Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Forsaking All Others" by Allison Pittman

Camila Fox has made some difficult choices in her life, but leaving her daughters in a Mormon community was the hardest. When a snow storm threatens to take her life, Camila finds help and hope in Charles Brandon, and Army Colonel. As she regains her strength, Camila learns some truths about herself and her family. She must go back to her daughters and help them even though the life isn't what she had expected. She must make amends with her parents before another loss enters her life. Can Camila learn to trust God again? Can she live her true faith and show others the way? Reading this book will have you running the range of emotions as Camila makes choice after choice. It is a gripping story of love and faith.

This book had me interested from the beginning. I can't imagine living the life of a sister-wife and understood Camila's feelings as she dealt with the situation. The story is fiction but the types of choices made by the characters mirror those we make today. Will our faith in God stand the test of time and situation? Will our love have us "Forsaking All Others?" Not only will individual readers enjoy this book, but book clubs will have lively discussions about the topics that arise. Tyndale House Publishers provided me a complimentary copy of this book and I thank them very much.

"The Scroll" by Grant R. Jeffrey & Alton L. Gansky

Mystery and intrigue await you in this tale of archaeology in Israel. Dr. David Chambers is a famed archeologist looking for a new type of dig. In running away from a painful past, he is also running away from God and moves his focus away from biblical archeology. Dr. Amber Rogers and Nuri Aumann are brought together with David by Dr. Abram Ben-Judah, and that is no small feat. The past comes to haunt them in more ways than one, but there are the pieces of the copper scroll to find. Who else wants them? Can these three work together to solve the mystery or will bitterness thwart their efforts? What is John Trent's stake in this journey? As the story unfolds, you will find fear, love, jealousy, and so much more. This is an archeological journey that can mean the life or death of faith for one or all of the team.

I really enjoyed this book. The pace of the story kept me reading and there were just enough questions in my mind for me to keep searching for answers. Parts of the story made me want to participate in a real dig. The authors have created realistic characters who have real struggles and feelings. I found the fact that David struggles with his faith to be an important part of the book and couldn't wait to find out how that would be resolved. This book is for anyone who loves history, mystery, suspense and stories about archeology. Book clubs will enjoy discussing it as well. I received my free copy from the Blogging for Books program and thank them for it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"A Lancaster County Christmas" by Suzanne Woods Fisher

"God's perfect love is all around us, Jaime. But if you shut your eyes to all the light he has given to you, you can't see the evidence of his love." Matte, pg. 155

God uses many things to get our attention, and in "A Lancaster County Christmas," He uses a snowstorm. Jaime and C.J. are having problems, but Jaime is hoping a trip with her father will help. Little does she know that in returning a whistle she will come face to face with her real thoughts and fears. Mattie, Sol, and Danny are an Amish family, happy for the most part. But, Mattie has a longing that she can't let go of. It's power seems to obscure a full relationship with God. Zach is a young man trying to figure out where he fits in the world. These six people will find some misery and heartache, some miracles and happiness, when they come together in the snow. Will C.J. and Jaime work things out? Will they make the ship? Will Mattie find what she is looking for? When Danny goes missing, what happens to Zach? So much is answered within the pages of this book.

This book was a real page turner for me. The stories were similar, yet so very different. Heartache come in so many forms, yet makes us all vulnerable to walking away from God. As the story unfolded, I found myself drawn to each of the characters for different reasons and would love to read more about them! This story will encourage you to let go and let God. It is a perfect gift for the Christmas season, and book clubs will love the discussion questions at the end. I received my free copy from Litfuse Publishing, and thank them for the opportunity to be on the blog tour.

To celebrate the release of her first Christmas book, Suzanne Woods Fisher has teamed up with her publisher, Revell, to bring you the "Christmas in September" iPad Giveaway! The winner will be announced on 9/27 at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party! Details below. Tell your friends and join in the fun (9/7-9/27).

Oh and be sure to follow the blog tour here - many of the bloggers have copies of the book to giveaway! 

Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack (valued at over $600):

  • A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas

To enter, click here http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13425768.  But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.

