Friday, August 31, 2012

Mother of Pearl

Margaret is giving away a beautiful Pearl Necklace Set AND hosting a Facebook Chat with the Contributing Authors! (All the details are below.)

Compiled by: Margaret McSweeney
Publisher: Inspiring Vices (Guideposts)
May 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4624-0158-1
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction

Women often experience unexpected trials during their everyday lives. And in response, God covers this grit with love and grace and transforms the pain into a precious pearl that leaves a layered luminous lining within a shell.

MOTHER OF PEARL celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. There is a collection of vignettes from authors such as Robin Jones Gunn, Lis Wiehl, Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, and other known and not so well-known writers.

All the stories in MOTHER OF PEARL are tied together by the theme of “mothers”, with stories about writing stories together, adopting, becoming a grandparent, celebrating holidays without a mother, and much more. And of course, all were well written.

If you are a mom or a grandmother, or you know one you want to celebrate, then pick up a copy of MOTHER OF PEARL. A great mother’s day gift or grandparent’s day gift, or just a “I’m glad your in my life” gift. A very sweet collection of stories celebrating motherhood. $12.99. 154 pages.

Link to buy the book:

About the Book:

Like oysters, women often encounter unexpected grit during their everyday lives. In response, God’s love and grace covers this grit and transforms the pain into a precious pearl that leaves a layered, luminous lining within a shell: Mother of Pearl. This brilliant luster is strong, lasting, and purposeful—just like the love, lessons, and legacies left by the special women in our lives.

Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. Margaret McSweeney presents a collection of heartfelt vignettes from authors who communicate the importance of the unique relationships between mothers and their children, between granddaughters and grandmothers and between children and the mother-figures in their lives.

These stories tell of the power of faith, prayer, and values, exploring coming of age, the joy of becoming a mother, the importance of motherhood, the ways to heal from a bad relationship with a mother and weathering the death of a special loved one. Poignant and thought-provoking, the stories serve to inspire, encourage, instill hope, and strengthen faith.

The proceeds from the sale of Mother of Pearl will be donated to organizations helping struggling women and children. The charities include Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger) to help fund the Safe House in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Zambia.

Meet Margaret:

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, Mother of Pearl and Aftermath.

With a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business, Margaret became a vice-president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there 1986–93.

As founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.

Blog Tour Schedule

2. Share this on Facebook:

To CELEBRATE the release of Mother of Pearl, Margaret McSweeney is giving away a beautiful Pearl Necklace Set! Then on 9/4 she's hosting a Facebook Party with the Contributing Authors! Click to enter and RSVP for the chat!

3. Share this on Twitter:
Win a Pearl Necklace Set from Margaret McSweeney in "Mother of Pearl" Giveaway! RSVP for Facebook Chat 9/4. @litfuse


To celebrate the release of Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith I'm hosting an evening of chat, laughter, and encouragement on Facebook!

I've invited the Pearl Girl contributors to join us on the evening of September 4th. I'd be so honored if you'd come too!

We'll be giving away a ton of fun stuff {books, gift certificates and a Beautiful Pearl Necklace set}.

Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. We'll gather to connect, be encouraged and make some new friends!

So RSVP today and then come back on September 4th (at 5pm Pacific, 6pm Mountain, 7pm Central, and 8pm Eastern) and join us for the "Pearl" party. Let's share our stories and encourage one another.

We'll also have an update from the charities involved with Pearl Girls, Wings and Hands of Hope.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fade to Blue

Author: Julie Carobini
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8054-4874-0
Genre: romance

Suz Mitchell is an artist, a divorced mother, and looking to make a fresh start. She moves in with her brother in Otter Bay, California, and surprisingly one of the first people she sees is her exboyfriend, Seth. They run into each other three times in as many days, but Suz sees he’s dating a friend of hers, so she isn’t sure what to think.

Even more confusing, Suz’s ex-husband is up for parole, and he wants to reunite. He swears he’s a changed man and has accepted Christ. Suz’s brother and friends tell her to tell him to get lost, but Suz believes in second and third chances, and that her young son needs a father.

Will Suz return to her husband—and is he really what he seems? Or will she give an old flame a chance?

FADE TO BLUE is the third book in her Otter Bay series, but it easily stands alone. Readers will want to read Sweet Waters and A Shore Thing to bring themselves up to speed with some of the other characters. I enjoyed getting to know Suz, though I didn’t approve of some of her choices and actions. And Seth was a brooding man’s man, the strong and silent type. Len (the ex-husband) seemed too smooth and full of promises, and I didn’t trust him. I hoped Suz would make the right choice for herself and her son.

If you like reading contemporary romance, don’t miss FADE TO BLUE—though it is written in first person. It is a sweet romance set on the shore that is perfect for a summer time read—or an anytime read. If you’re going camping for Labor Day weekend, be sure to pack this book to take along. $9.99. 400 pages.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paradise Valley

Author: Dale Cramer
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0838-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical Amish

Rachel Bender is terrified when her neighbor and friend, Jake Weaver, came running over, announcing that his father had just been arrested and they were on the way to the Weaver farm…And sure enough, Rachel’s father is arrested too, as well as several other men in the Amish community. They are thrown into jail, and a short time later, the police come to take the school aged children to a children’s home, claiming they are abused and neglected because they attend an Amish school and not a public one.

Beaten, the Amish give in—making their school age children walk an hour to the public school and then an hour back home, but they don’t like it. So when Rachel’s father sees an announcement about land, cheap, in Mexico, he talks to his friends and neighbors, then he jumps—willing to make the sacrifice and live away from other Amish to save his wife who needed the climate change, though he’d never admit that to the other Amish.

But Mexico is different. The valley is wonderful, but the trip treacherous and the bandits are robbing them blind. The Benders will need Mexican friends in order to survive. And Rachel is missing that one special boy back in Ohio…

PARADISE VALLEY is another wonderful story by Dale Cramer, one of my absolute favorite authors, and always has been since the beginning when he wrote using the W. in front of his name. Based on a true story, this is also one that will delight Amish readers—it is fiction in the most nonfiction form—it actually happened, with some embellishment.

Rachel is a realistic main character, and I just loved her as well as all the other characters. Mr. Cramer is not a romance writer, but there are times in this story when it is just so sweet it made me cry, some of the scenes were that beautiful. Highly recommended. 5 stars. $14.99. 359 pages.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts

Author: Cindi McMenamin
Publisher: Harvest House Books
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0736948586
Genre: Inspirational/women’s issues

Let God redeem your hurts and turn them into something beautiful

Perhaps you’ve struggled with – or are still struggling through -- a painful childhood, a broken relationship, a bitter divorce, the loss of someone you loved, the devastation of a dream, the diagnosis of a disease, or the deep disappointment when life takes a sudden turn you didn’t want or expect.

Cindi McMenamin shares stories of real women who faced trials and tribulations and managed to remain standing, only stronger, and with a passion and purpose they hadn’t had before.

Ms. McMenamin reminds us that pain is a part of life. And that even all the self-help books in the world won’t help unless you turn to the One who can. The One who loves you enough to give His life for you.

Ms. McMenamin encourages us that will

 take you from feeling insignificant to realizing how much the Lord loves you
 take you away from feeling undesirable to seeing your true beauty
 take you from feeling you’re not good enough to recognize how special you are

WHEN A WOMAN OVERCOMES LIFE’S HURTS is the book for hurting women everywhere. If you’re the type of woman that has a life coming up flowers and nothing ever goes wrong, everything you touch turns to gold, this book isn’t for you. But if you are like the rest of us, struggling to find acceptance, to survive the physical or emotional pain that is with you, then you’ll want to read WHEN A WOMAN OVERCOMES LIFE’S HURTS. $12.99. 224 pages.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Guy I'm not Dating

Author: Trish Perry
Publisher: Harvest House
ISBN: 0-7369-1872-8
Genre: contemporary romance

Kara Richardson has sworn off dating. She’s made some mistakes with men she thought were good Christian men and when someone at her church said something about not dating and giving friendship a try first, Kara jumped at the idea. But no sooner than she makes her decision than she runs into Gabe Paolino’s deli to get out of a rainstorm. Gabe is seriously the best looking man she’s ever met, and he’s quick to follow her to the gym she’s a trainer at, join, and ask her out.

