Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nightingale by Susan May Warren and contest info!


Actions have consequences. Sometimes when we make a "mistake", in our rush to "fix" what we have done, we actually make things worse. Esther Lange and Linus, her fiance, are dealing with the consequences of a hasty decision and are now in an engagement that they don't relish. This doesn't make waiting for his return from the frontlines any easier. She spends her time nursing GIs.

Esther receives a letter from a field medic, Peter, with a letter from Linus inside. Peter's letter informs Esther that Linus was mortally wounded and Linus's letter troubles her even further.

She continues corresponding with the medic and finds out he is a doctor at a station nearby. Esther makes a surprise visit. Esther is the one surprised. The medic isn't who he seems to be. Linus's family is pressuring Esther too. What choices will Esther make next?

Nightingale a stand alone in the series Brothers in Arms.

This was a real page turner for me. I liked the theme of redemption, for Esther, Linus, and her new medic friend. I also contemplated how people rush to judgment about others based on stereotypes, especially when fear is involved. Warren's books are always good, but this one is AMAZING!


Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota , where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!) A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:

This book was provided for review by Litfuse Publicity Group.

Check out what others are saying about the book!

You can buy the book here!

The Letters From Home Giveaway!

Enter the Contest: Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. 5 runner's up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale. There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters.

1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.

2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you'd like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.

Enter here or at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website. Or simply click on the button to the right.

Monday, November 29, 2010

City on our Knees

Comfort zone. Is it a good thing? We all like comfortable because it is easy. No risk. But no risk, no gain. "Stepping across the line" can yield great profit to us and to others. City on our knees by TobyMac is a collection of biographical sketches of people who have risked comfortable, people who have erased the divisions to reach for unity, individuals and groups that have prayed and depended on God to achieve more than they could in their own strength. If you are looking for inspiration for yourself or a teen in your life, encouragement that one life used by God can make a difference, this is your book!


TobyMac is a Grammy Award-winning artist, producer, and songwriter. First known as part of the popular group dc Talk throughout the 1990s, he launched a solo career in 2001 and has since won numerous awards, earned three certified gold albums, and had six No. 1 CHR singles. "City on Our Knees," the inspiration for this book spent thirteen weeks as Billboard's No. 1 Christian song. TobyMac's previous books include Jesus Freaks (with dc Talk) and Under God (with Michael Tait and WallBuilders). TobyMac is married, with five children, and makes his home near Nashville, Tennessee.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Strategically Small

Bigger is better. The trend in church thinking in the 90s. The megachurch. But is it true? I know that personally I have been in several church homes. An extremely large one growing up, an extremely small one thru my teens and early 20s and then a mid-sized/smallish church from my mid 20s thru today (mid 30s). I have experienced the large church that allows people to "hide" or take advantage of church programs and services. I have been in the small church that needed all its members to pull off an event. I know it comes down to a personal preference.
In reading The Strategically Small Church, I was amazed at how much it identifies my personal feelings about a church home. While the book is meant for pastors and ministry leaders (I do not belong to either group), I felt the author expressed much of what I would like pastors to know. O'Brien discussed the trend to authenticity as a standard for gen Xers. I know this rings true for me. I cannot stand "fake". He mentions that our generation is "suspicious, sarcastic and unimpressed". Not flattering, but true. We want "genuine" and all the mess that surrounds it. Small churches tend toward the ability for more authentic relationships and faith.

The book also discusses church programming, the attitude of consumerism, the training up of other leaders, the equipping of the congregation and the benefit of the intergenerational church. I particularly agreed with the idea of the church being a "family", especially for those alone, or separated from family. I agree with the idea of eliminating age-based groups and encouraging interaction/groups irregardless of age.

Ideal resource for pastors and ministry directors!

Brandon J. O'Brien is editor-at-large for Leadership Journal and their poular blog, Out of Ur. He holds an MA in church history from Wheaton College and served as pastor of two small congregations. Bradon lives with his wife in the western suburbs of Cchicago, where he is a doctoral student in church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't Kiss Him Good-bye (London Confidential series)

Reviewing books targeted to the young adult market encourages me. Especially when they are filled with themes that revolve around making good decisions.


Savvy Smith has been transplanted from the U.S. to London. In addition to trying to find her place in a new peer group, she is also overcoming cultural differences. The May Day Ball is a tradition at this British school. Everyone who is anyone goes to the dance and it seems to Savvy that everyone else has a date. Her list of prospective dates begins to dwindle. When she finally believes she has met someone, she is warned about his propensity to be trouble. Will she bypass her uneasy feelings and compromise? Is this the end of the world? Where does personal identity and self-worth come from? Can we find joy in life when it seems like nothing is working for us?

The written word has such a great opportunity to convey messages and this book is no different. I love Sandra Byrd and her sweet and refreshing humor as well as the details regarding fashion and pop culture. I didn't enjoy this third installment quite as much as the first two because I felt it was lighter on revealing the character's thought process and Savvy's thinking is so encompassed by "boy-craziness", although it is probably more accurate to real-life for many of today's teens.

If you have been reading the blog for any length of time, I introducted you to the London Confidential Series a few months ago. If you want to read the reviews of Books 1 & 2 in the series, you can do that here.

Best-selling author Sandra Byrd has published nearly three dozen books in the Christian market, including her latest series, French Twist, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and its sequel, Bon Appétit (2008). Many of her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books target the tween and young adult market. She has also published a book for new moms entitled Heartbeats. Several of Sandra's shorter works appear in periodical markets such as Relevant, Clubhouse, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. For the past seven years, she has shared her secrets with the many students she mentors through the Christian Writers Guild. Before turning to full-time writing, Sandra was an acquisitions editor in the ABA market. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children.

This book was provided by Tyndale for review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Waiting

Sometimes the simple life isn't all that simple. All women are self-conscious and want to believe we are wanted and beautiful.
It isn't any different for main character Jorie King in Suzanne Woods Fisher's new novel, The Waiting. She is waiting for Ben Zook to "find" himself, settle down and finally join the Faith. News that Ben Zook has been killed reaches home and the community has to find a way to move on with life. Jorie finds comfort in friendship with Caleb, Ben's brother whose wife has recently died. Until an unlikely thing happens.....

OR not so unlikely. I could see this "twist" coming from early on in the book. Even though I wasn't surprised, I did enjoy the book. It was a sweet tale of a timid girl that doesn't think she is beautiful or that anyone else could ever choose her either. Doesn't that girl reside in all of us? AND, you know my affinity for Amish fiction, especially when it doesn't involve a buggy accident as the plot climax.

This book was provided for review by Litfuse Publicity with no compensation.

