Thursday, February 28, 2013

Come Eat at My Table by Ruth O'Neil

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:

Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

***Special thanks to Ruth O'Neil for sending me a review copy.***


Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading.

Visit the author's website.


Karin Miller has a need to feed everyone. One of her twin daughters always teases her about it. The other daughter, Faith, realizes that there’s more to it than that. Faith’s suspicions are confirmed when she is assigned a project in school that forces Karin to talk about her past, mainly her childhood. Most people have fun and pleasant memories from childhood, but not Karin. There are a lot of secrets, which she has kept hidden for twenty years that have contributed to her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. Her husband convinces her that it would be good for her to let it all out. He tells her it would also be good for the girls to learn more about their mom and why she is the person she is. When it’s all said and done, Karin is a much stronger person and so are the members of her family. Until Karin faces her past, she and her family cannot face their future.

Product Details:
List Price: $7.99
File Size: 307 KB
Print Length: 133 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled



It’s said that the way we are raised forms who we are as adults. It’s all the experiences we have had in life that make us who we are. Mom was no different. Her experiences definitely shaped who she was.

I learned at an early age that it was my mom’s goal in life to feed everyone. She believed that food connected people and made them happy. Many of my own most vivid memories come from when we were sitting at the table eating with friends and family. Besides just inviting friends over for dinner, Mom would have someone over to eat in payment for a good deed. Mom would always make a meal for someone who was sick or in need. If she knew that someone was depressed, they would be the recipients of a plate of cupcakes. It was her signature touch of love, which made all her food special. Mom never failed to include a card, along with the food, with a few words of encouragement. If dessert was given, it was always presented on a pretty plate intended for the receiver to keep. Mom was famous for her cooking, especially for her cupcakes that were decorated individually.

It wasn’t until the year that my sister and I turned sixteen that we realized why mom had an underlying need to feed everyone. She wanted everyone to know they were loved - by her and by God. I remember that year as being one of the best of our lives. I don’t exactly know why because it was a year of difficulty for my parents and for us as a family. In spite of those difficulties, I remember that year as being fun and good.

Mom was one of those people that didn’t realize all the good she did or the number of people she touched. She did what she did because she felt God told her to. She didn’t do it for show. There was something deep down inside her that made her want to reach out to others. She never wanted anyone to feel like she had felt as a child, which was unloved. It wasn’t until the project for school our sophomore year that my sister and I found out why mom was the way she was.

It’s a story I will never forget because it was one that was difficult for my mom to tell and for us to hear. She wanted to shade my sister and me from her past, but I think I’m the better for knowing it. I think you will be, too.

Faith Miller

Chapter One

“Only two more days till Christmas!” Hope danced around the kitchen chanting while getting underfoot. She was good at that, but not always a whole lot of help.

“Yes, we know!” Hope’s twin sister Faith said, while frosting some of the cookies she had baked earlier in the day with their mom.

Hope picked up the cookie as soon as Faith set it aside to let the frosting set.

“You didn’t burn these did you?”

“I haven’t burnt anything in a long time!” Faith said.

“Yeah, it’s been at least a week!” Hope said sarcastically.

“We’d get more done if you helped a little more besides eating everything.” The girls’ mom, Karin, said to Hope without looking up from what she was doing.

“I’m taste-testing.” Hope said with her mouth full. “And taking pictures.” She held up her other hand, which contained a camera. It was an older camera that used film, but she found taking pictures enjoyable and she was good at it. She used her talent and became the photo editor of their school newspaper. She would often get right up in people’s faces to get a close-up shot. Karin and Faith hated that, which made Hope do it even more.

Hope and Faith were identical twins who would turn sixteen the next July. While they looked alike, they made every effort to look different. They had the same honey colored hair and green eyes as their mom. The three of them looked so much alike that their father often called them his triplets.

Karin wore her hair long, down to her waist. Faith had hair that came down past her shoulder blades, but more often than not, she had it up in a ponytail to keep it out of her way. Hope kept her hair only to her shoulders and she would straighten hers since she didn’t particularly like the waves that her mom and sister kept.

As far as their personalities were concerned, the twins couldn’t have been more different. Faith was the no fuss twin. Hope was the one who was more concerned about her appearance. She always took the time to do her hair and put on clean clothes and make-up before she took out the garbage.

Faith liked to cook alongside of her mother. Although she used to burn a lot of meals, after the last couple years of practice, she had become a much better cook. Faith liked to play sports and hated shopping. Hope liked shopping and hated sports. Hope was more popular at school and had a lot of friends. Faith was well liked, but she was much quieter than Hope and was loyal to her small group of close friends. Hope was much more talkative and more interested in the latest trends.

Hope talked incessantly, while Faith was a listener. Faith saw and heard things that Hope had no idea were there. Hope’s personality was more like her dad’s and Faith’s was more like Karin’s.

Faith was baking and frosting cookies while Karin was preparing Christmas dinner. When she pulled the ham from the oven she said as much to herself as to the girls. “I don’t know why I’m getting all this food ready now.” She had pretty much cooked everything so that on Christmas Day it would just have to be reheated.

“Well, now we can enjoy more time together as a family this year,” Faith said. “We always get up early, open presents, spend a few hours cooking, an hour eating, and the rest of the day sitting around doing nothing.”

“Yeah,” Hope agreed. “We can sleep in. We aren’t little kids anymore who are so anxious to open presents that we can’t wait till daylight.”

“We can sleep in as long as dad doesn’t wake us up.” Faith laughed.

It was true, their dad, Rob, was always the first one up on Christmas Day. He often got up and unsatisfied to be alone and to wait patiently, he would go and wake up the whole household. It didn’t matter that it was only four o’clock in the morning, it was Christmas and it was time to open all the presents that waited under the tree. If only he would leave everyone alone they could sleep in a little longer and still have plenty of time to enjoy the day and eat all the delicious food they were preparing.

Just then, the front door opened. All three of them looked to see who had entered. A little boy shyly stood there with a big smile. “Are you baking cookies?” He asked.

