Thursday, October 30, 2014

GIVEAWAY & My review of "A Lifelong Love" by Gary Thomas

The very first book my wife and I read in our marriage was Gary Thomas' "Sacred Marriage", and it totally blessed us. So when I saw he has another book for couples, I knew I had to read it! 

So check out my review and enter my giveaway for your own copy


A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is about More Than Just Staying Together?

about the book....

Gary Thomas believes couples often settle for too little when it comes to marriage. We fail to understand how deeply God cares about our spouse. We diminish our need to not only understand what biblical love really is, but also to become a people who excel at it. We let ourselves drift apart instead of making the daily choices to grow closer together.

Whether your marriage needs a complete makeover, a touch up, or just a new purpose, A Lifelong Love promises to set your relationship on an entirely new dimension. You will never look at worship or your spouse in the same way again. You will understand how living for that day will so radically transform the decisions you make this day. And Gary will guide you through the power shifts and seasonal mine fields that blow up so many marriages so that you can grow in your love instead of in your disappointment.

Thirty years of study and two decades of working with couples has led Gary Thomas to his most significant book yet on the relationship between husband and wife. Find out for yourself what all the fuss is about—and why A Lifelong Love is sure to challenge the way the church talks about marriage.

my review....

There is not a doubt in my mind that your marriage will truly be blessed as you read through "A Lifelong Love". Whether you work through the book as a couple, or simply read through it on your own, you will be challenged to see your spouse as God sees them, and together to truly listen to God speak to you about your husband or wife. You will learn to trust the Holy Spirit, a "powerful force, lifting us above selfishness and small-mindedness and weak love to embrace the glorious strength of God loving through us". The book is well-written and easy to read, and each chapter includes a section entitled "Building a Lifelong Love", with questions that you can work through on your own or with your spouse. The book breathes with scripture and with godly truth, and I often felt challenged to examine my own heart and how I treat my wife, knowing that God wants to call me to deeper relationship with him, and as a result bless my wife! One of my favourite aspects of this book is that Thomas has included example after example of real life stories of spouses who have struggled with a certain aspect of their relationship, and who have come to a place of healing in their marriages. These stories will offer readers hope that their own marriages can be blessed in every way, whether emotionally or sexually or spiritually.

In an age where far too many couples find themselves drifting apart and choosing to end their marriage, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Gary Thomas' latest book. You will be glad you did. 4 out of 5 stars.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 about the author....

Gary Thomas is writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and FamilyLife Today radio, and a popular speaker. His award-winning books, including The Sacred Search, have been translated into over a dozen languages and together have sold more than a million copies worldwide. Thomas and his wife have been married thirty years and have three children.

open to Americans & Canadians :)

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

And the winner of the Veggietales DVD is...

Congrats to Melanie, who won the copy of the "Beauty and the Beet" DVD! Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.

Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway for the latest release from Gary Thomas...  that giveaway will be posted in the next day or two.


A Life Long LoveA Life Long LoveA Life Long Love

"Armageddon, Oil, and Terror" FREE for download today

Armageddon, Oil, and Terror: What the Bible Says about the Future - eBook

Free for download today from Tyndale house publishers is an ebook from Walvoord & Hitchcock. Here's the link:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

THE PROMISE Kindle HDX Giveaway from @BethWiseman!

Soon, I will be posting my review of Beth Wiseman's latest novel. But in the meantime be sure to enter her giveaway for a Kindle HDX :)


In a daring new novel, Beth Wiseman jumps way outside the box. The Promise will take readers far away from Amish country and small Texas towns to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by actual events, this is the book Beth has been working toward for a long time.

Curious? Click here to read the reviews, and be sure to enter Beth's Kindle HDX giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Promise by Beth Wiseman
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 9th. Winner will be announced November 10th here.

Free for download today: "The Remaining" by Travis Thrasher

Free for download today from Tyndale House Publishers and author Travis Thrasher is "The Remaining". Here's the link:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Will bless your faith: "The Family of Jesus" by Karen Kingsbury

The Family of Jesus

about the book....

America’s favorite inspirational novelist offers a fictional view of six of the family members of Jesus, all anchored by Scriptural truth, creating a life-changing and unprecedented emotional connection to the Bible.

