Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble - REVIEWED

About the book: 
The Inn at Ocean's Edge (Thomas Nelson, April 2015)

A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore's childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie . . .

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean's Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents. Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She's at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the "nervous" woman's testimony as less than credible.

But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke's father suspected she'd been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn't show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.

As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.

My Thoughts:
God gives you what you need, not necessarily what you thought you wanted.”  (p. 318)

Colleen Coble has always written a compelling tale, but The Inn at Ocean’s Edge has more plot twists than anything I’ve read lately! There are some seriously complicated family issues in this story as well as some Herculean and twisted efforts to cover up wrong choices and bad behavior.  Even right choices with wrong motives are buried decades deep before the truth begins to surface! 

Claire Delamere and Luke Rocco meet under a very curious set of circumstances.  They persevere despite everything that comes against them to find the answers that have eluded them most of their lives.  Those that know the truth and have chosen to be complicit in hiding it eventually have to come to grips with what they have done.  Those who have had the truth kept from them have the most difficult path ahead of them.  In short, everyone in this novel has their own mountain of circumstance to climb, and none of it is easy. 

You will enjoy all of the twists and turns in this story.  There is great danger involved that keeps your heart pounding, mainly because you can’t figure out the motive behind the threat.  You know there is a connection, but figuring it out….well, that’s no easy task!  Dive in and enjoy this great mystery as it unfolds!  Enjoy your time at The Inn at Ocean’s Edge!

Purchase you copy HERE.

About the author: 

Colleen Coble
 has sold over 2 million novels worldwide.Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.

Find Colleen online: websiteFacebookTwitter

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Six-song EP, Produced by Grammy and Dove Award Nominee Billy Smiley, Follows on                        Heels of Dynamic Radio Single, 'Hands in the Air'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 28, 2015) - Dynamic new rock band Above The Fall is celebrating the release of their highly anticipated six-song debut EP, Rise & Fall. The project, which released today from Cul de Sac Records and is distributed by Elevate Entertainment, follows closely on the heels of the band's first radio single, "Hands in the Air," which recently went for adds at Christian CHR
radio stations across the country.
Known for their energetic and creative live shows, the New Jersey-based band (led by Jesse Fryson on lead vocals and guitar wizard Zach MacGorman) called on Grammy and Dove Award nominee, producer Billy Smiley, to help capture that energy on their debut EP. The result is a six-song power pop/rock confection that will dare listeners to stay in their seats.
The project kicks off with the rambunctious radio single, "Hands in the Air," then cranks up the intensity even more on the decidedly rock anthem, "Brace for Impact." The band pulls back for a more intimate and introspective tune with "Best of Me," but jumps back to their rock 'n' roll roots on "Moving On." The title track "Rise and Fall" segues effortlessly into the EP's closer, "Another Yesterday," displaying the band's ability to move from plaintive, confessional worship music to a peace-evoking acoustic ballad.
Whether rocking the house or pulling back for more intimate musical moments, Above the Fall gives fans a reason to celebrate by infusing their debut EP with the same dynamic energy that fuels their live shows.
For more information about Above The Fall and Rise & Fall, visit
About Above The Fall:
Above The Fall was birthed from the collaboration of Jesse Fryson and Zach MacGorman. Based in Toms River, New Jersey, the band plays music that is undeniably Rock and unashamedly Christian. For more information about Above The Fall and
Rise & Fall, visit
My Thoughts:
"Throw you Hands In the Air, and don't let life got the best of you.  You know someone's out there, who cares and who loves you.  So hold your head up high, if you really want to be free. It's your moment to shine.  It's time.  You've just got to believe."  (Hands In The Air chorus)
You can rock your socks off or worship to a ballad, and Above The Fall offers all of that and more on their debut EP Rise and Fall.  These guys love the Lord and they love His people.  Their message is one of hope, of rejoicing, of freedom  - most of it set to a classic rock sound that will revive your time of worship!
Stay tuned folks!  You will be hearing a lot more from these guys!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 24, 2015) - Songs in the Key of Awe, the new CD from beloved multi-Dove Award winning recording artist and worship leader Billy Sprague, is slated to release to iTunes and retail on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. The project, previously available exclusively from Sprague's website,, will be distributed to retail by Elevate Entertainment. The entire CD is currently available for a discounted pre-sale on iTunes through April 27.
A true family affair from start to finish,Songs in the Key of Awe featuresvocals by Sprague's daughter Willow, his son Wyatt on djiembe, photography by his wife Kellie and joyful encouragement from their young son Sawyer. Sprague also tapped the formidable talents of guitar virtuosos Phil Keaggy, Dave Beegle and Dan Dugmore along with respected Nashville producer Jim Frazier to create an unforgettable listening experience.

