want to look at THE SOUND OF RED RETURNING. 288 pages. $14.99.

Read an excerpt here: http://www.sueduffybooks.com/#!vstc1=books

About the author:

Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody Magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001) and Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.

Find out more at www.sueduffybooks.com.

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/8B9HT

About the giveaway and party:

Sue and her publisher, Kregel Publications, are giving away a “Red Returning” prize package worth over $200 to one lucky winner!!!! (1/23-2/11)

Enter the Sue Duffy’s Giveaway today and you could win:

* A brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi
* The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy

To enter click one of the icons below. But, hurry! The giveway ends on 2/11. Sue will be announcing the winner of the “Red Returning” Giveaway on February 13th on the Litfuse website!

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13452833

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Summer of Promise

congratulations to Margaret for winning a free download of K. Dawn Byrd's book

Author: Amanda Cabot
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3459-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Abigail Harding left her job in Vermont, anxious about her sister Charlotte who married a soldier and relocated to the Wyoming territory. Charlotte’s letters have sounded increasingly melancholy and yet she claims nothing is wrong. Abigail decides to head west to see for herself.

Abigail’s first impression of Wyoming is that it’s boring. Nothing but a clear blue sky to see. Yet, when her stage coach is attacked by bandits, it proves to be anything but boring. Lieutenant Ethan Bowles saves the stage coach from robbery—and worse.

Abigail plans to marry Woodrow when she returns to Vermont, but as the summer passes she finds herself drawn to both the land and a certain soldier. Will Abigail go back east, as planned, or will she stay for a new love?

SUMMER OF PROMISE is the first book in Ms. Cabot’s new series Westwood Winds. So far, it is proving to be as captivating a series as Ms. Cabot’s previous one Texas Dreams Series.

The setting was decribed so vividly that I could almost see the endless and cloudless blue eyes, the vast planes with nothing growing on them except cactus and bushes, and the lack of trees. I could feel the lurching of the stage coach, and hear the endless pratter of her fellow passengers. I was glad that the trip west wasn’t dragged on and that the story continues on when they reached the fort.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters and can’t wait to read more in this series. SUMMER OF PROMISE is a book that Ms. Cabot’s fans and historical romance fans will not want to miss. I’m looking forward to Ms. Cabot’s first Christmas novella coming this fall from Revell—as well as the continuation of this series coming next year. $14.99. 410 pages.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Rose of Winslow Street

Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0895-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical fiction

Michail Dobrescu has migrated from Romania to America in search for safety for his family. He has the deed to a house on Winslow Street, in Colden, Massachusetts, but someone else has been living in the house. Michail doesn’t know who, except the person had odd tastes. He expects a fight will break out over the ownership of the house—but the battle begins sooner than he expects when the neighbors notice him move in and call the sheriff to investigate.

Libby Sawyer leads a quiet life, but she is stunned when she learns that a stranger has a shocking claim to her father’s house. This immediately alienates him from the community, and Libby is outraged! She’s lived there all her life and isn’t afraid to fight for ownership of the house.

Michail changes his name to Michael to better fit in with the Americans and he won’t be thwarted by an illiterate woman’s claim to the house on Winslow Street. But as the court’s decision is pending, the mysteries surrounding Michael’s past are unveiled and Libby’s loyalties are tested in ways she never imagined.

I read and enjoyed Ms. Camden’s first book The Lady of Bolton Hill and loved it. THE ROSE OF WINSLOW STREET was entirely different as this book seemed to be more of an epic instead of Victorian Romance.

Michael starts THE ROSE OF WINSLOW STREET as a jerk, not caring too much who he stomps on so long as he gets his way. But he had gallant reasons. But my opinion of him changed as I continued reading the book. I felt for Libby. She is ashamed of things about her past and tries to hide them, but of course they all come to light in the story.

I did enjoy reading THE ROSE OF WINSLOW STREET, but in a very different way than I loved The Lady of Bolton Hill. If you enjoy epic historicals then you won’t want to miss THE ROSE OF WINSLOW STREET. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 342 pages.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beyond Molasses Creek

Author: Nicole Seitz
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
January 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59554-505-3
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Ally is a former flight attendant. She was forced to leave the job when her back went out and she dumped a cup of coffee on a passenger. She never wanted to get back on a plane—but now she has, to fly to the Lowcountry to bury her father—and the past. Her old best friend, Vesey Washington, is still living across the creek—but this is the south; Vesey is black, she is white. And despite the attraction between them, there can’t be anything more.

On the other side of the world, a young slave woman, Sunila Kunari, is wondering why she was born white in a family of black. She believes there’s more to her story that she’s told, so she escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A sketchbook tempts Sunila to follow the truth wherever it may lead…

BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK is the first book I’ve read by Nicole Seitz. Written in first person of the three different characters, each point of view is easily identified by a name at the top of the chapter.

The story starts out extremely slow and never really picked up. I figured out where it was going once one certain thing was revealed and I wasn’t mistaken. I was disappointed that there was no romantic happy-ever-after-ending, though there is a happy-ever-after-ending of another sort.

Vesey was a wonderful male character, and I loved him. He was strong and faithful and loving. Sunila’s story is horribly sad. I felt so bad for her. This isn’t really what I expected. It was an okay read, overly sad for me, but others might enjoy it.

If you are looking for a women’s fiction, then you might be interested in BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK. $15.99. 320 pages.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview with Denise Hunter

Author Denise Hunter explores the flaw in seeking favor with others

Do the opinions of those around us really matter? Should we live our lives based on what others might think? In her latest release, The Accidental Bride (Thomas Nelson), award-winning author Denise Hunter explores these questions as she deftly leads her readers to discover the One whose favor should always be sought. Skillfully creating a love story that beautifully reflects God’s grace, Hunter uses the pages of The Accidental Bride to bring to light preoccupation with caring what others think. Using complex characters, an enticing backdrop and an almost palpable range of emotion and conflict, Hunter draws her readers to a new awareness of how much more simple life becomes when we aim to please God instead of man.

The Accidental Bride
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson/January 3, 2012
ISBN 978-1-59554-802-3
304 pages/trade paper/$15.99

In the interview below, Denise Hunter shares more about her latest release.

Q: In The Accidental Bride, your main character, Shay is continually concerned with what others might think. Worrying about the opinions of others is a common malady in today’s society. What made you decide to write about it?

As you say, it’s so common to be worried about what others think of us. I love that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” So true! Shay needed to realize that it’s God’s opinion that really matters. When we focus on pleasing people, we tend to make poor decisions.

Q: This isn’t your first novel based on the cowboy lifestyle. What drew you to this particular lifestyle as the backdrop for your writing?

I’m drawn to the rugged appeal of the cowboy lifestyle. Even though I live in a city, I’m a country girl at heart, and I especially love the mountains; that’s why I was drawn to Montana for this series. There’s something simple and beautiful about living off the land that I think appeals to readers right now. Things are tough for so many people—and though the cowboy lifestyle is a hard one—it’s also very organic, a back to our roots kind of thing.

