Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Beloved Enemy" by Al Lacy

The Civil War was a horrible time in our nation, and Al Lacy takes a fresh look at its impact in his new book, "Beloved Enemy." Abraham Lincoln has just been sworn in as President, tensions have continued to mount, when finally they overflow and the first shots are fired at Fort Sumter. Now it is time for Americans to choose sides.

Jenny's father is a well-respected war strategist from Virginia. When he is tapped to help President Lincoln with the problems of possible war, he affirms that he will stand with the President should war break out. Will that affirmation stand when the war begins? Buck is a soldier in the Union Army, who meets and falls in love with Jenny. When Jenny is captured as a war spy, that love is severely tested. Will Jenny and Buck find a way to make their love work from opposite sides of the war? What will be Jenny's punishment? How will her father's choice affect her life?

This story captured me from the beginning. I love the style Mr. Lacy uses to tell his story and introduce his characters. The plot and characters were life-like, the poignancy of the story was palpable. It was fun to be "introduced" to President Lincoln's sons, even in this fictionalized account. I highly recommend this book to history lovers everywhere, and can't wait to pick up more books by Mr. Lacy. I received my free review copy from the Blogging For Books program for an honest review.

"Behemoth" by JonathanLeicht

Large animals are being gored to death on a game reserve in Kenya. The evidence left behind points to a mysterious predator that dates back to the days of dinosaurs. Now, Jim Thompson, the game warden, and his staff must find this deadly predator and stop it from killing any other animals, or any of the people who visit the park. What will be the outcome of following the trail of the "Behemoth"?

There are others who are interested in hunting the dinosaurs natives speak about. Stephen Gregory was a college professor. His forced resignation due to his beliefs caught the eye of an admirer and he is offered the quest of a lifetime. The costs will be covered, but there is also the question of military and tribal disquiet in the jungle. Can Stephen afford to pass up the opportunity to prove that what he has been teaching is based in fact? Where will the journey take him?

This is an interesting book and nudges us to answer some questions. Do dinosaurs still live among us? Are the stories of native tribes true? That is something each person has to uncover for himself. This book entertains the notion in an interesting, captivating, fictionalized way. The cover gives you a sense of foreboding and excitement. It is a fun read and I recommend it to anyone who loves books like, "Jurassic Park."  I received my free review copy from the Book Sneeze program for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Letters, it all started a letter. The war was over in England but the memories of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" remain. Juliet Ashton had no idea what this "society" was, but through correspondence with its members, she found a camaraderie and kinship like no other. While nothing can take away the sting of having a foreign army occupy your town and take control of everything, the book discussions gave way to personal interactions and hope that kept them all sane. Come read the letters and uncover the wonders of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society."

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to everyone. While it can be confusing to follow the letters at times, that quickly dissipates as the story unfolds.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Forever Hilltop" by Judy Baer

"Forever Hilltop" is actually two books in one - "An Unlikely Blessing" and "Surprising Grace."  Both stories are filled with vivid descriptions and lovable characters.

"An Unlikely Blessing" is the story of Alex Armstrong. He is a pastor and has taken on the challenge of pastoring two churches. While he thinks pastoring in the country should be relatively quiet compared to the city, he quickly finds that country life is busy, complicated, and funny. Being a bachelor also creates its own set of challenges, and Alex is not bored.

"Surprising Grace" also deals with the life of a pastor, one who has had his heart broken. Funny though, Natalie re-enters his life and wants him back. Will Alex give up his home and church for her? Which of the other delightful characters thinks he will make a great husband for them?

I love Judy Baer's books! The characters and stories come to life as soon as I start reading. I recommend this volume to all readers, along with her other books. Reading groups will have fun with the story lines. I received my free review copy from Litfuse Publicity for participation in the blog tour.

About the book:

The charming and often hilarious Forever Hilltop series follows the experiences of former city dweller Alex Armstrong as he settles into his new role as pastor of a Scandinavian community in rural North Dakota. Alex is sometimes baffled by his parishioners and their colorful ways, but he comes to appreciate their simple wisdom. One thing's for sure -- life in Hilltop Township is never dull! This new two-in-one format features An Unlikely Blessing along with its sequel, Surprising Grace.

About Judy:

Judy Baer was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota, experiencing many of the same things as her Hilltop characters. An only child, she spent most of her days with imaginary people-either those she read about or those she made up in her head.