About Suzanne Woods Fisher : Suzanne Woods Fisher is the CBA bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, Amish Peace, and Amish Proverbs. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California . Find out more about Suzanne at

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of The Waiting, book two in The Lancaster Secrets Collection. In The Waiting Jorie finds herself caught be two loves and two lives in this compelling page turner about complex people living the simple life.

The Waiting is the next stand alone story in The Lancaster Secrets Collection and follows in the footsteps of the best-selling, The Choice. The Waiting is in stores now and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway.

One Grand Prize winner will receive a Kindle preloaded with Suzanne Woods Fisher titles and a gift certificate! The Prize Pack (valued at over $185.00) includes:

* A brand new KINDLE, Free 3G, 6", Latest Generation

* The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* A $15 dollar Gift Certificate

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on October 28th at Suzanne's Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party.

Join Suzanne for the Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party on October 28th! She’ll be announcing the winner of the The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway, hosting a book club discussion of The Waiting and The Choice, and giving away copies of both books and HEAPs of readerly prizes! Be sure to join us on Thursday, October 28th at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST & 8 EST) at Suzanne’s Author Page. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Healer's Apprentice - YA

Having a 12-year-old that is a voracious reader presents challenges. I want to know what she is reading, but I cannot read everything she reads, at least if I want to get anything else done. So I have to rely on authors that are reliable and recommendations of others. I was pleased to be "introduced" to to Melanie Dickerson and her first novel The Healer's Apprentice by a close friend.


I was told this book was a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and so I started reading it with some preconceived notions. I wasn't sure that a tweak here and there to a fairy tale I knew well would keep my interest. Good thing this book was SO much more than just a tweak. I could not put it down! I read it all in one sitting! In the author interview she mentions what started her idea for this book. I loved the idea that she considered the prince and his sense of duty and responsibility, an idea that the author incorporates masterfully into her retelling. Worth a look for YA market AND older (like mid-30ish, like me!)

I can't wait to read more from this author in the future!

This book was provided for review by the author and Zondervan.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Love Finds You.....

in Victory Heights Washington!


WWII was an intense time. I wasn't around during the time period, but my grandmother has shared her experience. She was part of a high school class of four. Three boys and herself. When the boys quit high school to go to war, she decided to quit too and work in the factory. (She went back later and finished.) Her brothers fought in the war too.

My grandmother's story has always interested me. As I read this book, I pictured my grandmother in the factory working and doing her part to help in the war effort. It was emotional.

If you love WWII historical novels, this is the bittersweet tale of Rosalie and the loss of her fiance to war. She does her part for the war effort by working as a riveter in the local Boeing plant. She finds herself thrust into the limelight as Seattle's own "Rosie the Riveter" by an aspiring reporter. Will she allow herself to move on and open herself to love?

Tricia Goyer is the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels. She and her husband have four children and live in Arkansas. Oceanna Fleiss is a published author and editor. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. This is the authors' second book together.

This book was provided for review by Litfuse.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beginning homeschooling fears

I start Monday homeschooling my seventh grade daughter. I am terrified! Of what? A pre-adolescent? Really? I had to deal with lots of those in my time....

No, that isn't it. I am terrified of screwing up my child. I am prepared, I think.... I started researching curriculum over a year ago. I went to the local conference and didn't miss a session. I interviewed other homeschooling moms. I researched public/private school options in our area. I checked into what the course of study was in the public schools. I bought curriculum (chasing down bargains). Most importantly, I prayed and I know this is God's best will for my child right now.

Am I qualified? I don't know. Am I up to the challenge? I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me!! That doesn't mean that fear isn't trying to seep in. It is a daily battle.

And honestly, I am a little selfish! Yep. I admitted it. While I look forward to spending time with her, I can't help but feel like I am cut off. I can't commit to a library storytime with my preschooler. I can't commit to a daytime bible study. I can't commit to a MOPS group. Feeling a little alone.....

But I KNOW that this is God's will and His will is always greater than we can ever imagine. I KNOW that I only have so much time left to impart great things to this child before she thinks I am an ignorant lunatic. I know that my ultimate responsibility is to be the parent God has called me to be. Being a mom is the best way to beat out our selfishness. It is always a sacrifice. This is just one more of those ways. It doesn't compare to the sacrifice that my Heavenly Father made for me.

Do me a favor? Just check in on me from time to time and help me to remember....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I was recently reading a book in which a character mentioned that anxiety is rooted in fear and that if you have complete faith in God, there is no fear. Anxiety is defined as distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. Anxiety sets in if we try to control things ourselves and don't rely on God's provision. Guilty here more frequently than I'd like to admit.

A few years ago I was put on an anti-anxiety drug. A secondary usuage was for nerve pain, which I was diagnosed with. Later, the doctor told me he put me on the drugs because I seemed anxious during a visit. I was. I wonder what was his first clue? The woman crying the uncontrollable ugly cry? I don't know if the pain I was having was intensified by the anxiety or not. I wasn't on the drug long. I didn't like how it made me feel "foggy". Do I still struggle with anxiety? Yes. Absolutely. So I find studying these scriptures helps. I hope they help someone else tonight too.

Ps 27:1 - The Lord is my Light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, whom shall I fear?

Ps 34:4 I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.

Ps 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Proverbs 3:23-26 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble;
when you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being snared.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

He is that perfect love! Let Him comfort you and take away your fear!

Too much

Sometimes I talk too much. I know this is surprising (NOT!). I have hurt some people and disappointed others with my words and thoughts lately. Yep, the thoughts too, because thoughts become words, and words become atttudes, and attitudes dictate actions. So, if you are one of these people, I'm sorry! I need to learn when to keep my mouth shut, and to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. (See Phillipians 4:8)

School Supplies

It's that time of the year again! School supply shopping! Everyone has a different approach. Personally, I try to salvage as much as possible from last years supplies with a couple of exceptions.

The kids always get a new box of markers, colored pencils and crayons. Nothing beats the new box of crayons with their perfectly sharpened tips and it's like buying happiness in a box for a quarter!

I also buy supplies in October (as they are clearancing out overstock) for next year. Folders, binders, lunchboxes, backpacks, ink pens, pencils, etc. all keep in storage well. The key is to remember where you store them!

My least favorite thing in shopping for supplies is going to multiple stores, but sometimes it can't be helped. Stores don't always stock everything. Like Art gum erasers! Wal-mart and Target take note!

I need to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to pick up the last few things for my homeschooler's enrichment day program, but for the most part, I am done.

On to the next task.....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Giving back (a lesson for me in gratitude)

It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in the daily life. Get up, make the coffee, get kiddos dressed, throw in the laundry (sometimes grumbling about how it never stops), yell at kids to do dishes, go to grocery store, etc. (You get the idea). Worrying about shallow things like who doesn't like me this week. Bad news all around us - unemployment rates, gas prices, grocery prices....

