Sunday, September 30, 2012

Not just a good debut...just plain ol' good! My review of "Mother of Pearl" by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Mother of Pearl


Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Mother of Pearl brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.


I love discovering new authors, especially when they can produce a debut book as good as this one! Gilbert has written a book featuring beautifully realized characters, a book that draws you in early and keeps you turning the pages. Books featuring characters who are grieving always run the risk of become plodding and slow as the character slowly moves through the stages of grief - but Gilbert avoids that in this book. Despite featuring deep subject matter, the book moves along well throughout, and by the last third of the book I could scarcely put the book down as I waiting to see how the trial would resolve - though of course I expected and hoped for a happy ending! The characters aren't perfect, but instead are human and struggle with things we all do - coping with grief, struggling at times with their marriages, or uncertain how to be the best parent. Yet the characters, especially Barrie, are original and likable, and there is so much to admire and like about them, especially Barrie's determination for justice and to protect other youth from danger.

Mother of Pearl is a wonderful debut, written with skill and deep emotion. Readers looking for a moving and entertaining contemporary read should plan on giving this author a try. I highly recommend this book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Abingdon Press, and Glassroad Public Relations, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


Image of Kellie Coates GilbertKellie Coates Gilbert is a former legal investigator and trial paralegal who writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure. Kellie's books tell emotionally poignant stories about women in life-changing circumstances. She writes about messy lives . . . and eternal hope.

Kellie currently makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a very spoiled 2.7 lb. Yorkie named Ava.

Please visit her online at

Free historical fiction ebook: "Flame of Resistance" by Tracy Groot

Free for download is a book I really enjoyed:

From Barnes & Noble:

Or From

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fantastic giveaway & my review of newly released "Darkness Rising" by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson

Boy, do I have a treat for you! Check out my review of "Darkness Rising" and also the giveaway I'm hosting for your own copy of this hardcover novel, the second in the East Salem series!

Darkness Rising

The East Salem series begun with "Waking Hours" continues in the second installment, "Darkness Rising". Forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris and private investigator Tommy Gunderson continue in their race to uncover the truth of what's happening behind the walls of St. Adrian's Academy. As they delve ever deeper into the mysteries surrounding the school, they discover that the truth is far more encompassing than they thought, revealing supernatural forces at work that have been spreading their influence for generations. Soon Dani and Tommy find themselves questioning who they can trust and battling with angels and demons in a true showdown of good versus evil.

I found Darkness Rising to be a riveting, skillfully written read, quickly absorbing me into the chilling world of East Salem. I loved the blend of hidden mysteries, supernatural suspense, and the ties to historical events. The writing is taut and fast-paced, and truly made it hard for me to be able to close the book for any length of time and tend to the world around me. I'm really enjoying the relationship continuing to unfold between Dani and Tommy, with just the right hint of romance that will appeal to a broad base of readers without being over the top. The dialogue is solid, moving the story forward while containing moments of humour that actually made me laugh out loud. 

I have enjoyed every moment of the series so far, and am greatly impressed with the writing talents of Lis Wiehl and Pete Nelson. Readers who have enjoyed previous books from Lis Wiehl, and those who enjoy thrillers and mysteries with a supernatural undertone, are going to absolutely love this book. I did! 5 out of 5 stars.

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

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

I am giving away 1 copy of "Darkness Rising" 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: "Do you believe there are angels and demons at work in the world around us?"

++ 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 October 10, 2012.

Good luck!


Free for kindle: "How Huge the Night" by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

Free for your kindle is an ebook from Kregel publishers:

Let me know if you find it free for download anywhere else :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wickedly good: My review of Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins @Brandilyn


Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate.

When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo?

What if something far worse goes wrong?

Written in the relentless style for which Brandilyn Collins is known, Double Blind is a psychological thriller with mind-bending twists. Lisa faces choices that drive her to the brink, and one wrong move could cost the lives of many.


