Saturday, March 31, 2012

An absorbing, action-packed drama: My review of "An Uncommon Grace" by Serena B. Miller

Don't pick up this book unless you plan on staying up until the wee morning's that difficult to put down!
Read on for my review of Serena B. Miller's book "An Uncommon Grace"...

An Uncommon Grace

Publisher: Howard Books (April 3, 2012)


Grace Connor, a military nurse formerly stationed in Afghanistan, hopes that moving to a farm in rural Ohio will help her recover from the ravages of war.

Levi Troyer finds his pacifist beliefs challenged when he discovers his stepfather has been killed and his mother wounded by an unknown intruder. Levi and Grace are thrown together when she comes to his family’s rescue and saves his mother’s life. A deep attraction develops—even though a relationship between them is strictly forbidden.

Levi belongs to the most conservative and isolated of all Amish sects—the Swartzentruber Amish. Even before meeting Grace, Levi had begun to question some of their teachings. He has considered leaving, but knows he will be banned forever from contact with his younger siblings and widowed mother—who need him to survive. He is torn between his love for Grace and his responsibility to his family.

Grace considers leaving her beloved farm and reenlisting rather than continuing to live near the man she loves but cannot have. Levi must confront the Bann if he pursues Grace. And a murderer must be caught. When lifelong allegiances are tested, can love and justice prevail?


Only a few pages into Serena B. Miller's latest book, I already knew I was in for a late night, having been gripped by the shocking beginning. Soon, I was absorbed in the lives of the beautifully developed characters and speeding my way through this action-packed drama.  This book has it all - an unknown murderer, the mystery of the Amish ways, forbidden love. My favourite character is Grace with her courage, her admirable skills as a nurse, and the humurous moments that entangled her as she experienced the clash between two very different cultures (such as with the way she dressed or acted). The relationship that developed between Grace and Levi was enjoyable to watch unfold, with humour and unexpected love and poignant moments abounding. I especially loved Grace's interactions with her grandmother, Elizabeth, a woman who had me laughing one moment and then the next appreciating her spirituality and intimate relationship with God. I found the book to be filled with deep nuggests of wisdom, not only from Grace's grandmother, but also moments such as where Grace contemplates that "nothing really matters in life except the people who love you and those you loved. That and enjoying the gift of God's creation while serving Him to the best of one's ability". That, indeed, is wisdom to live by.

As you read this book, be ready to be entertained, inspired, and thankful anew for God's amazing, freely given grace. Although this is the first book by Serena Miller that I have read, it certainly will not be the last. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher for the purposes of this unbaised review.


Serena B. MillerPrior to writing books, Serena wrote for many periodicals, including Woman’s World, Guideposts, Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, Dorchester’s True Story and The Detroit Free Press Magazine. She was also a ghost writer for a story published in Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul II. Serena’s next three titles, all historical romance, are due for release by Revell in 2011, 2012, and 2013. She has spent many years partnering with her husband in full-time ministry and presently lives on a farm in southern Ohio near a thriving Amish community.


Friday, March 30, 2012

WIN the "Unsinkable Titanic HD Flip Camcorder Prize Pack" AND see my review of By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer @TriciaGoyer

Just in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic comes a well-written book from Tricia Goyer. Check out my review below...


Don't forget to enter to win the prize pack!

Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2012)

Book Description

Amelia Gladstone's hopes are tied up in the Titanic--hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.

Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America--and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?


Be prepared to be swept up in an action-packed drama while reading By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Tricia Goyer has written a book that borrows from the elements of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, throws in a love story that will have women the world over swooning in delight, and perfectly captures the heart-breaking story of the Titanic with a new spin! The characters are unique and their stories are ones that will pull on your heart-strings. I especially felt heart-ache for the character of Quentin, who had suffered at such a young age and then made foolish decisions out of his heartache, decisions that almost cost him everything he held dear. Amelia Gladstone is an equally likeable character for her heart of mercy and her refusal to judge a person by their outer shell. We definitely need more Amelias in this world! The details surrounding the history of the Titanic are perfectly interwoven into the plot, from the excitement and wonder that surrounded the Titanic's maiden voyage, to the orchestra bravely and tragically continuing to play while the ship was sinking around them! I found the book difficult to put down, as Goyer skillfully entertains with a story that lives up to her excellent reputation as an author.

I highly recommend this story for readers who enjoy historical fiction and who are are wanting to be held captive by a love story that has a satisfying conclusion. I award this novel 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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


Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

More info: Living Inspired ( and

Ready to buy?

Or follow this link:

Win an Flip HD Camcorder during @TriciaGoyer's Unsinkable Titanic Giveaway
and RSVP for 4/10 Titanic Party!

Celebrate the release of By the Light of the Silvery Moon with Tricia by entering her
giveaway and RSVPing to her Titanic party.

One "unsinkable" winner will receive:

  • Flip HD video Camera (Make your own dramatic saga!)
  • Titanic movies from the ages {Titanic (1953) Unsinkable Molly Brown
    (1964), Titanic (1997)}
  • Secrets of the Titanic (Get the facts from National Geographic.)
  • And the Band Played On (Music Played on the Titanic.)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer (Be swept away in this
    tale of love and courage.)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on
April 9th.
Winner will be announced at "Silvery Moon" Titanic Facebook Party on 4/
. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club
prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live
chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. More details coming soon!