Q: The premise of The Accidental Bride is both interesting and unique. What inspired your decision to involve your hero and heroine in an “accidental” marriage?

I was watching a TV movie in which the actors were getting married, and I wondered, “What if the actor playing the preacher was an ordained minister? Would the couple be legally married?” Turns out, it’s not quite that simple to become accidentally married. There’s the matter of a marriage license that the pastor has to sign and mail to the proper government agency. So the good news is, it’s not likely to happen to you or anyone you know. But it sure was fun instigating such an event in a novel!

Q: Before she could forgive him, Travis had to rebuild Shay’s trust. Is this a necessary step, or do you believe we should forgive even those who may never be trustworthy again?

Trust and forgiveness are two different things. Forgiveness is something God commands us to do—regardless of circumstances like whether or not the offender is apologetic or has changed, etc.

Trust is different; it’s earned. And unfortunately, it takes a long time to build trust and only one bad decision to wreck it. We forgive the offender, but if he or she doesn’t change, we aren’t required to trust the person again. It’s the offender’s responsibility—if he or she wants to be trusted again—to earn back that trust.

Q: As an award-winning romance novelist you are, no-doubt, a role model for many would-be writers. What advice would you give to those who dream of one day being published? What’s an absolute must for a great romance?

First of all, I recommend aspiring writers to study and practice. Writing is a craft to be honed, and no matter how much natural talent you have, it takes both of those things to become a good writer.
Also, write the book you want to read. If you want to read that kind of book, there will be others who want to read it too.
Study the market, not so that you can jump on every trend, but so that you know how your story fits into the market.
Join a writers group so you can meet other writers—iron sharpens iron.
Once you have a marketable manuscript, go to conferences. The American Christian Writers Conference is the best out there in my opinion (www.acfw.com). At conferences, you will learn from some of the best in the industry and get a chance to pitch your work to agents and editors.
E-publishing is becoming huge, but don’t put a sub-par manuscript out there where it will only flounder. Hone the craft, write the best story you can, and learn to re-write. Then hire an editor. Every published author has one for a reason!
Getting published can be a long, uphill climb, but persistence pays off.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of eighteen romance novels, including The Convenient Groom, Surrender Bay, Driftwood Lane and the first book in the Big Sky Series, A Cowboy’s Touch. Struck by the brevity of life following her grandfather’s passing, Denise began writing in 1996. As a young stay-at-home mom she used the brief time while her children were napping each day to pursue her dream of being a writer. Two years later her first novel was published. She then continued her naptime writing schedule to complete four more novels. Today she encourages other young mothers to pursue their writing dreams, pointing out that writing only one page a day for a year will result in a completed manuscript. Since beginning her career, Hunter’s work has earned her the Holt Medallion Award, the Reader’s Choice Award and the Foreword Book of the Year Award. She has also been a RITA finalist. Hunter lives in Indiana with her husband and their three teenaged sons. Along with writing and spending time with her family, she enjoys reading, traveling and playing drums for her church’s worship team.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview with Carl Kerby

An interview with Carl Kerby, author of
Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life

“The two most important pieces of information I will take away from this book: stay bold and be prepared to give a defense of your faith. This book will inspire Christians to do just that. Your story, from your checkered childhood to your resistance to God’s path for you, is a strong reminder that God has a plan for us all. Your explanation of how the Bible fits into the modern-day world, tackling issues such as evolution and race, is crucial to today’s Christian.”

~ Rich “Ace” Franklin, three-time UFC MMA Champ

Life is often not picture-perfect, and difficult times can make it hard to see a plan or purpose for our lives. In this inspiring story of one man’s journey, you will learn to see life from a different perspective. No matter what your circumstances, God can gather up the broken pieces and random elements of your life and form them into a beautiful mosaic—making you a useful vessel for His glory.

Reasons for Hope
In the Mosaic of Your Life

Carl Kerby

Genesis Publishing Group
December 15, 2011
ISBN: 978-1933591094
208 pages/paperback/$14.99

Q&A with Carl Kerby

Q: In what ways are our lives like mosaics?

To me, a mosaic is a fitting illustration of the way God can take the broken pieces of our lives and create something beautiful from them. My life has been filled with boulders and broken stones. Yet God, in His grace, has put those stones together in a mosaic to make me into a useful vessel for His glory.

I once saw a large mosaic but was too close to understand the design, so I backed up to get a better view. Just as the mosaic picture didn’t make sense until I got a broader perspective, I had to do the same thing with the struggles I’ve encountered. As I look back over my life from a different perspective, I can see why God has allowed me to undergo some of the challenges I’ve had.

I also realized that the more broken pieces in the mosaic, the more beautiful the picture and the greater its value. The more we’ve gone through, the more amazing the picture our lives can be when we have God’s perspective.

Q: How can Christians use the mosaic of their life to bring hope to others?

People are often encouraged by my story, when they realize that God can use anyone to do His work—even the messed-up son of a professional wrestler who ended up earning his livelihood as an air-traffic controller and then a public creation speaker. Growing up I struggled with a lot of things other people do: an absentee father, my parents’ divorce, alcohol and drugs, run-ins with the law, even being homeless at one point.

No matter our background, we can all share our own life stories, our mosaic, to tell others how God has taken the broken pieces of our life and made something beautiful and valuable. Those rocky areas in our life can be steppingstones for sharing the love of Christ with others.

Q: You address the topic of racism in Reasons for Hope. Why was that issue important to include?

Sadly, evolutionary teaching promotes the idea that people are divided into different “races” with some “races” better than others, leading to all sorts of prejudice, hatred, and bloodshed. I know I was wrong in my racist attitudes when I was young, and many still believe the same way I did. That’s why I take such a strong stand on this issue today.

Ultimately, the issue of racism comes down to this: where did humans come from? When you reject what the Bible says about man’s origin, you will end up with all kinds of wrong beliefs. But biblically and scientifically, there is only one race of people—Homo sapiens—all made in the image of God. So we need to abandon the term “races” and instead talk about “cultures” or “people groups.”

We have to teach people the truth about racism, but what bothers me the most is that the church has dropped the ball on this issue. In fact, the church (in some instances) is one of the last bastions of racism and prejudice in America. And if we, as Christians, cannot grasp the need to eradicate racism, how can we expect the world to do that?

