Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dark In the City of Light by Paul Robertson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark In The City Of Light
Bethany House (July 1, 2010)

Paul Robertson


Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.

What Evil Haunts the Shadows of 1870s Paris?

Baron Ferdinand Harsanyi — After his wife's mysterious death, this Austrian attaché holds control over mines whose coveted ore could turn the tide of war.

Therese Harsanyi — Swept up in new romance and the spectacle of Paris, the Baron's daughter is blind to the dangers stalking her family and the city she loves.

Rudolph Harsanyi — Unsure whom to trust, the Baron's son's grief over his mother's death twists into growing anger and a desire to break free.

As France and Prussia plunge toward war, one family is caught in a web of deceit, political intrigue, and murder that threatens to tear them apart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dark In The City Of Light, go HERE.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Family-friendly fiction by Diane and David Munson... and a giveaway

A while back, I won a book titled The Camelot Conspiracy by Diane and David Munson. The book is Christian mystery/suspense, my favorite genre'. I had never heard of these authors, so I researched them and found out they had two previous books, and a fourth that had just came out. On faith that I would like the series, I found the first two cheap on Amazon, and ordered the fourth new.

I was not disappointed. As you will read in their bio, this husband and wife team have the knowledge from their careers to write about the stuff they do. And they cover a lot: the FBI, CIA, ICE, terrorism, espionage, courtroom scenes, and take the reader all over the world.

First there is Facing Justice, then Confirming Justice, The Camelot Conspiracy, and the fourth, which I just finished, Hero's Ransom. The books can be read in any order, though for the sake of keeping up with the individual's personal lives in the book, the authors recommend reading them in order. Each book introduces some new characters, but some of the characters from the other books also make appearances.

I enjoyed the authors' writing style. They go into a bit more detail than the average suspense author, so in my opinion, they are a little deeper read than some, but not in a bad way. There is a lot of action, suspense and excitement, and they really held my attention. Here is a description of the fourth book in the series, Hero's Ransom:

CIA Agent Bo Rider (The Camelot Conspiracy) and Federal Agents Eva Montanna and Griff Toppng (Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, The Camelot Conspiracy) return in Hero's Ransom, the Munsons' fourth family-friendly adventure. When archeologist Amber Worthing uncovers a two-thousand-year-old mummy and witnesses a secret rocket launch at a Chinese missile base, she is arrested for espionage. Her imprisonment sparks a custody battle between grandparents over her young son, Lucas. Caught between sinister world powers, Amber's faith is tested in ways she never dreamed possible. While Bo races to stop China's killer satellite from destroying America, danger escalates, and Eva and Griff must secure an unexpected ransom.

Sounds good, doesn't it? I think this was the best of the series, but all four were excellent, and as the title of this blog post implies, their books are family-friendly, and advertised as such. That means none of the curse/swear words that are appearing in some books of this type, and no pushing the boundaries of appropriate content - and yet, they write realistic suspenseful fiction. For that reason, I am featuring their books on my blog and encouraging readers of suspense to check their books out. You will not be disappointed.

About the authors: ( a bit long, but impressive)

Diane Munson, an attorney of more than twenty-five years, developed a love for writing when she was a young child and experienced a major twist of genres. She transitioned from writing briefs for judges to writing inspiring fiction for readers. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. in the U.S. Department of Justice, where she argued cases before juries and judges. Prior to being a federal prosecutor, she was appointed by Attorney General Edwin Meese III as an official in the U.S. Department of Justice. Diane enjoyed working with Congress and the White House on policy issues. More recently, she has flown solo in a law practice specializing in mediation, family law, and representing children and parents in neglect and abuse cases. As a lawyer, she has written book reviews and articles for the Christian Legal Society of which she is a former National Board member. She is also a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers.

David Munson had a dangerous career for twenty-seven years as a Special Agent with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Treasury, and Justice, concluding with the Drug Enforcement Administration. As an undercover agent, he infiltrated international drug smuggling organizations, helping fly plane loads of drugs to the U.S. from foreign countries and then feigning surprise when they were arrested. In one case, David arrested four associates of former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, who then testified against the dictator. David spent two years on Capital Hill. He served as a Congressional Fellow for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations where he investigated the government’s efforts to co-opt foreign spies and other classified military operations.

Diane and David’s first three suspense thrillers, Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, and The Camelot Conspiracy were published by FaithWalk Publishing. All three were released again in late 2009 by Micah House Media, which also released the Munson’s fourth thriller, Hero’s Ransom, in February 2010. The Munsons are busy working on their next novel. They speak to men and women’s events and appear at libraries, book clubs and churches to talk about how God put a call on their hearts to write fiction, blending their exciting careers with stories of God’s faithfulness in times of crisis.

David and Diane worked together as Christian mediators in their own firm and helped many people seek forgiveness and restoration in their relationships by applying Scripture to their lives. They have seen that justice and forgiveness are possible, no matter the circumstances. Based on the success of their first suspense novel, they placed their mediation service on hold to pursue their writing career. As they travel to research and cloister to write, they thank the Lord for the blessings of faith and family. A verse they hold dear is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you a hope and a future.”

The giveaway:

The authors have been gracious to agree to give a book away to a lucky winner. To enter, just comment as to whether you ever heard of these authors before. The winner can pick whichever of their four books that they want. I will pick a winner 10 days from today, August 6, and the authors will mail the book out.

Thanks to the authors for doing the giveaway, and for writing such great books.

This review was done on my own.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Demon, A Memoir by Tosca Lee

Book description:

Recently divorced and mired in a meaningless existence, Clay drifts from his drab apartment to his equally lusterless job as an editor for a small Boston press--until the night Lucian finds him and everything changes with the simple words, "I'm going to tell you my story, and you're going to write it down and publish it."What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian's dark tale of love, ambition, and grace--only to discover that the demon's story has become his own. And then only one thing matters: learning how the story ends.

