Friday, December 30, 2011

New blog

I started this blog out a few years ago blogging about "stuff": God, church, life, etc. Then I got into reviewing books, and this blog has turned into more of a book review blog. With a new year coming on, I decided I need to blog more, for a few reasons. I have a few friends (yeah - I have friends!) who grumble about my not blogging anymore.... so for them, and for other reasons, I am starting a new blog for the new year. I like the name of this blog, Thoughts of a Sojourner, but it would be too difficult to move all of my book reviewing to a new blog, so this blog will stay here for book reviews, and possibly some other things, but I created a new blog, Ponderings from the Journey, where I will be blogging about "stuff". So, if you're interested, check it out and follow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tyndale giveaway

Tyndale is giving away a NLT Life Application Bible. Enter here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tim Tebow

**Disclaimer: I detest football, and this blog post in no way changes that. I don't understand why people get so obsessed and excited about seeing guys they don't know play a game. I think its sad that a lot of church people can name team members, stats, etc, but couldn't name the 12 apostles or the Beatitudes. I have no interest in who wins the Superbowl, except I cheer for the opposite team of my facebook friends.That said.......

I admire Tim Tebow. He has been coming under fire from all sides, even other Christians, for his outspokenness about his Christianity, his kneeling "Tebowing" after he gets a touchdown, or whatever he does it for. They say he is too fanatical, and he has been mocked for it.

I didn't even know til today when I read an article about him, what team he plays for. Neither do I care. I do admire him though. I don't know a lot about him, but it sounds like he is true to his convictions, and he is not ashamed of his Christianity. I am sure I wouldn't agree with everything he does - i.e. playing on Sundays, but it doesn't sound like he does anything to ruin the Christian image he puts forth.

I have a few thoughts about him and his forwardness about his Christianity, and the media and liberals attacking him for it.

First off: If he were a Muslim, they wouldn't dare attack him and mock him, but Christians are fair game. (great article on Fox News website about him, and the writer makes that point).

Second: If we live as the Bible commands, the world isn't going to love us. And if we live as the Bible commands us to, people are going to know who we are, and what we stand for. I have little time for these so-called Christians who are in entertainment, sports, etc, and you would never know that they are Christians by anything they do. They don't sing about Jesus, they aren't careful about the kinds of movies they appear in, etc. If every sports person and celebrity who claimed to be a Christian was like Tim Tebow, he wouldn't be an oddity or anything unusual.

And to take that further, if everyone who claimed to be a Christian, celebrity or your average Joe, was made of the stuff Tim Tebow is made of, and acted out our faith the way he does, this world would be a totally different place.

So, Tim Tebow, though I hate the sport you play, thank-you for your integrity and boldness to show your faith and beliefs in the face of mockery and attacks on you. God bless you for being something that so many people in sports are not worthy to be: a role model.

Friday, December 9, 2011

30 Days of Faith

To kick off the release of his upcoming book, Frantic, one of my favorite authors, Mike Dellosso is having a "30 Days of Faith" on his blog, and is wanting submissions of the faithfulness of God in our lives. Check it out on his blog.

Secrets of the Moutain Movie

Dana James is a single mom with three kids living in upstate New York. Life together has generally followed a predictable routine and things have always seemed manageable. But somewhere between the demands of her career as public defender, her ex’s wedding and the challenges of school schedules, a noticeable distance has emerged between family members.



Dana (played by Paige Turco) is now desperately looking to find ways to draw the family back together and reestablish the closeness they once had. An unexpected offer to purchase the mountain property inherited from Dana’s Uncle Henry (Barry Bostwick) provides an impromptu trip to Tesla Falls. The plan is to finalize the deal and to spend some much needed quality time together. Upon arrival, the family discovers the pending property sale has been driven by the discovery of an ancient text describing buried Aztec treasure within the mountain. And in an even bigger discovery, the family finds that adventurer Uncle Henry is still alive. Henry has his own plans to solve the mountain’s secrets and enrolls the entire family to help.


The race is on to solve the secrets of the mountain and find the treasure before the sale goes through. But those behind the purchase are determined to do everything possible to keep that from happening. Each family member will be required to step up and contribute their individual skills and talent if they are to solve this mystery. Because when times get tough, families don’t run away from problems. They run to each other.

My review:
I don't watch a lot of movies, but thought this one looked worth watching, and it was. This is not a Christian movie, but it couldn't be any cleaner or more family-friendly. There is no cursing at all. There WAS one use of God's name taken in vain which I did not catch, but I read Plugged In Online, Focus on the Family's review site, and they caught it. As they state in their review, this movie is "squeaky clean." I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it is one that kids will definitely enjoy. It has a bit of Indiana Jones feel to it at times. Check out the trailer:


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author & illustrator is:


and the book:

FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)
***Special thanks to M. C. Pearson of FIRST Wild Card Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



M. C. Pearson graduated from San Jose State University with a B. A. in art, served as a multi-media illustrator in the United States Army, earning the rank of sergeant, and spent four years as a house parent for at-risk youth. Now married over 20 years, she homeschools her two children, volunteers with her church youth group, and runs a book review blog alliance (FIRST Wild Card Tours) while writing and drawing. F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Unwittingly chosen to join an army of fairies, who fight for the Light of the One, a teenaged girl learns about spiritual warfare as she attends a military academy with fantastical beings.






FROM THE BACK COVER:


Here lies a most precious treasure,
Awaiting one Chosen to deliver.

Seek out the red cousins in the East,
For on this your greed mustn't feast.

The wealth of a species now in your hands,
Do with it as the light demands.