I've decided that I want to teach my children (and myself) that we are blessed beyond measure. That our "problems" could be much different and wider in scope. We have food to eat (good food too!), we have more than enough clothes to wear (though some of us may not be as stylish as we want!), we have a nice home with a nice bed to sleep in, we have clean water to drink.

When complaints arise about any of these things (from me as much as the children), I want to remember those who have less. Like the children in Africa. I don't say that as a guilt trip like moms that want their children to eat their brussels sprouts. I want to inspire gratefulness in my own heart as well as those of my children. I also want to live as those "to whom much is given, much is required." So I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with Kristen at We Are That Family and her Do it For Others Project for July. I volunteered as a seamstress to create dresses for Little Dresses for Africa out of pillowcases and supplies sent in by readers of the We Are That Family blog.

I created 10 dresses with the supplies I received with the help of my 12 year old and 10 year old daughters.


Here are some of our favorites.






This gave me an opportunity to dwell on how blessed I truly am and to thank God for His many blessings in my life. Gratitude is the key to a soft heart. Realizing what we have versus the ambition to always acquire more, new, better.....

It has also given me a door to discussion with my children. My 3 year old repeatedly asked when HER dresses would be finished and I was able to talk with her about how some of these children only have 1 dress and how thankful they will be to receive these.

I am resolved to continue to be an example of God's Love. AND to teach my children to do the same. It's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shades of Morning

Regrets. Do we all have them? Do we learn to move past them? Or gather them up and try to sweep them under the rug?

Marnie writes her regrets on slips of paper and slips them into a box. She ran from the life she once had and has created a new life. Bookstore/coffeeshop owner, a quiet and solitary life. Unexpectedly, Marnie is entrusted with the care of her sister's son, who has Down Syndrome. This development opens the door to her past. Her past love, mistakes and finally, healing.

Marlo Shalesky doesn't write this book with a typical storyline. I am not giving it away, either. While parts of the book may follow a typical plot, surprises are in store. It was a delightful and emotional read.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

She Walks in Beauty

I know I rave about books, but this has to be one of my favorites in quite some time. This book was set in the late 1800s in New York City. Clara Carter is an innocent young girl in good societal circles. Her mother passed when she was young and she has been taught by a governess for several years. When she is seventeen, her aunt appears and informs her that she will be "debuting" this season. (For those of you who don't know, as I didn't, that means she was a debutant, attending balls and parties simply to find a suitable match. Clara has been told she doesn't have a choice. She "must" win the "heir" by any means necessary. Her best friend is her competition. Clara's innocence is robbed and her eyes opened during the process. She is introduced to a world where appearances are of the utmost importance and "truth" is inconvenient. Will she follow her heart or her family's wishes? Does she even have a choice? Is it true that God loves her just the way she is? Does anyone else?

Siri Mitchell's historical fiction is just phenomenal! Every time I read one, it makes me want to research more about the time period and situations presented. If you haven't read any of her work, be sure to check out The Constant Heart in addition to this one. She weaves a story so masterfully that is spellbinds this reader. I have the hardest time putting her books down to feed my family! Her characters are amazing. They come to life within the pages. She also has a tremendous ability to maneuver twists and turns that keep the reader enchanted and guessing until the end of the book. Bravo!!

Mitchell has written eight novels, two of which (Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door) were named Christy Award finalists. A graduate from the University of Washington with a business degree, she has worked in many levels of government and lived on three continents. Siri and her family currently reside in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

what's worse?

Being sunburnt all over OR being sunburnt in little patches only where you missed applying sunscreen?

I'll spare you the scary photos.

Hearts Awakening

Being comfortable in life sometimes causes people to be lazy. Desperation however can be a very powerful motivator. Elvira Kilmer is desperate. She has no hope of ever having a family of her own. She has to find work to keep from being on the streets and being destitute. She finds a widower, Jackson, who needs a housekeeper and someone to take care of his young sons. Elvira is plain. Jackson is handsome. Jackson also has a secret about his former wife. Will Elvira accept a most unusual arrangement? Will Jackson and Elvira find peace?

The book seems very formulaic. Girl is destitute. Man needs help. They meet. Make an arrangement.... blah, blah, blah.

I have to admit I wasn't impressed. It was a book. Something to read. I wish a better something. I read a quote somewhere last week (I wish I remember where) that said something to the effect of "When a scene becomes boring, make the characters fight over something..." The author of this book, Delia Parr seems to employ that strategy, and the characters fight a lot.

Not my favorite.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House publishers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sixteen Brides

The year is 1871. Several widows answer an ad in a shop window for women who want to take control of their own destiny. Mr. Hamilton Drake of Dawon County NE, the organizer of the Ladies Emigration Society was in St. Louis to help women acquire Land in their own name. Does Mr. Drake truly have their best interests at heart? What will happen to the women when they discover his ulterior motives?

This book takes on an ambitiously large cast of characters. While several turn out to be minor, there are still five major women characters. Surprisingly, they are not really all that hard to keep separated. Each women has her story. Some are running from their past, some are desperate, some looking for a fresh start. Lives are changed, friendships found in unlikely places and romance discovered. It is a sweet and easily read novel. It was easy to pick up, but not a compelling page turner. It would make for a great summer beach read.

Stephanie Grace Whitson, bestselling author and two-time Christy finalist, pursues a full-time writing and speaking career from her home studio in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her husband and blended family, her church, quilting, and Kitty-her motorcycle-all rank high on her list of "favorite things".

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Take it From the Top

Adventures in Odyssey has entertained our family on many a car ride and evenings at home. We welcomed the opportunity to preview "Take it From the Top", a new 4 cd set with over 5 hours of programs. Adventures in Odyssey started in 1987 by Focus on the Family. It was the beginning of high-quality family audio entertainment with a message. This set continues that legacy and does not disappoint. These writers continue to come up with stories that are inventive and entertaining while teaching character lessons. My children couldn't wait to listen to each episode. The continued episodes always keep them on the edge of their seats.

From the back cover -
Get answers to the deep questions of life, like: Why would Eugene Meltsner shave his head? Why did the Parkers have a family meeting in the bathroom? How does a hole in a baseball glove change the course of a winning game? As you've come to expect from Adventures in Odyssey, the answers to those questions give practical lessons about responsibility, the meaning of true treasure, and God's calling.