While Songs in the Key of Awe is jam-packed with great songs, Sprague encourages listeners to experience the whole album from start to finish. "From the opening sound of a bird taking flight to the final notes of "Reflection in A," the songs, pace and spaces are intended to create room to 'breathe deep of His grace' as one song lyric puts it," he muses. "I pray this music helps amplify your awe of the Lord, His creation and redeeming touch on your own grace story."

One thing so gratifying to Sprague about Songs is the Key of Awe is that the music was created "not primarily as an artist," as he puts it, "but as a worshipper and worship leader of a local community of faith, doing life together. Another community of faith through Kickstarter, helped make it happen. To me that's beautiful
Kicking off the new project, Switchfoot-esque electric guitars electric guitars and understated tom toms propel the resurrection song, "Life Begins Now." This epic song is a fan favorite and served as the project's debut radio single. The jangly rocking "Friend of a Heart Like Mine" launches into praise, as Sprague exults, "Great is your name/ Great are your ways/ Son of the Most High God!" Sprague's daughter Willow delivers lead vocals on "Overflow," illuminating this tender, prayer for anointing with her fresh and inviting alto voice. The prayerful attitude continues in, "To Be Grateful," a rich blend of acoustic and electric guitars supporting father/daughter harmony.

Sprague kicks the tempo up a notch on the driving anthem, "Make Us One," while classic Phil Keaggy electric guitar riffs embellish "Thank You, Lord." "Pray in A" provides a brief, peaceful interlude that segues well into the moving acoustic confessional, "I Still Need a Savior." "Who We Are" (based on Ephesians 1) declares the believer's identity in Christ with electric guitars amplifying the defining power of grace.

"Life Everlasting" shifts back into uptempo praise and adoration as Sprague declares, "You are my joy, You are my strength, You are Life Everlasting!" Next up, "You Are Here," a rootsy rock cry of the heart, hands off to the Celtic-inflected hymn "Only Jesus," a second tune centered around Willow's pure vocal. Sprague invokes a powerful Gospel choir vibe on "The Goodness of the Lord," before closing the project with the acoustic instrumental, "Reflections in A," which further develops the theme and meditative tone of "Pray in A."

Songs in the Key of Awe was birthed out of Sprague's eight-year stint as Worship Leader and Director of Momentum for a multi-campus church in north Denver, Colorado. During his tenure, Sprague wrote more than 100 songs. "I'm still prompted by the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, which says the Lord expects me (and you) to do something with what He has entrusted to us," he explains. "My goal was to harvest the best crop from that field to include on this CD."  

Funded through the innovative crowd-sourced Kickstarter program, fan donations shattered Sprague's initial goal of $20,000 in half the allotted time, and ultimately provided more than $35,000 toward the project's production costs. The remarkable outpouring of support far exceeded Sprague's expectations. "So many gracious people shaped, supported and made this happen," he said. "We are humbled and grateful. In the midst of a jam-packed season of change, challenge and blessing, at last 
here it is!"

For more information about Sprague, "Life Begins Now" and Songs in the Key of Awe,

My Thoughts:
I still need a Savior - Wash my hands and feet
Breathe a willing spirit - For my flesh is weak
Heal my broken places - With Your perfect peace
Watch over me Watch over me

I Still Need a Savior - O, Lord be my strength
From Your well of wisdom - Give me words to speak
In the heat of battle - You have promised me
You’ll never leave, You’ll never leave…You never leave  (Chorus of I Still Need a Savior)

I think Songs In the Key of Awe is a beautiful worship experience.  Billy Sprague writes from a servant’s heart, and after more than two decades of an award-winning music career, he still chases after the heart of God with humility and boldness.  Everyone will find something that they will related to on this album, and you will be called into a closer relationship with The Father through the grace of Jesus.