So grab your copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon and join Tricia on the
evening of the April 10th for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the
Titanic?) and lots of giveaways. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via
FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your
chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!


Blog tour schedule:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stars true-to-life characters with heart!: My review of Stand By Me by Neta Jackson

Past fans of Neta Jackson will be greatly pleased with her latest book. Read on to be introduced to her book Stand by Me, and stay tuned for my review at the end!

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:

Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***


As a child growing up on the campus of a Christian school where her parents taught, Neta Jackson began creating imaginary worlds at a young age. Loving horses but not having one, she wrote stories about them instead. By the time she reached high school, she had so honed both imagination and writing skills that when her English teacher submitted one of her stories to a Scholastic magazine writing contest, it won first place. With that first win, Jackson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she wanted to be a writer. She’s been writing ever since.

After marrying the love of her life, Dave Jackson, the couple chose to settle in the Chicago area where Neta had attended college. Throughout their marriage, the Jacksons have worked together as a team, writing a multitude of books together on topics ranging from medical ethics to stories of gang kids, sometimes sharing the task with other experts who have served as co-writers. Together, they have also penned forty historical fiction accounts of Christian heroes, called the Trailblazer Books, along with another five-volume series called Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes.

These days, both are busy penning their own works of adult fiction. Jackson began her individual effort in 2003 with the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, inspired by her real-life Bible study group, a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women who have played an important role in her life for over fifteen years. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country and the publication of a personal prayer journal for prayer group participants. In 2008, Where Do I Go?, her first book in the four-book House of Hope series, was published. The second book in the series, Who Do I Talk To?, won a Christy Award in 2010 for excellence in Christian fiction. Recently, the fourth book of the series, Who Is My Shelter?, was nominated for Best Inspirational Novel for 2011 by RT Book Reviews. Stand by Me is the first in Jackson’s new SouledOut Sisters series.

The Jacksons have been married 45 years and have raised two children plus a Cambodian foster daughter. They continue to live in urban Chicago where, together, they enjoy writing, gardening and spending time with their grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


How does God expect us to get along with those people who are always causing us pain? Are we supposed to keep helping those who repeatedly take advantage of us? Exactly what is the key to living in peace with difficult people? These are the questions award-winning author Neta Jackson addresses in her latest novel, Stand by Me (Thomas Nelson), the first book of her newest series, SouledOut Sisters.

Inspired by her own Bible study group, Jackson began several years ago to write about a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women in a collection of books known as the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel in 2003, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country. Jackson followed the Yada Yada novels with the four-book House of Hope series. Though the series is not dependent upon its predecessors for understanding, Jackson has used the individual lives of familiar characters to introduce some of the more complex issues prevalent in our modern society. By allowing her characters to lead the way, Jackson has shed light on issues like drug addiction, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and even the racial conflicts that can so easily arise within any culturally diverse group.

In her newest work, Stand by Me, Jackson introduces her readers to Kathryn Davis, a young college student who has left her prestigious Phoenix family behind to move to Chicago after dropping out of medical school against her father’s protests. Her newfound faith in Christ helps temper the realization that she has stepped out of her family’s good graces, but does little to alleviate the pain of their rejection.

When Kat discovers the dynamic multi-cultural membership at Souled Out Community Church, she longs to be part of it. But her unconventional behavior and brash eagerness have not helped her win favor with the church members. And, much to her dismay, Avis Douglass, the one woman in the church whom she most admires and would love to know better, is the one who is the most aloof.

Kat has no idea that, after being confronted by a number of serious problems all at once, Avis and her husband, Peter, are beginning to question God’s will for their lives. Having been recently estranged from her HIV positive daughter and being worried about her welfare, Avis would like nothing more than to quietly retreat into the recesses of her faith and find the answers she seeks. Her attempts to do so, however, are thwarted at every turn by the flamboyant Kat, who has apparently decided to foist herself on their lives whether they want her to or not.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548645
ISBN-13: 978-1595548641


Neta Jackson is an author who excells at creating true-to-life characters with heart, ones who will touch you with their quirks, their messy faith, their dreams and desires.

Stand By Me is a fabulous book where readers are reunited with favourite characters from past series, particularly with Avis Douglass, while being introduced to new characters like Kathryn Davies. Old or new, I felt the characters were beautifully developed and were a pleasure to get acquainted with again or for the first time. Jackson has tackled some tough issues in this book, such as issues of racism, how to love those who annoy us, and fractured family relationships, and she has done so in a way that both entertains and inspires. As with her prior books, I leave this book challenged in my own faith, in allowing God's spirit to lead me in serving Him, to commit to prayer and living my life sold out for Jesus. I love how Jackson's characters are so utterly real and how their walk with God so truly reflects the struggles and joys so many of us experience in our own journies of faith.

I greatly enjoyed this absorbing read and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and B & B Media group for the purposes of this unbiased review.