These CDs were provided for review by Tyndale Blog Network.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Last Christian (review)

I have hesitated to write this review. Not because the book was bad, on the contrary, the book was VERY good. So good, in fact, I have been thinking about it for the last couple of weeks. So good that I have had some very interesting conversations with my husband. Abigail Caldwell, daughter of missionary parents, who has been isolated most of her life in the jungle is thrust into American society in 2088 after a tragedy in her village. In American society, Christianity has been virtually obliterated and people are addicted to Virtual Reality. Brain transplants are becoming a reality thanks to the leading artificial intelligence company. Abigail receives a disturbing message from her grandparents that place the fate of the world in her hands. There are others that want Abigail to disappear and keep quiet.

The book poses interesting situations and rousing questions. What if Christians keep quiet and let society tell us that we have no voice? Will Christianity be relegated to "antiquated" ideas and the "religion of the un-educated"? Will technology, without inventors and users with morals, become corrupt and steal the essence of our humanity?

If you want a laid back read, this ISN't it. If you want a fast-paced, futuristic, make-you-think read, pick this one up!

David Gregory is the best-selling author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, A Day with a Perfect Stranger, The Next Level and the coauthor of the nonfiction book, The Rest of the Gospel. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning master's degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and the University of North Texas. A native of Texas, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest.

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah. You can read more and purchase it here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us

I am planning on homeschooling my daughter in the fall. She will be in 7th grade. I am intimidated by the whole idea. I'm afraid I don't know enough. I'm afraid I won't pick the right curriculum. I'm afraid I won't be able to give her what she needs and keep up with everything else I have to do. That is why I snatched up the chance to read and review Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins.
I feel like I need all the help I can get. It was a reassuring book. Overall, I walked away with a good impression. I feel like it helped me to be more confident in my decision. It has practical advice on socialization, coops, attitudes and relationships. Even if you are not a homeschooler, there is useful information in this book! Tips on dealing with relatives and their opinions on your decisions, tips on chores for children, streamlining your household, tips on on trimming and staying on budget, tips on nurturing your child's heart, take your pick! All are useful for any parent, even if you are not homeschooling. While the book was good, I did have a hard time getting through the first couple of chapters, so if you do read it, stick with it.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Sonya Haskins and her family see each day as an adventure in learning. A homeschooling consultant and mom of five children, ages six to thirteen, she is also the author of The Homeschooler's Book of Lists and six regional history books. Sonya and her husband and children live in Jonesborough, Tennessee.


I haven't posted much besides book reviews lately. For a few reasons, none of which are important to mention.

Anyway, I believe I need to share this. I went to a women's retreat a couple of weeks ago and felt "whapped" upside the head. It was not a gentle correction people! Let me share what I read and where God led me -

I was reading my Bible during a prayer time and stopped short when I read James 1:5-8 (NLT) - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. BUT, when you ask Him be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in EVERYTHING they do. (emphasis added is mine)

I know some people balk when people mention "checks in their Spirit", but I can't describe it any other way. God wanted me to read this, and not just read it but meditate on it, examine my heart, my motivations, my life.

I wrote down these verses and have been carrying them with me for the last two weeks, pulling them out and reading them as a reminder of where my loyalty needs to be and where my faith needs to rest. I also wrote out this prayer.

Help me Lord to remember that YOU alone are my source. Not friends, not my husband, not my church, YOU! Generous God, give me wisdom. Thank you that I can ask you for it without your scorn or rebuke. Help me to stand firm without wavering and to give You and Your Word full loyalty so that I may avoid being an unsettled wave, but that I will be a peaceful ocean that runs deep in Your Word. I want to be stable in what I do. I want my loyalty to lie in You. I don't want to be divided. My strentgh comes from You and wholeness You offer. Thank you and AMEN!

I don't share this lightly and I don't share it for any purpose except that I know others may be struggling with divided loyalty and drawing from sources other than God! Don't go down that road! It dead-ends with heartache, bitterness and remorse! Take God's path of wisdom, prosperity and PEACE!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


If I haven't mentioned it, my favorite reading genre is historical fiction. (Yes I know you probably know that by now.) But there was a time that mystery/suspense was my "go to". So I still enjoy a good mystery now and then. Beguiled by Deeanee Gist and J Mark Bertrand was the first suspense novel I read in a while.


Rylee Monroe is a dogwalker whose clients become victims of a unique robbery ring. Rylee is suspected by the police. Reporter Logan Woods is writing a novel and trying to get to the heart of the robbery ring to wrap up his book. Will he uncover the truth and rescue Rylee's reputation? Is Rylee in danger? Can Logan keep his objectivity?

I love Deanne Gist's other books. This book was okay. I like suspense novels to be difficult to predict and hard to put down. This one didn't fit the bill in either account for me. I knew early on who the "villain" was and where the book was headed. It wasn't a page-turner and the characters were forgettable. All the talk of Charleston's streets and layouts were meaningless to anyone who hasn't been there.

Spend your time on something else.

This book was provided by Bethany House publishers for review.

Deanne Gist and J Mark Bertrand are former critique group partners who decided to blend her bestselling romance skills eith his acclaimed suspense writing for this unique romantic suspense novel. Deanne is vest known for her bestselling historical romances , including A Bride in the Bargain, while Mark's solo debut is the crime novel Back on Murder.

The Rewards of Simplicity

What mom doesn't dream of simplifying? Reducing to the common denominator to slow things down. Simplifying means less stuff to take care of, right?
True, but The Rewards of Simpliciy by Pam & Chuck Pierce argues that while simplifying clutter and schedules are important, the value of simplification lays also in our spiritual lives. Putting into practice faith, focus and function to clarify God's purpose and calling in our lives, and putting legs to it! While the book holds a lot of interesting ideas, the writing is mediocre. I struggled through all the personal examples that made it seem like a biography. There were a couple of places where I disagreed with some theology issues too.

So, common denominator, simplificated (is that a word?) review - Not worth your time. There are better books out there that say the same things.

Pam and Chuck D Pierce are ordained ministers and have been married for 36 years. Chuck serves as president of Glory of Zion International Ministries in Denton, TX and watchman of Global Harvest Ministries in Colorado Springs, CO. Pam has ministered within the Body of Christ much of her adult life. She is currently a fourth and fifth grade teacher while maintaining the lively Pierce household.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Scenarios series for Girls books 3-4

I'm tired of superficial books. Books that have no real value. My husband always says that fiction is worthless. I disagree. GOOD fiction still can change hearts and minds. GOOD fiction can still spark the imagination and serve as amazing conversation starters. I have children who love to read and I am very excited when I find an author and a group of books that are interesting and can be used to help train children.

Nicole O'Dell is one of those authors. Her Scenarios series for tween girls deals with hefty issues and give readers the opportunity to make decisions and see possible outcomes based on their decisions. If you have a tween ages 11-13 or so, these are books for you. I believe with the subject matter that 11 is probably the youngest I would let my daughters read these.