Give them your gift to unite,
For it is the darkness we all must fight.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS:

"Imagination runs wild in F.A.I.R.I.E.S. Pearson brings young readers through a looking glass and into a world bursting with adventure, heroism, and fascinating creatures. Readers will be inspired to be true to the One and left with anticipation of more to come."
--Jill Williamson, award-winning author of
By Darkness Hid, and other books

"Sprinkled with delightful illustrations, and brimming with a full bestiary of magical creatures, F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is a fun, clever romp through the alternate landscape of the most magical world of all, our own. Read, and take up the call: 'Defend and Emancipate!'"
-- D. Barkley Briggs, author of
The Book of Names, and other books

"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. will appeal to readers who love the interplay of fantasy and reality. A rich cast of eccentric characters and exotic settings make this a fun addition to the folklore of the battle between good and evil."
--Mike Hamel, author of
YA fantasy series: MATTERHORN THE BRAVE

"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is one of those rare gems I want to tell everyone about. It's highly imaginative, packed with adventure, and full of hope. A must read for kids and for kids at heart. Even better than Narnia! I was thinking about Pearson's wonderfully memorable characters for days."
--C.J. Darlington, author of
Thicker than Blood

"Ms. Pearson's extravagant and imaginative F.A.I.R.I.E. kingdom will surely delight the young and the young-at-heart in this tale of good and evil, light vs. darkness. The fantasy-loving reader will not be disappointed!"
--Linore Rose Burkard, award winning author of
Before the Season Ends, and other books





Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 482 pages
Publisher: FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615530222
ISBN-13: 978-0615530222


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Four thousand seasons shall pass while our swords grow rusty.

Where once one chose to divide, another shall be chosen to unite.

One changed the past, the other shall change the future.

One must emancipate the other to allow the light its dominion.

The realm, now torn, allows the shadow to abide, as humanity lies blind to its peril.

The bond of friendship must endure, for the army of shadows awaits another tear.

Dust off your swords.

Unite the realm.

Destroy the strongholds.

Foretelling of Didasko Gnome Digdeep


†

PART ONE


t was an accident!” Mellie yelled, not caring who heard or stared. Tears streaked her face as she fled down the Santa Cruz coastline, away from her family.

You don’t need them, a voice hissed in her ear, Escape. Run away.

Scorching sand burned at her feet and bitterness ate at her heart. Mellie pumped her legs as fast as they would go. Her feet pounded with the rhythm of her emotions, beating a tempo with the crashing waves. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, quickening her step.

Why did I have to be the youngest? Only 12 years old. Never smart enough. Never athletic enough. I just wish they loved me.

Once, just once, she wanted to do something that would make her sisters see that she wasn’t the stupid, awkward, ugly, little baby sister.

As she ran, she wiped away some tears with the palm of her hand. Her fingers settled on her large nose, a gift from her dad’s Hungarian ancestry.

Chelsea got the ski-slope shaped nose. I had to get Half-Dome. It just isn’t fair.

Her hand dropped to her side and she pinched at her stomach. It still had some of its baby fat.

Ugh, why are my sisters so perfect? What happened to me?

Pushing her short bangs from her forehead in disgust, she mumbled, “Maybe I’ll find treasure. I’ll be the rich one, and then they’ll have to accept me.” But she knew better. California didn’t hold any more undiscovered treasures.

The sand, hot and coarse, cut at her feet. I wish I had remembered my shoes. She wore only a black, one-piece swimsuit and a San Jose Sharks sweatshirt tied tightly around her waist.

Breathing rapidly, she began to tire. She slowed her pace to a walk and looked back across the beach. The sand was so hot that waves of heat rose from it and blurred her view. A lone seagull screeched overhead.

Her sisters were nowhere in sight.

Man, I thought for sure that Chelsea was going to chase me down and kill me.

She had to admit that it was a little gratifying to see the sand fly from her foot, covering Chelsea’s sub-sandwich and freshly oiled stomach. Grinning slightly, the tears stopped flowing. She rubbed her eyes.

Mellie looked in the direction of her sisters. “You guys can never take a joke.” Flipping her golden hair, she turned her head back toward her chosen path. She no longer smiled as she stomped her feet in the cold surf, remembering the hateful words that had been said.

“Oh, waa waa, you stupid cry baby! Go tell mommy! Maybe she’ll feel sorry for her ugly, fat baby. Why don’t you grow up? We don’t want you near us. Can’t you understand English? You are so dumb. Look at her mouth open. Oh wait, here she goes…come on, baby…cry!”

Mellie knew she couldn’t go back. They would only ridicule and torment her further. Her mom would never believe it was Chelsea’s fault. No, the evidence was on Chelsea’s side. Who was the one with the sand all over her oily, coconut-smelling body? Who was the one who had a sandwich full of sand? Mellie walked on.

After her temper finally cooled, it occurred to her that she had never walked so far alone.

How far have I gone?

A shadow passed over her, and she looked up. Nothing was there. A cool breeze from the ocean created a stark contrast to the scalding sand. She shivered but kept walking, lost in her loneliness.

Not until she stubbed her toe on a large broken clamshell did she look at the beach. A chill snaked up her back. Nothing appeared familiar. The sounds of the surf were still there, yet something was decidedly different. She felt dizzy. Looking around, she could not quite pinpoint the change. Then it struck her.

No people.

Where did everybody go?

Even though she could see no one, Mellie could swear that she felt eyes staring at her.

She looked inland across the sand, saw movement near some eucalyptus trees, but decided that the wind must have caused it.

Trees? So close to the beach?

Something shook the trees again, causing goosebumps to stand out on Mellie’s arms. Alarmed, she checked the skyline. The sun was close to setting. She hoped that the police weren’t out looking for her.

Suddenly cold, she pulled at the arms of the sweatshirt still tied around her waist. It fell to the sand. Bending to pick it up, she once again saw a blur of movement, except this time it came from a rocky outcrop by the waves. She shook the sand out of the sweatshirt and hurriedly tugged it over her head.

“Okay, I’m seeing things.” Mellie yanked at her hair, pulling it out of the sweatshirt. She stared at the sinister rocks. “Hel-lo?” Her voice cracked as she spoke louder. “Is someone the-ere? Hello?” No answer. The shadowy rocks seemed to quiver with excitement, beckoning her closer.

Hmm…probably just a seagull.

Even if it was a bird, she did not want to see it.

There’s no way I’m going over there.

The wind picked up and blew her hair into her eyes. The sand spun with the wind.

Yes, definitely time to move. I need to find a road.

She turned back toward the sweet smelling, oddly placed trees.

Mellie arrived at the base of the first, colossal eucalyptus tree. Without warning, one of the branches fell in front of her, then seemed to get up from the ground and pose its bottom stems in a military-like stance.

Mellie screamed and jumped back. “Branches don’t stand.”

