Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Home to Chicory Lane (Abingdon Press), book one in Deborah Raney'sChicory Inn series, offers a tender mix between big-city New York and small-town Langhorne, between big family drama and a faith that binds them together---for better or worse.

Landyn longs for home, but her mother may have other plans. 

Audrey Whitman's dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband, Grant, are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri. 

Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey's daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she's pulling makes it clear she's not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn's husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?

My review:
  I rarely review books like this, and this one is even boldly labeled "Women's Fiction" on the spine, enough to scare interested men away. But I didn't see that warning label when I requested it, and I read a couple of books by Deborah Raney some years ago and enjoyed them, so I went ahead and asked for the book.

  This is the first book in a series, and even if it is women's fiction, I liked it so well I will probably read more in the series. I liked the setting. It made me want to step into the book and spend a few nights at the new Inn. And I loved the characters, especially Landalyn and Chase, married only a year and already having marriage problems. I thought the author did a great job of having them work through their issues, and the thought came to me that this would be a great book for a new married couple to read, whether or not they are having problems or not.

 And in spite of the women's fiction label, I think a lot of men would enjoy the book. Much of the book is from the viewpoint of a man and his take on marriage and the problems in it.

 Maybe I shouldn't admit liking a book so muchthat is specifically labeled "women's fiction", but I did. I read it through as fast as I would a suspense novel, which is my favorite genre', and will definitely be recommending it to others.

About the author:

Deborah Raney's books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Deb enjoys teaching at writers' conferences across the country. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas---the setting of many of Deb's novels---for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. 

Visit Deb on the web at

Home to Chicory Lane is available from Abington Publishing.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

The first book in Deborah Raney's new Chicory Inn series, Home to Chicory Lane, introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.

Deborah is celebrating the release of her new series with a $200 B&B Weekend Getaway and a Facebook author chat party.

  One winner will receive:
  • A B&B Weekend Getaway (via a $200 Visa cash card)
  • Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 9th. Winner will be announced at the Home to Chicory Lane Author Chat Party on 9/9. Deborah will be hosting a heartfelt book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at the next book in the Chicory Inn series!

So grab your copy of Home to Chicory Lane and join Deborah on the evening of September 9th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Oath of the Brotherhood by C.E. Laureano

In a kingdom where the Old Ways hold fast and a man’s worth lies entirely in his skill with the sword, Conor Mac Nir is a scholar, a musician, and a follower of the forbidden Balian faith: problematic for any man, but disastrous for the son of the king.

When Conor is sent as a hostage to a neighboring kingdom, he never expects to fall in love with the rival king’s sister, Aine. Nor does he suspect his gift with the harp (and Aine’s ability to heal) touches on the realm of magic. Then his clan begins a campaign to eliminate all Balians from the isle of Seare, putting his newfound home in peril and entangling him in a plot for control of the island that has been unfolding since long before his birth.

Only by committing himself to an ancient warrior brotherhood can Conor discover the part he’s meant to play in Seare’s future. But is he willing to sacrifice everything—even the woman he loves—to follow the path his God has laid before him?

My review:
   I don't read much fantasy type books, and this falls under that genre', but I found myself enjoying the book much more than I expected. It is labeled as young adult fiction, but after reading it, I would have to say it is much more on the reading level of an adult and late teens more than early teens.

   My one issue with books like these, is they always come up with other names for God and the Bible. The author makes it obvious they are serving and talking about the one true God of the Bible, but that is something that could confuse some people. Other than that, I have no complaints about the book. It is a fast and fascinating read with a lot of drama and action. I liked the characters, especially Conor, the main character, and thought the author did a great job of developing him as a character and man throughout the story.

  The themes of God being in control, of guiding and taking care of His children are all through the book, and even though it was a fictional story, I found myself encouraged by reading it as it was a great reminder that God does take care of us and cares what happens to us.

  In my opinion, it would take a lot of imagination and work to come up with a book like this with all of the made up places, people, and their ways and laws. The end result is a book definitely worth reading. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series.