I read these books and then had my 11 year old daughter read them as well. We were able to use them to have some serious discussions. Discussions on subjects that some parents may find difficult to bring up with their children.

I decided to share my daughter's synopses and opinions on the book here for you.

Magna, Book 3 - Scenarios series


Molly, Sara and Jess want jobs at the ultimate girls clothing store more than anything, but only Molly gets the job. Then Sara and Jess need Prom dresses, but don't have the money. That's when they figure thay and "borrow" dresses from Molly's employer.

Will Molly help her friends or report them? The choice is yours to make.

I like this book because Molly acted like girls do today and it seemed very realistic. I like being able to decide what ending the book has.

and Making Waves, Book 4


Kate loves to swim and decides to join the swim team for her sophomore year. She is practicing all the time. She realizes that it can be tiring and soon finds herself using energy drinks. At the championship she "needs" more. She is offered illegal drugs to imporve her swimming. What will she do? What would you do?

I liked this book because Kathe is faced with many situations girls face today. It showed consequences could be of taking drugs.

Q & A with Nicole O’Dell

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: I have six kids ranging in age from 18 all way down to my toddler triplets. I work from home with all of my kiddos underfoot, which presents challenges of its own but has also been a huge blessing. I’m also a returning college student and the youth leader at my church.

Q: What has drawn you to writing for the YA market?
A: Fear! Seriously.

When I was a young girl, my mom was my hero. I really believed that she could do anything and that she knew everything. Somehow, when I entered my early teen years, that all changed. I became angry and really gave her a hard time. I regret much of those years now that I see the truth of them. My mom is now my very best friend. I wish I had known then what I know now and had some kind of grasp on just how temporary all of that angst and confusion really was.

Ever since I had my daughters, I have feared those years. My parenting has really been shaped by my desire to avoid as much of that destruction as possible. My heart’s desire is to reach hormonal, confused, pre-teen girls, and to protect them from themselves, and their families from the confusion that can ensue as the girls face those life changes.

Q: Tell us a little about your novels...
A: In the Scenarios series, each main character is faced with many choices and moral dilemmas. Eventually, they find that their choices have led them into a situation that requires them to make a very difficult and potentially life-altering moral decision. When the story has fully unfolded, and the main character arrives at that moment of truth, the reader makes the big decision for her and then turns to the corresponding section in the book where the resulting circumstances unfold.

This format places the responsibility for those decisions squarely on the reader’s shoulders, in hopes that she will learn from her personal experience as she lives it through the eyes of the book's character. She will learn the importance of good decisions as well as the truth about forgiveness and grace. Even when poor choices are made, the redemptive power of Christ is evident as forgiveness is sought, offered and received.

Nicole O’Dell and her husband Wil have six wonderful children, the most recent additions being triplets, born in August 2008. Nicole and Wil recently began a youth group at their church for grades 7-12 where Nicole focuses on the teaching, Bible study application, service outreach planning and evangelism aspects of the group. She also works with parents to help foster open and healthy lines of parent/teen communication. Nicole enjoys speaking at other churches, youth groups and parenting groups to offer insight into Godly navigation of those rough teen years. Over the years, Nicole has worked as a youth director, a Bible study leader for women and teens, a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center and was a veteran camp counselor for over a decade.

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Little Prayer of Mine (Review and Giveaway)

I love picture books. Three of my children are very independent readers now and while they like to be read to, they want a chapter book with characters and plots. But I love cuddling my youngest and reading picture books to her. She will bring books to anyone that she thinks might read to her. She carries books around in her "purse". So of course I jumped at the chance to read and review This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano (and illustrated by Mark Elliott).


First, I love that the book promotes prayer in children. Teaching children that their concerns, cares and even their gratitude needs to be taken to their Heavenly Father on a regular basis is very important. Think of the heartaches that can be later avoided in life if we depend on Him instead of earthly people. (I learn the hard way...) It also encourages children to be confident in God hearing them when they pray.

I wasn't crazy about the illustrations. The muted colorscheme didn't thrill me, sometimes perspective seems skewed and two-dimensional, but on other pages very life-like and 3-D. I think it all just seemed inconsistent.....

Still, a nice book to have in a collection. The books is endorsed by The National Day of Prayer.

Anthony DeStefano's books The Prayers God Always Says Yes To and A Travel Guide to Heaven have sold a quarter-million copies. He has received prestigious awards from religious organizations worldwide for his efforts to advance Christian beliefs in modern culture.

Mark Elliott's brilliant illustrations have appeared in any picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine's ever-popular Princess Tales series. His acclaimed artwork delivers inspiration, wonder, and timeless beauty on every page.

This book was provided by WaterBrook Press for review.

And I have a copy to give away.

Leave a comment by Sunday, April 18 to win it. (Randomly selected)

Winner of Kirkpatrick pair

The winner, by random number generator is Laura from Outnumbered Mom. I will be sending you and email shortly.


If you are waiting on a book from me, I'll send them out next week. We have had a time with sickness. In the last month to about 6 weeks, 3 cases of stomach flu, one case of mono, a couple of colds and allergies galore. Just meant to let you know that I do know that I am a slacker, but my allegiances have rightfully been somewhere else.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

London Confidential Series Review

If you haven't been reading my blog for a while, then you don't know that I have an 11 year-old daughter that loves to read (like her mother). I remember when she was younger, I convinced myself that I would read everything that she read. Yeah, right. (make sure you read that with sarcasm). It is NOT possible. But, there are some things that I know I don't want her to read. Things that I wouldn't even read myself. I am so glad that there are some edifying things like the London Confidential series out there that are geared to her age group. I have read other adult novels by Sandra Byrd. She inserts humor and writes her characters with depths of feeling that are scarily similar to feelings I have experienced. I didn't expect any different from her new London Confidential Series for Young Adults.



Her protagonist is Savvy Smith, 15 years old, transplanted to London with her family. Savvy has to deal with culture shock, adaptation and finding her place in her new school. Asking for Trouble and Through Thick and Thin are the first two books in the series. In both books, Savvy is presented with choices to make and the consequences (good and bad) for the decisions she made. Byrd does a great job having her character pray for wisdom and consult scripture. AND, the character isn't perfect. She makes mistakes too, just as we all do. Watch this trailer for Asking for Trouble.

Of course I have to add my daughter's two cents. She devoured the books and wrote these synopses for you!

Asking for Trouble

What Savvy really wants in life is to be a reporter at a new school in a new country. When a job opens she sees her opportunity, but she has no experience. She believes she can do it, but can she convince everyone else?