Kara explains to him her stance about not dating, and Gabe is interested in her enough that her idea isn’t a turn off. Instead, he finds creative ways to be included in her circle of friends, and including her when his twin teenage siblings and another boy make a surprise visit when high school lets out for the summer.

Add two quirky older ladies, an aggressive woman on the prowl, and a whole lot of humor and Kara and Gabe haven’t got a chance—or do they?

THE GUY I’M NOT DATING is one of Trish Perry’s older novels. I fell in love with her contemporary tea series and decided to give some of her older books a try. I’m glad I did. I love contemporary romances, and this is one, mixed with humor.

Kara is realistic, funny, bright, and encouraging, and completely sold out on what she believes in. Gabe –wow, what can I say? What a man? He’s realistic, in that he does get a bit annoyed sometimes, but he is otherwise nice and kind and unbelievably accommodating. Great book. If you missed THE GUY I’M NOT DATING the first time around, then pick it up now. $12.99. 342 pages.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Title: STORY
Author: Steven James
Publisher: Revell
August 2012
ISBN 978-0-8007-2065-0
Genre: Christian Living

For those of you who came to Steve James through his Patrick Bower series (as I did), you need to know from the start that the author is shifting gears in STORY. You need to know that, so that you can shift gears with him. It’s time to slow down, and consider with him the history – of us. It’s been used to the point of becoming cliché, but history is HIS story. It’s God’s story about himself, and us, and everything else that was, is, or ever shall be. And that is where Steve James is taking us.

In a mixture of mental ramblings, personal vignettes, prose and poetry, Steve James provides a birds-eye view of who we are, how we came to be, and what we are REALLY supposed to be doing about it. And it comes in a format that forces you to really think about what is being said. Just when you “get on a roll,” and start thinking forward, Steven James will provide a short poem, a break in the story line, a deliberate speed bump that compels you to stop, go back, and read it again. This is a master writer at the top of his craft. And while you may not agree completely with his theological stance ( the author himself admits “I’ll leave the theological and cosmological and philosophical explanations . . . to the people who have the time and energy to study that sort of thing.” ) you will find yourself looking at a lot of the stories you’ve heard (or heard about) in a brand new light.

So, my recommendation to those of you who have not read Steven James is: enjoy STORY as you would a really great piece of chocolate; take your time, savor it, let it roll around in your mouth. Wring everything you can out of the experience. And for those of you who have read Steven James . . . do the same. But recognize, at the outset, that this isn’t a Patrick Bowers mystery. You can’t read it like that. 206 pages. $12.99

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Interview with Vanetta Chapman / giveaway / review of Material Witness

Answer Vanetta's question to be entered into the giveaway - be sure to leave contact information. Extra points for liking Vanetta's author page, or following this blog.
Leave an email to let me know what you did.

What kind of research did you do for Material Witness?

I visited Shipshewana again, which is very helpful to me when I'm writing a series about one particular place. I also research on-line and keep a binder with all my notes. For MW the research topics included--quilt restoration, story quilts, John Wayne, tranquilizer guns, handicapped children, Chicago cubs, and 1971 Buick GSX ... among other things.

How did you come up with the plot for Material Witness?

All I knew when I started the book was who my Material Witness would be. I don't "plot" ... Every day I write the number of pages I need to finish in order to meet my deadline. Pretty much I let my characters lead the way.

Share a brief blurb about the book.

Tragedy strikes on the opening night of the Fall Crafters Fair when a woman is killed in the parking lot of Daisy's Quilt Shop, and the only material witness is one of Melinda Byer's boys. The investigation takes a more bizarre turn when detective Shane Black becomes convinced the killer was actually after Callie.
This time it's a madman loose in the largest crowd of the year, and he's looking for something or someone. If they can't figure out what, one of Deborah and Callie's close circle of friends may be next. Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, an Amish boy whose handicap makes him stronger, one brave dog, and a possible hidden treasure ... this time it's nonstop action, danger, and a dash of romance.

What role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?

We have a special needs daughter, and I was a teacher for 15 years--so I have a lot of experience with special needs children and their parents. I wanted to show the strength these kids have and what life is like for the family of a special needs child.

I do quilt, though I'm a beginner. Callie's friendship with Deborah, Melinda and Esther is also a central theme to all the Shipshewana mysteries. I've been blessed to have friends like these ladies, and I think it helps me to write about friendship and the gift it is in our lives. (Rumors that I've shot anyone with a tranq gun are completely false though--I only RESEARCHED that.)

And I am constantly researching and learning more about the Amish culture. A big thank you to my friends in Shipshe who help me with those details.

Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?

Yes, there are parallels--with special needs children as I mentioned above, and also with the friendship angle. I've had times in my life when I felt terribly alone, times when I wasn't sure what God wanted for my future, but ultimately God's grace has seen me through every trial--and I write that into my characters' lives.

What are your own favorite authors? Genres?

I read a lot! I'll read anything that catches my eye, and I also read a lot of New York Times bestsellers. There's a reason those writers are at the top, and I enjoy studying their craft.

How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?

I adore a good book and poor ones disappoint me terribly. Readers deserve a good story. When they turn the last page, they should walk away with SOMETHING they can take into their world. Life is hard and we often read to escape, but that escape needs to leave us with a feeling of hope.

Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?

I'm now writing full time, and I spend 8-10 hours a day doing that along with my marketing commitments. I usually take an hour break to exercise, and I try to always be done by 6:00 so I can focus on my family.

What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?

Music-definitely. I'm also inspired by the people around me. It could be family members or it could be complete strangers.

Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?

Since I'm a fairly new writer (first book was A Simple Amish Christmas, 2010), the computer intrusion isn't a big problem for me. It's been there since I started! I think overall the internet is very helpful, but like everything else I have to manage my time or I won't finish my work by the end of the day.

Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?

I find inspiration EVERYWHERE, so it would include blogging, facebook friends, and even news stories. I have a prayer time on my facebook page each Wednesday morning, and it's humbling to see people's needs and the way they care for one another.

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, is a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist. A Promise for Miriam earned a spot on the June 2012 Christian Retailing Top Ten Fiction list. Chapman writes Amish fiction for Abingdon Press, Zondervan, and Harvest House. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

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Author: Vannetta Chapman
Publisher: Zondervan
September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-310-33045-5
Genre: Amish/ mystery

It is the Fall Crafters Fair in Shipshewana, and Callie is running a thriving business at Daisy’s Quilt Shop, the business she inherited when she came up from Texas to attend her aunt’s funeral. But it isn’t even dark when an elderly woman is murdered in her front parking lot, the only clear witness a seven year old Amish boy, and a shop full of customers.

Detective Shane Black doesn’t like that Callie is once again in a killer’s sites, and the madman roamed loose in the largest crowd of the year. Something about the fabric shops seem to have what the killer is after, and either Callie or one of her friends may be the next target.

Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, and a possible hidden treasure. It’s all included in MATERIAL WITNESS.

MATERIAL WITNESS is book three in Ms. Chapman’s A Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, but it easily stands alone. I have read book one, Falling to Pieces. I missed book two, A Perfect Square, but I wasn’t at all lost in MATERIAL WITNESS.

Callie is the main character and she is not Amish. There are Amish point of view characters in the story, and it is set in the backdrop of the real life town of Shipshewana, Indiana, and a fabric store that could be real.

I enjoyed reading this story, though some of the things didn’t appear entirely realistic, but I had an advance reader copy and they might have been corrected in the final printed version. Fans of cozy mysteries and Amish fiction will enjoy this book. $12.99. 320 pages.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Promise for Miriam

Author: Vannetta Chapman
Publisher: Harvest House
July 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4613-4
Genre: Amish/romance

Amish school teacher Miriam King loves teaching. Loves her students. And at her age, twenty-six, she figures she’ll never marry or have children of her own. She accepts that. And even relishes the fact that she’ll ever have to give up the Amish school she teaches.

