Saturday, June 30, 2012

You may never look at a homeless person the same: My review of Lucy Come Home by Dave and Neta Jackson



Fifteen-year-old Cindy worked long days beside her migrant worker family in Michigan's sugar beet fields in the early 1940s -- the "war years" -- until she met a dashing young man from a traveling carnival, bringing some joy and fun into her hard-scrabble life. But a tragic twist of fate -- and a dead field boss-- sent the two young people on the run, leaving behind family and everything she'd ever known.

Lucy Tucker, the crotchety old bag lady from the popular Yada Yada House of Hope series, is a veteran of Chicago streets and not about to give up her independence, even as she approaches her 80th birthday. 

Until, that is, a young displaced woman with her gentle aging mother and a dog named Dandy seem to need her -- unsettling the secretive Lucy, who doesn't let anyone get too close. But just when it seems her past is catching up with her to bring her in out of the cold... Lucy disappears again. How these two tales intersect and intertwine between past and present gradually shines light into the dark corners of Lucy's murky past. But... why won't Lucy come home?


Have you ever wondered how it is that someone became homeless, wandering the streets, seemingly with few connections to others? Lucy Come Home is a book that explores how Lucy, one of my favorite characters from the Yada Yada House of Hope series, came to wander the streets of Chicago and live a life of homelessness, and it is a well-written book indeed! Dave and Neta Jackson have penned a novel that is bittersweet, interspersing flash-backs of Lucy's teen years and the loss of her family and being on the run, with her contemporary story of living on the streets. The authors use this technique well, as it keeps the story moving along with moments of tragedy balanced with moments of humor (especially the modern-day scenes where the reader gets to observe Lucy at her finest!). I found my heart breaking as the teen Lucy experienced one moment of loss after the other, and I was devouring the pages to see how everything would resolve. The book is true to life, not providing a perfectly happy-ending, but ultimately providing one that proves God's faithfulness through the tragedies of life. I finished the book with a smile on my face, glad that Lucy had finally found a place to belong. As I turn from its pages, I realize I may may never be able to look at a homeless person the same, but instead will ponder what circumstances led them to living the life they led. 

If you have enjoyed the Yada Yada series, you are going to love this entertaining, moving read. The authors continue to excel at creating living and breathing characters who you come to care deeply about, and you won't want to miss Lucy's story!

I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

An ebook has been provided courtesy of the authors and Litfuse publicity group, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


LitfuseDave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set.

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.

Visit for more info.


Check out other reviews as part of the Litfuse Blog Tour:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ridiculously good: My review of "Hidden in Dreams" by @davisbunn @simonschuster

Photo of Hidden In Dreams


Elena Burroughs finds her life spiraling out of control. She is dismissed from her position as psychologist at the Oxford University clinic. And the man she hoped she might love is lost to the demands of new work in a distant land. Elena accepts her agent’s request for another world tour, resulting in a huge rush of new publicity and some very public conflict with established authorities.

Rachel, a clinical biologist and statistician, approaches Elena for help with the disturbing dreams of one of her patients. Oddly, they mirror Rachel’s research findings about a dream pattern that has foretold every major global catastrophe stretching back to the dawn of civilization.

That night Elena has precisely the same dream as Rachel’s patient, predicting a cataclysmic financial collapse far worse than what brought on the Great Depression.

She searches professional websites and discovers that her most vehement critic has a client experiencing the same repetitive dreams. Together, they form an unlikely alliance, one that threatens to pierce Elena’s emotional isolation.

All the while, the clock is ticking down to devastation. It’s no longer about the dreams. It’s about survival.


Hidden in Dreams is a ridiculously good read, one that was every bit as good as I had hoped for from Davis Bunn. Whenever I sit down to a book by Bunn, I know I am in for a treat, and this book was no exception. The writing was so vivid and intense, the author so successful at submerging me into the plot, that I had to consciously stop reading, force myself to relax, and remind myself I was reading fiction and that this was not reality - I hope! The plot is intricate, filled with unexpected twists, and a completely fascinating blend of science and spirituality. As with the first book in the series, Elena Burroughs is a compelling character, entirely likable and one who has my full sympathies and admiration. Watching her discern the truth of what she was experiencing provided for a few entertaining hours of reading pleasure, and I celebrated along with her as she met love along the way. Bunn continues to write with a masterful grasp of the written word, beautifully describing settings and scenes, and showing that it is indeed possible to write with beauty while providing a fast-paced ride at the same time.

In short, this is a stunning sequel that gripped me from the opening page and held me tightly in its grasp as I rocketed towards the end. I absolutely loved this book, and award it a full 5 out of 5 stars.

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


Davis Bunn Davis Bunn is the author of numerous national bestsellers in genres spanning historical sagas, contemporary thrillers, and inspirational gift books. He has received widespread critical acclaim, including three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction, and his books have sold more than six million copies in sixteen languages. He and his wife, Isabella, are affiliated with Oxford University, where Davis serves as writer in residence at Regent’s Park College. He lectures internationally on the craft of writing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Win a Nook Color from Shannon Dittemore (@ShanDitty) & Check out a preview of "Angel Eyes"

Check out a preview of "Angel Eyes" and enter to win...A Nook Color!