Pick up your copy of this amazing CD today and worship at the feet of your Savior.  He is worthy of our praise!

About Billy Sprague:
Multi-Dove Award winner Billy Sprague is an accomplished songwriter, performer, author and recording artist. His songs, which include the classic "Via Dolorosa," have been recorded by such well-known artists as Sandi Patti, Debbie Boone, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Susan Ashton and John McDermot. 
Currently serving as Worship Leader at Edgewater Alliance Church in Edgewater, Florida, Sprague balances family life with worship leading, speaking, writing and retreats.
He currently lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. with his wife, Kellie, and their three children, Willow, Wyatt and Sawyer, and their dog, Lucy Loo Hoo.

Sprague's latest recording project, Songs in the Key of Awe, is available now for a discounted pre-sale on iTunes, at at billyspraguemusic.comand will be available through retail outlets on April 28.
For more information,visit or  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gathered Water by Cara Luecht - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About the Book:
They want to worship as their hearts demand...
but is it something they can give up everything for? 

Brianna has only ever been what her life demanded. A wife, a hostess, a mother. But when a stand her husband takes ostracizes them from the Lutheran church that controls so much of life in Sweden, Brianna finds herself needing to find a strength beyond her station...a strength that will see her through prejudice and persecution and to a home she never dreamed she would find. 

Based on the true story of the author s family s journey from Sweden to America, this sweeping saga paints the brilliance of new faith, the bravery of a new land...and the beauty of plunging beneath the waters and emerging a new person, capable of what one never thought one could do.

My Thoughts:
“….I prayed that God would make me so bold as to stand in the face of what was not right, and take a step forward rather than back.”  (p. 39)

Brianna and her husband Anders are people God calls to stand and then step forward into a bold faith.  Gathered Waters is their story, and it testifies to a transformational call to share a faith that steps outside the boundaries of religion and into a vibrant life of caring for others no matter the cost.  I think what makes the story even more meaningful is the fact that it is based upon the real life story of the author’s  grandmother’s family and the religious persecution that drove them from Sweden to America.  
This is a gripping story that embodies the true transformational life change that happens when people submit to the will of their Heavenly Father.  This is a story of great sacrifice and heartache as well is sweet victory and a grounded, practical, sacrificial faith.  It’s not unfamiliar entirely, rather it is an intimate look into the day to day choices that had to be made in order to be free to worship God in spirit and in truth.  This is a story about choosing the way of the cross rather than the comfort and familiarity of religion.  There was no guarantee that moving to America would totally free them from religious bondage, but the choices Brianna and Anders made freed them to pursue God’s calling in a way they were never free to do before.

I think Brianna’s thoughts on page 236 capture her life’s journey over the course of the almost two years of  following her faith that are captured in this novel; “And I understood what it meant to be strong and to choose to be strong.”

I firmly believe that God’s children are called each day to choose the way of the cross over the bondage of religion.  What will you choose?

About the Author:
Cara Luecht lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Friday, April 24, 2015

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea by Rose Chandler Johnson - REVIEWED

About the book: 
God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, July 2013)

In the South, nothing is more refreshing than a glass of sweet iced tea. Nothing, that is, except experiencing God in those small, everyday moments.

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is a deeply personal collection of spiritual treasures designed to help readers experience new mercies each morning. Seasoned with insight and grace, this tender devotional points to the divine presence of God in everyday moments. God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea will help readers develop a daily habit of turning to God in those quiet moments of reflection.

Purchase you copy HERE.

About the author: 

Rose Chandler Johnson's
 devotions, poems, and articles have appeared in numerous Christian publications. She enjoys writing for her popular blog, Write Moments with God, and engaging with her readers. Rose is from a tiny Georgia town, and has lived near Augusta, Georgia, for the last twenty-eight years. For the last twenty years, Rose has been a French and English teacher. She's also worked as a counselor, librarian, and ESOL teacher. Rose enjoys baking, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their families.

