Thursday, October 25, 2012

CSFF: Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead

Song Stuck on the Brain: Phantom of the Opera - In surfing youtube I found this version sung by Sarah Brightman and Antonio Banderas. I didn't know Antonio Banderas sang. I thought it was a cool rendering for the Phantom's voice.

Spirit Well
Bright Empires Series
Stephen R. Lawhead

First let me apologize for the late post. This should have gone live yesterday, but my internet crashed and it just came back this morning.


You all know what a huge fan I am of Stephen Lawhead's work, so if you're a follower of my blog, you're already familiar with the first 2 books in the Bright Empires series - The Skin Map and The Bone House. I was on pins and needles waiting for what I thought was the last book in the series. Imagine my surprise (and excitement!!) when I discovered there are 2 more books to come.

The Spirit Well picks up right where it left you suspended with the last book. Kit wakes up in the bone house and remembers the journey to the spirit well. From there, the story continues at break neck speed across multiple realities and time. Kit and Mina find each other again, we  discover how the skin map came to be, and even get a taste of a translation for the symbols on the map.

There is so much that happens - too much to even try to explain. And why would you want me to give away all the spectacular secrets? It's all those juicy little secrets, twisty plot turns and outright surprises that continue to make this series unforgettable. It's one more hit for Mr. Lawhead and one more tasty treat for his readers who know that's what we should expect.

If you have not read The Skin Map or The Bone House, those are must reads first, the story won't make sense otherwise. If you're a fan of great fiction with science and faith woven into the foundation, then you won't want to miss this series.


The search for the map—and the secret behind its cryptic code—intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.

But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater?  Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret—for good or evil.

Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.

His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.

Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers—the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.

But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest—and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.


Stephen R. Lawhead
 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 Author on Facebook:

Check out the other tour sites:
Jim Armstrong
Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
Theresa Dunlap
Emmalyn Edwards
Victor Gentile
Jeremy Harder
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Janeen Ippolito
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Joan Nienhuis
Lyn Perry
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CFBA: No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
No Safe Harbor
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Ludwig


A fantastic and suspenseful journey. I love the premise of mysterious words on an old letter leading to a journey of your lifetime. It's the kind of thing I day dreamed of as a kid. Elizabeth Ludwig must have had a few of her own, because she nailed the story.


The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Harbor, go HERE.


Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Journey, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Janelle Mowery, earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year honors. This book was followed in 2009 by “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” part of a Christmas anthology collection called Christmas Homecoming, also from Barbour Publishing.

In 2010, her first full-length historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned Four Stars from the Romantic Times. Books two and three of Elizabeth’s mystery series, Died in the Wool (Barbour Publishing) and Inn Plain Sight (Spyglass Lane), respectively, released in 2011.

Coming in 2012 is Elizabeth’s newest historical series from Bethany House Publishers. No Safe Harbor, the first book in the Edge of Freedom Series, will release in October, with two more books following in 2013 and 2014.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, and often attends conferences and seminars, where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoyed a wide readership in its first full year, with more than 17,000 visitors in 2011. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in the great state of Texas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CFBA: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Song Stuck on the Brain: In My Life/A Heart Full of Love from Les Mis

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Against the Tide
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Camden


Elizabeth Camden has done it again, she swept me up in intrigue, romance, and a passion for justice that is uniquely hers. Against the Tide may follow the romance and struggle between Lydia and Bane, but it also takes a look at a grittier part of life - addiction. Bane's fight to stop the Professor, his evil former boss, is just the beginning. Bane is determined to spend his life bringing down the opium dealer and make up for his past in the Professor's service. But opium is a sinister drug not yet controlled by the government and it's being used in all kinds of remedies, including teething liquid for children, causing death and addiction without the user even being aware of the danger. Bane's fight draws Lydia to fight with him, but she soon finds that the fight may be more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Some might remember Bane from Elizabeth Camden's earlier book, The Lady of Bolton Hill. I love that she chose a "bad guy" and shared his redemption story with us - there is a good word for her novels, stories of redemption. If you haven't read The Lady of Bolton Hill, don't worry, it's not a matter of sequels, each book can be read independently. However, once you sail through Against the Tide, I dare you not to eagerly reach for her other books.

Read my review of The Lady of Bolton Hill HERE.


Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Against the Tide, go HERE.


A Word from Elizabeth:
I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.

I married relatively late in life, which turned out to be an odd kind of blessing. I had gotten very good at leading a solo life, and although I was not particularly content being alone, I had become reconciled to it. Most importantly, it taught me never to take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet.