“They do if they are walking sticks.” The eucalyptus branch chuckled, stretching to its full height, considerably taller than Mellie’s meager five feet.
She gasped, grabbed the branch, and threw it like a javelin, as hard as she could.

As she took off running, she heard a bark and halted. Turning, she saw a golden retriever bounding toward her with the stick in his mouth. The dog dropped it at her feet. She watched the dog run into the grove of trees and disappear before she fearfully turned back to the possessed stick.

It had already gained its footing again and stood over her. Mellie was too frightened to move this time.

A face emerged from the skinny twig and took on the characteristics of a male human, but none like Mellie had ever seen. He had hair made up in rolls as if it were a powdered, green-silver wig, the same color as the leaves that grew all around his skinny body. His face was long and his forehead high. The twiggy man smiled and said in a distinctly British, albeit breezy, accent, “Do not worry, you are safe.”

Mellie couldn’t answer.

“Ahh…I love new recruits. They are so easily addled.”

Feeling more confused than threatened, Mellie found her voice. “What? What do you mean, new recruits?” She rubbed her eyes, shaking her head. “Okay, I’m talking to a stick now. Yes, I have lost it. I have gone totally mental.”

“Oh, I say, am I to understand that I am the first to be revealed to you?” With round, leathery leaves, the branch resembled a toddler toy with rings stacked on one another.

She dropped open her mouth and nodded.

“Well, let me do this properly, then. Ahem. Mortal, made of clay, you have been Chosen to join the Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads.”

“What? What are you? You look like a stick…but you can talk.”

“Yes, child,” the stick replied with a sigh. “But, I think we are quite past that by now. Have you not heard me? You have been Chosen.”

Mellie opened her mouth wider, closed it, frowned, and opened it once more. “Chosen? For what?”

“You did wish to be different? To change who you were? ’Twas an especially strong desire, yes?” The branch crossed its arms and tapped its twiggy foot.

“Umm…”

“Dear me, this is highly unusual. You made a choice to run away from a miserable life and asked to be set free? Correct?”

“Well, I, ah…yeah. I guess so. What did you say about recruit for some squad?”

“Humph. I see that I was not understood. Yes? Let me elucidate. The Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads , or shall I say F.A.I.R.I.E.S.? have accepted you into their organization. You asked. You were answered.” The branch attempted a smile, but looked impatient instead.

“Fairies? I don’t believe in fairies.” Mellie winced, half expecting him to fall down and writhe in pain until she clapped her hands.

“Quite right. You are not supposed to. If humans truly believed we existed, we would never get anything accomplished.”

Mellie laughed and looked around for a hidden camera, thinking this must be a joke. “Right. Ah…heh…okay, bud, brilliant costume,” she said, imitating the branch’s accent. “Where’s the zipper?” She reached toward him and touched a soft leaf.

The branch slapped her hand away and stamped its foot with a loud cracking noise. “I beg your pardon. I have not been a bud for over 800 springs!” He paced, his leaves crumpling, mumbling to himself about humans and why, in the One’s name, did he listen to that confounded gnome who told him that he needed to stand gate duty. With his rank!

“I’m sorry I upset you. Please, I’m very confused. I’m lost, and I just want to go home.” Mellie bit her lip.

The branch stopped mid-pace. “Home? Earlier, did you not wish for a new life? And riches? I know you wished for treasure, hmm?”

“How do you know that?” Mellie furrowed her brow. “Have you been reading my mind?”

The twig man didn’t answer her questions, asking his own instead. “Ahh, so, you admit this, yes?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Yes, but…well, this really isn’t what I had in mind.”

The branch threw up its twiggy fingers. “Oh, well, of course you did not have this in mind. After all, we are reasonably inconspicuous, especially to humans. How could you have this in mind? However, is it not superior of the One to think that this is what you would have chosen had you known about us? Anyway, ’tis irrevocable now. So, if you would just follow me, we shall get you signed in and enrolled for training.”

The branch marched off between the trunks of two large eucalyptus trees.

Mellie slid uncontrollably after the walking stick. She planted her feet firmly, refusing to budge, but she slid after him anyway. Grasping at branches of nearby trees, she panted heavily as she struggled to resist following the branch. Some kind of invisible tie connected her to him. He seemed to pull her along with his every step.

Mellie thought about her sisters and how mad they were at her. I’m dead meat if they find me. Mellie quickly gave up her battle and ran after the eucalyptus branch, barely keeping up with his stride.

†


The sand changed to coarse dirt, with pebbles and sticks. More and more trees filled Mellie’s vision. Bushes scraped against her bare legs and slapped her face as she moved deeper inside a forest of eucalyptus and redwood trees. She winced in pain as a razor-sharp rock sliced her foot. Stopping to nurse it, she wished once again for her forgotten shoes.

“Excuse me, sir?” Mellie looked around. She could not see the branch anywhere.

“Do not call me ‘sir’, I work for a living.” The branch peeked out from around one of the gigantic trees. “And please, try to keep up. We need to reach the gateway.”

Mellie limped up to him. “Sorry, sir…I mean…umm, what should I call you then?”

“Oh, well, we did skip that. Did we not? Yes, all right, an introduction then.” The branch man seemed to enjoy formal etiquette for he gave an elaborate wave and bowed. “My name is Regnans, family of Myrtaceae, born member of the F.A.I.R.I.E.S., Britannia Wing, rank of Master Nymph Dryad.”

“Nice to meet you, Reg…Reg?” Mellie chewed on the inside of her mouth. Never good at remembering names, she knew she would offend him with her lack of manners.

Sure enough, the dryad raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “Regnans.” He gave a hurt sniff, then drolly sneered. “If you find that a difficult name, you should meet the rest of my family, all seven-hundred thirty-four of them.”

“Sorry, I just…well, it is a lot to remember. It’s a nice name, though. My name is Maryellen Goodwin of Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose, California. But everyone calls me Mellie.” She stuck out her hand, intending to shake. Regnans stared at her.

“That is a strange curtsy. However, I guess ’twill do. We must get moving now. The shadows abound, you know.” Regnans made an about face and marched off faster than before.

Another hour passed, and still they strode along the forest floor. Mellie’s feet were now cut, blistered, and bleeding. She kept up as best she could with Regnans’s long stride. Whenever she tried to stop, he would pull her on with that invisible force of his.

