Wednesday, March 31, 2010

As Young As We Feel by Melody Carlson - Guest Review from Mocha with Linda!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

As Young As We Feel

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)


Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


Is there room in one little hometown for four very different Lindas to reinvent their lives … together?

Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever. But that was forty-seven years and four very different lives ago. Now a class reunion has brought them all together in their old hometown—at a crossroads in their lives.

Janie is a high-powered lawyer with a load of grief. Abby is a lonely housewife in a beautiful oceanfront empty nest. Marley is trying to recapture the artistic free spirit she lost in an unhappy marriage. And the beautiful Caroline is scrambling to cope with her mother’s dementia and a Hollywood career that never really happened. Together, they’re about to explore the invigorating reality that even the most eventful life has second acts … and friendship doesn’t come with a statue of limitations.

If you would like to read the first chapter of As Young As We Feel, go HERE.

Watch the Video:

*I did not receive my copy of this book, but I trust Linda's discernment when it comes to fiction. I too have had an on again, off again experience with this author's work, and I appreciated Linda's thoroughness and honesty in the review. I felt it was worth sharing, and it is indeed an honor to be linked up with her today!

My Guest Blogger Buddy Linda's Review:(From her blog Mocha With Linda!)

MY THOUGHTS: Melody Carlson is a prolific author; I've enjoyed some of her books (and my girl loves the teen books she writes) but I've been underwhelmed with others. As for this one, I'm a bit conflicted. I couldn't resist signing up to review it since it's about four women named Linda -- although each has gone by her middle name since they were all together in first grade. I enjoyed the storyline as the four gals met again at their 35th high school reunion and coped with the challenges of their very different lives.

Chapter titles and focal emphases alternate between the four women, but because they are all interacting with each other, it didn't seem choppy or difficult to switch my focus from one chapter to the next. Friendship among women is celebrated in this book as they work through some of their lingering (from school days) issues with each other and recognize the value of their friendship. As much as I enjoyed the story, several aspects bugged me a bit.

For one, the faith element is minimal. Prayer was mentioned once or twice, at which the other individuals expressed surprise - not hostility, just indifference. Since this is the beginning of a series, I hope that it is further developed. Additionally, in one scene, Abby's mother, in a discussion with Abby about sad toll that Alzheimer's has taken on Caroline's mother, indicated that suicide would be her choice if she discovered that she were losing her own mental facilities. While she didn't use the word suicide, her comments still supported the concept of euthanasia. Her daughter seemed a bit surprised at this but shrugged it off that her mom was always a little quirky.

Finally, Marley's son is gay, as is her boss. While that is a current reality in our world today, I wish the issue had been handled differently in the book. There was no indication that anything was amiss with that lifestyle. Marley seemed to view her son's partner as a son-in-law; each time she talked with her son, she would send greetings of love to his partner. I know many parents struggle with how to love a child unconditionally while speaking truth about the choices that child is making; I would have preferred it being portrayed that way rather than the politically correct, tolerant, "anything is fine" viewpoint that those scenes seemed to convey.

The above issues are a relatively small part of the story, but they keep a good book from being great. I am interested in what happens in the sequel and hope that the faith element and the book's social concepts are strengthened. I enjoy edgy fiction containing relevant topics, searching individuals, and non-believers, but it's important to me that a Biblical worldview is at least presented. Otherwise nothing sets it apart from any other secular book

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick - REVIEW

ABOUT THE BOOK: (from the publisher)
Did photography replace an absence in her life or expose the truth of her heart’s emptiness?

While growing in confidence as a photographer, eighteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele’s personal life is at a crossroads. Hoping she’s put an unfortunate romantic longing behind her as “water under the bridge,” she exiles herself to Milwaukee to operate photographic studios for those owners who have fallen ill with mercury poisoning.

Jessie gains footing in her dream to one day operate her own studio and soon finds herself in other Midwest towns, pursuing her profession. But even a job she loves can’t keep painful memories from seeping into her heart when the shadows of a forbidden love threaten to darken the portrait of her life.


“Anxiety is the essence of conscience.” (p. 253)

If the quote from Dr. Freud in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel An Absence so Great is accurate, then Jessie Gaebele, Mrs. Fred Baur and Mr. Fred Baur himself should all be suffering dire fits of apoplexy! Whether it’s true or not, this is the first novel I’ve read by Jane Kirkpatrick that left me totally unimpressed. When I was introduced to the character of Jessie Gaebele in A Flickering Light, I applauded her strength of character and her determination to utilize her talents as a photographer despite the fact that it was a male dominated field. I applauded her even further for turning away from the temptation of loving a married man. I applauded too early.

Jessie is only a teen when she encounters Fred Baur for the first time. He is 26 years older than she, and any normal teenager would have thought he was a dirty old man going through a midlife crisis. Well, his marriage was in crisis after the tragic death of his son, but that gave him no right to lust after a teenage girl even if they did have similar interests. When Jessie left the man behind in the last book, I was thrilled. Little did I know that Fred would pursue her relentlessly whether she wanted him to or not. Even Jessie recognizes their relationship as the temptation it is and makes weak attempts to turn from it. Granted, Fred Baur’s wife, also named Jessie, is going to counseling with the pastor to deal with the loss of her son and her troubled marriage, but she allows herself to become infatuated with the pastor, so in her heart she is as adulterous as her husband.