“We sure are.” Karin was always amazed at how Matt could show up at exactly the right time. “You’re a little late, Matt. I cracked the eggs a while ago!” Karin smiled.

One time when he came over while Karin was baking cookies, he told her he had heard her cracking the eggs. That was their own little joke now. He also heard her cracking the ice cube trays in the summer when he was hopeful of getting Karin’s famous lemonade.

Karin felt sorry for Matt. He was often at home alone. Matt was only ten years old. He had a single mom who worked extra hard just to make ends meet. Karin knew Matt’s mom’s schedule and they had an agreement that Karin would keep her eye out for their young next-door neighbor when he wasn’t in school.

Karin knew that if she offered to watch Matt his mom would feel obligated to pay her. Karin wasn’t looking for payment; she just wanted to be a good neighbor. Karin also knew that money was tight for Matt and his mom, so she often sent a plate of food home for her after Matt had eaten dinner with them. This arrangement worked well and kept them all happy.

Matt fit right in with the family, filling the role of little brother. Faith took him under her wing and nurtured him. Hope took him under her wing and conspired with him. Right now Hope and Matt sat on bar stools on the opposite side of the counter of where Karin and Faith were working. Hope was picking up two cookies, one more for herself and one for Matt.

None of them could resist Matt’s bright, blue eyes, blonde hair and the fattest cheeks anyone could ever imagine on a skinny, little kid. He was cute, of that there was no doubt. This was one reason Karin found it hard to resist his smile when he showed up on her doorstep, hoping for a cookie. He happily chewed on his treat as the three girls talked and sang Christmas songs as they played on the radio.

The four continued their baking, decorating, and eating. When Hope’s favorite Christmas song came on the radio, she ordered everyone to be quiet so she could listen and sing, when actually her singing ruined the song for everyone else. She grabbed a wooden spoon out of the crock on the counter and used it as a microphone as she sang and danced around the kitchen. Neither her singing nor her dancing was pleasant entertainment, but she ignored anyone who told her so.

Fortunately, the phone ringing interrupted her performance. Since her mom and Faith were both busy, Hope answered the phone without turning down the music.

“Hello? Merry Christmas!” She just about shouted into the phone. “Just a minute, please.” She handed the phone to her mom. “It’s Mrs. Carter, from church.”

Karin took the phone from her daughter. “Hello?”  It only took about two seconds for her whole demeanor to change. Hope was still singing, stealing cookies, and sharing them with Matt who had by now acquired a cup of hot cocoa, too.

Hope may not have noticed the change in her mom, but Faith, the one who saw everything, did see it. She also saw her mom walk into another room to avoid the noise. Faith turned down the volume on the radio not only so her mom could hear better, but also so that she could hear what her mom was saying.

“Hey!” Hope said as Faith turned the music down.

“Shhh!” Faith responded.

“I’ll take a meal over to them tonight.” Karin was saying. “I’ll also go ahead and set up meals for at least the rest of the week.”

When she hung up Faith asked what was wrong.

Karin put her hands on her hips like she was thinking. “Mrs. Lloyd broke her leg this morning.” She said.

“How did she do that?” Faith asked.

“She slipped on some ice and fell.” Karin answered.

Faith already knew exactly what was going through her mom’s mind. When Karin heard of a need, she automatically went into high gear. During the next few moments Karin spoke, but only to herself. The girls, and even Matt, knew not to interrupt.

“They are going to need food. There is no way Lisa is going to feel like cooking anything let alone a fancy Christmas dinner. I wish I had time to bake some cupcakes. I can do that later, instead of today. I don’t know how many people will be able to fix meals the week of Christmas. Hmmm. She’s going to need more help than that, too. She has five small children.”

When she looked up, the girls knew that they were now included in any further discussion. The funny part is that there wasn’t any conversation. The three of them looked at each other for a few moments. Took their eyes off each other long enough to scan over all the food that was spread out on the counter and the tables. There was ham, sweet potatoes, apple and pumpkin pies, herbed corn, and homemade rolls. When their eyes met again the decision had been made, all without saying one word. Hope grabbed one more cookie before the deal was sealed.

“Your dad doesn’t particularly care for ham anyway. He’s always saying he wants pizza for Christmas dinner; that we should go against tradition. How about we give him what he wants this year?” Karin asked the girls without expecting an answer. “Now I know why God had me prepare Christmas dinner early. See, girls, everything happens for a reason.” She commented. “Isn’t God amazing?” Karin just beamed.

Faith smiled. Hope acted a little disappointed. Both of the girls knew that their own Christmas dinner would be a little bit less than what was originally planned, but they both also knew that mom would make it special, even if it was just pizza.

“Mom’s got to feed the world!” Hope said. Her tone was sarcastic, but she said it with all the love she had in her heart for her mom. Everyone who knew her knew that Karin Miller had an innate need to feed everyone she met. And everyone she met was more than willing to eat at Karin Miller’s table, for her food was a treat for all to thoroughly enjoy.

Hope grabbed a couple more cookies. Faith went and got out one of the pretty plates her mom kept for such occasions. Karin would buy these plates when she found them on sale or at second hand stores or yard sales. It was one of those extra touches that were purely Karin. The plate was a gift along with whatever food was placed on it and was not to be returned.

“Here, Matt,” Faith began to hand him another cookie, but changed her mind when she looked at him. “Can you cram anymore cookies in those cheeks of yours?”

Matt tried to smile, but had to cover his mouth with his hand to keep cookie crumbs from falling out.

Faith continued, “Which cookies do you think the Lloyd’s will like?”

While munching on his own cookies, Matt helped Faith choose some of the prettier looking cookies to give to a family who would be in need of Christmas treats.

Faith arranged the cookies on the plate so they looked attractive. Then she covered the whole thing tightly with plastic warp so the cookies wouldn’t slide around. This would be dessert for the Lloyds to go along with the dinner her mom would soon be packing up.

Faith also grabbed a large plastic bag and filled it with cookies.