Gabriel Miller has moved to Pebble Creek to escape. He’s lost his wife and his will to live. Only his eight year old daughter keeps him alive. But Grace is mute, and has been since the trauma of loosing her mother. And suddenly the nosy school teacher, Miriam King is breathing down his neck asking questions he has no answers to.

Gabe wants to be left alone. He doesn’t want to be a part of Pebble Creek, and he doesn’t want others interfering in his life. But when a tragedy occurs, Gabe is forced out of his shell. Will he find a new purpose for his life?

A PROMISE FOR MIRIAM is a sweet romance by talented author Vannetta Chapman. Fans of Amish fiction will eat up this story of a hurting man, a strong, opinionated woman, and a mute child, and their hearts will go out to them.

Gabe loved his wife, and my heart just broke when he lost her. It also broke for the young girl who never quite recovered from the trauma. Miriam has it in her to make a difference, and she loves all her students. I hoped she’d be able to reach Grace’s heart, and help Gabe heal. Discussion questions, a glossary, and a preview to the second book in The Pebble Creek Amish Series, A Home for Lydia, included at the end of the book. $13.99. 339 pages.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK

Author: Betsy St. Amant
Publisher: Barbour Books
January 2012
ISBN: 978-1616265557
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Addison Blakely is a Preacher’s Kid. A straight-A student. Sweet and kind always, and completely loyal. Enough so that when her best friend, Claire, starts treating her like scum she smiles and takes it.

At least until Wes comes to town. Wes has a motorcycle and leather jackets and makes out with girls right in front of Addison’s house. But she has a major crush on him and Wes knows it.

When Addison finally finds the courage to not cover for Claire, leaving her to get an Incomplete on a major grade, she makes an enemy. .But she also finds a new friend from Germany. But with a temporary friend from a foreign country, and a guy she can’t have but wants, Addison isn’t so sure she wants to be the good girl anymore.

ADDISON BLAKELY: CONFESSIONS OF A PK is a well-written story about a sixteen year old girl with all the angst involved in that age. Best friends who aren’t best friends. Guys. School work. Teachers and single dads finding a relationship… oh and did I mention guys?

Addiosn is real enough that she could be my sixteen year old daughter. The angst she felt about that one particular guy and knowing the right thing to do, was almost tangible. For the more conservative crowd (that follow the six-inch rule) there is some inappropriate touching, though nothing spelled out beyond a hand on a jean button. Realistic for today’s teens. $9.99. 368 pages.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Confessions of a Control Freak

Author: Priscilla Knox Morrison
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0736946209
Genre: Inspirational/self-help/women’s isssues

Have you ever found yourself tidying up your neighbor’s house when you were simply asked to water the plants?

Or maybe you organize the clothes in your closet by color?

Or perhaps you have to give everyone advice—on everything?

Priscilla Knox Morrison was a control freak, and maintains she is still a work in progress. She tried to control everything—including the weather, and she did fairly well until her daughter was diagnosed with cancer, two friends suffered tragedies, and Ms. Morrison had a heart attack. Then she realized that really, nothing was under control.

CONFESSIONS OF A CONTROL FREAK is a book for women to diagnose by self-tests whether they are a control freak, and learn from Biblical principles how to give God control and let him keep it.

She will also show readers:

 how to accept help from others
 back off instead of butting in
 worship God, not people’s opinion
 replace fear with a trust in God

I think, if we were to be honest, all of us women are control to one degree or another. We may not try to control the weather, but we do try to control our children, our husbands, our finances, our lives. I don’t color coordinate the contents of my closet (but my son does his), but I have been known to tidy up the neighbor’s house when watering the plants or feeding the cats.

CONFESSION OF A CONTROL FREAK is a great book for women to read. Questions are included to use as a discussion guide or to work through on their own. This is a good book for women to learn that only by the Holy Spirit can we move from wanting to be in charge to serving those around us. 144 pages. $9.99.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Over the Edge and Giveaway

Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0764209130
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Seth Kincaid remembers almost everything…except getting married!

As a child, Seth survived a fire in a cave, then he fought in the Civil War are returned home “crazy.” He has bad nightmares, he’s blocking a lot of memories, and one of them, apparently, is his wife—Callie.

Callie managed to track down Seth’s brothers, fearing Seth was dead. She wanted her son, Connor, to know his Kincaid relatives. But when she found Rafe, she also found her runaway husband, Seth, and Callie is determined to shoot him.

Callie isn’t real happy to learn that Seth has no memory of her. But he steps up to the plate and takes responsibility for her and their son right quick. He’s also willing to try to make amends. But Callie wants no part of it. She doesn’t trust him, and nothing will change that—maybe.

OVER THE EDGE is the third book in The Kincaid Brides series. Readers will want to read Out of Control and In Too Deep first to find out what happened to make Seth the way he is. In fact, Seth was so crazy in the first two books I wondered how Ms. Connealy would redeem him to make him hero material.

This was the best book in the series. The bad guys are still after the wives of the first two brothers, the cavern is still key in the story, and it has all the humor and Wild West that Connealy fans have come to expect.

However, this whole series was a little flat for me, with clueless, crazy men, and bossy, overbearing women. I do think this was the best in the series. Fans of historical fiction, and Connealy will want to read this book. $14.99. 336 pages.


Link to buy the book:

About the Book:

Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he's never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he's gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he's got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn't happy to find out Seth doesn't remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she's come to the Kincaid family's ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.

Callie isn't a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She's not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

Then more trouble shows up in the form of a secret Seth's pa kept for years. The Kincaid brothers might lose their ranch if they can't sort things out. It's enough to drive a man insane--but somehow it's all making Seth see things more clearly. And now that he knows what he wants, no one better stand in his way.

Meet Mary:

Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and her novel Calico Canyon was nominated for a Christy Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Visit her on her Web site

Blog Tour Schedule

Celebrate with Mary by entering to win a Nook Color with GlowLight!

See what folks are saying about Over the Edge!

One winner will receive:
• A Nook Color with GlowLight
• The entire set of Mary Connealy's The Kincaid Brides series

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 28th. Winner will be announced at the "Over the Edge" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/29. Meet Mary, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and more. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of Over the Edge and join Mary on the evening of the August 29th for a chance to connect with her and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Monday, August 20, 2012

In Too Deep

Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House
February 2012
ISBN: 978-0764209123
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Ethan Kincaid is stunned when his brother Rafe orders him to marry the newly widowed Audra Gilliland that he just met – Audra has a toddler and a newborn from her just deceased husband, and Rafe is adamant that Ethan marry her, giving her protection and her children a pa. Ethan agrees because he finds her attractive, and he finds himself wed.

Audra was a sweet quiet wife in book one, caring for her scum of a husband, but in book two she seems determined to rule the roost and she lets loose on anyone who dares to cross her path.

Her ex-husband still has someone on his trail, someone who claims he stole large sums of money. Audra has seen no sign of this money. They lived in a shack. But the man who lost the money will stop at nothing to get it back. Will Audra find the money—if there even is any?

IN TOO DEEP is the second book in the The Kincaid Brides series. It is set in the same mountainous region filled with deep caverns that deeply scarred the Kincaid brothers years earlier. All three of the men are terrified of the caves, and the women in the book aren’t—finding it fascinating.