Bottom line, when the phrase “absence so great” is used in this novel it speaks of the emptiness Jessie and Fred feel when they are apart. I feel strongly that the reality of an “absence so great” was the total absence of a personal relationship with Christ, and the total unwillingness to repent of their adulterous feelings toward one another. Fred’s treatment of his wife and family was abominable. His deceit was sinful. His divorce was wrong. He never once gave me the impression that he intended to turn away from his adulterous feelings for Jessie Gaebele. He pursued this teenage girl relentlessly.

Perhaps they found Christ later in life and repented of their willing sinfulness. I hope so, because this story didn’t even hint of a moment’s brokenness or repentance. The consequences of broken lives and relationships will be the legacy in my mind of Fred Baur and Jessie Gaebele, not their happily ever after. This was an adulterous affair from beginning to end. Romanticizing it doesn’t make it right.


Jane Kirkpatrick is a best-selling, award-winning author whose previous historical novels include All Together in One Place and Christy Award finalist A Tendering in the Storm. An international keynote speaker, she has earned regional and national recognition for her stories based on the lives of actual people, including the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Hall of Fame. Jane is a Wisconsin native who since 1974 has lived in Eastern Oregon, where she and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 rugged acres.

I received my review copy free from Waterbook in exchange for my review. I will be donating my extra copy to the local library.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Love Finds You in Homestead Iowa by Melanie Dobson - REVIEWED

Love Finds You in Homestead Iowa….this series is really taking me places! This time, Melanie Dobson takes me into the heart of the Amana Colonies in the late 1800’s. I’d read of this communal group before, but it was neat to “visit” this commune through the eyes of some of its members. Similar to the Amish in their “plain” living, the Amana Colonies seemed even more communal in that they literally cooked, ate, gardened and did everything together. When Jacob Hirsch and his daughter Cassie enter this cloistered environment - very unintentionally – the Lord uses them to bring about great changes in both their lives and the lives of the Amana Community.

Liesel is the young Amana woman who discovers Jacob and Cassie and brings them into the community for much needed medical attention. Jacob and his daughter were forced to leave Chicago in the midst of very dire circumstances, and they never imagined they would spend time among people so different from themselves. As Liesel cares for Jacob and Cassie she begins to teach them the rudimentary concepts behind the commune, and through her care, and the care of the Amana people Jacob discovers that he is able to move past the tragic circumstances of his past and begin to live again. When he is offered an opportunity to work among the people of Amana he begins to learn even more about himself and the God these people serve so faithfully. He also begins to recognize that he has come to care a great deal about Liesel!

Once again, the love story in this Love Finds You volume is tender and entertaining. This book allows you to just enjoy the fact that people are people no matter when or where they exist, and when love finds them, transformation is inevitable. I enjoyed my peek into the Amana commune, and I think you will too!

Melanie Beroth Dobson is the author of the inspirational novels Together for Good (Kregel, 2006), Going for Broke (David C. Cook, 2007), The Black Cloister (Kregel, 2008), Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana (Summerside, 2009), and Crescent Hill (Kregel, 2010) as well as the co-author of Latte for One and Loving It! A Single Woman’s Guide to Living Life to Its Fullest (Cook, 2000). Melanie has a background in publicity and journalism. She grew up in a small Ohio town but now lives with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke - REVIEWED

“So that is what we pray for. That God will give you the wisdom and faith to look beyond this moment. To know that whatever lies ahead he has prepared the way.” (P 146)

The Hidden Flame is the story of a young woman who truly wants to do God’s will, but her faith is not yet mature enough to discern the path God has chosen for her. Abigail is one of the early Christians, living amid the early church just after the crucifixion of Christ. Wounded, weary and torn over the struggle she faces as two very different men vie for her attention, Abigail selflessly serves the other believers. When her health is threatened and she becomes the recipient of one of God’s miraculous blessings, Abigail learns firsthand what it means to follow God without reservation. Her devotion is rewarded in ways she could never begin to imagine, and as the early church begins to suffer persecution she learns yet again to place everything into her Savior’s almighty hands.

Oh dear reader, if you want to feel as though you have walked the streets of Jerusalem and been a part of that wondrous time of growth within the early church, then you really must make all haste to read The Hidden Flame! This is the second book in the Acts of Faith series, and reading this story is as if you have stepped into a time portal and been taken back to live within the early church family. I witnessed the death of Ananias and Sapphira. I heard the jealous, fearful ranting of those who felt threatened by this growing group of believers. I listened to the agonizing grief of those separated by the persecution of the early church. Folks, The Hidden Flame is Biblical fiction that creates a realistic and true-to-scripture picture of what it was like to live and serve within the early church. What a powerful reminder of the power, the holiness, the righteousness, the grace and love of our Savior!!

Davis Bunn and Janette Oke are my absolute favorite writing duo, and this book just strengthens my joy and anticipation of more books in this fabulous series! I highly recommend The Hidden Flame to everyone!

Thank you to Bethany House for my review copy!


Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write. Visit Davis' Web site at

Janette Oke (pronounced "oak") pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. Love Comes Softly, her first novel, has sold over one million copies. Janette is now the bestselling author of over 70 books, 32 of which have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books have sold over 22 million copies.

Janette receives fan mail from all over the world and answers each letter personally. She received the 1992 President's Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, the 1999 CBA Life Impact Award and has been awarded the Gold Medallion Award for fiction. Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and enjoy their many grandchildren. They make their home in Canada.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Gospel Revolution May 20-22 - GET DETAILS HERE!