Midwest Music Festival, Central Illinois

Kat Davies ducked into the billowing exhibition tent staked down in a large pasture in central Illinois like a grounded Goodyear blimp. She’d been at the Midwest Music Fest three days already—didn’t know it was a Christian festival until she got here—and needed a little respite from the music pulsing morning-till-night on the Jazz Stage, Gospel Stage, Alternative Stage, Rock Stage, Folk Stage, and a few more she’d forgotten.

Besides, she’d be heading back to Phoenix in two days, and sooner or later she needed to figure out how to tell her parents she’d “given her heart to Jesus” after the Resurrection Band concert last night. Maybe this tent had a quiet corner where she could think. Or pray. Not that she had a clue how to do that.

Kat had a good idea how they’d react. Her mother would f lutter and say something like, “Don’t take it too seriously, Kathryn dear. Getting religion is just something everyone does for a year or two.” And her father? If he didn’t blow his stack at what he’d call “another one of your little distractions,” he’d give her a lecture about keeping her priorities straight: Finish pre-med at the University of Arizona. Go to medical school. Do her internship at a prestigious hospital. Follow in the Davies’ tradition. Make her family tree of prominent physicians proud.

Except . . . she’d walked out of her biochemistry class at UA one day and realized she didn’t want to become a doctor. She’d tutored ESL kids the summer after high school and realized she liked working with kids. (“Well, you can be a pediatrician like your Uncle Bernard, darling,” her mother had said.) And the student action group on the UA campus sponsoring workshops on “Living Green” and “Sustainable Foods” had really gotten her blood pumping. (Another one of her “distractions,” accord- ing to her father.)

Was it too late to pursue something else? Her parents were already bragging to friends and co-workers that their Kathryn had received her letter of acceptance into medical school a few months ago. Feeling squeezed till she couldn’t breathe, she’d jumped at the chance to attend a music fest in Illinois with a carload of other students—friends of friends—just to get away from the pressure for a while.

What she hadn’t expected was to find so many teenagers and twenty-somethings excited about Jesus. Jesus! Not the go- to-church-at-Christmas-and-Easter Jesus, the only Jesus she’d known growing up the daughter of a wealthy Phoenix physician and socialite mother. That Jesus, frankly, had a hard time com- peting with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

But these people talked about a Jesus who cared about poor people. A Jesus who created the world and told humans to take care of it. A Jesus who might not be blond and blue-eyed after all. A Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor”—and that neighbor might be black or brown or speak Spanish or Chinese. A Jesus who said, “All have sinned” and “You must be born again.” The Son of God, who’d died to take away the sins of the world.

That Jesus.

That’s the Jesus she’d asked to be Lord of her life, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. But she desper- ately longed for something—Someone—to help her figure out who she was and what she should do with her life. The guitar player in the band who’d challenged the arm-waving music fans last night to be Christ-followers had said, “Jesus came to give you life—life more abundantly! But first you must give your life to Him.”

That’s what she wanted. Abundant life! A life sold out to something she could believe in. To give herself to one hundred percent. So she’d prayed the sinner’s prayer with a woman in a denim skirt whose name she never learned, and a “peace like a river” f looded her spirit.

Last night, anyway.

But by the light of day, she was still heading in a direction—medical school—that she didn’t want to go.

Big fans circulated the air in the large tent, though mostly it just moved the stif ling July heat around. Thick, curly strands of her long, dark hair had slipped out of the clip on the back of her head and stuck in wet tendrils on her skin. Redoing the clip to get the damp hair off her neck and face, she wan- dered the aisles, idly picking up brochures about Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, and YWAM. Huh. What if she just dropped out of pre-med and did something like this Youth With A Mission thing. Far from Phoenix and the Davies Family Tradition. Go to Haiti or India or—

“Nice boots,” giggled a female voice nearby.

Kat glanced up from the brochure. A cute brunette with a shaggy pixie cut grinned at her from behind a booth that said Find Your Calling at CCU! Kat self-consciously looked down at the Arizona-chic cowboy boots peeking out beneath her designer jeans and f lushed. Ever since she’d arrived at the fes- tival, she felt as if she’d walked into a time-warp—girls in tank tops, peasant skirts, and pierced nostrils, guys wearing pony- tails, tattoos, shredded jeans, and T-shirts proclaiming Jesus Freak. Kat had felt as conspicuous as a mink coat in a second- hand store.

“Thanks. I think.”

The young woman, dressed in khaki Capris and a feminine lemon-yellow tee, laughed. “This your first time to the Fest? Where’re you from?”

Kat felt strangely relieved to be talking to someone else who didn’t look like a throwback to the seventies. “Phoenix. First time.”

“Wow. You came a long way.”


“Detroit. But during the year I’m a student at CCU in Chicago. I get a huge discount off my festival fee if I sit at this booth a couple hours a day during the Fest.” The girl grinned again and extended her hand across the stacks of informational literature. “I’m Brygitta Walczak.”

Kat shook her hand. “Kathryn Davies. But my friends call me Kat. With a K.”

“Like ‘kitty kat’ ? That’s cute. And . . . blue eyes with all that dark, curly hair? Bet the guys love that.”

