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.