About the Author: Carl Kerby is president and founder of Reasons for Hope (rforh.com), founded in 2011 as a response to a calling from God to proclaim the authority and authenticity of the Bible. He was previously a founding board member at Answers in Genesis for ten years and served there for over fifteen years. Before that he worked as an air-traffic controller at O’Hare International Airport. Kerby’s love for Jesus fuels a passion to engage the minds and hearts of youth and adults so that they can know the truth of God’s Word. He is a sought-after speaker both in the United States and abroad. Yet his most cherished accomplishment is his 29-year marriage to his wife, Masami, and his roles as father to his children, Alisa and Carl, Jr., and as grandfather to Trey.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa

Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Summerside Press
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1609361358
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Amalie Wiese is traveling from New York to Iowa to join the new Amana communities as a head cook. She’s also engaged to marry Friedrich, another man in the Amana community. It takes five weeks of brutal travel by wagon train to reach Iowa, and Amalie’s train is almost stopped by Rebel soldiers burning Yankee cities and towns and running the wagon train travelers off in to the forest where who knows what evil waits.

When Amalie arrives in Amana, she is anxious to see Friedrich. But he is no where to be found. Then she learns that he went off, against the wishes of the community, to fight in the War Between the States. Friedrich’s best friend, Matthias is still there, but he’s distant and cold.

When Matthias also leaves for the battlefront, war rages in Amalie’s heart. Who will claim the victory?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is set thirty years earlier than Ms. Dobson’s Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa which is also set in the Amana communities. I loved the book in Homestead, Iowa, and was looking forward to reading this one. A friend of mine actually received this book for review but she hated it, and passed it on to me to review instead.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a slower paced story, dragging at times, and Amalie at times seems a cold and uncaring heroine, but that is only because she cares so deeply she’s afraid to let herself feel—she might violate the rules of the community. Friedrich is also a caring man. Deeply in love with Amalie, but also hating the war that is raving between the states, and what it is doing to the oppressed people. Matthias himself is torn by the war, but he is above all, obedient to his leaders and if they say no, the answer is no. I cared for all these people, and had to keep reading to find out what happens, but the story is very slow, enabling people to put it down and not forcing them to keep reading. I’m giving it 4.5 stars. $12.99. 315 pages.

I received this book in return for review from Christian Bookworm Reviews

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Jerk Magnet

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1962-3
Genre: Inspirational/teen fiction

Chelsea Martin is a geek, and invisible. She is looking forward to getting out of school for the summer when she finishes her Sophomore year, so she can get away from all the cruelty at high school. But then her dad drops a bombshell on her. He’s getting married to a hot woman he used to work with and they are moving to California.

Chelsea’s new step-mom-to-be takes control over Chelsea’s wardrobe, taking her shopping and getting her makeovers. Soon Chelsea doesn’t even recognize herself. She’s blond, fashionable, and gorgeous.

But on the move west, Chelsea starts attracting male attention and she isn’t sure how to respond. By the time she arrives at her new school in California, she has the attention of all the guys and that doesn’t make her BFF material for the girls.

When a great guy catches Chelsea’s eye, he’s the only one who doesn’t give her a second glance. Can Chelsea get his attention? Or is her new look ruining everything?

THE JERK MAGNET is Ms. Carlson’s latest release for teen girls. I enjoy reading her books, but find that a lot of them deal with really tough/sensitive issues, which makes them iffy-reading for a teen girl in a really conservative family.

This book is about how clothes and attitude make the girl and it really has some good advice about how to behave as if you’re confident when you’re not. It also has some good ideas about how to be friendly around others and make friends if you’re shy. But it also deals with the impression that clothes make the girl--and enforces the less-modest point of view that most of America has—if you want to attract male jerks. $12.99. 218 pages.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where Wildflowers Bloom

Ann Shorey is sponsoring a contest and would love to have you enter and spread the word about it! http://www.annshorey.com/contest.html

Author: Ann Shorey
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0800720742
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Faith Lindberg lost her father and brother to the Civil War—maybe. They hadn’t shown up on the casualties list, yet, but she is left alone with her grandfather. She also dreams about another soldier, Royal Baxter, a man who took her hair ribbon and her heart, five years ago.

Now Faith’s grandfather is ailing. He is leaving her in charge of their mercantile, but Faith wants to get away from her haunting memories and start a new life in the Oregon territory. But business is failing, losing many customers due to the fact that a woman is running it. The older customers especially think it is shameful.

Curt Saxon has demons of his own, facing war-time nightmares when his memory fails him and he’s fighting an invisible enemy. He knows he’s in no place to court a woman, but he does befriend Faith’s grandfather and helps them out when he can. Still, he hopes someday to be in a position where he can speak to Faith.

When Royal come home, Faith allows herself to dream that they’ll finally wed. But does he truly love her? Or will Curt claim her heart?

WHERE WILDFLOWERS BLOOM is book one in Ms. Shorey’s new series Sisters at Heart. I love Ms. Shorey’s historical romances and couldn’t wait to settle down and read WHERE WILDFLOWERS BLOOM. I wasn’t disappointed. I could feel Faith’s worry over her grandfather who was becoming increasingly unstable both mentally and physically, and her frustration when the townsfolk won’t support her grandfather’s business because she is forced to run it.

Curt too was heartbreakingly real. I’ve read about other men who battled post-war disorders (I can’t remember what its called) but it is a very real disease. I hoped he’d find peace with his demons and be able to embrace a normal life.

I thoroughly enjoyed WHERE WILDFLOWERS BLOOM and highly recommend this book. $14.99. 328 pages.

**comment from Ann: The post-war syndrome from which some soldiers suffer is now called PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). In WWII, it was called "battle fatigue," and in WWI it was "shell shock." The name after the Civil War was "soldier's heart." I love that term! Probably more information than you needed, but I was fascinated when I did the research to see how the terms changed, but the suffering didn't.**

In Where Wildflowers Bloom, Book 1 in author Ann Shorey’s brand new Sisters at Heart series, Faith Lindberg wants nothing more than to escape her small Missouri town, and the graveyard of painful memories left by the Civil War. She plans to sell her grandfather’s mercantile, and join a wagon train bound for Oregon. But her grandfather, and a handsome stable man have other plans!

To celebrate the story, author Ann Shorey and Revell Books are proud to announce the MERCANTILE MEMORIES giveaway, featuring three incredible prizes.

Our Grand Prize winner will receive an heirloom chess set, handmade from 1830s chestnut & cherry wood, just like the one Judge Lindberg and Curt use in their chess battles.

Our Second Prize winner will receive a deluxe, Missouri-shaped box of mercantile goods from the Missouri Mercantile company. The box features an assortment of items just like those stocked by Faith in Lindberg’s Mercantile.

Our Third Prize winner will receive a Memoirs Gift Set. Write your memoirs just like Judge Lindberg does in the story! The set includes the bestselling Writing the Memoir book, and a $30 gift card to Blurb, to create and print your story.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chasing Mona Lisa

Congratulations to Susan Mason for winning a copy of The Story Template!

Authors: Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0800720469
Genre: Inspirational/historical fiction

In August of 1944 Paris is on the cusp of liberation. The soldiers of the Third Reich are fleeing the Allied advance, but enroute they steal countless pieces of irreplaceable art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable piece of all, the Mona Lisa.

Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler are on a mission to rescue the valuable French pieces of art – but can they save them not only from the ravages of war, but also from German hands?

CHASING MONA LISA is a book that I hoped I would love. I loved all of Ms. Goyer’s historical fiction set during World War II and before, but this book left me cold.

Loosely based on a true story, about how people tried to protect the famed Mona Lisa, this book had potential. But it is written in a style that left me skimming, with lots of art information and historical facts tossed in, as well as overly descriptive accounts of the landscape and other sights.

Unfortunately, CHASING MONA LISA read like it tried to be authentic with the many facts, but there was no real story line which left me hopelessly confused and bored. However, I see many reviews across the board equally balanced between 3 and 5 stars so don’t take my word for it—this is only my opinion. You might totally love this book. I don’t. $14.99. 322 pages.

About the authors:

Tricia Goyer is the coauthor of The Swiss Courier as well as the author of many other books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Arkansas. For more about Tricia and her other books visitwww.triciagoyer.com

Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including The Swiss Courier and the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California. For more about Mike and his other books visit www.mikeyorkey.com

Link to buy the book: ow.ly/8sRzd

About the giveaway and party:
Win an iTouch SPY Pack in the Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway from @triciagoyer

Chasing Mona Lisa is the
continuing tale of Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler (first introduced in The
Swiss Courier
). This time the due are on a relentless quest to save the most famous
painting in the world  - the Mona Lisa. You can help Gabi and Eric
with your very own spy pack when you enter The Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway!

One passionate protector will receive:

  • iTouch (The must-have device for any spy. Camera, Maps & Music.)
  • Starbucks Gift Card (For all those late nights.)

  • Moleskin Notebook (For those important notes.)

  • Invisible Ink Pen (Don’t want anyone reading those important notes.)

  • Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Great
    handbook and intriguing tale for any spy-in-training!)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on January 31st. The winner will be announced at the Chasing Mona Lisa Facebook Party on 1/31. Tricia and Mike will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from Tricia's website) and giving away their books and a Book Club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Tricia and Mike.) So grab your copy of Chasing Mona Lisa and join Tricia and Mike on the evening of the 31st for an author chat, spy training (do you know how to pick a lock? ) and lots of giveaways. 
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
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 31st! Chasing Mona Lisa is the continuing tale of Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler (first introduced in book one in this stand alone series, The Swiss Courier). This time they are on a relentless quest to save the most famous painting in the world - the Mona Lisa. You can help Gabi and Eric with your very own spy pack when you enter The Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway!

One passionate protector will receive:

iTouch (The must-have device for any spy. Camera, Maps & Music.)
Starbucks Gift Card (For all those late nights.)
Moleskin Notebook (For those important notes.)
Invisible Ink Pen (Don’t want anyone reading those important notes.)
Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Great handbook and intriguing tale for any spy-in-training!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on January 31st. Winner will be announced at Chasing Mona Lisa Facebook Party on 1/31. Tricia and Mike will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from Tricia's website) and giving away copies of Chasing Mona Lisa and The Swiss Courier and a book club prize pack (10 copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Tricia and Mike).

So grab your copy of Chasing Mona Lisa and join Tricia and Mike on the evening of the 31st for an author chat, spy training (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.

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 31st!

Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13449999)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview with K. Dawn Byrd and giveaway of her book

Leave a comment to possibly win a free download of this book--include contact information.

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write for the simple joy of placing words on the page. Writing is more than a hobby, it's a passion. I write the kinds of books I do because I enjoy writing them.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The happiest day of my life is when I married my husband. We've been married sixteen years and our love is still going strong.

How has being published changed your life?

Being published has changed my life by making me much busier than I've ever been. Marketing takes a lot of time.

What are you reading right now?

Actually, I'm not reading anything because I'm knee deep in writing my June release, the second book in the Zoe Mack Mystery Series.

What is your current work in progress?

As I stated above, I'm working on the second book in the Zoe Mack Mystery series. It's called Fatal Attraction. Please keep an eye on my website for updates.

What would be your dream vacation?

I'm not much of a traveler. I don't like to step too far outside of my comfort zone. We vacation two times in a year in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and I absolutely love it.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

First, I develop a plot and my characters. The setting seems to come naturally out of this knowledge.

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

The author, Lisa Jackson because I love her suspense novels.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

1) I own two hairless Chinese Crested dogs.
2) I used to ride a Harley, but sold it to have more time for writing.
3) I'm an aquarist and raise a variety of tropical fish.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Painting in watercolor and oils. Walking my dogs. Taking long rides through the country as a passenger in my husband's Corvette Stingray.

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

My most difficult obstacle is finding the time to write. I work full-time and also at least one day of most weekends on call. I overcome this by mapping out my daily word count on a calendar and sticking to it. If I write 2,000 words a day, I'll have 60,000 words at the end of most months.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Don't write for fortune or fame because it may never come. Write as I do, for the simple joy of placing words on the page.

Tell us about the book.

Here's my cover blurb: Zoe's cousin Emma thinks she's the recipient of some sick joke when an old boyfriend she thought dead shows up on the internet. Can Zoe solve the mystery that's causing Emma so much pain when her attraction to the town bad boy is so distracting?

When Zoe Mack moves in with her grandparents to start college, she's thrown into more mystery than she bargained for. Her cousin, Emma, is terrorized by a stalker who breaks into her house and leaves a photo-shopped image of Emma hanging from a tree. Nothing is as it seems and Emma soon learns that even the man she thinks she can trust is suspect.

Zoe can't wait to reunite with Nate, the bad boy who doesn't talk about his feelings much, but the passionate kiss he gave her last summer had to have meant something. When she arrives back in town and discovers that he's in trouble with the law, she must take matters into her own hands in order to clear his name. She has her hands full with a needy Emma, a cop who gives her the creeps, and Nate, the guy she desperately wants to call her own. Can Zoe solve the mystery, clear Nate's name, and make him fall in love with her?

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

I want readers to simply enjoy the mixture of romance and mystery. They're seldom found together. The primary focus of this book is to entertain readers with a smart, spunky, young heroine who is a good role model.

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

Zoe Mack is afraid of two things. Crickets and blood, which makes her faint. What are you afraid of?

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

I'm giving away a gift card for a free download.

K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational romance and romantic suspense with five books published so far. Recently, she tried her hand at young adult fiction and found that she really enjoyed writing it. Three books in the Zoe Mack Mystery Series are scheduled to release January, June, and December 2012. Shattered Identity, the sequel to Mistaken Identity, will release in April.

K. Dawn Byrd is an avid blogger and gives away several books per week on her blog at www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook Christian Fiction Gathering group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=128209963444.

When not reading or writing, K. Dawn Byrd enjoys spending time with her husband of 16 years while walking their dogs beside a gorgeous lake near her home and plotting the next story waiting to be told.