Through The Family of Jesus, readers will develop an emotional connection to the family members of Jesus, learning about their lives and falling in love with Scripture along the way. Bible studies and devotionals abound, and in churches everywhere people gather to seek a deeper understanding of God’s word and its application to their lives. But too often these studies engage only the analytic approach to Bible learning.

In The Family of Jesus, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Karen Kingsbury will make you laugh, cry, and ultimately care more deeply about the Bible by helping you grasp the truths in Scripture not just with your mind, but with your heart. The characters in these short stories were among those closest to Jesus—Mary, Joseph, Jesus’ brother James, John the Baptist, Zechariah, and Elizabeth. Each has a compelling tale to tell. Kingsbury intersperses fictional, emotionally gripping details anchored in Scripture with historical and theological insights and questions that will guide soul-searching and reflection.

The Family of Jesus not only provides a deeper understanding of the relatives of our Savior, but also helps readers acquire tools that will draw them closer to Christ, to the Scriptures, and to each other. 

my review....

Get to know the family of Jesus in a whole new way with the first installment of Karen Kingsbury's "Life Changing Bible Study" series. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I cracked open the cover of "The Family of Jesus", but I greatly enjoyed getting to know the familiar Bible characters of Joseph, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Elizabeth, James and Mary in a whole new way. Kingsbury has done a great job at getting into the hearts and minds of these men and women in scripture, giving me a greater appreciation for who they are. Although of course the stories she has written are fictional, they are true to the Biblical facts as much as is possible and they breathe with an authentic air that reflects the culture of the time. I also really enjoyed the studies that accompany each story, allowing me to delve deeper into God's word by providing scripture references to look up and questions that challenged my own walk with God  I found myself pondering whether I am bold like John the Baptist in sharing my faith, no matter the cost. And for the first time I thought about the type of father Joseph was to Jesus, and why God chose him of all earthly fathers, to raise his very son. Am I that type of father? Although I worked through the devotional studies on my own, they also seem well suited to sparking conversation in a group setting as well. I appreciate that the author has satisfied my love of fictional stories while also providing me with the opportunity to stop and really think about those family members who were in Jesus' life and what we can learn by their examples.

I encourage you to grab a copy of Kingsbury's "The Family of Jesus", a wonderful combination of fictionalized accounts and devotional studies. If you are like me, your walk with God will truly be blessed. 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Howard Books (Simon & Schuster Canada), for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...

Karen Kingsbury#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational novelist, with more than 20 million copies of her award-winning books in print. Karen has written more than fifty novels, ten of which have hit #1 on national lists. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Don and their five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti. Their daughter Kelsey is married to Christian artist Kyle Kupecky.

Buy the Book

Free Christy-Award finalist ebook: "Love's Reckoning" by Laura Frantz

Love's Reckoning, Ballantyne Legacy Series #1 -eBook

Free today is "Love's Reckoning" by Laura Frantz. Be sure to download this Christy-award finalist ebook while it's still free!

Kindle GIVEAWAY for THE BACHELOR By Stephanie Reed |and Facebook Party!

Don't miss Stephanie Reed's newest book in the Plain City Peace series, The Bachelor. This compelling second book deftly weaves together the strands of a solid, simpler time with the turmoil of an era of change, revealing the strengths of both in its powerful narrative.

Join Stephanie in celebrating the book's release by entering her Kindle giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook launch party on October 28th!

The Bachelor, Stephanie Reed
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Bachelor by Stephanie Reed
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 11/9. RSVP for the Facebook launch party today for a chance to connect with Stephanie and Amish fiction fans and a chance to win some great prizes! Winner will be announced November 10th here.


Monday, October 20, 2014

VeggieTales GIVEAWAY and DVD review of "Beauty and the Beet"

Check out my review of "Beauty and the Beet" 


be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!

about the movie....

This brand-new VeggieTales musical premieres Oct. 14 and stars Kellie Pickler (American IdolDancing With the Stars), who brings her unmistakable voice to the role of Mirabelle, a sweet-potato singer whose family band is on the brink of superstardom. BEAUTY AND THE BEET blends the irresistible charm of VeggieTales with a heartfelt message about unconditional love. The DVD also includes Mac and Cheese, a giddy new “Silly Songs With Larry” segment in which Larry the Cucumber reveals the surprising and heretofore untold history of his family’s unexpected contributions to Italian cuisine. BEAUTY AND THE BEET is just the start of the fun in store this fall for VeggieTales fans, because the gang will also star in a brand-new Netflix original series, VeggieTales In the House, which premieres Thanksgiving weekend.

my review....