Baer graduated from Concordia College with majors in English and education and a minor in religion. While at the time, she was simply studying what interested her, Baer later realized that she was educating herself for her future career as a Christian writer. She certainly put her education to use as she is the author of more than 75 books.

A certified professional life coach now certified in three coaching disciplines, Baer coaches primarily professional and aspiring writers. She is also a faculty advisor in the Department of Human Development at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis, MN. Baer has two daughters and three step children. She and her husband live in Minnesota.

She invites you to visit her at her web site for more information on her and her books. 
Celebrate with Judy by entering to win a Kindle for you and a friend!

One lucky winner will receive:

    * Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
    * Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi to Giveaway to a Friend!
    * Forever Hilltop by Judy K Baer for you and a one for a friend

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 22nd.  Winner will be announced 5/24/12 on Judy’s Blog.

"Beyond Hope's Valley" Contest!

Celebrate with Tricia and enter to win a custom-made Amish Wall hanging in the colors of your choice ... and much more! 
One fortunate winner will receive:
  • Custom Amish Wall Hanging {You choose the colors!}
  • An Amish Doll {Sweet.}
  • Amish-made basket {It’s picnic season!}
  • Doilies, potholder and an Amish cookbook {All items form Bird-in-Hand, PA!}
  • Three book Big Sky Amish series {Be swept away by this captivating series.}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 20th. Winner will be announced at "All Things Amish" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/21. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and more! 
So grab your copy of Beyond Hope's Valley and join Tricia on the evening of the May 21st for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Amish?) and lots of giveaways. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!

"Beyond Hope's Valley" by Tricia Goyer

In book #3 of her "Big Sky Series," Tricia Goyer brings Marianna back to
Indiana. Aaron, the man she loves, courts her and we find out they will
marry. But as exciting as this news is, there is a roadblock to their
wedding. Her brother Levi is getting married, but before that wedding, they
find that Naomi (his fiance) is pregnant. As the families face the wait,
changes seem to occur within Aaron. Is he the same man the Marianna fell in
love with? What is causing these strange moods and actions? Faith and love
are put to the test in this series ender. When Ben Stone enters the
picture, how will Marianna react and what will be the outcome? What will
happen to all of the wedding plans? Come back to Indiana one last time, and
see how this wonderful story ends! Even though readers will say goodbye to
the characters, no one will be disappointed.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers everywhere. I do,
however, suggest reading the first two books in the series for context. The
characters and scenes come alive with Ms. Goyer's words, creating pictures
in reader's minds. The series would make for wonderful discussions in book
groups. I received my free review copy from Litfuse Publicity for
participation in the blog tour.

*About the book: *

*Beyond Hope's Valley – Book Three in the Big Sky series*

After an extended stay in Montana, where Amish traditions are different
than in her home state, Marianna Sommer returns to Indiana for two reasons,
first to help her brother and his girlfriend prepare for a baby and
their wedding. Second, to plan her own wedding to Aaron Zook -- a marriage
she’s been dreaming about ever since childhood. And yet, although she had
missed the idyllic farms and families of her upbringing, Marianna
is surprised that Indiana is somehow making her long now for Montana.

As months pass, secrets that were hidden in winter’s frozen grasp thaw and
take on a life of their own. The truths about a child, about a past
relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a
valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and
with whom her heart truly belongs.

*About Tricia:* Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two
books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir,
Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and
conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make
their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of

More info: Living Inspired and

*Link to buy the book:* 

*Blog tour schedule: *

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"How to Travel the World for Free" by Michael Wigge

Can this possibly be true? Can you really travel the world without any money? Michael Wigge set out to prove it can be done, and 25,000 miles later (Berlin to Antarctica) he finished. Throughout his journeys, he write with humor and wit. There are serious situations that arise, like how to get from here to there, but Michael remains resourceful throughout his trip. He gives lots of tips on how to procure things like food, transportation, and a place to sleep as he chronicles his travels. The people he meets and the places he visits are alive and vivid in these pages. It is enough to make anyone want to take the trip of a lifetime! (That is, if you have the time.)

What a fun book! I wish I had the time and lack of fear necessary to undertake a journey like this. We would all discover what is really important to us! I recommend this book to travelers everywhere, and to those of you who are like me, it is a great read for the imagination. I received my free copy from PR by the Book, and thank them!