About the author:  

Carla Laureano studied literature and criticism at Pepperdine University and earned a degree in English in 1997. Since then, she has worked in a number of different industries as a salesperson, marketing manager, copywriter, and small business consultant. In addition to her work for corporate clients, she wrote for publications produced by the World Health Organization. She loves the history, culture, and mythology of Ireland and Scotland, which form the settings for most of her work. She also enjoys incorporating her background in martial arts and fencing into the action elements of her stories. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and currently serves as vice president of the South Denver ACFW chapter, Mile High Scribes. She was selected as a finalist in ACFW's 2012 Genesis contest in the speculative fiction category. Her debut novel, a contemporary romance entitled Five Days in Skye, was released by David C. Cook in June 2013. The first volume of her three-book young adult fantasy series, The Song of Seare (NavPress), released in May 2014. She lives with her husband and two sons in Denver, Colorado.

Oath of the Brotherhood is the first book in The Song of Seare series, and is available from Navpress/Tyndale Publishing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where the River Runs by Kelly Minter, and a giveaway

Bestselling author, popular speaker and musician Kelly Minter releases Wherever The River Runs: How A Forgotten People Renewed My Hope In The Gospel, August 1 from David C. Cook. The book is real life adventure of one woman's journey from Nashville's stages to the Amazon jungle where machete wielding mothers, heroic jungle pastors, faith-filled children and miracles too little experienced in the Northern Hemisphere transformed her faith. Minter's unfettered narrative pulls back the curtain on one of the most captivating places on earth and reminds us that no matter where the river runs and how deep or far it flows, it will never reach a place where the gospel is not enough.

Despite a mostly comfortable, American Christianity, Kelly Minter found herself striving for more: Not more accumulation, but a deeper experience of Christ. Wherever The River Runs (#WhereverTheRiverRuns) tells the surprising story of how this fuller meaning came through the poor and forgotten people who live along the vast riverbanks of the Amazon River that teems with piranhas, caimans and poverty. Through honest and often humorous narration, Kelly reveals the tension and deliverance that arises when we come face to face with suffering, while also reminding us that the gospel is still the best news to be had no matter where the river takes you.

Encountering widespread hopelessness and suffering along the Amazon River, Minter comes to the disturbing realization that her resources are not enough, her compassion is not enough and even her tightly wrapped theology is not enough. Here she discovers that only the hope and power of Christ are sufficient, leading her to a deeper understanding of the gospel.

"I thought that all our stuff, our fancy-dancy help, our American know-how would be the answer here, the rattle that finally got the baby to smile," says Minter. "Could it be that the tangible offerings of food and clothing were but the sideshow to a young boy in the middle of the jungle who needed to understand that God knew him?"

Her honest and engaging narrative pulls back the curtain on parts of the gospel we may be able to recite, but have never fully believed. For anyone feeling complacent in their American Christianity, Minter's story is a life-changing reminder that wherever you live, whatever your calling, the gospel is alive, powerful and always enough.

My review:
   It almost sounds heretical to admit, but I am not as interested in missions as I should be. With that thought in mind, and thinking the book sounded interesting, I decided to review it.

  The book is a fascinating and convicting read. Kelly Minter does a great job of describing her trip down the Amazon and telling about the villages she visited and some of the people she met. It is convicting in realizing how much I have compared to the people she met and tells about in her book. And even with the discomforts she tells of, it made me wish I could go on a trip like that.

  It is sobering to realize there are Christians on the other side of the world who have so little, yet are so faithful to serve God no matter what. And yet we complain so easily and are unhappy with what we have.

  We all need to read a book like this once in a while. We are too comfortable, and not thankful enough, And yet, reading a book isn't enough. Hopefully those who read the book, myself included, will be more prone to thankfulness and try to truly do something to help others.

About Kelly Minter:

Nashville-based Kelly Minter is an acclaimed author, Bible teacher, speaker and musician. Her bestselling Bible studies, including Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break and Ruth: Loss, Love & Legacy, have each been featured by Beth Moore on her summer blog Bible study series. Minter's acclaimed books include No Other Gods and The Fitting Room, while as a musician she has released four full-length recordings and has had her songs recorded by Point of Grace, Joy Williams, Sonicflood, Sandi Patty and more. She also speaks to women around the world at events like Women of Faith, and partners with Justice and Mercy Amazon, an organization that serves in the Amazon jungle ( More information on Minter can be found at

Where the River Runs is available from David C Cook Publishing.

