Saturday, December 31, 2011

Answers from Heaven

Song Stuck on the Brain: Dare You to Move by Switchfoot


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. I did, in fact I think this was the best Christmas I've had in a long time. No stress, no family drama. Just fun, fellowship and family.
This was our third Christmas without Dad, and although we still think of him often and miss him, our joy in his being at peace makes it easier to deal with those moments when we miss him most.
As a reminder of that, I felt lead to write down an experience I had shortly after Dad died and submit it to a local, church published magazine that shares those testimonies with people all over the world. After emailing it to the editor, I felt like I should share it here as well for any who need a reminder that Jesus is alive today, He loves us, and still actively moves in our lives.

“It’s cancer.” Dad sits upright in the hospital bed, his yellow skin an odd contrast to the white sheets. Jaundice is just one of the many physical signs that his body is broken.

My sisters, Judy and Angel, and I surround the end of his bed and listen while Mom and Dad repeat the doctor’s news. There’s a tumor in the duct between his liver and gallbladder, hidden from all scans until now. After several years of unexplained illness and numerous tests, they found the answer, only it’s too late to do anything. The doctors don't think he has long to live.

As I hear the news that in all rights should have devastated me, instead I feel a deep calm and the words run through my mind, “Everything is going to be okay.” And I knew they were true. We would pray and hope for a healing, but if in the end God called Dad home, it would still be okay. God would take care of us.

One month to the day after hearing the news, our family found ourselves gathered around Dad’s hospice bed. He had quickly slipped from conversation just a few hours earlier to being unable to speak. We each said goodnight, kissed his whiskered cheek and told him how much we loved him. Then, before going to our own home, my sisters and I joined Mom in prayer. Each asking for God’s blessing on Dad that night and giving him over to the arms of Jesus; if it was Dad’s time to go, no one wanted to hold him back from joining his Savior.

Angel and I went home and within a few hours received a call from Mom. Dad had gone peacefully in his sleep. We grieved and we rejoiced. Dad’s greatest desire was to be a part of Zion , to see the evil of this world put away so we could all share together in the loving presence of Jesus. Now he was where he could be happiest, he was no longer ill and could once again take up his ministry from the other side.

We all had many testimonies that came with Dad’s passing, more than I have room to share here, but one in particular stands above the rest for me. About a month after Dad died, on a Saturday afternoon, I went to take a nap. I dreamed that I was sitting in my living room and Dad was sitting across from me. He looked good, much as I remembered him when I was younger, his full beard and hair were red once again. He was dressed in his usual style, plaid dress shirt and suspenders with slacks.

I looked at him with surprise, “Dad?” Excitement flooded through me. “Are you happy?”
“Yes,” Dad assured me.
“What’s it like, can you tell me all about it?”
“No, but you’re going to love it when you get here.” Dad smiled.
“Will we see you again?” I wondered in my heart if this would be the only time for me to see him.
“Yes.” I knew in my heart that Dad’s assurance was true.

I awoke shortly after and was so excited I immediately went to find Angel and tell her. I described our conversation.
“It’s odd that my first question was if he was happy.” I mused. “Of course he’s happy. He’s with Jesus, why wouldn’t he be?”

Angel agreed. In fact, for weeks we had talked about how Dad would finally be able to see the libraries of heaven and learn about all the things that he was so curious about. That was Dad, always curious, always looking for answers and knowledge about everything.

The following day, we joined Mom and the rest of the family at her house for Sunday lunch. Afterward, I told Mom about my dream. She was quiet for a while, and then shared what had happened the night before. Saturday night, she was feeling lonely and sad, really missing Dad. She spent some time reading her scriptures, and before going to sleep, she told God, “If I could just know he was happy, that would help.”

I was amazed and excited. That explained my first question. It wasn’t for me, it was for Mom. God sent her answer on Saturday afternoon, hours before she prayed and asked her question. It was a comfort to all of us and I was reminded once again, that everything is going to be okay. God is truly amazing in His love for his children.
(I was not paid to have this published, it's strictly for ministry.)

Friday, December 30, 2011

GRPR: Wayward Son by Tom Pollack, Jim Alves & John Loftus

Song Stuck on the Brain: Pat-A-Pan by David Archuleta


Today I'm touring a novel on behalf of Glass Road Public Relations.