Ignoring the remark, Kat glanced up at the banner above the booth. “What does CCU stand for?”

“Chicago Crista University. Usually we just call it Crista U. Located on the west side of Chicago. I’ll be a senior next year. Christian ed major.”

“Christian ed? What’s that?”

“You’re kidding.” Brygitta eyed her curiously. “Mm. You’re not kidding. Uh, are you a Christian?”

Kat allowed a wry smile. “For about twelve hours.”

The pixie-haired girl’s mouth dropped open, and then her amber eyes lit up. “That is so cool! Hey . . . want a Coke or something? I’ve got a cooler back here with some soft drinks. Wanna sit? I’d love some company.”

Brygitta dragged a folding chair from an unmanned booth nearby, and Kat found herself swapping life stories with her new friend. Unlike Kat, who had no siblings, Brygitta came from a large Polish family, had been raised in the Catholic church, “went Protestant” at a Youth for Christ rally in high school, planned to get a master’s degree at Crista U, and wanted to be a missionary overseas or a director of Christian education somewhere.

“Sorry I’m late, Bree,” said a male voice. “Uh-oh. Two gor- geous females. You’ve cloned yourself. I’m really in trouble now.”

Kat looked up. A young man about their same age grinned at them across the booth. He was maybe six feet, with short, sandy-brown hair combed forward over a nicely tanned face, wire-rim sunglasses shading his eyes. No obvious tattoos or body piercings. Just cargo shorts and a T-shirt that said CCU Soccer.
Brygitta jumped up. “Oh, hi, Nick. This is Kat Davies. She’s from the University of Arizona, first time at the Fest. Nick Taylor is my relief. He’s a seminary student at Crista—well, headed that way, anyway.”
Nick slid off his shades and flashed a smile, hazel eyes teasing. “So, Miss Blue Eyes. Has Brygitta talked you into coming to CCU yet?”

Kat laughed and started to shake her head . . . and then stopped as her eyes caught the logo on the banner across the booth. Find Your Calling at CCU.

Transfer to Crista University? Why not?


Free ebook: Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer (Oct 2011)

Just the cover of this book makes me laugh!

Make sure you grab this free Christian non-fiction ebook from Revell publishers while can :)

    EPUB from for your Nook or Kobo

Free non-fiction ebook: Choosing Happiness Even When Life Is Hard by Frank Minirth

Revell publishers has released a nonfiction Christian ebook free for a limited time:

   EPUB from for your Kobo or Nook

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A gripping thriller: My review of Beckon by Tom Pawlik

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 16, 2012)

The town of Beckon, Wyoming, is not as it appears. Hidden beneath the town is an evil shrouded in secrecy, an evil that seems destined to forever change the lives of three people who arrive in the town. Jack is a young anthropologist who is seeking to uncover a Native American Legend connected to underground caves. Former cop Elina Gutierrez is looking for her missing cousin, and follows a trail that leads her to Beckon and straight into peril. George Wilcox comes seeking a cure for his wife's Alzheimer's. Jack, Elina, and George soon come face to face with evil as they learn of the secrets of Beckon.

Pawlik has written a gripping thriller, one that lived up to the excellent reputation he's achieved through his earlier novels. His writing is skilled, with scenes that are vivid and imaginative, leaving me feeling as if I were watching a movie. I was held spell-bound as the plot unfolded, with twists and turns aplenty to keep me flying through the pages. The author does an excellent job at weaving together all of the plot elements and the different perspectives of the characters, delivering what is ultimately a satisfying conclusion. Reading Beckon reminds me that there is a reason that Tom Pawlik has won a Christy award. His writing is simply superb, and fans of chilling suspense novels are going to devour this one. Read Beckon. You won't be disappointed. 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been received courtesy of the publisher, Tyndale, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Ready to buy?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A heart-warming, entertaining read: My review of "The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek" by Janes Myers Perrine

Come meet the lovable, well-meaning, and hilarious residents of Butternut Creek in my preview and review of Perrine's latest novel, below...

Publisher: FaithWords (April 3, 2012)


Upon his arrival, Butternut Creek Christian Church's newly-minted minister is met by a welcome committee led by Miss Birdie and her friend Mercedes, a.k.a. "the Widows." Their first order of business, to educate him on how things should be done, quickly gives way to a campaign to find him a wife.

When their matchmaking efforts fizzle, the Widows turn to another new bachelor. Amputee and Afghan vet Sam simply wants to be left alone-- a desire that's as good as a red flag to the Widows! Soon they're scheming to pair him up with Willow, his beautiful physical therapist, a divorced mother of two who is afraid of commitment, Perrine's small-town tale is a big-time triumph of gentle humor, fast-paced plot, and wonderfully engaging characters.


If you are looking for a book with quirky characters, ones who will soon have you laughing, then look no further than The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek! I found this first installment of the 3-part series to be absolutely hilarious, leaving me smiling one minute and laughing out loud the next. The character of Miss Birdie is priceless in her earnestness and her no-nonense attitude, and the interactions between Miss Birdie and the young pastor Adam were highly amusing, while providing for some points to consider about how us layfolk treat their pastors! The novel is well-written, and despite featuring a character-driven plot, it held my interest well except while reading through a few chapters in the middle where I found the plot bogged down a bit. Overall, however, I found this to be a highly enjoyable and satisfying read. I come away having been encouraged to live out my faith in action and deed, much like these admirable characters did, whether by bringing food to the needy like "The Widows" do, or opening my home to those with no place to lay their head (although perhaps I'll leave the part about the match-making up to The Widows!).