Monday, May 14, 2012

"As One Devil to Another" by Richard Platt

Demon, devil, tempter - these are all words we use for those fiends from Hell. But, what might they call each other, or say to each other if they could converse? In his new book, Richard Platt explores that topic by giving us letters and notes from one demon to another. The conversations are that of mentoring between Slashreep and his "nephew" Scardagger. As a newly graduated cadet from Temptation University, Scardagger falls under the supervision of Slashreep, and the letters in the book contain the thoughts Slashreep feels are important enough to understand.

Slashreep enjoys his life of destruction and service to Satan. He hates the Adversary and will do anything to destroy one soul's chance of Heaven. So, every time he is given a novice to train, his head gets more full of himself and his "knowledge." He really does fancy himself above proving himself, and no one can get one over on him. But how much does Scardagger pay attention to Slashreep's advice? How does a newly "graduated" demon distinguish himself? How can people turn from a loving God, one so wonderfully described in these pages, to a life controlled by the devil? Slashreep will divulge many of the secrets not meant for human eyes and ears.

There are many parts of the book worthy of quoting here, but one of my favorite passages is from page 132.  "The Adversary does not offer empirical evidence for His existence. To show His hand in the eternal present would be to destroy the humans' Free Will."...."They could no more face Him in His true form and withhold their adoration than they could face a hurricane and choose not to be swept away." Being swept away in His presence, wow!

This book was an interesting, quick read for me, and it is wonderful to know the Adversary (God) described here. I followed the correspondence with eagerness, wondering what would happen next. Was Scardagger truly the fumbler that Slashreep thought? What would be the final message between them? I have already recommended this book to others and think it would make a wonderful discussion book for a book club. There is a lot of spiritual meat in here. I received my free review copy from Tyndale House, and am pleased to be part of the blog tour for this book.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"He Will Walk With You" by Carey Bailey

He Will Walk With You | Carey Bailey

As a little girl, I loved baby dolls. Loved them! I played school, adoption agency, daycare operator and babysitter all day. I felt like I was born to be a mama. Therefore, I was a bit anxious when the ages, 22, 25, 28 and 32 came and went and there were no babies. Have you ever desired something so much and feared never getting it? That was me.

My day finally came at the age of 34. I soon realized that God knew what He was doing when He had me wait. To my shock, it wasn’t as easy as playing with dolls. I was surprised that it wasn’t the dream world I imagined it would be! I felt like life became a gigantic prayer.

“God, HELP me!”

“Please, God. Please, please, please make it all better. I can’t do this!”

“God, this feels impossible. Where are you?”

While I adore motherhood, it is harder and there are more adjustments than I expected. (I am hoping there are some nodding of heads and Amen’s being said out there in cyberworld.) Not only did I have a new life to care for, but my identity suddenly felt all scrambled up. It took me until my son was one to finally feel confident in my new role as a mother, confident that I could drop my child off at preschool without crying, confident that I could go out with the girls’ and the world wouldn’t fall apart, and confident that I could go on a date night and have conversations that didn’t revolve just around our son.

I was feeling settled in my new world and then WHAM! I discovered I was pregnant again. Can I be vulnerable with you? I actually cried when I found out. And they were not tears of joy. I feel awful saying that out loud, and I hope you will give me a moment to explain. It was not that I didn’t want another baby or feel like I couldn’t love a new life, it was just that I got scared. Discovering a little person was on the way sent a panic through me. Would my son still receive the love and attention that he deserved? How was my husband going to feel about my body changing again? Would I ever be able to pursue the vision I felt God had for me in writing and publishing? I was truly wondering if I was going to be able to handle another intense wave of identity crisis like the one I had just been through. I wasn’t sure.

God and I needed a serious talk. And in that conversation He carefully reminded me of this:

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

He reminded me in our time together that I, too, am His child and He has every intention of loving me, caring for me, and giving me the future that He has planned for me.

As mothers, we can get so caught up in parenting that we forget that we, too, have a spiritual parent who loves us as His child. He loves you as much as He loves the children He has given you. He will never forsake you.  And on those days when motherhood seems too overwhelming and too impossible I step back and take a deep breath. Then I remember that this journey I am on, right now, is the one He has designed and create uniquely for me. I simply need to live in it, learn from it, and allow His love to sweep over and through me.

He will walk with me! He will walk with you! Grab His hand.