Stupid, pompous, magical Star Wars freak.

She whimpered as she limped. Darkness and mist now covered the woods. As she was about to plead for a break, Regnans stopped. Except for her heavy gulps of air, all seemed quiet.

Regnans stiffened even more than usual. Nothing on him moved, apart from his eyes, which darted around quickly.

“All is safe, we may proceed.” He held up a twiggy finger to his woody mouth. “Please do not speak, and try not to breathe so abominably loud.”

Mellie nodded with a disgusted frown. Sweat dripped from her bangs. She tried to calm her breathing, even though her vision blurred, and her legs wobbled. Her blisters had popped by now and oozed wetness.

Regnans moved again, yet this time he took slow, deliberate steps, all the while scanning his surroundings. He walked up to a massive redwood tree and stroked its bark.

A breeze stirred up, rattling the leaves, sounding almost like spoken words. Mellie thought herself crazy again. However, the longer she stood there, the more she sensed that it really was the tree’s language, as if she had never listened to trees properly before. It said, “If you love, you will say the one true love that leads the way.”

Regnans whispered in a leaf rustling voice, “Ah-gaw-pay.”

A loud grumbling sound, as if someone awakened after a long sleep, shook the grove. The redwood tree opened two eyes, each the size of Mellie’s head, and blinked. A great fissure erupted below the eyes in the shape of a crescent, and redish-brown wooden teeth emerged. A long, knobby branch pushed its way out above the mouth and inhaled deeply.

The tree chuckled. Instead of the whispering leaves, a low, rumbling utterance of human speech came from the redwood tree. “Regnans? What brings you to my neck of the woods?” He blinked again. “And who is this? A new recruit? A human? A Chosen?”

Mellie knew she looked silly, standing there with her mouth in an ‘O’ shape, but she couldn’t move. This was simply impossible. There is no such thing as fairies!

“Yes, yes. Please open the gate, we must not dawdle here…they may be watching.” Regnans looked agitated.

A deep laugh resounded from the redwood. “Oh, Regnans. There are none who watch here.”

Regnans mumbled something about hamadryads and their pride, then proclaimed in a slightly louder voice to the tree, “We must be sober, be vigilant, because the shadow walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour.”

The hamadryad looked chagrined. “You speak true, dryad. Forgive me for acting like an arrogant seedling.” He glanced at Mellie, and with a lowered voice asked, “And what is your name, little human?”

Mellie managed to squeak out, “Mellie Goodwin.”

“Ah, ’tis always nice to have a Good Wind.” The hamadryad laughed heartily.

“Sorry to interrupt this lovely tete-a-tete,” Regnans said, “but would you please open the gate? I left Westside completely unguarded.”

An annoyed creak came from the base of the redwood, followed by a sigh. “Yes, Regnans. Agape you said, and agape it is. Go with the light, my friends.” The large, joyous eyes closed, and the hamadryad whispered in his leaf rustling voice, “Until we meet again, Good Wind.” His face disappeared, and his roots lifted and pulled apart, exposing a tunnel within his trunk.

Regnans grabbed Mellie’s hand with his rough, wooden one, and pulled her inside the opening. The tree closed itself abruptly and left them in total darkness.

Regnans cleared his throat and said, “Let there be light.”

A burst of dazzling brightness sparkled from the tunnel’s wall. Mellie glanced around and noticed a long, winding stairwell leading down into the ground.

“Shall we, then?” Not waiting for a reply, Regnans started down the steps.

MANY ARE CALLED
BUT
FEW ARE CHOSEN


†


CHAPTER ONE

Off and Running

Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

I didn't review or read this book, but the author is the owner of FIRST blogging group, which I am a member of, so I am posting this to help get the word out about her book.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Have Seen The Light..... another Christmas favorite

Robert Sterling and Chris Machen


I was a seeker for light in a dark world,

I looked for truth but settled for lies.

I had been blinded, I couldn't see

Till the Star in Bethlehem's sky opened my eyes.


I have seen the Light shining in the darkness,

Bursting through the shadows, delivering the dawn.

I have seen the Light whose holy name is Jesus,

His kingdom is forever; He reigns on Heaven's throne!



There in a manger, an innocent baby;

Who could believe He was the One;

I can believe it, I know it's true;

He changed my life; He is the light; He is God's Son!



I have seen the Light shining in the darkness,

Bursting through the shadows, delivering the dawn.

I have seen the Light whose holy name is Jesus,

His kingdom is forever; He reigns on Heaven's throne!



We must tell the world what we`ve seen today in Bethlehem!

He`s the promised King; we bow down and worship Him!

Worship Christ The King!



I have seen the Light shining in the darkness,

Bursting through the shadows, delivering the dawn.

I have seen the Light whose holy name is Jesus,

His kingdom is forever; He reigns on Heaven's throne

Friday, December 2, 2011

Top books reviewed in 2011

I read and reviewed a lot of books in 2011. Not sure of the exact amount, but here are the ones that make my "top 15" list for this year, in no particular order. (I tried for top 10, but couldn't narrow it down to 10)

1) Digitalis by Ronie Kendig

2) Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig. Yeah, she made the list twice, but she is an excellent author, and I reviewed two of her books this year, and both were top-notch)

3) Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso .Mike has become one of my favorite authors. He doesn't have a lot of books out yet, but all of them are awesome. And he is a great Christian and very nice guy.

4) Passion to Action by Jay & Beth Loecken. Non-fiction doesn't excite me as much as fiction, especially suspense, but this was an excellent book. Impressive family.

5) Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn. This has to be his best ever, and one that will be hard to follow.

6) The Guardian by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed. New authors, and a really different idea to write about, but it was an awesome read.

7) Zombie Church by Tyler Edwards. Another non-fiction title, but the book really impressed and convicted me.

8) The Queen by Steven James. This series just keeps getting better, and his writing is top-notch. I just wish I didn't have to wait a year in between each book!

9) Targets Down by Bob Hamer. This former FBI agent writes a great suspense novel, and knowing he knows what he is talking about adds a lot to the story.

10) The Kiloton Threat by William Boykin and Tom Morrisey. The awesome sequel to an awesome book. Highly recommended for guys to read.