Wayward Son
by

Tom Pollack with Jim Alves and John Loftus



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Buried near Italy's Mount Vesuvius is a remarkable observatory containing artifacts dating to the earliest record of human events. Only one person-the Getty Museum's Amanda James-can unlock the mysterious doors that guard the chamber.

But once inside, Amanda is shocked to discover evidence left behind by a notorious biblical killer-who long ago wandered off the pages of history.

The first novel of a series, Wayward Son takes the reader on an amazing voyage, where epic adventures in Egypt, Greece, China and Rome collide with modern-day intrigue and suspense.



MY TAKE:

I intentionally posted the book blurb first this time, because I want you all to see what drew me to sign up for this tour. It sounds exciting! I love archeology and suspense and mystery. However, when it comes to Biblical history, there's a fine line between 'What IF?' and 'Let's just change the facts'.

First off, let me apologize in advance. I hate giving negative reviews, and when I do, I try my best to be honest but not cruel. I hope that shows. I do try to be careful when I choose books to review. I know some books aren't my style, so I avoid them. Speculative Fiction being one of those genres. But in reading the book blurb, I didn't get the impression that this was speculative fiction. If I had, I might not have picked it up. So, I realize some might read this book and have a completely different reaction, but I have to be honest. Here goes.

(SPOILERS) The book started out great. Amanda is an interesting character. So are her contemporaries. The journey to Italy and the triumph of breaking the code to open the buried doors were wonderful. Edge of my seat, ready to go. Then Amanda touches a pendant in the buried room and is sucked through time in spirit to see Cain fleeing his home after killing Abel and being cursed by God. Although a strange and kind of jarring leap, I stayed with it. Remember I love SciFi and Fantasy, so this isn't a stretch for my mind. By the way, this is the Biblical killer mentioned in the back blurb.

Within a few pages, I found myself scratching my head and saying "WHAT?" Cain comes off as a victim, a pawn that is clueless. The Master of Spirits as he calls Satan, is of course rationalizing his murder of Abel and slandering God. No problem there, Satan twists the truth. But what did bother me is that Cain acts as if he doesn't know who this Master of Spirits is, or why any of this has happened. He's just a confused human suckered into this mess and is now cursed.

The KJV isn't as clear on this accounting, but the Inspired Version in Genesis 5 makes it clear that Cain knew who Satan was and had covenanted with him. It says Cain loved Satan more than God. Cain swore a blood oath and begin a secret society that worshiped Satan. Cain may have been a pawn in Satan's plan, but it was not unknowingly or unwillingly. IV Genesis 5:6-26.

My second contention with the plot is that Cain's mark placed by God upon him is immortality. He has super healing abilities and doesn't age. He can't make anything grow if he plants it himself, but he can become ruler in the land and is powerful enough to control the lands around him as well. In KJV Genesis 4:15 it states "...And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." This mark would need to be visible in some way so that people would know not to kill him. Simply allowing him to live forever in no way shows anyone that they shouldn't kill lest they be cursed. The IV Genesis 5:25 states "...and I, the Lord, set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." It's a matter of common sense, we may not know what the mark was, but it did need to be visible or at least known in some way to all who came in contact with him.

Next is Cain's sneaking aboard Noah's Ark to hide as a stowaway. Foraging on food for the animals, he manages to stay hidden from Noah and his family for months. Yes, the ark was only afloat for 40 days, but it took longer for the waters to abate enough for them to leave the ark, nearly a year in fact. KJV Genesis 7:11 "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." Genesis 8:13 "And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first [month], the first [day] of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and NOAH removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry." Noah, a prophet of the Lord was unaware of a stowaway murderer and Satan worshiper on his boat? God stated that only Noah and his family aboard the boat survived.

I could keep going through the novel, but I think you understand why I disliked this book. Although it had an interesting premise, it was a great disapointment to me. I felt like too many liberties were being taken with Biblical truth and couldn't enjoy the story, no matter how well written.



ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Tom Pollack (center) has a passion for sailing, which led him to a friendship with Roy Disney, and ultimately to the release of Walt Disney Pictures' critically acclaimed motion picture, Morning Light. The film is based on Tom's original idea of documenting the exploits of a group of college-aged sailors recruited to compete against seasoned pros in the Trans-Pacific race from Southern California to Hawaii.

Tom graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor's degree in political science. He resides in Dana Point with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children. Tom serves as President of the Mission Basilica School Foundation in San Juan Capistrano and the Chairman of ExplorOcean, Newport Beach's popular nautical museum.

Jim Alves (left) recently completed a 25-year career in bond sales and trading. He graduated from The University of Massachusetts with a bachelor's degree in finance and economics. He currently is Chief Executive Officer of Prometheus Holdings, a financial consulting firm. Jim resides in San Clemente, California with his wife Jackie and their two young boys, having successfully launched two older sons from the nest.

John Loftus (right) spent 23 years at Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), where as a Managing Director he focused on new product development and marketing. A graduate of Stanford University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, his writings have been published in various financial journals and textbooks. Now President of Cascada Productions, John is also active in philanthropy and the non-profit sector. An Ohio native, John resides in Newport Beach, California, with his wife, Lori. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.


Glass Road Public Relations provided this book free for review.
For a brief introduction on the differences between the KJV and the IV of the Holy Scriptures, click HERE. For more information on the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ visit Restored Gospel.com for articles and study guides as well as a full, searchable database for all 3 books of scripture and Church history.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A new favorite Christmas recording

The countdown has long begun and I've been busily planning the holiday and baking up a storm, but I had to share one of my new favorite Christmas recordings by Barlow Girl. They give me goosebumps! Enjoy!



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Candle Burning Bright

I saw this video on YouTube.com and it had me in tears. It's so moving and a beautiful tribute to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, Jr. suffered a lot for his service, but no more than asked for any servant. Great video and song.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Song Stuck on the Brain; Mary Did You Know?



The Christmas SingingA Romance from the Heart of Amish Country




by


Cindy Woodsmall





After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?

Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.







Read the first chapter HERE.



















Enjoy Waterbrook Multnomah titles? They're offering 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on WaterBrookMultnomah.com. The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Marcel makes a comeback

Marcel the Shell with Shoes - have you heard of him? If you haven't then what rock have you been hiding under? Just kidding! Sort of. Marcell took the YouTube world by storm and now the adorable shell (with shoes) is back. Check out the latest story:






If you DID miss the first installment, here it is:



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

B4B: The Scroll by Grant Jeffrey and Alton Gansky

Song Stuck on the Brain: Over My Head by The Fray


The Scroll


by


and









MY TAKE:



The scroll starts out with an emotional plea from a longtime mentor. It's also a plea for Dr. David Chambers to return to his faith and passion. The archeological research is fascinating and the plot is fast paced. I found myself emotionally connected with David and his team, even when the characters weren't behaving so rationally. I enjoyed seeing the growth of David's character and his struggle with seeing God's hand in his life. There are plenty of twists and turns that keep you on your toes up to the very last page.



My only caveat would be (Spoiler ALERT) that the point of all of the archeological drama and discovery was to rebuild the Jewish temple to reinstitute the temple practices. I believe that Jesus proclaimed in prophecy that His temple would be rebuilt, I know it will. However the purposes and practices of that temple will be changed. Jesus said that He fullfilled the law. He was the final sacrifice. His sacrifice on the cross is the only sacrifice required. We only need to humble ourselves, repent and accept that gift of salvation by making a covenant with Jesus. It made the story seem a little dissapointing in the terms that this fantastic writing collaboration with so much archeological evidence concludes with a distorted conclusion.



I still enjoyed the story, but would find myself recommending it with the precaution of explaining to anyone not familiar with Jesus's teachings that the conclusion of the story needs to be examined more closely for an accurate understanding.





ABOUT THE BOOK:


One last dig. One final descent into the twisted tunnels of ancient Jerusalem. Will the truth be found among the treasures that lie beneath the holy city?