Book Give-away - "As One Devil to Another"

About the book:

"As One Devil to Another is an astonishing debut work that C. S. Lewis’s biographer and foremost Lewis authority Walter Hooper calls “a stunning achievement, the finest example of the genre of diabolical correspondence to appear since this genre was popularized by C. S. Lewis.” Enter into this chilling and diabolical tale, one that reveals the very tricks and strategies of Hell.
Through a series of letters between devils created by Platt, senior devil Slashreap trains his young protégé, Scardagger, to win an individual soul away from Heaven and into their clutches. As the devils plot their way to triumph, they reveal the spiritual dangers and risks we face in today’s society. Their frighteningly accurate perspective on issues such as contemporary technology and sexual mores is interwoven with timeless matters such as the power of prayer, the purpose of suffering, and the promises held out by Heaven . . . and Hell.
Destined to become a modern classic, As One Devil to Another is a brilliantly written, deeply unsettling perspective on twenty-first-century society . . . a glimpse of ourselves through the eyes of those who have embraced their underworldly existence." from Tyndale Books

I have a certificate for a free copy of this book to give away. If you wish to enter, simply leave a comment below along with an e-mail address where I can contact you. The drawing will be held on Friday, May 18th. Good luck!  =)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Mother of Pearl" blog Day 2 - Shelia Walsh

Joy Comes from Perseverance | Shelia Walsh

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my own life is the joy that comes from perseverance. Eugene Peterson, borrowing a phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote his book  “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction …Discipleship in an Instant Society.” He points to the Psalms as the way believers have always learned to pray what they live and live what they pray but it is not a short journey. It is an intentional commitment to keep walking even when you are worn out.

*If we want to see lasting results in any area of life it’s important to keep walking in that direction.

*If we want to have a better understanding of the Gospel of John then it takes time and commitment to dig deeper day after day.

*If we want to be thinner this summer than last summer then the work begins now not then.
So too in our relationship with Christ…..

*If we want to know Him at a more profoundly intimate level, that also takes an intentional seeking after Him every day.

As a grown woman I have come to love the beauty of this gift. Passing this “mined treasure” onto my son on the other hand has been an interesting challenge.  We live in such a fast paced, attention-challenged culture where the latest thing can be delivered to your doorstep by tomorrow for a few dollars more. But, as you know, by the time it is delivered it has already been replaced or updated!

How do we speak then into the lives of our children to help them understand and value perseverance?

For me…part of the puzzle meant a large piece of poster board, scissors, some photos and a bottle of Elmer’s glue. My son, Christian and I spread everything out on a sheet in the game room as I explained our project. “We’re going to make a family faith-tree,” I said. “These are photos of family on your dad’s side and on mine. Many of them have gone on to be with Jesus but the seeds they planted into our family continue to grow.” Then we wrote down their names and when they came to faith in Christ (as many as I knew).  It was quite something to see when we were finished.

“Your life matters Christian. Running your race well matters.”

That night we read these words from the writer to the Hebrews,

“We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up.”
Hebrews 12:1 (NCV)

"Crazy Dangerous" Giveaway and Author Chat Party!

Celebrate with Andrew by entering his Crazy Dangerous giveaway and connecting with him during the Author Chat Party on 5/29!

One fortunate winner will receive:  
  • A $100 Visa Cash Card
  • A copy of Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan for YOU and 5 of your Friends!
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 28th. Winner will be announced at the"Crazy Dangerous" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/29. Andrew will be hosting an Author Chat, testing your survival trivia skills, giving away books and gift certificates to iTunes and! Don't miss a second of the "danger"!

Grab your copy of Crazy Dangerous and connect with Andrew on the evening of 5/29/12 for an author chat and lots of giveaways.

Don't miss a moment of don't miss this chance to connect with Andrew and enjoy an evening of chat, trivia, prizes, and more RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th! 

"Crazy Dangerous" by Andrew Klavan

Andrew Klavan is back with an exciting, action-packed YA adventure. Sam Hopkins is a normal kid. He does the things he is supposed to, most of the time. However, the choice to hang with the wrong crowd puts him into many situations where Sam has to consciously make good decisions, which becomes increasingly difficult. When Sam sees his "friends" harassing Jennifer, one of his schoolmates, his choice is to help her. What does that do to his "friendship" with the group?  Will there be repercussions?