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—The Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) has announced its annual conference to be held on May 20-22, 2010 at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX. The keynote speaker will be Tullian Tchividjian, addressing this year’s theme of The Gospel Revolution.

Tchividjian is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, founded by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, and is the grandson of renowned evangelist Dr. Billy Graham. Tchividjian has authored several books, including Unfashionable and Do I Know God?, and speaks at conferences throughout the US. His sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program Godward Living.

The conference is an experience designed for both the young and old of our culture and those who lead them. The Gospel Revolution: Rediscovering the Power of the Cross will teach a new generation of Christians how to effectively apply the Gospel of the Cross to the real issues of everyday life. Tchividjian explains, “I am absolutely convinced that most Christians believe that the gospel ignites the Christian in life, but they fail to believe the gospel is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day.”

Although the conference is targeted to counselors, the event is open to anyone who would like to better apply Biblical principles to own their lives, as well to those who are seeking to become better equipped to offer counsel within their churches and ministries.

The Gospel Revolution conference will feature several authors and international speakers, including Dr. Paul David Tripp, Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Mike Emlet. Speakers with local ties include Beau Hughes (Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Denton, TX), Elliott Greene (Redeemer Seminary), and Jeremy Lelek (President of ABC).

Based in Bedford, TX, the Association of Biblical Counselors exists to encourage, equip, and empower all believers everywhere to live and counsel the Word. ABC offers resources designed to equip professional counselors, pastoral staff, and all Christians to provide wise counsel that comes straight from Scripture—and only from Scripture. ABC believes that the Bible answers every single question that psychology tries to answer.

For more information about ABC and for conference details and registration, visit

Friday, March 26, 2010

A View from Liz Curtis Higgs' Window - Here Burns My Candle

Last week, I reviewed Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs, and this week I am honored to have her visit my window! You cannot begin to know what a thrill this is for me, because I have loved this dear lady and her books for a long time! Truly, this opportunity was a love note from the Lord, and I hope you enjoy your visit with Liz as much as I did!! Please, welcome Liz Curtis Higgs to my Window!

1. The Jacobite Rebellion came in stages, and you have focused on what is considered the 5th attempt to restore the English throne in 1745. How on earth did you connect the story of Ruth to this particular Rebellion? How was this idea born?

For those among us who love Scotland and its history, “The ’45,” as it’s often called, remains a compelling, even maddening series of misadventures. Titles, lands, even lives were staked on restoring the exiled James Stuart to the British throne and doing away with King George in the process. When bonny Prince Charlie—the young pretender to the throne—and his army of Jacobite rebels arrived in Edinburgh in September 1745, things began looking up for the Stuart cause. That’s where Here Burns My Candle opens.

Now, to your good question about the biblical connection: I wanted to focus on just the first chapter of Ruth for this novel, saving the balance of the story for my next Scottish historical, Mine Is the Night. Many Christian readers are familiar with the powerful vow that Ruth makes to Naomi in the final verses of that first chapter—“whither thou goest, I will go”—but I wanted to explore all the elements of Ruth’s story leading up to that sacrificial promise, which include a series of tragic losses and reversals of fortune. That certainly sounded like the Jacobite Rebellion to me!

2. Scottish history is an apparent passion in your heart. Do you have family history of your own that drew you to this time period, or is this a fascination of the heart?

Oh, I love that phrase, Kim! It is indeed a “fascination of the heart.” Many years ago God placed deep within me an abiding love for all things Scottish. I’ve not found any ancestral connection (though I keep looking!), but I’ve nonetheless claimed Scotland as my adopted homeland. The countryside is every bit as beautiful as you might imagine, and the people are exceedingly friendly. My family has roots in Ireland, Wales, and Englandsurely there’s a drop of Scots blood somewhere!

3. Elisabeth’s pagan practices remain hidden from her in-laws for most of the story. Can you tell us the origins of her particular pagan faith and how it came to be part of your story?

At the start of her story Ruth was a Moabite and therefore a pagan. Her people worshiped many gods, among them “Chemosh the vile god of Moab” (2 Kings 23:13). For Lady Elisabeth Kerr, I chose moon worship, one of the practices common in the early Celtic religions, and included several lines of sacred poetry from the Highlands and Islands.

4. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way you portray Elisabeth’s heart as she is wooed by God throughout the story. I am particularly intrigued at how her faith manages to stand in the face of her husband’s unfaithfulness. What made you decide to have her struggle with marital infidelity along with her own pagan practices?

In the biblical story, Ruth is married to Mahlon, whose name means “weakness.” I might have made his Scottish counterpart, Lord Donald Kerr, physically weak, but moral weakness was closer to the biblical mark. After all, Naomi’s two Israelite sons married pagan Moabite women, apparently with their mother’s permission…not good! From a storytelling standpoint, Elisabeth’s growing faithfulness to God and Donald’s declining faithfulness to her provided the dramatic tension needed to keep the pages turning.

5. Marjory Kerr is another character who is struggling within herself regarding the consequences of bad decisions. It takes some pretty dire circumstances to reveal to her these shortcomings and the need to turn from the desires that brought her to this desperate place. You reveal God’s faithfulness throughout this process and His desire to use all things for our good and His glory. Can

you tell us how God’s faithfulness has been revealed in your life through this character’s struggles?

