Friday, August 31, 2012

Story by Steven James

Recapture the mystery of God's story

With stunning imagery, powerful poetry, and real-life drama, Story is an inspiring journey from the creation of the world to eternity and everything in between. Consummate storyteller Steven James threads together familiar scenes from Scripture that will awaken your faith and inspire you to live in the reality of Christ's sacrifice. As he untangles the intricacies of the whole story of the Bible, you will rediscover the majesty and the mystery you've been missing.

My review:

I am a big fan of Steven James' suspense series, The Patrick Bowers series. He is an excellent author, and that is an awesome series. It was different reading this type of book by him when I am used to the page turning suspense that I normally read from him.

Although totally different from those books, this book does the same thing that they do. They show what a tremendous writer he is. This book is basically the story of the Bible in a short book, but he tells it with a great poetic style that breathes new life into what we have read so many times. It does not detract from the Biblical narrative, but only adds to it.

Scattered throughout the book are James' personal thoughts and stories that go from amusing to serious. This book shows how diverse his writing talents are. Anyone who wants a fresh look at the Bible would benefit from reading this book. It is thoughtful and well done, and a very interesting read.

About the author:

Critically acclaimed author Steven James has written more than thirty books, including Story, A Heart Exposed, and the bestselling Patrick Bowers thriller series. He is considered one of the nation's most innovative storytellers and versatile authors, and is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest. Steven lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna at Revell for the review copy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Duke's Promise by Jamie Carie

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Duke's Promise
B&H Books (September 1, 2012)
Jamie Carie


As Jamie’s relationship with God grew, she discovered her heart was filled with songs and poetry. During high school she wrote lyrics for her brother’s band. (And she sang them too!) After college, Jamie married, had two sons and decided to stay home with them. While she homeschooled she wrote skits, poems, plays and short stories for school and church.

When her eldest son turned five she dove into the world of novels. She’d read romance novels for years, but couldn’t relate to the flawless, saintly heroines in Christian romance novels. So she decided to write her own.

Snow Angel was born on a frosty night in an old farmhouse in Fishers, Indiana, where the cold floor gave plenty of motivation for the snow scene. Jamie loves to write late at night when the house is quiet and the darkness seems alive. Elizabeth and Noah had been playacting in her head for a long time, so the story went fast.

Ten years later Snow Angel was published and won the ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, was a National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and a 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. It was the beginning of her dream career.

Jamie and her husband Tony have been married for twenty-one years and live in Indianapolis with their three sons and a giant of a dog named Leo.

If she could only say one thing to her readers it would be, “Live the dreams God has destined you for!”


From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen -- Italy and the marble caves of Carrara -- but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.

Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other -- a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Duke's Promise, go HERE.

Living In Harmony by Mary Ellis

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Living in Harmony
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Mary Ellis


Mary Ellis is the author of many books, including A Widow's Hope,

Sarah's Christmas Miracle, and A Marriage for Meghan. She and her

husband live in central Ohio, where they try to live a simpler style of life.

She was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for A Widow's Hope in

2010, and the 3inner of the Award of Merit in the Holt Medallion Awards

for A Widow's Hope in 2010.


Living in Harmony is the first book in bestselling author Mary Ellis's New Beginnings series. It's about fresh starts and love...and how faith in God and His perfect plan for our lives provides us with the peace and joy we desire.

Amy King--young, engaged, and Amish--faces difficult challenges in her life when she suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. Her fiancé, John Detweiler, persuades her and her sister Nora to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who can help the women in their time of need.

John's brother Thomas and sister-in-law Sally readily open their home to the three newcomers. Wise beyond his years, Thomas, a minister in the district, refuses to marry Amy and John upon their arrival, suggesting instead a period of adjustment and counseling.

During this time Amy discovers an aunt who was shunned. She wishes to reconnect with her, but this puts a strain on her relationship with John.

Can John and Amy find a way to live in happily in Harmony before making a lifetime commitment to one another?

Watch the book trailer for Living in Harmony:

If you would like to read the first chapter of Living in Harmony, go HERE.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tea Party Culture War by Stephen Johnson

America stands at a crossroads: culturally, economically, and politically. Enter The Tea Party Movement, whose focus is primarily fiscal conservatism, government accountability, and reduced taxation.

Currently, America suffers from a clash of worldviews, but the issue is much deeper than politics; it is ultimately a spiritual battle between good and evil. For the sake of generations to come, we need to win this war. We need to take action to defend our beliefs. We need to take the right road.

My review:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I asked for this book to review. I consider myself a member of the Tea Party, and am a conservative voter, so I was hoping it was a positive portrayal of the Tea Party, and it is. The book is a lot more than that though.

The author crams a lot of information into this book. He goes back and talks about Karl Marx and his ideology and how they have tried to bring that into the US over the years, and other similar ideas, but they have never gotten very far because of the Christianized ideology of America.

Everyone should read this book. The author does a great job of showing what is at stake here in America, and how we need to elect not Democrats or Republicans, but true conservatives.

I enjoyed reading the book and I indeed learned a lot about both liberal and conservative ideas and agendas, and am more convinced than ever that we need real change in America.