Once you've seen, you can't unsee. Everything changes when you've looked at the world through . . .Angel Eyes

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.

Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.


Litfuse Shannon is a wife and mother. A sister. A daughter. A friend. She was raised in Northern California by her parents-pastors of their local church and constant figures of inspiration.

As a youth, Shannon traveled with an award-winning performing arts team, excelling on stage and in the classroom. As a young adult, she attended Portland Bible College, continued acting, and worked with an outreach team targeting inner-city kids in the Portland-Metropolitan area.

It was in Portland that she met her husband, Matt. They were married in 2002. Soon after, they took the reins of the youth ministry at Living Way Community Church in Roseville, California where they continue to serve in that capacity. In October of 2004, their son Justus was born, followed by their daughter Jazlyn, born in 2008.

Find out more at


Unfortunately, I haven't been able to review the book yet as I'm still waiting to receive my copy in the mail, but you can check out other people's reviews as part of the Litfuse Blog Tour:


Win a Nook Color from Shannon Dittemore (@ShanDitty)! "Angel Eyes" Giveaway and Facebook Party {6/26} Celebrate with Shannon by entering her "Angel Eyes" Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 6/26!

Find out what readers are saying here.

One "angelic" winner will receive:

  • A Brand New Nook Color
  • A copy of Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on June 25th. Winner will be announced at the "Angel Eyes" Author Chat Facebook Party on 6/26. Shannon will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of Angel Eyes and join Shannon on the evening of the June 26th for a chance to meet Shannon and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Even better than the first book in the series! My review of "The Hidden Life" by Adina Senft @FaithWords


Emma Stolzfus has never been courted or kissed, and now that she's 30, it has become her place as the unmarried daughter to look after her elderly mother. But in the dark hours when her mother is asleep, Emma writes letters and essays to Amish periodicals, short stories, and even a novel she's been working on for the last five years.

When a New York literary agent, Tyler West, takes an interest in her work, Emma secretly goes to meet him. When she returns, something about her is different-and the men of her Amish community take notice. But how can she settle for second best when her heart made its choice years ago-to a man she can never have? Only her friends, Amelia and Carrie, know the truth in her heart as they work together on their quilt ... and only they understand when an old tragedy comes to light that will either hurt or heal ... and reveal Emma's hidden life.


I never thought I'd say this, but I loved The Hidden Life even more than the first book in the series, The Wounded Heart, and I gave that book rave reviews indeed! The reason? Emma Stolzfus is simply one of my favorite characters to come along so far this year! She has a special knack for stumbling into trouble, skirting along the edge of what is acceptable in her Amish community, and refusing to live her life solely to please other's expectations of her. I loved the predicaments humble Emma suddenly found herself in, that after years of waiting to catch the eye of the perfect man while caring for her elderly parents, rumors are flying about not one, not two, but three men who seem intent on courting her! As with the first book, I found that this second installment in the series was a compelling read, written with sensitivity to the Amish culture, but also exploring some of the difficulties in living a plain life as well. Emma's dilemma is a unique one of how to use the gift God has clearly given her, the gift of writing, when her community frowns upon a woman's voice being heard in such a manner.

I loved the scene where Emma is considering whether she's ever truly listened to God in his attempts to guide her, where she contemplates "Had she really treated the Lord of Heaven the way people treated her? Asking for everything under the sun, but not listening for a reply? Maybe God had been ready to show her His will, and she'd been up and away to can bean pickles, or off to her typewriter, or going somewhere else to do goodness knows what, and His counsel had blown away on the wind she kicked up as she bustled hither and yon". These are words that leave me pondering how I listen (or don't) to God myself. Any book that can both entertain and leave me thinking is a book worth reading!

Adina Senft is quickly become one of my favourite writers of Amish fiction, and I look forward to the final book in the series, The Tempted Soul, coming in 2013. Senft's characters are beautifully developed, with original characters who will move you to both laugh and cry, and this story is one I plan on revisiting in the future. 5 out of 5 stars.

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


Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church and was often asked if she was Amish. (The answer was no.) She holds an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she is part of the adjunct faculty. Between books, Adina enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making historical costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Free ebook (for pre-order): Wedded to War (Heroines Behind the Lines) by Jocelyn Green

Free for download (or at least pre-order, as the book actually releases tomorrow) is the ebook "Wedded to War" (Heroines Behind the Lines) by Jocelyn Green. Grab the book now for your ereader:

Grab the EPUB from for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader
(free as of this posting)


Go to for your Kindle
(free as of tomorrow Jun.24/12)

Sure to provide some well-spent hours of entertainment: My review of "Love in Disguise" by Carol Cox @bethany_house

Cover Art 


Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity?

Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?


An absolutely delightful read, Love in Disguise is sure to provide some well-spent hours of entertainment to the reader fortunate enough to spend time in its pages. I found myself thrilled by the unique plot, smiling and laughing at the antics of the heroine, and completely swept up into the adventure that was created by Ellie's crazy scheme to go undercover as not one but two spunky women! The plot has plenty of action to keep the story unfolding at a quick pace, and I guarantee that you are not going to want to put this book down until you see how everything resolves, especially when it comes to the relationship that Ellie develops unexpectedly with Steven! The historical setting is a wonderful one, and provides the perfect environment for Ellie to develop her sleuthing skills, all while unraveling the mystery of her own heart at the same time. Best of all, the story reveals a truth that almost sneaks up on you, a reminder that it's not our outer selves that matter, no matter how plain or beautiful, but rather the hidden treasure of our character that is important. That, indeed, is the stuff of romance.