11) The Chair by Jim Rubart. I really enjoy this guy's writing style. This was a really different idea to write about, but it was an awesome read.

12) A Killer Among Us by Lynette Easom. This author writes some great suspense, and is one of my favorite authors.

13) False Pretenses by Kathy Herman. I love Kathy's writing style, and she is another author who gets better and better with each book and series she writes. A definite favorite author.


14) Rooms by Jim Rubart. I reviewed three of his books this year, and all three are tremendous reads, so he makes the list three times. This is his first and best, though all three are great reads.
15) Book of Days by Jim Rubart. Another awesome book by Jim.

I read a lot of great books and there are a lot that belong on my top list, but these 15 were my favorites - not to say they are better than the others - it comes down to taste also, but it is MY top list, and these are the ones I picked :-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The 365 Most Important Bible Passages For You by Jonathan Rogers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

FaithWords (November 10, 2011)
***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street | Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


No matter what he is writing, Jonathan Rogers is motivated by the astonishing reality of God's transforming grace in the lives of human beings. He is passionate about seeing the truths of Scripture bear fruit in the lives of students - lives of integrity, purpose, and joy. That passion is reflected in his books, including Words to Live By for Teens, What Really Counts for Students, and his Wilderking Trilogy of adventure novels - The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking. Jonathan holds a PhD in English literature from Vanderbilt University. He lives with his family in Nashville Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


This year-long devotional is both unique and simple by targeting the general reader, both men and women. Features include:

--A comprehensive overview and accompanying meditation for each passage;

--Daily encouraging and engaging scriptures that focus on the Bible passages that reveal the divine character of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; and

--Insightful comments and applications to daily life.


Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (November 10, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446574996
ISBN-13: 978-0446574990

AND NOW PRESS THE OPEN BOOK WIDGET TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Truth & Dare by Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Is your pre-teen daughter ready for more—more excitement, more adventure, more joy? Then dare her to discover the secret to a life that sparkles for God. Show her she’s got what it takes to make an impact on the world. Ann Margret Hovsepian’s newest book, Truth and Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Girls, is designed for girls 9 to 12 and filled with powerful wisdom on everything from godly friendships to worshipping God.



It can be easy for young girls to neglect their Bible reading. Perhaps they feel Scripture doesn’t directly relate to them. Maybe they may lack encouragement or accountability, or they may just have too many distractions in their everyday lives. This lack of spiritual food can stunt girls’ spiritual growth and make them vulnerable to the temptations and ungodly influences around them. It can also prevent them from developing a love for Scripture early in life, making it even harder to get into God’s Word when they get older.


Truth and Dare encourages tween girls to discover how exciting God’s Word can be. They will see it make a difference in their daily lives and experience the blessings that come from doing it and not just hearing it. Daily challenges (dares) based on Scripture (truth) will provide opportunities for them to make their faith come alive as they learn to serve others, build character and make a difference.


Scripture will be transformed from something learned to something lived. Girls will delight in discovering how God’s Word can become real in whole new ways as they learn to apply it with each day’s dare. It ideally suits anyone looking to inspire a young girl to boldly live out her faith. So encourage the tween girl in your life to take the dare and discover the truth! It’s her time to shine as a girl who knows what it means to live a fierce and fearless life of faith.

My review:
This devotional is for girls ages 9-12. The devotions are set up Monday through Friday and has one for the week-end. Each day has a "truth" and a "dare", followed by a journaling section to answer "how did it go?" and "what did you learn?" At the end of the week are extra things to do to cause the reader to do some more thinking.

This is a great devotional for girls in this age group. So many devotionals out there for girls are geared for teenagers, so it is nice to see one for this age group, and the author did a great job of coming up with a devotional to appeal and interest girls in this age group.

About the author:

Ann Margret Hovsepian is a published author, freelance writer and editor and amateur artist. She has published more than 210 articles for dozens of Canadian and U.S. print periodicals and has become a sought-after author of pre-teen girls’ devotional books. She has published Blossom: The Complete New Testament for Girls (Thomas Nelson, 2006) and The One Year Designer Genes Devo (Tyndale, 2007). She speaks at conferences and events and is actively involved on the board of Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Hovsepian resides in Montreal, Canada.


Truth & Dare is available from David C. Cook Publishing.

Thanks to B&B Media for the review copy.

Triple Dog Dare by Jeremy V. Jones

Boys want action. They don’t want to sit around and talk—that’s for grown-ups and girls. They engage life and relationships by doing something: skateboarding, playing games or re-creating favorite movie scenes. So why should faith be any different? That’s why Jeremy V. Jones created Triple Dog Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys to provide the action boys need in order to grow their faith.


The Bible is full of action. Remember how David slew Goliath, Daniel faced those lions, Paul survived a shipwreck and Jesus stood up for a woman about to be killed? God made boys to take His truth and do something with it, to man up and change the world. These action-packed devotions for boys ages 9 to 12 are filled with godly truth and bold spiritual challenges that transform time with God into the adventure of the day.


Triple Dog Dare connects God’s Word to boys’ hearts and hands with real-life scenarios and activities. Each day is filled with short Scriptures, concise biblical truth and a daily dare, all challenging them to put their faith into practice. Scripture readings from every book of the Bible open up the action-packed Word of God. Whether it’s drawing comic strips of biblical battles, dreaming up a life list of goals, making snack packs for the homeless or producing Bible-based movies, boys will go on daily dynamic experiences with God, taking faith off the page and setting it into motion. Themes cover the daily realities of pre-teen males, including bullying, peer pressure, girls, sibling rivalry, honesty and more.


These exciting devotions will inspire boys’ hearts toward godly characteristics such as integrity, generosity and kindness.


Parents will appreciate watching Christ-like traits emerge as each dare is undertaken. It is a manual that will deepen boys’ friendships with Jesus as they look forward to spending time with Him every day. So if you know a boy who is up for the challenge, triple dog dare him!

My review:
This is a devotional geared for boys ages 9-12, and the author did a great job of not just writing, but designing it to appeal to boys that age. There are devotionals set up for Monday through Friday, and one for the week-end. Each day consists of a short devotional, a "triple dog dare" - 3 things to do, and a section "what did you learn, what did you do?"