I seldom think about my own spiritual or emotional challenges when I begin plotting a book. Yet by the time I type the last word, God has inevitably taken my heart on a journey right along with my characters. I’m grateful I’ve not been through some of the heartaches that plagued the Dowager Lady Kerr. The poor woman! Like Naomi, she was bitter and spent from all her losses. And yet, her daughter-in-law pledged to stick with her. Incredible.

Such faithfulness on Elisabeth’s part made me seriously consider my commitment to my own mother-in-law. Could I be as selfless, as sacrificial? Hard questions! Studying Ruth’s biblical story for several months, then living out the Scottish version for several years, made a monumental shift inside me. I always loved my mother-in-law; now I adore and appreciate her in a whole new way. I also gained a daughter-in-law during the writing process, which gave me a deeper understanding of that unique relationship. I just have to say, my m-i-l and d-i-l are both fabulous: I am one blessed woman!

6. Here Burns My Candle is your first full-length piece of fiction in a while. How long has this story been simmering in your heart? How hard was it to find time to write amid all of your other commitments?

I’ve been holding Ruth close to my heart since I first wrote the proposal for Here Burns My Candle in 2004. After the release of my novel Grace in Thine Eyes in 2006, I turned to nonfiction for several seasons, writing Embrace Grace, Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, and a fun armchair travel guide, My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland.

Much as I love being immersed in a fictional world, finding time to write amid all my traveling and speaking is ever a challenge. Thank goodness my characters keep coaxing me back to my computer to tell their tale. My readers are a huge encouragement as well. I literally could not keep going without them!

7. Can you share with us a couple of your most memorable Scottish experiences? Looks like you have visited more than once! ;)

Indeed, lass, I’ve visited Scotland eleven times to date. (Those frequent flyer miles do come in handy!) Of all my memorable experiences, here’s one favorite, drawn from the pages of My Heart’s in the Lowlands, published by WaterBrook Press…

I had the glen all to myself that morning; even the Visitor Centre wasn’t yet open. The weather was dry and mild, though it had rained the day before, and the ground was muddy in spots. I climbed to the top of the glen without mishap, eager to use my going-away present from my husband: a brand-new Canon with a zoom lens and sleek design.

After photographing the glen of Loch Trool from every angle, I cautiously started back down the hill, letting the camera swing about my neck instead of doing the intelligent thing and tucking it in my pocket. Suddenly my foot slipped, and gravity took over. Down I went, tumbling over the sharp rocks, my brand-new camera leading the way.

“Help!” No one was around, of course, but I had to do something. Even with my foot painfully pinned under me, my camera worried me most, since mud and tiny stones covered the lens. “Help!”

Out of the blue appeared an older man with a shock of silvery hair and a sturdy build. “Och! What’s happened here, lass? Have ye taken a tumble?”

I held up my Canon with a groan. “We both did.”

He plucked the camera from my hands, deftly brushed off the last of the dirt, and examined the lens with a practiced eye. “A scratch or two on the case. Nothing to fret about.” He made a minor adjustment, then handed the camera back to me. “Good as new.”

That’s when I noticed the professional-looking equipment draped around his neck. “Are you a…”

“Photographer,” he said with a nod, then cupped my elbow to help me up. “Come, let’s get you onto level ground.” A moment later, he climbed over a hillock and was gone from sight.

Imagine, in that vast, empty glen, a man with camera know-how and strong arms showing up at the precise moment I was desperate for both…

8. Can you share some of the exciting things God is doing in your life right now?

Other than sending the Angel of Glen Trool to rescue me? Aye, lass! God is pressing me deeper into his Word and teaching me to trust him, even when the way ahead seems as foggy as Edinburgh on a chilly spring morning. However gray those hours, knowing God loves us and is still at work in our lives (Romans 8:28) is hugely comforting.

As to future plans, when Mine Is the Night releases in Spring 2011, I’ll embark on a series of speaking engagements for Women of Joy, with conferences in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas. At each event I’ll be sharing the message of Ruth, bringing things full circle for me: studying the Word, writing the novel, then teaching the Word!

9. Closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

My goal as a novelist is always to point my readers back to Scripture. Even the Readers Guide in the closing pages of Here Burns My Candle includes an invitation to read Ruth 1:1-18. I am grateful for every reader who enjoys my novel approach to Bible study and shares my love for Scotland and its history. For those many dear women (and a few good men!) I will gladly glue myself to my desk chair and continue telling God’s life-changing stories.

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs REVIEWED

“She was beginning to realize how few things were hers to manage.” (Dowager Lady Marjory Kerr, p.314)

Indeed, Dowager Kerr learned many things were not in her power to control throughout the course of this story. “Not the weather, certainly. Not the furnishings beneath her roof. Not the health of those around her. Not the fate of her sons in battle. And not the faithfulness of the wives they left behind.” (p. 314) For you see, dear reader, this story takes place during the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland in 1745, and Dowager Lady Kerr discovers that her sons have political leanings of their own. She learns that the soldiers in King George’s service can brutally take anything they want from her home. She has learned that even her own daughter’s-in-law are capable of loving someone besides her sons. Most importantly of all, Dowager Marjory Kerr has learned that only God alone is faithful, even despite the selfish distrust she has shown toward Him most of her married life.