The end will no doubt leave you smiling and even perhaps heaving a sigh of contentment as you come to the end of Ellie's adventure. I don't know about you, but those are my favorite type of endings! 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

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


Carol Cox Native Arizonan Carol Cox has an abiding love for history, mystery, and romance. The author of more than 25 books, she believes in the power of story to convey spiritual truths. Carol lives with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona, where deer and antelope really do play--within view of the family's front porch. Visit her website at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another well-written read from Tracie Peterson: My review of "Touching the Sky"

Touching the Sky, Tracie Peterson, 978-0-7642-0616-0


Her heart is caught between the man she loves and the sister she's desperate to protect.

Though their first encounter is hardly auspicious, Laura Marquardt soon discovers herself drawn to the dashing Captain Brandon Reid. As an officer over the colored troops, he eagerly supports her desire to educate blacks and seek harmony in a town where the defeat of the South is a bitter reality. 

When Laura's sister marries her Confederate beau, Laura finds herself in a difficult situation after overhearing a discussion with frightening consequences. In her heart she feels she should confide in Brandon, but Laura fears to do so may endanger her sister's life. Yet as the stakes continue to rise and Brandon's motives for pursuing her come into doubt, Laura questions where to turn... and wonders if her own dreams of love may be forsaken.


The second installment of the Land of the Lone Star Series is a compelling story, one that deals with deep themes of hatred and forgiveness, spousal abuse and racism. And yet, like the first book in the series, it is also a book of adventure, and features characters that readers will be sure to grow to care about. Laura is a determined, spunky young woman who has a heart for fairness and justice and serving God. The development of her relationship with Captain Reid is a sweet one to behold, and their interactions are filled with humor and lighthearted moments, along with some intensely emotional scenes as well. I couldn't help but admire Laura's selflessness, her ability to put the needs of others ahead of her own, whether fighting for her sister to be safe, or doing whatever she could to teach former slaves to read. I enjoyed reading a book set in an era right after the end of the American Civil War, as I've never considered what it must have been like for citizens who had just finished fighting each other to have to learn to live together peacefully again! What I most appreciated about the story are the themes of faith woven so effortlessly into the plot, especially how Laura is so bold in sharing her beliefs with all, that God cares about every detail of our lives, that he desires unity among his children, and that he will sustain us even through bad situations.

Tracie Peterson has penned another well-written read, and I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

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


 Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's Web site at and her blog at

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A free ebook about one man's visit to heaven: "Return from Tomorrow" by George G. Ritchie and Elizabeth Sherrill

Free for download is the ebook "Return from Tomorrow" by George G. Ritchie and Elizabeth Sherrill. Although I haven't yet read it, I certainly plan to as it looks like a fascinating read! Download this one quickly while it's still free:

Return from Tomorrow, 30th anniversary edition

Download the EPUB from for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader
(free as of this posting)


Go to for your Kindle:
(free as of tomorrow, June 21/12)

Fun, fast-paced, and....romantic! My review of Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer


Four brothers. Four straws. One bride.

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.

Years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.

Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?


Karen Witemeyer has penned a fast-moving, entertaining read in Short-Straw Bride. Meredith (or Meri as Travis calls her) is a strong-willed, determined woman who isn't about to let anyone order her around or tell her how to live her life. Living in an age where woman are often expected to fall in line with the expectations the men in their lives place on them, she is in for a clash of wills - and I daresay she often emerges the victor! Her scenes with Travis crackle with humour and, yes, romantic tension, and I am positive that female readers will be racing towards the end of the book in breathless anticipation of finding out how the relationship between Meri and Travis will eventually unfold. I am also certain that readers will not only be entertained, but also learn something along the way, such as the importance of admitting when you have made a mistake, of valuing courtship and emotional intimacy in a marriage, and best of all, of the blessing of submitting to God's will for your life.

Featuring lovable characters, some scenes of suspense, and a dash of fun (and clean!) romance, Short-Straw Bride is sure to be a winner with readers who enjoy historical romance novels. 4 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.

++Many thanks to my wife for greatly helping with reading and reviewing this book!


