Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Books of 2012: My TOP TWENTY picks

So as the end of the year comes upon us, I looked back over all the many books I reviewed in 2012, and I have compiled the list of my TOP TWENTY for the year!

My favorite book was 

Prophet by R.J. Larson

 Click on the pictures to check out my other 19 top reads :)

  Placebo: A Jevin Banks Novel The Breath of Dawn Nothing to Hide  Darkroom  

Free ebook from Siri Mitchell: "A Constant Heart" (Bethany House)

Free for download today is an ebook from Siri Mitchell, first released in 2008.

Download it from Barnes & Noble or

Or get the EPUB from

9896EB: Constant Heart, A - eBook Constant Heart, A - eBook
By Siri Mitchell / Bethany House Publishers

Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture the love of a man bound to the queen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A cautionary tale about Foam...and Great-Aunts: Happy New Year!

One of the joys and blessings of the holidays is the chance to get together with relatives that you may not see all that regularly, and reminisce about past Christmas' gatherings or other family get-togethers.  This Christmas, I was reminded of an incident that occurred when I was about 8 years old.

One of my great aunts had come over for a lunch-time get together one Sunday afternoon, bearing a gift of grapes. She was a woman who lived on her own, and she had some unusual quirks about her, such as never throwing anything out, or taking dozens of different vitamins every day. Her hallways at her house were lined with every newspaper she'd ever been given (and consequently was a health hazard), and she had every health-related book ever written stored somewhere in her house. She was always telling me and my brother about some new marvelous health treatment she'd discovered.

This time, it involved grapes.

My great aunt piled our plates with grapes and started talking to us about their many benefits and healing properties, chief of which she explained would be to help us have bowel movements the consistency of foam.

At this point my mouth fell open in shock.

She started talking about the hazards of constipation and of not being regular, and what this would do to our bodies. She shared that she used to wish that she could go regularly! She hated having to push and push and just not being able to go. But then she discovered the power of grapes "to make it come out like foam!"

Oh. My. Word.

I would like you to imagine what a typical 8-yr-old boy would do having a kindly, elderly woman going on and on about her bowel habits, and then thundering on about the need to eat more grapes. "Foam, my boy, foam! Simply wonderful!" My brother and I eventually overcame our shock and broke out into laughter, soon finding excuses to escape from the table and collapse into giggles. And whenever I see grapes to this day, I still remember my remarkable great aunt and her sage advice.

So as you face the New Year and contemplate new diets and exercise habits, don't forget to eat those grapes. My great aunt swears by them.

But maybe keep your bowel habits to yourself....

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Free new ebook from Ted Dekker - Identity: Eyes Wide Open (Book 1)

Newly released ebook from Ted Dekker, "Identity: Eyes Wide Open" is currently free on Download this one quick while you can, for your Kobo or Nook ereader (it is in epub format). Not yet free from Kindle, it can be had for $1.00 right now from!


36379EB: Identity: Eyes Wide Open, Book 1 - eBook Identity: Eyes Wide Open, Book 1 - eBook
By Ted Dekker / Creative Trust Media

Who am I?

Book Description: My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen and I'm about to die. I'm buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I'm lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won't stop shaking. Some will say that I m not really here. Some will say I'm delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I'm the one buried in a grave. My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen. I'm about to die. So who are you? In a return to the kind of storytelling that made Black, Showdown and Three unforgettable, Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern day parable about how we see ourselves. Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last pure escapism packed with inescapable truth. Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally. (Young Adult)



Free fiction ebook: "Reinventing Rachel" by Alison Strobel

Free for download today is a fiction ebook from Alison Strobel:

From Barnes & Noble & Amazon:

Free devotional ebook for your family: "Instant Family Devotions: 52 Bible Discussions for Anytime, Anywhere Use"

Free for download today is an ebook of devotions sure to bless your family:

From Barnes & Noble, and


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The book that started it all: My review of "The Stones Cry Out" by Sibella Giorello


about the book...

When nobody talks... the stones cry out.

In the searing heat of a Virginia summer, two men plummet from a roof to the sidewalk below. One is a white police officer. The other is a black man with a troubled past. Although hundreds of people stood at the scene, no witnesses come forward. When FBI agent Raleigh Harmon is assigned the case, she quickly realizes nobody is going to talk.

The Bureau wants a quick verdict -- with or without the truth. To uncover the facts, Raleigh must rely on her forensic geology skills and her connections among Richmond's most powerful families. But can she she solve the case before her boss closes the investigation? And will her choices bring down everyone involved--including Raleigh herself?

my review....