“What’s that for?” Matt wanted to know. Even though he didn’t live there, he knew Karin always put cookies on a nice plate and not in a plastic bag.

“These are for you and your mom.” Faith smiled.

“Oh, boy!” Matt said excitedly, rubbing his hands together.

“Yeah,” Hope interjected. “Make sure you save some for your mom. I heard she didn’t get any of the last batch.” She teased.

Matt just grinned. He knew he was guilty as charged. The last time Karin sent Matt home with some cranberry-ginger cookies, Matt ate them all. He paid for it the next day with a horrible stomachache.

“Hope, since you aren’t doing anything but eating, grab me some of those foil pans that are in the pantry.” Karin asked. “That way Mrs. Lloyd won’t need to worry about washing or returning any dishes.”

The Lloyd’s were a family at their church. They were relatively new members and Karin would do her best to make them feel like a part of the family.

When Hope came back with the foil pans in hand, Karin gave her another order. “Go get me that box of cards that is on the desk in my bedroom.”

That was another thing for which Karin had a talent. Whenever she gave anyone food, she also sent a card with much needed encouragement. Somehow, she always found the right Bible verse for every occasion. Karin didn’t know it and she certainly wasn’t keeping track, but she had touched many hearts with her efforts. Karin was well loved by everyone. A few people had even told her she should be a writer because the notes she wrote in the cards were so encouraging.

“There we go!”  Karin said as she finished packing up the ham dinner she thought she had been preparing for her own family. She smiled from ear to ear. Where many people would have been upset to put all that work into a meal and not be able to eat it, Karin was the opposite. She was in her glory, or God’s glory as her husband, Rob had come to call it. He may have teased her about all the food she prepared for other people, but he was known to help by telling her about people he knew were in need. He had delivered more than one meal in their twenty years of marriage.

“Hope can start putting stuff in the van if she ever comes back.”

“I’ll help.” Matt offered.

Faith handed him the bag of cookies. Matt happily carried his bag of cookies outside.

Hope came into the room. “There aren’t really any cards that are appropriate.”

Karin quickly looked through them. “You’re right.”

“Want me to go to the store and pick one out for you?”

Karin just looked at her daughter. “You can’t drive.”

“Yeah, but in seven months I’ll be able to, so why don’t you let me start practicing now?”

“Because it isn’t legal. I’ll stop and get a card on the way. Let’s go.”

“Are we going to the dollar store?” Faith wondered.

“Yeah, probably. That way I can see if they have any more pretty plates. I’m running low.”

The dollar store was one of her favorite places to find those small treasures. Often she would also find small pieces to use on the table as decorations for all of her entertaining. She often said, “Entertaining doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can still be beautiful.” And her table was often very lovely.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Return of Cassandra Todd by Darrel Nelson - REVIEWED!

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance features:  The Return of Cassandra Todd

About the Book: (from the author's website)
When the girl whose friends made his life miserable in high school re-enters his life several years later and asks for help in eluding her abusive husband, Turner Caldwell finds himself thrown into an intense and unexpected struggle beyond anything he could have imagined. This is the basic premise of The Return of Cassandra Todd, a novel of intrigue and suspense, tinged with humor. It is the story of Turner Caldwell, who has worked at various jobs following high school, including camp counselor, where he has learned survival training. He ends up working as a handyman at a local hotel, and it here he meets Cassandra Todd, with her young son, on the run from her abusive and emotionally disturbed husband, bent on revenge, who tracks them down with the help of some hired men. In a desperate yet humorous escape attempt, Turner takes her and her son to a cabin in the mountains. Once again, the husband tracks them down, and it is in this setting that Turner draws upon his survival training skills to face him in a final confrontation. In the end, Turner finds love with Cassandra Todd, the last person in the world he would have expected to become part of his life.

My Thoughts:

Cassandra Todd had returned.”  (p. 292)
Cassandra Todd actually intersects Turner Caldwell’s life at three distinct times.  Each time has a profound effect upon his heart and mind, and his life is left forever changed.  Darrel Nelson’s story centers upon some very disturbing and traumatic events that bring Cassandra back into Turner’s life. Fleeing for her life and protecting the life of her young son, she comes to stay at the hotel where Turner is employed.   As the situation escalates, the author naturally introduces others into the scenario and makes a way of safety for the now three fugitives. 
Turner is drawn into a dangerous and escalating set of circumstances, and neither he nor Cassandra ever imagined that they would come to depend on one another for their very lives.  Yet that’s exactly what they are forced to face, and the immediate outcome is pretty frightening in itself.  To say this is a tense, emotional and suspenseful read is almost an understatement!  Nelson has masterfully told a story that is, unfortunately, all too real, and more common than most ever imagine.  “Over two hundred thousand women are physically abused by their husbands or significant others every year in America.” (p. 86)
Yet God still leads and guides even when faith is a mere shadow upon the walls of our hearts.  He continues to draw us to Himself and bring others alongside to bear the load.  The Return of Cassandra Todd conveys a poignant story of redemption and grace.  You never know what God is doing in a person’s life, or how He will orchestrate the intersection of His children’s lives to provide a way to healing and wholeness.  This is a masterfully told story that will have an eternal effect on many lives! I  highly recommend this story!
About the Author:
Darrel Nelson is the author of The Anniversary Waltz and ateacher. He writes novels, articles, plays, and music. He has bachelor’s degrees in English and education from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'barbo - REVEIWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Flora's Wish
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Kathleen Y'Barbo


RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.


May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fiancés died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart?

My Thoughts:
"All right, Father.  Just please send me the perfect husband.  And it would help greatly if he might announce himself that way just to make things simpler."  (p. 96)

You know, if I were Flora, I'd have never utterd that particular prayer....especially considering the number of times she has tried to cross the marital threshold and failed.  Well, in her defense, it wasn't her fault that she wasn't happily married long before, but still, I'd have given the idea up long ago!  In fact, the woman was supposed to marry another man the very next day! And that turned out disasterous too!  I'll give her one thing, she is persistant!