Image of Karen Witemeyer Karen Witemeyer holds a master's degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and the Abilene Writers Guild. A CBA bestselling author, her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, was a finalist in the Best First Book categories for both the prestigious RITA® award and the National Reader's Choice Award in 2011. Karen lives in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Visit Karen's Web site at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review & GIVEAWAY of "This Scarlet Cord": The Love Story of Rahab by Joan Wolf

This Scarlet Cord : The Love Story of Rahab, Joan Wolf

Joan Wolf's latest novel brings to life the amazing story of Rahab, as inspired by the Biblical account documented in the book of Joshua, chapters 2 and 6. In This Scarlet Cord, Rahab is the youngest daughter of a Canaanite farmer, a young woman of extraordinary beauty who her family believes is destined for more than the life of a simple farmer's wife. Rahab and her family thus travel to Jericho in the hopes of catching the eye of nobility and securing an advantageous marriage. However, while they are there, Rahab draws the eyes of the King and becomes part of a plan to ensure the King's successful participation in the fertility rites set to occur in honor of the gods Baal and Asherah. In desperation, Rahab calls upon Elohim, the God of the Israelites whom Rahab was introduced to many years prior when she was rescued by Sala, the son of an Israelite merchant. Rahab's prayers are answered in a manner she never could have anticipated when she becomes reconnected with Sala and becomes part of God's plans to destroy Jericho and restore the land of Canaan to the people of Israel.

I greatly enjoyed This Scarlet Cord, from the fascinating historical details woven into the story, to the courageous and lively character of Rahab and the forbidden love that develops between Sala and Rahab. After finishing the story, I went back to again read the account of Rahab in the Bible, and it is amazing how Joan Wolf has created such an entertaining story from so few sentences in the Bible! It is clear she has done her research into the setting of that time period, including the religious rituals observed by the Canaanites at that time, rituals that find Rahab in a frightening position indeed! The characters are very well-developed, and the story contains plenty of action to keep the story moving along well. Although Wolf has placed her own spin upon the story, she is absolutely faithful to the spirit of the Biblical account, providing an uplifting account of God's love and miraculous power. Reading this story has caused me to consider for the first time what it must have been like for the Canaanites living in Jericho to experience the Israelite army marching around their city for 7 days, the fear they must have felt! I also had never really wondered how it is that Rahab came to believe in God, as is so clearly noted in the Bible, and the author has created a plausible explanation of this in  a manner that not only makes sense but provides an absorbing read at the same time. I leave this book more in awe than ever of the power of God to carry out His plans, but also even more appreciative of the character of Rahab and her role in the genealogy of Jesus. What an amazing story of faith! 

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

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


Image of Joan WolfJoan Wolf is a USA TODAY bestselling American writer, whose acclaimed Regency romances have earned her national recognition as a master of the genre. Her many historical and contemporary romances, some of which have been chosen as Literary Guild selections, have been highly praised by reviewers and authors alike.

Joan was born in 1951 and she grew up in the Bronx, New York. A former English teacher, she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Mercy College and Master in English and Comparative Literature at Hunter College. An avid rider and horse owner, Joan lives in Connecticut with her husband Joe and two grown children, Jay and Pam.


I am giving away 1 copy of "This Scarlet Cord" to readers from the U.S. and Canada, courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson! 

You can get 1 entry into the giveaway for each task you perform:

1. Become a follower of my blog (through Google Followers or Networked Blogs) then leave a comment confirming you became a follower. If you are already a follower, just leave a comment that you already follow and I'll give you 1 entry for that.

2. "Like" my Facebook page, and let me know you did so in a comment. (The link is at the top of the webpage). Let me know if you've already liked it, and I'll give you an entry.

3. Post about the giveaway on your own blog or on twitter or facebook and leave me a comment. You get 1 entry for each method of spreading the word!

4. Leave a comment answering the following question: "What is your favourite biblical fiction book you've ever read?"

++ Please include your email address in your comment so I can contact you to arrange to get the book in the mail to you.

That's all there is to it. Contest Ends June 27, 2012.

 Good luck!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A stunning accomplishment: My review of Love's Sacred Song

Love's Sacred Song, Mesu Andrews, 978-0-8007-3408-4


Wisdom came as God's gift, but sacred love was forged through passion's fire

Standing in the shadow of his famous father, young King Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, longing for a love that is true and pure--a love that can be his cornerstone.

A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah has known since she first laid eyes on Solomon that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father secures a promise from Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams will come true.

But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon's harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

Mesu Andrews expertly weaves the words of the Song of Solomon into this touching story of the power of love from a master storyteller.


Love's Sacred Song is a stunning accomplishment. Mesu Andrews has brought to life the story of Solomon in a way that I have never before appreciated. It is clear that the author has done careful research in crafting this story, creating a story that is true to the Biblical account while forming a fast-paced plot that is emotionally gripping. When I have considered Solomon's story in the past, I have always wondered how a man with such an incredible number of wives and concubines as Solomon could possibly form the level of intimacy with one woman that would explain the writing of the beautiful and intimate Biblical book Song of Songs. For the first time, Mesu Andrews has helped me to consider how this could have occurred. The characters are beautifully developed, and the plot is filled with twists and turns that captured my interest from start to finish. Prepare to be moved by this skillfully written story, one that is going to stick with me long after I place this book back on the shelf. This is indeed a book I will be picking up again and again, not only because it is a well-written and entertaining read, but because it carries a powerful message of love and faith and the battle between God's will and our own desires, that his plan is always far greater than our own.