Dr. David Chambers, leading archaeologist, has spent his professional career uncovering the facts in the artifacts. His work sets the standard for biblical research in the Holy Land. But surrounded by the evidence, David has sunk into an abyss of doubt. A painful experience with a seemingly unresponsive God has left him without hope. The Old Testament scriptures that used to fill his mind with wonder now drive him to frustration. His unanswered questions have ripped him from both his academic pursuits and the love of his live, his fiancee, Amber.

An old friend and mentor reaches out to David, enticing him with the riches described in the enigmatic Copper Scroll. Losing ground with his peers, his love, and his faith, David Chambers has a choice to make. Will he undertake one final dig to unlock a secret that could alter the course of history? Do the mysteries of the Old Testament hold the key to the political turmoil of the Middle East?

In a world where faith has been eclipsed by the allure of doubt, The Scroll offers a different journey: a gripping adventure to find truth worth dying for.

CLICK to read the PROLOGUE and INTRO CHAPTER








ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Grant Jeffrey is recognized as one of the leading teachers on Bible prophecy and an intelligent defense of our Christian faith. He is the chairman of Frontier Research Publications, Inc., a leading publisher of books, tapes and videos.

Alton Gansky, is author of over 40 books. Over the last decade and half, Alton "Al" Gansky has produced numerous novels that have taken readers from underground bases to an orbiting space craft 200 miles above the earth; from a possessed WWII submarine to murder in small towns; from Antarctica to Ethiopia.

Al specializes in suspense and supernatural suspense novels, but has also written several nonfiction books dealing with biblical matters and biblical mysteries.

In addition to his own writing, Al, through his company GANSKY COMMUNICATIONS, provides writing services to publishers, agents, businesses, and other authors.

Al is a frequent speaker at writing conferences around the country.

Al has been a Christie Award finalist (A SHIP POSSESSED) and an Angel Award winner (TERMINAL JUSTICE). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies. He lives in central California with his wife.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Sunday, November 13, 2011

80 Live and Counting

Song Stuck on the Brain: Stuck Like Glue by Sugarland

Angel and I taped the CMA awards and watched them tonight. We grew up on country music and I still enjoy it. Watching the performances had me remembering the live concerts I've seen in the past.

If you've been a follower of my blog, than you probably already know that I'm a huge music fan. Live music is one of the greatest "highs" you can experience. The better the music, the happier I am. Over the years, I've seen a lot of live performances. It went hand and hand with our travel. Every vacation revolved around music in some way. I loved it.

Unfortunately, I don't get to travel like I used to. But every once in a while it's fun to take a trip down memory lane to relive those shows. I decided to create a complete list of everyone I've seen preform live. It took some doing. Starting with my very first concert at age 11 (Garth Brooks), to my most recent concert (a Red, White and Boom festival that Maroon 5 headlined). Each show has it's special moments, and I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite, but B.B. King live at his own theater on Beale Street in Memphis would probably win.

It's all in how you categorize them:

Person I'd most want to duet with? Kenny Rogers.

Best live show? N'Sync - especially the Ames, IA show.

Craziest crowd? Hoobastank and Incubus.

Best live musicians? Keith Urban and Rob Thomas. The list could go on...

So here is my list, in alphabetical order. I may have missed a few, but for now the count stands at 80 performers. (Some I've seen multiple times, others were part of group festivals, so I can't say how many concerts I've attended.)

What are your best concert memories? Can you name all your live shows?


Musicians I’ve seen Live:

1. 3LW
2. B.B. King
3. Bare Naked Ladies
4. Beach Boys
5. Black Eyed Peas
6. Bow Wow
7. Branson Brothers
8. Brother John
9. Cherie
10. Christina Aguilera
11. Christina Milian
12. Clay Aiken
13. Dante Thomas
14. Deborah Gibson
15. Destiny’s Child
16. Dream
17. Eden’s Crush
18. Eric Church
19. Eve
20. Fernando Ortega
21. Five For Fighting
22. Garth Brooks
23. Glen Campbell
24. Hoobastank
25. Incubus
26. J.C. Chasez
27. Jessica Simpson
28. Jim Stafford
29. JoJo
30. Josh Gracin
31. Joy Williams
32. Justin Timberlake
33. Keith Urban
34. Kelly Clarkson
35. Kenny Rogers
36. Kimberly Locke
37. Lee Greenwood
38. Little Big Town
39. Liz Phair
40. Louise Mandrel
41. Maroon 5
42. Matchbox 20
43. Meredith Edwards
44. Michelle Branch
45. Moe Bandy
46. N’Sync
47. Nelly
48. Nelly Furtado
49. Newsboys
50. O’Town
51. Oak Ridge Boys
52. Osmond Second Generation
53. Phillips, Craig & Dean
54. Rachel Lampa
55. Ray Boltz
56. Ray Stevens
57. Richard Marx
58. Rob Thomas
59. Ronnie Milsap
60. Samantha Mumba
61. Sawyer Brown
62. Sean P. Diddy Combs
63. Seven Nations
64. Smash Mouth
65. Sonic Flood
66. Stacy Orrico
67. SugaBabes
68. Sugar Ray
69. SuperChick
70. Switchfoot
71. Tech N9ne
72. The Calling
73. The Martins
74. The Osmonds
75. The Platters
76. Third Day
77. Toby Mac
78. Tony Lucca
79. True Vibe
80. Zoe Girl

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

CFBA: Valley Of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling

Song Stuck on the Brain: Take a Chance on Me by ABBA












This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:





Valley of Dreams

Bethany House (November 1, 2011)



by



Lauraine Snelling






MY TAKE:


Have you ever read a book that was really good, so good that your attention was captivated and you didn't want to put the book down? Of course you have. Have you ever had a book like that make you antsy? As in, the story is progressing quickly, but I'm running out of pages and how in the world is this all going to wrap itself up in so few pages?


Yep. You know what I'm talking about. Does it make you like the book any less? NO. At least, not for me. A great story is a great story, and a great sequel just means you get to enjoy your literary friends a little longer. I knew going into Valley of Dreams that it was the first book in a series. But I wasn't expecting the ending to feel like a beginning.


Cassie's story is well researched and well written. Her life as a trick rider is captivating and colorful. Experiencing her life turned upside down and then her journey to find a new life is just as entertaining. I love her little family of misfits, especially the animals. And I loved the teasing hint of a romance to come. Which man will she choose? But the novel ends just as the most important question is ready to be answered. Ready - but not shared.


Talk about exciting and frustrating. I immediately went to the author's website to see when the sequel would be released, but it's too early apparently to list that information. So now, my poor mind is spinning with anticipation and just a little frustration.


Is it worth the read? Absolutely, just be prepared to be hooked and to wait. Patience may be a virtue, but it's one that's hard earned.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Cassie Lockwood's mother died when she was little, so Cassie traveled with her father's Wild West Show and became an amazingly skillful trick rider, likened by some to the famous Annie Oakley. When her father died, she continued to work with the show, having nowhere else to go.

Now Cassie has discovered that "Uncle" Jason, the show's manager, has driven the show into debt, and he's absconded with what little money was left. Devastated, Cassie decides to try to find the hidden valley where here father had dreamed of putting down roots. She has only one clue. She needs to find three huge stones that look like fingers raised in a giant hand. With Chief, a Sioux Indian who's been with the show for twenty years, and Micah, the head wrangler, she leaves both the show and a bundle of heartache behind and begins a wild and daring adventure.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Valley of Dreams, go HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has up to sixty books published.

Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

As a most sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books more often, and Lauraine would like to comply ... if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Winston. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kregel: The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale

Kregel Publicatons offered me the opportunity to review a newly released picture book for children. Since I happen to collect children's picture books, I thought this was a perfect partnership.

The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale, isn't a new story. Neither to me, or to literature in general. I have read other versions, and yet this one resonated with me the most. The story is beautiful, illustrating how the dreams and desires we have can be fulfilled in the most surprising and beautiful ways. It's a story of Hope and Redemption as it shares the message of Jesus's birth, life and Resurrection from the viewpoint of three trees.

Part of what makes this telling so well done is the simplicity. It's easily read by younger readers and for those not at that reading level yet, it's easy to comprehend as it's read to them. The artwork is beautiful, with muted, lovely colors in a traditional folk art style. At first, seeing the characters dressed in more modern clothing felt a little surprising since it's telling a Biblical era story, but the style suits the tale. It also gives the viewer an opportunity to connect a little more with the story, by allowing us to see ourselves in the pictures. Children should find this style of art easy to identify with, yet intricate enough for them to spend many hours looking at all the details hidden in the pages.