This book fell a bit flat for me, as did the first one Out of Control. I don’t care much for clueless idiot men and Ethan pretty much took the cake there. I also don’t like extremely bossy women and Audra shaped up that way in a hurry. Still, there is great humor in the book, and the sexual attraction is there, even if Ethan doesn’t have clue one what happens between a man and woman… I’ve read all Ms. Connealy’s books so far, and loved them all—with the exception of this series. If you like historical romance with great humor, you might love IN TOO DEEP. $14.99. 331 pages.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dying to Read

Author: Lorena McCourtney
Publisher: Revell
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0800721589
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Cate Kinkaid hasn’t had an easy time of it. She moved in with her uncle when her trial run as a teacher went south, and started looking for a job—but after a brief foray as a Christmas Elf, a bunny, and another failed job, she takes a temporary PI job for her uncle. The assignment is easy. Go to an address and see if someone named Willow is employed there—since Willow’s great-uncle Jeremiah is looking for her.

The assignment isn’t as cut and dried as it seems. Cate arrives to find a bunch of quirky book club ladies gathered outside the door bad-talking the woman hosting them—who wasn’t answering the door. Further investigation reveals that the hostess is dead, having fallen down three flights of stairs, and the hired help—Willow—has packed up and left.

Not wanting to give up on Willow and finding the circumstances of the woman’s death suspicious, Cate keeps investigating. But will she find out the truth before she is silenced?

DYING TO READ is the first book in Ms. McCourtney’s The Cate Kindaid Files series, and wow. I loved Ms. McCourtney’s other cozy mysteries and am so glad to have gotten this one to read. I can’t wait to read the other books in this series.

Cate is the main point of view character and she is adorable. I loved her quirkiness and the other quirky characters in this book. It was laugh out loud funny at times. I also fell in love with Mitch, a man Cate met in her investigations and I can’t wait to see what happens in the development of that relationship.

I am usually really good at figuring out “who-dun-it” but this book kept me guessing. If you are looking for a great cozy mystery, pick up DYING TO READ. You won’t be disappointed. 5 stars. $14.99. 320 pages.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Out of Control

Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House
August 2011
ISBN: 978-0764209116
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Rafe Kincaid is minding his own business when he thinks he hears someone crying. When he investigates, he finds a hysterical woman who was left in a cave, the rope pulled up, leaving her stranded. She is terrified, and to shut her up enough to rescue her, Rafe kisses her, but then worries that maybe she is a sixty year old woman. She slaps him for suggesting such a thing, but that calms her down enough so he can rescue her.

Julia Gilliland has loved caves and fossils since she can remember. She found a fish fossil in the cave and someone was stalking her in the shadows, scaring her. After Rafe rescues her, her father comes home, and she learns that he is living a double life, using fake identities and that is why she lives so far out of town. Her father has an injury though that is making him meaner than he usually is—and someone is stalking her in an attempt to get back at her father.

Rafe is intrigued by Julia, but their developing relationship comes between him and his brothers. Rafe is forced to make a decision. Choose the woman who turns his life upside down and inside out, or take the calmer route that will keep his brothers home and safe.

OUT OF CONTROL is the first book in The Kincaid Brides series, and it is funny in spots, and in others it seems to drag. I really thought one part of the story lasted way too long--and Julia was way whiny. However, the humor in the story is top-notch, and I love the way Rafe struggled with his physical reactions to Julia.

Ms. Connealy is a wonderful writer, and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, In Too Deep, and the third, On the Edge. If you like historical romance, you won’t want to miss OUT OF CONTROL. There is a touch of suspense in the story as well, with the stalkers point of view added. $14.99. 329 pages.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Haven and Giveaway

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publisher: Revell
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0800719883
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Sadie Lapp is returning home to her family after visiting her newlywed sister, and in the bus station she finds an abandoned baby. Or maybe the baby found her. Not knowing what to do with the baby boy, she takes him home with her, but this seems to be a grave mistake. Everyone assumes the baby is Sadie’s and that she went away to have the baby where no one would know her!

Her boyfriend, Gid, is hurt and upset. Sadie was his girl. He knows he’s not the father—so who is? And worse, when he goes out to see her and see if the rumors are true, he finds Sadie becoming good friends with a birder, Will Stultz.

Will has his own secrets, ones that could destroy everything—not to mention hurt the Amish family he’s staying with, and their lovely daughter, Sadie.

As the hopes and ambitions of these three young people meet, life in Stoney Ridge may never be the same.

THE HAVEN is the second book in Ms. Fisher’s Stoney Ridge Seasons. Readers might want to read the first book first to see what happened to Menno, and what brought Fern to Stoney Ridge, but if you don’t, you won’t be too lost in this book. I couldn’t wait to start this book, and read the book from start to finish on a long car ride through Illinois.

If you like Amish fiction then you won’t want to miss THE HAVEN. It was awesomely wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Sadie knows a lot about herbs and healing, and that adds a nice touch to the story. Discussion questions are included at the end. $14.99. 311 pages.


Link to buy the book:

About the Book:

When Sadie Lapp steps off the bus in Stoney Ridge after being in Ohio for the winter, she is faced with a decision–one that goes against her very essence. Yet it’s the only way she can think of to protect a loved one.

Schoolteacher Gideon Smucker has been crazy about Sadie since boyhood. But his response to her surprising decision undermines his own reputation–and his relationship with Sadie.

College student Will Stoltz is spending the spring at the Lapp farm as a guard for a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons–courtesy of the Lancaster County Game Warden. Will needs to get his life back on track, but his growing friendship with Sadie threatens his plans.

The lives of these three individuals intertwine, and then unravel as unexpected twists create ripples through the town of Stoney Ridge . . . and through Sadie’s heart.

Once again, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher intrigues and delights with a story that explores the bonds of friendship, family, and true love. Readers will enjoy every surprise in Sadie’s story as they search for the truth hidden within these pages.

Meet Suzanne:

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate many of their principles–simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily– into your life.

When Suzanne isn’t writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

To Suzanne’s way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth. Suzanne can be found on-line at:

Blog Tour Schedule

Celebrate the newest book in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series with Suzanne by entering her 4 eReader Giveaway and Facebook Party and RSVPing for the Live Video Chat on 8/30!

Four grand prize winners will receive:
• A Brand new Kindle Fire or Nook Color
• $25 or Barnes& Gift certificate

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 29th. Winner will be announced at Suzanne's Live Author Chat Party on 8/30. Suzanne will be hosting an author chat (party will start on Facebook AND then be Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and several Burt's Bees® Nourishing Radiance Kits!!

So grab your copy of The Haven and join Suzanne on the evening of the August 30th for a fun chat (both on Facebook and via Live Video), trivia contest and lots of giveaways.

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 30th!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tidewater Inn

Colleen and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up for a $500 Weekend Getaway Package and Facebook party on her author page on 8/23! She'll be giving away a $500 gift certificate to between 8/3-8/22. Then on 8/23 she'll announce the winner during the party and give away a heap more prizes and books.

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
July 2012
ISBN: 978-1595547811
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Libby Holladay is a restorer and she and her friend Nicole are negotiating to purchase a building on the Outer Banks of Hope Island. But when Nicole arrives to work out the deals of the sale, she is stunned to discover that the attorney on the island is looking for Libby—her father has died and left her a historic inn. A father she thought had died when she was five.

But that’s not all the surprises. Libby also learns that she also has a brother and a sister she never knew existed. And they aren’t at all happy to find out that Libby exists—or that she inherited the inn.

Nicole goes missing and the local sheriff believes Libby is the top suspect, believing she killed her best friend and business partner. Libby tries to prove her innocence but they keep finding incriminating evidence against her. With the help of a local Coast Guard lieutenant, Libby sets out to find her friend—and hopefully the person behind the kidnapping. Libby’s dream come true has become a nightmare. Will she lose everything?

TIDEWATER INN is a contemporary romantic suspense set on Hope Island, but I’m not entirely sure what state it is. Someplace that gets frequent hurricanes. It started slow, but by the end of the first chapter my interest was piqued and I couldn’t put the book down, reading when I should’ve been working.

I thoroughly enjoyed TIDEWATER INN and can’t wait to read the next book in this series, coming in July 2013. I love Ms. Coble’s contemporaries—and it was nice to have an unexpected appearance of Bree Matthews and her search dog in this book. Totally loved it. Discussion questions included. $13.99. 302 pages.