I absolutely devoured Double Blind, reading it from start to finish, completely unable to put it down. Brandilyn Collins writes with gripping suspense, with crisp, taut writing that makes for a quick-paced plot full of action, twists and turns. I absolute loved the initial premise of this book, of a chip that can be implanted on the brain and has the capacity to cure depression. Collins has delved into new territory here, mixing suspense with some sci-fi futuristic elements - or maybe not so far into the distance after-all, a thought all the more terrifying when it's considered that such technology could be a blessing, or a curse.

Brandilyn Collins continues to be one of my favourite authors, and this book is an absolute keeper. My only disappointment with the book was coming to the end because I was just enjoying the story so much! Not only has Collins produced a wildly entertaining story, but she's managed to leave me thinking through some deeper issues as well, such as the role of suffering in our lives and what our response should be, or the truth that God is with us no matter what, and that our walk with him cannot be dependent on whether we feel like he's with us - he just is!

Fans of previous novels by the author are absolutely going to love Double Blind. And, anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel should plan on adding this one to their collection.

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

An egalley of this book was provided courtesy of B&H Publishing Group.


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is a three-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner and has received Inspirational Readers’ Choice and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice honors. Brandilyn and her family have homes in California and Idaho.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A great addition to any family with young children: My review of "Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue" by Jan & Mike Berenstain

Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue

The "Berenstain Bears Good Deed Scouts to the Rescue" is a collection of three popular stories about the Berenstain Bears, including "Kitten Rescue", "A Neighbour in Need" and "Little Lost Cub". The book is part of the "I Can Read Book" series, written in simple sentences to help developing readers practice sounding out words. All three stories provide valuable lessons about helping others in need, and in each Scout Fred points out a Bible verse that applies to their circumstances.

My children greatly enjoyed cuddling close and listening to these stories or practicing reading from the pages. The Berenstain Bears have long been favourites of theirs, following the antics of Mama and Papa Bear, or Sister Bear and Brother Bear. The stories are well-written and engaging, and my children said they especially loved the story about the kitten because they love animals so much! What I most appreciate about the stories is that they are not preachy, but instead naturally develop the morals and values throughout the story lines. The pictures are bright and entertaining, with lots of interesting details to hold the readers captive. I was impressed that not only did my three year old sit still and listen to all three stories, he begged to hear them over again! That, for me, is a sign of a good book.

I highly recommend this book for young readers, and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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

about the authors...

Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Though Stan died in 2005, and Jan in 2012, Mike continues to create the delightful Bear adventures from the family home and studio in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks much like the sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Simply brilliant: My review of "The Prophet" by Michael Koryta @mjkoryta

The Prophet

about the book....

Adam Austin hasn't spoken to his brother in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered. Now Adam keeps to himself, scraping by as a bail bondsman, working so close to the town's criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them.
Kent Austin is the beloved coach of the local high school football team, a religious man and hero in the community. After years of near misses, Kent's team has a shot at the state championship, a welcome point of pride in a town that has had its share of hardships.

Just before playoffs begin, the town and the team are thrown into shock when horrifically, impossibly, another teenage girl is found murdered. As details emerge that connect the crime to the Austin brothers, the two must confront their buried rage and grief-and unite to stop a killer.

Michael Koryta, widely hailed as one of the most exciting young thriller authors at work today, has written his greatest novel ever-an emotionally harrowing, unstoppably suspenseful novel that Donald Ray Pollock has called "one of the sharpest and superbly plotted crime novels I've read in my life."

my review...

The Prophet grabbed me from the first page with its break-neck pace and well-plotted suspense, and held me captive until the last page. Rarely do I experience those moments near the end of a story where the identity of the murderer is revealed and my jaw literally drops in shock as I think "no way!". But that is precisely what happened with The Prophet, a book that will not only entertain you, but will also leave you thinking about faith and forgiveness, loyalty and family. Koryta takes breathers in the story, moments where he draws you deeper into the character's lives until you can’t keep them off your mind. Brothers Adam and Kent are superbly developed characters, utterly human, prone to make mistakes as they are faced with ethical dilemmas like any of us, and desperate to experience those moments of forgiveness and acceptance that we all long for.  Kent especially is a character whose inner thoughts contain gems that I take away from the story, such as when he contemplates, "How much better would the world be if everyone operated under the lights and before the crowd, if they were not granted moments alone in the dark?" The story goes on to explore exactly what happens when both Kent and Adam retreat from that light and are faced with moments of darkness, and let me tell you that it is quite a ride!