About the author:

Steve JohnstonA long-time resident of California, author and economist, Steve Johnston, B.S.,
J.D., earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Western State University of Law and a Theological degree from Calvary Chapel School of Ministry. Mr. Johnston has over 20 years experience in prison ministry and Bible teaching, and has served as a chaplain in Orange County and Los Angeles jails as well as Pelican Bay, a California maximum security prison. The author of When Is Judgment Day? (Anomalos, 2008), Mr. Johnston describes his book, The Tea Party Culture War (WinePress, 2011) as a systematic manifesto of the Tea Party Movement. Mr. Johnston and his wife of 38 years divide their time between homes in Palm Desert, California and Brookings, Oregon. They have one adult daughter and one granddaughter.

Tea Party Culture War is available from Winepress Publishing.

Thanks to Winepress and Litfuse for the review copy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fully Alive by Ken Davis

Food labels, advertisements, politicians, self-help books – they all promise the same things: a better life . . . or – as Jesus might put it – life to the fullest.

For millions this pursuit of happiness has captivated, ensnared, and, most disappointingly, it has alluded. Which begs the question, what is the missing link? Fully Alive explores the idea that God is glorified when man is "fully and eternally alive," illustrated by best-selling author and motivational speaker Ken Davis's most honest and intimate stories.

Ken invites us to walk with him on a journey, along a road of heartache and adventure to a place he calls "the land of the living," and discover what may be missing in our lives.

A poignant and entertaining storyteller, Davis points out the practical steps necessary to live this way – everything from lightening up to taking a quality of life assessment, to overcoming trials – while also revealing the power of Christ's resurrection available for each of us.

Get a taste of the beautiful urgency of today and begin moving toward a change in your life that draws from the joy and power that can be found only in Christ.

My review:

I can't remember if I have ever read anything by Ken Davis before, but I have watched him on DVD and YouTube and find him funny, so I was happy to see a book by him come up for review.

I have recently made some changes in my life: weight loss, attitude, etc, and this book was just what I needed to read. Davis talks a lot about his realization that he needed to make some changes in his life such as eating habits, exercise, weight loss, and other areas including spiritual. He had a lot of great and encouraging things to say, and communicates his ideas very well. The book is both serious and humorous. I'd be wiping my eyes at some emotional or sad thing he said, then turn the page only to burst out laughing at something he said.

This isn't one of those "feel-good" books. Davis is honest about his struggles, his failures, and his victories. This is a great book for someone who knows they need some changes, but haven't taken the steps yet, or for people who are working on change. This is a book that can help and even change your life if you let it.

About the author:

Best-selling author, frequent radio and television guest, and one of the country’s most sought after inspirational and motivational speakers–Ken’s mixture of side-splitting humor and inspiration delights and enriches audiences of all ages. His books have received national critical acclaim, including the “Book of the Year” award and the Gold Medallion Award. The video and audio tapes of his live appearances are in constant demand.
Ken has been the keynote speaker for hundreds of major corporate events. He is a featured speaker for Promise Keepers and a frequent guest on “Focus on the Family”. Ken has made thousands of personal appearances around the world. As president of Dynamic Communications International, he teaches speaking skills to ministry professionals and corporate executives. Ken’s daily radio show, Lighten Up!, is heard on over 1500 stations in the United States and around the world.

Fully Alive is available from Thomas Nelson

Thanks to Thomas Nelson/Booksneeze for the review copy.

The Face of Heaven by Murray Pura

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Face of Heaven
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Murray Pura


Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.


In April 1861, Lyndel Keim discovers two runaway slaves in her family's barn. When the men are captured and returned to their plantation, Lyndel and her young Amish beau, Nathaniel King, find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish colony

Nathaniel enlists in what will become the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army. Lyndel enters the fray as a Brigade nurse on the battlefield, sticking close to Nathaniel as they both witness the horrors of war--including the battles at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. Despite the pair's heroic sacrifices, the Amish only see that Lyndel and Nathaniel have become part of the war effort, and both are banished.

And a severe battle wound at Gettysburg threatens Nathaniel's life. Lyndel must call upon her faith in God to endure the savage conflict and to face its painful aftermath, not knowing if Nathaniel is alive or dead. Will the momentous battle change her life forever, just as it will change the course of the war and the history of her country?

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

8 Minutes to Digital Winter by Mark Hitchcock & Alton Gansky

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Mark Hitchcock is the author of nearly 20 books related to end-time Bible prophecy, including the bestselling 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World.
He earned a ThM and PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the
senior pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He has worked
as an adjunct professor at DTS, and he and his wife, Cheryl, have two

Alton Gansky is the author of 30 books—24 of them novels, including the Angel Award winner Terminal Justice and Christy Award finalist A Ship Possessed.
A frequent speaker at writing conferences, he holds BA and MA degrees
in biblical studies. Alton and his wife reside in Southern California.