Whether or not the persistance pays off, you will have to determine for yourself.  But prepare yourself for the most unexpected set of twists and turns before you arrive at the answer!  And the answer just might surprise you too! Y'Barbo is a hopeless romantic apparently, because she can weave a romantic tale like few others!  Flora is a particularly stubborn woman, and has a unique way of working her way into the most unusual situations!  The ending of the book indicates that things will only get more complicated with the passage of time!  You must engage with Y'Barbo's tale and discover why the series is entitled The Secret Lives of Will Tucker!  You will be surprised, yet again!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2013

When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Revell Publishing)

In a country healing from war, can a young woman find healing for her heart?
Courageous and unconventional, Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the Civil War, a service that has caused most women in town to regard her as unfeminine and even downright vulgar. Although she would like to put that part of her life behind her, she needs to support herself. She takes a nursing position with Dr. Elijah Stewart, but whenever they are together they always seem to do or say the wrong things. When someone threatens Rosemary, will she find the courage to stand, or will she leave town-and Elijah-forever?
With tenderness and grace, Ann Shorey invites you back to the town of Noble Springs, Missouri, for an engrossing story of love’s tentative first steps and fragile future in the face of opposition.

My Thoughts:

Rosemary Saxon is a character that is courageous, generous, loving and, well, stubborn as a mule.  I was drawn to Rosemary from the very beginning of Ann Shorey’s novel, When the Heart Heals.  As I learned of her past and the hurts that her wounded heart carried, I began to understand why she was hesitant to let anyone get close to her.  Yet her love for others almost spilled out of every pore of her being.  She loved family and friends fiercely and loyally. Her stubbornness, however, proved to be her Achilles heel.  Rosemary was quick to decide others’ intentions and acted and reacted defensively and sometimes pridefully. She is a very multidimensional character that I found both intriguing and frustrating.

Rosemary had served in the Civil War as a nurse, and when she chose to pursue a position working for Dr. Elijah Stewart she discovered more than a love for nursing.  She and Elijah were like oil and water most of the time, and Rosemary stumbled over her owns stubborn pride more than once as she attempted to work for the good Doctor.  Honestly, I just about gave up on anything positive taking place in Rosemary’s life in the course of this story.

Ann Shorey tells a mesmerizing story and weaves many types of personalities, circumstances and relationships throughout the novel.  In no time at all you have lost track of everything going on around you and find yourself firmly planted in Noble Springs, Missouri.  And this story is anything but predictable!  Many unexpected things take place between the pages of this novel!  I am happy to recommend When the Heart Heals to everyone, with just one word of caution…don’t be as stubborn as Rosemary Saxon! 

About the Author:
Ann Shorey is the author of Where Wildflowers BloomThe Edge of LightThe Promise of Morning, and The Dawn of a Dream. She has also published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
For Love of Eli
Abingdon Press (February 1, 2013)
Loree Lough
*Didn't sign up for this, but wish I had! Sharing with you to encourage you not to miss this story!


With more than FOUR MILLION copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 98 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; four novels optioned for movies; more books slated for release between now and 2014), 68 short stories, over 2,500+ articles in print, and over 19,000 letters from fans!

Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.

A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.

She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of "wolf stuff."


When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. But Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his parents by creating a Memory Quilt. As she begins piecing together the moments of his parents' lives, the story of the young family emerges and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance away. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?

If you would like to read a first chapter excerpt of For Love of Eli, go HERE.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Amish Childhood by Jerry Eicher - 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:

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.


Bestselling fiction author Jerry S. Eicher recounts his childhood in the Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario and his parents’ decision to move to Honduras. Jerry also tells of his eventual conversion to Christ and the reasons for his departure from the childhood faith he knew.

My Thoughts:

I was pursued by a love and conviction of sin that consumed me…It was God’s love that overwhelmed me.”  (p. 206)

Jerry Eicher’s childhood was filled with strong and sometimes difficult personalities, strong and often opposing convictions and a family love that, most of the time, modeled a love and sacrifice that God used to draw Jerry to His heart.  The Eicher’s family moved away from the familiar- Canada - into the mission field of rural Honduras.  The years the family spent as missionaries molded Jerry’s heart in ways that he would never experience in any other way.  Truly, he grew into a man of strong faith, tender compassion and a true concern for others. 

This is a fascinating look behind the scenes of a very popular author who thrives in the genre of Amish fiction.  You will gain a different understanding about the inner workings of the Amish community, and you will realize what it means to live separated from the world. (well, from the English anyway!)  This is a fascinating book, and I am happy to recommend it to you.  Now, please Mr. Eicher…the rest of the story!

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736950060
ISBN-13: 978-0736950060


I can still see his face. Lean. Determined. Framed by his lengthy beard. I can see him running up the hill toward our house. He was carrying his bag of doctor implements.

Mom was having chest spasms, and any real doctor was miles away—across four hours of the broken, rutted, dusty Honduran road we took only as a last resort.

The running man was my Uncle Joe. The smart one of the family. The older brother. The intellectual genius. When Uncle Joe walked by, we stopped talking and listened intently when he spoke. On this day, he rushed by, not paying any attention to us children.

I knew he was coming about Mom, but I recall experiencing no fear for her life. Perhaps I wasn’t old enough to have such a fear. To me, Uncle Joe’s haste seemed more entertainment than emergency. After all, Mom had looked fine to me a few minutes earlier.

When Uncle Joe left the house some time later, he issued a favorable report that I never questioned. Nor did anyone else. The mysteries of the Englisha world of medicine were even further removed from us than the four hours to town. Uncle Joe studied the books, and we trusted him.

Years later, when our little Amish community in Central America was on its last legs and held in the grip of terrible church fights over cape dresses, bicycles, singing in English or Spanish on Sunday mornings, and other horrors that the adults spoke of with bated breath, it was the look on Uncle Joe’s face as he talked with Mom and Dad by the fence on Sunday afternoon that made things clear to me. If Uncle Joe thought something was over, then it was over.