Jennifer is quirky. Soon Sam finds out that she sees and hears things, things that truly scare her. She tells Sam about seeing death, the devil, and demons, and he thinks she may be crazy. But, is she? Or, is she seeing things that are truly happening or will happen in the future? As Sam starts to put the pieces together and begins to believe, he finds himself trying to prevent oncoming events. Will he be successful? How dangerous will it become? What will happen to Jennifer and Sam? Pick up this book and let Sam tell you the whole story!

Wow! "Crazy Dangerous" is a great title for this book. It had my attention from the beginning and kept me reading. I was drawn to Sam, the preacher's son who made a bad choice in friends but wants to make it right; and Jennifer, the quirky girl who is terrified by the sights and sounds she witnesses. They could be any of us. This is a great YA novel and I recommend it to anyone who loves action-packed YA literature. I think it would be a fun discussion for teen groups, with many topics to discuss. I received my review copy from Litfuse for participation in the blog tour.

The Blog Tour Schedule can be found here:

About the book:

Crazy Dangerous
| Andrew Klavan

"You probably want to hear about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and-oh yeah-the weird murder . . . you're definitely going to want to hear about that." 

Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with a bad crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it's only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble. 

But one day, Sam sees them harassing an eccentric schoolmate of his named Jennifer. When Sam finds the courage to face the bullies down, he loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one. 

Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons and the devil and death. And here's the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies--prophecies of something terrible that's going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it. 

With no one to believe him, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

About Andrew: 

Andrew Klavan was hailed by Stephen King as "the most original novelist of crime and suspense since Cornell Woolrich." He is the recipient of two Edgar Awards and the author of such bestsellers as True Crime and Don't Say a Word. 

His books and screenplays have been turned into films directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Michael Douglas, Ed Burns, Michael Caine among others. 

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CaliforniaBooks Sold to Date: over 1.5 million.

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Mother of Pearl" Blog Series - Day 1 Cindy Stiverson

Priceless Treasures | Cindy K. Stiverson

We've heard it said and often find it true:
You don't know the value of a treasure until you're without it.

We take for granted the things in life that seem so readily available.
   A paperclip or rubber band, to hold things together.
   A tissue or napkin, to wipe our nose to clean our face, to absorb our tears.
   A Bible to speak words of wisdom and instruction and life and love.

And a Mother, who is all these things and more.
   She is readily available.
   She holds things together.
   She wipes our nose, cleans our face (and our fingers, and, well…everything else!)
   She absorbs our tears and calms our fears.
  "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26)
   She loves.

Within hours after my mother passed into the gates of our heavenly home, I was missing her. Her quick wit…humor…charm. Her warm smile and melodious laughter, which served her well to the very end, as did our Lord Jesus Christ, who so graciously allowed her to slip quietly and peacefully into His arms.

She simply stopped breathing.

As I stood at her bedside in those priceless moments after her passing, I wanted to touch her skin as much as possible while there was still warmth in her body; to nuzzle my nose against her head and breathe in the scent of her hair while she was still there. Priceless treasures I was guilty of taking for granted, clouded by unmet needs. I was so consumed with what she was not, that I never fully appreciated who she was. It’s like I was blind, but now I see!

I see her strength, her commitment. Her perseverance…sacrifice…her unspoken love. I see how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, how much she taught me, and how much of the good in me was modeled by her.

She was a virtuous woman, as described in Proverbs 31 of the Bible.
“Her children stand and bless her… a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise (vs. 31).”

This last verse of the poem serves as an epitaph for the woman of virtue. It speaks of the legacy she leaves in her passing. It spurred me to write a personal epitaph for my mother, which I read at her funeral.

We publicly declare your praise today,
and in the days to come,
for you deserve to be praised and blessed,
"We honor you, Mom, for all you have done!"

In my earliest of memories,
You worked so hard, striving for the rest.
You persevered through great trials
and did your very best.

I know you are being rewarded
in ways far beyond our reach.
We honor you now by practicing what you've taught,
and even what you preached!

You've stood for us for all these years,
Today, we stand for you!
I pray that our applause on earth
will reach your heavenly ears.

With the reading of this poem, I asked everyone to stand. We clapped our hands in celebration and praise of the life of my mother, Margaret Alice Stiltner.

Imagine our surprise to discover that she had left a poetic epitaph for us! She had clipped it from an old magazine and framed it. I found it when I was cleaning her home, on a nightstand by her bed. My mother was never versed at expressing emotion. This was her sweet way of kissing us good-bye: a priceless treasure to remember her by.