But, wait! There's more! The winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something *BIG* - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Waking Hours" by Lis Wiehl

    What happened at the party? Why can't anyone remember? These are just two questions forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris has when she begins to investigate the murder of a high school student. This was no ordinary murder, but rather a ritualistic killing. How could something like this happen in East Salem, NY? It is normally a quiet place. Tommy Gunderson (former pro-football player) also wants to know because not only does he want to be a PI, but one of the suspected students has asked for his help. Things get really spooky and eerie as Dani and Tommy work to unravel the mystery. As they work to find the killer, will they rekindle their high school romance? Come along and help them solve the murder and find out what happens between them!

  Lis Wiehl has done it again! This is the first book in a promised "East Salem" trilogy. The characters and events are realistic and the writing is superb. I was drawn in from the start and didn't want the story to end. I can't wait for book number two! I recommend this and Ms. Wiehl's "Triple Threat Series" to anyone who loves a good mystery. Many thanks to NetGalley for the copy I read on my Nook.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Fairer Than Morning" by Rosslyn Elliott

19th century Ohio is the setting for this wonderful story of love, courage, faith, and hope. Ann is a young woman who has been raising her sisters due to the untimely death of her mother. Her life has been put on hold creating a problem for her when Eli, the "love of her life," asks her to marry him and her father says no. This event puts into play so many changes that Ann almost can't keep up with them. She needs to get out and see other people, but it hurts to see Eli with another girl.

Her father must travel to Pittsburgh on business and Ann convinces him to take everyone. Ann finds a new world away from the farm. Here she meets the very rich and the very poor. Here her heart breaks for others, and here she meets Will. Will has had a great deal of heartache in his life as well and that creates a bond between them. But, when the Miller's go home to Ohio, Will is left behind. Will his subsequent search lead him to Ann and a place in her heart? How will the situation between Eli and Ann be resolved? What about the man in the beaver hat and his relationship with her father? Will Ann ever find out the truth? Will Jacob Good ever get what's coming to him? These questions and many more are answered within the pages of this wonderful novel by Rosslyn Elliottt.

I loved this book. There was a lot going on with the characters, lots of activity and emotion, and I really got to know them. My heart broke in places and sang in others. This book will make a wonderful gift for any reader, and book groups will enjoy discussing it. I received my free copy from the Litfuse Publicity Group (thanks Amy Lathrop!) and am blessed to be part of the blog tour!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest blog from Suzanne Woods Fisher for “Amish Values for Your Family” (Revell)

Five Things I’ve Learned from the Amish that Have Nothing to Do with being Amish and Have Everything to Do with being a Christian:

Being Amish is not a lifestyle. Life among the Amish has to do with faith. Faith can’t be squeezed to an hour or two on Sunday morning; it infuses their entire life like a teabag in hot water. What they do and how they do it is rooted in the spiritual question: What is pleasing to God?

Amish proverb: “Letting go of earthly possessions enables us to take hold of heavenly treasures.”

The Lesson: To pray about my day’s activities and offer them to God, first, for His purposes. And then trusting interruptions (seeing a friend in the grocery store, for example) or de-railings (those days when everything goes wrong!) to be God-managed.  

Cherish your family. A family that works together, grows together. Amish families spend a lot of time together and try to keep their work close to home. Children are valued as gifts from God, wanted and enjoyed. They’re included in all of Amish life—from barn raisings to three-hour church services. An Amish bishop once said, "We don't prepare our children for the future, we prepare our children for eternity."

Amish proverb: “Tomorrow’s world will be shaped by what we teach our children today.”

The Lesson: Involving children in chores and activities may not be the most convenient or efficient way to accomplish a task, but the benefits are long lasting. Look for ways to get everybody involved—cook together, sweep out the garage together, set the table together. And have fun while you’re doing it!

Draw a land in the sand. The Amish want to be good stewards of God’s resources—time, money, material goods. They know that convenience comes with a cost. They don’t want to be dependent on outside sources (such as electricity or gas!). Convenience means loss of something valuable. For example, fast food means less nutrition. More stuff means more maintenance. They’re willing to say no.

Amish proverb: “Things that steal our time are usually the easiest to do.”

The Lesson: Technology has its limits. And technology isn’t all good. Evaluate purchases more thoughtfully. Think of where a purchase or an added expense will lead your family. More time together or less? More stress or less? Reframe your view of time and money and goods as God’s resources.

Watch Your Words. The Amish continually stress the importance of filtering their speech.

Amish proverb: “Words break no bones, but they can break hearts” and “Mincing your words makes it easier if you have to eat them later.”

The Lesson: Say less. Prayer more.  

Nothing replaces face-to-face visits. Back in the day when telephones emerged on the scene, the Amish bishops made a deliberate decision to keep the telephone out of the house. They didn’t want to interrupt family life. But they drop everything for a face-to-face visit.

Amish proverb: “Use friendship as a drawing account, but don’t forget to make a deposit.”

The Lesson: Nurture relationships by investing face-to-face time in them. No technology can substitute for the real thing.

Honor the Sabbath. An Amish person would never think of working on a Sunday. But it’s more than that—they truly cherish their Sabbath. They spend time on Saturday to make Sunday a smooth and easy day.

Amish proverb: “Many things I have tried to grasp and have lost. That which I have placed in God’s hands I still have.”

The Lesson: Strive to make Sunday a different day than other days. A day of rest is important on so many levels—time to worship, time to reflect, time to re-energize. A re-charge your battery day.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction and the host of a weekly radio program called Amish Wisdom. Her most recent book, Amish Values for Your Family released in August. The Waiting is a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. Amish Peace: Simple and Amish Proverbs were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. Keep up on Suzanne's latest news on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog!

Friday, September 9, 2011

"The Realms Thereunder" by Ross Lawhead

The British Isles is the setting for this beginning book of Ross Lawhead's new "Ancient Earth Trilogy." Freya and Daniel haven't had much contact with each other for the last few years, but circumstances have conspired to bring them together to fight evil once again. While Freya doesn't really want to get involved again, Daniel has been fighting all along. As they awaken two sleeping knights, Freya finds she can't say no and they all travel to Nidergeard. There is much for them to learn. At the same time, evil, unearthly creatures are showing up all over the place seemingly stalking Daniel and Freya. Why? What is the importance of these two young people? With the help of the knights and a policeman named Alex Simpson, Freya and Daniel work to free the world of the menace. Will they be able to save the world from this evil enemy?

I really enjoyed this book and found that the story line and character development were very good. It is very involved in spots, but that makes the story more alive. The mythology helped fill out the story. The heroes and villains are very believable and I found myself wanting to yell warnings to the characters sometimes. I received my free copy from the Book Sneeze program and thank them so much. I can't wait for the next book!

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Screams and Whispers" by Randall Peffer

Michael Decastro is a public defender who also enjoys commercial fishing. That is, until he takes a trip to Saigon with his father to help an old friend. What he doesn't realize at first, is that Tuki has a gem in her possession that is being sought after. The antique ruby holds many secrets and the dragon lady who wants it will stop at nothing to get it. As Michael and Tuki reunite, memories awaken. Will Michael and his father be able to help Tuki? What will happen to the relationship between Michael and Tuki? Who is the mysterious dragon lady, and why does she want the ruby? The answers to these, and many other, questions await in this suspenseful novel by Randall Peffer.

What a ride! This book keeps you on the edge of your seat as you wait for the other shoe to drop. The characters are realistic and their story lines easy to follow. Mr. Pfeffer does a great job of keeping the mystery alive while drawing the reader into the characters' lives. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys mysteries and other suspenseful novels. Thank you to FSB Media for the free copy I read!

"Liquid Smoke" by Jeff Shelby

Noah Braddock is a P.I. who is finally enjoying some quiet time in his life and relationships. Things seem to be going well enough for him to do some fun things, like surfing, until a case is dropped into his lap. This is no ordinary case. A lawyer, Darcy, wants him to investigate a killer. Normally, Noah could put off getting into the case, but then he finds out the killer is his father - a father he had never known. As his peace comes unraveled, Noah grapples with what to do with the request. Should he help Darcy uncover the "truth"? Should Noah go talk to this man he has never met? Can Noah walk away? The twists and turns will keep you guessing and glued to the page.

I enjoyed this book very much and was totally attracted to it because of the title. I had to know what it meant. Noah is a complex, likeable character, and I found myself rooting for him. This book will keep mystery and suspense readers happy. Thank you to FSB Media for the free copy I was given. I highly recommend the book.