Uncle Joe lived below us, across the fields, in a house smaller than ours even though his family was much larger. How they managed, I never thought to wonder. Their house never looked crowded. It was kept spotless by his wife, Laura, and their oldest daughters Rosanna and Naomi. We didn’t visit often on Sunday afternoons. Mostly we children dropped by on weekdays, sent on some errand by Mom or we wandered past on our meanderings around the countryside.

They kept goats in the yard, all of them tied with long ropes to stakes. One of them was named Christopher. We didn’t have goats. Dad ran a machine shop, and Mom took care of the garden. Goats were foreign to us. Smelly creatures. Mom scorned goat’s milk, even when Uncle Joe said emphatically it was far superior to cow’s milk.

We all lived near each other in those days—part of a grand experiment to see if the Amish faith could survive on foreign soil.

My grandfather, Peter Stoll, an Amish man of   impeccable standing, had taken it upon himself to lead an Amish community to the Central American country of Honduras. He wasn’t an ordained minister, and I don’t remember seeing him speak in public. Still, the integrity of his life and his ideas so affected those around him that they were willing to follow him where few had gone before.

At the height of the experimental community, we ended up being twenty families or so. We all lived on two neighboring ranches purchased in a valley below a mountain. Most of us had come to Honduras from the hot religious fervor of the small Aylmer community along the shores of  Lake Erie in Southern Ontario or from the detached coolness of Amish country spread over Northern Indiana. Plans were for the two to become one in mind and heart. And for awhile we did.

Those were wonderful years. The memories of that time still bring an automatic gathering of hearts among the Amish who were there—and even some of us who are no longer Amish. All these years later, most of us are scattered across the United States and Canada—except for the few of the original group who stayed behind.

Some of the people credit the joy of those days to the weather in our Honduras valley. And lovely weather it was. Balmy. Hardly ever above ninety or below forty. Others credit the culture. Some attribute our happiness to being so far from the States that we only had each other. I don’t know the full reason for our happiness. Perhaps it isn’t possible to know. But I do remember the energy of the place—its vibrancy. I do know the years left their imprints on us all.

This was my childhood. Those hazy years when time drags. When nothing seems to come soon enough. And where everything is greeted as if it had never been before. To me that land—that valley—was home. I absorbed it completely. Its sounds. Its language. The color of the dusty towns. The unpaved streets. The pigs in the doorway of the huts. The open fires over a metal barrel top. The taste of greasy fried beans. The flour tortillas and meat smoked to perfection. In my heart there will always be a deep and abiding love for that country.

Around us were mountains. To the north they rose in a gradual ridge, coming in from the left and the right to meet in the middle, where a distinctive hump rose into the air—officially named Mt. Misoco. But to us it was simply what the locals called it: La Montaña. The Mountain. Our mountain. Which it was in ways we could not explain.

To the south lay the San Marcos Mountains. At least that’s what we called them. Those rugged, jagged peaks lying off in the distance. I never climbed those mountains, but I often roamed our mountain—or rather our side of it—from top to bottom. On its peak, looking over to the other side, you could see lines and lines of ridges running as far as the eye could see.

A party of courageous Amish boys, along with a few visiting Amish youngsters from stateside, once decided to tackle the San Marcos Mountains. They threw their forces together and allowed two days for the trip. I was much too young to go along—and probably wouldn’t have anyway. But I waited for news of their adventure with interest. They came back soon enough— defeated and full of tales of dark jungles and multiple peaks that disoriented the heart. No one even caught sight of the highest point, let alone the other side.

In the summer, around five in the morning, the Southern Cross—that symbol of Christianity—hung over the San Marcos Mountains. Its haunting figure made of stars swung low in the sky. I would stand for long minutes gazing at the sight, caught up in the glory of it.

I was eight when we arrived in Honduras. We were one of the first families there after Grandfather Stoll had purchased and settled on the Sanson ranch. Dad seemed driven to the move by motives other than adventure. He was unhappy with the ordnung rules in the Amish community at Aylmer, and he wanted change. Change that didn’t include the great sin of joining a more liberal Amish church, of course.

In time Dad came to love the land along with the rest of us. And strangely, he came to love what he didn’t expect—the old ways, imperfect though they had been. My most enduring memory of Dad in those days is hearing him sing the old German songs at the top of his voice over the roar of his machine shop motors. And in the end, it came down to that question for all of them. A choice between what they loved and what they loved the most.

I grew up surrounded by men dedicated to an old faith. I saw those men, most of them my uncles, tested to the core. I saw them wrestle with the old and with the new, trying to figure out where everything fit together. I lived among giants of faith. I saw their agony and their sacrifice. I saw their choices, and it affected me deeply. Their faith had been hammered out back in the sixteenth century, in the old town of Zurich, Switzerland. Back during the time Ulrich Zwingli thundered his sermons in the old Grossmunster Church.

But in the days of my childhood, those stories of   long ago were not mine yet. Those gallant tales of deeds done under fire and sword. Of imprisonment in noblemen’s castles. Of narrow escapes into the Swiss countryside from the murderous Berne Anabaptist hunters. Instead, my memories are of men in my own time. Men who believed that life was not worth living if you didn’t believe in something worth dying for. I was surrounded by men of passion. And if someone should make the claim that these men were misguided, I would insist the fault lay not in caring too much about religious matters. For I learned while growing up among them that this is how a person should live. That true believers follow God with all of their hearts and souls.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazero - 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:

Zondervan (January 2, 2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***


Geri Scazzero is a teaching pastor and director of Marriage Ministry at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a multiracial, international church with over sixty-five countries represented. She is coauthor of The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook for small groups and also speaks regularly to pastors, leaders, and their spouses.

Visit the author's website.


Geri Scazzero knew something was wrong with her life and her ministry. After having spent 17 years trying unsuccessfully to fit into the traditional mold of "perfect pastor's wife," she finally threw in the proverbial towel. Making the painful decision to leave her husband's thriving church, she stopped pretending everything was "fine" and embarked upon a solitary journey of faith. Her emotional and spiritual trek not only established a revolutionary new paradigm in her life, but it also led her to a beautifully transformed life, marriage and ministry.