Link to buy the book:

About the Book:

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

Meet Colleen:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Visit her website at Twitter @colleencoble.

Blog Tour Schedule

Celebrate with Colleen by entering to win a $500 gift certificate to!

One grand prize winner will receive:

• A $500 gift certificate to
• A copy of Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Enter today by clicking the icon on the sidebar. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "Tidewater Inn" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/23. Colleen will chat with guests, share a sneak peek of her next book, host a trivia contest, and more. She’ll also be giving away gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of Tidewater Inn and join Colleen on the evening of the August 22nd for a chance to connect with Colleen and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Share this on Facebook:

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble is the first book in her new series, Hope Beach. To CELEBRATE Colleen is giving away a $500 Weekend Getaway Package and on 8/23 she'll be hosting a fabulous "Tidewater Inn" Author Chat Facebook Party! Click for details and don’t miss the fun. Prizes, chat with Colleen, sneak peek at the next book in the series, and so much more!

Share this on Twitter:
Tidewater Inn -Enter to win a $500 Weekend Getaway from @ColleenCoble! RSVP for her #FB party on 8/23. @ThomasNelsonrry, the giveaway ends on August 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "Tidewater Inn" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/23. Colleen will chat with guests, share a sneak peek of her next book, host a trivia contest, and more. She’ll also be giving away gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of Tidewater Inn and join Colleen on the evening of the August 22nd for a chance to connect with Colleen and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Whisk Bliss

Shirley J Whisk Bliss is a universal cooking base that is quick, delicious, healthy, and versatile. Whisk Bliss is a just-add-water cream sauce that makes for Alfredo, gravy, soups, sauces, dips and much more. It can be seasoned, salted and garnished, or mixed with cheese, tomatoes and veggies—and that’s just the beginning.

We decided to try a sample of Whisk Bliss and planned Shrimp Alfredo to try it with. There are three recipes on the back of the package, and one of them is for Pasta Alfredo. Combine contents of package with 2 cups water, stir, bring to boil, add ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, stir, and simmer 5 minutes. Very simple to make.

The children all said they liked it, with the exception of my oldest son who grunted out “Needs pepper.” (But he was in a find fault with everyone mood)

The other two recipes are for Old-fashioned Sausage Gravy or Broccoli and Cheddar Soup. There are more recipes available at

One packet of Whisk Bliss makes 2 cups of Alfredo Sauce, 3 servings of Old-Fashioned Sausage Gravy, and 3 servings of Broccoli and Cheddar Soup so the average family will need to plan accordingly. Whisk Bliss is available at your favorite supermarket or for those who like to order on-line, at Amazon.

Shirley J Whisk Bliss uses a base of healthy sunflower oil, which gives it the velvety texture that cooks and consumers love. It contains a fourth of the calories of a made-from-scratch white sauce and has less sodium content than white sauce market alternatives. The Whisk Bliss also serves as a perfect substitute for any condensed cream soup. It is lighter and healthier with less sodium, fewer calories and easier on the food budget!

Shirley J products have been time-tested by Master Chefs in commercial kitchens for more than 30 years! After 30 years, the products that have been proven in the most demanding commercial kitchens are now available for every home chef. $9.95 at Amazon --

Also available in Gluten free.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Face of Heaven

Author: Murray Pura
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0736949491
Genre: Historical Amish

Lyndel Keim discovers two escaped slaves hiding in a barn stall when she goes in to see what disturbed the cows. One of the men is injured since he'd jumped from a moving train and his friend helped him to the barn to hide. Lyndel and her brother's friend, Nathaniel promise to help the slaves, as does Lyndel's father, but the slave hunters do find them and drag the slaves off to return them to their owners.

The next morning, Lyndel finds the body of one of the slaves hanging from a tree. She and Nathaniel are torn, heartbroken, and dismayed, but during their grieving and talk about the unrest in the union, they begin to fall in love--at least until Nathaniel leaves to join the union fighting for freedom of the slaves...

A year later, Lyndel tires of waiting and wondering what happened to Nathaniel so she runs away from home to serve the union army as a nurse. But she doesn't realize that it's not a given she'd be anywhere near Nathaniel.

THE FACE OF HEAVEN is the second in Mr. Pura's historical Amish series, the first being The Wings of Morning set in WWI. THE FACE OF HEAVEN is set in the Civil War era and is not always pleasant to read.

It was interesting to see Mr. Pura's take on how some of the Amish might have perceived the unrest in the nation and might have felt called to leave the faith of their fathers and despite their upbringing, go to fight. Lyndel and Nathaniel are both very caring individuals, and Nathaniel was nice even when Lyndel developed a temper that matched her red hair. If you like history and Amish, then THE FACE OF HEAVEN would be a book to consider. $13.99. 352 pages.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When You Need a Miracle

Author: Linda Evans Shepherd
Publisher: Revell
July 2012
ISBN: 978-0800721084
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

"God makes the impossible possible every day."--from the foreword by Don Piper, bestselling author of 90 Minutes in Heaven

God still is in the business of miracles.

God is big enough to rescue us from heartache and circumstances beyond our control. He doesn’t always do so, but for a variety of reasons. Maybe we didn’t ask, believing. Maybe receiving it would bring more harm than good. Or maybe, the answer is wait.

But when we want to ask God for the impossible, Linda Evans Shepherd shows us how to reach out to God and ask, believing. She shows how God’s answers are not always delivered in neatly wrapped packages, sometimes they are not at all what we expect! But she also shows us how they will transform our lives.

Linda Evans Shepherd uses solid biblical teaching and dramatic real-life stories, starting with the basics of making sure you are a child of God.

The book includes prayers to pray and scripture to quote out loud, and is great for helping those who don’t know how to begin get started – or as a guide-line for your personalized prayer.

WHEN YOU NEED A MIRACLE is not a book to read if you are looking for God to be a magician and magically hand you whatever you ask for. It is sound biblically and will help even a sometimes or hesitant pray-er become someone who can boldly approach the throne of God. And believing, whatever His answer is. Highly recommended. $12.99.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Food Family Style

Author: Leigh Oliver Vickery
Publisher: Revell
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0800721145
Genre: Family cookbook

FOOD FAMILY STYLE is a beautiful cookbook, full of simple, tasty recipes for every day life. I love the beautiful picture on the cover, and some of the recipes made me hungry. We tried the recipe for Slow Cooker Jambalaya last night for supper and it was absolutely wonderful. It had a little bit of a kick for those of us who like things mild, and more can be added for those who like it spicier.

I also tried the recipe for Banana Foster French Toast with some modifications. It was good as well. I used homemade bread, instead of store bought French bread, and I didn’t add the maple syrup immediately in the amount specified. We added our own, if we wanted it, and some didn’t.

There are suggestions for getting kids involved in the kitchen, menus for special occasions, basics for those who need them, proportion distortion, and the usual selection of snacks and beverages, breakfast, sandwiches, soups and salads, main dishes, side dishes, desserts and more.

I can’t wait to try other recipes in this cookbook, such as Farmer’s Market Stir Fry. It sounds wonderful. Recommended. $14.99. 272 pages.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters

Compiled by: James Stuart Bell
Publisher: Bethany House
June 2012
ISBN: 978-0764209581
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living

A boy says goodbye to his grandfather at the exact moment he dies. A priest is attracted by a demon. A man is able to get his eyesight back…

ANGELS, MIRACLES, AND HEAVENLY ENCOUNTERS is filled with stories that will touch your heart, make you cry, and reinstate your belief that there is a supernatural world out there filled with angels and demons.

James Stuart Bell compiled this collection by different people who have experienced the spiritual realm in their life in some form.

A girl being raped whose prayer was heard by a man lying in bed, and he saves her. A girl having a routine operation who dies and returns to life. Angels approaching people….