Here Burns My Candle is a complex story, and Marjory Kerr is but one of many memorable characters written within the story. Lady Elizabeth Kerr is an even more prominent character, and this Hilander seamstress has won the heart of Dowager Kerr’s oldest son Donald. However, as she approaches her third anniversary, she learns that faithfulness is something her dear Donald knows little about. By the time he is ready to beg her forgiveness and support her Jacobite cause, Elizabeth finds herself learning that Donald is not the only one who stands in need of mercy. She has secretly followed her mother’s pagan faith amid the Christian faith of her in-laws. When war rages around her and her husband’s faithlessness is still a raw wound in her heart, Elizabeth meets the One who can give her the love and faithfulness she has longed for.

Liz Curtis Higgs can bring the Scottish past to life like no other I know! I devoured her Galloway stories, and cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am to find another enthralling saga within which to lose myself entirely. Loosely based on the story of Ruth, Here Burns My Candle is a story that makes you realize anew that truly, there is nothing new under the sun. Without the atoning blood of Christ, we are all lost amid the human sinfulness that surrounds and overwhelms us. Yet once grace is introduced, even the darkest of circumstances bear the light of hope, and Elisabeth, Marjory and Janet Kerr are Scottish women who will leave a lasting impression upon your heart.

I am left hungry for more. I will eagerly await Mine Is the Night and the opportunity to learn what becomes of the dear Kerr ladies and their wounded, broken hearts. Ahhhh! This is historic fiction at its finest! Here Burns My Candle…please, indulge yourself!

Purchase your copy HERE today!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Scattered Petals by Amanda Cabot - REVIEWED

“It’s the forks that are difficult, because we have to make a choice each time we come to one.” (p. 379)

There are many unexpected and tragic events that occur in the lives of Priscilla Morton and Zack Webster. These events bring them face to face with decisions that are neither easy nor pleasant, yet choose they must. Amanda Cabot’s latest novel, Scattered Petals, explore the lives of two wounded people and circumstances that are indeed painful and unpleasant. However, side by side, Cabot also explores God’s grace and sovereignty at work amid the difficult circumstances that often become reality in the lives of His children. God’s Word promises us that He works ALL things for our good and His glory, and sometimes, on a human level, we have a difficult time grasping that truth. Scattered Petals is a beautiful testimony of every aspect of this profound truth.

Priscilla Morton comes to the Bar C ranch under heartbreaking circumstances. Her fragile state seems to have no end at first, but eventually she begins to get a grasp of the scope of things, and she is faced with a very shocking truth. Zach Webster, the ranch foreman, seems drawn to Priscilla almost immediately, but his own painful past has him bound in ways that prevent him from pursuing a relationship with this beautiful woman. As the story develops both of them begin to learn that healing and wholeness lie in the future if they are only willing to learn to give and accept the forgiveness necessary for that process to occur. Danger still lurks beyond the horizon for them as well, so the choices that lie in the forks of their road are rather numerous. Will they overcome and move forward?

Amanda Cabot certainly understands the truth of God’s sovereignty in the lives of His children. To my knowledge, Scattered Petals is my introduction to her work, and I am happy to recommend it to you! This story is a beautiful historical romance with a few twists thrown in to keep the pages turning. There is a strong faith to be found amid the characters as well, and it encouraged me to watch as they struggled and grew in their relationships with God. I am happy to recommend this story to you!


Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the co-founder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On The Road Home: Stories of Life and Love by Terry Burns - REVIEWED

If I could describe On The Road Home succinctly, I would call it a scrapbook of stories, poems and vignettes written from the heart of a man who loves God and desires that others come to love Him too. Terry Burns is what I call an old-fashioned kind of cowpoke who tells stories as though you were sitting with him on the front porch swing. Picking up On The Road Home was like thumbing through grandpa’s writing journal and enjoying the creative way he shares spiritual truths through the lens of day-to-day life experiences.

I realize those who love an edgy, modern tale with the scriptural truths covertly hidden among the pages probably won’t be drawn to Terry Burns’ writing. However, for those who enjoy seeing God’s hand at work among the lives of common, every day kind of folks (especially if they are of the cowboy/country variety) then there is much to enjoy in this latest volume from Terry Burns. Now, I’d be less than honest if I didn't tell you that his poetry style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but nonetheless, it offers truth about the human heart and relationships that will ring true.

I’ve read one other book by Terry Burns, Saint's Roost, and enjoyed it a great deal too. I hope you will visit his website and sample his work. He has a wide variety of stories to choose from if you enjoy a western flair to your tales. On The Road Home is also a great way to sample this author’s talents, and it will give you a volume to go to when you don’t have time for a lengthy read. You can simply pick and choose among the many short stories and poems and enjoy a brief spiritual pick-me-up!


Terry writes inspirational fiction and is an agent with Hartline Literary As a writer he has over 30 books in print including 10 novels. He has a new 4 book series entitled “The Sagebrush Collection” of his collected short works and the first will release March 2010 entitled “On the Road Home” with material from over 200 articles and short stories.

A Young Adult entitled Beyond the Smoke came out from BJU Press January 2009, won the Will Rogers Medallion and is nominated for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. A second book, a historical fiction entitled Saints Roost just came out from Mountainview Press, he just finished ghostwriting a novel for a publisher, adapted two screenplays into book form, and he had a series that began with Mysterious Ways from River Oak Publishing ( the series bears that name). The second, Brothers Keeper came out Feb 1, 2006 and Shepherd's Son came out January 1, 2007.