Prophecy expert Mark Hitchcock and novelist Alton
Gansky provide a suspenseful and fast-moving story of life after a
massive cyber attack. Surgeons find themselves operating without
electricity. The military can’t use its computers… This gripping story
of darkness and heroism highlights prophetic themes and the danger of a
cyber attack.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736949127

ISBN-13: 978-0736949125


My review:

I have read about the dangers of an EMP and the possiblity of another country attacking us by knocking out all of our power. In this book, using a fictional account, the authors show what could happen. And it is a scary picture.

Although it does present a scary picture, the book was an enjoyable and interesting read. I learned a little more about how the military and government polices things like this, and even a little about computer related things and EMPs. I did enjoy the book and found it hard to put down. The plot and characters were great, and the authors know their "stuff." I did find the ending a bit disappointing, and felt they could have tied things up a bit better. It seems like there should be a sequel, or at least a few more chapters.

Thanks to Harvest House and FIRST for the review copy.

Stanley Elton

January 20, 2014
Shadow, shadow on my

Shadow, shadow on my left,

Shadow, shadow everywhere,

Shadow has all the might.
Elton emerged from the bedroom at
precisely 7:10 a.m., his favorite mug in his hand containing his favorite
African blend of coffee. Truth was, he had seven favorite mugs, one for each
day of the week. He had seven favorite blends of coffee as well, seven favorite
dress shirts, seven chosen suits of varying shades of gray, and seven power
T he morning sunlight had already
pushed back some of the thick clouds that covered the parts of San Diego
closest to the Pacific. His part of San Diego was called Coronado Island,
although it wasn’t a true island. Situated on a stretch of land called the Strand,
the small community rested on a jut of property that looked from the air like
an arthritic thumb sticking into the blue waters.
Founded in 1860, the city of Coronado
was home to the elite. North Island Naval Air Station took much of the prime
real estate, but there was still plenty of room for retired admirals, CEOs, and
entrepreneurs who made sudden wealth in the digital age. A stroll through the
city streets sometimes allowed tourists a glimpse of a celebrity.
Stanley Elton was no celebrity or entrepreneur;
he wasn’t a retired admiral or a man of old money. He was, however, the CEO of
San Diego’s largest CPA firm, a company whose client list included scores of
the top companies in the country. He was on a first-name basis with people
often mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. For
thirty years he worked for OPM Accounting. Most people assumed OPM stood for
the founders of the firm, people who died a generation ago. It didn’t. Insiders
knew OPM stood for Other People’s Money. A bit tongue in cheek, but it drew
hearty laughs for the few who knew the joke.
“Nice day.” Stanley moved to the open
kitchen and kissed his wife on the top of the ear.
“You know that gives me the shivers.”
Royce Elton pulled away and tried to rub her ear on her shoulder, her hands
busy flipping eggs and turning bacon. A pot next to the frying pan cooked down
some oatmeal. Instant oatmeal wasn’t good enough for her son, Donny. At least
he ate something close to healthy.
“My presence has always made you
shiver.” Elton slurped his coffee.
“Shudder is more like it.” Her tone was
“Shiver, shudder; potato, patahto.” He
moved from the kitchen and took his usual spot at the floor-to-ceiling window
overlooking the rolling Pacific. T he $3.5 million condo was on the top floor
of one of the fifteen ten-story structures on the Strand. Built in the 1960s,
the luxury buildings caused such a stir that a city ordinance was passed
forbidding similar towering structures in Coronado. Too late and too little.
From the wide living room, Stanley
could look to the left and see the Pacific Ocean or look right and see the calm
waters of Glorietta Bay. “Water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”
“Good thing we have plumbing and
coffee.” Royce dropped two pieces of bacon (well done) and two eggs (over hard)
onto a scalloped-edged green plate. A moment later, she added two pieces of rye
He stepped to the dining table. “Dining
room” would be inaccurate. T he only real rooms in the open floor plan were the
bathrooms and bedrooms. Royce set the plate on the glass top. She sat next to
him, sipping a chocolate diet shake.
“Eating real food while watching you
suck on that stuff fills me with guilt.” He stuck a piece of bacon in his
“You’re a man. You’re supposed to feel
guilty. It goes with the Y chromosome.”
“T his is what I get for marrying a
“Brains are sexy.”
“Really? I hadn’t heard.”
Royce raised an eyebrow. “You know, I
can poison your breakfast.”
“T hat’s why we have Rosa cook our
other meals. Cuts down on your opportunity to cash in on the life insurance.”
He cut one egg in half and scooped it into his mouth. Stanley didn’t like
wasting time on trivial things like breakfast. “Busy day?”
“Usual classes at the university, and
then I have about four hours in the lab. I’ll be late. I have to grade test
papers after that. Rosa has something planned for you and Donny.”
“She’s as good a cook as she is a
nurse.” Down went the second half of the egg.
“She’s a jewel. We should pay her
It was Stanley’s turn to raise an
eyebrow. “Really? She makes good money now.”
“I’m not sure it covers all she does.
Dealing with Donny isn’t easy.”
Stanley contemplated the comment while
gnawing on the bacon. “What do you mean? He sits in his room and doesn’t cause
any trouble. He’s as passive as someone with his condition can be.”
Royce frowned. She hated it when
Stanley referred to Donny’s challenges as his
“Sorry,” he said. “You know what I
mean. Other people like him can be high maintenance.”
Another frown. “He requires a lot of
care, Stan. You know that.”
“Of course. I do my share.”
She touched his arm. “I know, dear. I
didn’t mean that. You do more than any other father would. You provide an
income that allows us to get all the help we need. My professor’s salary
wouldn’t pay for one room in this place. I’m just saying we should reward Rosa.
She’s been with us since Donny was ten. T hat’s twelve years.”
“She’s a trooper. Did you have
something in mind?”
“I thought of a paid vacation, but I
don’t think she’d leave Donny for more than a few days. She’s so devoted to
him. I know that her car is getting a little long in the tooth. She had to take
it into the shop. Cost her a pretty bundle to get the transmission fixed.”
“You want to pay for the repairs?”
“No, I want to buy her a car.”
Stanley lowered his fork. “You’re
kidding, right?” He could see she wasn’t. “You mean like a Porsche or Ferrari
“Of course not. I was thinking of a
Prius or some other hybrid. It would save her some gas money.”
Stanley furrowed his brow, narrowed his
eyes, and clinched his jaw, but he couldn’t maintain the pretense. He had never
been angry at his wife and couldn’t imagine starting now. T he forced frown
gave way to the upward pressure of a smile.
“You’re working me, aren’t you?”
“Okay, but it’s going to cost you
another cup of coffee. I’ll let you make the arrangements. Take the money from
the house account.” He paused. “We are talking just one car, right?”
“For now.” She rose, kissed him on the
forehead, and took his cup to refill it. “Speaking of Rosa, she said something
yesterday that seemed…”
“I don’t know what word to use.
Unexpected.” She filled the cup and returned to the table. “She said Donny
“Spoke? You mean more than one word?”
“She meant sentences.”
“You’re kidding. I’ve never heard him
link words together. I thought it was beyond his ability.”
“We don’t know that.” Royce the
geneticist was talking now. “His condition is a mystery. T here are only a
handful of savants in the world. We don’t know what goes on in his brain.”
“What did he say?”
“She told me she couldn’t make out all
the words. He stopped when she entered the room. Something about shadows.”
“Maybe she was hearing something from
one of his computers.”
“Maybe, but she didn’t think so.”
Stanley checked his watch. “Why didn’t
you tell me this last night?”
“Um, because you didn’t come home until
nearly midnight and you were half asleep.”
“Oh, yeah.” He rose. “T hanks for
breakfast. Good as Rosa is, food cooked by my wife always tastes better.”
“I manipulate the alleles in the eggs.”
“T hat’s more science talk, isn’t it?”
“You going to say goodbye to him?”
“Just like every day for twenty-two
“T hanks.”
Stanley started the most difficult task
of his day. He loved his son, but he would rather face off against a bunch of
IRS attorneys than turn the doorknob to his boy’s bedroom.
As his hand touched the brass knob, he
heard a voice from the other side of the door:
Shadow, shadow on my