I was in my teens when VeggieTales burst onto the scene, and I've been watching them ever since! Imagine my excitement, then, when I learned of a new VeggieTales movie for me to introduce to my children, "Beauty and the Beet"...and right in time for the holidays! We all cozied up for a family movie night...and boy did we all get a treat. This film finds the veggies at their finest, taking a classic story and giving it a "veggie twist". The characters are full of life and the film is a treat to watch with all the action that fills the screen as well as the wonderful songs that will have your toes tapping along. My children were riveted from the start to the finish, enjoying the story and the songs...with Larry's silly song being one of their favourite moments of course! And I love that the movie is wonderfully entertaining without parents needing to be worried that the story will be too scary or that the kids will be exposed to something they shouldn't. Rather, like my children, yours will walk away having learned the important lesson of unconditional love and the power of kindness and friendship, a lesson easy to swallow with the good dose of laughter that the veggies always are able to provide. In fact, I will admit that while I did watch this movie primarily for the sake of my children, I think I enjoyed it just as much as they did! This is one of those movies that we will be watching over and over again, and I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourselves.

I highly recommend this movie to children and families, not only to be thoroughly entertained, but to gain some Biblical truth along the way. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

And now for the giveaway...
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Free fantastic suspense ebook: "Poison Town" by Creston Mapes

Poison Town: A Novel - eBook

I absolutely loved "Poison Town" - and now for a limited time you can enjoy it too - for free! Here's the link:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

You will be riveted: My review of "Palace of Darkness" by Tracy L. Higley

Palace of Darkness : A Novel of Petra, Tracy L. Higley

The year is 106 AD, and Cassia and her 6-yr-old son Alexander are fleeing from a brutal past, looking for a new beginning. Cassia has suffered years of violence at the hands of Aretas, and she is desperate for family, for love and a new beginning. Together, she and her son arrive at Petra, an ancient city carved from stone, where instead of finding peace, she finds a secret that places her son at the centre of a royal conspiracy. When the unthinkable happens to her son, Cassia is ready to give in to despair, until she connects with followers of The Way, a new religious group whose members are ready to die for the Jesus they follow. Will Cassia and her son survive amidst the forces of darkness threatening to consume them?

I truly had a difficult time putting this book down once I'd cracked open the pages, because Higley's writing is so intense and powerful that she brought history to vivid life before my very eyes. I absolutely loved the characters that star the pages of this story, finding them to be intriguing and so very likeable. Each chapter seemed packed with action, each word carefully chosen to bring their world to life and unveil the deep emotions they are facing. I have never before read a story set in Petra, and I found this historical city so fascinating that I want to go visit the ruins myself! The story rushes towards one of the most riveting conclusions that I have read this year, with the ultimate showdown between forces of good and of evil. God and his word come to powerful life through the pages of this book, and I am reminded of God's perfect plans and the ultimate triumph over the evil one that awaits the end of time. Highly has written a wonderful book, one that entertains on every level, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.
Higley remains one of my favourite authors of historical fiction. I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fast-paced, addictive reading: My review of "Nowhere to Turn" by Lynette Eason

Cover Art

about the book....

She thought her days of hiding were over . . . but the danger has just begun

The day Danielle Harding takes her eleven-year-old son and flees from her abusive husband is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, things are just heating up. When Kurt was alive, he took something important from a mysterious individual--who wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . . 

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold you in its iron grip as bestselling author Lynette Eason propels you along in a race to discover the truth.

my review....

"Nowhere to Turn" offers the same fast-paced, addictive reading as the first book in the series ("No One to Trust"), and I am positive that Lynette Eason fans are going to love it! Dani is a completely likable character who won my heart - and my empathy - from within the first couple of pages. Not only that, but after just a few sentences into the book, I found myself gripping the pages and racing through the story to see how things would resolve. And then, just when you thought Dani and her son were safe - a new twist would be thrown into the story! I thought that all of the characters in this book were intriguing and well-developed. Readers who enjoyed the first book in the series will also appreciate being reacquainted with the stars of that book as well, Summer and David. Also, the fact that Dani's son, Simon, was deaf added a whole new level of mystery and interest to the plot as well, and I loved that the author shows that deaf people can be every bit as intelligent as someone who isn't deaf. The chemistry between Dani and Adam makes for some well-done and believe moments of romance, with nothing that is over the top or that would turn away male readers of the book. All in all, Eason knows how to create action-packed, absorbing scenes, and she has done a fabulous job at keeping the pace at top speed from start to finish.