At the end of each week, there is a page titled "your page" with direction given on what to write about, such as "summer is:"

Boys in this age group aren't always interested in reading, but these devotions are short and interesting enough to appeal to them, and the "triple dog dare" aspect adds to that. I'd recommend it.

About the author:

Jeremy V. Jones is an award-winning journalist who has served as senior associate editor of Breakaway magazine. He has authored several books, including Toward the Goal: The Kaka Story and Walking on Water: The Spirituality of the World’s Top Surfers. He also writes for magazines such as Clubhouse and Christianity Today. He resides with his wife and two children in Colorado.



Triple Dog Dare is available from David C. Cook.

Thanks to B&B Media for the review copy.

What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? by Ed Welch

In an increasingly unstable culture, being obsessed with what others think is an escalating struggle among teens and young adults, leading to more serious consequences than ever before. Although everyone—whether they’re sixteen or sixty—works hard to win someone’s approval or ward off someone’s rejection, these issues plague teenagers and young adults with particular intensity. And how teens and young adults answer the big questions of their lives now will affect the direction of their adult lives for better or worse. In his new book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life (New Growth Press, October 2011), Edward T. Welch extends hope to those weary of hiding behind a mask of performance in order to gain love and acceptance.



Peer pressure, codependency, shame, low self-esteem—these are just some of the words used to identify how young people can be controlled by the perceived opinions of others. Stand out in the right way to the right people, and you’re on top of the world. But experience failure in front of those same people and prepare for a sinking sensation in your stomach and a night of tossing and turning.


Why do you care? Why do we all care? These are questions that can’t be answered without listening to God, the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves.In What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?Welch takes the big questions of life and shows that freedom from what people think of us comes as we learn who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Only then will we be able to let go of our masks, stop trying to fill our leaky love cups and begin to live for something bigger than ourselves.


An interactive book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? includes questions throughout the text for individual or group study and is especially aimed at teenagers and young adults. A corresponding website rich with controversy and dialogue, My-Big-Life-Question.com, will also offer readers a place to discuss personal needs as well as to find other resources for life’s journey and places to go for help.

My review:
Though this was written and geared for teenagers, this is a book that anyone struggling with self esteem issues could benefit from reading.

The author did a great job of addressing esteem issues and self worth. He comes from a Christian standpoint, and deals a lot with how God views us. He doesn't do a bunch of psycho babble, but really has some good advice and good things to say. There are questions throughout the book that make the reader think and get more involved in the book. This would be a great book for anyone struggling with self esteem issues, and for anyone not necessarily dealing with that. We can all use a reminder of our value to God.

About the author:

Edward T. Welch recalls two spiritual turning points in his life. The first he pinpoints as the month after his graduation from college, before entering graduate school, when his plans for his future made a complete shift. A shift for which he has been grateful ever since. In that month, he determined to complete a simple task—to read the Bible in its entirety. It was that "simple" undertaking which brought him to a deep understanding of the power of scripture. For the first time, he grasped the relevance of scripture to the simple details of our lives. God, he realized, was speaking through this book. All his plans changed, and he entered the Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.


The next turning point came during his second year in seminary when he began to study counseling and was given the opportunity to observe an actual counseling session. "That first hour of being placed on the front lines of counseling redirected my life," he tells us. "In that moment I saw the Bible as alive, and I knew that I wanted people to feel understood by scripture."

After graduating from seminary in 1978, Ed went on to study at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology (Neuropsychology) in 1981. He currently serves as counselor, faculty member and director of the School of Biblical Counseling at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and as professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Ed is deeply devoted to his wife, Sheri, and his two daughters and their husbands, all of whom live close by in the Philadelphia area. The family has traveled yearly to the west coast to visit relatives and enjoy water sports at the beach.

What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? is available from New Growth Press.

Thanks to B&B Media for the review copy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Favorite Christmas Song #1 It's Still The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Names of God Bible, Ann Spangler

Open the door to a more intimate relationship with God



Discover the Hebrew names of God within the biblical text


Encounter God through prayers, promises, and devotional readings


Experience God's character more deeply by studying his names


One of the best ways to get to know God on a deeper level is to know his names and titles as revealed in Scripture. Now the bestselling author of Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus uncovers the richness of God's character and love found in his names right within the Bible text.

The Names of God Bible restores more than 10,000 occurrences of specific names of God--like Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay--to help readers connect with the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith and experience a deeper understanding of God's character. Perfect for personal study, prayer, and reflection, The Names of God Bible includes these special features:


More than 10,000 names and titles of God restored to their Hebrew equivalent and printed in brown ink to stand out within the biblical text


Names of God reading paths lead readers to the next reference of the name so they can pray and study the names of God throughout Scripture


Name Pages feature


background information associated with the most important names and titles of God


key Scripture passages in which the name is revealed


devotional readings for each of the featured names


specific Bible promises connected to each of the featured names


Calling God by Name sidebars shed light on the relationship between biblical people and the specific names they called God

My review:
I snag a Bible for review any time I can. I enjoy reading and exploring new translations and new study Bibles, etc.

I was not very familiar with the God's Word translation, and though this review is not specifically geared for the translation, I do like what I have read of it. If you are unfamiliar with that translation, you can find out more about it on the website for God's Word Translation.

The Names of God Bible is very unique and unlike any Bible I have used. I, like most people very familiar with the Bible, am aware that originally there were different names for God used throughout the Bible: Jehovah, Elohim, etc, and that they were all changed to "God" and "Lord" for the most part. What this Bible does, is to change all uses of God back to the original names of God.

Before each book of the Bible in this Bible, there is an introduction to the book, and then a list of the key names of God used in that book, along with their meaning. Example from Psalms:

Yah, Yahweh...........Lord
Melek.......................King
Elyon.......................Highest

And so forth. "Yeshua" is used in the New Testament instead of "Jesus". This makes reading the Bible totally different. All too often it is easy to read over familiar passages without thinking about what we are reading. However, when  you are reading this Bible and running onto names like "Melek", it causes you to slow down, look up the meaning of the name, and think more on what you are reading.

I think this is more than a Bible. It is a valuable tool. In translating all of the names of God to "God" and "Lord", we have lost something: the meaning of the name originally used. This Bible brings that back and adds meaning to what is being read.