Other fiction includes Trails of the Dime Novel, a trade paperback from Echelon Press, Don’t I Know You? and To Keep a Promise from Fictionworks. A popular speaker at workshops across the country, a bookstore of his available works as well as a regular blog can be found at As an agent Terry says "I'm looking for a good book, well written in a unique voice, aimed at a market that looks promising, and where I feel I have the contacts appropriate to be able to sell the book in that market." He’s a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR) and a signatory to their rules and practices.

Terry is married to Saundra Pennington Burns and they have five children and ten grandchildren with one on the way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Give Away from Tyndale!

The New Living Translation Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Giveaway

Visit and click on the tab that says “Sweepstakes”

Fill out a simple form, take a quick Bible clarity survey, invite your friends to join and you’ll be entered to win one of our exciting prizes.

With each fan number milestone a new prize will be given away.

Grand Prize

Apple iPad 64G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fifth milestone
Retail Value: $829.00

2nd Prize - Already awarded

32G iPod Touch and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fourth milestone
Retail Value: $300.00

3rd Prize – Will be awarded when fan count hits: 3500

Kindle DX and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the third milestone
Retail Value: $489.00

4th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 16G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the New Living Translation Fan Page hits the second milestone
Retail Value: $499.00

5th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 32G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the first milestone
Retail Value: $599.00

Prize Eligibility – Recently updated to include more countries

Sweepstakes participants and winner(s) can be U.S. residents of the 50 United States, or residents of any country that is NOT embargoed by the United States, but cannot be residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India. In addition, participants and winner(s) must be at least 18 years old, as determined by the Company.

Sweepstakes Starts

March 17, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Sweepstakes Ends

April 30, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Wait, there’s more!

Visit for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii!

Here are the details:

Choose one of six passages of Scripture from the New Living Translation and consider:
How do these verses encourage you to know God better?
What is God teaching you in this passage?
How does this passage apply to your life?

Submit your answer and you’ll be entered to win.

Just for signing up: Everybody Wins! Win a Free .mp3 download from the NLT’s new Red Letters Project. It’s the dynamic, new presentation of the sung and narrated words of the Gospel of Matthew. You win the download just for entering! Or choose to download the NLT Philippians Bible Study, complete with the Book of Philippians in the NLT.

Every day, one person will win the best-selling Life Application Study Bible!

The grand prize: One person will win a fantastic trip for two to the crystal clear waters of the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore in beautiful Hawaii.

Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer - REVIEWED

“Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until we destroy it.” (p. 329)

Betty Lake and Frank Witt have arrived in post-war Germany and face destruction on every hand. Displaced nationals, prisoners and soldiers are all trying to sort out the devastation in the wake of Hitler’s death and the upcoming war trials. Betty has come to Germany as a USO singer, and Frank is a photographer assigned, rather oddly, to photograph the performers entertaining the troops. As they sort out their own personal feelings regarding their very unusual circumstances, they stumble into another type of danger neither of them was expecting. It seems that the war is still destroying lives, and the entertainers performing in Germany’s Festspielhous may be the next target.

Songbird Under a German Moon is Tricia Goyer’s story included in Summerside’s newest romantic-suspense fiction series, and it is phenomenal! Throughout the story, readers learn much about the social devastation that resulted from Hitler’s attempt to create a perfect Arian nation. Of course everyone knows of his attempt to annihilate the Jews, but did you know he also set out to destroy anyone who was not completely healthy? The German people also suffered a great deal under Hitler’s maniacal reign, and the devastation this caused among families was heartbreaking. There was a lot of devastation within the artistic talent of the era, and the occupational soldiers had to operate amid a careful set of rules to prevent further problems. Post-war Germany was a frightening time to serve for many soldiers, and those who served to entertain them had a large and important job during that period of time.

Tricia Goyer does a great job developing Frank and Betty’s characters in this very interesting time of history. Both of them have come to this time in their lives with physical and spiritual challenges in their own hearts and lives that seem to be magnified amid the trouble that surrounds them. As they try to sort through their roles within this devastated country, they must face their own shortcomings and turn to the only One who is able to help them find lasting peace in this disturbing era. Romance also blossoms within the story line, and again, faces its own challenge as the danger draws an ever tightening circle around the performers of Festspielhous.

This is my second book to enjoy in this series, and it was very satisfying. Check out my review of Sons of Thunder and then go out an purchase your own copy of both these books today!


Leave a comment on Tricia’s blog or send an email through her website CONNECT page and answer this question: What era in history do you wish you'd lived in and why?
Earn extra entries by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here, becoming a Fan on Facebook or Tweeting about the contest on Twitter (use hashtag #songbird)!
You’ll be entered to win one of three signed copies of Songbird Under a German Moon.


Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana. Find out more about her and her books at

Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll - REVIEWED

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Deliver Us From Evil

B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn of B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Robin Caroll has authored eight previous books including Bayou Justice and Melody of Murder. She gives back to the writing community as conference director for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. A proud southerner through and through, Robin lives with her husband and three daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805449809
ISBN-13: 978-0805449808


Child trafficking. What on earth could be more heinous? What else could create such anxious tension within a storyline? Robin Caroll’s latest novel, Deliver Us From Evil, had a plot centered around this growing – yes, growing – problem! The plot of the story weaves the lives of National Park Rangers, FBI and local government into a tangled web of action-packed scenes. One small thread, like a man in need of a heart transplant, suddenly pulls another man, Roark, an emotionally wounded agent, into the danger-laden path of Brannon Callahan. Meanwhile there are other agents desperately searching for a child trafficking ring operating in the local area, and there are precious few clues to draw from. There are car chases, helicopter crashes, shoot-outs galore, and all in between the precious lives of innocent children are living in desperate need of rescue. Will they be found before it’s too late?

