Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free ebook alert: The Good Life by Charles "Chuck" Colson

Best-selling author Chuck Colson has an ebook currently being offered for free from Amazon.com for your Kindle, and as an epub from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader, etc. Get it while it is still free!

Publisher's Description

Sharing from his own life, as well as the stories of others, Chuck Colson exposes the counterfeits of the good life and leads readers to the only true source of meaning and purpose, Jesus Christ. But he does that in an unusual way, allowing powerful stories to illustrate how people have lived out their beliefs in ways that either satisfy or leave them empty. Colson addresses seekers—people looking for the truth. He shows through stories that the truth is knowable and that the truly good life is one that lives within the truth. Through the book, readers get to understand their own stories and find answers to their own search for meaning, purpose, and truth.



77492: The Good LifeOr download as an EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader, etc.:

The Good Life


 

A heart-rending account of sexual slavery: My review of "Special Delivery" by Kathi Macias



Publisher: New Hope Publishers (March 6, 2012)


Special Delivery continues the story begun in Deliver Me From Evil, the story of Mara,the youngwoman who had been a victim of sexual slavery since her uncle brought her across the U.S. border from Mexico at the age of 6. Mara has now been free for a couple of years, and has found a job and a place to live and is trying to live a somewhat normal life. College-aged Jonathan and his younger sister Leah also return in this story, Jonathan having played a significant role in helping set Mara free from her sexual slavery and helping get her uncle convicted and sent to jail. Jonathan has never been able to forget Mara, and when their paths again cross, Jonathan must face the confusing feelings he holds for Mara, as he is torn between wanting to explore forming a relationship with her versus the reality that Mara is very emotionally damaged due to her past. A young Thai girl, Lawan, who was kidnapped and forced to work in a brothel, also returns in this story.

Kathi Macias excels at taking seemingly disconnected stories and weaving them together into a unified whole. The stories of Mara, Jonathan, Leah, and Lawan are completely engaging, and Macias has created characters who will long remain on my mind, ones that you cannot help but care about. The issue of sexual slavery is a sobering one, and it is distressing to read about accounts that, while fictional, are based on very real facts of what is occurring not only overseas but in our own backyards. I cannot imagine what those young children are feeling having to experience what they do.  Macias handles the subject matter with sensitivity and expertise, and you cannot help but be stirred to action after reading about the tragedies children are experiencing. She provides hope to the reader in showing how God is at work in seemingly hopeless situations, both in divine manners and through using his followers to fight evil.

The story is absolutely action-packed and difficult to put down, and those readers who enjoyed the first book in the series will no doubt be pleased with this second offering. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A finely tuned and well-orchestrated suspense novel: My Review of Sound of Red Returning


Publisher: Kregel Publications (January 1, 2012

About the book:

After losing everyone she loves, concert pianist Liesl Bower has nowhere to go but to escape into her music. Searching for the peace she usually finds in her concertos and sonatas, Liesl can’t shake the feeling that she is being haunted by her past . . . and by someone following her. When she spots a familiar and eerie face in the audience of a concert she’s giving for the president in Washington, DC, the scariest day of her life comes back to her with a flash. It has been fifteen years since Liesl watched her beloved Harvard music mentor assaulted on a dark night in Moscow and just as long since the CIA disclosed to her that he’d been spying for Russia. She had seen that man--that eerie face--the night Professor Devoe was attacked. And now he’s back--and coming for her.

On the run and struggling to rely on the protection of CIA agent Ava Mullins and handsome newspaper reporter Cade O’Brien, Liesl learns she is the prey of an underground cell of Russian KGB agents determined to restore their country to its former Soviet might. But what she doesn’t know is that she is in possession of something--a piece of sheet music--that Russian intelligence is now frantic to find. Inside that music is a secret code, the hidden transcriptions of her deceased mentor, that clearly identify a Russian mole operating inside Israel’s Department of Defense, a mole with enough power and access to execute a daring assassination that no one would see coming.

Caught in a deadly conflict between American and Russian undercover agents, this innocent young pianist is just trying to survive her own personal trauma. Through it all, Liesl must learn that no matter how dark her world grows or how fiercely her enemies pursue her, God is still in control--if only she can yield herself to His grace. Read an excerpt here: http://www.sueduffybooks.com/#!vstc1=books

MY REVIEW

A finely tuned and well-orchestrated suspense novel, The Sound of Red Returning held me spellbound from the opening chapter. The suspense is faced-paced, and the book drew me in early with the search for the coded message and the global implications of a Russian power-play. Liesl is a complex character who you cannot help feel empathy for as her life is unveiled layer by layer, and she held me spellbound during her race from the enemy forces drawing in around her. I myself am a piano player, and so reading a story featuring a remarkable pianist made this book extra enjoyable for me. I also loved it when characters Cade, and his "Pop" (grandfather) were brought into the story, for they brought in a depth that added extra richness to the story. Most appreciated, the story's faith elements are woven naturally into the story, bringing to life the power of God's presence and the beauty of His grace. I loved the line uttered by Cade when he and Liesl are sitting on the dock in the dark of night, when he says "But it was God who saved me from myself". It is, indeed, only God who can save us from our own destructive desires and choices and bring good out of the bad.

I have never had the pleasure of reading a mystery from Sue Duffy before, but I will certainly be returning for book 2 in this excellent series. I highly recommend this book and grant it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book provided courtesy of the publisher and Litfuse Publicity Group, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

About the author:

Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody Magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001) and Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.



Win a Kindle Fire from @SueDuffy2 and @KregelBooks in the "Red Returning" Giveaway!

Sue Duffy and her publisher, Kregel Publications, are celebrating the release of The Sound of Red Returning by giving away a Kindle Fire prize package worth over $200 to one lucky winner!!!! (1/23-2/11)




Enter the Sue Duffy’s Giveaway today and you could win:

* A brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi

* The Sound of Red Returning (Book One in the Red Returning series) by Sue Duffy

To enter click one of the icons below. But, hurry! The giveway ends on 2/11. Sue will be announcing the winner of the “Red Returning” Giveaway on February 13th on the Litfuse website!



Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. 

3 free non-fiction ebooks: Date with Destiny, The Jesus Revolution, and Church History

Abingdon Press is also offering 3 non-fiction religious Christian ebooks free today as well, including:



18061EB: Date with Destiny: Find the Love You Need - eBookOr download an epub from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, etc.

Date with Destiny: Find the Love You Need - eBook




19939EB: The Jesus Revolution: Learning from Christ"s First Followers - eBookOr download an epub from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, etc.

The Jesus Revolution: Learning from Christ's First Followers - eBook




19821EB: Church History: An Essential Guide - eBookOr download an epub from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, etc.

Church History: An Essential Guide - eBook

3 free fiction ebooks: "The Fence My Father Built", "Medical Error" and I Shall Not Want : Psalm 23 Mysteries Book Two

Today, Abingdon Press made 3 fiction ebooks free for a very limited time. They include the following ebooks, available for your Kindle from Amazon.com. I've also included the link to Christianbook.com to download the book as an epub for your Nook, Kobo, or other ereader:

      

18346EB: The Fence My Father Built - eBookOr download the EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, etc.

The Fence My Father Built - eBook



      

18015EB: Medical Error - eBookOr download an EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, etc

Medical Error - eBook




 

18017EB: I Shall Not Want: Psalm 23 Mysteries Book Two - eBookOr download an EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, etc:

I Shall Not Want: Psalm 23 Mysteries Book Two - eBook

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A riveting and worthy sequel: My review of "Cascade" by Lisa T. Bergren



Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher:

 

Mom touched my underdress—a gown made six hundred years before—and her eyes widened as she rubbed the raw silk between thumb and forefinger. She turned and touched Lia’s gown. “Where did you get these clothes?”

In Cascade, the second book in the River of Time Series, Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.

But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.


MY REVIEW


After devouring book 1 in the "River of Time Series", I was greatly looking forward to continuing Gabi and Lia's story in Cascade...and I was definitely not disppointed.

Now, I again have to offer a disclaimer that this series is primarily written for teen females, and thus I am well outside of the target zone. However, I can justify reading this book as a concerned father wanting to make sure my daughters are reading appropriate literature, right? Right?

Once again, Bergren has succeeded at immersing the reader in a fatanstic world of "what if?". What if it were possible to travel back in time and toss society's expectations for females right out the window? What if it were possible to be beautiful and intelligent and seemingly fearless and an expert with the sword or bow and arrow? What if it were possible to convince your mother to accompany you back in time and find out she can secretly handle a weapon with ease? Bergren makes these "what ifs" a reality in an absolutely captivating historical setting.

Teen girls (and likely the older female population too if they'd admit it) will no doubt find themselves sighing with contentment over the developing romance between Gabi and Marcello, as well as younger sister Lia and Marcello's cousin, Luca. However, while there are scenes of romance, they are entirely appropriate and godly in their content, and parents can be assured that their teens are in good hands when reading this book.

Bergren is continuing to prove that she is an author to watch, capable of writing books that are action-packed, and ones that not only will entertain and keep the pages flying by, but ones that will make you reflect on your faith and the character of God as well. I highly recommend this second book in the series, and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sure to invoke your emotions: My review of A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner




Publisher: Waterbrook Press (October 4, 2011)

After years of looking for the perfect match, an online dating service links Marielle to widowed Carson Bishop and they are soon wed. When she moves across the country to live with Carson, his two children, and Adelaide, the grandmother to his former wife, she agrees to reside with them in the family's historical mansion in Virginia known as "Holly Oak". There she is greeted by Adelaide's fears that the house itself is seeking atonement for the tragic past it's been subjected to, while others share rumors that the ghost of Susannah Page, Adelaide's great-grandmother who was believed by some to be a Civil War spy, are wandering it's halls. Marielle refuses to ignore these strange ideas as Carson encourages her to do, and sets to discover the truth of what exactly happened within the halls of Holly Oak, to forge out a new future for her family.


Meissner writes with beautiful prose, vivid descriptions, words that invoke your emotions. A Sound Among the Trees is a unique story, a blend of contemporary and historical with a hint of the supernatural that makes up an engaging read. The characters are well fleshed out, from Marielle and Carson, to Adelaide and her daughter Caroline, to the young Susannah who lived during the Civil War. I enjoyed the spiritual aspects of the novel, the question of whether ghosts are real, whether they haunt the house or not, or whether they are the product of one's fears.

The book does a tremendous job of illustrating Jesus' words that "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). How often do we become trapped in our own understanding of a situation, are held captive by our fears of what we hold to be true? I loved the fact that it was Caroline, the formally estranged mentally ill daughter, who swept into the house and illuminated the truth, a truth that helped set the family free and led to a truly satisfying conclusion.

I give this book a solid recommendation of 4.5 out of 5 stars, and believe that readers who have enjoyed Meissner's previous novels will find their time well spent in reading this one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Free ebook: A Texan's Promise (Heart of a Hero) by Shelley Gray

And the final ebook being offered for free today from Abingdon Press for your Kindle from Amazon.com is:



Free ebook: Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Today, Abingdon Press has made 4 ebooks free for the next couple of days for your Kindle from Amazon.com. The third is:

Free ebook: A Time for Peace (Quilts of Lancaster County) by Barbara Cameron

Today, Abingdon Press has made 4 ebooks free for the next couple of days for your Kindle from Amazon.com. The second is:

Free ebook: Highland Sanctuary by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Today, Abingdon Press has made 4 ebooks free for the next couple of days for your Kindle from Amazon.com. The first is:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Written with a skilled pen: My review of Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott



Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 7, 2012)

Kate Winter dreams of escaping from the confines of her family home and her controlling mother, alcoholic father, and self-centered sister. However, her plans to be the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College in Ohio in 1855 seem destined for failure when she cannot summon the courage to give a public speech, a requirement for graduation. When Ben Hanby, the college's musical genius, encourages Kate to sing in a try-out for a musical, her life takes an unexpected turn. Her beautiful voice captivates him, but she becomes ever-more-centered on her lack of courage when she is unable to follow through on singing her song. Her plans to escape from her family continue to consume her until a trip with some family friends causes her eyes to be opened to the reality of slavery, and her focus turns to the plight of others. Kate and Ben must battle through societal expectations and very real danger to find the courage to live out God's calling on their lives.

Elliott has spun a fine tale, written with a skilled pen. The book is filled with excitement, characters that are easy to grow fond of, and heart-breaking circumstances that are certain to capture your interest. The author includes fascinating historical details that will cause you to shake your head at how society could embrace a horrific institution such as slavery. She brings the issue to life by putting very human faces to the struggle of the black slaves to achieve freedom, and has woven that theme seemlessly into Kate's struggle to find herself and determine God's hand in her life. I found the book difficult to put down, and I was deeply moved by the book, particularly as I learned that the book is based on real circumstances and that Kate and Ben truly played a role in American history. Although this is the first time I have picked up a book written by Elliott, I highly anticipate the next book in the series (and though I hadn't read the first in the series, I did not find that this fact at all impacted my enjoyment of Kate and Ben's journey).

I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.




Buy


Read

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Win a Kindle Fire from @SueDuffy2 and @KregelBooks in the "Red Returning" Giveaway! #litfuse

Author Sue Duffy and her publisher, Kregel Publications, are celebrating the release of The Sound of Red Returning by giving away a Kindle Fire prize package worth over $200 to one lucky winner!!!! (1/23-2/11)





Enter the Sue Duffy’s Giveaway today and you could win:

* A brand new Kindle Fire with Wi-Fi

* The Sound of Red Returning (Book One in the Red Returning series) by
Sue Duffy



To enter click one of the icons below. But, hurry! The giveway ends on
2/11. Sue will be announcing the winner of the “Red Returning” Giveaway on
February 13th on the Litfuse website!



Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

A historical mystery sure to please: My review of Unhallowed Ground by Mel Starr



Publisher: Monarch Books (December 1, 2011)

Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of Bamptom in the year 1366, believes that Thomas, a man found hanging from a tree, has been murdered. All others, with the exception of his wife, believe that Thomas took his own life. As Hugh sets out to uncover the truth, he begins to uncover more and more evidence supporting his belief Thomas was murdered, but soon finds himself in a dilemma of having to investigate his friends for the murder of a man who was once his enemy.

This is the first chronicle of the Hugh de Singleton series that I have read, and I find myself wishing I had been able to read the first three! This novel was easy to get into despite not having read the others in the series, and Hugh is a fascinating medieval character, from his role as bailiff to his unique skills as a surgeon. Scenes such as the one where he removes a cataract added a unique flavour to the story as I considered the state of medicine in the 1300s. Overall, I greatly appreciated the rich historical detail in the book, such as learning of the "childwite", a fine for having a chlid out of wedlock. I cannot imagine such a fine today - seemingly half of all parents out there would be paying such a fee! The mystery itself was finely orchestrated and kept the pages madly turning, and the book is chock-full of godly wisdom. My favorite quote is "What is justice but truth with it's sleeves rolled up, ready for labor?".

Mel Starr is a gifted writer, with excellent pacing, interesting dialogue, and strong characterization. All in all, I greatly enjoyed this book and will be looking for future works from this talented author. I highly recommend Unhallowed Ground to those who love historical mysteries, and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book provided courtesy of the publisher, Monach Books & Kregel, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Free ebook: The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler

And the fifth and final ebook being offered free today from Abingdon Press is:

    EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader



Enjoy your free ebooks of the day!

Free ebook: The Dead Saint by Marilyn Brown Oden

The fourth free ebook from Abingdon Press for today is:

              EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader

FANTASTIC Free Ebook: Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer

The third ebook being offered for free today from Abingdon Press really excites me. I loved this book, and who can beat this price?


        EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader

Free ebook: Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry M.D.

The second ebook made free today from Abingdon Press is:


       EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader

Free ebook: Gone to Green by Judy Christie

Today, Abingdon Press has made 5 of their ebooks FREE for download for a very limited time (sometimes their offers only last a few hours or a day, so download them quickly!). The first is:

               EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Free for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo: "Finders Keepers" by Catherine Palmer

Free for today is an ebook from Catherine Palmer. Get it while you can from Amazon.com for your Kindle, as a Nook book from Barnes & Noble.com, or as an epub for your Kobo or other ereader from Christianbook.com:

       EPUB from Christianbook.com              NOOK

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A fantastic thriller, not to be missed! My review of Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins



Publisher: B&H Books (March 1, 2012)

Who is the Closet Killer? The charming town of Amaryllis has been haunted by 6 murders in a 3 year period, with all 6 horrible crimes committed the same way. The serial killer is at large and the town living in fear.Three different woman, Cherrie Mae, Tully, and Deena, have different suspects in mind - and each are convinced that they are right.  As the women become connected through a series of seemingly random events that put them on the path of the killer, they face the greatest danger they could imagine.

Gone to Ground is a fantastic thriller, filled with twists and turns and an ending I truly didn't see coming till the last chapters. The story absolutely flew by with it's fast pace, and is expertly unveiled through the different points of view of the three main characters Cherrie Mae, Tully, and Deena. Cherrie Mae was definitely my favourite character, and I wish I could meet her in future works with her spunk, no-nonsense attitude, and intimate ways with God. My heart broke for the other two as themes of betrayal and affairs and spousal abuse emerged, but I was also able to cheer at the triumphant ending - at least for the 3 women anyway! The mystery is concluded in a most excellent matter, leaving the reader with a sense of justice being served.

If you have never had the chance to read a book by Brandilyn Collins, you are missing out! I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader's copy from the publisher via netgalley for the purposes of this unbiased review.


Ready to buy?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Review of Love Blooms in Winter by Lori Copeland

Alright ye lovers of good historical romance stories! Grab a cup of tea and settle down to read about the latest book from Lori, brought to you courtesy of the publisher and FIRST Wild Card Tour. And, don't miss my review at the bottom!





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 (January 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to
Karri | Marketing Assistant |Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.




1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.




Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

    • Paperback: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0736930191
    • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192

  • AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892
The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.
“Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.
“That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”
Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.
Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”
She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”
The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.
But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.
Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”
Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.
“Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”
“Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”
“Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.
“The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”
“Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s CafĂ©, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.
With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.
After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.
Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”
“How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”
Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.
How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.
“She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”
The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”
“Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.
Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”
Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.
The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.
Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.
She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.
Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.
Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.
Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.
In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.
Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”
Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.
A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.
Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”
The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.
“Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.
“Oh, Pauline!”






MY REVIEW

Lori Copeland has written a sweet story that is sure to please readers seeking a heart-warming romance. The story moves along well and features characters who are unique and fun to read about. Mae has a lot of spunk and a mind of her own, while Pauline provides some comic relief with her mind-lapses, particularly the scene where she waltzes into church in her nightgown. I especially enjoyed reading about Mae's brother, Jeremy, who has the mind of a 9-year-old, but a kind heart who genuinely cares about everything. Although I didn't find the story to contain many surprises and some of the plot twists were a bit too convenient, Mae and Tom have a fun, clean romance. They also provide a fine example of selfless Christian compassion for people in need, like Pauline, who would otherwise seem unlovable except for the stirring of God's Spirit prompting Christians to care.

Overall, Lori Copeland has provided a satisfying read that I award 4 out of 5 stars for being a solid addition to the world of Christian romance.

Book provided courtesy of the publisher, Harvest House, and FIRST wildcard, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Final free Kindle ebook of the day: Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias & Susan Wales

And the final Christian Fiction ebook being offered today from Abingdon Press is:



Enjoy these ebooks!

Free for your Kindle: A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron

The third free ebook of the day from Abingdon Press is:

Free for your Kindle: Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller

The 2nd free ebook of the day from Abingdon Press is:


Free for your Kindle: Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra Bricker

Happy Thursday! Abingdon Press has made 4 of their ebooks free today for your Kindle from Amazon.com. The first up is:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gritty, inspiring, action-packed: My review of "Waterfall" by Lisa T. Bergren



Publisher: David C. Cook

I must admit that I'm a bit late to the game.

Recently, I was introduced to Lisa Bergren's latest trilogy for teens, the River of Time Series, a series released throughout 2011, and one that first hit the market back in February 2011. Although the books appear to primarily be written for the female teen audience, I am confident that teen guys will secretly enjoy them too - and their parents may find themselves picking them up too!

The description provided by the publisher of the first book in the series, Waterfall, was enough to stir my interest. Take a look:

"Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one. Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved … and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know—and love itself.

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?"
 
I found Waterfall to be highly entertaining, with compelling characters, fascinating history, and enough action and intrigue to keep the pages flying. Now, I will admit that I had to get used to experiencing Gabi's assessment of the guys in the story, who she continued to describe as "hot". Being a father, I read such statements with utter fear and trembling as I pictured my own daughters having such a reaction. I will be sure to apply for a gun license the moment my oldest hits puberty.
 
However, beyond the teen romance, the story was unique, fast-pacing, and was a gripping read. I enjoyed watching Gabi shatter the stereotypes of women of the day, including her propensity to ride a horse bareback, refuse to take no for an answer, and wield a sword in the most dangerous of situations. She is a character that teen girls will both relate to, learn from, and be inspired by.
 
I would not hesitate to recommend this book to Christian teens and I give it my highest recommendation of 5 out of 5 stars.
 
Thanks to my local library for investing in this series and allowing me to peruse it for my own enjoyment!

Free ebook: "Beauty Will Save the World: Rediscovering the allure and mystery of Christianity" by Brian Zahnd

Free for today is an ebook from Brian Zahnd:

                EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader, etc.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A fantastic start to a wickedly-good series: My review of "Replication"


Publisher: Zonderkidz
Publication date: December 27, 2011

In a small town in Alaska lies a shocking secret of an underground facility named Jason Farms.

When Abby Goyer moves to Alaska with her father, she is focused on trying to fit in at her new high school and attempting to avoid the unwanted attention of popular jock, J.D. Soon after the move, she starts having suspicions about Jason Farms, the facility where her father has been newly hired. When a boy with a familiar face appears in her room one afternoon, Abby is confronted by a truth she at first struggles to believe, that her father is involved in a facility creating clones. Her attempt to hide the boy, named Martyr, leads to a confrontation with the owners of the facility, one that results in shocking outcomes for Abby, her father, and the clones who are awakening to the reality that everything they've ever been told has been based on lies.

Jill Williamson has written a fantastic book for young adult readers with characters easy to relate to, well-crafted suspense that hooks the reader from the beginning, and a plot that is, quite simply, captivating. Although a completely different genre than the fantasy books she is so well-known for, Williamson has shown that she is a master of her craft, weaving together sci-fi, suspense, and even a touch of romance. Martyr is one of the most interesting and entertaining characters to come along in a while, and discovering the world through his eyes was fascinating. Jill has also done an admirable job of weaving in themes of the reality of God and what he accomplished through Jesus, without it being forced or bogging down the story. Martyr's discovery of God is handled naturally and in a highly believable manner, and yet will expose readers to profound truths.

I highly recommend this book for teens and adults alike, as it is likely to appeal to a broad base of fans, and award it 5 out of 5 stars. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Zondervan, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Free inspiring ebook: "More Glimpses of Heaven: Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life's Journey" by Trudy Harris

Free for today is an ebook from Revell Publishers and author Trudy RN Harris, "More Glimpses of Heaven". Although I haven't yet read it, this book looks very promising! Make sure you download it while you can from Amazon.com for your Kindle. I've provided the link for Christianbook.com as well to download the epub version for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader, etc. Hopefully it'll be free there at the time of this posting as well.

                             EPUB from Christianbook.com to download for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereaders, etc.

4 more free ebooks: Delivered with Love, When the Devil Whistles, Faith of Ashish, The Big 5-Oh

Abingdon Press has made 4 of their ebooks free from Amazon.com for your Kindle for a very limited time. Download them while you can:











Sunday, January 15, 2012

Free ebook from Sigmund Brouwer: "Out of the Shadows"

out of the shadowsAuthor Sigmund Brouwer is offering "Out of the Shadows" as a free ebook download directly from his website for a limited time, so download this one while you can. Although I read this book a few years ago, it is a GREAT read, and you can download it for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader, etc.


"From the opening pages, Brouwer spins a riveting tale of intrigue and deceit set against the contemporary backdrop of wealthy Charleston. Nicholas Barrett is abandoned by the women he loves the most: first by his mother, who deserts him as a child, and later by his wife of only four days. Crippled in an accident that costs him everything he holds dear, Nick returns from global wanderings years later determined to discover the shattering truth about his past and to extract revenge." Publishers Weekly.

Those preferring a hard copy of the book can grab it from Amazon for a reasonable price:













Free ebook with sound principles on how to thrive: "Up, Down or Sideways" by Mark Sanborn

Also free for today is an ebook "Up, Down, or Sideways" by Mark Sanborn. Get this one while you can!


              EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader, etc.

Free (and awesome legal thriller!) ebook: Directed Verdict by Randy Singer

Free for today is a legal thriller from Randy Singer, Directed Verdict. Grab this one from Amazon.com for your Kindle, or from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader, etc. (should be free as of today for a limited time):


                EPUB from Christianbook.com for your Nook, Kobo, etc.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Intrigue, fast-past drama, romance, "The Maid of Fairbourne Hall" has it all



Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: January 2012

Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher:

To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.

As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?

MY REVIEW:

Julie Klassen, you are amazing! Mystery and intrigue, danger, a touch of romance, all set in an intriguing historical setting and time period - this novel has it all! I challenge any reader to pick up this book and be able to put it down any time soon, because the beginning is sure to captivate you and hold you prisoner as you race to the end. Margaret's run from the danger facing her in her own home is completely fascinating as she becomes immersed in the role of a housemaid, one utterly foreign to her. I couldn't help but smile as she had to face the horrors of emptying a chamber pot, and got a first-hand look into the difficulties of being a maid - along with the sudden realization of how she'd failed to treat her own maid with respect. Her character is sure to endear herself to you and by the end of the book you will be cheering her on. I found that the romance aspect was handled perfectly without being over the top, and as such the book is sure to appeal to a large crowd. I won't be surprised if Klassen garners further award nominations for this one!

I enjoyed this book immensely and give it my highest recommendation of 5 out of 5 stars. Readers who have enjoyed previous books from Klassen will be mesmerized by her latest, and those who love historical fiction but have never read one of her books are in for a pleasant surprise.

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.

$5-off coupon for movie "Courageous" (DVD, Blu-ray)

Be sure to use this printable coupon for $5 off your purchase of the DVD/Blu-Ray Courageous!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A well-written children's Bible: The gospel story Bible (FIRST Wildcard Blog Tour)

Are you looking for a well-written children's story Bible and devotional to help you with family devotions? Then read on for a glimpse into a great option for your family!

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:


Marty Machowski


Illustrated by:


and the book:


New Growth Press (December 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for twenty-three years. Marty leads Promise Kingdom, the children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship. He is also the author of Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and the forthcoming Gospel Story Sunday school curriculum. He and his wife Lois and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.