Within the pages of her latest book, author and popular conference speaker Scazzero shares deeply out of her own life, offering a seasoned and radical message for Christian women today. According to author Geri Scazzero, becoming an emotionally healthy woman begins by quitting eight unhealthy ways of relating. When you stop pretending everything is fine and summon the courage to quit that which does not belong to Jesus' kingdom, you will be launched on a powerful journey---one that will bring you true peace and freedom.
.Genre: RELIGION/Christian Living

My Thoughts:
"The road to emotional health begins by quitting." (back cover)

Amazing!! Amazing!! Amazing!!

This book was such a God-appointment in my life!  Through reading this book, I have been able to identify many areas of my life where I have and still practice unhealthy - and dishonest - emotional habits. I have bled my highlighter dry reading this book, and the questions at the end of each chapter are both thought-provoking and healing.

Folks, this book makes you take an honest and sometimes painful look in the mirror and at all of the relationships in your life. If you want to discover emotional health and healing, Scazzero's book is a good place to begin your journey.  My life has been forever changed by taking the time to read this book. I plan to begin a re-read with my journal by my side!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!!

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (January 2, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310320011
ISBN-13: 978-0310320012


When You Can’t Take It Anymore

This is a book about following Jesus and summoning the courage to quit anything that does not belong to his kingdom or fall under his rule.

Traditionally, the Christian community hasn’t placed much value on quitting. In fact, just the opposite is true; it is endurance and perseverance we most esteem .For many of us, the notion of quitting is completely foreign. When I was growing up, quitters were considered weak, bad sports, and babies. I never quit any of the groups or teams I was part of. I do remember briefly quitting the Girl Scouts, but I soon rejoined. Quitting is not a quality we admire— in ourselves or in others.

The kind  of  quitting  I’m  talking  about  isn’t  about weakness or giving up in despair . It is about strength and choosing to live in the truth. This requires the death of illusions. It means ceasing to pretend that everything is fine when it is not. Perpetuating illusions is a universal problem in marriages, families, friendships, and work places. Tragically, pretending everything is fine when it’s not also happens at church, the very place where truth and love are meant to shine most brightly.

Biblical quitting goes hand in hand with choosing. When we quit those things that are damaging to our souls or the souls of others, we are freed up to choose other ways of being and relating that are rooted in love and lead to life.

For example . . .

When we quit fear of what others think, we choose freedom   .

When we quit lies, we choose truth.

When we quit blaming, we choose to take responsibility.

When we quit faulty thinking, we choose to live in reality.

Quitting  is  a  way  of  putting  off  what  Scripture  calls falsehood and the old self . As the apostle Paul writes, “Put off your old self  . . . and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Therefore each of you must put off falsehood” (Ephesians 4:22 – 25). When we quit for the right reasons, we are changed. Something breaks inside of us when we finally say, “No more.” The Holy Spirit births a new resolve within us. We rise above our fears and defensiveness.  The hard soil of our heart  becomes  soft  and  ready  to  receive  new  growth and  possibilities .

The Bible teaches that there is a time and season for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). That includes quitting. But it must be done for the right reasons, at the right time, and in the right way. That’s what this book is about.

Cutting the Rope

In 1985, Simon Yates and his climbing partner, Joe Simpson, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in Peru when disaster struck. Simpson fell and shattered his leg. As the sky grew dark and a blizzard raged, Yates tried to lower his injured friend to safety. At a certain point, however, he accidently lowered Simpson over an ice cliff, where he hung helplessly. Straining to hold his partner’s body in midair, Yates was faced with choosing life or death for his friend.

When he could hang on no longer, Yates had to make a hellish decision: cut the rope and save his own life, sending his partner plummeting down to certain death, or face certain death trying to save him.

Yates later related those painful moments, “There was nothing I could do. I was just there. This went on for an hour and a half. My position was getting desperate . . . I was literally going down the mountain in little jerky stages on this soft sugary snow that collapsed beneath me. Then I remembered I had a penknife. I made the decision pretty quickly really. To me it just seemed like the right thing to do under the circumstances. There was no way I could maintain where I was. Sooner or later I was going to be pulled off the mountain.  I pulled the penknife out.”

Yates cut the rope moments before he would have been pulled to his own death.

Certain that his partner was dead, Yates returned to base camp, consumed with grief and guilt over cutting the rope. Miraculously, however, Simpson survived the fall, crawled over the cliffs and canyons, and reached base camp only hours before Yates had planned to leave. In describing his decision to cut the rope, Yates articulates the core inner struggle for each of us in doing I Quit!

I had never felt so wretchedly alone . . . If I hadn’t cut the rope, I would certainly have died.  No one cuts the rope! It could never have been that bad! Why didn’t you do this or try that? I could hear the questions, and see the doubts in the eyes of those who accepted my story. It was bizarre and it was cruel . . . However many times I persuaded myself that I had no choice but to cut the rope, a nagging thought said otherwise . It seemed like a blasphemy to have done such a thing. It went against every instinct: even against self-preservation. I could listen to no rational arguments against the feelings of guilt and cowardice . . . I resigned myself to punishment. It seemed right to be punished; to atone for leaving him dead as if simply surviving had been a crime in itself.

Quitting can feel like we are severing a lifeline, that someone, possibly even ourselves, is going to die. For this reason quitting is unthinkable to many, especially in the church. It appears “bizarre” and “cruel.” Who wants to be unpopular and rock the boat or disrupt things? I sure didn’t.

But there comes a point when we cross a threshold and we can’t take it anymore. Like Yates, we know we will die spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise unless we quit and choose to do something differently. We finally step over our fears into the great unknown territory that lies before us.

Yates was criticized by some in the mountain-climbing community for violating a sacred rule of never abandoning one’s partner — even if both died in the process. Joe Simpson himself passionately defended Yates’ choice. Ultimately, Yates’s decision to cut the rope saved both their lives.