Through Thick and Thin
Savvy Smith sees the perfect way to get her own full column, a chance to fit in at school. When her mother can't go shopping with her she goes into London alone, leading to serious consequences. Will she miss the photo shoot? Will Savvy ever fit in?

And for a glimpse into the mind of Sandra Byrd the author -

Why did you write the London Confidential series?

Each of us, as women, remember what it's like to be a young woman, struggling to find our place in the world. Some girls have family issues, some have friendship issues, some have school issues, most of us have more than one concern. Whenever I write for young women I hope to provide them with an enjoyable read that validates their concerns, shows them that they are not alone, and provides encouragement to stay the course and see what wonderful things the Lord has just around the next corner.
The world feels a little depressed right now, too. I wanted to provide a happy, hopeful read and not a heavily issues-driven series. The London Confidential books are, I hope, fun to read.

What are some of the biggest struggles for teen girls today? What do you hope teen girls will take away from the series?

Truly, as Eccelsiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. The issues that young women had when I was growing up are the same ones that my daughter has. Who am I? How can I make a difference? Where do I fit in? Am I loved? Why are people hurtful? While they may have different formats, for example, the internet, texting, or movies, the issues remain essentially the same.
But that's good news! That means that we women have walked these paths and have hopefully found our way. It enables us to be Girl Guides, the British world for Girl Scouts, in a physical, emotional, and spiritual sense. Just as we're instructed to do in Titus 2. We can do this in person, or we can do it by buying a good book to pass along to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends.

What can readers look forward to in the final two London Confidential books?

The final two books in the series release on September 1, 2010 and talk about good friendships and bad, why it's important for Christian girls to stick with only liking, even crushing on, Christian boys, how to persevere in times of trouble, and taking your first adult steps in your faith. When girls open any of the books, they'll find a girl who is a lot like them, with dreams and hopes and fears like theirs, and God who works things out in ways they would not have imagined. There are friendship ups and downs, school ups and downs, guy ups and downs, family issues and lots of fun. I wanted to write books that would be fun to read, and yet still be meaningful. I hope the girls find the books to be just that.

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd went on to publish more than three dozen books including her widely-acclaimed adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake and it's sequels, Bon Appétit and Pièce de Résistance. Her new series, releasing this month, is a tween/teen fiction series, London Confidential.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Radiant, Focus on the Family's Clubhouse Magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Today's Christian Woman, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. During the past eight years Sandra has mentored hundreds of students through the Christian Writer's Guild.

These were provided by Tyndale for review.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Karen K wins a copy of Start Here by default. One one entry, lucky her!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Never Say Never (Review)

Lisa Wingate hits a home-run with another novel set in Daily, Texas. Never Say Never is about a hurricane evacuation that throws together some quirky characters.

The juxtaposition of the southern drawls and the creole/cajun accents is wonderful! Kai Miller does not have roots and doesn't mind, until she meets the trio of unlikely friends from Daily that take her under their wing during the evacuation. She is drawn to them, AND to a certain nephew. It is not only a story of new romance, but also a tale of rediscovery for disillusioned hairstylist Donetta Bradford. Rediscovery of her background and family history. I won't spoil it, but Donetta also has some surprises headed her way!

Wingate writes with humor and compassion and alternates between points of view of Donetta and Kai throughout the book. The writing of their corresponding chapters fits their characters so well, I could almost hear their voices. The storyline was unique and entertaining.

Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, A Month of Summer and The Summer Kitchen. Lisa and her family live in central Texas.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House publishers. No other compensation was provided. Be sure to check out her other novels set in Daily, Texas, Talk of the Town and Word Gets Around.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Not a Sparrow Falls (Review)


It takes a lot of courage to try and change your life if you see no way out. Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols focuses on Mary Bridget, who has made some bad choices and is living with the consequences. She believes that God does not see her. So many people think this at some time in their lives. Mary Bridget finds an opportunity to escape and begin a new life. But the past won't stay in the past. Will it change her new relationships? Is there such a thing as unconditional love? Can she be an instrument of healing someone else's life?

There were a few places in the novel that I felt lost and couldn't place why a particular event or scene was included, but Nichols ties it all together in the end with a somewhat predictable and sweet ending. Definitely a book with themes of redemption, forgiveness and grace, both in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and fellow men.

Linda Nichols is an award-winning and bestselling novelist with a unique gift for Touching readers' hearts with her stories. She and her family make their home in Tacoma, Washington.

This book was provided by Bethany House publishers for review. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Absence So Great (Review and Giveaway)


Jane Kirkpatrick's novel, An Absence So Great, is the sequel to A Flickering Light. Both are based on the life of Kirkpatrick's grandmother. Jessie is a young woman in the early 1900s working as a photographer's assistant who dreams of owning her own studio someday. She has left home to try and escape the attraction that she feels toward her married employer. The novel chronicles Jessie's growth professionally and spiritually.

I love that this is based on a true story, even though it is somewhat fictionalized. I also love that some of the actual photos taken by Jessie are included. Some parts of the book are written in first person, as journal entries. It was unclear as to whether or not these were actual entries or fiction.

Kirkpatrick's writing is skillful and heartfelt. Characters are developed in a way that makes them very real. Both novels are epics. Sweeping in scope and well written. Written to capture visual cues and emotions, these novels are extraordinary. BUT, you must read them in order. Reading An Absence so Great first will pretty much void the predecessor (A Flickering Light).

Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning, best-selling author of sixteen historical novels and three nonfiction titles, including A Flickering Light, the first part of Jessie Gaebele's story and one of Library Journal's Best of 2009. Known for her unique insights into the exploration of community, family, and faith of actual historical women, the Wisconsin native and her husband have called their ranch in Oregon home for the past twenty-five years.

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah. No other compensation was provided. You can read more here.

And, even better, I have a copy of BOTH to give away. Leave a comment letting me know you are interested by Friday, April 2 for a chance to win.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clarity Bible Contest

Sounds like a great opportunity - so I wanted to share this with you!

The New Living Translation Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Giveaway

Visit and click on the tab that says “Sweepstakes”

Fill out a simple form, take a quick Bible clarity survey, invite your friends to join and you’ll be entered to win one of our exciting prizes.

With each fan number milestone a new prize will be given away.

Grand Prize

Apple iPad 64G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fifth milestone
Retail Value: $829.00

2nd Prize - Already awarded

32G iPod Touch and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fourth milestone
Retail Value: $300.00

3rd Prize – Will be awarded when fan count hits: 3500

Kindle DX and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the third milestone
Retail Value: $489.00

4th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 16G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the New Living Translation Fan Page hits the second milestone
Retail Value: $499.00

5th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 32G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the first milestone
Retail Value: $599.00

Prize Eligibility – Recently updated to include more countries

Sweepstakes participants and winner(s) can be U.S. residents of the 50 United States, or residents of any country that is NOT embargoed by the United States, but cannot be residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India. In addition, participants and winner(s) must be at least 18 years old, as determined by the Company.

Sweepstakes Starts

March 17, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Sweepstakes Ends

April 30, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Wait, there’s more!

Visit for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii!

Here are the details:

Choose one of six passages of Scripture from the New Living Translation and consider:
How do these verses encourage you to know God better?
What is God teaching you in this passage?
How does this passage apply to your life?

Submit your answer and you’ll be entered to win.

Just for signing up: Everybody Wins! Win a Free .mp3 download from the NLT’s new Red Letters Project. It’s the dynamic, new presentation of the sung and narrated words of the Gospel of Matthew. You win the download just for entering! Or choose to download the NLT Philippians Bible Study, complete with the Book of Philippians in the NLT.

Every day, one person will win the best-selling Life Application Study Bible!

The grand prize: One person will win a fantastic trip for two to the crystal clear waters of the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore in beautiful Hawaii.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Start Here (review and giveaway!)

Good intentions. What use are they unless acted upon? I so often hear "What can God do through me?" (From myself sometimes, as well as the kiddos.) Isn't it underestimating our God and his might to question his ability to do anything great through us? Big things start with faithfulness in the small things.
Brothers Alex and Brett Harris, who wrote Do Hard Things when they were eighteen, are the authors of Start Here. Start Here is the next step to Do Hard Things. You should definitely read Do Hard Things first. Do Hard Things was a challenge to teens (and adults) to move past low expectations and do great things for God. It is so easy to become complacent and avoid stepping out in faith. A practical book that offers real life stories and encouragement for those who want to allow God to use them. The book is targeted at teens, but adults can still glean wisdom from it too. It helps the reader identify a "starting place", tips for avoiding discouragement, and how to inspire others.

Alex and Brett Harris are the coauthors of the best-selling book Do Hard Things, which they wrote at age eighteen. Today the twins speak regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour, maintain a hugely popular online presence through their blog,, and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers currently attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia.

Interested in your own copy. I have a copy to give away! Leave a comment by Friday, March 26. A random commenter will win.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Winner of Dancing with my Father is Melinda from Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.

Winner of Mother-Daughter Duet is Karenk. Congratulations!

I will be contacting you both by email to get your mailing address.

I will have 2 more giveaways in the next two weeks. Keep checking back!.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dancing with My Father (review and giveaway)

In the church lobby the other day, my dear two year old heard the worship team practicing and she stopped what she was doing and began dancing. She didn't worry about a schedule, where she needed to be, who was watching or who was judging her actions. The beautiful image it presented made my heart flutter. If only I could express the same joy! Often, I get too discouraged by my circumstances and agendas to just drop everything and express the gift of joy bestowed on me through Christ!
Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson uses biblical references and insights as well as examples from the author's life to reveal what life can be like if we trust our God. Listening to His voice, searching for Him around us, examining our hearts for wrong attitudes, and protect our hearts from "joy robbers" and deception. But it is much more as well. It is a comfort to the hurting, telling them there is hope and joy isn't based on your circumstances. It is all about relationship. Relationship with God. The book is well written and inspiring.

Questions at the end of each chapter offer an opportunity to use the book for personal or group study.

If you are interested in a copy for yourself, leave a comment here by next Friday, March 12 and I'll select a random commenter.

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More to think about

After reading Beaded Hope about the plight of South African mothers, I found out Kristen at We are That Family was traveling to Africa with Compassion International. I am planning on reading about her journey and living vicariously thru her and her journey. Why don't you join her too?

Beaded Hope review

I have never been on an international missions trip. I have never been out of the cushy comfort zone of the USA. By USA standards, I wasn't born into wealth, but by the standards of the Third World, I was rich. I have never had to send my children to bed hungry or worry about how to clothe them.
Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett teams together a group of women from the U.S. facing varying issues in their personal lives. These women embark on a missions trip to South Africa. Their reasons for going are anything but altruistic, but what they encounter changes them all forever.

If you like being complacent and selfish, this isn't the book for you. If you want to be thankful for what you have, where you live and be challenged to think about someone besides yourself, then this book is a MUST read. The book is well-written, easy to read, compelling and heart-breaking.

The novel was inspired by the nonprofit organization Beaded Hope. Their mission is to fight HIV/AIDS one person at a time by providing South Africans with the opportunity to earn an income, support their families and nurture their creativity while preserving age-old African beadwork traditions.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of the novel support the organization.

Cathy Liggett
is the author of several contemporary romances and one nonfiction book. She was inspired to write Beaded Hope after traveling to South Africa on a mission trip like the one described in the story.

This book was provided by Tyndale Publishers for review.

Revolve 2010 review

Heard of a Biblezine?
I had not heard of them until I received a copy of the Revolve 2010 Biblezine. It is the Complete New Testament in the NCV version in a magazine format geared specifically to teens. The colorful formats and designs would appeal to pre-teens and teens alike. Some subject matter including purity make me tend to think this is better directed at the early high school years. Side articles include advice columns on relationships and style. There are profiles for biblical characters in a "goodbook" format to mimic facebook. To an adult some content could be seen as "cheesy". I am all for ways to get the Word to teens and this seems like a new and innovative way. I think I would have loved a resource like this as a teenager and I imagine my girls will love it too (in a couple of years.)

Since 2005, more than 215,000 girls have attended a Revolve Tour event. For 2008-2009, the Tour has expanded to 16 cities and expects to reach 150,000 girls this year alone.

This Biblezine was supplied by Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson) for review.

Mother-Daughter Duet (review and giveaway)

With three daughters ranging from 11 to 2 I try to read what I can about Mother-daughter relationships. I was recently speaking with a friend and we talked about how family relationships can often be the ones that hurt the most. But restoration of those relationships is possible and it all starts with trying to understand each other.

Authors Cheri Fuller and Ali Plum are a mother-daughter writing team that have spoken to moms and daughters across the country while researching their book, Mother Daughter Duet, Getting to the Relationship You Want with Your Adult Daughter. The book is written to mothers and includes topics and practical advice on validation, respect, and healthy communication. This book helped shed light on my relationship with my mother too. The book includes discussion questions that would make it easy for a mother/daughter study or group discussion.

Cheri Fuller is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold more than one million copies. She speaks at a wide range of women's conferences and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.

Ali Plum is Cheri's daughter, a writer and songwriter, a wife, and a mother to Noah and Luke, She has recorded background vocals for popular musicians, and Mother-Daughter Duet marks her debut as an author.

If you would like to read your own copy, leave a comment for a chance to win by Friday, March 12. I'll choose a random winner.