A brilliant mix of superbly crafted suspense and profound moments hidden within the story, The Prophet wins a high recommendation from me. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown & Company), for the purposes of this unbiased review.

a side note....

One word of warning: As this book is not listed as Christian fiction, it does contain some foul language. I am personally not the type to be turned off by such a thing, finding it easy to skim over such words without them impacting me. However, if such language serves to distract or upset you, look for a different book.

about the author...

Michael Koryta Michael Koryta (pronounced ko–ree–ta) has written nine novels, praised by such authors as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, and The Prophet was called "Friday Night Lights meets In Cold Blood...a flawless performance" by Kirkus. His last three novels, The Ridge, The Cypress House, and So Cold The River were all New York Times notable books and nominated for several national and international awards. In addition to winning the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, his novel Envy the Night was selected as a Reader's Digest condensed book. Koryta's work has been translated into more than twenty languages. A former private investigator and newspaper reporter, Koryta graduated from Indiana University with a degree in criminal justice. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Bloomington, Indiana.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Free Christian Fiction just for your kindle: "Legacy Road" by Graham Garrison

A relatively new release from Kregel publisher is free for download, but I've only found it free from Amazon so far.

Let me know if you've seen it free anywhere else!

Free ebook on prayer: "Power of Persistent Prayer" by Cindy Jacobs

In case you missed it this morning, a great ebook on prayer became available as of today:

From Barnes&Noble for your Nook:




Or grab the EPUB from

Bethany House Publishers / 2010 / ePub

Congratulations to the winner of Sarah Sundin's "With Every Letter"

With Every Letter: A Novel

Congrats to Sonya, who won the copy of "With Every Letter".

To everyone else who entered the contest, thanks for entering, and keep your eyes peeled for another great giveaway coming up soon!

Friday, September 21, 2012

An excellent Bible for teens: A preview & review with FIRST Wild Card Tours

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 is:

Zondervan; Special edition (August 21, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***


This all-new, full-featured NIV Bible is great for teens looking to grow their faith, increase meaning in their lives, and find hope for their future. The Rock Solid Bible for Teens is a timely guide for teens grappling with big questions about the world, their future, and their faith.  Featuring the complete New International Version text, apologetics helps, hundreds of call-outs, and concrete promises for the future, the Rock Solid Bible provides firm traction for the development of beliefs and behavior rooted in the unchanging love, guidance, and promises of God.

Product Details:
List Price: $29.99

Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 1664 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (August 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310723302
ISBN-13: 978-0310723301


Chapter will be placed up here soon.


If you are looking for a Bible for the teen in your life, then look no further than the NIV Rock Solid Study Bible! This Bible is honestly one that I would consider using now myself, despite the fact I am well past my teen years, because not only does it feature my favourite version of the Bible, the New International Version (one I find to be accessible and easy to understand), but it is accompanied by some truly awesome features. My favourite is the "Rock Solid Promises" that are scattered like treasures throughout the pages, drawing the readers eye to some truly powerful promises. I also like the "Rock Solid Principles", containing modern day situations and examples that illustrate what the passage is talking about. I also found that the Concordance at the back of the Bible is truly comprehensive and helpful, and sure to help your teen dig deeper into the Word.  These features, along with many more useful additions, will aid your teen in building their faith and understanding of the Bible.

The actual design of the Bible is also excellent, featuring a hard-cover version that is well-bound, with a generic cover sure to appeal to teens of either gender.

In sum, this is a fantastic version of the Bible for youth, and should be at the top of your list in considering a teen-themed Bible. 5 out of 5 stars.

Bible has been provided courtesy of Zondervan and B & B Media, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My review of "Barcelona Calling" by Jane Kirkpatrick

Barcelona Calling: A Novel

Wanting nothing more than to become a famous author, and perhaps find love along the way, Annie Shaw decides to get her latest book endorsed by Oprah on her show, with the help of her sister and close friends. However, several barriers lie in her way to igniting her writing career, not the least of which is that Annie has no idea how to get Oprah to notice her book in the first place! When Annie temporarily moves to Chicago and gets a dog in a scheme to meet Oprah, she embarks on what is only the first in a series of attempts to further her career. A new book editor, along with a man and a relationship she thought she'd left behind in Barcelona, add further drama to the mix as Annie tries to achieve her dreams.