Robin Caroll tells an action-packed tale that includes a bit of romance, a solid faith element, and a timely look at the latest form of human depravity. I loved the way Brannon and her partner Lincoln encouraged and challenged one another with Scripture. I loved the way they lived their faith openly and were unafraid to answer questions and give explanations to those around them who might have questions. I loved the way that God’s hand worked amid dangerous and terrifying situations to bring good for His children and glory to His name. That, my friend, is real. That makes for a meaningful and satisfying read, especially if you love a good suspense tale!

I truly enjoyed this novel, and am happy to recommend it to you! However, I am also encouraged to pray more earnestly than ever for those trapped in this heinous and very real trafficking of human life. I ask that you join me in this effort!


Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
FBI Field Office
Knoxville, Tennessee

Jonathan’s throat closed as he stared at the building from the parking lot. He gripped the package tight in his arthritic hands. Could he do this? Turn over evidence that would implicate him?

His heart raced and he froze. Not the best time for his atrial fibrillation to make an appearance. Despite being on the heart transplant list for eight months, it looked like his progressed heart disease would do him in. The most important reason he couldn’t go to prison—he’d never get a heart and would die. While Carmen wanted him to confess his crimes, she wouldn’t want him to die. The memory of saying good-bye to his beloved mere hours ago scorched his soul.

Her eyes fluttered open. Those blue orbs, which had once sparkled even in the absence of light, now blinked flat and lifeless.

He swallowed hard.

“Jonathan,” her voice croaked, “it’s time.”

Tears burned the backs of his eyes, and he rested his hand over her parchmentlike skin. “No, Carmen. Please, let me get the medicine.”

Her eyelids drooped and she gasped. Air wheezed in her lungs. “Sweetheart, the fight’s . . . gone from me.” She let out a hiss, faint and eerie. “The cancer’s . . . won.”

Jonathan laid his lips against her cheek, her skin cold and clammy, as if in preparation for the morgue. How could she continue to refuse the medicine? Even though she didn’t approve of his means of acquisition, the drugs had kept her alive for five years. Five years he cherished every minute of. He’d do anything to keep her alive and the pain at bay—the intense pain that had become her constant companion these last two weeks. It killed him to witness her agony.

She licked her bottom lip, but no moisture soaked into the cracked flesh. “You’ve done . . . your best by me, Jonathan. I know . . . you meant . . . no harm to . . . anyone.” Her eyes lit as they once had. “Oh, how I’ve enjoyed loving you.”

His insides turned to oatmeal. Stubborn woman—she’d allow herself to die, all because she discovered how he’d gotten the money.

“Promise me . . . you’ll . . . tell the . . . truth. Admit what . . . you’ve done.” Her breath rattled. “What you’ve . . . all done.”

Pulling himself from the wretched memory, Jonathan breathed through the heat tightening his chest. He’d secure himself the best deal possible—immunity—or he wouldn’t decipher the papers. And without him no one could make sense of the accounting system he’d created more than five years ago. Officials hadn’t a clue.

With a deep breath he headed to the guardhouse in front of the fenced FBI building. His legs threatened to rebel, stiffening with every step. He forced himself to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

At the guardhouse, a man behind bulletproof glass looked up. “May I help you?”

“I need to . . . see someone.”

“About what, sir?”

“I have some information regarding a crime.” He waved the file he held.

“One moment, sir, and someone will be with you.”

Jonathan stared at the cloudy sky. He could still turn back, get away scot-free. His heartbeat sped. The world blurred. No, he couldn’t lose consciousness now, nor could he go back on his promise. He owed it to Carmen. No matter what happened, he’d honor Carmen’s dying wish.

“Sir?” A young man in a suit stood beside the fenced entry, hand resting on the butt of his gun. “May I help you?”

Jonathan lifted the file. “I have some evidence regarding an ongoing crime ring.”

The agent motioned him toward a metal-detector arch. “Come through this way, sir.”

Jonathan’s steps wavered. He dragged his feet toward the archway.

A car door creaked. Jonathan glanced over his shoulder just as two men in full tactical gear stormed toward them. He had a split second to recognize one of the men’s eyes, just before gunfire erupted.

A vise gripped Jonathan’s heart, and he slumped to the dirty tile floor, the squeezing of his heart demanding his paralysis.

Too late. I’m sorry, Carmen.

Two Weeks Later—Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
Golden Gloves Boxing of Knoxville


Brannon Callahan’s head jerked backward. She swiped her headgear with her glove.

“You aren’t concentrating on your form. You’re just trying to whale on me.” Steve Burroughs, her supervisor and sparring partner, bounced on the balls of his feet.

“Then why am I the one getting hit?” She threw a right jab that missed his jaw.

He brushed her off with his glove. “Don’t try to street fight me. Box.”

She clamped down on her mouthpiece and threw an uppercut with her left fist. It made contact, sending vibrations up her arm.

He wobbled backward, then got his balance. “Nice shot.”