My review:
First off, as I have stated before, I much prefer the third person point of view over the first person point of view, as this book is written in. However, the first person point of view worked very well for this story and was probably the best way to go.

This book was proviously released by Navpress, and now has been re-released by Broadman & Holman.

Now, onto the book. What did I think of it? It was excellent, enlightening, informative, and much more. I have never read anything by this author, but I love her style. The book is about Clay, a book editor, who is approached by a demon in a human form, wanting him to write his story. In doing so, the demon goes back to the beginning - Satan's fall - and works up through the fall of man, the birth of Christ, the death and resurrection of Christ, and beyond.

Using the Biblical narrative, Tosca Lee wove quite a narrative of what that was all like. She truly has a way with words. I could almost see the events unfold as she told them - and though she took some literary license and added to the Biblical story we have, I feel she only enhanced it, and didn't stray from what it was probably like.

I walked away from reading the story with a few new insights. It never occurred to me that one of the reasons Satan fights us so hard and seeks to destroy mankind, could be rooted in jealousy. A stretch? I don't think so. Read the book and it will leave you wondering the same thing. Another: Satan does fight to take us down by any means necessary, and he may appear in inoccent forms and use distractions to take us down and ruin us.

And lastly, even though this author did a fantastic job of weaving the story of everything from Satan's fall up through modern times how he fights us, none of us will truly grasp the depth of God's sacrifice, nor how it has affected Satan's plans.
So, if I had a star rating, this book would get 5 out of 5. I do also give it my read-in-one-sitting book, for it pulled me in and kept me reading til the very end. I highly recommend this book. It is one that will make you think for sure.

About the author:

Tosca Lee is the critically-acclaimed author of Demon: A Memoir--Christy Award finalist and ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Silver Award winner--and Havah: The Story of Eve, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and 4.5 stars from Romantic Times.

Tosca's highly-anticipated third novel,   Iscariot, releases January of 2012.

A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States, Tosca received her B.A. from Smith College in Massachusetts. She also studied at Oxford University.

Demon, A Memoir is available from Broadman & Homan Publishers.

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff


Using the same humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries, blogger Jonathan Acuff brings his insightful take on Christianity to the book world with Stuff Christians Like. From prayer shot blocks to Metro worship leaders, no stone is left unturned in this hilarious look at faith.
Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we’ll break up when we get back. Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend’s prayer because she’s asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship. Sometimes, you think, “I wish I had a t-shirt that said ‘I direct deposit my tithe’ so people wouldn’t judge me.”

Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny.

This is that stuff.

Jonathan Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. In it you’ll learn the culinary magic of the crock-pot. Think you’ve got a Metro worship leader—Use Acuff’s checklist. Want to avoid a prayer handholding faux pas? Acuff has you covered.

Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.

My review:

I ran onto Jonathan Acuff's blog,, a while back, and visit it often. He has a unique way of looking at things, and also a very unique sense of humor.

I was happy to get his book, named after his website/blog, Stuff Christians Like, to review. What did I think of the book? I loved it. I don't agree with him on everything, but he takes a humorous look at the way Christians act. From things such as the "after church sprint" to complaining about your problems in front of missionaries, he not only makes the reader smile and laugh out loud, but also gets a message across in a non-preachy way.

The book is full of randomness - he bounces from one subject to the next from one paragraph to the next, but it works for him and for the book. This is one of those books that you take your time with. Take it with you on your visits to your "reading room". (And if you don't get why that is in quotes, you need to get out more).

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. It is amusing, yet causes you to examine your motives and actions, which is probably what the author is trying to do.

About the author:

For the last ten years, Jonathan Acuff has written advertising for clients ranging from the Home Depot to Chick-fil-A. In addition to his many day jobs, he also writes a blog called He and his wife live with their two daughters outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Stuff Christians Like is avaiable from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.

Jimmy Carter Cake

Several years back, one of my aunts experiemented with a dessert, added stuff, took stuff out, etc, and came up with the following awesome dessert. She gave it the dubious name of Jimmy Carter Cake. My mom submitted it to a recipe book under some other name that had pudding in the name, but not Jimmy Carter. Anyway, I had to type it up to email to a co-worker, so decided I'd share it here. And fat free/sugar free ingredients can be used.

Ingredients (fat free and sugar free things can be used)

First layer:
1 3/4 cups of flour

1 1/2 sticks of oleo

3/4 cup of crushed/chopped peanuts

Second layer:
1 cup of powdered sugar

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1 small container of Cool Whip

2/3 cup of peanut butter

Third layer:
1 package of instant chocolate pudding

1 package of vanilla instant pudding

3 cups of milk

Fourth layer:

1 small Cool Whip

1 Hershey Bar, or other chocolate


First layer:
Mix together and spread in a 9 by 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Cool completely.

Second layer:
Mix sugar, cream cheese, and Cool Whip, and peanut butter. Spread on the crust.

Third layer:
Beat the 2 puddings together with the 3 cups of milk. Spread on top of the last layer.

Fourth layer:
Spread one small Cool Whip on top and sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Country....... the songs that impress me

There are some people who are totally against listening to secular music if you are a Christian. I'm not one of them. I do, however believe it should not be your main genre' if you're a Christian. I have run across Christians who rarely listen to Christian music, and I don't understand that. Anyway, I do believe we should we careful what we listen to, and who we follow.