I grew to truly care about these characters with their misguided but well-intended ways, and I am looking forward to revisiting the town of Butternut Creek when the next book hits the shelves! I give this book a solid recommendation and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purposes of this unbiased review.


A Missouri native, Jane Myers Perrine earned her B.A. from Kansas State University and her M.Ed. in Spanish from the University of Louisville. She was a finalist in the Regency category of the Golden Heart Awards, and her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman's World magazine. A high-school Spanish teacher as well as an ordained minister, she currently lives in Texas with her husband, who is the minister of a local Christian church.

Find out more at the author's website:

 Ready to buy?

Monday, March 26, 2012

4 free fiction ebooks from Abingdon Press: "Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride" and more!

Abingdon Press has made 4 of their fiction ebooks free for a limited time:

      Epub from for your Nook & Kobo

      Epub from for your Nook & Kobo

      Epub from for your Nook & Kobo

      Epub from for your Nook & Kobo

Free ebook from Travis Thrasher: "Temptation" (Kindle) or "Solitary" (Nook, Kobo)

Today, publisher David C. Cook released an ebook from popular author Travis Thrasher for free. Depending on the website, it's a different book from the same series.

From Amazon, you get can a free copy of Thrasher's upcoming release "Temptation". I would hurry to get this one! It's the 3rd book in the series.

OR, from Barnes & Noble or get a free Nook Book or Epub of Thrasher's book "Solitary", the first book in the series.

Solitary (Solitary Tales Series #1)

Free ebook: Beauty in the Desert by Eddie Broussard

Free for today is a non-fiction Christian ebook "Beauty in the Desert":

    EPUB from for your Nook or Kobo

My review of Simon and the Easter Miracle by Mary Joslin

Publisher: Lion UK (January 18, 2012)

Simon and the Easter Miracle tells the tale of Simon, a man who went to town to sell his farm produce, but ends up carrying the cross of Jesus up the hill when Jesus was too weak to continue to do so himself. After carrying the cross, Simon returns to where he'd put his produce but all he finds left are some eggs. The tale shares of Simon's encounter with a miracle that follows, a miracle that seems to point to the promise of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

My children were eager to gather around me as I read this book to them, exclaiming over the bright and beautiful pictures. They greatly enjoyed the vivid scenes and had many questions about Simon and the cross he had to carry. However, one of their first questions to me was when they pointed to Jesus carrying the cross and asked "Is that Jesus?". While I knew that, and many adults will know that, I am puzzled why the story would neglect to ever mention his name. In the story, Simon has an encounter with Jesus that seems bland - Simon carries the cross and then returns to his produce and his home seemingly barely moved by what occurred. I realize that this is a children's story and that it must therefore tread lightly with what Jesus experienced. However, I cannot understand how Simon could be portrayed as carrying the cross of Jesus Christ and then returning to his old life as if he's done nothing more serious than weed the garden or milk the cow. When I asked my chlidren what they thought of the story, they said they didn't really understand the point of the story. This is not something they say often, and at that point I knew that unfortunately, for our family anyway, this story missed the mark.

I give the book 2 out of 5 stars, thankful for the beautiful illustrations and an attempt to point to the miracle of Easter, but convinced that this book could have been so much more.

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

About the Author: Mary Joslin, published exclusively by Lion, is
known for her children's books on belief and spirituality. Her books,
which include The Story of the Cross and On That Christmas Night, have
sold more than 200,000 copies.

About the Illustrator: Anna Luraschi has illustrated a number of books
for Usborne.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

A satisfying new translation of God's Word: My review and *GIVEAWAY* of The Common English Bible #CEBtour

Are you looking for a fresh translation of God's Word?

Read on for my review of The Common English Bible


Enter the giveway for your own FREE copy of the Bible today!


Known for being “built on common ground,” the Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world who joined together to clearly translate the Bible’s original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages into 21st century English. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are currently in print. It’s also available online and in 20 digital formats.

“When we say ‘built on common ground,’ we mean that the Common English Bible is the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; conservatives working with liberals; teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a vibrant and clear translation for 21st century readers, with the ultimate objective of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world; in essence, helping Bible readers live on common ground,” says Paul Franklyn, PhD, associate publisher for the Common English Bible.

The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY—using language that’s comfortable and accessible for today’s English readers. It’s available—with and without the Apocrypha—in multiple editions and bindings.

Information about the Common English Bible is available on its website, Twitter stream, Facebook page, and video.