As for who I am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CFBA: Full Disclosure

Song Stuck on the Brain: Do You Want to Dance by Del Shannon

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:
Full Disclosure
Bethany House Publishers (October 2, 2012)
Dee Henderson
Dee is back, YAY! I actually squealed when I saw this book offer. I've been a fan of Dee's for years and I’ve missed her fantastic storytelling. Full Disclosure may be her first book in 5 years, but it feels like coming home.
Ann Silver – is she fiction or not? It didn’t take long before Ann’s character seemed really familiar, in fact she reminded me a LOT of her author Dee based on what I’ve read on her website and in interviews. Then there were Ann’s friends. Those familiar with Dee’s O’Malley series will find a lot of familiar characters between the pages. In fact as you learn more about Ann you begin to wonder where reality stops and fiction begins between the author and her heroine.  It’s enticing, to say the least, to discover all the connections between Full Disclosure and the many books in Dee’s resume.
That of course is only part of the intrigue. New readers can take that for what it is, but don’t worry about feeling lost in the story if you haven’t read her entire back list. There’s plenty of mystery to unravel.
I’ve seen a few reviewers comment that they felt the story had a slow start and wasn’t up to her earlier standards. I have to disagree. The story does have a little different feel, it seems more character driven in the beginning, but that’s a little deceptive, because the author is actually rolling out a really involved plot and tying so many threads together it’s impressive when you see the final picture. It’s like a pot of water heating, the temperature rising to boiling in a blink with little warning.
In the midst of all the mystery is a love story that faces opposition in an unusual way. Ann and Paul are a little older, more mature, past their wild early career days and past their first heartbreaks. They know what family means and what they want, but they aren’t so anxious to be married that they are willing to settle for less than what God has in mind. They’re comfortable in their own skin and okay with being alone. I appreciate the intentional way that Paul pursues Ann, always careful to listen for God’s leading and considering Ann first. It’s a beautiful example of what real love should be; full of passion and temperance, selfless courage, faith and honesty.
In the book Ann shares how she writes all of her friends love stories, and Full Disclosure feels very much like the author’s nod toward writing a version of her own love story, or what she would imagine it being. It's fiction, but it rings with true to life intimacy and heart.
Fantastic job, Dee. You had a well-deserved hiatus, but welcome back to the top. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
*** NOTE: Dee’s website announced that there is a new O’Malley story coming in 2013. Jennifer and Tom’s story is finally being published. Check out herwebsite for more details.


Ann Silver is a cop's cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region's most trusted investigative positions.

Paul Falcon is the FBI's top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder.

Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn't expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention.

The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is…

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the first chapter of Full Disclosure, go HERE.


Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. She is a lifelong resident of Illinois.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Way to Salvation According to the Bible

Jesus placed something on my heart and I want to share it with everyone. I’ve mentioned recently that it is a writer’s call to shine the light on God’s word and point their reader toward Jesus Christ. That our words are important and we must use them wisely. More and more I feel God speaking to my heart and telling me that I need to be bolder in my testimony and share plainly the gospel that is preached in the Holy Scriptures. If I ask that other writers do this, then I have to hold myself to the same standard. I find it’s easy to think, “Someone else will say it better, or clearer. “ But the truth is we are all called to testify. And the most important thing to share is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God made flesh, and it’s through Him alone that we are saved. The scriptures are plain in how we come to this Salvation, but for many it is still unknown, so I want to share it now in hope that it will touch someone’s heart for Jesus and bring glory to His name.

What does the Bible say is the way to salvation?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. - Romans 10: 9-13 KJV (all Bible references used are from the KJV)

Okay, so what are the steps outlined in the word of God?

Step 1. Come unto Me

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11:28
Isaiah 55:3,   Revelation 3:20,   Mark 10:14

I explained this to a young friend recently by sharing an example using my nephew who’s not quite 2 years old. Brock gets very excited when playing and when he’s really distracted by something fun, it can be hard to get his attention. Many times I’ll say, “Brock, come here, come see me.” I’ll repeat it multiple times, opening my arms to encourage him to come to me for a hug. But when he’s having so much fun in his own little world, he’s reluctant to stop what he’s playing and come greet me and give me a hug. We are called to be like little children. In fact we’re called God’s children. I see this first step much like Brock and I. We are the child that’s distracted by the world and our own interests. But Jesus continually calls to us, “Come to Me, come see Me, come share in my Love for you.” So why is this a step? Because it’s the first action we take to making that commitment. We come to Him.
Step 2. Faith
We’ve come to Jesus, we’re standing before Him and now we have to choose. Do we believe His message? Do we find hope in Him? Then we must chose to believe and have faith that the hope of forgiveness and eternal life He offers is real. We choose to have faith.
Step 3. Repentance
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; - Roamans 3:23
Because Adam sinned, he was removed from the presence of God and the plan of salvation was shown to him so that he could come back into God’s presence. His original sin caused all of us to be born into sin as well. It doesn’t matter if we think we’re a good person or not, it’s not our opinion that matters. Jesus is the only one that is pure and Holy enough to see where sin lies, and Jesus is the only one that can wash it away as if it was never there.
Repentance is necessary because all have sinned and we are commanded to repent.  If we have already come to Jesus and chose faith in Him and in His word then we have already seen and felt the sin our lives and have chosen to obey His command to repent; to turn away from our sin and not go back to it.
Step 4. Baptism by Water
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. – Acts 2:38
Baptism of water is required. It’s not optional. We’re even told how to do it. We’re buried in the water, and then brought out again as a symbol of Jesus death for our sins and His conquering death by rising again. This baptism of water is what washes away our sins that we have repented of and turned away from. With this baptism of water we’re made a new person, whole and clean in Jesus. Our covenant has been made – we give Jesus all our sins and commit our lives to Him and His calling. In return He grants us salvation and eternal life. John the Baptist was called by God from birth and given authority from God to baptize in Jesus name for remission of sins. We must also be baptized in the name of Jesus by one called and given authority.
Step 5. Baptism of The Holy Ghost

