Saturday, November 22, 2014

DESPERATE husbands rejoice! I have TEN THOUSAND ways to save your Christmas!!

Every November the first Christmas carol of the season hits the airwaves, and while other people are overcome with nostalgia and joy, I instantly break into a cold sweat and start twitching uncontrollably. 

OH NO, I think as nearby shoppers stare at me with raised brows.


Within moments, I find myself rocking back and forth in the corner wondering what I am going to get my wife this year.

Unfortunately, I have a whole history of epic fails in this department in terms of buying my wife the perfect Christmas present.

For example, one year I was completely inspired to buy my wife a beautiful food processor.

Yes, that's right. I am that romantic. Nothing says I love you forever and for always like a food processor, right?

I watched as she unwrapped the gift, certain I was soon to be showered with loving kisses.

Fortunately I kept the receipt. Enough said.

But yesterday I was SAVED.

I came home from work to find a plain brown package sitting on my front door step. As I leaned down, I saw the trademark red sticker that marks packages I receive from Graf-Martin Communications, the one that says "Today is a good mail day!".

Awesome, I thought as I grabbed the box. Must be some new books to review.

Seconds later my back had seized from the unexpected weight of the box.

Not books. 

Need Ibuprofin for my back

A few manly grunts later and I'd heaved the box into the house.

My curiosity soon overcame me and I tore into the box. Most carefully of course. And imagine my delight when the box revealed a beautiful card made by an artisan in India who is blind! Next to the card was an absolutely DELICIOUS chocolate bar that I did NOT eat all on my own.

Divine Milk Chocolate Spiced Cookie Bar

But what on earth is so heavy? I wondered as I carefully set the card and chocolate bar aside.

Further investigation revealed something that had me hooting in glee (bad pun, yes, but still true!). A set of "Midnight Owl Bookends" peered up at me from their protective layer in the box. 

T'was all I could do to restrain my joy as I lifted them out and set them on my mantel:

Finally! A Christmas present she is going to love! 

The tic in my left eye that I'd developed since hearing the words to "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" magically disappeared. I'd been saved courtesy of Graf-Martin and Ten Thousand Villages, who gave the owls to me.


So, you too can have a different sort of Christmas this year!

How, you may ask? Well, Ten Thousand Villages has an amazing assortment of gifts just waiting to be given to your loved one. The best part is that these products are made by people whose lives will be incredibly blessed as a result of you purchasing their item.

Here's more about the agency:

Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America, selling artisan-crafted personal accessories, home decor and gift items from around the globe. Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the relief and development agency of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in North America. 

Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

For example, the Midnight Owl Bookends are made by "Tara Projects":

Tara Projects

Tara Projects works to change the lives of India’s “untouchables,” by eliminating unfair trade practices and child labour, fighting the exploitation of artisans and supporting Fair Trade and human dignity. Tara is a pioneering Indian organization in the field of fair wages, non-formal education programs for children and women, health and environmental awareness, adult literacy centres and further development for its member artisans. Numerous levels of committees with elected representatives from all sections of the project co-ordinate the production, design and marketing of handicrafts. Currently, nearly 1000 artisan families from 35 community-based artisan groups and workshops create products from all the major traditional handicraft lines of northern India. These artisans receive medical insurance, interest-free loans and advances, access to savings programs and skills training. 

Now how cool is THAT?

So, all you desperate husbands out there, head on over to Ten Thousand Villages

There, you will find an amazing selection of items to buy for your wife. And wives? There is stuff for your husbands too! You can go to their website and find the location of their nearest store. Or you can have the product shipped to your home!

Here's a sample of some of their products:

Herb Planter TrioDark Chocolate Minis (10)UntitledShea Butter Lip BalmUntitled

Make sure you go check out all the things they sell!


As for me, I have to go quickly hide these owls so my wife doesn't find them before Christmas morn'....

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An excellent start to a suspenseful series! My review of "The Patmos Deception" by Davis Bunn

Cover Art

about the book....

An Ancient Island Holds an Ancient Secret . . .

Nick Hennessy, 
a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe--his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities. Nick has the credentials--and cover ID--to unearth the truth. And he knows just the researcher to help him...

Carey Mathers, fresh from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestigious Athens Institute for Antiquities--a dream come true, really, particularly when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.

Dimitri Rubinos, for whom the Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business. But his country's economic chaos isn't the only thing that has turned his world on its head...

my review....

I must warn you: After starting this book, be prepared to read it straight through to the finish while ignoring the world around you! From the moment I cracked open the cover, I was drawn into the deftly woven tale of Carey, Dmitri and Nick and held captive not only by the action depicted on the pages but by their human journey. Each character is finely crafted, with a depth of emotion that made them seem utterly real. More than in other Bunn novels, there is quite the romance that develops between Carey and each of the men, and yet it develops so naturally that readers who don't normally seek romantic themes in books will appreciate the relationships depicted here. In fact, I found it difficult to know who exactly I should root for, as there is much to like about both Nick and Dimitri. I absolutely love the way Bunn has woven faith into this book, especially in allowing both Nick and Dimitri to wrestle with their beliefs, showcasing the emptiness of a life without God. Amazingly, these spiritual themes and deep emotions are revealed in the midst of a wonderfully suspenseful plot that will have you racing through the pages to see how everything will work out. The combination of interesting historical artifacts with modern day art theft in the midst of a crumbling European economy makes for a fascinating plot indeed!

I certainly am glad we will be able to meet Carey, Nick and Dimitri in future novels! While my favourite Bunn book of the year remains "The Turning", I strongly recommend "The Patmos Deception" as well and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

 about the author....

Davis Bunn
Davis Bunn is the award-winning author of numerous national bestsellers with sales totaling more than seven million copies. His work has been published in sixteen languages, and his critical acclaim includes three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. Formerly a business executive working in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Bunn is now a lecturer in creative writing and Writer in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University. He and his wife, Isabella, divide their time between the English countryside and the coast of Florida.

Free ebook today: "The Intercessory Prayer of Jesus" by Wiersbe

Intercessory Prayer of Jesus, The: Priorities for Dynamic Christian Living - eBook  -     By: Warren W. Wiersbe

Free for download today is "The Intercessory Prayer of Jesus". Here's the link:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Simply incredible: "The Legend of Sheba" by Tosca Lee

The Legend of Sheba

about the book...

Her name is legend. Her story, the epic of nations. The Queen of Sheba. A powerful new novel of love, power, and the questions at the heart of existence by the author of the award-winning “brilliant” (Library Journal) and “masterful” (Publishers WeeklyIscariot.

There is the story you know: A foreign queen, journeying north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king and god both before returning to her own land laden with gifts.

That is the tale you were meant to believe.

Which means most of it is a lie.

The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. The riches more priceless. The secrets more corrosive. The love and betrayal more passionate and devastating.

Across the Red Sea, the pillars of the great oval temple once bore my name: Bilqis, Daughter of the Moon. Here, to the west, the porticoes knew another: Makeda, Woman of Fire. To the Israelites, I was queen of the spice lands, which they called Sheba.

In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father’s throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or of Sheba’s queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite—and ruin—them both. 

My review....

Tosca Lee's powerful writing plucked me from my armchair and transported me back to a long ago era where Solomon sat on his throne and the Queen of Sheba beguiled him from afar. I was swept up into the moving story from the first chapter, and soon scenes were racing across my mind with vivid clarity, painted there by Lee's talented pen. I have gained a whole new appreciation for the Queen of Sheba, and Tosca Lee has clearly done her research with this novel as it breathes with historical authenticity. As I read through the pages, I felt immersed in the culture and traditions of Sheba's time, wishing that I could step into the story and feast my eyes upon the world in which Sheba lived.

Much of Sheba's story is unknown, and yet Lee has done a fantastic job at fleshing out who this person may have been, and what the relationship between Solomon and Sheba may have looked like. The characters are wonderfully developed, with real depth and human emotion that will have you caring deeply about who they are and the choices they make. The characters are far from perfect, but you will appreciate them all the more for it, perhaps seeing yourself reflected in some of the mistakes that they make. But what is real is the love that is shown, not only the love between the characters, but the love of God shown to his people, for all who would call him by name.

"The Legend of Sheba" is Tosca Lee at her best, with simply beautiful prose, rich characters, and a celebration of deep love.  I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, and award it a full 5 out of 5 stars.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Howard Books ((Simon & Schuster Canada), for the purposes of this unbiased review. 

about the author...

Tosca LeeTosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot; Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve; and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. To learn more about Tosca, visit - See more at:

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