The “Unfree” Christian

When I fell in love with Christ, I fell hard. As a nineteen- year-old college student, the enormity of God’s love over- whelmed me. I immediately began a passionate quest to know this living Jesus, and I was willing to do whatever it took to please him.

I eagerly structured my life around key spiritual disciplines such as reading and memorizing Scripture, prayer, fellowship, worship, fasting, giving financially, serving, silence and solitude, and sharing my faith with others. In my pursuit of Christlikeness, I absorbed books about the importance of spiritual disciplines by such authors as Richard Foster, J . I . Packer, and John Stott. They were helpful in broadening my understanding of Christianity and inspiring me to keep Christ at the center of my life. However, I failed to grasp the truth that a healthy spiritual life includes a careful balance between serving other people’s needs and desires and valuing my own needs and desires. Instead, I put most of my efforts into caring for others at the expense of my own soul.

The accumulated pain and resentment of this imbalance led to my first big “quit” at age thirty-seven. After seventeen years of being a committed Christian, I came to realize that excessive self-denial had led me to a joyless, guilt-ridden existence. Jesus invited me into the Christian life to enjoy a rich banquet at his table. Instead, it often felt like I was a galley slave, laboring to serve everyone else at the feast rather than enjoying it myself. In my relation- ship with Jesus, I’d gone from the great joy of feeling over- whelmed by his love to bitter resentment at feeling overwhelmed by his demands.

My identity had been swallowed up in putting others before myself. I constantly thought of the needs of our four small daughters. I worried about Pete’s responsibilities. I filled in wherever needed to help our growing church. These are all potentially good things, but my love had become a “have to,” a “should” rather than a gift freely given. I mistakenly believed I didn’t have a choice.

A renewed understanding of my own dignity and human limits enabled me to place loving boundaries around myself. I soon realized this was central to offering a sincere and genuine gift of love to others. Like God’s love to us, it must be free. And the extent to which I valued and loved myself was the extent to which I was capable of loving others well.

Dying to Live

Quitting is about dying to the things that are not of God. Make no mistake, it is one of the hardest things we do for Christ. But the good news is that quitting itself isn’t just an end; it is also a beginning. Biblical quitting is God’s path for new things to come forth in our lives, for resurrection. And yet, the path that leads to resurrection is never easy.

Internal voices alarm us with fears of quitting.

“What will people think?”

“I’m being selfish and not Christlike.”

“I will mess everything up.”

“People will get hurt.”

“Everything will fall apart around me.”

“I will jeopardize my marriage.”

Everything inside us resists the pain associated with dying — the nonnegotiable prerequisite for resurrection. As a result, we often cave in to our fears as a short-term anxiety-relief strategy. Sadly, this usually leads to painful long-term consequences — ongoing inner turmoil, joyless- ness, and festering resentments. As a result, we become stuck and ineffective in bearing genuine fruit for Christ. In my case, it resulted in a shrinking heart that sought to avoid people rather than love them.

Yet, it is only through dying that we can truly live. In the words of Jesus, “who- ever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35). And that was what happened when I quit — I got my life back. And what followed were even more transformations that not only changed me but also brought new life to Pete, our marriage, our children, our church, and to countless others .

Quitting has purified my heart.  It has demanded I admit truths about myself that I preferred to bury and avoid. Facing flaws and shortcomings in my character, my marriage, my parenting, and my relationships has been scary. At times, I felt like I was cutting the rope that kept me safely tethered to the side of a mountain. But God has used each free fall to purge my heart and to give me a more intimate experience of his mercy and grace. Thus, along with a deeper awareness of my sinfulness, I have become increasingly captured by God’s passionate and undeterred love for me.

Quitting has led me to a dream-come-true marriage with Pete. Over time, as we began to eliminate unhealthy ways of relating and practice new emotionally healthy skills, our marriage has become a sign and experience of Christ’s love for his bride, the church. And quitting impacted the rest of our relationships as well, including our relationship with our children, our extended families, and the larger community of New Life Fellowship Church.

Quitting has taught me to be loyal to the right things. Although “I quit” might sound like it’s only about leaving something, I actually gained a renewed commitment to persevere for the right things. I learned how to serve others sincerely rather than begrudgingly. The apostle Paul offers this vivid description of the paradox of quitting:

What happens when we live God’s way [when we quit]? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard — things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.  (Galatians 5:22 – 23 MSG, emphasis added)

I never dreamed quitting would lead to this kind of freedom and fruit. I used to try to produce, through my own efforts, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But I found out that when we do life God’s way, fruit simply appears in the orchard. It is a marvel to behold. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. What I ultimately discovered when I quit was a path into the true purpose of my life — to be transformed by the love of God and, by the Holy Spirit, to slowly become that love for others .

The pages that follow explore eight specific “I  Quits.” While they do build on one another and are meant to be read in order, each chapter also stands alone.  You may wish to begin with a chapter that speaks most urgently to your present circumstance. Once you’ve  read  that  chapter, I encourage you to return  to  the  beginning  and  read how that content fits into the larger whole .

We don’t make the decision to quit just once; each “I Quit” is a lifelong journey. One never really finishes with any of them. I wrote I Quit! to prepare you to walk through this new journey for the rest of your life. As you continue your journey of quitting, know that you don’t have to figure out everything by yourself. I encourage you to find and rely on wise, experienced mentors to guide you through the complexities of quitting well. Knowing when and when not to quit are equally important!

Let us now begin to explore the first “I Quit”  — quit being afraid of what others think.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Good book - Great sale!

On sale HERE  for $5.54!!

and for Kindle HERE  for $2.99!!

Read my review HERE!  Fabulous book!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Revell Publishing)

Can love heal the rift between two souls?
When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it’s clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. But then Rebekah is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, and her hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.
As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve is tested. When the rift between Isaac and her grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac’s father Abraham to bridge the gap?
Join bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith as she fills in the blanks around the life of the enigmatic Rebekah.
My Thoughts:
"Let us learn from our forefathers' mistakes and not continue to repeat them."  (p.312)

Oh how many struggle with repeating the mistakes of our forefathers!  Smith has once again recreated a time and place so realistically that you feel that you are indeed living life side by side with Rebekah.  You sense her distress within her own family as she grows into adulthood.  You sense her trepidation about moving away from her family and marrying a man she doesn't know.  The love relationship that grows between them is fragile, because both of them have wounds from their past that they have allowed to grow and change their hearts.