Website: www.kdawnbyrd.com
Blog: www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com and www.zoe-mack.blogspot.com
Twitter: kdawnbyrd
Book trailer on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1aJrlR0fd4&context=C37a6c3aADOEgsToPDskI03937RSubxSN3pzKZqfrl

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland

Author: Roseanna M. White
Publisher: Summerside Press
December 2011
ISBN: 978-1609363130
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Lark Benton has been engaged for two years now to her love, Emerson Fielding. But Emerson seems to care not a whit for her, giving her gifts his mother picks out—even if they are the family jewels, and even if he is displeased she is getting them. But he refuses to be forced into picking a wedding date, until Lark threatens to call off the wedding. Then he rashly agrees to marry her in two months, but instantly regrets it.

When Lark’s cousin, Penelope, comes to visit, she is quick to approach Emerson, and she isn’t there but one evening when Lark and her brother catch her and Emerson in a close embrace. Lark is furious and instantly calls off the wedding, fleeing to Annapolis to recover from her broken heart.

Emerson refuses to accept the news of her calling off the wedding. He may not love Lark, but he doesn’t want the disgrace of a broken engagement—especially once he figures out Penelope’s true personality and motives. But does he have any hope of winning back Lark’s love when he killed it so thoroughly?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND is a historical romance set just after the Revolutionary War ends. The betrothal was set on class, and not on love, but for some reason Lark did love Emerson. I can’t figure out why, because he was a cad and treated her absolutely horribly in the beginning. I had the misfortune of being engaged to a man like that, and am eternally grateful that relationship ended and I married a man who loved me.

Perhaps that event colored my opinion of this story, but I would have liked it if Lark had kicked Emerson to the curb and never gave him the time of day after that. But even in the note returning her engagement ring and his family jewels, she was as sweet and unassuming as she was elsewhere. A true heroine. My heart broke for her. It was a pleasure watching as Emerson tried to redeem himself and grow into the hero he should have been at the start. By the end of the book I was cheering for this couple.

Ms. White’s writing style is true to the time period she chose, using the historical method of speech and not the more modern terms used in some historical fiction. She has an engaging voice, one that keeps the reader captivated whether she likes the hero in the beginning or not. If you are looking for a good historical romance with characters that make you care, then LOVE FINDS YOU IN ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND is a book you should consider. 313 pages. $12.99.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The One Who Waits for Me

Author: Lori Copeland
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-3018-5
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Three men, Preach, Pierce, and Gray Eagle are returning to their homes after the war between the states. One is Indian, but the best learned of the trio. Pierce was a Yankee soldier, and the other two fought for the confederate side. They are anxious to get back to their respective homes, dreaming of hot food and soft beds.

Beth and her sister Joanie had just lost their parents to a serious illness and are desperate to escape the clutches of a wicked uncle and cousin. So Beth sets fire to their home but she and Joanie are overcome with smoke before they could escape. Preach, Pierce and Gray Eagle ride in to the rescue, but things rapidly go from bad to worse.

Before they can make their escape, Joanie dies and a third woman, Trella, gives birth in the middle of the road. The men save Joanie’s life and deliver the baby, but what else could possibly go wrong before they get home?

THE ONE WHO WAITS FOR ME starts out with a prologue in the men’s point of view that really sets the stage for the story. This prologue is necessary and must be read to be able to understand why these three men are traveling together and where they are going. The first chapter starts with a death (a prerequisite for a historical) and Beth setting fire to her house. But in trying to escape everything that possibly can go wrong does.

Some of the events that happen really feel contrived and forced, but the reader has to keep reading to see what happens and how the situations are resolved. The three men are truly heroes, between the three of them to know how to fix almost anything. This is a nice change from the weak heroes and the super powerful heroines that most historical romances prefer, but on the other hand…well…it wasn’t completely realistic. Still, if you are looking for a historical romance that is different than the usual War-Between-the-States-Ending then THE ONE WHO WAITS FOR ME is the book you waited for. $13.99. 320 pages.

I received this book in return for review from the publicist.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas in Sugarcreek

Author: Shelley Shepard Gray
Publisher: Avon Inspired
October 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-208976-2
Genre: Amish

Judith Graber has long been the responsible one. When no one else in her family was available or could be counted on, she could be. Now, with one brother newlywed, one brother courting, she is the only one to run the store. She’s been working long hours alone and staying late to get the job done.

Ben Knox is the “bad boy” of Sugarcreek. He left town years ago and only came back now to spend one last Christmas in town and to put his family’s house up for sale. He has no pleasant memories of Sugarcreek, just a bunch of nightmarish thoughts.

When Judith’s father hires Ben to help out in the store during Christmas, Judith is initially upset. But being around Ben day in and day out couldn’t be good for her…not when she had a crush on him ever since she can remember. Will God be able to work a miracle and keep Ben around? Or will he be long gone as soon as Christmas is over?

CHRISTMAS IN SUGARCREEK is based on the characters of Sugarcreek, and is part of the Seasons of Sugarcreek series. Readers will want to read the series first to find out the stories behind Gretta and Joshua, Lilly and Richard, and some of the other characters. I enjoyed getting to know Judith and Ben, and I have to say that their part of the story was my favorite parts of this book to read. I fell in love with Ben. My heart went completely out to him.

If you are looking for a good book to read, or if you’ve read the other books in Ms. Gray’s Seasons of Sugarcreek series, then you’ll definitely want to read CHRISTMAS IN SUGARCREEK. Attractively done in a hardcover, this book will also make a wonderful Christmas gift, even for next Christmas. A great book for your Amish collection or a friends. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $16.99. 239 pages.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Mercy

Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0764206016
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Two Amish sisters are struggling to find their places in life…

Hen continues to care for her husband, blinded in a car accident when he was going to file for divorce from her. Hen knows that when his sight returns their marriage is over, but yet she hopes and prays that he’ll heal. She embraces her former Amish lifestyle, raising their young daughter, Mattie Sue, to be Amish as well.

Rose Ann is still struggling from when her beau left her for another love. She finally meets someone at a meal with her brother, but her heart isn’t completely engaged. Will she find her forever love?

THE MERCY is the final book in Ms. Lewis’ The Rose Trilogy. Readers will want to read the first two books in the series The Thorn andThe Judgment before reading The Mercy as the books do not stand alone.

I didn’t find THE MERCY up to Ms. Lewis’ usual spell-binding style. I found myself skimming a lot, and some of the story seemed to just drag on. But I had to keep reading to find out a couple things I wondered about since book one. Such as, what really did happen to Christian? I found the ending rather rushed. This is my least favorite series of Ms. Lewis, but she hasn’t lost me as a reader. $14.99. 306 pages.

I received this book in return for review from the publisher.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Small Space Organizing

Author: Kathryn Bechen
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2028-5
Genre: Self Help

More Americans than ever are choosing small homes. Some, due to economic reasons, some due to circumstance. And some just because of the “green” movement causing them not to take up more than their fair share of space. Whether you live in a cozy cottage, an apartment or a miniscopic dorm room, you need ideas for storing your stuff so that your home doesn’t look cluttered.