If you like stories about ANGELS, MIRACLES, AND HEAVENLY ENCOUNTERS then you’ll want to read this book. Some people are more tuned into the spiritual world than others, and they usually keep their stories quiet from those who are not because they are met with disbelief and skepticism. This book validates the experiences of those who do experience and provides fodder of the supernatural for those who don’t.

ANGELS, MIRACLES, AND HEAVENLY ENCOUNTERS will touch your heart and strengthen your faith in God. $12.99. 256 pages.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Still and Quiet Place

Author: Hope Lyda
Publisher: Harvest House Publisher
July 2012
ISBN: 978-0736942348
Genre: Inspirational/gift books

What sweet delight a quiet life affords…..

A STILL AND QUIET PLACE is a beautifully done gift book full of inspirational quotes, verses, essays and beautiful pictures of birds, water, mountains, woodlands, and tranquil cabins. It is a book that encourages the reader to sit back, take a moment to breathe, relax, and regroup from whatever life throws at them.

Some of the essays included are:

Whatever is true and noble
Whatever is right and pure
Whatever is lovely and admirable
Whatever is excellent and praiseworthy

This is an awesome book, one that will help anyone to take a minute vacation, without packing any bags. Truly a relaxing, beautiful book. Great gift book for someone you care about. $12.99. 48 pages.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Author: Maureen Lang
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4143-6446-9
Genre: Historical romance

Meg Davenport has never wanted for anything—except her father’s love. She was raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue’s finest and trained to be the perfect society wife. When Meg was younger she used to try to run away, trying to get to the father she wanted to know, but she gave up when she was fourteen. When Meg learns that her father has died, she vows not to return for the funeral—after all, he was never there in life, why should she be there in death? But things change, and she attends.

Meg has always believed that her father was a wealthy businessman—and he was, but not in the way Meg thought. Instead, she learns that he was one of the Gilded Age’s most talented thieves.

Ian Maguire doesn’t want Meg to follow in her father’s footsteps. But Meg is determined and her connections to the wealthiest families could help Ian pull off his biggest heist…or it could cost them everything.

BEES IN THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN is the first book I’ve ever read where the bad guys were actually the hero and heroine. Ms. Lang has been a talented author of World War novels which I’ve loved, and so I greatly looked forward to BEES IN THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN. The book is aptly named.

Meg is a very talented young lady, gifted in horticulture and she knows how to play the part of a lady. Ian has been trained to be a master thief, professions both do with ease. Ms. Lang has brought both of these characters to life, making the reader care for them. She is gifted with description. One can see the butterflies flitting around Meg in her butterfly garden at school, and the other surroundings. Even the handwriting is described so the reader can “see” Meg’s name on an envelope, surrounded by a black border.

I especially loved the tidbits at the beginning of each chapter, describing how proper young ladies were raised back in those days.

BEES IN THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN isn't a fast read, but good for those times when you want a slower paced story. $12.99. 416 pages.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Groom Wanted

Author: Debra Ullrick
Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0373829293
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Leah Bowen doesn’t want to marry a rancher. She wants to marry a man like her dad, a man like Mr. Darcy in a novel she read. So she advertises for a mail-order groom. She doesn’t tell her family, because she knows how they’ll react. But she’s convinced that ranching killed her father and she wants nothing to do with it.

Jake Lure figures he has bad luck with women. He offered to marry one girl, but found out she loved another, and then he offered Leah a marriage of convenience, and she rejected him. So he advertises for a mail-order bride. But he asks his best friend – Leah – to help him pick out his new bride.

Jake gets more responses than Leah does, but that’s okay, because one man fits her “Mr. Darcy” requirements. But as Jake and Leah get closer to the altar, will they realize that the best match for them has been the one who’s been there all along?

GROOM WANTED has a really cute premise. I haven’t read too many books where a woman advertises for a groom to take her out east. Usually the reverse is true, so that was fun. And being best friends, Leah and Jake had a fun relationship that made me laugh at times. Add in a mischievous goat named Meanie, and you have the makings for a really cute historical romance.

Readers will love this fun book, great for a beach read, or a vacation take-along. I read my copy poolside. There is a little sexual tension, but it is understated as per this publishers guidelines. Don’t miss GROOM WANTED for a different sort of mail-order romance. Recommended. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 280 pages.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Interview with Deanna Klingel and giveaway

Answer Deanna's question to be entered into a drawing for a copy of her book. Include contact information. Extra points for sharing on twitter, liking Deanna on facebook, or following my blog. Let me know what you do.

What kind of research did you do for Bread Upon the Water ?

I interviewed Father Tien for 1-2 hours nearly every week for about a year and a half to get all his story. I used a timeline of the Vietnam conflict and an old map of South Vietnam to trace his story and be sure I got all the historical parts correct.

How did you come up with the plot for Bread Upon the Water ?

Since this is a biography I really didn’t have to come up with the plot. It was his life and the plot took care of itself with a happy ending.

Share a brief blurb about the book.

The cover blurb was written by the Bishop of Charlotte. He wrote: “Father Tien Duong’s life is an amazing and inspiring story of perseverance in following God’s call in the face of severe trials and testings. Father Duong pursued his vocation to the priesthood knowing God would always be faithful. The kind priest who taught the young Tien in sixth grade gave him sound advice for his life’s journey: ‘Trust God. Always, trust God.’” When I sign the books, I write Trust God. Always. Then sign my name. It’s probably the most profound message of the book. Great is His faithfulness to those who trust in his faith.

What role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?

My life experiences aren’t anywhere in the realm of Tien’s. I could only imagine it through the eyes of Tien.

Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?

I try to inspire kids I visit to read, write, stay in school. I can tell them how God lead me to write for Him, to tell Christian stories. But nothing in my life is nearly as inspirational as Tien’s faith.

What are your own favorite authors? Genres?

I love historical fiction, and my favorite authors are the ones who do that well. My “all-time-favorite” is often the one I’m reading that moment.

How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?

I try to write things I would enjoy as a reader. I want to write stories and books that result in the reader wanting to read more stories and books.

Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?

Life always gets in the way of writing! But I write something every day. My biggest responsibility that cuts into my writing time is marketing. I try to plan in blocks of weeks. The week before a book comes out and probably 3 weeks to a month after, I know I won’t have a lot of time to write. Then I’ll plan a week or two with nothing but writing. I prioritize my time and always do what is most important at that moment. Writing is as high a priority as anything else, so I always make time for it. Every day.

What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?

I spend a lot of time in the car (with my books.) I don’t listen to the radio or tapes. I listen to my head. I hear the conversations my book characters are having. I imagine them as a part of the scenery I’m passing. When I stop at a traffic light I see them walking on the sidewalk, then think about them as I drive. When I come home from a signing trip, I often have another chapter stored in my head. I can’t wait to get up to the loft and turn on my computer. Quiet is key for me, whether traveling, doing my household tasks, writing or researching. Quiet is key for me, so I can hear myself think.

Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?

I’m a technology dummy. But, I don’t think I could do what I do without the internet. First thing every morning I update my website, check email, read facebook. I print out anything I need to deal with that day. Then I eat, shower, dress, make my plan for the day. I use the internet for marketing. I don’t know how I would have come up with a spreadsheet of 2400 parochial school librarians without it. I find the places to go, the people I need to interface with, I find the directions to get there. Without leaving my desk. How else could this be done? I think the internet could only be harmful if I allowed it to eat up my time. It is addicting. It takes a mature discipline to know when enough is enough and move on.

Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?

I guess I’m Old School. I prefer history to present, I prefer old fashioned interactions, and I prefer the English language to the modern street language which I don’t understand nor would I enjoy learning it. I can’t observe behaviors on fb because most of the time I don’t even know what the younger set is saying or doing. I like the tried and true, let’s talk.