Barcelona Calling is a contemporary read filled with lighthearted moments along with a message about what really matters in life. The characters are well fleshed out, and Annie is involved in plenty of antics to keep the story moving along, many of which left a large smile on my face. I must admit that I found it hard to like Annie at first, with her constant second-guessing of her books and her talent. Although this may be a realistic portrayal of a writer's life, it grew a little tedious. However, once things got moving along, I found myself getting absorbed into the story. And, I even am taking away an important thought, where one of the characters reflects "a satisfying goal is one that can make a difference in the lives of others as well as your own, don't you think?". Too often in life our dreams can get wrapped up in what seems best for us, ignoring the fact that God made us to find real fulfillment in our service to others. 

Although this book is not my favourite from Jane (I loved her Portrait of the Heart Series!), I am positive that fans of Jane's will enjoy this book. I give this book a mild recommendation and a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Held me captive: My review of "Mortal Fire" by C. F. Dunn @clairefdunn

Mortal Fire

Seeking access to a seventeenth-century journal, history Professor Emma D'Eresby leaves England for a  temporary position at a prestigious university in America. Her arrival sparks a flurry of curiosity at her British accent and her surprising area of expertise examining the historical use of torture for the "benefit and salvation of the recipient". She soon catches the eye of several male admirers, one of whose attention grows increasingly disturbing by the day. When Emma is attacked, she is rescued by a doctor, Matthew Lynes, who she finds herself growing to love, a doctor shrouded in mystery, a man who appears to be connected to the past and the truth Emma is seeking to uncover.

Mortal Fire is a book of suspense, of secrets, of unexpected developments, and I was held captive by the tale that Dunn has woven. Emma is a brilliant character, someone who is smart and unique, with an interesting personality that makes you want to spend time getting to know her. I enjoyed the moments of humour sprinkled throughout the book, while the scene where Emma is attacked is utterly chilling. My one criticism of the book is that at times Emma's infatuation with Matthew and her dealings with other admirers felt a bit more juvenile than I would have liked, detracting somewhat from my enjoyment of the character. However, taken as a whole, I greatly enjoyed the book, finding it to be well-written and action-packed, leaving me craving more. 

As with most books in a series, I came to the end with more questions than answers, but with enough hints to what is going on to make me appreciate what the author has accomplished. Mortal Fire is an excellent debut novel, and the author has gained a new follower as I highly anticipate the next book in the series, and the further revealing of Emma's story and that of the mysterious Mathew. 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Monarch Books, as distributed by Kregel Publications, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


C. F. Dunn runs a school in North Kent for children with developmental disabilities, dyslexia, autism, and other difficulties.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Free ebook: "Two Crosses: A Novel" by Elizabeth Musser

Free for download is the ebook "Two Crosses", the first in a series by Elizabeth Musser.

Free as of this posting from Barnes & Noble:


Should also be free as of tomorrow from


Friday, September 14, 2012

A fitting end to a great series: My review of ``Nothing to Hide`` by J. Mark Bertrand

Nothing to Hide


 A grisly homicide. An international threat. The stakes have never been higher for Detective Roland March.

The victim's head is missing, but what intrigues Detective Roland March is the hand. The pointing finger must be a clue--but to what? According to the FBI, the dead man was an undercover asset tracking the flow of illegal arms to the Mexican cartels. To protect the operation, they want March to play along with the cover story. With a little digging, though, he discovers the Feds are lying. And they're not the only ones.

In an upside-down world of paranoia and conspiracy, March finds himself dogged by injury and haunted by a tragic failure. Forced to take justice into his own hands, his twisting investigation leads him into the very heart of darkness, leaving March with nothing to lose--and nothing to hide.