The Common English Bible offers a translation that is easy to read and is sure to appeal to the average believer who wants to enjoy God's word conveyed in every day language. From my perspective, this version appears to be an accurate, faithful version of the Bible, similar to the NIV or KJV. Passages that I've read in the NIV that I had to read a few times to understand were much more easily grasped in the Common English Bible. I especially plan on using this Bible with my children, as it is written in such an accessible manner. When I considered my favourite passages, I was quite pleased for the most part. For example, Jeremiah 29:11-12 reads "I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you". I love how this promise is conveyed in this version. However, I felt that some verses were not rendered as well as in others, such as Phillipians 2:9-10 where it speaks of God giving Jesus the name above every other name so that at his name "everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow" (CEB), instead of the strong language used in the NIV where it states everyone "will bow". While I know that in the end it is conveying the same promise of what is to occur in the future, I simply prefer the NIV for some passages.

Overall, however, I am greatly enjoying reading through the CEB and strongly recommend it for readers looking to purchase the Bible for the first time. 4 out of 5 stars.

A copy of the Bible has been provided courtesy of the publisher & the B & B Media group for the purposes of this unbiased review.


As part of the "Common English Bible Change Your Heart and Life" tour, extending from February through May, copies of the CEB are being given away to readers all over the United States.

You have the opportunity to be selected to receive the CEB through this blog!

To enter, you must be a resident of the United States (sorry international readers! As a Canadian blogger, I can feel your pain).

Simply leave a comment below with your email address and stating why you'd like to receive the Bible, and I will randomly pick a winner from those who enter. I'll then email you for your address to send to the publisher, and you will receive your copy of the CEB in the mail! How sweet is that?

Good luck :)

Celebrate the Fifth Sunday In Lent courtesy of the Common English Bible #CEBtour

In Celebration of the Fifth Sunday in Lent, enjoy this power point provided courtesy of the Common English Bible.


Known for being “built on common ground,” the Common English Bible is a collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world who joined together to clearly translate the Bible’s original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages into 21st century English. More than half-a-million copies of the Bible are currently in print. It’s also available online and in 20 digital formats.

“When we say ‘built on common ground,’ we mean that the Common English Bible is the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; conservatives working with liberals; teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a vibrant and clear translation for 21st century readers, with the ultimate objective of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world; in essence, helping Bible readers live on common ground,” says Paul Franklyn, PhD, associate publisher for the Common English Bible.

The Common English Bible is written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the newspaper USA TODAY—using language that’s comfortable and accessible for today’s English readers. It’s available—with and without the Apocrypha—in multiple editions and bindings.

Information about the Common English Bible is available on its website, Twitter stream, Facebook page, and video.

Combining scholarly accuracy with vivid language, the Common English Bible is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities, representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others.

Additionally, more than 500 readers in 77 groups field-tested the translation. Every verse was read aloud in the reading groups, where potentially confusing passages were identified. The translators considered the groups' responses and, where necessary, reworked those passages to clarify in modern English their meaning from the original languages. In total, more than 700 people worked jointly to bring the Common English Bible to fruition; and because of the Internet and today’s technology it was completed in less than four years.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Breathes with Intrigue: My review of Siri Mitchell's "The Messenger"

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher:

Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith . . . until her twin brother joined the Colonial cause and ended up in jail. She longs to bring some measure of comfort to him in the squalid prison, but her faith forbids it. The Friends believe that they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. She is not allowed to visit him, even if she were able to secure a pass.

Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, needs access to the jail to help rescue men important to the cause. Upon meeting Hannah, a plan begins to develop. Who would suspect a pious Quaker visiting a loved one? 

But Jeremiah is unprepared for Hannah, for her determination to do right, to not lie. How can one be a spy and not lie? Hannah, in turn, is surprised by Jeremiah . . . for the way he forces her to confront her own beliefs, for the sensitivity and concern that he shows her despite the wounds he still carries.

In a time of war, can two unlikely heroes find the courage to act?


The Messenger breathes with intrigue, fascinates with interesting historical details, and ultimately entertains while stirring your faith. Hannah and Jeremiah are characters who will long stay with me, as by the end of the novel they seemed like fast friends who I wished existed in real life. Hannah's dedication to honesty, despite her role as a spy, left me longing for people today to also be committed to such integrity.  Jeremiah's sense of justice is likewise admirable, and I felt deeply his uncertainties due to having one arm and believing this made him less of a man. I greatly enjoyed watching their growth as characters, and found myself often pondering pearls of wisdom that are tucked in amidst the story, thoughts and comments on faith and life.

The aspect I most enjoyed were the times the characters wrestled with difficult questions. Hannah's involvement in the Quaker faith was completely absorbing, and the author's choice to pair this with Hannah's role as a spy was brilliant! Hannah had to make some incredibly difficult choices, between doing what she felt God would have her do, or doing what her fellow believers and her parents would have her do.  Hannah and Jeremiah are, ultimately, obedient to such a calling to do what is right, what God desires, despite a tremendously high cost to making these choices. They are committed to treating others with dignity, regardless of their place in society, a sentiment that was not widely embraced in the historical setting of this novel. As such, their example is one worthy of emulation indeed.

I greatly enjoyed this novel from start to finish, from the wonderful characters to the intricate plot, to the way my faith was challenged. I highly recommend this book and award it 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

Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. Visit

Ready to Buy?