Should anyone ever try to tell you that Biblical fiction is boring, put a copy of this book in their hands. They will not be disappointed. 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 Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


 Mesu Andrews is the author of Love Amid the Ashes and is an active speaker who has devoted herself to passionate and intense study of Scripture. Harnessing her deep understanding and love for God's Word, Andrews brings the biblical world vividly alive for her readers. She lives in Washington.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Free ebook from the amazing & inspiring Joni Eareckson Tada: "A Place of Healing"

Also free for download today is the ebook "A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty":

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God's Sovereignty

Download the EPUB from for your Kobo, Sony, Nook ereader
(free as of this posting)


Go to
(free as of tomorrow, June 18/12)

Free newly released suspense fiction ebook: "The Next Target" by Nikki Arana

Sweet! A book I've been looking forward to reading entitled "The Next Target" has become FREE for download for your ereader for a limited time:

The Next Target

Download the EPUB from for your Nook, Sony, Kobo
(free as of this posting on


Go to
(free as of tomorrow Jun.18/12)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

An action-packed historical drama of the best kind: My review of Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke


Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.


Promise The This is a moving, action-packed read that held me in it's grip from the opening scenes to the satisfying conclusion. Drawing upon the rich historical drama of the sinking of the Titanic and the First World War, the story spans a number of years as it follows the lives of Annie Allen and Michael Dunnagan as they experience heart-ache, seeming insurmountable odds, and disappointment after disappointment. Yet, in the midst of their trials, the light of Jesus shines brightly. Both Annie and Michael experience a highly believable spiritual journey in the pages of this book, coming to realize that no matter what happens in their lives, the God of the Universe is as close as their breath, walking with them through the valley of the shadow of death. I loved watching both Annie and Michael arise triumphant in the midst of their circumstance, and the power of forgiveness and grace is beautifully illustrated in their lives. The discovery and growth of their own love for each other is also poignant to behold.

I literally found it impossible to step away from the pages of this story, and I highly recommend this book for those readers who love historical dramas filled with action and starring believable and inspiring characters. 5 out of 5 stars!


Cathy Gohlke
 Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Promise Me This, William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008.

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children's and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland. Visit her website at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An incredible story of good versus evil: My review of "The Telling" By Mike Duran

The Telling


A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.

Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistering himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future,to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.

On the northern fringes of Death Valley, the city of Endurance is home to llama ranches, abandoned mines, roadside attractions...and the mythical ninth gate of hell. Now, forced to investigate his own murder, Zeph discovers something even more insidious behind the urban legends and small-town eccentricities. Early miners unearthed a megalith—a sacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge and where an ancient subterranean presence broods. And only Zeph can stop it.

But the scar on Zeph’s face is nothing compared to the wound on his soul. For not only has he abandoned his gift and renounced heaven, but it was his own silence that spawned the evil. Can he overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell?

His words unlocked something deadly,

And now the silence is killing them.


What a ride! The Telling is an absolutely incredible story, a book filled with chilling suspense and carefully-crafted scenes that race towards an ultimate show-down between good and evil. Mike Duran writes with a wonderful grasp of the English language, putting details into the pages of his story that cause the characters to leap onto the screen of your mind. Zeph is an awesome character, a survivor of a deeply-troubled childhood who not only has to face the evil beginning to cover the land, but also has to wrestle the darkness inside him that has been gripping him since his horrific past. However, I have to say that my favorite character is the kick-butt grandma, Annie, who refuses to be told what she can and cannot do and so stays faithful to the calling God has placed upon her life. The ending provides a most satisfying conclusion, a reminder of God's victory both in this world and the next, a foreshadowing of the triumphant ending God will one day speak forth over the battle with the evil one.

If you are seeking to be entertained by a master story-teller, and if you enjoy books of suspense and good and evil, where demons and angels and prophecy collide, then this should be a book that you plan on reading. I highly recommend this book and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Realms (Charisma House Book Group), for the purposes of this unbiased review.


Image of Mike Duran MIKE DURAN is a novelist, blogger, and speaker, whose short stories, essays, and commentary have appeared in Relief Journal, Relevant Online, Breakpoint, Rue Morgue magazine, and other print and digital outlets. He is the author of the supernatural thriller THE RESURRECTION (Realms, 2011), which was a finalist in the 2011 INSPY awards, an e-book fantasy novella entitled WINTERLAND, and THE TELLING (Realms May 2012). Mike contributes monthly commentary at Novel Rocket, one of Writer's Digest 101 Most Helpful Websites for Writers. Mike is an ordained minister and lives with his wife and four grown children in Southern California. Mike's novels explore the boundaries of belief, the fragile tether between science and superstition, the depths of despair and the reaches of faith. You can learn more about Mike Duran, his writing projects, favorite music, cultural commentary, and arcane interests, at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Free fiction ebook: "In High Places" by Tom Morrisey

"In High Places", a fiction book originally published in 2008, has become free for download for your ereader from Bethany House publishers:

In High Places

Grab the EPUB from for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader
(currently free as of this posting)


Go to for your Kindle
(free as of tomorrow, June 13, 2012)

Giveaway & Review of "Building Family Ties with Faith, Love & Laughter" by Dave Stone @DaveStone920

Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter, Dave Stone

In this second installment of the Faithful Families series, Dave Stone returns with more practical advice to guide and encourage your family. Who wouldn't want a family that is characterized by joy? Dave Stone provides the tools to get you there, based on Biblical guidance, such that you can create an "unbreakable" family to withstand the times of trials that all families inevitably face. The author walks the readers through creating a family mission statement, and calls families to commit to such goals as eating family dinners together regularly, serving God together, and using words of love and purity in the family home.