Nothing to Hide continues the story of Detective Roland March, as begun first in "Back on Murder" and then "Pattern of Wounds", and it does so in a tremendously satisfying manner. Now, as I've warned with other similar suspense books, not all readers will be comfortable with the occasional grisly scene. However, readers who enjoy a good suspense novel are going to find this book to be completely entertaining, well-written, and sure to leave you thinking as you ponder the ethical dilemmas March finds himself in. The conspiracy underpinning this book makes for an absorbing read, and I greatly enjoyed the occasional "Interludes" which take the reader back a couple of decades to where everything began for Detective March, providing valuable insight into who March is as a character and what he stands for. The plot is full of twists and turns that will keep you riveted to the pages, and I honestly found the book impossible to put down. And I have to say, I was completely surprised when the murderer was revealed, something that doesn't happen all that often! Well done Bertrand!

I highly recommend not only Nothing to Hide, but the entire series, which is definitely one I will be reading again in the future. Bertrand has earned a permanent place on my "must read" list. 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.


J. Mark Bertrand  J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota. For more information, visit

Check out a preview of the book:

Nothing To Hide

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A book I absolutely loved! My review & GIVEAWAY of "With Every Letter" by Sarah Sundin

With Every Letter: A Novel

about the book...

Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she's never met--even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence--he's been trying to escape his infamous name for years.

As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?

Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing--and true love.

my review....

I absolutely loved this book, from the interesting historical setting of Mellie being a flight evacuation nurse in World War II, to the book's well-developed and satisfying romantic elements that will truly capture the interest of both female and male readers. Tom and Mellie are fantastic characters with insecurities that any reader will identify with, such as Tom's struggle to overcome his childhood and learn what it means to be a man, and Mellie's difficulty viewing herself as a woman of beauty and value. Sundin writes with a sure hand, easily drawing you into the story, and keeping the story moving at a perfect pace that kept me engaged. "With Every Letter" is a moving read that entertains on many levels, and watching Tom and Mellie grow as characters through the course of the novel was an absolute pleasure. Sundin expertly draws the story to a close with a conclusion that left a smile on my face, and I can't wait to return to the characters in the second installment of the series.

Readers who enjoy well-written historical novels should plan on spending time on Sundin's latest offering. I highly recommend this book and award it a full 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...

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.


I am giving away 1 copy of "With Every Letter" to readers from the U.S. and Canada, courtesy of the publisher and Graf-Martin! 

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: "Have you ever written a letter to someone involved in a war?"

++ 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 September 21, 2012.

Free ebook: "Full Tilt" by Creston Mapes

Free on Amazon for a limited time is an ebook from Creston Mapes. Download it while you can!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My review of ``Serpent of Moses`` by Don Hoesel

Serpent of Moses


Moses built and lifted up the brass serpent, healing the afflicted Israelites of snakebites.

King Hezekiah called the serpent Nehushtan. Long thought destroyed, it's been buried for millennia, secreted under the region's shifting sands.

Now the Israeli government wants it back and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Yet they're not the only ones who covet the Nehushtan.

Archaeologist Jack Hawthorne travels to Libya intent on recovering the sacred object, but one does not cross the Mossad and expect to walk away without a fight. Jack and his friends must find the priceless "snake of brass upon a pole" before those who are also hunting it find them... and silence them forever.


Let me start by saying that Don Hoesel's previous novels have won high recommendations from me for their non-stop action, excellent plots, and Hoesel's strong command of the English language. I therefore approached "Serpent of Moses" with expectations that this book would live up to his previous works. In many ways it did, because the story features plenty of high-octane action scenes and interesting locales. However, for some reason I found much of the story to be somewhat plodding, and I finished the book not even quite clear on whether I liked Jack as a character. He definitely experiences growth during the story, coming to realize that his relationship with his partner is more important than the latest archaeological find or large financial reward. But his whole reason for going after the object in the first place is utterly without merit, and because of this the book lacked the sense of justice and rightness that would make me normally side with the main character and their mission. Jack simply didn't deserve to win anymore than anyone else in the story did. And despite the coolness factor of the artifact, its importance to Israel itself isn't fleshed out that strongly in my opinion.

The result is that I can only give this book a mild recommendation to readers who typically enjoy stories of action and suspense, and a rating of 3.5 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.