This book was provided for review from Waterbrook/Multnomah. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Value Fiction Titles from Waterbook/Multnomah

Press release from Waterbook/Multnomah - (look at the end for reviews of two of these titles by yours truly)

Value Fiction For Your Spring Break

Colorado Springs, CO— Fiction lovers don’t need to budget to travel this spring break with Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s six full-length novels by beloved Christian authors (WaterBrook, February 16, 2010). At the low cost of only $5.99, these well-read “get-aways” provide quality entertainment at a price that any reader can afford.

Full-length novels offered include:

by Robin Jones Gunn
- Jessica has moved to a new town to start a new life. But a friendly fire-fighter and a suspicious boss both want to know what she’s hiding.

Beneath a Southern Sky
by Deborah Raney
– Daria Camfield is expecting her first child when her husband Nate is reported dead on the mission field. Devastated, she returns to the States and soon marries again. But two years later Nate is found alive in the jungle. How can Daria possibly choose between he two men who love her?

The Golden Cross
by Angela Elwell Hunt
– Aidan O’Connor may be a poor barmaid but she’s also a gifted artists. When a famous cartographer takes her on as a student, Aidan is swept into an adventure that will bring her back to her heavenly Father, and into marriage with the love of her life.

Deep Harbor
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
– Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl face trouble, tragedy, and treachery across the Wast, Hawaii, Japan, and the high seas. These four immigrants from Bergen, Norway, each grow closer to God and learn afresh the value of faith, family, and coming alongside each other in times of need.

Faithful Heart
by Al and Joanna Lacy
– The adventures of certified medical nurse and dedicated Christian Breanna Baylor continue as she travels by wagon train to visit her sister, Dottie, in California. Little does she know that her most dangerous encounter might be with Jerrod, her brother-in-law, who’s suffering from dementia caused by combat fatigue.

Yesterday’s Promise
by Linda Lee Chaikin
– Rogan Chantry faces danger from tribesmen, ruthless politicians, and his own family as he searches for gold in South Africa. In England, his beloved Evy is injured by a mysterious assailant. The greed and intrigue surrounding the diamond mines could very well drive them irrevocably apart.

I received Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn and Faithful Heart by Al Lacy for review.

I love Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks series and was anticipating the arrival of Secrets. I have to admit I was disappointed. It was a quick and easy read, but predictable and not compelling. I like a light-hearted fiction book that doesn't require a lot of thinking now and again. It wasn't painful to read, just forgettable.

I have also read some of Lacy's writing and particularly like the Mail Order Bride series. Faithful Heart is Book Two of the Angel of Mercy Series which is a spin-off of The Stranger series. The book opens with the author giving the reader a back story on the main characters. That was a turn-off to me. Even though I like reading series books, I don't like feeling like I HAVE to read another book to feel like I can understand the book currently in my hand. I have read a couple of the Stranger series.

The main story line of Faithful Heart deals with Shell Shock of a soldier after the Civil War and the wife that stands by him during the ordeal. She is faithful to her wedding vows and truly loves her husband. Extremely admirable traits, and I truly cared about her and her plight. This book also continues a romance between two characters introduced in the Stranger series. How many times can you bring a couple extremely close to being together to only allow circumstances to pull them apart again? I can't handle it on t.v. sitcoms and I don't like it in my books. Give us a resolution already! I almost feel like it is purposely crafted to get to the next book, and the next, and the next.....

While I realize they are not glowing reviews, the books were okay for a light spring break read. The books were provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah for review and I was not compensated in any other way. Opinions expressed are all mine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Hidden Flame

I get in a rut sometimes when it comes to reading my Bible. What I mean is that I read it and read it and read it and don't put a lot of thought behind events happening in the culture at the time.

The Acts of Faith series by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke fictionalize events surrounding the ministry of Christ and the early church. The first book in the series, The Centurion's Wife was wonderful. I picked it up at the library on a whim last year and I was hooked from the beginning.

The Hidden Flame is the second in the series. It is not dependent on the first book although a few of the characters are the same. The Hidden Flame follows the followers of the Way during the early church immediately following the crucifixtion of Christ.

Abigail is being sought after by two suitors, a merchant in high standing and a Roman soldier, but she wants neither of them. Her heart is drawn to another. The book was compelling and entertaining fiction, but also made me consider persecution. I take my faith for granted. I wonder if faced with the persecution of the early church, if I would stand firm. These people were dedicated.

Davis Bunn has written a number of gift books and novels, including The Great Divide.
Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series has been the source for several Hallmark films.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for review. My opionions are my own.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why raise modest children?

When I type that I realize that you may think that I mean children that are not prideful or vain, and while that is certainly important, what I truly mean is children who have a regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc (as defined by

Why mention this now? Because I went shopping at the mall tonight with my two oldest daughters who are 11 and 9. Because all they wanted to look at buying were the trendy mini-skirts, the spaghetti strap camis and plunging necklines. "ooh, isn't this cute, BUT dad would never let me wear it." After the second or third time hearing this I had to ask my dear daughters, "Do you know why?". The eldest responded, "because it shows too much skin." ME - "Why is that a bad thing?" Then, utter silence....and if you have daughters, you know utter silence doesn't happen very often (at least in my experience so far.)

This conversation was a great teachable moment. I proceeded to tell them about how you can dress in a stylish and tasteful way without bearing so much skin. I imparted to them the fact that boys and men are visual and that exposing too much skin is temptation and that they want boys and men to be attracted to them for more than their looks.

It was a great conversation that ended with a great laugh when my 9 year old piped up and said, "I'm never marrying a professional wrestler." I had to chuckle and ask why. Her response, "because they show A LOT of skin and if it's not right for girls, it's not right for guys either." Methinks this conversation may need to be revisited in a few years....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So Long Insecurity

This isn't a book review. More a passing on of info. I have heard for years about Beth Moore, knew who she was, heard how fabulous her books and studies are, but I haven't read any. Last week I started her newest book, So Long Insecurity (you've been a bad friend to us). I've gotten thru chapter 2.

I knew before I started that I had security issues, but I told myself, "I'm not THAT bad." I was in tears by the end of Chapter 2. From the definition of insecurity and indications of insecurity that were mentioned, I AM more insecure than I thought.

I am pledging now to take the journey in reading this book to becoming a SECURE woman of God. A woman secure in who she is and who God created her (me) to be. A woman who doesn't draw her security from others.

Interested in joining me on the journey? Beth Moore has a blog she is using to facilitate an on-line study group. It starts this week. Join it and start your own journey to security. When I am done, I'll be sure to let you all know the results.

BTW - I BOUGHT this book, it wasn't provided by anybody. :-)