I don't listen to country music much - too much of it talks about drinking, running around on people, etc - plus too much of it nowadays has cursing in it, which I'm not a fan of. Over the years, I have run across some country songs that impress me, so I do have some on my Ipod/Itunes. I thought I'd share some of the ones that impress me the most. See if any of your favorites are here, or tell me if there are some that should be. Click on the titles to see video where applicable.

1) Live Like You Were Dying: Tim Mcgraw. I love this one - talks about a guy getting bad news from the doctor and how he handles it - by living differently and doing things he wished he had done - including reading the "Good Book".

2) Heroes: Paul Overstreet. This a fairly old song. Talks in the first verse about a man rushing home from work so he can watch his kid play ball. The second verse talks about a mother up with her baby and encouraging her husband. The chorus talks about everyday heroes such as these. A cool song.

3) He Ain't The Leavin' Kind: Rascal Flatts: The "He" in the song is actually referring to God. This song could actually be classified as Christian, though recorded by a country group. Great message.

4) I Saw God Today: George Strait. A cool song talking about how God's fingerprints are everywhere, if we stop to look.

5) Check Yes or No: George Strait. Can I use the word "cute"? That describes this song. A 3rd grade boy is given a note by a girl asking if he loves her, and to check yes or no - goes on in the second verse that they are married. I always loved this song. :-)

6) Don't Laugh At Me: Mark Wills. This one stands out to me since I was picked on so much as a kid. The song talks about people with difficulties, or who aren't like you. One problem I do have with the song, is it sounds like it gives the idea that we are all going to Heaven with the line "some day we will all have perfect wings."

7) Grandpa, Tell Me Bout The Good Old Days: The Judds. A song talking about how it used to be - when lovers fell in love to stay, promises were kept, families bowed their heads to pray, and daddies never went away. A truly great song - too bad all country songs aren't like this one.

8)  I Hope You Dance: LeeAnn Womack: This song isn't necessarily talking about dancing, but about seeing the good in life, having good things happen, and being positive - at least that is what I get out of it. :-)

9) Amarillo Sky: Jason Aldean. I heard this song for the first time at a John McCain rally in 2008 and loved it. The song talks about a farmer trying to make it. A neat song. Chorus:
 He just takes the tractor another round

And pulls the plow across the ground
And sends up another prayer
He says Lord I never complain I never ask why
But please don't let my dream run dry
Underneath, Underneath this
Amarillo sky

10) Watching You: Rodney Atkins. A neat song to remind dads that their little boys are watching them and will pick up their habits, whether good or bad.

11) He Didn't Have to Be: Brad Paisley. Though this one doesn't really relate to me, it is still a neat and touching song. The song tells a story of a little boy who doesn't have a dad. His mom gets asked out a lot, only to be dropped when the men discover she has a little boy, until the day she meets a guy who wants the little boy to come along on a date, and becomes the dad that he didn't have to be. Again I say, too bad all country songs aren't like this. I shouldn't admit it, but this song makes me a bit misty-eyed.

12) One Boy, One Girl: Collin Raye. Another "cute" song. I always enjoy hearing it.

13) Love Me: Collin Raye. Another cool song by this artist. The first verse talks about a young couple who are eloping. He gets to the meeting place first and finds a note telling him that if he gets there first, not to give up on her, that she would meet him when her chores are through, and it is signed "love, me". In the second verse, she has gone on, and he is speaking the words to her. A neat song.

14) He Gets That From Me: Reba McEntire. This a somewhat sad song, but neat. Sung from a mother's viewpoint talking to her husband, she is saying things their boy gets from her, and other things from the father, who has died. The best part of the song is the final bridge:

Last night I heard him pray

Lord,help me and mama make it through
And tell daddy we'll be okay
He said he sure misses you
He sure misses you
He really misses you
He gets that from me

15) Something Worth Leaving Behind: LeAnn Womack. A good reminder of what is important in life.

These are the ones I enjoy most and that impress me the most. Any you would add?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Drunk driving...... the unseen picture

I think we'd all agree - there needs to be tougher laws on drunk driving. In most cases when a drunk driver takes the life of someone else, he has had previous DUIs.

I recently saw the other side of things. And don't get me wrong.... I am in no way advocating easing up on the laws we already have, nor am I defending drunk driving. I am 100% against alcoholic beverages and wish they didn't exist. Anyway......

I get along great with all of my co-workers - and like them all. One of them is a very sweet-natured and nice lady. I have found in talking to her that she has been affected by drunk driving also, but in another way: her husband has had one too many DUI's. How is it affecting her? The police confiscated the vehicle he was driving, their better vehicle - and they may or may not get it back. He is on house arrest, so that means she has to do everything that requires a vehicle. They are moving soon and the court has allowed him one day only to help her move.

I am sure it has caused her more problems and difficultlies that I don't know about. Our choices don't always just affect us - they affect our family and others.

Christians especially don't look at the whole picture - the drunk is punished severely - and should be - and we cheer. The pastor is caught in his infidelities and we are glad it came to light, but what about his family? The immoral person gets AIDS or some other disease, and we sit back and think smugly that they deserve to get it - but what about the people who love them?

As I stated, I'm not trying to excuse DUIs or say we need to ease up - not sure what I'm trying to say, but I have seen the bigger picture and that we all need to be more compassionate and less judgemental.

Realistic.......... a soapbox

I read an interesting article by Eric Wilson, a Christian fiction author here. It is worth reading. I don't disagree with him, and enjoyed reading it. It has led to a discussion on facebook and some of what was said has caused me to get back on my soapbox and throw out some thoughts. The topic today: realistic. And yes, the soapbox of cursing in Christian books.

In the discussion mentioned above, someone said the following: "Still. I run into a mental block... See More when I have a character in a situation that would realistically provoke profanity. It trips a switch in my head that says, "This doesn't sound right. Heck, I'D swear if this happened to me..."

I read a "Christian" novel a while back where there were a handful of curse words. It was an FBI/suspense type. I emailed the author and he defended it by saying that type of book isn't realistic without some curse words. Really?!

I am running onto this argumement more and more from Christian authors/publishers who are slipping them in. But by whose standard are we saying what is and isn't realistic? God's? I don't think so. His Word says we should be differerent. Our speech should be different, our lives - everything about us. That we are to focus on whatever is pure, good, etc. And that we are not to offend our Christian brother.

Have we become so jaded, so used to evil in our world, that if we read a book or watch a movie, that we think a lack of cursing is not realistic? If so, that is sad. Let me share a few other things that are not realistic by the world's standards

The God of the universe sending His only Son to die for all mankind, the very ones who rejected Him

The world and everything in it being created by this same God

Denying ourselves sinful pleasures and living for a world we have never seen, a God we have never seen

Living pure in today's defiled world

Marrying forever - and waiting til marriage for sex



Loving the unlovable


And yes, not cursing/swearing. Though I liked what Eric Wilson said, I was bothered by one statement he made on facebook: Kevin, I don't believe I'll ever resolve it either. If I'm writing for the Christian market, then I would not use a swear word--for the reasons Mark pointed out.

But I would use it in a novel not in that market, and personally be okay with it, if the story called for that (such as the war novel example given earlier).

A Christian should never be OK with using a curse word. Ever. I make no apologies for saying that. Is there ever a good reason to have sex outside of marriage? Is it ever realistic? Is it ever excusable? No. And though cursing is not on the same level, we have too easily compartmentalized and put sin into degrees of bad and good. Cursing - low on the sin scale, not very bad. Killing - high, very bad.

People, we are to be different. In this world, not of it. Yes, cursing may seem a small thing, and it may seem I harp on it a lot, but one major reason I read Christian fiction is to avoid that - so it bothers me to no end when they appear in Christian books.

Just a few thoughts here, but in closing..... if you think a movie, TV show, or a book is not realistic without curse words, ask yourself by whose standard is it not realistic. And remember, the fact that your sins have been forgiven by a God who has always been and will always be, is also not realistic.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stars In The Night by Cara Putman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stars In The Night
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)

Cara Putman

A Word From Cara:

I graduated from high school at sixteen, college at 20, and completed my law degree when I was 27.

My writing journey started in 2005 when I decided to write my first novel. Now I have eleven books published with more on the way.

People say I've accomplished a lot and that I must have life by the proverbial tail. Hardly! I grew up as a home schooled kid when home schoolers were misunderstood and oddities.

I struggle with balancing my writing and law career, plus being a good mom and wife.

I often fear people won't like my books.

I've walked through the deep pain of miscarriage.

Really, I'm just like you – I don't have it all together and have gone through tough times. But in His strength, I've discovered a strength I never knew I had. A strength I want you to discover, too.

In the end I'm just an ordinary mom who has seen God do some wonderful things as I've been obedient to step into the calling He's led me into.

Stars in the Night Background
Stars in the Night was an idea that had begun to percolate in my mind. I’d written two World War II series and was actively looking for my next setting. My husband, a huge World War II history buff, and I were kicking ideas around, and I’d decided Hollywood was probably the next place for me. I’d gone to the library and gotten a stack of research books when I got the call. An editor I knew but had never worked with wanted to know if I might be interested in a new line they were starting. As we talked, I got so excited. And then she emailed me their guidelines, which listed that Hollywood was a location they were interested in setting books.

Only God could have known ahead of time. But because I followed His prompting I was ready to run with an idea. Stars in the Night is the result.

Hollywood 1942. When attorney Audra Schaeffer's sister disappears, Audra flies to Hollywood to find her.

Any day Audra might have been flattered by the friendly overtures of Robert Garfield, a real-life movie star. But on the flight from Indianapolis to Hollywood, Audra can think of little else than finding her missing sister. When Audra arrives in the city of glitz and glamour, and stars, and learns her rising starlet sister has been murdered, all thoughts of romance fly away.

Determined to bring the killer to justice, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan.

Together with Robert Garfield and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States in a campaign to sell war bonds. When two other women are found dead on the train, Audra knows the deaths are tied to that of her sister.

Could the killer be the man with whom she's falling in love?

If you'd like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Stars In The Night, go HERE.

Contest: Lots of opportunities to win and great prizes, and the grand prize contains some of Cara's favorite classic movies as well as all of her WWII novels: Launch Contest!

My review:

Cara Putman was a new author for me, but this book was a very enjoyable read. There wasn't as much suspense as a Kathy Herman book, or other authors of the suspense genre', but there was enough to call this a suspense/mystery novel.

It is set during World War II in Hollywood, and I found the setting very interesting to read about, not only about the War period, but also about Hollywood during that time.
Putman filled her book with interesting and some odd characters which added to the story. Amid the romance, temperamental actors and actresses, is the suspense, mystery, and bodies piling up.

I recommend this book to readers of suspense/mystery, and to readers who don't normally read that type of novel - it is a delightful mystery, but not one that will cause a sleepless night.

This publisher did allow a curse word in a previous novel by another author, but I am happy to say that this novel is curse-free.

Thanks to Summerside Press for the review copy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

There is a reason for blond jokes...

This happened to me yesterday at the store I work at - proves there is truth in blond jokes :-).

I was ringing up 2 ladies' groceries, then totaled it. Instead of paying, the blond one was staring at the register screen, and the following conversation took place:

Her: but those paper plates are supposed to be 2 for $5!
Me: how much did they ring up at?(meanwhile looking for them on the screen)
Her: $2.49 a piece!
Me: Uh, that IS 2 for $5......
Her: Oh.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Sister Wife by Diane Noble

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Sister Wife
Avon Inspire (June 22, 2010)

Diane Noble


Diane Noble is a former double finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for Best Inspirational Fiction, a finalist for the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and the Reviewers' Choice Award, and a three-time recipient of the Silver Angel Award for Media Excellence.

With more than a quarter million books in print, Diane feels incredibly blessed to be doing what she loves best—writing the stories of her heart.

For the last three years Diane has been honored to be lead author for the popular Guideposts series, Mystery and the Minister’s Wife (Through the Fire, Angels Undercover), and has recently returned to writing historical fiction. She is currently writing book two of her new historical series, The Brides of Gabriel. Book one is The Sister Wife.

Diane’s hometown is Big Creek, California, a tiny village nestled in the rugged Sierra Nevada back country. As a child, Diane’s older brother Dennis fueled her creative streak by entertaining her with his own gift of storytelling. Growing up without TV and iffy radio reception, Diane became an avid reader, inhaling more than one hundred novels—both YA and adult—in a single

year by the time she reached seventh grade. Her passion for reading continues to this day.

Now empty nesters, Diane and her husband live in the Southern California low desert, near a place known for the lush and beautiful gated communities of the rich and famous.


What if the man you loved told you God wanted him to take another wife? What if that woman was your best friend?

Set in the heart of the earliest days of a new nineteenth-century sect known as the Saints, The Sister Wife is a riveting account of two women forced into a practice they don't understand, bound by their devotion to Prophet Joseph Smith.

When Mary Rose marries Gabriel, neither of them could foresee how quickly the community would turn to the practice of plural marriage. Devastated when Gabe is faced with an order from the Prophet to marry her best friend, Bronwyn, Mary Rose tries to have the faith to carry through with the marriage.

But can she really be married to the same man as her very best friend? Can Mary Rose and Bronwyn face betraying both their husband and their God to do what they feel is right?

If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of The Sister Wife, go HERE.

Watch the book video!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cast of Characters by Max Lucado

Book Description

Some of the most powerful stories from the Bible will come alive for today’s readers through these inspiring selections from the writings of Max Lucado. Max provides a compelling look at the most high-impact moments in the biblical narrative, drawn from his previous 20+ years of writing.

At the end of each chapter will be study guide questions so the reader can go deeper into this scripture.

Extraordinary stories are told about the following characters:

Mary, Peter, Matthew, Joseph, Nicodemus, Woman at the Well, David, Esther, Job, The Samaritan Woman, John, Rich Young Man, and more.

My review:

I have enjoyed some of Max Lucado's books more than others. This is one of his better ones. In it, he takes several Bibe characters and shows how God can work through simple, ordinary, and even the ones with messed up lives.

Lucado has a unique way of looking at things, and I enjoyed seeing the stories of these Bible characters through his eyes. Most of the chapters are fairly short, but it is an enjoyable read, and a great way to acquaint yourself with some of these Bible characters. He addresses questions such as after the woman caught in adultery went home, what did she say to her husband? After the demoniac was delivered, what did he do for a living?After Jairus’s daughter was raised from the dead, did she ever regret it? And more. Also with the style it is written in, it would make a great book for a group study, and even has study guide questions at the end of each chapter.
A recommended read.

About the author:

Max Lucado loves words – written, spoken – it does not matter. He loves to craft sentences that are memorable, inspiring and hopefully life-changing. In almost 25 years of writing, more than 65 million books filled with his words have been sold.

Max is the only author to have won three Christian Book of the Year* awards—in 1999 for Just Like Jesus, in 1997 for In the Grip of Grace, and in 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name. In 2005, Reader’s Digest magazine dubbed him “America’s Best Preacher” and in 2004, Christianity Today magazine called him “America’s Pastor.” The product line for 3:16—The Numbers of Hope sold more than four million units worldwide, including one million units of the cornerstone trade book of the same title (released in September 2007), making it the fastest selling Lucado product in his career.

His works have appeared on every major national bestseller list including Publishers Weekly, USA Today, The New York Times, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and Christian Booksellers Association. He has been featured in countless media outlets and national broadcasts.

Max’s writings have been published in a wide array of formats including adult books, gift books, children’s titles, Bibles, commentaries, calendars and devotionals. He is also the author/creator of “Max Lucado’s Hermie & Friends” brand family, one of the most popular animated DVD series in the marketplace, with more than 5 million units sold to date. His words have also inspired a branded line of greeting cards and gift books for Hallmark/Dayspring that has sold more than 15 million copies since its 2001 debut.

Max Lucado is a Minister of Preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, where he has served since 1988. He has been married to Denalyn Preston Lucado since 1981, and they have three grown daughters—Jenna, Andrea and Sara—and one son-in-law, Brett.

Cast of Characters is avaiable from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Back On Murder by J. Mark Bertrand

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Back On Murder
Bethany House (July 1, 2010)

J. Mark Betrand


J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota.

Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of a hung jury in Houston, and after relocating served on the jury that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead. Besides his personal website, visit his Crime Genre website at

The next book in this series, Pattern Of Wounds will come out in the summer of 2011.

Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out.

A missing girl. A corrupt investigation. They thought they could get away with it, but they forgot one thing:

Roland March is BACK ON MURDER...

Houston homicide detective Roland March was once one of the best. Now he's disillusioned, cynical, and on his way out. His superiors farm him out on a variety of punishment details. But when he's the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he's given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he's transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight--the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist's teen daughter.

All he has to do? Find the missing teenage daughter of a Houston evangelist that every cop in town is already looking for. But March has an inside track, a multiple murder nobody else thinks is connected. With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he's still one of Houston's best detectives.

Battling a new partner, an old nemesis, and the demons of his past, getting to the truth could cost March everything. Even his life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Back On Murder, go HERE.

My review:

Great book, and one of those read in one sitting kind. This is the debut solo novel by this author - he co-wrote one a few months ago, also suspense - and his debut solo is definitely worth reading.

He has created a unique hero for his story. A "has-been" cop, who has a chance to get back what he used to be - a great homicide cop. There are two cases going on in the book, and he gets shuffled back and forth between the two, only he convinced that the two are related.

There is a lot of police action and suspense, and I feel the author did a great job portraying the "behind the scenes" stuff in addition to the on the scene.

The book does start out a bit slow, but then it gains momentum and the major part of the book is very suspenseful and is hard to put down - so I didn't. :-) Very highly recommended by me to mystery and suspense readers.

And though this book was written in first person point of view, a style I don't care for, it is one of the better written first point of views that I have read and/or reviewed.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the review copy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Guideposts religion

Disclaimer:  This is not meant as an attack on the Guideposts magazine, though I do have some issues with it - no pun intended - and those will come out in this post, so if you are a big fan, you may be offended. :-)

Delilah, Diane Sawyer, Jeff Gordan, Dolly Parton, Ty Pennington, Marg Helgenberger. What do these people all have in common? Actually a couple of things  - they are celebrities, and they have appeared on the cover of Guidepost magazine. And according to Guideposts and the story about them, they are Christians.

Google Guideposts, and you get this description: "Inspirational stories of ordinary Americans whose faith in God, and the wisdom and examples of relatives or mentors, has comforted them through times of joy ..." (in light of the above names, maybe they should take out the "ordinary")

The magazine claims to be a non- denominational Christian magazine, and it seems that they are.

So why am I blogging about Guideposts? Every time I pick up an issue of it, and someone like the above celebrities is featured gushing about how God has helped them with whatever - I experience a couple of emotions. One is surprise - who knew that they were a Christian?! Next is disgust - if they are a Christian, then why do they appear in the types of movies they do, why do they do.....

I know. I'm judging. Or am I? The Bible says we can know people by their fruits. Lets pick on Diane Sawyer. Especially lately, she has been cheering on the liberal cause, and seems to delight in trying to take down conservatives. Fellow Christians. If she is truly a Christian, shouldn't she be doing the opposite? Work for maybe Fox News, and cheer on the cause of conservatism and Christianity? Every time I hear of her slanted liberal view of the news, I see her on the front of Guideposts - she actually was twice - and am disgusted. Thoroughly.

Now the above people, and scores of others who have appeared on the cover of Guideposts, may or may not be Christians. But if they are, then why is a shock when you find out they are claiming to be one? Shouldn't their actions, what they appear in or on be different?

It is going to take more than "Guideposts religion" to get to Heaven. Jesus said the world would hate us, not love us. They aren't going to be our fans and cheer us on if we live according to the Bible.

If you disagree, some time check out Kirk Cameron on (stands for international movie data base - or something like that) - there is a place at the bottom of actor's profiles, or movies, to comment. I checked his out several months back, and man, there were some vicious comments. Calling him a hypocrite, judgemental - stuff like that. And why? Because he sticks his neck out. He is careful what type of movie he is in - he won't even kiss another woman in a movie. He has standards and integrity, and the world doesn't get that, and neither do they like it. Is he perfect? Nah, not saying that at all - but if all of the so-called Christians on TV, in the music business, racing - whatever their career - if they had the same standards, they wouldn't be as popular either, or as well-liked.

Christians are supposed to be different. That isn't my idea, it is God's. So it makes sense that if a Christian is in the limelight, he isn't going to do the same things the non-Christians do, act the same way - he or she will stand out.

If Kirk Cameron appeared on the cover of Guideposts, how many people would be shocked that he claims to be a Christian? I doubt anyone who knows much about him - because though he may not live the same way I do, and have the same beliefs that I have, he does have standards and integrity, and isn't afraid to let it be known that he is a Christian. Does that narrow down the amount of movies he is in? It sure does, but I for one respect him for it.

I am going to make a statement that a lot of people may disagree with. Big shocker there. :-)  - I firmly believe if a person is a Christian, it is going to show and come out. If they sing, they will sing for God. If they write, they will write for God, If they act.... well, you get the picture.

Not all of us are in the limelight, but we rub shoulders with people daily. Would they be shocked to find that we are a Christian? I have not advertised the fact at my last couple of jobs, but it comes out. As it should.

These celebrities may measure up to Guideposts' standards, but what about God's? Are they living according to the Bible?

I do enjoy reading Guideposts. Sometimes there are stories I think are far fetched, and yeah, I don't get into the celebrities stories too much - but it IS a light magazine. To be non-denominational, they pretty much have to be. Guess that is how celebrities get on the cover.

I know this sounds like one of my rants, but it is a valid point - if we live for Christ, the world won't love us. And if we live for Him, it will make a difference in how we live our lives.

Christian fiction, or not? (updated)

Saw a Twitter and facebook comment from a lady who had just read a few books by an author, and was wondering why his books are classfied as Christian fiction. Her comment, without the author's name: "Someone please explain to me why ******'s books are sold as Christian Fiction. I have read "****", and "****". I see nothing Faith based about them. Just because there is no sex or profanity? Is that why?"

I have read the author's books she mentioned, and in fact just got his newest one to review - and though I like them, I have to agree with her. Though published by a Christian publisher, they really aren't Christian fiction, but clean secular fiction. Granted, they go a step above some books that do have the Christian elelment in as there is no cursing in his books.

But what is up with this? There is more than one author on the Christian market who does this. Writes a clean fiction book, usally curse free, but the characters are not Christian, or if they are, there is no indication. Some say the battle of good vs. evil with good winning is just the same or good as being Christian, but is it? Some knock the idea of a book where everyone is a Christian by the end, and that does seem overkill, but if it is Christian fiction, shouldn't God be in it somewhere?

I have a couple of questions about this:

1) If the author is a Christian, then shouldn't that be reflected in his writing by more than just a clean book?

2) And why keep God out of it, if the author is a Christian? If being a Christian is so great, if God is truly what living is all about - shouldn't that come out in a book a Christian writes?

3) Should a novel be classified as Christian if there are no Christian characters in it and God is absent?

4) What constitutes a book being Christian?

There are some secular fiction books that are curse free, sex free, completely clean - not many nowadays unless you go for juvenile fiction - but would we slap a Christian label on those books? No. But why not? Simply because they weren't published by a Christian publisher?

Take the Hardy Boys books - curse free - unlike some "Christian" fiction today - good vs. evil, the good always wins - yet I don't know of anyone ever classifying those as Christian fiction.

There are reasons I read Christian fiction: I want a clean read, free of sex and curses - which is why I get so upset when the latter appears in Christian books - and I like to read about even fictional characters who depend on God for the answer to their problems. When the latter is not there, I miss it.

Is it wrong or a Christian to write a book and leave God out of it? Not necessarily, but I go back to my premise that if God/Jesus is all important to him or her, then why leave Him out of the book?

Maybe it is time for new labels on the Christian book market. If God is not in the book, have it labeled "positve fiction". If cursing appears in the book, state so on the back.

I personally rarely read a secular fiction book. I can't remember the last time that I did. I am looking forward to reading this new book I have waiting from the author mentioned at the start of the post. Will I enjoy it? Most likely. Will I miss God and His workings in it? Most likely, unless the author has changed. Will I give it a positive review? Most likely, if it measures up to the rest in the series. Will I consider it Christian fiction? Not very likely.

I am not out to just nit pick about things like this. It does bother me, and I guess I will end by going back to the point I already repeated: If an author is a Christian, then why leave Him out of a book that is classified as Christian fiction? And you can write a good suspense/mystery novel that is definitelty Christian. Many do so.

Well, just some thoughts, but I always enjoy feedback, even if you don't agree - as long as you're nice about it. :-) And if you do comment, tell what you think Christian fiction should be.

I ran onto the author's blog, and he addresses this very issue, so I am going to link to it. I understand what he says, though I don't totally agree, as I feel Christian fiction should have God in it and His workings. The book of Esther has been used to defend the idea of not having a Christian element in it, but God's hand is clearly seen throughout the book, and why did they fast - to get Him to move - so not quite a good defense.

Before I post the link, let me say I really enjoy this author's books - a lot - and yes, the lack of a Christian element does bother me, but I am not trying to pick on him, and will continue to read his books. Now, here is the link.

Why I love summer

Some of my cold weather loving friends are wailing and moaning about the heat. It IS hot, but I still love summer, and will take it over winter any day - why? Here are a few reasons.....

1) Warmer toilet seats!
2) No jackets needed
3) Bare feet. Outside.
4) No warming up cars needed
5) No cleaning off cars
6) Beautiful green everywhere - along with gorgeous blue skies - unlike the bleak greyness of winter....
7) more hours of daylight
8) vacations
9) clear roads, 24/7
10) gardens
11) cook-outs
12) outdoor games (the kind you can't play in the snow)
13) no snow!!!!!!!!!!!

Profanity In Christian Fiction

No, I'm not on one of my favorite soapboxes, just passing on the link to someone who is talking about it:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tomorrow We Die by Shaun Grady

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Tomorrow We Die
Bethany House (July 1, 2010)

Shawn Grady

Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. He is the author of the novels Through the Fire & Tomorrow We Die.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University as a Theology undergrad before shifting direction to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.

Chase the Angel of Death and You Might Catch Him

Jonathan Trestle is a paramedic who's spent the week a few steps behind the angel of death. When he responds to a call about a man sprawled on a downtown sidewalk, Trestle isn't about to lose another victim. CPR revives the man long enough for him to hand Trestle a crumpled piece of paper and say, "Give this to Martin," before being taken to the hospital.

The note is a series of dashes and haphazard scribbles. Trestle tries to follow up with the patient later, but at the ICU he learns the man awoke, pulled out his IVs, and vanished, leaving only a single key behind. With the simple decision to honor a dying man's last wish, Jonathan tracks the key to a nearby motel where he finds the man again--this time not just dead but murdered. Unwilling to just let it drop, Jonathan is plunged into a mystery that soon threatens not only his dreams for the future but maybe even his life. He must race for the truth before the Angel of Death comes calling for him.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Tomorrow We Die, go to HERE.

My review:
In my opinion, this book had a slow start. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but after a while, things sped up and I did get into it. I did enjoy the book - it had a good plot and great characters. It was written in the first point of view, not my favorite style, and I  think the third person point of view would have worked better for this book - and not just saying that because of my preference.

The further in the book I got, the more suspenseful it got, and did reach a suspensful and satisfying end. There is a lot of medical talk in the book, but I feel it is more interesting since the author is a paramedic and knows what he is talking about. I look forward to reading more from this author, but hope his next novel is third person point of view. His first book, Through The Fire, was also in the first POV, but it worked better for that one. Regardless, this was a good read, and I recommend it to suspense/mystery lovers.

Nightmare by Robin Parrish

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bethany House (July 1, 2010)

Robin Parrish


Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about the intersection of faith and pop culture for more than a decade. Currently he serves as Senior Editor at, a community portal that fuses social networking with magazine-style features about entertainment and culture.

He had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist. In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract with Bethany House Publishers. They contracted him for the rights to The Dominion Trilogy: Relentless (2006), Fearless (2007), and Merciless (2008). His science fiction thriller, Offworld came out in 2009. This summer debuts Nightmare, and he's working on another for 2011. Robin and his wife and children live in North Carolina.

The Nightmare is Coming...

Ghost Town is the hottest amusement park in the country, offering state-of-the-art chills and thrills involving the paranormal. The park's main ride is a haunted house that promises an encounter with a real ghost.

When Maia Peters visits during her senior year of college, she's not expecting to be impressed. Maia grew up as the only child of a pair of world-renowned "ghost hunters," so the paranormal is nothing new and to her most of the park is just Hollywood special effects. In fact, the ride feels pretty boring until the very end. There, a face appears from the mist. The face of Jordin Cole, a girl Maia knows who disappeared from campus a few months ago.

Convinced what she saw wasn't a hoax and desperate to find answers to Jordin's disappearance, Maia launches into a quest for answers. Joined by Jordin's boyfriend--a pastor's kid with very different ideas about paranormal and the spirit realm--Maia finds herself in a struggle against dangerous forces she never expected to confront on the edge of the spirit realm that try to keep the truth from emerging.

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

My review:
I got this book pretty late, and due to having other books waiting to review, have not had the chance to read it. It looks interesting, yet bizarre - about the paranormal and ghosts, but has gotten some good reviews. After I read it, I may try to post an actual review.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Town Square

To my surprise, the town I live in, Lisbon, Ohio - is on Wikipedia and it even has this picture of the court house and town square:

Let Freedom Ring

Though this isn't just talking about patriotic freedom, it is an awesome song. If you have never heard it, give it a listen, Let Freedom Ring by The Gaither Vocal Band:

Deep within the heart has always known that there was freedom
Somehow breathed into the very soul alive
The prisoner, the powerless, the saved have always known it
There?s something that keeps reaching for the sky

Even life begins because a baby fights for freedom
And songs we love to sing have freedom?s theme
Some have walked through fire and flood to find a place of freedom
And some faced hell itself for freedom?s dream

Let freedom ring wherever minds know what it means to be in chains
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
We can be free and we can sing --- let freedom ring

God built freedom into every fiber of creation
And He meant for us to all be free and whole
When my Lord bought freedom with the blood of His redemption
His cross stamped pardon on my very soul

I?ll sing it out with every breath, I?ll let the whole world hear it
This hallelujah anthem of the free
That iron bars and heavy chains can never hold us captive
The Son has made us free and free indeed

Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
You can be free and you can sing --- let freedom ring --- let freedom ring

Nightshade Winner

Forgot to post this earlier, but Merry, comment #9, was the winner of Nightshade by Ronie Kendig. I actually had to pull a second winner as Ronie herself was picked first by :-) Merry has been notified, and her book has been mailed out by the author. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Titles for people.... getting controversial

This is me being controversial again. :-) Seriously, this is something that I have thought about and wonder about, so I'm going to throw my thoughts out there and see if anyone wants to agree or disagree.

Titles for people: Mister, Doctor, Reverend, Misses, President, Queen.... some people really get into them. I had a pastor a few years back, who if you called him by his first name, instead of "Brother..." or Reverend...", you got the high beams. I never tried it, but I have my ways of knowing. There are people who get their doctorate in different things, so people refer to them as "Doctor...".

I went to Bible college with my pastor, who is a couple of years younger than me. Even though he is my pastor, I feel weird calling him by anything other than his first name, Stan. Some people seem shocked if you refer to your pastor by his first name, but is it really a big deal?

I have a point I am getting to, believe it or not. I get it that titles can be a sign of respect, such as President Bush, Doctor Livingstone, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, etc. But what about people who demand and expect titles? Is that pride, or something else? And is it wrong to refer to everyone by their given name? Is it wrong or disrespectful to refer to your pastor by his first name? The president? The scholar who has gotten his doctorate? An older fellow church member?

If you replied yes to any of those questions, then here is what I am driving at: why do we get so hung up on titles when we refer to the very God of the universe by His given name? To our Savior, Jesus, by His given name? To the countless saints in the Bible by their given names - are we putting ourselves above them if we demand to be called by a certain title? I'm not just trying to be controversial here - though I guess I am being so, but I have thought about this - is it really disrespectful or wrong to call everyone by their given names instead of by their titles when we are all so much lower than God, His Son, and the saints of the Bible, who we freely refer to by their given names?

I agree there are different settings and times in life where titles may be important - for there to be any respect in school, kids can't be calling teachers by their first names - and maybe some other situations/settings in life - but what about it - if we have a title and expect to be called by it - are we saying we are greater than God and the saints of the Bible? I am sure that isn't the idea people have, but when you put it in that light, I'd say none of us should put stake in a title. I guess what really gets me is people who pursue their doctorate in some study and then everyone is expected to call them "Doctor." Why? Because they went to school longer, or are smarter? :-)

I have a couple of titles. My nephews and nieces call me "Uncle Mark" some. They also call me "Mark" and even "Markie" (they are the only ones allowed to call me that!)  - sometimes at church, someone will call me "Brother", and I get "Mister" some, which only makes me feel old. I guess sometimes a title can be a sign of affection, such as "uncle".

Something to consider, actually two things: the ground is level at Calvary. God doesn't care about titles when we kneel at the cross. The other - up in Heaven, titles aren't going to matter either. We will all be equal there.

So.... any thoughts on titles? Getting hung up on them, and what about my point about calling God and His Son by His given name? Just be nice. :-)