About the editor/commentator:

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer whose fascination with the Bible has resulted in books that have opened the Bible to a wide range of readers. She is the author or coauthor of several bestselling books, including Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, Women of the Bible, and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Together, her books have sold nearly 3 million copies. She has held senior positions at two Christian publishing houses and lives with her two daughters in Michigan.


 
The Names of God Bible is available from Revell, part of Baker Publishing Group.

The Bible is available in hardcover, black, and mahogany duravella.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Ann Spangler talking about The Names of God Bible:




The Names of God Bible overview:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wood Shed

Thought I'd give some friends of mine a little advertisement. They make some nice products using wood and sell them on their blog. Check it out if you need some gift ideas: Zeigler's Wood Shed. They have items such as the ones pictured below:





Friday, November 25, 2011

A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Marriage Carol
Moody Publishers (September 1, 2011)
by
Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



CHRIS FABRY is a graduate of W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and Moody bible Institute's Advanced Studies Program. Chris can be heard daily on Love Worth Finding, featuring the teaching of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers. He received the 2008 "Talk Personality of the Year" Award from the National Religious Broadcasters. He has published more than 60 books since 1995, many of them fiction for younger readers. Chris collaborated with Jerry B. Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye on the children's series Left Behind: The Kids. His two novels for adults, Dogwood and June Bug, are published by Tyndale House Publishers. Chris is married to his wife Andrea and they have five daughters and four sons.







GARY CHAPMAN is the author of the bestselling Five Love Languages series and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio program airs on more than 400 stations.





ABOUT THE BOOK



On Christmas Eve twenty years earlier, Marlee and Jacob were married in a snowstorm. This Christmas Eve, they are ready to quit, divorce is imminent. Their relationship is as icy as the road they’re traveling and as blocked with troubles as the piling snow. They take a shortcut to get to the lawyer’s office, on a slippery, no-fault path. She thinks they need to stay on the main road. He disagrees. They fight. Story of their lives and they slam into a bank of snow , spinning, drifting, falling, out of control. Just like their lives. Reluctantly, freezing cold, hungry, scared, she trudges up the hill. Paul is nowhere to be found. Her ears frozen, fingers and hands red, she comes to a house on the hillside, built like a Bed and Breakfast, a green wreath on the red door and the door-knocker is in the shape of a wedding ring.



The red door opens and the first thing she notices is the fire in the room, blazing hot, a warm, inviting, friendly place and the voice of an old man welcomes her in. There are three golden pots on the hearth, shining, glimmering things. The old man claims that they are used to restore marriages. She laughs—and begins a journey through her past, present, and future that will test how she views her lifelong love. There are two futures available. Which will she choose?



If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of A Marriage Carol, go HERE.

Due to the books not having been shipped yet, I have not read the book and have no review to post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas In Sugarcreek by Shelly Shepard Gray


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Christmas In Sugarcreek
Avon Inspire (October 25, 2011)
by
Shelley Shepard Gray




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.



Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.



Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.



When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.



Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page





ABOUT THE BOOK





Judith Graber has always been the obedient daughter. When her older brother Josh struggled with his love life, she offered wise counsel. When her younger brother Caleb flirted with the idea of leaving their order, she firmly told him he was wrong. Over the years, she’s watched her younger siblings, helped around the house, and worked in her family’s store during her spare time. Judith feels overworked, overlooked, and underappreciated this holiday season.



But everything changes when her father hires Ben Knox.



Ben Knox is the “bad boy” of Sugarcreek. Though he’s never considered jumping the fence, he’s certainly never tried to be anything close to dutiful. Two years ago he left Sugarcreek under a cloud of shame. Rumors circulated that his rumspringa had been filled with more than the usual harmless explorations.



Now he’s back and working side by side with Judith.

As the chaos of the holiday season threatens to sap all joy, sparks fly between Ben and Judith. But Judith steels herself to ignore her infatuation. The last thing she wants to be is just one more girl who falls under Ben’s spell. Ben, on the other hand, wants Judith to realize there’s more to him than his bad reputation. When he fled Sugarcreek, he was running from a disruptive home life. Now that he’s back, he wants a fresh beginning.

Could this Christmas season bring love and a new life for the unlikeliest pair in Sugarcreek?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Christmas In Sugarcreek, go HERE.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Common English Bible...... and a giveaway

What is the CEB?My review:


The Common English Bible is more than a revision or update of an existing translation. It’s an ambitious new translation designed to read smoothly and naturally without compromising the accuracy of the Bible text.

A key goal of the translation team is to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level for nearly all English readers. As the translators do their work, reading specialists working with 77 reading groups from more than a dozen denominations review the texts to ensure a smooth and natural reading experience. Easy readability can enhance church worship and participation, and personal Bible study. It also encourages children and youth to discover the Bible for themselves, perhaps for the very first time.

Who Is It For?

The Common English Bible is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. To achieve this, the CEB represents the work of a diverse team with broad scholarship, including the work of over one hundred and twenty scholars—men and women from twenty-four faith traditions in American, African, Asian, European and Latino communities. As a result, the English translation of ancient words has an uncommon relevance for a broad audience of Bible readers—from children to scholars.

Who Sponsored the Common English Bible?

The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials. The Common English Bible Committee meets periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Church of Christ (Pilgrim Press); and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).





I am big on reading different translations of the Bible, and am always eager to check out a new one, so I jumped at the chance to review The Common English Bible.

I like it. It isn't far out in the language, but the language is modern enough that it is definitely easier to read than some translations. I obviously haven't read the whole thing. I am a fast reader, but not THAT fast. I have looked through it, and read several familiar passages to see how they differ from the KJV and NKJV. I even took it with me to church this morning and used it in Sunday School class and church.

There are some verses where the wording is a lot different, and not a lot on some others, yet from what I have seen so far, the meaning of the verse hasn't been changed. They have stayed true to what the verse means and is saying, they have just worded it better and more in today's language.

My only complaint is I wish the Bible was red-letter, but that isn't a big issue.

This is Psalm 23 from The Common English Bible:

1 The LORD is my shepherd.

I lack nothing.

2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;

3 he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.

4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger
because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.

5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!