By the time Rebekah has raised her sons to adulthood, she has made choices similar to those her parents made in her lifetime.  Isaac has also made unwise choices.  Their relationship suffers to the point of heartbreaking disintegration.  They both face an excruciating truth once Jacob and Esau have gone their separate ways.

This story truly brings every nuance of Rebekah and Isaac's relationship and family to life so vividly that your heart aches with the reading of the tale.  You will examine your own heart before God to truthfully face the  generational mistakes that have been repeated in your own family. It displays grace in all of its splendor.  This is a very thought provoking tale.  Bravo!!
About the Author:
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestsellingMichalAbigail, and Bathsheba, all part of The Wives of King David series, and of Sarai, book 1 in the Wives of the Patriarchs series. Her writing has garnered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Safe In His Arms by Colleen Coble - REVIEWED

About the Book:

Sometimes it takes a stranger to see you as you really are.
Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.
So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment . . . or what her heart keeps telling her.
From the author of the best-selling Blue Moon Promise . . . an exciting tale of danger, romance, and faith played out under Texas stars.
My Thoughts:

She was always afraid of not living up to the standards she never really understood.” (p. 88)

For all of her confidence and bravado, Margaret O’Brien does indeed have a fragile heart.  She hides it well.  When her father brings Daniel Cutler to the ranch as the new foreman, and tells his daughter that he has willed the ranch to her cousin….well, that’s not such welcome news.  Especially to a gal that has no plans of marriage and motherhood.  Things get even more complicated when Margaret begins to suspect Daniel is something other than what he has portrayed himself to be.

In fact, I gave up on Daniel too soon.  So quickly, in fact that I almost missed what was really going on.  Okay, so I missed it entirely! That only made discovery all the more exciting and rewarding!  Colleen Coble has built a story that is part western, part romance, part suspense and just a really good, spiritually sound and challenging story.

I recognized a lot of my own frailties and faults in the character of Margaret O’Brien.  But that’s a good thing.  I went away from the story changed.  Stronger.  Great job Ms. Colleen!
About the Author:
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.
Find out more about Colleen at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shattered by Dani Pettrey - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Dani Pettrey


In real life, Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Just in case you’re curious…The real Dani does love traveling. She’s been to some amazing places (Greece, Hawaii, the Keys) and there are many more she hopes to visit in the future.

And while she’s not quite up to sky-diving, cave diving or heli-skiing (too high, too enclosed, too cold!) she and her family love hiking, canoeing, wave jumping and a ton of other outdoor adventures a little further down on the risk scale.

Dani is the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling debut novel Submerged and latest release Shattered. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.


Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon's career.

With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

My Thoughts:

Families are complicated.  The McKenna family is a particularly close knit group.  When one of the family members is accused of murder, nothing can keep them from launching every means necessary to clear their family name.  And ALL of the evidence is so overwhelmingly convicting, the reader has to wander what on earth will ever deliver them from a certain lifetime behind bars.

From the very opening scenes of this story, the reader is drawn into relationship.  Family, friendships, embittered enemies…no relationship escapes the scope of this story.  The reason?  It is through the vehicle of relationship that truth is pursued and discovered. The cost?  Deadly!!

The outcome will surprise you.  The relationships within the story ebb and flow about you and leave you challenged and encouraged.  There is nothing easy about any aspect of the characters’ lives.  They have a faith that is challenged and changed within the scope of the developing mystery.  You will love the members of this family and community (most of them anyway!), and you will be amazed at the answers they discover along the way!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shattered, go HERE.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wake Up Generation by Paige Omartian - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Harvest House)

Wake Up, Generation, a breakout new title from debut author Paige Omartian, will revolutionize the life of any young adult seeking purpose, passion, and direction. As a growing generation is characterized by a lifestyle of apathy and indifference, Paige uses biblical teaching and shares relatable stories to help young people break the chains and discover the God-driven mission for their lives. Readers will…
  • understand their life’s sacred purpose
  • wake up to the needs of the world around them
  • develop a vision and mission statement for life
  • realize how their own story fits into God’s design
  • become equipped to live out the passionate, fulfilling life God intended
Singles from Paige’s debut album, Wake Up, have appeared on Top 30 charts of Christian music, and extensive media coverage, including an appearance on the Today Show, has earned her a legion of fans. With a growing reach, Paige will connect with readers and help them understand that it’s time to wake up!
My Thoughts:

There are countless waves that crash along the shore each day, but only some leave an impact.  Either we blend in and get lost, or we rise above the norm for the powerful mission we’ve received.”

Paige Omartian has fulfilled at least one of God’s purposes in her life by writng Wake Up Generation.  She has created a book/workbook that guides readers to an understanding that God did indeed create them with a specific purpose, and He alone has divinely equipped us to fulfill that purpose. Omartian shares her own personal journey.  She points us toward examples in the Bible that we can study and learn from.  She even ends each chapter with an “action challenge,” because she doesn’t intend for readers to pass idly through this book.  Her desire is to inspire others to seek their own divine purpose and passion for their lives and allow God to transform them into tools He can use to transform the world!

Isn’t that incredible?  Do you want to be challenged? Changed?  Used by God?  Pick up a copy of Wake Up Generation today! 
About the Author:
Paige Omartian is a speaker and recording artist whose battle with cancer as a child led her on a remarkable journey inspiring others to grasp the preciousness of life and live out their purpose. She has traveled the country sharing her music and story and was featured on Bath and Body Work’s 2005 Christmas CD supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Paige was interviewed on the Today Show and was the speaker and TV host for the ministry iShine. She released her debut rock album, Wake Up, in 2009.