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. – Mark 3:16-17
Baptism is in two parts, the first is our act of submission to Jesus to receive remission of our sins. The second part is to receive the gift He promised to all who believe on Him – the gift of the Holy Ghost. Jesus places His spirit within us to give us direction and keep us in tune with Him so that we will not turn back to our old ways. We may still stumble in our lives, but the Holy Ghost is present to show us when we fail and to encourage us to turn back to God. We could not live this new life in Jesus on our own, we need the gift of His Holy Spirit to help us and make us stronger. This gift is given by the laying on of hands by a minister called by Jesus and given authority by Him to administer both baptisms of water and Fire (Holy Ghost).
Step 6. New in Christ, Enduring to the End

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: - Romans 5:1
The dictionary defines Justified as: to declare innocent or guiltless; absolve; acquit. Our Faith in Jesus, our acceptance and belief in Jesus is what has made us innocent, or absolved of our sins. Does this mean works are not required?
No. Now that we are a new person in Jesus, our lives must reflect that. Not because doing all these good things will save us. We’re already saved. Instead it is because the Spirit God directs us to live and act for Jesus, in turn working to do good things for Jesus out of our love for Him and our desire to serve Him. So works are required as part of our journey in salvation because it is a part of who we are when we are made new in Jesus Christ.  It’s also counted to us as righteousness.
Jesus showed works of the Father as a witness to others and to draw them to believe in God. Since we’re called to be like Jesus, our lives have to also reflect the works of God.  
Step 7. Resurrection from the Dead

At the end of this life and the beginning of the Millennial Reign, we’ll see a resurrection of the just, or all those who have covenanted with Jesus Christ. At the end of the 1,000 year reign, the resurrection of the unjust will bring those who chose evil to stand before the judgment seat of God.
Step 8. Eternal Judgment and Eternal Life
The final fruition of Jesus’ promise to those who choose Him, the blood of Jesus has washed us clean and at that final Judgment we’re granted the ultimate prize, Eternal Life with Jesus Christ. To eternally be in the presence of God.
Salvation is a beautiful plan, perfect because God is perfect. He sent His only Son Jesus to fulfill a temporal law that no one else could ever have kept perfectly. He lived as an example and a beacon of light to the world and then sacrificed Himself on the cross, taking the punishment for an entire world of sin. Then Jesus conquered death and rose again to live forever, thereby offering us a way to also join Him in God’s presence.
God is just, He is perfect and He cannot lie. He has promised the opportunity of Salvation to all souls. What about those who die without the chance to come unto Christ and be saved? God has not forgotten them either.
A Second Wittness:
For those unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon, it is a record of God’s people in the land of the America’s and Jesus visitation to them after His ascension out of Jerusalem. They are part of the ‘other sheep not of this fold’ that Jesus speaks of in John 10:16.  It was Divinely kept through history and then revealed and translated by Divine inspiration by Joseph Smith Jr. It is not a new Bible, nor does it replace the Bible. Instead, it is a beautiful second witness to the truth in the Bible. It confirms the same plan of salvation listed above and proclaims Jesus as the Son of God made flesh, the only way to salvation.
And now my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, which is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of His salvation and the power of His redemption; - Omni 1:46
'And moreover, I say unto you that there shall be no other name given, nor no other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men- Only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. - Mosiah 1:116
"Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, That Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you His, That you may be brought to heaven, That ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life through the wisdom and power and justice and mercy of Him who created all things in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen." - Moroni 3:21
If you would like to learn more about this second witness of Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon, fell free to contact me. I invite you to read it with an open heart, praying that God will show you the truth.
Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; And I write unto my brethren the Lamanites, And I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ; And I seal up these records after that I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you. Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things-if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them-That ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men from the creation of Adam, even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, And ponder it in your hearts, And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;  And if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, And He will manifest the ctruth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost; And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things;  And whatsoever thing is good, is just and true; Wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that He is. And ye may know that He is by the power of the Holy Ghost; Wherefore, I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; For He worketh by power according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow and forever. - Moroni 10:1-7