SMALL SPACE ORGANIZING is the book for you. Ms. Bechen is a self-proclaimed small space living expert, who started out her married life in a small house only twenty feet by twenty feet. This book is a self-help book that will assist you in knowing what you want, what you need, and how to organize it. At the end of each chapter are questions for you to answer, and a section included for notes.

There are suggestions included on how to down-size, going from room-to-room. Such as, throw out anything in the laundry room that is empty or fell behind the washing machine. In the garage, get rid of the mower, and yard tools, and keep only a hammer and a few nails. In the bedroom, get rid of anything that is dated, etc. Of course, if you’re moving someplace with a yard, you might want to rethink keeping outdoor tools.

Then the book talks about storage things such as a coatrack, that you can use to hold umbrellas and coats. No closet required! And dishes—you can eliminate all special china plates and use only white all-purpose dishes and clear glassware that will be good for everyday and entertaining. It gives suggestions for keeping clutter cleared, such as hanging your keys in the foyer, processing mail in the kitchen by the trash can, and storage.

Really, if you have no idea how to organize your clutter, this is the book for you. If you are looking for a tip on what you might consider eliminating, this book will work. If you are moving from a super-sized mansion to a tiny nursing home room, well, just eliminate everything. (smile) And Ms. Bechen uses some of her storage tips as decorating tips as well. A book that any small space dweller (or soon to be one) will need. $12.99. 234 pages.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Writer's Template

The author is generously offering a copy of this as a giveaway. Leave a copy (with contact information) for a chance to win

Author: Amy Deardon
Publisher: Taegais Publishing, LLC
July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9818997-3-2
Genre: Writing/plotting/writer’s block

Most people say they want to write a novel or a screen play. But they don’t have any idea where to begin. They write some words, maybe a chapter or two, then they don’t know where to go from there. If you are that person, then THE STORY TEMPLATE is a book you should consider.

THE STORY TEMPLATE is a writer’s conference in one book. It takes you from the beginning, using the plotting method, of planning your novel. Who are your characters? What do they do? What do you want the underlying message of the story to be? Where will it be set? What time period? What do you envision when you think of that area? And it gives you writing exercises, where you describe what you are “seeing,” and what you’re wanting to convey.


 Ascertain the four foundational story pillars, and use the “secret weapon” of the story template to structure your story
 Build character depth with believable change
 Create subplots to raise tension while you deepen and contrast story themes
 Review writing techniques that shape your ideas into a compelling manuscript

THE STORY TEMPLATE is a product of Ms. Deardon’s extensive research when she started writing. It is an invaluable tool for the beginning writer, or even a more accomplished one who is suffering from writers block—or finding themselves facing a tight deadline with no idea where to start. If you are a writer, at any level, then you’ll want a copy of Ms. Deardon’s THE STORY TEMPLATE. $15.95. 239 pages

Friday, January 13, 2012

When All My Dreams Come True

Author: Janelle Mowery
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2807-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Bobbie McIntyre lost both her parents within a short span of time. Dislocated and orphaned she is sent to work as a ranch-hand for Jace Kincaid. But when she arrives on Jace’s ranch, she is shocked to find Jace and his man threatening to hang her for stealing cattle. She managed to talk him into hiring him on, and trying to break in his prized stallion. But one mistake and she’s out of there…

Jace Kincaid has trouble. Not only is someone rustling his cattle, but his neighbor thinks he’s a young fool, and a man he thought was a friend sent Bobbie—a nineteen-year-old Jace thought was a male—to work for him. Not only that, but Bobbie has dreams of owning her own ranch someday—could she be after his? And worse, it doesn’t take long for Jace to have dreams of his own, regarding Bobbie. What will it take to make their dreams come true?

As soon as I opened the cover and started reading WHEN ALL MY DREAMS COME TRUE, I was thrust into non-stop action—and instant caring for the characters, even though they are not the type I usually like reading about.

Bobbie is as tomboyish as her name implies. She dresses in men’s clothing and handles a gun better than some of Jace’s ranch hands. Jace considers ranching a ministry, taking on troubled teens and teaching them to be real men…a woman coming under his employ under guise as a man leaves Jace unsure how to react and where to turn. And not only that, but she leaves him spinning, physically and mentally. If you are looking for a historical romance that will leave you gasping for breath and on the edge of your seat, then WHEN ALL MY DREAMS COME TRUE is a book to consider. Ms. Janelle Mowery is an extremely talented author you’ll want to watch. $13.99. 304 pages.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Keeper - and giveaway

Author: Suzanne Fisher Woods
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1987-6
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Julia Lapp’s father is dying—unless he has a heart transplant. But Amos Lapp won’t consider a heart transplant since it means that someone must die in order for him to live. Julie is struggling with life in general, trying to care for her ill father, get the fields planted, manager her brother and sisters, keep house and marry her long time boyfriend, Paul Fisher. But then everything changes.

Julia’s uncle hires, sight unseen, a woman named Fern to come keep house and care for Amos. Fern soon takes over managing the family and bossing them. And then the Bee Man arrives and that means the end of the relationship with Paul. Paul seems to envy the Bee Man’s free, encumbered life and having “no responsibilities”.

Julia decides she wants Paul back, and under no circumstance will she take no for an answer. She makes the Bee Man decidedly unwelcome, giving him the cold shoulder. Can Julia get the life she’s always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?

THE KEEPER is the first book in Ms. Fisher’s newest series, Stoney Ridge Seasons. This is the story of a family with multiple point of views, from the youngest daughter, M. K., to the sole son, Menno, to the father, the housekeeper Fern, and of course, Julia, Paul, and the Bee Man’s.

I was hooked from the beginning in this series. I did substantial research on bee keeping for a novel of my own and Ms. Fisher got the information right. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 316 pages.

I'm excited to let you know that the author is sponsoring a special promotion for this book, including a Facebook Party and an iPad Giveaway! Here are the direct links for the promotions:

The iPad giveaway: http://promoshq.wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/183799 Running now until January 17th
The Facebook Party: http://www.facebook.com/events/209723589116292 Party is on January 17th, and the winner of the prize package will be announced there.

I hope you’ll participate in the fun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Creative Slow-Cooker Meals

Author: Cheryl Moeller
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4491-5
Genre: Crockpot cooking / recipes

As a busy writer on a tight deadline, and a busy mom of five, sometimes it is hard to come up with time to cook meals. I use my slow-cooker a lot, but mainly for things like soups that can simmer all day long. I’ve been looking for a good recipe book to make other things in slow-cookers so I could use it for something other than soup. This is the book I’ve been waiting for!

In this recipe book, recipes aren’t divided up in the traditional way—as in meats here and vegetables there. Instead they are paired, so if you own two crock pots then you can cook two different things at once for a delicious home cooked meal.