Thanks to FlyBy Promotions for the review copy.

Book trailer:

Courtesy of FlyBy Promotions, I have one copy of Where The River Runs to give away.

To enter:
Comment on this blog post. Watch the book trailer, a music video of Kelly on YouTube, and comment. Or just read the book review and comment.

I will pick a winner using 2 weeks from today on August 26.

I will only do the giveaway if I have at least 5 entries, so if you are interested, get a friend to enter.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sky Zone by Creston Mapes

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sky Zone
David C. Cook (June 1, 2014)
Creston Mapes


Creston has fond memories of his boyhood in Bath, Ohio, where he became enchanted with his future wife, way back in the fourth grade. His father, Bernie, owned and operated The Weathervane Furniture Shop in town. The whole family lived right upstairs in the century-old house known as "The Shop."

Creston studied journalism at Bowling Green State University, then began his writing career. During the past 30 years, he has worked as a reporter, corporate copywriter, creative director, freelance writer, and author.


A rally for a controversial presidential candidate.
A terrorist threat.
A nightmare of cataclysmic proportions. 

Jack and Pamela Crittendon have hit the breaking point. After months out of work as a reporter, Jack is playing Mr. Mom and working part-time at Festival Arena with his survivalist friend Brian Shakespeare. Meanwhile, Pamela has gone back to work full-time while eight months pregnant. Having her recently widowed mother on hand isn't making matters any easier. With financial pressures boiling, Jack reports for duty at a rally for controversial presidential candidate Martin Sterling where he expects a mindless night on the job. But when Homeland Security picks up intel about a potential terrorist threat, Jack and Shakespeare are thrust into a life-or-death battle to save their own lives--and the lives of thousands of innocent people.

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

My review:
  I have enjoyed this whole series, but this third book was the best of all three. It was one I figured I wouldn't be able to put down once I started to read it, and I was right. The action starts right away and doesn't let up for the whole book. I liked the plot and setting for the book, and thought the author did a great job of portraying the events that could happen in such a setting. And though fictional, the message of God taking care of and providing for His children came through loud and strong. I highly recommend it, but the books should be read in order.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Debt-Proof Living by Mary Hunt

Mortgages, credit card balances, student loans, car loans, and home improvement loans have become a way of life. All that debt is putting not only our present at risk as we live paycheck to paycheck but our futures in jeopardy, as shockingly few of us have enough put away for retirement. But personal financial expert Mary Hunt wants you to know a radical but simple truth--you really can get out of debt and stay out of debt--for the rest of your life

If you have been struggling to pay the bills, if you feel like you just can't make your finances work, if you feel like your money situation is getting out of control, you need this book. It can change your life, just as it's changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of others already.

My review:
   I have seen Mary Hunt's books before, but never read one, although she writes about things I needed to learn years ago. When this one came up for review, I decided it was time to check out what she has to say.

  She covers a lot in this book. She talks about the kinds of debt, how to track where your money is going, how to get out of debt, how to save money,  and everything in between. One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was the section on credit cards. She doesn't go as far as Dave Ransey does in saying you shouldn't even have one, but she does set guidelines on how to wisely use them, what the ideal customer is to credit card companies.... and it isn't those who always pay off their balance.

  No matter what your financial situation is, or where you are in life, this would be a great book to read and study. This lady really knows her stuff, and has written a helpful and interesting book on how to live without going into debt.

About the author:

Mary Hunt is an award-winning and bestselling author, a syndicated columnist, and a sought-after motivational speaker who helps men and women battle the epidemic of consumer debt. She is founder and publisher of the interactive website Debt-Proof Living, which features financial tools, resources, and information for her online members. Her books have sold more than a million copies, and her daily newspaper column, Everyday Cheapskate, is nationally syndicated through Creators Syndicate and is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of readers. The author of several books, including 7 Money Rules for LifeDebt-Proof Living, and The Financially Confident Women, which won a Gold Medallion Book Award, Hunt speaks widely on personal finance and has appeared on shows such as NBC's TODAY and Dr. Phil. She and her husband live in California. Learn more at

Debt-Proof Living is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publihsing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic

With no arms, no legs, and no defenseNick Vujicic was once a bully’s target and knows what it feels like to be picked on and pushed around:  It makes your stomach hurt, gives you nightmares, and feels like there is no hope in sight. But Nick shows how you too can overcome and rise above bullying.   
No Bully Can Define Who You Are 
Nick has experienced bullying of all kinds for being “different.” But he’s learned that he doesn’t have to play the bully’s game–and neither do you. In Stand Strong Nick gives you strategies for developing a “bully defense system,” so you can handle bullies of all kinds by building your strength from the inside out.