Friday, March 23, 2012

WIN A FREE COPY of Randy Singer's legal thriller, "The Last Plea Bargain" & Check out my review too!

Woo-hoo! One of my favourite authors, Randy Singer, has recently released his latest book, The Last Please Bargain.

Read on for my review, and make sure to enter to WIN a free copy of the book too!

Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: March 1, 2012

Jamie Brock is a no-nonsense prosecutor who has developed a reputation for refusing to plea bargain and cut a deal for criminals. However, her vow to hold criminals accountable to the full extent of the law is tested when she gets involved in a case where the accused is being arrested for allegedly murdering his wife. During his time in jail, he seizes the opportunity to jam up the justice system by enacting a plan for all criminals in the city to refuse to make a deal, and the prosecutor's caseloads explode in numbers. In the meantime, Jamie's seeking justice for the man convicted of murdering her mother many years earlier, a man awaiting the death penalty. As the day of his death draws near, Jamie's personal life starts unraveling, while she is faced with making compromises at work that have startling consequences.

The Last Please Bargain is typical Randy Singer - a tautly written legal suspense novel with plenty of twists and turns. The plot raced along, with a myriad of villains thrown into the mix, until you're not sure who's the good guy anymore. Jamie is a complex character with an admirable bent for justice and someone who holds family first, and you just can't help liking her despite her very human flaws and sometimes questionable ethics.

I found the elements of the plot regarding plea bargaining and the attempt to overwhelm the justice system to be fascinating, one that made me wonder if such a thing would be truly possible in real life, and what impact that would have on society over the long-term. The conclusion was superb with one twist that I didn't entirely see coming, and it neatly wrapped up the story while leaving me wishing for future books involving Jamie Brock (and her unexpected romance with a character I shall leave unnamed).

Singer is a master of legal suspense, and readers drawn to this genre should plan on purchasing this well-written book. I strongly recommend this read, and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

An advanced reader's copy was provided via the publisher, Tyndale, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Check out a trailer for the book below:

About the author

Randy SingerRandy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned nine legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel "Directed Verdict." In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"--part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and ethics at Regent Law School and serves on the school's Board of Visitors. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his Web site at


I am giving away a FREE copy of a paperback version of The Last Blea Bargain, courtesy of the publisher. Unfortunately, the contest is only open to residents of the US. To enter the contest, leave a comment below to tell me about your favourite Randy Singer book so far, or if you've never had a chance to yet read his books, tell me your favourite genre of books to read. Please include your name and email address so I can contact the winner. The contest is only open until March 31, 2012.

Good luck and God bless!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A compelling read: My review of Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith

Get a deeper, richer understanding of the lives of Abraham and Sarah!

Read on for my review of "Sarai"....

Publisher: Revell (March 1, 2012)

Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher

When Abram finally requests the hand of his beautiful half sister Sarai, she asks one thing--that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even Sarai's father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if she makes a promise in return--to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees.

But as the years stretch on and Sarai's womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain, lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram's patience last?


Sarai truly brings to life the story of "Abraham and Sarah" as portrayed in the Bible, faithfully following the Biblical account and adding rich historical detail that makes it clear that the author has done her research. Meeting these Biblical characters in the pages of this book made them real, flesh and blood human beings, people who played an incredible role in God's time-line and yet were people who struggled like you and I. The author kept the story moving well despite the fact she was covering the life of a woman with an incredibly long life span!

Smith has succeeded at weaving together the details of multiple characters in an artful, compelling manner. Sarai's story is heart-breaking as she yearns for a child, a plot-line that was incredibly moving. I appreciated how the author realistically portrayed the tug-of-war inside of Sarai, where she wants to have a strong faith similar to her husband, and yet struggles to as she's the one facing the changes in her body and the waning chances of ever conceiving. Abram's faith is inspiritual to behold, and I found my own faith challenged through the reading of this book, and yet his struggles and fears are also portrayed in a realistic manner. Smith does an excellent job of tying in the story of Lot and his wife, and also allows the reader to peer into the world of Hagar and consider how difficult it would have been for her to have to be told to sleep with Abram to produce an heir.

If you are looking for a skillfully written, entertaining Biblically-based story, then look no further. The transformation of Abram and Sarai to "Abraham" and "Sarah" has been perfectly captured in this book! The conclusion left me looking forward to future additions to the series, and I am confident readers will agree that this is a series worth investing in!

I highly recommend this book and give 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 Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the Author

Image of Jill Eileen SmithJill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of the the Wives of King David series. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.


Free ebook: Raising Kids with Love and Limits by Julie Barnhill

Revell publishers and author Julie Barnhill have made her ebook "Raising Kids with Love and Limits" free for a limited time:

Free from

        OR            EPUB from for your Nook or Kobo ereader

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A book "Doubting Thomas" would delight in: My review of "A Stranger's Gift" by Pulitzer Prize Winner Tom Hallman Jr.

Tom Hallman, Jr., has crafted a read that just may change your life!

Read on for my review of "A Stranger's Gift"....