Don Hoesel, the acclaimed author of Elisha’s Bones, Hunter’s Moon, and The Alarmists, lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. Don holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Taylor University. When not writing novels, he spends his days working in the communications department of a large company.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Compelling from the first page: My review of "Love's Reckoning" by Laura Frantz

Love's Reckoning: A Novel

about the book...

On a bitter December day in 1784, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of blacksmith Liege Lee in York County, Pennsylvania. Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship quickly and move west. But because he is a fast worker and a superb craftsman, Liege endeavors to keep him in York by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master's beautiful daughters.

Eden is as gentle and fresh as Elspeth is high-spirited and cunning. But are they truly who they appear to be? In a house laced with secrets, each sister seeks to secure her future. Which one will claim Silas's heart--and will he agree to Liege's arrangement?

In this sweeping family saga, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

my review...

Love's Reckoning is a compelling read, one that gripped me from early on in the story as my sympathies for Eden quickly grew. I always know an author has succeeded at immersing me into the story they have woven when I find myself growing angry on a character's behalf, and I was soon holding the pages tightly due to wanting to remedy Eden's situation! Elspeth is a selfish, conniving sister who treats Eden with harsh disdain, serving as the perfect foil to Eden's gentle spirit and loving nature, and the injustice Eden faces kept me moving quickly through the pages to see how things would resolve. Laura Frantz has created wonderful characters in this first book of the Ballantyne Legacy, and she has set them in a fascinating period of history that is brought to life with vivid detail. My only critique of the story is that I felt it could have perhaps been shortened somewhat to keep up the pace in the last third of the book, though other readers will no doubt disagree with me. As a whole, the story is great entertainment and time well spent as Frantz succeeds at unfolding a masterfully-told tale.

This first book in the series ends with a satisfying conclusion, yet leaves me greatly wondering where the story will lead to next, as it appears the next novel will focus on the sister who did not win Silas' heart - and that should be an interesting story indeed!

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

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

about the author...

 Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Free ebook: Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Free for download today is a great book from Chris Fabry:

   or Barnes & Noble:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Inspiring and humorous: My review of "My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life" by Marvin J. Besteman with Lorilee Craker

My Journey to Heaven: What I Saw and How It Changed My Life

about the book....

An unforgettable trip to the gates of heaven and back

As Marv Besteman lay in a hospital bed, visions of celestial beauty were the last thing on his mind. He had just had surgery to remove a rare pancreatic tumor. Alone after visiting hours ended, Marv tossed and turned, wanting more than anything else to simply sleep and escape the excruciating pain and misery for a while.

He was about to have an experience he never could have imagined--and could never forget.

In My Journey to Heaven, Marv Besteman shares the true story of his experience of heaven with astounding detail. You'll meet the angels who accompanied him to the gate, overhear his conversation with St. Peter, and feel the joy as he recognizes friends and family members who touched his life.

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, or even if you just wonder about what happens after we die, you'll find peace, comfort, and encouragement in Marv's story.

my review...

Inspiring, humorous, and thought-provoking, My Journey to Heaven should definitely be on your "must read" list this year! Marvin's trip to heaven is recounted in wonderful detail, and I greatly enjoyed the style in which this book is written. Besteman is not a man who takes himself too seriously, and the result is a lighthearted book that deals with a deep subject matter - the reality of heaven, and the fantastic experience that awaits us at the end of our lives. I loved how he incorporated so much scripture into his story, and the fact that God chose a more conservative type of individual to have the experience Marvin had seems to lend even greater credibility to what happened. I also loved how he pointed people back to Jesus, offering the assurance of salvation through faith in Christ, an assurance that we too can enjoy heaven and the wonder that it holds.

This book is one that I will be recommending to family, friends, and anyone searching for answers to what happens when we die. Marvin's story would be an especially important one to share with people grieving the loss of a loved one, a reminder that this world is not the end of our journey, but that it is continued in Heaven, a place of peace and healing and a reunification with those we love! I highly recommend this book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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

about the authors...

Marvin J. Besteman (1934-2012) was a graduate of Calvin College, a veteran of the US Army, and a retired bank president. He spoke frequently during his last few years of life about his experience of heaven. He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of three children and the grandparents of four. Marv passed away in January of 2012, joyfully anticipating his return to heaven.