Once again, Pastor Stone has stirred my heart with his words, delivered in a practical, easy-to-digest format that inspired me with his call to lead my family to be one filled with joy. Any family that would put into practice the principals shared in this book would emerge stronger and better for the effort. One chapter that especially spoke to me was the one entitled "I've Got Your Back", which teaches you to help your children see that "when it comes to the family, you're a team. You defend one another. You stick up for one another". In my own job working with families, all too often I see the opposite occurring, where husbands, wives, and children are all busy seeing to their own needs and tearing each other down. Just this one principal would make such a difference for so many families! I also love the idea of having a family mission statement, which may seem like too much work to some, but in practice is easy to create, and serves as a rallying point for the family. The focus on serving others as a family and shifting the spotlight off of ourselves is also such an important one, yet also so exciting, because I know from experience that it is those times you are giving to others together that you end up getting blessed yourself!

I could go on and on, but in the end I just encourage you to read this book for yourself, and not only to read it but actually put it into practice. I know I'm planning to!

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

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


I am giving away 1 copy of "Building Family Ties with Faith, Love & Laughter" to readers from the U.S. and Canada, courtesy of Thomas Nelson and publicist Amy Kerr (Thanks Amy!).

To enter do the following:

1. Become a follower of my blog (through Google Followers or Networked Blogs) then leave a comment confirming you became a follower. If you are already a follower, move on to step 2.

2. Leave a comment answering the question of why you are interested in receiving this book.

++ Please include your email address so I can contact you to arrange to get the book in the mail to you.

That's all there is to it. Contest Ends June 19, 2012. Good luck!

Monday, June 11, 2012

4 free nonfiction ebooks including "Angels are for Real" & "88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates"

Four nonfiction ebooks have become free from Baker Publishing. Download them while you can! Get the EPUB from for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader, etc., or go to Amazon for the Kindle version. They include the following:

Grab the EPUB from
(free as of this posting)

Angels Are for Real: Inspiring True Stories and  Biblical Answers  Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half: Why Differences Make a Marriage Great What a Daughter Needs From Her Dad: How a Man Prepares His Daughter for Life
  EPUB                       EPUB                          EPUB       

 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates: Fun, Easy & Creative Ways to Build Memories Together



Go to for your Kindle:
(free as of tomorrow June 12, 2012)


Blog Tour & My Review of "Life Without Limits" by Nick Vujici

Read on for an introduction to Nick Vujicic's amazing book, "Life Without Limits", and check out 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:

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer, Senior Publicist  at Random House for sending me a review copy.***


Nick Vujicic is the founder of the international non-profit organization Life Without Limbs. Nick recently made the move from Australia to California, his new home base as he travels the world speaking to a range of different groups such as students, teachers, youth, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs, and church congregations of all sizes. He has told his story and been interviewed on various televised programs worldwide, including “20/20,” “60 Minutes,” and “The 700 Club.”

Visit the author's website.


What Would Your Life be Like if Anything Were Possible?

Born without arms or legs, Nick Vujicic overcame his disabilities to live an independent, rich, fulfilling, and “ridiculously good” life while serving as a role model for anyone seeking true happiness. Now an internationally successful motivational speaker, Nick eagerly spreads his central message: the most important goal is to find your life’s purpose and to never give up, despite whatever difficulties or seemingly impossible odds stand in your way.

Nick tells the story of his physical disabilities and the emotional battle he endured while learning to deal with them as a child, teen, and young adult. “For the longest, loneliest time, I wondered if there was anyone on earth like me, and whether there was any purpose to my life other than pain and humiliation.” Nick shares how his faith in God has been his major source of strength, and he explains that once he found a sense of purpose—inspiring others to better their lives and the world around them--he found the confidence to build a rewarding and productive life without limits. Let Nick inspire you to start living your own life without limits.

Includes a Life Without Limits Personal Action Plan to help anyone determine their unique path to a successful life.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307589749
ISBN-13: 978-0307589743


If You Can’t Get a Miracle, Become One

O ne of my most popular videos on YouTube shows footage of me skateboarding, surfing, playing music, hitting a golf ball, falling down, getting up, speaking to audiences, and best of all, receiving hugs from all sorts of great people.

All in all, those are pretty ordinary activities that just about anybody can do, right? So why do you think that video has been viewed millions of times? My theory is that people are drawn to watch it because despite my physical limitations, I’m living as though I have no limits.

People often expect someone with a severe disability to be inactive, maybe even angry and withdrawn. I like to surprise them by showing that I lead a very adventurous and fulfilling existence.

Among the hundreds of comments on that video, here’s one typical remark: “Seeing a guy like this being happy makes me wonder why the hell I feel sorry for myself sometimes . . . or feel that I’m not attractive enough, or funny enough, or WHATEVER. How can I even think thoughts like that when this guy is living without limbs and still being HAPPY!?”