Readers who enjoy an action-packed blend of romantic suspense will be flocking to this story. And if you haven't read the first book in the series - no worries! You can easily dive into book two without having read the preceding book (but, if you haven't read the first, what on earth are you waiting for?). I give "Nowhere to Turn" a solid rating and 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....

Lynette EasonLynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Find out more at

Free for download is 2014's release "With Autumn's Return" by Amanda Cabot

With Autumn's Return (Westward Winds Book #3): A Novel - eBook

Free for download today is "With Autumn's Return" by Amanda Cabot. Here's the link:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Free suspense ebook today: "Deadly devotion" by Sandra Orchard


Free for download today is the suspense ebook "Deadly Devotion" by Sandra Orchard. Here's the link;

Win an ipad MINI - & check out " Expectant Parents" – New Resource from Focus on the Family

While many books for new parents focus on prenatal development and the health of a mom-to-be, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin's Expectant Parents' core purpose is to help new parents understand key issues related to the arrival of a new child in the home, offering practical assistance as they prepare themselves for long-term family success.


Learn ways to strengthen your marriage relationship, set plans and expectations for parenthood, increase communication, and prepare for the new stage of your family life. Pick up a copy for yourself or for expectant friends and enter for a chance to win an iPad Mini!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • Expectant Parents from Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Focus on the Family
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 2nd. Winner will be announced November 3rd on Suzanne's website here.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wonderful blend of history, action and romance: "In Perfect Time" by Sarah Sundin

Cover Art

about the book....

Two hearts are about to learn the rhythm of love 

Bold, sophisticated, and coy, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer. Can they overcome the fears and misunderstandings of the past in order to take hold of the future?

Sarah Sundin seamlessly weaves together emotion, action, and sweet romance into a tale that transcends time and calls us to believe in the power of love.

my review....

"In Perfect Time" provides a wonderfully satisfying conclusion to the "Wings of the Nightingale" series. Although all the characters from the prior novels make an appearance in this final installment, the focus is on the story of Kay and Roger, and their story will certainly keep you turning the pages. Female readers especially will enjoy the sparks of romance that fly between these two, as they play the age old dance of advancing and retreating in their relationship. Sundin does a great job of fleshing out her characters, delving into their pasts and present to deepen the reader's understanding of why they do the things they do. Scenes where Roger interacts with his family were especially horrifying, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be treated in such a way! 

I especially appreciated the great historical context this story was set in, with plenty of scenes that simply exploded with action, from exciting flying scenes to moments where I truly wondered if the characters would make it out of the situation of peril they found themselves in. The World War II setting provides the perfect backdrop to showcase what true heroism looks like, not from characters who never make mistakes (for these ones certainly do!), but simply from those who serve to the best of their ability. Such men and women can definitely inspire our current generation, and that in and of itself makes this a book worth reading. Sundin's writing always points to God and to his amazing grace, and that shone beautifully through this book.

Readers who enjoy a blend of history, high-action drama, and heart-warming romance will love "In Perfect Time" and indeed the whole series. I award this book a solid rating of 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 Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

 about the author....

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter,On Distant Shores, and the Wings of Glory series. 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. Visit for more information.

EBATES: Free money? Yes please :)

I was recently introduced to Ebates - and I LOVE it! 

I can now shop online for things I'd get anyway, such as from the following stores:

Go shopping at Amazon and earn Up to 5.0% Cash Back!Go shopping at Groupon and earn 6.0% Cash Back!Go shopping at and earn 5.0% Cash Back!Go shopping at Marriott Hotels and Resorts and earn 5.0% Cash Back!Go shopping at eBay and earn Up to 5.0% Cash Back!Go shopping at Macy's and earn 3.0% Cash Back from Ebates! Get a great deal on Baby & Kids plus save with coupons when you shop at Carter's through Ebates!Go shopping at Priceline and earn Up to 4.5% Cash Back from Ebates!Go shopping at Walmart Canada and earn Coupons Only from Ebates!Go shopping at Home Depot Canada and earn 2.0% Cash Back from Ebates!Go shopping at Apple Canada and earn 1.0% Cash Back from Ebates!