Visit the author's Facebook Page.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:


I have never been the best at anything. This has given me the freedom to really enjoy alot of things; perfection is not on the line. So my drawing is not clean, my patchwork corners don’t really match up, and my cooking is always an adventure. I was raised by a single mom who has an exhausting amount of creative energy. My brother and I were taught how to create our own entertainment and seek adventure in the everyday.
When I was in Jr High, both my parents remarried and let’s just say things have never been boring. A foster brother, two step sisters, and a half brother were added to the mix. I have aunts and uncles who have been beyond generous and helped raise me in many ways. I have been blessed to travel overseas and even live in Prague for six months. My dad and stepmom run a special needs home in Guatemala where I have spent time and really fallen in love with the culture. My brother and his wife run a shoe company out of Guatemala. Everywhere I have been, even a dirt floor hut in the hills of Guatemala, there has been art: design and color. I believe as humans we are created in the image of The Creator, and so we all have some creative effort to put forth.
I have a BFA in Illustration because after all the studio classes one takes to finish an Art Education degree, I found what I really like to do is draw. I doodle. Alot.
Presently, I am married with two little ones, living in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. I teach art part time at a sweet little christian school, grow tomatoes and beets, and sew or draw when I get the chance.
My first illustration project is coming out in the fall, 156 illustrated Bible stories in the “Gospel Story Bible” by Marty Machowski, published by New Growth Press.
Visit the illustrator's Website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Sometimes it’s easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles and conflicting priorities. For many Christians, God often becomes little more than an afterthought after days absorbed and depleted by the busyness of life. But the truth is that he is the hero of every story—including the mundane, ordinary ones we experience on a regular basis. That is why Marty Machowski beckons families to take time out from the daily grind to be transformed by the message of the Good News in his latest release, The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments (New Growth Press, November 2011).


Based on the ESV Bible, this uniquely illustrated Bible storybook uses 156 stories to present God’s plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation. This easy-to-read storybook written for children from preschool to high school introduces readers to many captivating people, places and events from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. At the same time, Machowski skillfully connects the individual stories to the overall gospel narrative of how God redeemed a broken world through sending his son Jesus to save his people. Each story ends by connecting to Jesus and his gospel of grace. By sharing these Bible stories with each other, young and old will learn together the life-changing habit of recognizing the presence and workings of Christ in every moment of their day.

“The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to change the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read,” says Machowski. “That’s what makes The Gospel Story Bible ideal as a storybook for a preschooler, a devotional for a grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer or an introduction for the new one. Parents and children will learn together to read the whole Bible as one story, with one hero—Jesus Christ.”

Vibrant illustrations by A. E. Macha, child-friendly discussion questions and Scripture references accompany each story to help lead families in exploring the Bible. Parents and teachers will be delighted to discover how easily even a young child can understand the original text of a story that he or she has already come to love. A companion to the family devotional Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and the soon-to-be-released Gospel Story Sunday school curriculum (February 2012), The Gospel Story Bible is also a great resource for churches, Sunday school classes, home-schoolers and Christian schools who want to teach their children to apply the gospel to every situation and make Jesus the most important part of their everyday lives.

Product Details:

List Price: $29.99
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: New Growth Press (December 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936768127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936768127

MY REVIEW:

My children have greatly enjoyed reading from The Gospel Story Bible. Although some of the language may be too old for younger children (i.e. preschool age), the book is laid out in a user-friendly format so that you can either read the whole story, which includes the commentary, or just focus on the Bible story itself and point out the pictures. Because of this, it can appeal to a wider age range. My children said they loved the interesting pictures that accompany each story, and that they found them colorful and fun to look at. As a father, I appreciated how each story is ended by pointing the way to Jesus who is, after all, the point of everything! This was an especially neat feature when reading through the Old Testament stories and seeing how they are woven together into God's grand plan of salvation through Jesus.

I strongly recommend this children's Bible and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and FIRST wildcard for the purposes of this unbiased review.



AND NOW...Some Sample Pages (click images to see them larger):