If you would to read an excerpt from the book, click HERE.




DESCRIPTION:

Three forest trees dream of what they will one day become. One dreams of becoming a royal throne; one of being a ship that can withstand any storm; and one longs to stay in the forest and grow as tall as tall can be. When they are felled, it seems their dreams are over. But as each tree is crafted into a new item--a manger, a fishing boat, and a rugged cross—it becomes clear that through the role they play in one important life their hopes are more than fulfilled.
This traditional folktale is accompanied by stylish artwork from a highly sought-after children's book illustrator, and will help set the Christmas and Easter stories into the overall context of the Christian faith.

The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale. Elena Pasquali, Sophie Windham

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elena Pasquali studied romance languages at university and has a special interest in researching folk tales. She worked for some years in children's publishing before going on to be an author in her own right.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Sophie Windham has illustrated books for Bloomsbury and Orchard and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal for Unicorns! Unicorns! by Geraldine McCaughrean.


I received this book for free from Kregel Publications for this review

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Merchant's Daughter...countdown begins

November 29, 2011 is fast approaching, which means I have 3 things to anticipate this month. My birthday, Thanksgiving and the release of Melanie Dickerson's next novel, The Merchant's Daughter.


I've added it to my Amazon wishlist... and I'm counting down the days.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger.

Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.























If you've missed out on the pleasure of reading her first book, The Healer's Apprentice, click HERE to read more.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

Friday, November 04, 2011

CFBA: A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Song Stuck on the Brain: Next Thing You Know by Matthew West





This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:


A Lasting Impression

Bethany House (November 1, 2011)


by


Tamera Alexander






MY TAKE:


Claire is a character easy to fall in love with. Sutton Monroe would agree. She's sweet, beautiful, talented and a little blind to that fact. Watching her blossom into a confident, independent woman is part of what makes this novel so captivating. The characters are memorable and compelling, especially Mrs. Acklen the outspoken, independent and somewhat eccentric lady of Belmont Mansion. She adds spark to the novel.


For those of us who have outspoken individuals in our lives that have no problem speaking plainly, we can feel for both Claire and Sutton. Plain speaking is not always what it's cracked up to be. However Mrs. Acklen walks a fine line with her opinions, age and wisdom giving her the ability to chose wisely when she speaks. It's this quality that truly brings her character warmth as you learn she's not truly cold or cruel, but a loving woman with a deep past that warrants her caution and honesty. Tamera Alexander did a fantastic job of breathing life back into this historical woman.


The romance, as always, is entrancing and the characters are truly memorable.



ABOUT THE BOOK:


To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.

All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Set at Nashville's historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera's stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers' hearts and leave them eager for more.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Lasting Impression, go HERE.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of Rekindled, Revealed and Remembered, the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles historical series with Bethany House Publishers. Her second historical series, Timber Ridge Reflections (From a Distance, Beyond This Moment, and Within My Heart) continue her signature style of deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose which has earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards.

These awards include the 2009 and 2008 Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the 2010 and 2007 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2010 and 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2010 HOLT Medallion, the 2007 Bookseller’s Best Award, the 2007 National Reader's Choice Award, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction for 2006, among others.

Tamera's newest novel A Lasting Impression is the first of a brand new three-book Southern historical series, and the first two chapters are available for review. She's at work on her ninth novel which will release in fall 2012.

After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville, Tennessee, along with Tamera's father, Doug, and with their two adult children who live near by. And don't forget Jack, their precious--and precocious--silky terrier.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Song Stuck on the Brain: I Need You To Love Me by Barlow Girl



After a comment left by author Bruce Hennigan (The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye) on my BONE HOUSE post, I had to share more of my love for the works of Stephen Lawhead.


I stumbled across Book 1 in the Song of Albion Series, The Paradise War while on my weekly browse at the bookstore. My family is proud of our Celtic heritage and I've always been intrigued by the history and culture. This book promised to tie in several of my favorite things, Celtic mythology, fantasy and adventure. After reading it I added one more thing to my list, a masterful story that left me scrambling to find the next book.