Find her online HERE.

My Thoughts:
I want you to meet my Lord.”  (introduction)

Rose Chandler Johnson has a daily, practical, honest relationship with her Heavenly Father.  She wants to encourage readers to develop this same intimate relationship in their own lives.  Johnson’s devotionals are three pages each (around 56 in the book), and she briefly explores daily topic that range from knowing God’s will, dealing with fear, and walking away from evil to training up children to follow God.  (her titles are much cuter and more creative!)  She gives journal prompts, prayer focus ideas and Scripture passages to read and consider.

This devotional will be good for believers at any stage of their journey with God from beginners to more mature believers.  If you like structure combined with succinctness, this is the devotional for you!  Depending upon what you bring to the day, that will determine what you are able to extract for the main focus.  This would make a great graduation gift for those leaving high school or college and taking their next step into life.

This devotional has a conversational, intimate feel to it, and you will leave its pages feeling as though you just shared a glass of sweet iced tea with a friend.  Refreshed!  Encouraged! Filled!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Double Cross by Diann Mills - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Double Cross
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 1, 2015)
Diann Mills


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at her website.


FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington—and what she sacrificed to put him away—he is now her best lead. Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family—even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon. As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

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

My Thoughts:
I want you to find God and hold on as tightly as you can.”  (p. 263)

Dianne Mills conveys this message through her characters’ lives in her latest novel, Double Cross.  She takes the one least worthy of trust and displays God’s transformative power in a profound way.  She takes those most likely to be lauded as heroes and displays a total lack of faith and fear of anyone who shows the love of God toward them.  She takes the toughest character and displays an humble, unwavering faith despite the misgivings he has about his ability to trust his own feelings.

In other words, the characters you will meet in Double Cross are very human in every aspect.  Their doubt, fear and mistrust of others provides the perfect palette on which God can paint a canvas of grace and mercy.  Trust – more to the point – duplicity plays a very powerful  role in its own right.  From the criminals taking advantage of the elderly to the money and greed that drives the hired guns to destroy life, there are lots of folks to be vetted before the truth is revealed.   The danger is real, and there are some who don’t survive.

This is another tightly woven story with an escalating measure of suspense and romance.  All of the plot lines weave together in perfect timing to keep the reader glued to their seats!  You don’t want to miss Double Cross.  You will be stunned and the many twists and turns along the way, but very satisfied with the conclusion!  Happy reading!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Legacy by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley - REVIEWED

About the Book:
One young man is about to discover the true cost of independence
For years, Doug Anderson has been drifting slowly but steadily away from both his family and his faith. His parents have been trying to reach him before he falls too far. His friend Christina hopes what she is seeing online isn't true. But sometimes you have to hit bottom before you're ready to grow up. 

Just as things begin to settle down a bit, Doug's life takes a turn that requires every bit of faith and patience for both his family and Christina--whose growing feelings for Doug, a man who writes her off as not worth his time, keep her off balance. Will Doug's crisis finally clear his vision and help him focus on what he has right in front of him?

My Thoughts:
I think it’s fair to say the legacy of the Anderson family is heading in a totally different direction now…” (p. 322)

The Legacy is the fourth book in The Restoration Series, and seems to bring the Anderson family full circle.  Having read only this particular book, it is evident that I am unable to appreciate the significance of everything that transpires by the conclusion of the novel, but what I do know is that God does indeed work all things for our good and His glory – on HIS timetable.  It is evident by the character development in this novel that  each member of the Anderson family had major issue to overcome.  Singly, the issues were difficult, but in a family dynamic, it was only God’s grace and mercy that kept everyone and everything from falling to pieces entirely.

I can also testify that the principles represented in the lives of the Anderson family  - the transforming power of God’s love and mercy – are realistically portrayed.  This family has traversed some seriously difficulties over the course of years, and the challenges left in their wake are real.  This series will appeal to a wide audience, and will encourage many to wait on the Lord in the midst of harsh trials.