Recipes are included for things such as:

 Meatball Submarine Sandwiches and Triple Pepper Roast
 Hot Turkey Sandwiches and Apple Cider Punch
 Frozen Cranberry Salad and Minnesota Wild Rice Soup
 Chicken Pitas and Greek Green Beans in Tomato Sauce
 Peanut Wings and Asian Scallop “Stir Fry”
 Spaghetti Squash Tacos and Black Beans & Rice

I tried a few of the recipes out already (I only have one slow-cooker) like Black Beans & Rice, Cooked Apple Slices, and Sausage-Shrimp Jambalaya and they turned out wonderful. I’m looking forward to trying more of these recipes—and getting another slow-cooker so I can do both suggestions at once!

The book does includes selections for breakfast, different nationality foods, simple meals, parties & barbecues, vegetarian and vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free as well as an index so you can find specific recipes easily. Highly recommended by this family of seven.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Donkey No One Could Ride

Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Richard Cowdrey
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4851-7
Genre: Inspirational/children’s Bible stories

Christians are all familiar with the verses in Luke 19:28-38 about Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday - where He was greeted with Hosannas and praise.

THE DONKEY THAT NO ONE COULD RIDE is loosely based on these scriptures, telling the story of why the author thinks possibly the donkey couldn’t be ridden, how the donkey felt about it, and the miracle that God wrought in the donkey’s life.

Written in poetic style, this book is great for a parent or other adult to read to young children or even for readers to read for themselves. The colorful images kept my daughters’ attention, while the story had them riveted. Even my teen son cheered when he heard part of the story, and made sympathetic sounds during the sadder parts.

THE DONKEY THAT NO ONE COULD RIDE is a charming addition to any child’s library. A wonderful tale that will emphasis stories they hear in Sunday School or church, and will bring the story of Palm Sunday and THE DONKEY THAT NO ONE COULD RIDE to life. Recommended. Perfect for children ages 2 – 6. $15.99 hardcover. 32 pages.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Garden of Love

Author: Thomas B. Clarke
Publisher: Bible Discernments, division of Prayer Gardeners
December 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9816213-2-6
Genre: Inspirational/gardens and flowers/devotions

A GARDEN OF LOVE is a book dedicated to the ministry of Faith Chapel, where they have a Gethsemane Prayer Garden. In this one acre of land with (in 2009) nine flower beds including fifty different perennial flower varieties and up to forty different shrub and tree species and subspecies.

Tom Clarke has been the primary garden caretaker for a number of years with other volunteers from his church (and area) and the garden is open to the public. It is located outside Syracruse, New York, and a map with directions is included in the book.

A GARDEN OF LOVE begins with the author’s thoughts about the particular plant he’s writing about, along with a beautifully done photographs. It gives a short description about the plant, when it blooms, and its fragrance.

It is followed by a couple verses, a short prayer and thoughts about the verses and how the flowers relate to it, then a short application for us to remember as we go about our day. Each devotional is short, only one page—two pages if you count the photograph leading up to it, and doesn’t take long to read.

If you or someone you know is an avid gardener, then you’ll want to get a copy of A GARDEN OF LOVE for yourself or your loved one or friend. This is a perfect book for perusing, can be used for a devotional, and gives information about the flowers. I recommend this book. $19.95. 82 pages.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Live Reflectively

Title: LIVE REFLECTIVELY: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses
Author: Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
Publisher: David C. Cook
November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0593-5
Genre: Bible Study

LIVE REFLECTIVELY is a twenty-minutes-a-day study of the watershed moments of Moses. Conveniently divided up into daily readings, each day begins with a “Lift Up” which is a prayer for God’s guidance as you start the days study.

Then the book goes into a “Look At” section which is a brief introduction to the scripture verse or passage that you’ll be reading. Following that is a series of questions for you to answer (with room to answer, if you want to write in the book) and more scripture verses for you to look up, read, and answer the questions about.

The “Live Out” section has some activities for you to follow, such as more verses to journal about, words for you tow journal about, prayers of thanksgiving to write, and activities “good deeds” for you to do.

It is followed by more thoughts about the lesion and an inspirational quote by someone.

There is also a “Learn About” section in the side margins that includes definitions, thoughts and explanations that deal with things in the lesson.

LIVE REFLECTIVELY is a book that you can use to study the life of Moses on your own, or in a small group. If you are the leader of a small group there are suggestions for the leaders to follow.

I highly recommend this study as it is a deep detailed study of scripture and you’ll come out of it with a deeper understand of each verse or passage. This is not a quicky-devotion, but one with a bit more meat on it for the believer who wants to delve deeper into scripture. $17.99. 287 pages.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Common English Bible

Leave a comment (with a contact email) and you might win a copy of this Bible

Common English Bible Is a Bestselling Translation in Record Time

NASHVILLE, TN (December 20, 2011) — The new Common English Bible (http://CommonEnglishBible.com) is #10 on the CBA Bible Translation Best Seller list for the month of December. Since the list is based on actual unit sales in Christian retail stores in the United States through Oct. 29, 2011, the Common English Bible (Twitter @CommonEngBible — http://twitter.com/CommonEngBible) achieved this status after being in stores less than three months.

"We're delighted the Common English Bible is receiving such early overwhelming support and acceptance," says Paul Franklin, PhD, associate publisher. "We see this as confirming our decision to create an academically rigorous yet naturally understandable translation for 21st century English readers; a translation from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that's built on common ground."

The best seller achievement comes at the same time the completion of the Common English Bible after four years of translation work was named one of the top 10 religion stories of 2011 as decided by leading religion journalists in the 30th annual Religion Newswriters Association survey.

The Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 Bible scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world. The translators — from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities — represent such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others.

The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY — using language that's comfortable and accessible for today's English readers. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are already in print, including an edition with the Apocrypha. The Common English Bible is available online and in 20 digital formats. A Reference Bible edition and a Daily Companion devotional edition are now also available. Additionally, in 2012, Church/Pew Bibles, Gift and Award Bibles, Large Print Bibles, and Children's Bible editions will be in stores, joining the existing Thinline Bibles, Compact Thin Bibles, and Pocket-Size Bibles, bringing the total variety of Common English Bible stock-keeping units (SKUs) to more than 40.

More than 140 international bloggers are currently participating in the three-month long "Thank You-Come Again-I Promise" blog tour (from November 2011 through January 2012). The tour's Twitter hashtag is #CEBtour (http://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23CEBTour). The complete tour schedule, and information about joining the tour, is available at CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour (http://www.CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour).

Visit CommonEnglishBible.com to see comparison translations, learn about the translators, get free downloads, and more.