It felt good to hit something. Hard. Sparring with Steve was the best form of venting. The energy had to be spent somehow—why not get a workout at the same time? She ducked a right cross, then followed through with a left-right combination. Both shots made full contact.

Steve spit out his mouthpiece and leaned against the ropes. “I think that’s enough for today, girl. I’m an old man, remember?”

She couldn’t fight the grin. Although only in his late forties, the chief ranger looked two decades older. With gray hair, hawk nose, and skin like tanned leather, Steve had already lived a lifetime.

She removed her mouthpiece, gloves, and headgear before sitting on the canvas. “Old? You’re still kickin’ me in the ring.”

He tossed her a towel and sat beside her. “So you wanna tell me what’s got you all hot and bothered this afternoon?”

She shrugged.

“Come on, spit it out. I know something’s gnawing at you, just like you were picking a fight with me in the ring. What’s up?”

How could she explain? “I’m not exactly keen that the district feels there’s a need for another pilot in the park.” She tightened the scrunchie keeping her hair out of her face.

“That’s a compliment—having you on staff has been so successful they want to expand.”

“But I have to train him. Did you notice his arrogance?” She ripped at the tape bound around her knuckles. “He’s nothing more than a young upstart with an ego bigger than the helicopter.” While only thirty-six, she often felt older than Steve looked.

“You’re so good, you can come across a bit intimidating at first, girl.” Steve grabbed the ropes and pulled to standing, then offered her a hand. “Give him a chance.”

She let Steve tug her up. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even if he had maturity, I still have to train him. With all the rescues we’ve been called out on of late . . . well, I really don’t have the time.” She exited the ring. “Like those kids yesterday.” She shook her head as she waited for Steve to join her on the gym floor. “Their stupidity almost cost them their lives.”

“They were young, Brannon.”

“Please. Any amateur with half a brain should know better than to try to climb Clingmans Dome in winter.” Didn’t people realize if something happened to them they’d leave behind devastated family and friends? Loved ones who would mourn them forever? She fought against the familiar pain every time she participated in a search and rescue. All because people hadn’t taken necessary precautions.

“They didn’t know any better.”

“It takes a special kind of stupid not to have researched your climb.” Most SARs could be avoided if people planned a little more. It ripped her apart that so many parents, grandparents, siblings . . . fiancĂ©es . . . survived to deal with such grief. She’d tasted the bitterness of grief—twice—and the aftertaste still lingered.

Steve paused outside the locker rooms and shifted his sparring gear to one hand. “I agree, but most people don’t see the dangers we do every day.” He tapped her shoulder. “Hit the showers, champ. You stink.”

She laughed as she headed into the ladies’ locker room. Maybe Steve was right and the new pilot just made a lousy first impression. Maybe he’d be easy to train.

Please, God, let it be so.

Friday, 2:15 p.m.
US Marshals Office, Howard Baker Federal Courthouse
Knoxville, Tennessee

“You want me to escort a heart?” Roark struggled to keep his voice calm. He tapped the butt of his Beretta, welcoming it back to its rightful place on his hip.

Senior US Marshal Gerald Demott glared. “Look, I know you think this is a slight, but it’s important. And for your first assignment back on the job . . .”

“IA cleared me of all wrongdoing. I’m seeing the shrink and everything.” He gritted his teeth and exhaled. “I’ve been released to return to active duty.”

“This is active. It’s a field assignment, and it’s important. Here’s the case information.” Demott passed him a folder, then glanced at his watch. “You’d better hurry or you’ll miss your flight.”

Roark grabbed the file and turned to go.


He looked back at his boss. “Yeah?”

Demott held out Roark’s badge. “You might want to take this with you, too.”

Roark accepted the metal emblem, then clipped it to his belt before marching out of Demott’s office. A heart. His job was to escort a human heart from North Carolina to Knoxville. Any rookie could handle that. But no, they still didn’t trust him enough to handle a real assignment.

He’d done everything they asked—took a medical leave of absence while Internal Affairs went over every painful minute
of his failed mission, saw the shrink they demanded he speak to every week since Mindy’s death, answered their relentless questions. The shrink reiterated he’d been forgiven for acting on his own.

Maybe one day he’d forgive himself. How many innocent lives would he have to save for his conscience to leave him be?

Roark slipped into the car, then headed to the airport. But to be assigned a heart transport? Not only was it wrong, it was downright insulting. After almost fifteen years as a marshal, he’d earned the benefit of the doubt from his supervisors. Especially Demott. His boss should know him better, know he’d only disregard orders if it was a matter of life and death.

But Mindy Pugsley died. They’d all died.

He pushed the nagging voice from his mind. Even Dr. Martin had advised him not to dwell on the past. On what had gone wrong. On disobeying a direct order.

If only Mindy didn’t haunt his dreams.

Roark touched the angry scar that ran along his right cheekbone to his chin. A constant reminder that he’d failed, that he’d made a mistake that took someone’s life. He’d have to live with the pain for the rest of his life.

He skidded the car into the airport’s short-term parking lot. After securing the car and gathering the case folder, Roark grabbed his coat. Snowflakes pelted downward, swirling on the bursts of wind and settling on the concrete. The purple hues of the setting sun streaked across the mountain peaks beyond the runways, making the January snow grab the last hope of light.

Yes, he’d handle this mundane assignment, then tell Demott he wanted back on real active duty. Making a difference would be the best thing for him. Would make him feel whole again.