Every so often, I go back to read a book that I truly enjoyed, one that introduced a character that I've come to love. "The Stones Cry Out" is one such novel, bringing the character of Raleigh Harmon to the world of christian fiction, a character I simply can't get enough of. After reading this book, Giorello instantly became one of my favorite authors. The reason is simple: The Stones Cry Out was absolutely riveting, and I simply couldn't put it down from the first page!  Not only were all of the characters intriguing and believable, but the plot was fast paced and had plenty of twists and turns to capture my interest. Several times I found myself wishing I could actually meet Raleigh in real life. The forensic geology was a fascinating addition to the FBI story line, and one that I have not read before. Since this book came out, each addition to the series since then has only gotten better and better. Altogether, the author has offered up 5 books in the series, and I'm not sure where she's going next. But I, for one, would love to read about Raleigh for years to come.

If you haven't yet been introduced to Sibella Giorello, then I advise you to take the plunge. I highly recommend this book (and each one to follow) and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

about the author...

Image of Sibella GiorelloSibella Giorello writes an award-winning mystery series that follows the adventures of Raleigh Harmon, forensic geologist and FBI Special Agent. A former journalist, Sibella sowed nearly every wild oat before settling down with her husband Joe, a blues musician from Queens N.Y. They homeschool their children in the mountains of Washington state. For more information about Sibella and her books, please visit her website at

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Free historical fiction ebook: Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Free for today is an ebook from author Jody Hedlund:

From Barnes & Noble:


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas...and grab a free ebook today: A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin

Merry Christmas!

To get you in the Christmas spirit, here's a free download for today, a copy of Lynn Austin's great book "A Proper Pursuit"

From Barnes & Noble:


Friday, December 21, 2012

Addicting Music for Christmas: Classical songs from the PianoGuys

I don't know about you, but when I listen to a song that instantly grabs me, I find myself unable to walk away without listening to it a dozen times. Such is the case with a number of songs from The Pianoguys, who have a couple of versions of Christmas songs that I love. Check out their beautiful version of Carol of the Bells:


For something more light-hearted, here is a funny video where he plays Rudolph upside down:

They have a lot of great songs, so grab a few for your MP3 player! Hopefully they'll bless you like they have me :)


"Come to the Table" by Neta Jackson: My review

Come to the Table

about the book...

Kat Davies is suddenly wondering if her good deed was a bad idea.

Kat may be new in her faith, but she’s embraced the more radical implications of Christianity with reckless abandon. She invited Rochelle, a homeless mother, and her son to move into the apartment she shares with two other housemates. And she’s finally found a practical way to channel her passion for healthy eating by starting a food pantry at the church.

And her feelings for Nick are getting harder to ignore. The fact that he’s the interning pastor at SouledOut Community Church and one of her housemates makes it complicated enough. But with Rochelle showing interest in Nick as a father-figure for her son, their apartment is feeling way too small.

But not everyone thinks the food pantry is a good idea. When the woman she thought would be her biggest support just wants to “pray about it,” Kat is forced to look deeper at her own motives. Only when she begins to look beyond food as an issue does she see people who are hungry and thirsty for more than just food and drink and realizes the deeper significance of inviting them to “come to the table.”

Kat must do some serious soul searching to determine where God is asking her to use her talents and passion . . . and what role she wants to play in Nick’s life.

my review....

Neta Jackson's second installment of the "SouledOut Sisters" series shines with grace, and challenges readers to consider how we can serve others like Jesus did. Characters Kat and Nick return in fine form, growing in their understanding of who they are, who God has called them to be, and the possibility that they may have a future together! I love how the author creates characters with emotional depth, and I especially enjoyed watching Kat on her spiritual journey in this book, a woman who gets so passionate about her beliefs and sometimes runs ahead of what God may have for her.

Come to the Table is sure to please readers who are already fans of Neta Jackson, and will likely attract new readers as well. The book is well-written, and I felt that overall the book moved along at a good pace. I don't always have patience with books where the romance takes a long time to unfold, but in this case the author has added some interesting elements that kept things moving well, such as roommate Rochelle and her desire to have a man like Nick be a good father to her son. The book features characters that readers will connect with, characters who struggle with the things in life that we all struggle with. I leave the book absolutely challenged to look at the world around me and consider how God wants me to be his hands and feet, how he wants me to "feed" others by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs. I leave thankful for time well spent in having been entertained while having my own spiritual life fed as well.

I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purposes of this unbiased review. ***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***

about the author...

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

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

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

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

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