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,, 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

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)
Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman


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.


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)
Shelley Shepard Gray


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


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.

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, 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 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:

~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.


~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.


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:

 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 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.

The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson.....and a giveaway

The small town of Parrish Springs is not quite ready for Matilda Honeycutt.

A strange older woman with scraggly gray hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda is certainly not the most likely person to buy the old Barton Building on the town's quaint main street. When it becomes apparent that her new shop doesn't fit the expectations of Parrish Springs residents, a brouhaha erupts. After all, Christmas is approaching, and the last thing the town needs is a junky shop run by someone who looks and acts like a gypsy. But as townsfolk venture into the strange store, they discover that old memories can bring new life and healing.

Once again, Melody Carlson delivers a Christmas story that will touch hearts and delight the senses. Sure to be a classic, The Christmas Shoppe is filled with the special magic the best Christmas stories share—that intangible mixture of nostalgia, joy, and a little bit of magic.

My review:
I have almost come to equate Melody Carlson with Christmas stories. She has authored several Christmas novels, having come out with one yearly for the last several Christmases.

As with any of Melody's Christmas novels, this book is filled with interesting and unique characters, not the least of those Matilda Honeycutt. And as with any of Melody's Christmas books, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The plot was very original, and the setting and characters were top notch, the kind of setting that makes you want to step into the story and explore the town.

There is usually a lesson to be learned by the characters and/or a change to be made in a Melody Carlson Christmas novel, and these characters needed to learn a lesson or two, lessons good for the reader also: don't judge a person by their outward appearance, and we need to hold onto good memories.

I really enjoyed this book, and read it in one evening. It is the type of book that helps the reader focus on what is important not just at Christmas, but all of the time.

About the author:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, Double Take, The Jerk Magnet, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books in 2010 and 2011. She and her husband live in central Oregon. For more information about Melody visit her website at
Thanks to the author and her husband, Chris, I have one copy of The Christmas Shoppe to give away. I will pick a winner using two weeks from today on December 1.
To enter, go to Melody's website. There are seven Christmas books listed on her website. She has 2 collections of 3-in-1 books, those don't count, list one of the 7 original :-)
The Christmas Shoppe is available from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Thanks to Donna at Revell for the review copy, and Chris and Melody Carlson for the giveaway copy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Can one Christmas change a life forever?

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls begging him to come home after his stepfather has an aneurysm, Rick is more than a little reluctant. What was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and dealing with the homeless guy who keeps hanging around the store. The one bright spot is the lovely and intriguing young woman who works at his side each day.

As Christmas nears, Rick's old life beckons, the hurts from his past loom large, and the decisions he makes will determine more than just where he spends Christmas Eve.

With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story that will have you remembering every good and perfect gift of Christmas.

My review:
Dan Walsh totally captivated me with his first book, also a Christmas novel, The Unfinished Gift. This not a review of that book, but if you haven't read it, you need to - totally awesome. It is possibly the best Christmas novel I  have ever read.

This is a totally different story, but it was a terrific and very moving story also. Walsh has again created some great and likable characters. The story also has some very unexpected twists and turns.

Remembering Christmas is a book that would be great to sit by a fire with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. It gets at the heart of Christmas: giving, family, and God. There is a slow progression of change in the main character, and a lesson that he learns that would be good for all of us: we should be careful of how we treat the people that cross our path, for they might not be who we think they are. (Read the book to see what that means).

I enjoy a good Christmas story and jump at the chance to read and/or review one. And this one did not disappoint. Walsh has written another great Christmas story that is sure to entertain, move, and help focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

About the author:

Dan Walsh is the award-winning author of The Unfinished Gift, The Homecoming, The Deepest Waters, and Remembering Christmas. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years. He lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna at Revell for the review copy.

Mike Dellosso

One of the authors that I read started a new venture. In a nutshell, he picked 20 people to be more involved in his work as an author. One thing he asked of us was to help spread the word about his books, so I am going to try to help him out on that.

I would compare his writing to Frank Peretti's style, especially his earlier books. They are suspensful, often having supernatural aspects like Peretti's early books.

His first book was Hunted, which I think is his only book I did not review:

A town’s deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith…

After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills. With rumors spreading of a rogue lion roaming the woods, he embarks on a mission to learn the truth. As he peels away the layers of Dark Hills, he discovers a secret that has been shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence. Will his young faith be strong enough to battle the demonic forces behind it?

Mike's second book was Scream. I had won a book through a blog and already had it, so I traded with another winner and got Scream. I liked it so well, I posted a short review of it here.

Otherworldly Screams…

A Madman on the Loose…

This Time the Stakes Are Higher Than Ever
While talking to his friend on the phone, Mark Stone is startled by a cacophony of otherworldly screams. Seconds later, a tragic accident claims his friend’s life. When this happens several more times—screams followed by an untimely death—he is compelled to act.

Battling his failure as a husband and struggling with his own damaged faith, Mark embarks on a mission to find the meaning behind the screams and hopefully stop death from calling on its next victim. When his estranged wife is kidnapped and he again hears the screams as she calls from her cell phone, his search becomes much more personal and much more urgent.

Darlington Woods was next, and I received a copy of it to review. Review is here.

Something evil is drawing them here . . .

Rob Shields has just lost his wife and son. Battling depression, denial, and an irrational fear of darkness, Rob travels to the small town of Mayfield, MD to check out a house he has inherited from his great aunt Wilda, a woman he has never even met. There in Mayfield strange things begin to happen that lead Rob to believe his son, Jimmy, is not really dead. After a restless night and eerie dream, Rob is convinced the answer to the mystery surrounding Jimmy’s disappearance and alleged death is to be found in a village called Darlington, a town found on no map.

Teaming up with a quirky local waitress who insists she has been there, Shields begins his quest to find the truth about the town—and his son. In Darlington, Rob and Juli come face to face with the town’s secret, creatures called Darklings inhabit the night and instill paralyzing fear in Darlington’s citizens. Their search for Jimmy leads them into the woods surrounding Darlington where, once in, there seems to be no way out.

Darkness Follows is Mike's latest book, which just came out back in May of this year. I also received a copy of it to review. That can be found here.
Sam Travis is a man on the brink of despair . . .

Out of a job and feeling worthless, Sam Travis is awakened one night to the sounds of a Civil War battle raging outside his Gettysburg home. But it’s the middle of the night, and the summer reenactments are long over. A search for the source brings him to an old journal by a Union soldier . . . written in his own handwriting.

When more of the mysterious writings appear and begin to mimic Sam’s own life, his search for the truth puts him on a downward spiral that eventually drives him from his wife, his daughter, and his home–and into an evil plot that could cost many lives, including his own.

I had Mike do a guest blog when I reviewed Darlington Woods. That can be seen here.

And I posted an in interview with Mike when I reviewed Darkness Follows. The link for that is here.

Although Mike only has 4 books published so far, he has quickly become one of my favorite authors. He also has a blog he writes on regularly. It is here.

If you enjoy suspense with a touch of the supernatural, check out his books.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Story of Your Life by Matthew West and Angela Thomas

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 authors are:

and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Matthew West is a recording artist whose singles have topped the charts and been named Billboard’s Most Played Christian Songs in 2004, 2009, and 2010. “The Motions” also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Song in 2010. His albums have sold more than 275,000 copies.

Visit the Matthew's website.

Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including When Wallflowers Dance.

Visit the author's website.


When Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West started writing his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life (Sparrow, 2010) he asked fans to submit personal experiences. More than 10,000 tales of hope, perseverance, and redemption poured in. With friend and author Angela Thomas, West presents some of these powerful stories paired with meaningful devotions they inspired.

Wendy gave birth to her daughter in jail. When all seemed hopeless, she found God and her life transformed into something beautiful.

Cory, a married youth pastor, had an affair and his life fell apart. With God’s mercy, he and his wife gathered the broken pieces and started again.

Sheila always struggled with severe insecurity. Now she lives confidently in the purpose God has for her.

This unforgettable devotional journey inspires readers to discover God as the author of their unique lives and to share the power of their story.

Also available this season—a companion DVD of the same title and an interactive standalone guide Experiencing the Story of Your Life, which allows readers to personalize and explore more deeply the messages of God’s hope and redemption in their stories.

Before Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West wrote his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life, he asked fans to submit their faith stories. Thousands of powerful tales of hope and redemption poured in. Now West and author Angela Thomas share these amazing stories and the meaningful devotions they inspired.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943986
ISBN-13: 978-0736943987


Who is the Author
of Your Story?

From Lajos   …

I grew up in Communist Hungary and escaped in 1987 at age 21. I went to a refugee camp as an atheist who mocked Christians, and 18 months later I came out of it turning my life over to Christ. It was a trying, dramatic, and sometimes traumatic experience. But in the middle of what should have been my most hopeless days and nights, I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I was not alone and the peace that came along with it.

I went to Canada in 1988. Starting a new life in a new country as a 23-year-old was truly challenging. Without my newly found faith, I probably could not have done it. Now I am following Christ and serving Him by going on mission trips. I want the world to know there is a God, a God who is with us in our darkest moments.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers of rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-17).

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…(Hebrews 12:2 nasb).

Matthew Responds   …

Who is the author of your story? How did you get here? Do you see the world as nothing more than one big coincidence after another? Did the oceans just tell themselves they could go only so far? Did the sun just appear out of nowhere? What about all the billions of stars in the galaxies or the intricate design of a human life? Is there an answer for all these questions?

When your eyes see a majestic snowcapped mountain climbing a mile high in the Rockies, does the experience leave you awestruck and amazed? When you hold a newborn baby in your arms, are you filled with wonder as you touch the tiny hands and toes and ears? When you witness a great big world with billions of people moving in billions of directions, does your heart scream, “This can’t be mere coincidence! This could not be the work of human hands! There’s no way this all just happened!”

Even the English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle concluded, “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that ‘a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.’ ”

Sadly, more and more people are choosing the former way of thinking. In fact, many studies and polls report that atheism is on the rise both in America and around the world. This really should come as no surprise in a society that places so much emphasis on self-sufficiency. Nike prompted us, “Just Do It.” Burger King invited us, “Have It Your Way.” Apple Computers promised their products would give us “The Power to Be Your Best.”

In our world, all signs point to the notion that you and I are the ones who write the stories of our lives. And so people are choosing to believe there is nothing to believe in. Atheists believe there is no God. And to believe there is no God is to believe we are the authors of our own stories. Yet how can we be the authors of a story we never created? You were not the one who came up with the idea to create you. The decision of whether to believe in God is the foundation that every soul will build its story upon. The story of your life is being written every moment of every day, even as you read this right now. The question you must ask is, who is holding the pen?

In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren begins his very first chapter by establishing where we must first look if we are to find a story with true purpose.

You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.

Warren goes on to tell the story of Russian novelist, Andrei Bitov who had a similar experience to our story of Lajos.

Andrei…grew up under an atheistic Communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, “In my twenty-seventh year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God’s light.”

There it is. Without God life makes no sense. Without God our stories have no meaning, no purpose. We live, we die, and that’s it. Our stories end when we die. Oh, what a sad existence if this is true. I once wrote a lyric in a song called “The World Needs a Savior” that reads, “Atheists, there are no atheists when the plane’s going down and you’re crying out for one more chance.” I wrote that line thinking about the reality that when people face crisis, they reach out for help. When our nation, which fights for separation of church and state, fell victim to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, we came together to pray.

I remember something my mom often did when I was a kid and we were in the car. Anytime she was forced to slam on her brakes or swerve out of the way to avoid an accident, her knee-jerk reaction was to stretch her arm out across whoever was sitting in the front seat, either my brother or me, and shout a prayer: “Jesus, help us!” My mom is a praying woman. She always has been, both in times of triumph and times of crisis. She knows whom she can call upon. She knows the all-knowing and all-powerful God. She knows that God hears us when we call out to Him in a whisper of praise or a cry for help.

Whom do you call out to in times of crisis? Lajos was once convinced God did not exist. But in the middle of his loneliest, most desperate hour, this “atheist who mocked Christians” cried out to Jesus. “I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I was not alone and the peace that came along with it,” he said as the undeniable presence of our Creator turned this atheist into a believer. Lajos handed over the pen right then and there, choosing to make God the author of his story.

Maybe you are thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. I believe in God. I’m no atheist.” Well, let me leave you with this one question. Who is really holding the pen? It is possible to believe in God, go to church, tithe, and do all the things Christians do without fully submitting the story of your life to the true “author and finisher” of our faith. It is a daily struggle to determine who holds the pen, but surrendering our stories to the One who “holds all things together” is the only true way for the stories of our lives to be filled with meaning and purpose.
My review:
This was a very enjoyable book to read. Each chapter begins with a letter someone wrote telling about their life, some from people who overcame some major battles and trials. After each letter, is a reponse by Matthew or Angela.

This is a very encouraging book. Not only are some of the stories very encouraging, but the comments by the authors are right on and very encouraging. I recommend this book to anyone who needs some encouragement.

Thanks to FIRST and Harvest House for the review copy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Three Trees by Elena Pasquali

Three forest trees dream of what they will one day become. One dreams of becoming a royal throne; one of being a ship that can withstand any storm; and one longs to stay in the forest and grow as tall as tall can be. When they are felled, it seems their dreams are over. But as each tree is crafted into a new item--a manger, a fishing boat, and a rugged cross—it becomes clear that through the role they play in one important life their hopes are more than fulfilled.

This traditional folktale is accompanied by stylish artwork from a highly sought-after children's book illustrator, and will help set the Christmas and Easter stories into the overall context of the Christian faith.

My review:I have always loved this story, and was happy to see it come up for review. There have been several versions of this done over the years by different authors and publishers. This newest is from Kregel Publishing, and a new author.  This version is done very well. The author did a great job of telling this familiar story, and the illustrator also did a great job of illustrating the book.

If you are not familiar with the story, it is the story of three young trees who all have aspirations of what they want to be when they grow up. It looks like they are going to be totally different from what they wanted, but in the end they turn out to be so much greater than they had dreamed.

 This is a great book for kids and grown-ups alike, and if you don't own a copy of this timeless story, this would be a great addition to your library.

About the author:
Elena Pasquali studied romance languages at university and has a special interest in researching folk tales. She worked for some years in children's publishing before going on to be an author in her own right.

About the illustrator:
Sophie Windham has illustrated books for Bloomsbury and Orchard and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal for Unicorns! Unicorns! by Geraldine McCaughrean.

The Three Trees is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Proof of Heaven
William Morrow Paperbacks (November 1, 2011)
Mary Curran Hackett


Mary Curran Hackett is the mother of two children, Brigid Claire and Colm Francis, and is married to Greg Hackett. She received an MA in English Literature from the University of Nebraska and a BA from the University Honors Program at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Danbury, CT, she has traveled extensively and lived in various places throughout the U.S., but her favorite place in the world is home with her kids, husband, and her stacks of books. Like her character Colm Magee, Mary suffers various heart and brain ailments, but thanks in part to her brother, a physician, as well as her own doctors, she now has a pacemaker and a heart that beats on its own at least most of the time. This is her first novel.


A mother’s faith, a child’s courage, a doctor’s dedication—a moving and thought-provoking tale of hope, love, and family.

He might be young, but Colm already recognizes the truth: that he’s sick and not getting better. His mother, Cathleen, fiercely believes her faith will protect her ailing son, but Colm is not so sure. With a wisdom far beyond his years, Colm has come to terms with his probable fate, but he does have one special wish. He wants to meet his father who abandoned his beloved mother before Colm was born.

But the quest to find the dying boy’s missing parent soon becomes a powerful journey of emotional discovery—a test of belief and an anxious search for proof of heaven.

A magnificent debut novel, Mary Curran Hackett’s Proof of Heaven is a beautiful and unforgettable exploration of the power of love and the monumental questions of life, death, and the afterlife.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paper Angels

Country singer Jimmy Wayne discusses his new book, Paper Angels, and his growing up years. Worth watching.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Valley of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Valley of Dreams
Bethany House (November 1, 2011)
Lauraine Snelling


Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has up to sixty books published.

Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

As a most sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books more often, and Lauraine would like to comply ... if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Winston. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.


Addy Lockwood's mother died when she was little, so Addy traveled with her father's Wild West Show and became an amazingly skillful trick rider, likened by some to the famous Annie Oakley. When her father died, she continued to work with the show, having nowhere else to go.

Now Addy has discovered that "Uncle" Jason, the show's manager, has driven the show into debt, and he's absconded with what little money was left. Devastated, Addy decides to try to find the hidden valley where here father had dreamed of putting down roots. She has only one clue. She needs to find three huge stones that look like fingers raised in a giant hand. With Chief, a Sioux Indian who's been with the show for twenty years, and Micah, the head wrangler, she leaves both the show and a bundle of heartache behind and begins a wild and daring adventure.

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

The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If Halloween were Christmas

I am not a big fan of Halloween, but I am also not one to make a big deal about not liking it. Imagine for a moment though, if the stores and media treated Halloween as we do Christmas....

We would have "holiday" costumes

Trick or treating is a Halloween word, so it would be called "nocturnal door knockers" or something ridiculous like that.

No more Jack O Lanterns. Squash with an atttiude would be in. Orange and black would be outlawed at schools

No more witches. Evil women with items to sweep the floor

No ghosts. Visitors from another world.

No more Halloween candy. "Holiday candy"

No more Haunted House, hayrides, etc. It would be a "scary place"

I wonder how far they would take it. Sounds stupid doesn't it, but they already do it with Christmas.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Guardian by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

Plunge into the world of seen and unseen forces in The Guardian. Anna Riley has just come into possession of a two-thousand-year old scroll that God gave to John the Disciple. Her mission—to guard the scroll and unlock its secret. Jason Lang, her protector, has his work cut out for him as they begin their journey around the world, facing corruption and dodging bullets—all the while trying to keep his attraction to Anna at bay. Will he succeed in defending the woman he’s vowed to protect? Will Anna, forced to trust other people to stay alive, fulfill the challenge that she’s accepted?

My review:
Just within a period of a few days, I received three different books to review all having to do with a scroll. This was one of the three, and the most riveting and interesting of the three.

It starts out with the idea that in the book of Revelation when John is commanded to eat a book, that he regurgitates that book, or scroll, and his descendants have been charged with the safekeeping of that scroll down through the ages.

Enter Anna Riley. Upon the death of a grandfather she didn't even know was alive, she has the responsibility of the scroll's safe keeping thrust upon her.

I really loved and enjoyed this book. It had non-stop action and suspense, something that I love in a book, and the plot was terrific. There was a lot of globe-trotting from the Vatican to London and places in between.

The conclusion of the book was something totally unexpected, but was a great ending. This story is truly a masterpiece of fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not put it down until I had finished it. This was the first book from this writing duo, and I am eagerly anticipating their second book, and definitely plan on reading it.

About the authors:

Robbie Cheuvront

Robbie is the worship pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, and cofounder of C&R Ministries with Erik. He is also a songwriter and formerly toured with BNA recording artists, Lonestar. Robbie is married to Tiffany and has two children, Cason and Hadyn, and is  currently pursuing a theology degree.

Erik Reed

Erik is the lead pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, Tennessee. He graduate from Western Kentucky University with a B.A. in Religious Studies. He also graduated with his MDiv from Southern Seminary. Erik is married to Katrina, with two children, Kaleb and Kaleigh.

Check out their website.

Read the first chapter of The Guardian here.

Book trailer:

Author interview:

The Guardian is available from Barbour Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.