Ask a question for the readers to answer to be entered into the giveaway. What do you most enjoy about a book with historical basis, either historical fiction, or biography such as Bread Upon the Water?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Raising Financially Confident Kids

Author: Mary Hunt
Publisher: Revell
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0800721411
Genre: money management

RAISING FINANCIALLY CONFIDENT KIDS is a book that all parents need to read – from start to finish – whether they are wise money managers or not. Children are growing up bombarded with commercials that credit cards can buy happiness—whatever you want. You can have it now. They don’t tell you that you’ll be paying hundred or thousands of dollars interest on your credit card debt if you don’t pay it in full every month.

One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is basic financial skills. And for those who have credit card debt and student loan debt, they can involve their children in the paying down the debt, showing them how much interest they’re paying…

Ms. Hunt shows us how she went from being a mom on the brink of financial ruin to someone who is now a money management expert. Whether your children are preschoolers or teens, this book has guidelines to help you teach them.

I was raised with a financially savvy mom and most of the things mentioned in this book is common sense. I’m trying to encourage my college age sons that they don’t need credit cards, save their financial aid for needed items, don’t spend it all in one place just in case they have car bills, etc. and I’m trying to teach my younger daughters that if we don’t have the cash money for it we don’t buy it.

If you are wanting your children to learn to manage money wisely, (and learn along with them) you will want to read RAISING FINANCIALLY CONFIDENT KIDS. Highly recommended. $12.99. 212 pages.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lethal Legacy

Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0800734589
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Kelly Warren’s father’s body was found in the garage, an apparent suicide by drugs, alcohol, and gassing. But Kelly doesn’t accept the police findings as facts. She knows her father, and even though he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he would have fought for life. Her beliefs seem founded when she gets an order of bulbs in the mail, ordered by her father the day before he died, with a note that they’d plant them together, in the fall.

Detective Cole Taylor handles the case since the original detective is on vacation. He agrees that the bulbs place a new spin on things, but when he looks over the case, he sees no reason to reopen it. Things look pretty cut and dried. Still he encourages Kelly to look through her father’s house to find any clues.

Kelly takes his advice and starts cleaning through things, and for the longest time she finds nothing. But then someone makes and attempt on her life—trying to stop her. And she discovers a few things that raise questions. But finding answers those questions raises more questions until Cole finds a reason to reopen the case—but will he find answers in time to save Kelly’s life?

LETHAL LEGACY is the third book in Ms. Hannon’s series Guardians of Justice but it easily stands alone. I fell in love with Ms. Hannon’s writing with her other romantic suspense series and this one was no different. The romantic tension was so thick it could be cut with a knife. The suspense was top notch. And even though I figured out who-dun-it by page 70 of the book, the writing was so good and I was so drawn into the story I had to keep reading to find out how Cole would solve the case.

If you love romantic suspense, then LETHAL LEGACY is definitely a book to consider as well as the other books in this series, Fatal Judgment and Deadly Pursuit. Highly recommended. $14.99. 351 pages.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0764209826
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers. One single clue.

Bailey Craig has a reputation in Yancey, Alaska, and she vowed to never set a foot there again. She’s changed—and Yancey is a town that doesn’t forget. But when her aunt dies in a plane accident she returns long enough for the funeral and to put her aunt’s affairs in order. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna faces dangerous rescue dives all the time. He understands that a murderer is threatening their town—but facing Bailey again is the hardest thing he’d ever done. She broke his heart when she left town. But she’s not the same girl—and he’s not the same guy.

As Cole and Bailey work together, the body count rises. Will they find the killer before it’s too late?

SUBMERGED is the first novel I’ve read by Dani Pettrey and it is amazing. Dani is a very talented author and she knows how to weave together a suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Bailey is a realistic heroine and Cole a loveable hero. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these characters as they struggle to get away from their past to find a future… An amazing story. $14.99. 310 pages.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Interview with Cecil Murphy and review of Making Sense When Life Doesn't

An Interview with Cecil Murphey,
Author of Making Sense When Life Doesn’t

Cecil Murphey helps readers accept, adapt and flourish when the trials of life throw them off track.

Life is like cleaning the house—no matter how hard you work to clean up the mess, tomorrow the clutter and disorder will reappear, and it will just need cleaning again. In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times (Summerside Press) best-selling author Cecil Murphey writes that while life’s messiness is unavoidable, it’s how a person chooses to respond to the mess that matters.

Murphey explains that while you don’t get to choose your crisis, the crises will happen. Companies downsize, relationships end, trauma hits, and illness comes, but there are three ways in which we can respond: decide to live with the mess and comfort yourself with the memories of the past, move on with life and resent the change, or tell yourself that this can be the best time of life and try something new.

Q: You open Making Sense When Life Doesn't with the concept that life is like cleaning the house. Explain what you mean by that.

We get the house cleaned and it looks quite nice. It doesn't stay that way. The tendency is to go back to our careless or hurried lifestyle and the same habits. Before long, the house is messy again.

That's how life works. We fret and struggle to clean up our current mess, assuming that once we accomplish that feat, it won't happen again. But it will. Unless we make changes, we'll go back to the same lifestyle.

Q: What are the three or four ways we can respond to crisis?

We always have choices even if we think we don't.

1. We can do the throwing-our-hands-in-the air bit that says we give up.

2. We can complain about the way things used to be. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, we tend to forget the negatives of the past and our world seemed much better than it is in the present. We cry out, "This is the worst time of my life." That attitude makes us immobile and often a little bitter. "It's not supposed to be this way," is the way we start our conversations.

3. We can move forward—grudgingly. We change because we've been forced to do so, but we resent the situation and often the people involved.

4. We can see this as an adventure, a new way of life. We can tell ourselves, “This can be the best time of my life. I can try things I wanted to do but never did. I can learn new things and enjoy life even more.”

Q: It has been said that the only constant in life is change. Why is that such an important truth that we need to face?

We tend to think that if we can just push beyond this present, pervasive situation, life will be "normal" once again. Life doesn't work that way. Living means moving from one problem to the next.

If we accept that we'll always face opposition and grow in the process, we aren't overwhelmed when the next eruption of life takes place.

We learn to say, "This is how life works."

Q: A few years ago, you lost your son-in-law in a fire that destroyed your home and all your possessions. At that time you told a friend, "I was preparing for this." How could have been preparing for what happened that morning?

I didn't mean that I expected death and a fire, and he understood my words. I meant I had experienced many hardships, rejections, pain, and disappointment. Each time I faced them and moved through those times, I was ready for the next one.

Those words came spontaneously. As broken up as I was, I knew I could handle the loss.

When I was in my early twenties and difficulties came, I wondered how I would make it through most of them. But after having overcome enough chaos and obstacles, I know I'm ready to face the next ordeal.

Q: You say you're not a person who likes to give advice, especially when people are hurting. Why not?

I suppose I like to give advice, but I avoid it. When people hurt or are going through difficult places, they don't need my advice. They need my support.

Through my own experiences, I realized people quickly gave me advice, quoted Bible verses, reminded me that God was with me, or told me how good life would be afterward. Their words didn't help; I already knew that. I also realized their words often came from their own discomfort and not from great wisdom.

What I needed—and what I want to offer others—is my concern. I don't have to give them answers.

Even if they ask questions, what they really need is for someone to show they care. I want to be with them while they figure out their own answers.

Q: Is it really okay for people to get angry or feel sorry for themselves when something bad happens? Is there a time limit for that kind of negative emotion?

Is it okay? It had better be because that's a natural reaction when life falls apart. That means we're aware of the seriousness of our situation. Not only is it all right, but it's important. Those feelings help us assess where we are. After that, we can begin to solve our issues.

Is there a time limit? We're all different. Some of us can hit the bottom and bounce up quickly. Others move slowly.

After the death of our son-in-law, it took our daughter three years before I felt she had decided to live again. (They had known each other since they were fourteen years old.)

Q: In one chapter, you say that only the strong can forgive. Isn’t that contrary to what society leads us to believe?

It's not natural or easy for most of us to admit our mistakes. But once we face our own shortcomings, we can accept others when they fail or don't live up to their highest standards.

We need a certain level of self-acceptance before we can forgive others. We don't have to wait for others to change, we can change and that means we can forgive.