I’m often asked that very question: “Nick, how can you be so happy?” You may be dealing with your own challenges, so I’ll give you the quick answer up front:

I found happiness when I realized that as imperfect as I may be, I am the perfect Nick Vujicic. I am God’s creation, designed according to His plan for me. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement. I’m always trying to be better so I can better serve Him and the world!

I do believe my life has no limits. I want you to feel the same way about your life, no matter what your challenges may be. As we begin our journey together, please take a moment to think about any limitations you’ve placed on your life or that you’ve allowed others to place on it. Now think about what it would be like to be free of those limitations. What would your life be if anything were possible?

I’m officially disabled, but I’m truly enabled because of my lack of limbs. My unique challenges have opened up unique opportunities to reach so many in need. Just imagine what is possible for you!

Too often we tell ourselves we aren’t smart enough or attractive enough or talented enough to pursue our dreams. We buy into what others say about us, or we put restrictions on ourselves. What’s worse is that when you consider yourself unworthy, you are putting limits on how God can work through you!

When you give up on your dreams, you put God in a box. After all, you are His creation. He made you for a purpose. Therefore your life cannot be limited any more than God’s love can be contained.

I have a choice. You have a choice. We can choose to dwell on disappointments and shortcomings. We can choose to be bitter, angry, or sad. Or when faced with hard times and hurtful people, we can choose to learn from the experience and move forward, taking responsibility for our own happiness.

As God’s child, you are beautiful and precious, worth more than all the diamonds in the world. You and I are perfectly suited to be who we were meant to be! Even still, it should always be our goal to become an even better person and stretch our boundaries by dreaming big. Adjustments are necessary along the way because life isn’t always rosy, but it is always worth living. I’m here to tell you that no matter what your circumstances may be, as long as you are breathing, you have a contribution to make.

I can’t put a hand on your shoulder to reassure you, but I can speak from the heart. However desperate your life may seem, there is hope. As bad as circumstances appear, there are better days ahead. No matter how dire your circumstances may appear, you can rise above them. To wish for change will change nothing. To make the decision to take action right now will change everything!

All events come together for the good. I’m certain of that because it’s been true in my life. What good is a life without limbs? Just by looking at me, people know that I faced and overcame many obstacles and hardships. That makes them willing to listen to me as a source of inspiration. They allow me to share my faith, to tell them they are loved, and to give them hope.

That is my contribution. It’s important to recognize your own value. Know that you also have something to contribute. If you feel frustrated right now, that’s okay. Your sense of frustration means you want more for your life than you have right now. That’s all good. Often it’s the challenges in life that show us who we are truly meant to be.

A Life of Value

It took me a long time to see the benefits of the circumstances I was born into. My mum was twenty-five years old when she became pregnant with me, her first child. She’d been a midwife and worked as a pediatric nurse in charge in the delivery room where she provided care for hundreds of mothers and their babies. She knew what she had to do while she was pregnant, watching her diet, being cautious about medications, and not consuming alcohol, aspirin, or any other pain-killers. She went to the best doctors and they assured her everything was proceeding smoothly.

Even still, her apprehension persisted. As her due date approached, my mum shared her concerns with my father several times, saying, “I hope that everything’s okay with the baby.”

When two ultrasounds were performed during her pregnancy, the doctors detected nothing unusual. They told my parents that the baby was a boy but not a word about missing limbs! At my delivery on December 4, 1982, my mother could not see me at first, and the first question she asked the doctor was “Is the baby all right?” There was silence. As the seconds ticked by and they were still not bringing the baby for her to see, she sensed even more that something was wrong. Instead of giving me to my mother to hold, they summoned a pediatrician and moved off to the opposite corner, examining me and conferring with each other. When my mum heard a big healthy baby scream, she was relieved. But my dad, who had noticed I was missing an arm during the delivery, felt queasy and was escorted out of the room.

Shocked at the sight of me, the nurses and doctors quickly wrapped me up.

My mother, who’d participated in hundreds of deliveries as a nurse, wasn’t fooled. She read the distress on the faces of her medical team, and she knew something was very wrong.

“What is it? What’s wrong with my baby?” she demanded.

Her doctor would not answer at first, but when she insisted on a response, he could offer my mother only a specialized medical term.

“Phocamelia,” he said.

Because of her nursing background, my mother recognized the term as the condition babies have when they are born with malformed or missing limbs. She simply couldn’t accept that this was true.

In the meantime, my stunned dad was outside, wondering whether he had seen what he thought he saw. When the pediatrician came out to speak to him, he cried out, “My son, he has no arm!”

“Actually,” the pediatrician said as sensitively as possible, “your son has neither arms nor legs.”

My father went weak with shock and anguish.

He sat stunned, momentarily unable to speak before his protective instincts kicked in. He rushed in to tell my mother before she saw me, but to his dismay he found her lying in bed, crying. The staff had already told her the news. They had offered to bring me to her but she refused to hold me and told them to take me away.

The nurses were crying. The midwife was crying. And of course, I was crying! Finally they put me next to her, still covered, and my mum just couldn’t bear what she was seeing: her child without limbs.

“Take him away,” she said. “I don’t want to touch him or see him.”

To this day my father regrets that the medical staff did not give him time to prepare my mother properly. Later, as she slept, he visited me in the nursery. He came back and told Mum, “He looks beautiful.” He asked her if she wanted to see me at that point, but she declined, still too shaken. He understood and respected her feelings.

Instead of celebrating my birth, my parents and their whole church mourned. “If God is a God of love,” they wondered, “why would He let something like this happen?”

My Mum’s Grief

I was my parents’ firstborn child. While this would be a major cause for rejoicing in any family, no one sent flowers to my mum when I was born. This hurt her and only deepened her despair.

Sad and teary-eyed, she asked my dad, “Don’t I deserve flowers?”

“I’m sorry,” Dad said. “Of course you deserve them.” He went to the hospital flower shop and returned shortly to present her with a bouquet.

I was aware of none of this until the age of thirteen or so, when I began to question my parents about my birth and their initial reaction to my lack of limbs. I’d had a bad day at school, and when I told my mum, she cried with me. I told her I was sick of having no arms and legs. She shared my tears and said that she and my dad had come to understand that God had a plan for me and one day He would reveal it. My questions continued over time, sometimes with one parent, sometimes with both. Part of my search for answers was natural curiosity and part of it was in response to the persistent questions I’d been fielding from curious classmates.

At first, I was a little scared of what my parents might tell me, and, since some of this was difficult for them to delve into, I didn’t want to put them on the spot. In our initial discussions my mum and dad were very careful and protective ...


Nick Vujici's book is one of the most inspiring I have ever read, to date. His utter determination and strength to rise above the trials of life are living proof that God is alive and well and at work in the world today. His story is wonderfully told in "Life Without Limits", allowing us a glimpse into Nick's past and the challenges he and his family have faced, but also allowing us to observe the incredible impact he has had on people around the world....and the fun he has had while doing it! Many times, I found myself laughing out loud, such as when he shares the story about convincing his caregiver to hide him in the overhead luggage department of an airplane - and then popping out to surprise one of the passengers!

Where most of us would have given up on living a "normal" life had we been born without arms and legs, Nick redefines normal, and in the process gives all glory to God. Yet I also appreciate that he doesn't gloss over the pain and darkness he's experienced, but is honest and open even about a period in his life when he wanted to give in to thoughts of suicide. I am sure that countless people struggling with similar thoughts, for whatever reason, would be greatly encouraged by Nick's honesty about his own struggles, and also about how he chose a different path and discovered that God had great plans in store for him. What a great reminder to us that, even when we are down in the valley of pain, God is still in control and is able to do more than we can even dream of.

"Life Without Limits" is a well-crafted, inspirational read, and I highly encourage readers to pick up a copy for themselves. You will not only be emotionally impacted by what you read, but will be moved to live a life of faith and adventure as well. The book even contains a personal action plan section that will help you make positive changes in practical, action-orientated steps.

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

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Free nonfiction book: "True Courage: Emboldened by God in a Disheartening World (Bold Man of God)" by Steve Farrar

A strongly recommended book has become free for download for your ereader. Check it out below:

True Courage: Emboldened by God in a Disheartening World


Does it feel like you're in the middle of a personal "den of lions"? Exploring the life of Daniel, Farrar reveals a powerful sovereign God who will help you stand firm in the midst of uncertain situations---whether it's an unexpected job loss, a financial crisis, the diagnosis of a sick child, or the return of debilitating cancer. 

DOWNLOAD the epub from for your Nook, Sony ereader, Kobo


Go to for your Kindle

(available for download as of June 11, 2012)

Free fiction ebook "Amy Inspired" by Bethany Pierce

Today, fiction ebook "Amy Inspired" by Bethany Pierce has become free for download:

Amy Inspired

Grab the EPUB from for your Kobo, Nook, Sony ereader

Or go to for your Kindle:
(free on Amazon as of tomorrow, June 11, 2012)

Underwear in the Fridge? The power of stories to change our lives

Today my children reminded me of the power of stories to impact how we behave, how we live our lives.

Of course, it's all my fault too.

You see, every night before we read a Bible story together, my children insist on hearing me tell them a "Herbie" story that I am forced to come up with every night. Herbie is the name of a froggie who has great and wonderful adventures - and who also has a rather mischievous side. Recently, I told them a story of how Herbie took all of his father's underwear and put it in the freezer. Herbie, of course, suitably learned from this mischievous behavior and the story progressed from there. 

Clearly my children learned from this behaviour as well, because guess what I found in my fridge this morning?

That's right. My underwear (and yes, it was clean).

Fortunately, they couldn't reach the freezer.

This brings to mind the greatest story teller of all, Jesus, who shared parables that have literally changed lives since the day He shared them, whether the parable of the prodigal son or the unforgiving servant, the parable of the lost sheep or the good Samaritan. I am reminded to be filling my mind and my life with HIS stories, with His words of Truth and Life, allowing them to change me from the inside out and hopefully impact the world about me.

I may not be leaving underwear in my neighbour's freezer (after all, I'm rather partial to avoiding jail time), but I hope I'm having a different impact on my neighbour, whether my literal neighbour, my friends, my co-workers, or the people in the world around me.

I hope that I am living out the words and stories and Truth of Jesus and bringing light to a darkened world.

That's my prayer for today, anyway.