Shadow, shadow on my left,

Shadow, shadow everywhere,

Shadow has all the might.
Donny Elton sat in his chair as he did
every hour he wasn’t sleeping. T he chair was an expensive, well-padded iBOT
designed by inventor Dean Kamen. It was powered and could raise Donny to the
eye level of any adult not playing in the NBA. A series of gyros and a robust
computer program enabled it to climb stairs without tipping. T he invention had
been a boon to wheelchair-bound consumers.
But Donny wasn’t bound to the
wheelchair. He could walk if he wanted, jump if he desired, and even sprint if
he had a mind to, but he never did. At least that was what the doctors said.
Under heavy sedation, Donny had endured MRIs, CAT scans, X-rays, muscle
conductivity studies, and other medical tests. All came back negative.
“T he problem isn’t with this body,”
the doctors said. “T he problem is in his mind. He doesn’t want to walk.” T hat
had been the end of their assessment. No one could offer any ideas of how to
make a healthy twenty-two-year-old who was monosyllabic on his best day and
mute on his worst and who possessed an IQ above 200 do what he didn’t want to
do. “You simply cannot make a man walk if he doesn’t want to.” T hey had been
united in that assessment.
Stanley, in the few quiet moments he
allowed himself, wondered why his son refused to walk or engage with humanity.
Yes, his savant condition was probably due to autism, but research had yet to
come to a consensus on that.
Stanley stood in the open door with a
bowl of hot oatmeal in one hand and wondered if he had heard what he thought he
“Hey, buddy. Mom whipped up some
oatmeal for you.” He moved to the long desk that took up all of one wall in the
place they called Stanley’s bedroom. It looked more like a NASA control center
than a place to sleep. A series of four 27-inch monitors lined the table, and
two computer towers sat nearby. T hey were never turned off. More than once,
Stanley had awakened in the night to hear Donny’s fingers tapping on the
“Oatmeal. Food. Oatmeal. Good.”
Stanley set the bowl and spoon on an
unoccupied spot of the table. “Whatcha working on, pal?”
“Oatmeal. Good.”
Stanley was thankful Donny could feed
himself. He needed help dressing and using the bathroom, but at least he could
manage to put a spoon in his mouth or hold a sandwich. Small
T he large window of the bedroom
overlooked the Pacific side of the Strand. T he thinning cloud cover allowed
the morning sun to paint sparkles on the gentle swells and surf. A short
distance from the shore, surfers waited for the ocean to offer more waves.
Although Stanley couldn’t see them from this window, he knew that new Navy
SEALs were training there. Such was Coronado: home to the wealthy, a mecca for
sun worshippers, a training ground for the Navy, and a magnet for tourists.
Donny knew none of this. Stanley
doubted his son had ever noticed the beauty outside his window, the kind of
view that made the 1700-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath condo worth $3.5
million. T he only things Donny seemed to notice were on the computer monitors.
Stanley doubted the young man even knew him. T he last thought brought pain, as
it did a dozen times every day.
Line upon line of code filled the
monitors. For a few moments, Stanley considered having a programmer look at it,
but he dismissed the idea. What difference would it make?
“I’m headed to work, son. I’ll be home
late again, but I’ll look in on you. Mom will be here until Rosa arrives.”
“Rosa. Oatmeal. Good.” Donny took a
bite of the pasty meal.
Stanley ran his fingers through his
son’s hair. He loved the boy even if he had never caught a baseball or watched
a football game. “Take it easy, champ.”
“Bye. Later. Oatmeal.”
Stanley turned when something appeared
in the corner of his eye—something dark, indistinct. He snapped his head around
but saw nothing.
Closing the door, Stanley paused and
tried to push back the gloom that draped his mind. T hen he heard Donny’s voice
Shadow, shadow on my

Shadow, shadow on my left,

Shadow, shadow everywhere,

Shadow has all the might.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

All she wanted was a paycheck. What she got was a murder.

Cate Kinkaid's life is . . . well, frankly it's floundering. Her social life, her career, her haircut--they're all a mess. Unemployed, she jumps at the chance to work for her PI uncle, even though she has no experience and no instincts. After all, she is just dabbling in the world of private investigating until she can find a "real" job.

All she has to do for her first assignment is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? But when she reaches the dark Victorian house, she runs into an hungry horde of gray-haired mystery readers and a dead body. This routine PI job is turning out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?

My review:

It has been years since I have read a book by this author. I can't remember any of hers coming up as an opportunity to review before, but when this one did,  I thought it sounded worth reviewing.

I would describe this as a "fun mystery." The heroine does have some dangerous life-risking situations, but the story is humorous and fun. The book is full of interesting and unique characters. There isn't a lot of nail-biting action like most of the mystery/suspense novels I read, but it was a very enjoyable and fun read.

About the author:

Lorena McCourtney is the award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded. She resides in Oregon.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Sweethaven Homecoming by Courtney Walsh

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Sweethaven Homecoming
Guideposts (August 2012)

Courtney Walsh


Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooking expert, theatre director and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was released in February, 2012 by Guideposts Books, and will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She has also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper and is currently working on her third, The Scrapcrafter’s Idea Book (F&W Publications, February, 2013.)

Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum, newsletters and other publications. She has also written several full-length musicals, including her most recent, The Great American Tall Tales and Hercules for Christian Youth Theatre, Chicago. Courtney is a member of ACFW and is the current PR Manager for Webster’s Pages, a scrapbooking manufacturer. She lives in Colorado with her ultra creative husband and three children.


Suzanne's daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother's history.

Suzanne's three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven't spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven.Suzanne's letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers.

As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed, and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Homecoming, go HERE.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dr. Dobson's Handbook of Family Advice

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town in Tennessee where she grew up. They count their four children and five grandchildren as the greatest blessings in their lives. Her published books include stories in historical romance and romantic suspense. When not writing or spending time with her family, Sandra enjoys reading, collecting flow blue china, and playing the piano.

Visit the author's website.


Anna Prentiss wants to be a nurse, but first she has to spend a summer in Cades Cove apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself…but she never expected to fall in love with the Cove. Has God’s plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736948848

ISBN-13: 978-0736948845


Mountain air was supposed to be cool. At least that’s what she’d always heard.

Anna Prentiss couldn’t be sure because she’d never been this far into the mountains before. But if truth be told, they still had a fair piece to go before they reached the hills that rolled off into the distance.

The narrow dirt road that led them closer to those hills twisted and bumped its way along. The June heat had dried out the winter mud in this part of Tennessee and produced a dust that threatened to choke her, roiling up and around the buggy. Anna covered her mouth with the lace handkerchief her mother had tucked in her dress pocket and sneezed. The smudge left on the cloth made her wonder what her face must look like.

She glanced at Uncle Charles, her father’s brother, who sat beside her on the leather seat of the buggy. Perspiration had cut meandering, dusty trails down his cheeks, but he didn’t appear to notice. His attention was focused on trying to avoid the holes that dotted the road.

She wiped at her face once more before stuffing the handkerchief back in her pocket. It really didn’t matter what she looked like. There was no one to see her. The only living creatures she’d seen all day were some white-tailed deer that had run across the road in front of them and a fox that had peered at her from his dusky hiding place beside the road. In front of them trees lined the long roadway that twisted and turned like a lazy snake slithering deeper into the mountain wilderness. She’d come a long way from the farm in Strawberry Plains.

A twinge of homesickness washed over her. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. The uneasy feeling lingered a moment, but with a determination she’d only recently acquired, she banished thoughts of those she’d left behind to the spot in her heart where her grief lay buried.

Just then the buggy hit a hole, and Anna grabbed the seat to keep from bouncing onto the floorboard. Uncle Charles flicked the reins across the horse’s back and glanced at her, his spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose. Wispy gray hair stuck out from underneath a black hat.

“Hold on. These roads can be a little rough. We had a hard winter up here.”

Anna nodded, straightening herself on the buggy seat and studying her uncle’s profile. How many times had he ridden this way to take care of the mountain people he loved? He looked every bit the country doctor. His smooth hands, so unlike her father’s work-roughened ones, gripped the reins tighter as he grinned at her.

The corner of his mouth curled downward when he smiled, just as her father’s had always done. That was the only similarity she’d ever seen in them, though. Uncle Charles used to say he got the brains and Poppa got the brawn. When she was a little girl, she wondered what he meant. But she knew no matter what it implied, the two brothers shared a bond like few she’d ever seen. And they were the only ones who’d ever encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.

Anna took a deep breath and inhaled the heavy, sweet smell that drifted from the forests on either side of the road. She turned to Uncle Charles. “I’ve been noticing those white flowers that look like shrubs growing along the road. What are they?”

“Those are our mountain rhododendron,” said Uncle Charles. “There are also pink and purple ones. Sometimes in the summer you can stand on a ridge and look across the mountains at the rhododendrons blooming, and it looks like somebody took a paintbrush and colored the world. It’s a mighty beautiful sight.”

Anna swiveled in her seat again and looked at Uncle Charles. “Thank you for working out this trip for me.”

A grin tugged at his mouth. “How many times would you say you’ve thanked me today?”

“Not enough yet.”

A sudden breeze ruffled the straw hat her mother had given her, and Anna grabbed the wide brim. After a moment she released it and pulled the handkerchief from her pocket again. Grasping it with both hands, she twisted the cloth until it stretched taut between her fingers. “I hope I don’t disappoint Mrs. Lawson.”

He didn’t take his eyes off the road but shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about that. She’s been delivering babies in Cades Cove for a long time, and she’s glad to have an extra pair of hands. It’ll be good experience before you leave for nursing school in the fall.”

The old anger rose in Anna’s throat. “Only if Robert agrees.” She spit out the barbed words as if they pierced the inside of her mouth. “Why does he have to be so selfish?” She clenched her fists tight together. Ever since their father’s death Robert had assumed the role as head of the family, and he took his responsibilities seriously. Too seriously, if you asked Anna. He never missed an opportunity to tell her how their father wasn’t around anymore to cater to her every whim. The first time he’d said that she felt as if he’d shattered her heart. The pieces had never mended as far as her relationship with him was concerned. But if things went as planned, she would soon be free of his authority.

“I don’t want you to be angry with your brother, Anna. You may not understand his reasons, but he’s trying his best to be the head of your family. He’s still young and has a lot to learn, but he loves you and wants what’s best for you.”

Anna crossed her arms and scowled. “All he wants is for me to stay on the farm and marry somebody he thinks will make a good husband.” Anna shook her head. “Well, that’s not what I want. Poppa promised me I’d be able to go. Robert has no right to keep that money hostage.”

“I know. Your father would have been so proud to know you’ve been accepted.” Uncle Charles’s shoulders drooped with the sigh that drifted from his mouth. “Try to see it from his perspective. You’ve led a sheltered life on the farm, and Robert feels like you aren’t ready for what you’ll see and have to deal with in a big hospital in New York. You think you’ll be able to assist injured and dying people, but it’s different when you’re right there with somebody’s life in your hands. If you find you can’t do it, then Robert is out the money for your tuition, not to mention travel and living expenses.” He cocked a bushy eyebrow at Anna. “And he doesn’t need to be wasting money that can be put to good use on the farm.”

“I know. He’s told me often enough.” Anna smoothed out her skirt and straightened in her seat. “I’m just thankful you came up with a plan that Robert agreed to. Spending the summer with Mrs. Lawson ought to prove I have the grit to handle New York.”

“Remember you’ll need a good report from Granny Lawson.”

Anna smiled. “You don’t have to worry about that. I’m going to listen to her and do everything she tells me, no matter how distasteful I think the task is.” She clenched her fists in her lap. “When I board that train for New York in the fall, it will all be worth it.”

Uncle Charles shook his head and chuckled. “I’ll leave New York and all its hustle and bustle to you. I prefer to spend my time right here in these mountains.”

Anna let her gaze rove over the trees on either side of the road. “Still, maybe you’ll come visit me someday. I can show off the maternity ward!”

He flicked the reins across the horse’s back. “I’ve read a lot about that ward. First one in the country. You’ll be fortunate to work there. But don’t forget you may see a lot of babies born this summer while you’re at Granny’s cabin. And there’s not a better place in the world to learn about nursing. She can teach you things you would never learn at Bellevue. Listen to her and do what she says and you’ll be fine.”

Anna nodded. “I will.” Her hat slipped to the side, and she reached up and straightened it. “I really can’t thank you enough, Uncle Charles. Everything’s coming together just the way I planned it, and nothing—not even Robert—is going to stand in my way.”

Uncle Charles sucked in his breath and directed a frown at her. “Nothing? We can only follow the plan God has for us, Anna.”

She settled back on the seat and cast her eyes over the hazy hills in front of them. “But that is God’s plan for me.”

“And how do you know?”

“Because it’s what I’ve dreamed about all my life. God’s never tried to change my mind.”

“Maybe you’ve never listened to Him.” Uncle Charles stared at her a moment. “Like I said, pay attention to what Granny says. She’ll teach you how God uses those He’s chosen to take care of the sick. It isn’t all done with medicine, Anna. A lot of my medical successes—and Granny’s as well—have come about after a lot of prayer.”

The buggy hit another bump, and Anna bounced straight up. As far as she could see, the rippling Smoky Mountains stretched out toward the horizon. A plume of wispy fog hung over the valleys. A strange world awaited her out there.

Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the inn where they’d stayed in Pigeon Forge last night, had taken great pleasure in warning her of what she might face in Cades Cove this summer. Anna clasped her hands in her lap and glanced at Uncle Charles. “Mrs. Johnson said the folks who live in Cades Cove don’t take to strangers.”

Uncle Charles nodded. “That doesn’t surprise me. What else did she say?”

Anna took a deep breath and brushed at the new layer of dust on her skirt. “Oh, not much. Just that everybody knows it’s a closed society in the Cove, but it doesn’t matter because no sensible person would want to live there anyway. She called the people there a strange lot.”

Uncle Charles cocked an eyebrow and chuckled. “Is that right? I hope you didn’t believe her. I know every family in the Cove, and some of them are my good friends.” He hesitated a moment. “Of course you’re going to find some who cause problems—just like you would anywhere else.”

“Like the moonshiners?”

He turned to stare at her with wide eyes. “What did Mrs. Johnson tell you about moonshiners?”

“She said all the men were moonshiners. Are they?”

Uncle Charles threw back his head and laughed as if he’d just heard the funniest joke of his life. After a few seconds he shook his head. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There may be a few who give the Cove people a bad reputation, but most of the men work too hard to waste their time on such nonsense.” He reached over and patted her hand. “I wouldn’t leave you in a place where you weren’t safe. Mrs. Johnson may run a good inn, but she’s the worst gossip in these mountains.”

Anna heaved a sigh of relief. “I guess I’m just a little nervous. I want everybody to like me.”

“They will. Just be yourself and they’ll all love you.”

Uncle Charles meant well, but doubt still lingered in her mind. Would the people of the Cove accept a stranger into their small community? And if they didn’t, what good could she possibly do in this place?

She had to succeed. Her future depended on it. She squared her shoulders. There was no turning back.

As the day wore on, they found themselves deeper in the hills. As they did, a slow awakening began to dawn in the deepest corner of her soul. She’d never seen anything as beautiful as the lush growth that covered the vast mountain range. The air now grew cooler, just as she’d expected it to be, and the sweet smell of mountain laurel mingled with the rhododendrons. As her uncle’s horse, Toby, plodded along the rocky trail that grew steeper with each step, she saw the world through new eyes and stared in awe at the wonders of nature unfolding before her.

For the last hour she’d sat silent and watched the shallow river that flowed beside the road. The water bubbled over rocks like huge stepping-stones scattered across its bed, and the rippling sound had a lulling effect. She wished they could stop so she could pull off her shoes and wade in the cold mountain stream, but there was no time for such fun today. She turned her attention back to the steep hillside on the other side of the road.

“It’s beautiful here.”

Uncle Charles glanced at her. “We’re just about to Wear’s Valley. When we get there, we’ll be close to Cades Cove.”

Anna wondered if Uncle Charles was tired of her questions about the Cove. She hoped not. She settled in her seat and said, “Tell me more about Cades Cove, Uncle Charles.”

He pushed his hat back on his head and stared straight ahead. “Well, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been following that stream as the road’s climbed. Pretty soon now we’re gonna reach a place where we turn away from it and head into a flat valley right in the middle of the mountains. That’s Cades Cove. It’s almost like God just took His giant hand and tucked a little piece of heaven right down in the Smokies. The land’s fertile—not so many rocks you can’t farm—and completely surrounded by mountains. You’re gonna love it when you see it, Anna.”

“How many people live there?”

He pursed his lips and squinted into the distance. “I’d say there are about two hundred fifty scattered throughout the Cove nowadays. Some left for town life—better work there, you know—but they’ll never find a place that’s as beautiful as these mountains.”

“How far is it from Mrs. Lawson’s house to where you live?”

He thought for a moment. “It’s not that far as the crow flies, but it takes me almost three hours going around these roads.”

A lump formed in her throat. Now that they were closer, she didn’t want him to leave. She scooted a little closer to him on the bench of the buggy. “Will you stay at Mrs. Lawson’s tonight?”

He shook his head. “No, I’ll have enough daylight left to get home. But don’t worry, I’ll come to the Cove from time to time to check on you. Granny does a good job of taking care of the folks there, but she knows when it’s serious enough to send for me.”

Anna clasped her hands in her lap to keep him from seeing them tremble. The time had come to begin the test. She couldn’t fail. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. She dredged up all the determination she could muster. No, she wouldn’t fail.

“How long before we get there, Uncle Charles?”

“Not much longer. The entrance is up ahead.”

My review:

This is a great book for families, and would make a good addition to any library. It is broken up into 38 sections covering topics such as boundaries, getting older, parenting, divorce, and many more. Each section has a few pages of advice and ancedotes relative to that topic. Dobson does a great job on the wide variety of topics that he covers.

I have long had respect for Dr. Dobson, and though no one is perfect and right all of the time, he has done a lot for the family, and any of his books are worth reading and owning. This one is no exception. I would highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Choice by Robert Whitlow, and a giveaway

One young woman. Two very different roads. The choice will change everything.

Even as a pregnant, unwed teen in 1974, Sandy Lincoln wanted to do the right thing. But when an ageless woman approached her in a convenience store with a mysterious prophecy and a warning, doing the right thing became even more unclear. She made the best choice she could . . . and has lived with the consequences.

More than thirty years later, a pregnant teen has come into her life, and Sandy’s long-ago decision has come back to haunt her. The stakes rise quickly, leaving Sandy with split seconds to choose once more. But will her choice decision bring life . . . or death?

My review:

After I received this book, I let it sit for a while. To be honest, it didn't look that interesting and I had second thoughts about having requested it, but I picked it up one afternoon and started reading it. That was a mistake. It wasn't just better than I had thought, it was really, really good. I read up until it was time to go to work. I took it with me to work to read on my break (I rarely do that), and finished it after work.

I liked Whitlow's earlier books the best. He can write a great legal thriller, but he drifted away from that to just write books that center around law and lawyers. This is the best book he has written since he quit writing the legal thrillers, in my humble opinion.

He does an excellent job of portraying the struggle of a young pregnant teen trying to choose what to do with her baby. He also does a great job of portraying the agenda of the pro-abortion crowd and the importance of believing all life is sacred.

The characters in the story are great. There were some surprises in the book, and though it isn't a suspense novel, I had a hard time putting it down. This is a teriffic read and is one I will recommend highly. Whitlow hit a home run with this one.

About the author:

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.

For more about Robert and his other books, visit

Check out other blog posts about the book on the blog tour.

Win a Nook Color from Robert Whitlow in The Choice Giveaway. RSVP for 8/28 Facebook Party.

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One "choice" winner will receive:

  • A Nook Color with GlowLight
  • A four book Robert Whitlow library (winner's choice)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. Winner will be announced at the "The Choice" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/28. Meet Robert, get a sneak peek of his next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and more. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of The Choice and join Robert on the evening of the August 27th for a chance to connect with Robert and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

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Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Giants In the Land by Clark Burbidge

There are giants in the land.
And it has always been so as far as anyone can remember. They work side-by-side with the people, and whenever there is a job too difficult or a threat too great they are there to step in. The giants’ presence gives the townspeople a special confidence about life. But they have become much more dependant on the giants than they realize. One morning the people discover the giants have mysteriously disappeared. Fear and panic grip the town. Someone must find them and bring them back!
Thomas, a young farmer, volunteers and sets out alone on a great journey of danger and discovery. Thomas learns the true nature of giants and what it means for him and his people. Join Thomas in his timeless rite of passage and learn what it means to become something more than you have been, why it is necessary in life, and how to do it.
Learn more about Giants in the Land:
My review:
This book is kind of an allegory. It was written to show how we depend on others in our lives, and when they are gone, we are able to do for ourselves what we had depended on them for.
It isn't a long book, coming in at just over 120 pages, including pictures, but it is well-written and interesting. Maybe it means I am not mature enough since the book is juvenile, but I enjoyed it. This would make a great book for kids to read.
About the author:
Clark Burbidge's path to becoming an award winning author had distant beginnings. He received an MBA degree from the University of Southern California and a BS Degree in finance from the University of Utah. His career spans 31 years in banking, project finance, investment banking and more recently as Chief Financial Officer of three separate companies. He has been actively involved in community and church service, including lay youth and adult ministry, for over 35 years.

It has been his long-term dream to write and publish several works that have been kicking around in his mind for many years. His first book, "Life on the Narrow Path: A Mountain Biker's Guide to Spiritual Growth in Troubled Times" was released nationally in March 2011. His second book "A Piece of Silver" was published in July 2011 and is currently entering its 2nd edition. Clark enjoys life in the foothills of the Rockies with his wife, children and three grandchildren. He looks forward to this next phase of life's wonderful adventures.

Learn more about Clark by visiting
Giants In the Land is available from Winepress Publishing.
Thanks to Winepress and Litfuse for the review copy.