From that point on, every Stephen Lawhead book has stirred that same passion. So, if you have read The Skin Map and The Bone House and you, like me, are desperate for more great story telling, check out Stephen's other works.


Here are the books in the order I discovered them:


The Song of Albion: The Paradise War, The Silver Hand, The Endless Knot








































The Pendragon Cycle: Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail






















































































King Raven Trilogy: Hood, Scarlet, Tuck - My 14 year old niece found Hood and is reading it now. She says it's great.


















Then, of course The Bright Empire Series: The Skin Map and The Bone House




As much as I've loved all of them, I hold a special place in my heart for The Song of Albion Trilogy. Maybe because it was my first, it left such an impression on me. But even all these years later, I can still see the images in my mind that formed while reading.






Be sure to visit Stephen Lawhead's website for more information and to read excerpts from each of these books.






If you're a fan of his work, like me, let me know. Which is your favorite book?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CSFF: The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead



Song Stuck on the Brain: Henry the VIII - I blame my sister. She started it.... Second verse, second verse, same as the first! I'm Henry the VIII I am...



Today the CSFF is touring:





by





MY TAKE:


First, let me say, if you haven't read the first book in the Bright Empire Series The Skin Map - what in the multi-verse are you waiting for?! If you missed my original post on this fantastic book, click HERE for an update.


Now that you're up to speed, on to the exciting reason I'm posting today. The Bone House. I have been waiting for this book, impatiently I might add, since I closed the cover of book one a year ago. In fact, when my copy arrived by mail, I squealed so loud my sister had to come see what was wrong with me. It was like Christmas and my birthday came early together.


Stephen Lawhead is one of my favorite writers, he knows how to weave an incredibly in depth story that leaves your head spinning. I think about his books for days, even weeks after finishing them. The Bone House did exactly that. The Bright Empire Series is a little high concept with all of it's physics and multi-verse speak, but it never becomes heavy handed or overwhelming. On the contrary I feel like I'm anxiously begging for more every page I turn.


I'm fascinated by his inclusion of real historical figures from the multiple time lines, such as The Last Man on Earth to know everything. Fascinating. :)


I really can't recommend this book strongly enough, but be warned you MUST read book one first or you'll be rather lost. Don't worry though, it's worth every word invested.


ABOUT THE BOOK:


One piece of the skin map has been found. Now the race to unravel the future of the future turns deadly.

An avenue of Egyptian sphinxes, an Etruscan tufa tomb, a Bohemian coffee shop, and a Stone Age landscape where universes collide …

Kit Livingstone met his great grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the reality of alternate realities.

Now he's on the run - and on a quest, trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse while staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.

The key is the Skin Map - but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.

Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent, who from the shadows are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.

Across time and space, through manifest and hidden worlds, those who know how to use ley lines to travel through astral planes have left their own world behind in this, the second quest: to unlock the mystery of The Bone House.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. He was born in 1950, in Nebraska in the USA. His early life was lived in America where he earned a university degree in Fine Arts and attended theological seminary for two years.

His first professional writing was done at Campus Life magazine in Chicago, where he was an editor and staff writer. During his five years at Campus Life he wrote hundreds of articles and several non-fiction books.

After a brief and unsuccessful foray into the music business—as president of his own record company—he launched his free-lance career in 1981. In the Hall of the Dragon King was his first novel.

In 1986 the Lawhead family moved to Britain so that Stephen could conduct research for the PENDRAGON CYCLE books. They settled there permanently in 1990, with some years spent living in Austria and a sabbatical in the United States.

In addition to his twenty-four novels, he has written nine children's books, many of them originally offered to his two sons, Drake and Ross. He is married to Alice Slaikeu Lawhead, with whom he has collaborated on books and articles. They make their home in Oxford, England.

Stephen's non-fiction, fiction and children's titles have variously been published in twenty-four foreign languages. He has won numerous industry awards, and in 2003 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Nebraska.