Lorilee Craker
is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Through the Storm by Lynne Spears, and the author of several books on parenting and relationships. A frequent speaker, Craker is also an entertainment writer who has been interviewing celebrities and music artists for many years for the Grand Rapids Press. She lives in Michigan.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Check out my review of "Unending Devotion" by Jody Hedlund. Enter the Nikon Camera Giveaway & RSVP for the 9/18 Facebook Party! @JodyHedlund

Jody Hedlund Unending Devotion

about the book....

Michigan, 1883

In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?

Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer’s assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan–and the sights of Connell McCormick.

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he’s living an upright life, that’s what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell’s help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what’s right cost them both everything?

my review....

Beautifully capturing the flavor of 19th century Michigan, Jody Hedlund has written an emotionally gripping tale that is sure to please lovers of historical romance. Although I've read previous novels involving prostitutes set in similar time periods, this is the first time I've read a book that deals with young females forced into white slavery to serve the sexual "needs" of the countless men populating the lumber camps of Michigan. The result is both an entertaining and sobering read, one that has well-written scenes of suspense as Lily seeks not only to rescue her sister, but other women trapped in a horrifying life. Lily is a likeable character, one who won my favour with her tender heart for the women society is often so willing to ignore, along with her risky attempts to do anything necessary to rescue them. The novel is filled with action-packed drama that keeps the story moving along well, and readers will find much to delight in, from the interesting setting, richly drawn characters, and the elements of faith that inspire one to take action in the face of evil.

I strongly recommend this book, and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Bethany House, along with Litfuse Publicity Group & Graf-Martin

about the author....

Jody HedlundJody Hedlund is the bestselling author of “The Doctor’s Lady” and “The Preacher’s Bride”. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

Find out more about Jody at

Celebrate with Jody by entering to win a Nikon Camera Prize Pack!

One “devoted” winner will receive:
  • A Nikon COOLPIX Digital Camera
  • $25 Shutterfly gift certficate
  • Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 17th. Winner will be announced at the “Unending Deovtion” Author Chat Facebook Party on 9/18. Connect with Jody, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of Unending Devotion and join Jody on the evening of the September 18th for a chance to connect with Jody 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 18th!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Enter to Win a Kindle Fire, and join Hoops of Hope founder Austin Gutwein for a LIVE WEBCAST EVENT!

Thomas Nelson Author and Hoops of Hope founder, Austin Gutwein, to host September 6 online event to focusing on themes his latest release, Live to Give.

On September 6 at 8 PM EDT, Austin Gutwein will be hosting a live Facebook web event to encourage participants to conquer their fears and use their talents to help others. The webcast will center on the themes Gutwein writes about in his latest release “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles(Thomas Nelson/August, 2012). At the conclusion of the webcast, the winners of a month-long social media fueled “Get and Give” contest will be announced, including the winner of a Kindle Fire and $250 donated to the winner’s charity of choice.

Join Austin on the evening of Thursday, September 6th as he shares about his own experiences and encourages others to conquers their fears and “live to give”. Austin will also be taking audience questions and interacting with participants. PLUS – there will be several “Live to Give” giveaways – books, gift certificates and much more! RSVP today and tell your friends. 

Based on the John 6 story of Jesus feeding the 5000, in “Live to Give” Gutwein challenges his readers that regardless of age and talent, God can use them to make a difference. Even though God could take care of everything Himself and doesn’t really need our help, He desperately WANTS us to help Him care for others. Gutwein walks young people through discovering and embracing their unique God-given strengths and abilities, then figuring out how to use those talents to help others. Sometimes doing that takes a leap of faith on our part, and often becoming fearless in the process.

More about Austin: At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Feeling called to help, he took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Gutwein raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia. Over the past eight years, Gutwein’s efforts have created Hoops of Hope, the largest free throw marathon in the world. With an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating, Hoops of Hope has raised more than $2.5 million to build schools, medical clinics, dormitories for orphanages, and the only computer lab in Zambia.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire and have $250 donated to your favorite charity. Click for the banner for details and entry or visit


Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at and