Find out how to: 
·         Turn being bullied into a great opportunity (yes, really!)
·         Create a safety zone within yourself
·         Establish strong values that no bully can shake
·         Deal with cyber bullies
·         Develop a spiritual foundation to stay strong against bullying
·         Monitor your emotions and control your response to them
·         Help others who are being bullied
Are you facing the unwanted attention of a bully?  You can stand up to the challenge, because you have greater power over your feelings and your life than you may think! Just ask Nick--the man with no arms or legs…and “a ridiculously good life.”

My review:
  Nick Vujicic is one of the most inspiring an encouraging people I have run across. When I am complaining about my problems and struggles, he often comes to mind and it makes me feel guilty for complaining when he has so much more reason to, and doesn't.

  This book is geared for kids who are being bullied, but it would be profitable for adult who still experience it, have experienced it, or for parents of kids who are bullied. I experienced it myself in school and it can scar you for life. Nick was much more of a target with his having no legs or arms. He tells about how he got bullied, how he dealt with it, and tells the reader how to deal with it and overcome it.

  The book is well written and has a lot of great advice. I wish I could have read this book when I was in my teens and experiencing my worst bullying, but it wasn't around. So I can only post a review of the book and get the word out that it is great tool for kids who are bullied and parents of those kids. I highly recommend it, along with Nick's other books.

About the author:

Nicholas James Vujicic (Serbian: Николас Џејмс Вујичић, Nikolas Džejms Vujičić) is a Serbian Australian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterised by the absence of all four limbs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability and, at the age of seventeen, started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs. Vujicic presents motivational speeches worldwide, on life with a disability, hope and finding meaning in life. He also speaks about his belief that God can use any willing heart to do his work and that God is big enough to overcome any and all disabilities.

Stand Strong is available from Waterbook/Multnomah Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.

The Confession by Robert Whitlow

In Holt Douglas's line of work, there's nothing sweeter than a confession of guilt. Assistant D.A. Holt Douglas makes his living exposing lies and sending criminals to jail in Ashley County, Georgia. His job is always easier when defendants, instead of remaining silent, blame someone else or try to excuse their actions. With a confession in his hand, Holt knows a guilty plea will soon follow.

But lurking in Holt's past is a dark secret that could end his successful career and possibly his relationship with Angelina, his hoped for fiance.

When Holt reopens a cold case involving the death of the town's wealthiest businessman--allegedly killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest--Holt doesn't believe it was suicide. Instead, he suspects murder.

As he investigates, Holt's own guilt threatens to destroy him and the cause of justice he's sworn to serve. While he knows his own confession could absolve him of his sin, it could cost him his future. Will he survive long enough to uncover the true crime that this small southern town has been hiding?

My review:
   I really enjoyed Robert Whitlow's earlier books. They were legal thrillers in the same vein as John Grisham and Randy Singer. However, he moved away from the more suspenseful types of books and his last several offerings have revolved around lawyers and courtrooms, and lack the suspense of his earlier books. I have been disappointed in the writing style change, but this book sounded like it was more like his earlier books, so I requested it to review.

  I did like the book OK. It had a decent plot and characters, but it didn't turn out to be the legal thriller I was hoping for, so I was disappointed in it somewhat. Also, I didn't like how the one angle turned out romantically, but maybe that is just me.

  The book does have a great lesson and moral about hiding one's sin, and that the Bible verse that warns our sin will be found out is true.

  For people who enjoy a decent story with a bit of mystery, this book would be an enjoyable read. However, if you are expecting a very suspenseful legal thriller like the author used to churn out, you may be a bit disappointed.

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.

The Confession is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.