And then I get money back - no catch!

And, if you are like me and pay with a rewards credit card, then I am getting double rewards - first from ebates, then from my credit card. What could be better?

So if you aren't signed up yet - what are you waiting for?

In the USA:

Ebates - Where it pays to shop online!

In Canada:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Will deeply move you: "Angels Walking" by Karen Kingsbury

Angels Walking

about the book....

From#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the first in a brand-new series about second chances—a dramatic story about a washed up baseball player, the love he left behind, and the miracles that might save them both.

When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom. Across the country, Tyler’s one true love Sami Dawson has moved on. 

A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer’s who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks.

A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step.

It is time for the mission to begin…

my review....

"Angels Walking" is a deeply moving novel that will remind you of God's incredible grace, as it vividly portrays the beauty of reconciliation and forgiveness. I absolutely love how Karen Kingsbury has portrayed God's intervention in her character's lives through his angels, providing a unique view of the invisible world around us. As always, she excels at creating characters who start off as words on the page and quickly grow to be as real as the person sitting next to you. You can't help but become emotionally connected to Tyler and Sami and Virginia as you get further and further into the story! They are allowed to be utterly real, with broken lives, scars from old wounds, and a propensity to make the same mistakes as you and I do. About a third of the way into the story, when characters were finding themselves truly hitting the bottom, I did find that the writing slowed in pace a bit for me and I was tempted to rush ahead. But I'm so glad that I followed the pace of the story, because Kingsbury truly captures the angst of lost dreams and broken relationships, and as one beautiful moment unfolded after another, I found myself battling tears at the emotions rising up within me. I was reminded of the amazing gift that emotional healing can be, as relationships are mended, and grace is allowed to flow into our hearts and then out into the world around us. By the last third of the book, I just couldn't get enough, and I simply devoured the words until the final page, when I ended the book with regret that the book was over!

I am greatly looking forward to what is next in store for the angels walking series. I give this book a strong recommendation and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Howard Books (Simon & Schuster Canada), for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...

Karen Kingsbury#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational novelist, with more than 20 million copies of her award-winning books in print. Karen has written more than fifty novels, ten of which have hit #1 on national lists. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Don and their five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti. Their daughter Kelsey is married to Christian artist Kyle Kupecky.

Buy the Book

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sure to please Anne Mateer's fans: "Playing by Heart"

Cover Art

about the book....

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.

my review....

With engaging characters and a sweet air of romance, "Playing by Heart" is sure to please long-time fans of Anne Mateer's historical fiction. I quite enjoyed the interesting context of the story, set in a period of time when women were still beginning to stake their claim in the field of higher education, and when the sport of basketball was gaining momentum as a popular high-school sport. The combination creates some interesting interactions between Lula and Chet indeed! And I found myself pondering how different things were back in the early 1900's, when teachers could be forbidden from fraternizing with the opposite sex or risk losing their teaching position! Can you imagine such a condition of employment today? Mateer provides a number of twists and turns in the story that sparked my interest. But I will admit that I did not enjoy this book quite as much as prior books from the author, in that the story seemed to move a tad slowly in some sections, and I was hoping for a deeper sort of family reconciliation between two of the major characters than actually happened. Nevertheless, I did like that Mateer alternates between Lula and Chet's point of view throughout the book, and she did a great job of capturing their unique voices and creating a nice harmony between them. In the end, this book is one that will leave a smile on your face and a lightness to your step as you cannot help but appreciate a good love story - and that perfectly describes "Playing by Heart".

For a heart-warming story that will remind you of the importance of family, and living for God rather than ourselves, look no further than Anne Matter's latest book. I give this book a solid rating and award it 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.

 about the author....

Anne MateerAnne Mateer is a three-time Genesis Contest finalist who has long had a passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults.Visit for more information.