Once I realized that God loves me, forgives me, and accepts me as I am—that took years for me to grasp inwardly—I understood the concept of grace. I know how it feels to be forgiven. I realized that Jesus Christ saw my motives and not just my actions. He knew my weaknesses and my blind spots. Because I know those things about myself and the overwhelming love of God, I can pass that grace or forgiveness on to others.

Too often I hear people say things like, "I don't forgive. I get even." Such an attitude weighs on our souls, and prevents our living in contentment.

Q: Like most writers, you’ve experienced your share of rejection. How have you learned to deal with rejection in life?

I detest rejections. For the first 50 rejections I received in my writing (and there have since been hundreds), I felt it was a personal attack. It wasn't; it was a business decision by a publisher.

I learned to remind myself, "They are not rejecting me, they are rejecting my product."

Another thing is that by receiving "non-acceptances" (as I chose to call them), I grew stronger. Instead of considering non-acceptances as intrusions, I was finally able to say, "This is how life works."

Q: Explain what you mean by “letting go is vital to grabbing hold.”

Too many want to feel safe, so they grasp what they have. They want life to be the way it was (at least the good part) and they constantly look backward. If they're going to go forward, they have to release their past and say, "That's the way it was then. I'm now moving ahead."

When we do that, we're ready to grab hold and move forward. We can't appreciate what we have now if we constantly compare it to the way it used to be, especially if we've been forced to leave the old.

Q: We often hear about the importance of having accountability partners, how does accountability fit in with the overall theme of this book?

We are on our own in life, even though God is with us. We pray. We make choices and feel we're doing the right thing. We all have blind spots and we need the insight of individuals we can trust.

True accountability partners push us to face reality, admit our imperfections, and to reframe or rethink our decisions.

Accountability is a vital part of making sense out of life. We need the perspectives and objectivity of those who care about us. An accountability partner enables me to open myself to my inner thoughts and express them—without fear of censure.

The Bible speaks of the sinfulness of every human, and we often need others to help us see that what we want to do may be self-centered and destructive.

Q: One thing you had trouble understanding at first was the idea that we need the people who make our lives more difficult. Most of us likely have the same problem. Why do we need our enemies?

Our enemies force us to examine ourselves. They tell us things our good friends won't. Even if they exaggerate or are mistaken, we still need to ponder their accusations.

They push us to look at what I call the unexamined parts of our lives.

Q: You also address topics such as jealousy, anger, pain, and regrets. Is there anything specific on one these subjects that you would like to leave our listeners with today?

Those emotions are normal and we need to admit to ourselves that we feel them. We're human. Disappointments come to all of us.

I enjoy my life because I've faced an enormous number of roadblocks, negative feelings and attitudes, and I've worked through them. I call myself an overcomer.

The true victors in life are only those who have faced their hardships and kept going.

Life isn't fair; life isn't easy. However, the inner contentment and joy we achieve when we overcome jealousy, anger, and other negative feelings enable us to enjoy life, friends, and God even more.


Author: Cecil Murphey
Publisher: Summerside Press
April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60936-224-9
Genre: Inspirational/self help/motivational

Life is messy. Cluttered. Disorganized.

Companies downsize. Relationships end. Trauma hits. When chaos hits, everyone has choices. We can crawl into bed and pull the covers up over our heads and ignore the problem. We can call it the worst time of our lives, and dream and talk about the good old days, wishing for the way things used to be, and resend the changes forced on us. Or we can realize that the sun still shines. Life goes on. And realize this can be a positive time in my life. I didn’t choose the crisis, but I can choose to learn through it.

MAKING SENSE WHEN LIFE DOESN’T is a book that came in my life at just the right time. We had been hit by severe trauma that took away everything. Income. Dreams. A large chunk of money. Rest. Hope for the future. It took it all, leaving us scared, disorganized…I could go on. I picked up this book and started reading it. And realized a new that what I could do is keep believing in God who allowed this into my life for a purpose. Learn from it. Take the next right step forward. And realize—there are many things I can’t do…But more important is what I can do.

MAKING SENSE WHEN LIFE DOESN’T is a book that will be staying on my keeper shelf after I share it with my husband. It is filled with encouraging stories and quotes. Stories that remind you that bad stuff happens all the time. What is important is how you handle it. Highly recommended. $12.99. 192 pages.


Life Won’t Ever Be Perfect, but It Can Be Good

In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t Cecil Murphey helps readers accept,
adapt and flourish when the trials of life throw them off track.

Life is like cleaning the house—no matter how hard you work to clean up the mess, tomorrow the clutter and disorder will reappear, and it will just need cleaning again. In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times (Summerside Press, April 2012, ISBN 978-1609362249, $14.99) best-selling author Cecil Murphey writes that while life’s messiness is unavoidable, it’s how a person chooses to respond to the mess that matters.

None of us wants to be an expert on messes, but Murphey has walked through many hard times himself, including the tragic loss of his son-in-law in a fire that destroyed his home and everything in it. In his career as a writer, pastor and missionary, he’s been a witness to what tragedy and change have done in the lives of countless others. Combined, these experiences allow him to share the secrets of thriving in tough times with wisdom and compassion.

Murphey explains that while you don’t get to choose your crisis, the crises will happen. Companies downsize, relationships end, trauma hits, and illness comes, but there are three ways in which we can respond: decide to live with the mess and comfort yourself with the memories of the past, move on with life and resent the change, or tell yourself that this can be the best time of life and try something new.

One of the most important lessons we can learn is that life will never be perfect, but it can be good. The secret is learning that our lives will be made better because of adversity, not in spite of the hardships we face. “As long as you tell yourself that the chaos and disorder will disappear when an event happens or after some event, you fool yourself—at least for a time,” says Murphey.

In a gentle and encouraging way, Murphey offers simple and profound insights for living a significant life such as:

· I need the empty spaces in life to learn to accept fullness in life.

· I need my opponents. They often speak the truth that my friends won’t.

· To appreciate others’ accomplishments enables me to enjoy my own success.

· We all have regrets about the things we’ve done. The biggest regrets are about the things we didn’t do.

· It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself or get angry or depressed—that’s normal and natural. But don’t let those negative emotions control your life.

· Changes will happen. I can accept them now, or I’ll be forced to accept them later.

· We all have soft spots, and as long as they remain, we’ll automatically switch into a defensive mode to protect ourselves.

Making Sense When Life Doesn’t will leave readers viewing life from a new perspective and better equipped the next time they are faced with difficult times.

Advance Praise

“This book, I trust, will be a classic primer on overcoming the messes of life, a blueprint of how to navigate our lives with the least amount of scars and the most amount of achievement. Making Sense When Life Doesn’t is a twenty-first-century template for your most meaningful life. Read! Learn! Enjoy!”
~ Don Piper, co-author of 90 Minutes in Heaven


Link to buy the book:

More about the book:

Beloved author Cecil Murphey empowers readers to discover the good in every situation and to make life better because of adversities.

Sometimes life gets messy. It’s cluttered with too many demands. Companies downsize. Love relationships end. Trauma hits. When chaos erupts, every person has a choice to make—to decide whether it’s the worst time of life, to find comfort in the way things used to be, to move on because change is forced, and then resent everything that happens, or to say, “This can be the best time of my life. I can try the things I wanted to do but never did.”

In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t, Cecil Murphey’s compelling stories, hope-filled insights, and gentle encouragement move readers with messy lives to the stunning realization that life won’t ever be perfect, but it can be good…even exciting!

Meet Cecil Murphey:

Cecil Murphey has written or co-written more than 125 books, including the bestsellers 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Murphey stays busy as a professional writer and travels extensively to speak on topics such as writing, spiritual growth, caregiving, significant living, sexual abuse, and recovery.

Prior to launching his career as a full-time writer and speaker, he served as pastor of Riverdale Presbyterian Church in Metro Atlanta, as a volunteer hospital chaplain for ten years, and was a missionary in Kenya for six. For more information, visit

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