6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live[b] in the LORD’s house
as long as I live.


Giveaway:
I am allowed to give a copy of The Common English Bible each week I blog about it during the next 3 months. This is the first giveaway, and I am going to do something I normally don't do: make it possible to get an extra entry.

Here is how to enter. Follow the instructions to be eligible: Go to Biblegateway.com, and read a passage of Scripture. (scroll down on the page I linked to, it has all of the books of the Bible and their chapters). Comment on this blog post/review and tell me what passage(s) that you read.


Second entry: I would like to help generate some buzz and interest in this version and giveway, so if you mention this giveaway and link to it on Twitter, a blog, facebook, or even email it to some friends, comment a second time and tell me.

Drawing date: I will pick a winner using Random.org a week from today, and if there has been enough interest, will do more giveaways in the coming weeks.

Check out the website for The Common English Bible.

Thanks to B&B Media and The Common English Bible Team for the review copy and giveaway.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

10 Tips for Setting a Beautiful Holiday Table

By Roxanne Hughes Packham, Co-Author of the Hospitality Book: Inspired Design

Are you in need of some holiday inspiration?


In need of some help when it comes to decorating for the holidays? Roxanne Packham shares ideas for making your home beautiful and inviting in her book, Inspired Design. Below are tips for setting a beautiful holiday table.
Drawing from a rich family history and her own collection of acclaimed designs, California-based interior designer Roxanne Packham has joined with her teenage daughter Hannah to create Inspired Design (Inspired Design Publications), an idea-provoking book filled with stunning photographs, treasured family traditions and a plethora of truly inspirational tips for creating a warm and welcoming home, not just throughout the holiday season, but every day to follow.

Whether seeking unique ways to entertain for the upcoming holidays, celebrate with friends, begin new family traditions or showcase the family history, talents and passions in the home’s interior design, the Packhams have shown the way. In doing so, they have utilized the beautifully structured pages of Inspired Design to reveal the classic truth that any home is made more beautiful when it is filled with love, joy and the determination to make those who enter it feel welcomed.

In today’s rough economic climate, keep in mind that although I hope to inspire you to set a beautiful Thanksgiving or Christmas table the real beauty comes from the thought and love you show your friends and family. Beautiful tables comprise equal parts from the “Inspired” & the “Design” categories. See examples: http://www.inspireddesignpublications.blogspot.com/.



~Place cards

I love to use the ceramic place cards that can be written on with a wipe-off marker. You can quickly write people’s names, a favorite quote or sentiment. Friends love that you thought about them before the dinner and even something as simple as writing their names on the place cards really makes them feel remembered.



~Welcome Sign

It is so welcoming, to have a sign somewhere near the front door to greet your family and friends. From a very personal “Welcome Smith Family” or a seasonal “Merry Christmas” to “We are so glad you are here” on a casual chalkboard or an elegant mirror or glass framed, and write with a wipe-off marker, that welcome sets the tone for the rest of the event. I used an antique French cupboard door and painted it with chalkboard paint on the raised panel part.



~Quote or Scripture

The most inspirational part of the Holiday table is the beautiful quotes and scriptures. It depends on the occasion, but a quote that is either inspiring or focused on gratitude is the favorite. There is nothing like feasting your eyes, and then your thoughts, on what we can be thankful for, especially as an example for our children. Scattering them around the home (powder room, end tables, above door jam’s) is a great way to elevate your family and friends thoughts.



Design

~Fresh Greenery

Sometimes we mistakenly think a tabletop has to have flowers as a centerpiece to be really elegant and festive. Greenery is a wonderful, fresh and festive way to make a beautiful Christmas table. Simply cut a few small twigs of trees/bushes like pine or ivy, or my favorite boxwood branches, bay tree and magnolia leaves and put them in three smaller glass or crystal vases.



~Candles

No table is complete, in my opinion, with 5 to 7 little glass votives with white candles in them. The light sparkles and makes everything else on the table more beautiful and sets a soft, relaxing, often more romantic tone.



~Seasonal Piece

By seasonal I suggest a “Santa” figurine or such, a gingerbread house, or a standing cross to have in the center of the table. A clear jar of candy canes, M&M’s or such would do just fine, as well. Think: Something available only at this time of year. I usually have plenty of items in the Holiday Decor that I switch out to put on the table for each dinner.



~Napkin Rings

These can be such a pretty way to pull a linen napkin through to set on a place and make a really beautiful table setting. You can use french ribbons, or plain silver rings and they help to really make a bigger impact for an inspiring table.



~Sparkling Glasses

Whether crystal or glass, tall freshly washed glass sparkle so much with the votive candles that it is hard to wrong with this combo. A tall glass and short glass of whatever kind you like is very dramatic and beautiful, set together. Whether colored or clear the sparkle is crucial for the holiday table.



~White Plates

Although I love to use seasonal chargers and salad plates a crisp white plate is the most beautiful element to my favorite tables. They can be dressed up or down, and makes each setting look fresh and not heavy and overdone.



~Seasonal Linens

Of course, linen napkins add the most wonderful touch of elegance to any table, and Christmas plaid or red and green are no exception. My grandfather, who was a “Silversmith to the Stars”, loved a bare table with only plates (or placemats) but wasn’t a fan of covering a beautiful wood table. I have followed suit. Try leaving the wood table bare! The natural elements together is beautiful and simple.

Remembering You by Tricia Goyer..... and a contest

35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.



As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.


Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.

My review:
I don't typically read romance novels, but I have read a few of Tricia Goyer's historical novels and have really enjoyed them.

Remembering You is more than a romance novel. There is a lot of historical information in the book, and gave me a greater appreciation for our military past and present for what they do and have done to fight for our freedom.

The book was an interesting and entertaining read, and I didn't even mind the romance aspect of the book. Tricia came up with a great plot and characters, and I was quickly pulled into the story, and loved the ending. A recommended read for historical fiction buffs. Though the book isn't historical fiction, it does blend modern day with history.

About the author:
Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines including Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family while authoring more than thirty-one fiction and nonfiction books combined. Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas.


For more information about Tricia or her other books, please visit her website: http://www.triciagoyer.com/.


 Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!
Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Yon't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!


Read what the reviewers are saying here.





One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com. So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 15th!


Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.