The Common English Bible is sponsored by the Common English Bible Committee, an alliance of five publishers that serve the general market, as well as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Chalice Press), Presbyterian Church (USA) (Westminster John Knox Press), Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, Inc.), United Church of Christ (The Pilgrim Press), and The United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Common English Bible

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Common English Bible Named Among Top Religion Stories of 2011
NASHVILLE, TN (December 15, 2011) — The completion of the new Common English Bible (http://CommonEnglishBible.com) translation is among the top 10 religion stories of 2011 as decided by leading religion journalists in the 30th annual Religion Newswriters Association survey.

The Common English Bible (Twitter @CommonEngBible — http://twitter.com/CommonEngBible) is newsworthy for several reasons:

• Its objective: the Common English Bible uses a natural English vocabulary to clearly and freshly communicate the ancient sacred text in a world where 9,000 new words & meaning revisions are added yearly to the English lexicon.
• Its speed: the Common English Bible took only four years to accomplish — a phenomenal feat when compared with other recent modern English Bible translations that took 10-17 years to complete.
• Its efficiency: the Common English Bible was able to be completed so rapidly due to the translation process using an online project management database that permitted more than 200 collaborators (translators, editors, and field testers) to communicate immediately. The project was constructed in a workflow matrix with more than 400 overlapping parts.
• Its breadth: the Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world who joined together to clearly translate the Bible's original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages directly into 21st century English.
• Its balance: the Common English Bible translators — from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities — represent such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others.
• Its understandability: The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY — using language that's comfortable and accessible for today's English readers.
• Its uniqueness: the Common English Bible is the only translation to combine highly respected ecumenical biblical scholarship necessary for serious study with field-tested responsiveness to 21st century clear communication requirements for comprehensive clarity.
• Its contractions: the Common English Bible is the only translation to extensively use contractions where the text warrants an engaging conversational style (although contractions are not used in divine or poetic discourse).
• Its cartography: the Common English Bible is the only translation that includes exclusive, detailed color maps from National Geographic, well known for its accurate topographical map making.
• Its acceptance: the complete Bible, including an edition with the Apocrypha, released in August 2011. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are already in print. It's also available online and in 20 digital formats. A reference Bible edition and a daily companion devotional edition are now also available.

More than 140 international bloggers are currently participating in the three-month long "Thank You-Come Again-I Promise" blog tour (from November 2011 through January 2012). The complete tour schedule, and information about joining the tour, is available at CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour (http://www.CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour).

Visit CommonEnglishBible.com to see comparison translations, learn about the translators, get free downloads, and more.

The Common English Bible is sponsored by the Common English Bible Committee, an alliance of five publishers that serve the general market, as well as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Chalice Press), Presbyterian Church (USA) (Westminster John Knox Press), Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, Inc.), United Church of Christ (The Pilgrim Press), and The United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Author: Annalisa Daughety
Publisher: Summerside Press
July 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60936-212-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Caroline DeMarco has made a mistake. She married a professional ballplayer, and when he unfortunately dies, the surprising number of affairs he’s had—a woman in every state—emerge, then Caroline finds herself on the cover of every tabloid and reporters parked outside her doors. Desperate to get away and regroup, Caroline changes her appearance and flees to the last place she’ll be found…Amish country.

Lydia Ann Raber has twin six-year-old daughters and a thriving quilt shop in Charm, Ohio. But when a tornado wipes away her business, Lydia takes the opportunity to visit her father who’s relocated to Lancaster County, and acquaint herself with his new bride.

When Lydia Ann and Caroline meet and find common ground, they decide to go into business together. But Caroline’s secrets are discovered—has the man she’s attracted to told the press? And the man Lydia Ann is drawn to has secrets of his own…secrets that could destroy Lydia Ann’s hope of happiness.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, has two romances set in Amish country. Two sets of heroes and heroines, one Amish, one not, make this book unique. I’ve enjoyed all of the Love Finds You books that I’ve read so far, and this one is no different. I had to keep reading to find out what happens.

Ms. Daughety did a phenomenal job in bringing these four characters to life, and making the reader care about them. Even though Caroline and Michael got most of the attention, readers still cared about Lydia Ann and Simon. Readers who love Amish fiction as well as those who like contemporary romances will both love LOVE FINDS YOU IN LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA. $12.99. 330 pages.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

7 Money Rules for Life

Author: Mary Hunt
Publisher: Revell
January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2112-1
Genre: Inspirational/personal/finance

Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living and an expert when it comes to money management. But Ms. Hunt wasn’t born with money smarts. Like most of the rest of us, she learned her lessons the hard way. She hadn’t been taught about budging and when she went off to college and got her first account, she went on spending sprees. She didn’t learn her lesson until many years later when she was the bread-winner in the home and faced the hard facts that their spending out weighed their income.

Looking at her bills and the amount of income they had to work with, Ms. Hunt penned down some thoughts that later became the basis for her 7 MONEY RULES FOR LIFE.
These thoughts are:

 Spend less than you earn
 Save for the future
 Give some away
 Anticipate your irregular expenses
 Tell your money where to go
 Manage your credit
 Borrow only what you can pay

I was raised by a mother who budgeted and she made sure I learned these basic rules as I was growing up. But even knowing and doing is a challenge. Like most of America, I live from paycheck to paycheck. And anticipating your irregular expenses—can you really anticipate a two thousand dollar car repair bill or an eight hundred dollar water leak in the same season? Still, there are basic facts in here that every household can take and work with. Even those that are hit hard with the unanticipated irregular expenses.

If you aren’t familiar with budging then this book is a lesson in itself. Ms. Hunt teaches you everything you need to know, including offering suggestions on on-line services that will help track your spending. This book is an invaluable tool for anyone. Recommended. $17.99 hardcover. 200 pages.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Authors: Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4016-849405
Genre: Inspirational/novella/contemporary romance

Smitten, Vermont has hit a rough patch. After years of service, the lumber camp—and main source of employment for the men in the town—has declared bankruptcy and closed. The people of Smitten are stunned and shocked. With no job for the men, the town will shrivel up and die.

But four women in the town are determined to fight for their town. Natalie is raising her sister’s little girl and is desperate to provide stability in the little girl’s life. She comes up with a brilliant plan to make the town a romantic getaway for couples. A country star seems to be on board with her plan when he hears about it and schedules his wedding in Smitten. That gets most of the town on board with the plan. But some of the people can’t seem to get the backing needed for their ideas. Is the town doomed to die?

SMITTEN is a collection of four novellas that are all tied together by four very close friends who are all working together to save the town and find romance on the way. Even though the four authors in this collection are all award-winning authors in different genres they work well together and this collection of novellas is head and shoulders above their competition. All four of the stories were stellar and all were penned by some of my favorite writers.

If you are looking for a contemporary romance novella collection then look no further. This is a book that you’ll read and put on your keeper shelf. I can’t wait for the second novella collection coming in December 2012. There are plenty of extras included at the end of the book too, such as an interview with the authors, recipes, exercise tips, facial hints and more. Highly recommended. 5 stars. $15.99. 422 pages.

Troubled Graves (Lantern Beach Exposure Book 4) by Christy Barritt

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