I have to be honest…sometimes things are tied up too neatly for my taste, but perhaps that is my own reality talking! J  I will now have to go in search of the rest of the series!  Happy reading!  This is a series I am glad to recommend!

About the Authors:
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of many books, including The DanceThe Promise, and The Desire with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists forRT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships and has appeared on national television programs such as OprahLarry King Live, and TODAY, as well as numerous national radio programs. He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of many books, including the Baxter Family Redemption series with Karen Kingsbury. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 50 years and live in Missouri.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A.D.: How JESUS is saving Primetime – He graces the cover of “TV Guide” TODAY!

Is JESUS really saving Hollywood through primetime TV? The critically-acclaimed NBC series, A.D. The Bible Continues” is impacting Hollywood by opening up dialogue about religion and Biblical stories and issues. The 12-part serieswhose Easter Sunday debut garnered the #1 television show in America spot with over 9.5 million viewers and Trending at #1 on Twitter, now graces the cover of the current double issue of “TV Guide” (link to full story: – a phenomenon that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades!
Executive Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who saw enormous success of their first miniseries, "The Bible," are at the forefront of a wave of religious programming taking the country by storm. You may wonder why Mark & Roma are putting their faith in religious TV? Is it working, is it worth it, and do they really see it making a difference?
 “A.D. The Bible Continues” returns to primetime on NBC this Sunday, April 19 at 9/8c for Episode (3) when the Holy Spirit “shows up” & reveals the promise of Jesus, which still brings division in the church today. 
We are so grateful your support and enthusiasm and hope that you will continue to spread the word about this powerful series that’s impacting our current culture through primetime TV.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sand in My Sandwich by Sarah Parshall Perry - REVIEWED

About the Book:
here is no perfect family, no life free of mess.
But in the midst of all of it, God is there, reminding us, "My child, I got this."

You know that thing when you're in Walmart at noon before you discover you haven't brushed your teeth? Sarah Parshall Perry gets that. She also gets weird things showing up in her bed, her daughter requesting war paint, and her son crawling into a giant blue sock on Christmas morning. Sometimes, she gets that conflicted feeling of finding her kids hanging out in the dog's cage and realizing that, yes, dog cages are not for people, but . . . they have stopped getting into trouble.

According to Perry, "The hardest stuff is the quickest way to God." And if the systematic destruction of her carefully planned life is any indication, she's on the fast track to sainthood! A mother of three children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum, she has experienced plenty of ups and downs. But from the chaos of her "ordinary" life, she pulls truth packed with humor, poignancy, and a naked honesty that will make you realize you are not alone in this delightfully messy thing called motherhood. 

So sit back, relax awhile, and get ready to laugh.

My Thoughts:
I spent a lot of time lying in bed and staring at the celiing, wondering how I was going to wrestle my circumstances back into obedience.”  (p. 69)

So I began to slowly dispatch with the idea of a perfectly controlled life.”  (p. 189)

That first quote, in all of its transparent clarity, convicts me.  I relate to Sarah Parshall Perry’s desire to wrestle my circumstances into obedience.  The second quote gives me encouragement.  I also relate to the perceived chaos and sometimes painful events God allows into our lives to mold us into His image – to be the people He has created us to be. I think I would love to sit down and share live with Sarah.  I think we would laugh and cry together and praise God for His goodness and mercy to us!

I must say, Sarah’s story is loaded with challenges, triumphs, tragedy and just day to day chaos. As much as I could relate to the ways motherhood shaped and molded  her life, at one point I just wanted to cry out to God, “enough already!”  She has born, and still bears, a load of circumstances that only God’s strength can shoulder.  What I love about this story is the way the reader grows alongside Sarah on her journey.  You can’t help but pause and consider how you have and are currently interacting with God through your own life circumstances.  It is both humbling and encouraging.

I’m amazed at how incredibly talented and faithful she is despite the storms that blow through her life. (on a regular basis, it seems)  She continues to use the talents God has gifted her with to bless others – especially her husband and children.  She’s honest about her failures and struggles, but she’s quick to give all praise to God for what He has accomplished in her life through those trials.