Visit the other blog tour members:

Noah Arsenault
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Jeff Chapman
Carol Bruce Collett
Karri Compton
D. G. D. Davidson
Theresa Dunlap
Victor Gentile
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Janeen Ippolito
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Marzabeth
Katie McCurdy
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant


In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, October 24, 2011

CFBA: Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills

Song Stuck on the Brain: Someone Like You by Adelle






This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:




Attracted to Fire

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (October 1, 2011)



by




DiAnn Mills



MY TAKE:

I've always enjoyed DiAnn Mills novels, but I think Attracted to Fire has just made the top of the list. Agent Ash Zinders may come across as piggish in the begining, but you quickly find his heart and past explain his anti-female agent notions. I love that Meghan isn't afraid to stand up to him, nor is she afraid to let her emotions work with her logic and skill. She's not a cold, stern agent, but she's not a softie either. The romance angle worked very well. The real meat of the story though, is the race to discover who is after the president's daughter. The suspense was tight, the plot well played and just overall a great read. I could tell she'd done her research and I appreciate that kind of detail, it takes talent to know just how much detail to share without boring the reader. DiAnn Mills definitely has talent.

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

Watch the book trailer:



If you would like to read the first chapter of Attracted to Fire, go HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website at: http://www.diannmills.com/ or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diannmills

Friday, October 21, 2011

CFBA: Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Song Stuck on the Brain: Jingle Bells. I watched The Time Traveler's Wife again (GREAT movie) and now the song is stuck.






This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:



Wonderland Creek

Bethany House (October 1, 2011)




by



Lynn Austin






MY TAKE:


Unfortunately, my review copy never arrived. I'm disapointed, but in hopes that it may still show up. If it does, I'll gladly post my review later.




ABOUT THE BOOK:


Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and myster--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wonderland Creek, go HERE.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother (age 98), and daughter concerning the change in women's roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve's Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. And two of her inspirational fiction books were chosen by Library Journal for their top picks in 2003, and 2005. One of Lynn's novels has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CFBA: Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist


Song Stuck on the Brain: Footloose by Blake Shelton.


Just saw the new Footloose. Loved it, great dancing and I enjoyed the new music. I came home and downloaded the soundtrak. Check out the remake of "I Need a Hero". Love it.








This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:


Love on the Line

Bethany House (October 1, 2011)




by



Deeanne Gist






MY TAKE:


Yay! Another Deeanne Gist novel! I look forward to these coming up for review and anxiously await their arrival in the mail. In addition to always having incredible historical detail (which I love), Deeanne has a gift for sassy, smart women who know how to be strong and soft at the same time. I identify with her characters and so does my sister, Angel.


In fact, about 2 chapters in I was thinking to myself, "Ooo, this man is going to drive Angel right up the wall - and not in a good way." The arrogance, the comments about 'women's work', the attitude. Luke is just the type to get under your skin and make every hair bristle. But I knew that with a little taming, both Luke and Georgie were going to make a beautiful couple. A romance worth reading because it has sparks. :)


I loved the book and I gave it to Angel to read. Next day she said, "I don't know if I can handle this one. I just want to strangle Luke!" I laughed. Told you so. She loved the book too.




ABOUT THE BOOK:

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rachel's Voice: 180

Rachel's Voice: 180: Yesterday, I watched an incredible movie. "180" is a movie that has the potential to make you do a 180 turn in your thinking. Please, please watch it...

I took Rachel's advice and watched the video. It's powerful and so well put together. It needs to spread like wildfire, so please take the time to watch it as well and then spread the word.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ghosts of the Forest






A friend sent me a captivating video clip of a newscast out of Wisconsin about the White Deer population. I thought it was fascinating, so I wanted to share it with all of you.





Monday, October 10, 2011

CFBA: A Wedding Invitation by Alice Wisler

Song Stuck on the Brain: Little Wild One by the Wonders (From the movie That Thing You Do)





This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:






A Wedding Invitation


Bethany House (October 1, 2011)






by






Alice Wisler






MY TAKE:


Unfortunately, I haven't received my review copy yet, but when I do, I will be back to post a review. In the meantime, take a peak at this weeks book.




ABOUT THE BOOK:



After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Wedding Invitation, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties. Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers. In her room, she created stories. The desire to be a published famous author has never left her. Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).

Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field. She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines. She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth. Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory. This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.