Free download today: "The Jesus Story" by Dr. William H. Marty

Free for download today is "The Jesus Story". Here's the link:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Snakes don't have eyelids? Learn other such fun facts with "Weird & Wonderful Creations"


Did you know that sea horses pair up for life? Or that snakes do not have eyelids? Or how about the fact that sea turtles CRY to get rid of excess sea salt? All of these amazing facts about the creations God has made can be found in "Weird & Wonderful Creations", a bind-up of four books from the "Made by God" series. The book includes the titles "Spiders, Snakes, Bees, and Bats; Big Bugs, Little Bugs; Sea Creatures; and Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants". All sections of the book are written at a  "Level 2" of the I Can Read series, for those children who are "reading with help".

Nothing will make you appreciate God's amazing handiwork more than a book like this! My children have loved reading through this book, exclaiming with wonder at the absolutely beautiful pictures. Every few minutes, one of them simply has to share a new fact they've gained about animals or plants they have read about! And to be honest, I think I've enjoyed the book and learning about these things just as much as my children have! The books are well-written, and children are sure to connect with the simple language. I like how the extra facts are captured to the side of the pages in "balloons", highlightly some truly fascinating information. But best of all, I simply love how every page points to God, to his creating power and diverse nature of all that he has made. Not only will children be entertained and educated, but they will be reminded that everything they see comes from the awesome hand of God!

I give this book a high recommendation and a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. This is definitely a book you will want to get for your family, or give away to some youngsters in your life!

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

Free today: "The Colonel's Lady" by Laura Frantz

Free for download today is Laura Frantz's "The Colonel's Lady", from publisher Revell. Here's the link for download:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Blown away by this awesome book: "The Amish Blacksmith" by Mindy Starns Clark & @SusanMeissner

book title front

about the book....

New from bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Blacksmith (Book 2 in The Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Apprenticed blacksmith Jake Miller is skeptical of Priscilla Kinsinger’s innate ability to soothe troubled horses, especially when he has own ideas on how to calm them. Six years earlier, Priscilla’s mother died in an awful accident at home, and Priscilla’s grief over losing her mother was so intense that she was sent to live with relatives in Indiana. She has just returned to Lancaster County.

Not that her homecoming matters to Jake, who is interested in courting lighthearted Amanda Shetler. But Jake’s boss is Priscilla’s uncle, and when the man asks Jake to help his niece reconnect with community life, he has no choice but to do just that. Surprisingly, he finds himself slowly drawn to the beautiful but emotionally wounded Priscilla.

Jake then determines to prove to her that it’s not her fault her mother died, but what he discovers will challenge everything they both believe about the depth of love and the breadth of forgiveness.

my review....

I was completely blown away by how good "The Amish Blacksmith" was! It's not that I wasn't aware that Clark and Meissner make a powerful writing duo, for I thoroughly enjoyed their first book in this series (The Amish Groom). However, I certainly wasn't expecting to be so completely absorbed in the book that I ended up ignoring the world around me until I'd raced my way to the final page. And I absolutely was NOT expecting to be near the end of the book and find tears streaming down my face! The writing is simply top-notch, and I was totally drawn into the world of Jake Miller and Priscilla Kingsinger and their unexpected relationship. Their interactions are humourous yet natural, and I could have kept reading their story for hours beyond the end of the last page of the book. And as I watched walls come down in both characters hearts, and as they received glimpses of who God had made them to be, I found myself grinning from ear to ear. I also really enjoyed the love that both Jake and Priscilla have for horses, and was especially intrigued by their skills in learning to gentle horses and discover what may have happened in their pasts to make them act unnaturally. There were many parallels to the human experience, and the need for God and his people to help us overcome the impact of challenges we've had in our lives.

The story is filled with unexpected twists and turns, not only in the overall plot but in the friendships and relationships depicted in the story, and I simply couldn't get enough. The story flows with tender emotion and deep wisdom, balanced by a thread of mystery woven into the pages, and I guarantee I am not the only reader who is going to be hooked by this fabulous book!

One final note: fans of Amish fiction will absolutely devour this book. But for those readers who typically don't look for a book labelled "Amish" or as "romance", I encourage you to give it a try too. You will be glad you did. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Harvest House. Available at your favourite bookseller!

 about the authors....

Mindy Starns Clark
Mindy Starns Clark is the author of many books, which include the popular Smart Chick Mysteries, Whispers of the Bayou, Shadows of Lancaster County, and Under the Cajun Moon. In addition, Mindy’s plays and musicals have been featured in schools and churches across the United States.

Susan Meissner
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named byPublishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she's not writing, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website:, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at