I am happy to recommend this book!  It is a special tribute to God’s everyday, amazing grace and mercy that He lavished on His children!!

About the Author:
Sarah Parshall Perry (JD, University of Virginia School of Law) is a wife and mother of three young children. She is the coauthor of When the Fairy Dust Settles (with her mother, Janet Parshall) and the author of numerous magazine articles, award-winning short stories, and poetry. Sarah has served in youth ministry for over ten years and is currently writing for where she encourages other families living with disabilities. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she spends most of her days fighting for time in front of the computer. Learn more at

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jaded by Varina Denman - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Varina Denman

About the Book:
On the surface, nothing seems to change in this dull town-yet God always works beneath the surface. As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation after a scandal involving her parents.

Thirteen years later, her interest in an attractive single minister is bitterly opposed - unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside down.

Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness, and restoration, Varina Denman's contemporary novel will resonate with every woman who's experienced a loss of heart...and a thirst for hope.

My Thoughts:
We simply think our young man ought to spend more time with those inside the church than those outside.  No matter who they are.”  (p. 285)

God is capable of forgiving the darkest sins, and He expects us to do the same.”  (p. 390)

Varina Dneman’s debut novel, Jaded,  could have been taken from my own life story.  These opening quotes sum up the vast ocean that divides congregations – small or large – when the spirit of religion takes the place of a heart of forgiveness.  It is little wonder Ruthie and her family have little to do with the church who practically labeled them unclean and shoved them to the outer reaches of the town’s community.  It is also little wonder that Ruthie and her family are immediately skeptical of the new pastor and his rather non-traditional family.  Finally, it is very little wonder that the town of Trapp isn’t prepared for what the love of God can unleash in the hearts of people who are thirsty for the love and forgiveness that only God can bring about in the hearts of this very Jaded community.

The unforgiving, judgmental hearts of the people of Trapp have taken refuge in the lie of the enemy and believed that they have only the best intentions for the people of the town.  The truth is, they are just trying to cover their own sin be crucifying one of their own when the opportunity presents itself.  They will do almost anything to keep their secrets, including firing the new preacher when they begin to witness the powerful transformation that forgiveness begins to bring about in the lives of some of their most jaded town members.

I’ve seen this entire fictional tale lived out in bold color a few times in my almost 48 years on this earth.  I’ve seen families – both blood related and spiritually birthed – torn to bits by those who allow the spirit of religion to reign in their hearts.  I’ve also seen the transformational power of God’s love and forgiveness mend those broken hearts.  Not without a great cost, but the healing does come in time.  This is a beautiful story that captures all of the nuances of a small town and the intricacies requires to untangle the mess that has bound the residents of Trapp for decades.

It’s time to walk in the freedom of forgiveness, dear readers.  Won’t you join Ruthie on her journey?  A thought-provoking, well-written story that I recommend for those who want to be transformed by the love of  Christ. 

About the Author:

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. She teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local cooperative, and is a home educator to her five children. She resides with her family in North Texas. This is her first novel.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Award-winning vocalist hopes new music project will help curb biblical illiteracy

Columbus, OH -- According to a LifeWay Research study, only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week, and 18 percent of attenders say they never read the Bible. A Barna research study showed that 60% of Americans cannot name five of the ten commandments. Similar surveys have shown that scripture illiteracy is at an all-time high, and Telly Award winner and top 40 Billboard artist, Jennifer Shaw, hopes her new project will help alter the current trend.
Shaw is releasing a children’s music project entitled Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families, which features 30 word-for-word scripture songs from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.  The NIV version is the second most popular version according to American Bible Society, surpassed only by the King James. The recording project also includes nine bonus Christian theme songs suitable for Vacation Bible School curriculums or for other kids-themed events.  Shaw says the project has been eight years in the making.
“My church was looking for some scripture memory songs that were for older kids,” says Shaw.  “Specifically, we wanted word-for-word scripture songs that included the references and were from the NIV.  We could not find many options, and the ones we did find were for very young children and didn't appeal to our age group. We wanted them to be fun and upbeat and cool - something the whole family could listen to in the car.  So I decided to begin writing music to fit some scriptures that I wanted my own kids to learn and each year, I would write more songs to go along with our Vacation Bible School events. It just grew from there.”

Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families is targeted to kids from kindergarten age up to sixth grade, though Shaw admits she hopes that adults will listen with their children.

“It is definitely challenging to write music for scriptures as there is typically no meter or rhyme,” says Shaw, “but it is a great way for kids – and adults – to memorize verses. This generation of kids needs the Word of God embedded in their hearts and minds maybe more than any generation before them. I hope this project will be a fun way for kids to fall in love with the Bible.”

Shaw has garnered several accolades within the Christian music industry over the past few years, including a #3 song on the national Inspirational radio charts.  The music video for her self-penned song, “Your Child,” won a Telly Award and debuted on Focus on the Family’s “I Am Pro-Life” Facebook page to over 500,000 followers.  The song has been used by Joni and Friends, a worldwide organization which serves people with disabilities, founded by popular author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada. 
Shaw’s book Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed my Faith and my Song, was chosen for the Resource Library of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. The book chronicles Shaw's journey when her son, Toby, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at an early age. SPD is closely aligned with autism in that every autistic child has some form of SPD. One study estimated that 1 in 20 children in the U.S. are affected by the disorder.

Shaw’s song “God Loved the World,” which she co-wrote with Lifeway’s Songwriter of the Year, Paul Marino, was the theme song for the annual Evangelical Covenant Church conference and was featured in a  Lifeway Christmas musical. The song was also made into an Easter choral anthem and became a #1 best-seller for Lifeway Christian Resources.
With degrees in both piano and vocal performance, Shaw completed her graduate work in opera performance at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music.  A former professor at Cedarville University, Shaw now travels full-time as a singer and speaker. For more information on Jennifer Shaw, visit

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Identical - REVIEWED

About the Movie:
The Identical, which won the Nashville Film Festival Audience Award - U.S. Narrative, features an all-star cast, including including Golden Globe nominees Ray Liotta (GoodfellasField of Dreams), Ashley Judd (Dolphin Tale 2Divergent), Seth Green (Austin PowersFamily Guy), Joe Pantoliano (The SopranosThe Matrix), and newcomer Blake Rayne in the pivitol lead role.

The Identical released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, DVD, VOD and Digital HD on January 13 from City of Peace Films, Capitol Christian Distribution and Cinedigm. For more information on The Identical, visit or like on Facebook at
My Thoughts:
I know this movie released a few weeks ago, but I was given the privilege of watching it tonight, and I must say this is a fascinating “what if” scenario that is built around one of the greatest singers of the last century.  More than a tribute to good music and the birth of rock-and-roll, this film explores the concept of identity.  We all have a unique calling to be who God created us to be, and the struggle to find that identity is truly a life-long process. 

Both Drexel and Ryan defy their parents “dreams”  for their lives and step into their own calling.  This move is not without personal sacrifice and, most of the time, is not a well-accepted move to make.  Oddly, the timing of my opportunity to view this film coincides with the moments in my own life where I am the parent that is learning to let go of my child and boldly tell him to be who God has called him to be.  Believe me, I’ve shed a few tears watching this movie!
This is a family-friendly film with great music!  There are good values and spot-on encouragement for both parents and children!  Now, go, watch this movie, and then, thank God for His gift of children and give them a hug and let them follow their dream!

About City of Peace Films:
City of Peace Media and City of Peace Films includes, but is not limited to, the following list of creative services: major physical and digital distribution, record production, artist management, artist development, music publishing, song development, art direction, graphic design, website development, music video production, film production and film development. City of Peace Media also consults in the following strategic areas: marketing plan development, public relations planning, radio promotion, publicity, advertising, touring and name branding. The primary focus of City of Peace Media and City of Peace Films is to provide a framework where music, films and video with "redeeming value" can be developed, produced and distributed worldwide, bringing a message of hope, love and encouragement to this generation.