Publisher: Howard Books (April 3, 2012)


True Stories of Faith in Unexpected Places

In this very personal, welcoming book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tom Hallman, Jr., shares his journey of faith from indifferent agnostic to growing believer. Faith, Hallman tells us, is looking in the mirror in the morning and wondering why. It’s about doubt and hope. It’s catching a glimpse of a beacon piercing the fog of life and walking toward it, never knowing if you’re headed in the right direction, but pressing onward.

You’ll meet ordinary people and be drawn into conversations that ask probing, almost intrusive questions—conversations that linger in your mind and resonate with your heart—from the ache of a mother who watched her baby die after only twenty days of struggling for life to the peaceful strength of a man working with those whose present situations mirror his past.

Within these pages, you’ll find real and honest accounts of everyday people whose discoveries of faith will inspire and comfort you on your own journey.


When I picked up this book, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Was I about to read a book that would hold my interest, or one that would just come across as preachy? Would I find myself able to relate to the people portrayed in it's pages? The answer to both questions is that Tom Hallman has written a book that is utterly engaging, sure to capture your attention from start to finish, and one that is filled with everyday people whose lives reflect the uncertainty and doubt and moments of discovery that we all experience. What I enjoyed most of all is that the author recognizes that God is perfectly fine with our doubts in life, doubts like those expressed by Jesus' disciple Thomas after he was raised from the dead, or doubts you and I struggle with when mired in difficult circumstances. Hallman perfectly captures the fact that we are on a journey, with "one step forward, two steps back". I was struck by Hallman's comment that "In the years to come, I hope that my children remember not what I did for a living, but how I lived". Reading this book will undoubtedly help us grow closer to that goal of living a life of worth and significance.

Crafted with skilled writing, and sure to entertain with inspirational stories while also making you ponder your own faith journey, A Stranger's Gift is a treasure indeed. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

A copy of the book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


Tom Hallman Jr.Tom Hallman, Jr., winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, is considered one of the nation’s premier narrative writers. Now a senior reporter, he has worked at The Oregonian for thirty years. Hallman has won every major feature-writing award, some multiple times. He and his wife have two daughters. Hallman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He’s worked at a car wash, a grocery store, a greyhound race track, and as a volunteer at a Veteran's Administration hospital. He had a stint as a bartender for one week and was once an answer to a question on the television show Jeopardy!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Win a Nook Tablet & check out my review of "Song of My Heart" by Sawyer @litfuse @Bethany_House

Are you looking for a book filled with richly-detailed characters who will soon feel like friends? Then read on to learn about Kim Vogel Sawyer's latest, "Song of my Heart".

And, don't miss the details about the giveaway contest at the end!!!

About the Book

Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family. So when her stepfather is injured and can't work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity to use her God-given singing talent--though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job.

McKane comes to Goldtree at the request of the town council. The town has been plagued by bootlegging operations, and Thad believes he can find the culprit.

After he earns enough money doing sheriff work, he wants to use it to pay for his training to become a minister.

Thad is immediately attracted to the beautiful singer who performs in Asa Baxter's unusual opera house, but when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he begins to wonder if she's far less innocent than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes he's come to investigate, is there any hope the love blossoming between them will survive?


Kim Vogel Sawyer writes books of the heart, filled with characters that soon feel like friends. Sadie Wagner is one such character, one whose devotion to her family and her innocence make her utterly likeable and one you will be cheering on as she grows and develops. The zany mercantile sisters, Melva and Shelva, are equally fun to meet, providing many moments of hilarity.  Unfortunately, I found that Sadie's cousin, Sid, and his unwanted attention towards Sadie made up a character who annoyed me at every turn. Because of his ongoing childish behaviour, I found myself wanting to skip over scenes including Sid (of which there are many) and as such my enjoyment of the story suffered. I did enjoy, however, the drama that unfolded with the rest of the plot elements such as the illegal distribution of liquor, blackmail, and the pressure Sadie faces to compromise her morals.

I mostly appreciated that, as with Sawyer's other novels, Song of My Heart glorifies God, bringing to life the beauty of faith and the difference such faith makes in every part of our days and in our deepest being. The novel explores important themes of sacrifice for our families, trusting God and following God's leading, and using our gifts to glorify Him...and not ourselves.

I have no doubt that readers who have enjoyed past works by Sawyer will find themselves at home meeting Sadie and Thad and following their journey. For myself, I can't say I enjoyed this novel as much as I have some previous ones, such as In Every Heartbeat. I mildly recommend this book and give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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

About the Author

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of nineteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.

She invites you to visit her Web site at for more information.


OR Follow this link to buy the book:


Win a Nook Tablet from Kim Vogel Sawyer and RSVP for her "Song of My Heart"
Facebook Party {3/29}!

Celebrate with Kim by entering to win a Nook Tablet and connecting with
her at the Book Chat Party on 3/29!

One "songbird" winner will receive:

  • A Nook Tablet
  • Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But
hurry, the giveaway ends 3/28/12
. Winner will be announced at Kim's Book
Chat Facebook Party
on 3/29. Kim will be hosting an evening of chat, fun
trivia and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift
certificates, books, and much more!
So grab your copy of Song of My Heart and join Kim and friends
on the evening of March 29th for an evening of fun.

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends
via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your
chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Check out other Litfuse reviews: