Monday, August 31, 2015

War Room - Reviewed!!




 WAR ROOM!! GO SEE IT TODAY! This is, without a doubt, the most amazing movie I have ever seen! I cried! I laughed! I clapped! I shouted amen! This is a challenging, convicting, encouraging movie that every Christian needs to see! Invite your unsaved friends! LEARN the lessons presented in this movie and take what you learn to the streets! It will CHANGE the world!!

 PRAISE GOD for the Kendrick brothers and what God is doing in their lives that results in these amazing movies!!

 AMEN!! AMEN!! AMEN!!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Angie Stone & Daughter Discuss Fight on T.D. Jakes Show‏




For the first time publicly, Angie Stone and her daughter sit down together to discuss their brutal fight that happened earlier this year and left Angie arrested and her daughter loosing teeth and publicly bashing her mom on Facebook.  The duo sit down with T.D. Jakes on his new talk show, “The T.D. Jakes Show, “ to discuss. The episode airs tomorrow, August 27th.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Resist by Tracy Lawson - Brief Review

About the Book:
In Resist, the second volume in the Resistance Series, Tommy and Careen are no longer na├»ve, frightened teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense can protect them from terrorist attacks. They’ve discovered the OCSD’s miracle antidote’s true purpose: to create a population bereft of free will, incapable of defying the tyrannical OCSD. They join the Resistance, but on their first mission, things spin out of control and soon they’re on the run, dodging the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the Resistance’s secret headquarters. 

Being part of the Resistance presents them with new challenges. Not everyone working for change will prove trustworthy, and plans to spark revolution go awry with consequences greater than they could’ve imagined. Tommy and Careen’s relationship is tested when their philosophical differences and the pressures of interpersonal rivalries and jealousy put a strain on their romance. Can they make time for each other while trying to start a revolution?

About the Author:
Tracy Lawson knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she could read. In the first grade, she authored sixty-seven contact-paper bound books through her school's Young Authors program. Though that pace proved impossible to maintain, she always intended to be a real author one day. 

While working toward her Bachelor's degree in Communication at Ohio University, she studied creative writing with the late Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. After short stints as a media buyer and an investigative analyst, she settled into a 20-year career in the performing arts, teaching tap dancing in Columbus, Ohio, and choreographing musicals. Though her creative energies were focused on dance, she never lost her desire to write, and has a non-fiction book to her credit: Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More, (McDonald & Woodward, 2012).

Tracy's love for writing Young Adult fiction is sparked by all the wonderful teens in her life, including her daughter Keri, a college student. Counteract is Tracy's first novel.

Q & A with the author:


What made you want to write books for young readers? 
I love reading YA, and I taught dance classes for twenty years before I got serious about writing. I spent a lot of time around my students, my daughter, and her friends, so it seemed natural to write for a teen audience.

How long did it take you to write Resist?
  I wrote Resist in a little over a year. It went a lot faster than Counteract (which took almost three years)because I knew the characters well and had planned ways to continue the story into the second book.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks? 
I like to write with pen and paper—preferably outside. I sit quietly until one of the characters starts to speak, and then I write down what they say. Some days I’ll scribble for pages and pages, and when I look at the clock I’ll be surprised how much time has flown by! I usually let those pages sit for at least a few hours, sometimes a few days, before I transcribe them into the computer, and that’s where the scenes really begin to take shape.  As far as writing snacks go, I’m partial to sunflower seeds and Diet Dr Pepper!

What does your family think of your writing? 
My family has been very supportive. My husband knows how to urge me on when I get discouraged, and my daughter says I’m a better choreographer now that I’ve become an author. I guess writing helped me refine how to advance a story through dance.  I haven’t shared much about what happens in Resist with my family. My five teenaged nieces can’t wait to read it, and I can’t wait to hear what they think!

Tell us where we can find your book and more information about you.  

My books are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, and on Barnes & Noble’s online store. If you live near Columbus, Ohio, you can buy signed copies of my books at three independent stores: The Book Loft of German Village, Mary B’s, and Urban Emporium. You can get the behind-the-scenes scoop on all things Resistance Series, see book trailers, and check out my blog at http://counteractbook.com. You can also find me on Twitter @TracySLawson and on Instagram as TracyLawsonAuthor.

My Thoughts:
I will be brief with my thoughts.  This book has a young adult target audience.  The story line is intriguing and engaging, but the language, sexual innuendos and overall relationship between the main characters turned me off.  Young adults are capable of better language and behavior than that displayed in the pages of this novel.  My challenge to the author: set your standards higher.  I was not impressed.  Sorry readers, if I come across and a prude, but my own personal standards are higher when it comes to the choices I make in reading material.  I chose poorly this time.  Perhaps you will have a different experience.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cheri Keaggy - No Longer My Own - REVIEWED!



Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Cheri Keaggy released her ninth album, No Longer My Own, which she also produced, on Friday, August 7, 2015 from Psalm 91 Records and Elevate Entertainment.
 
"I gave a copy of No Longer My Own to my Dad," muses Keaggy. "After he had a chance to give it a good listen, he called me. Through broken-up tears, he said, 'You wouldn't have been able to write these songs if you hadn't gone through the things you've been through.' He went on to say, 'This is your best one yet.' It touched me that it moved him so deeply."
Keaggy believes this project might be her most bold recording to date.
 
"I have often referred to my last album, So I Can Tell, as my beauty-from-ashes project or my bleeding heart album," she confesses. "But, the Lord heals. And this album feels a little more broad. Brokenness humbles you and makes you more sensitive to the world around you and, perhaps, even more in tune with the Father's heart. It was a stretch, both spiritually and emotionally, and I stretched myself vocally too, going for notes I might have been too timid to reach before."  
 
Donning the producer's hat, Keaggy employed the talents of some of Nashville's top musicians, skillfully steering the project's instrumentation and her own trademark velvety vocals toward the pop and gospel genres. The result is a cohesive collection of Christ-focused songs that exude a sense of deep felt conviction and, ultimately, surrender.
 
No Longer My Own seeks to embolden fellow sojourners of the faith to live more fearlessly for Christ. Perhaps that sentiment is best expressed in the album's title cut, a song inspired by the "Covenant Prayer" popularized by John Wesley.  
 
My Thoughts:
I think the first verse of the first song on this album encapsulates all that God has poured into Cheri’s heart through the recording of this amazing album!

From Overcome:
What would You have me to write?
What would you have me to tell the world?
What could I possibly say?
How could I possibly change the way things are?
With so many hurting
Ominous evil and darkness is lurking
Where is the good in the world anymore, Lord?
   
Tell them I AM here
I AM watching it all
Please don’t fear
Don’t you know that I have overcome?

This entire project is filled with the truth that is born out of a life that has walked through brokenness and found healing in Christ alone.  Scriptural truth bathes this entire album, and the music highlights Cheri’s phenomenal vocal talent!  If you want to be blessed and encouraged pick up your copy today!  It is an amazing project!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cold As Ice by Mark Gilroy - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cold As Ice
by
MARK GILROY

About the Book:
What can go wrong on a run on in Central Park on your last day of vacation? Even if it is brutally cold? Everyone told Detective Kristen Conner to stay inside, which guaranteed she would go outside—and stumble onto a gang murder that puts her in the cross-hairs of a Russian “Red Mafyia” hit man. 

Back in Chicago, murder strikes closer to home. Just down the street from where her mom lives, a popular schoolteacher, solid citizen, and great guy—he shovels snow for widows and volunteers to work with underprivileged kids—is found dead. It was supposed to look like an accident, but crime scene investigators discover more than one killing blow to the back of his head. 

When Detective Kristen Conner lands the case, she knows from day one who the key suspect is. That’s simple. The person most likely to kill you is someone close . . . someone you know and love. But his wife? The nice lady down the street. How could that be possible? Kristen is about to discover there is more violence beneath the surface of the working-class neighborhood she grew up than she ever dreamed possible. 

She’s also about to discover that when the Red Mafyia wants you dead, there is no place to hide. You better be ready to fight. Mix in her on-again, off-again relationship with FBI Agent Austin Reynolds, and Kristen Conner is once again swept into a world of danger, intrigue, and a confusing love life.

My Thoughts:
I have to stop going out in the cold.”  (Kristen Conner – Chicago Police)

Cold As Ice is the third installment of Mark Gilroy’s Kristen Conner Mystery series.   This book served as my introduction to the series, but I have a feeling that most of Kristen’s r career as a member of the Chicago Police Department is a combination of wily skills and being in the right place at the wrong time.  Her early morning run certainly landed her in the midst of a very dangerous series of events that spiraled out of control in a hurry! 

Kristen is a very easy-to-get-to-know person in spite of her self-proclaimed lack of relational skills.  She stays in a constant state of unrest, because she is constantly misunderstanding or over-thinking practically every single situation in her life.  From her mother, to her sisters to her co-workers, Kristen can’t seem to find a measure of peace about who she is and what purpose she serves in the lives of those she cares about most.  I kind of feel sorry for her some of the time, because relationships of any kind are so difficult for her.  I think Kristen longs for someone to ground her in life, and yet she keeps everyone, including God, at arms’ length.  After some of the loss and trauma she’s faced, it’s not too surprising, but even she has a hard time recognizing her self-imposed isolation.

Yet it is this very aspect of her personality that serves to protect her from the evil she encounters in her job at the Chicago Police Department.  As random as she seems to stumble into trouble, Kristen is very good at her job, and she garners the highest respect and admiration from her team members.  She has a very good method of intuition that enables her to discern inconsistencies in the stories she hears from the criminals’ whose lives impact her own. 

Kristen has experienced her share of trauma and loss during her lifetime, and at the point I encountered her, she was longing for a family of her own.  I look forward to seeing what Mark Gilroy has planned for Kristen’s future!  I am happy to recommend this series to everyone!

About the Author:
Mark "M.K." Gilroy is a 30-plus-year publishing veteran, having worked in just about every area of the industry, from his first job as a sports writer for a local newspaper while in college to proof reader, occasional box packer, vice president of editorial and marketing, publisher, and everything in between.

When not writing Detective Kristen Conner novels, he creates projects for publishers, retailers, ministries, and businesses as a freelance publisher.

Gilroy's debut novel, CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, quickly garnered critical acclaim and is a tribute to his love for character-driven mysteries and thrillers. His second novel featuring Detective Kristen Conner, EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, has received similar accolades. The third Kristen Conner novel, COLD AS ICE, hits the market soon.

Gilroy's education includes the BA in Biblical Literature and Speech Communications, the M.Div, and the MBA.

Gilroy is the father of six children. He resides with his wife Amy in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Where Hope Grows - REVIEWED


About the Movie (from the website)

.Calvin Campbell is a former professional baseball player sent to an early retirement due to his panic attacks at the plate. Even though he had all the talent for the big leagues, he struggles with the curveballs life has thrown him. Today, he mindlessly sleepwalks through his days and the challenge of raising his teenager daughter. His life is in a slow downward spiral when it is suddenly awakened and invigorated by the most unlikely person – Produce, a young-man with Down syndrome who works at the local grocery store.

Calvin slowly loses the chip on his shoulder as he begins to experience the world through Produce’s eyes. Faith, work, purpose and most importantly family, blossom into Calvin’s life as their friendship develops. The unlikely pair becomes intertwined giving Calvin’s life new meaning and purpose, but unfortunately leads to tragedy due to single decision echoed from Calvin’s past.

Where Hope Grows is a story of finding redemption through faith, hope and love.

My Thoughts:

Where Hope Grows is a sweet reminder that you never really know what others around you are walking through.  The character of Calvin Campbell (played by Kristoffer Polaha) is a barely functioning alcoholic whose life is changed by the unconditional love of a young man who serves as a grocer in the produce section of the local grocery store. (David DeSanctis)  It sounds rather unlikely to read it in a synopsis, but the truth that lies within the story is all too real, and the world would indeed be transformed if we all took a note from David DeSanctis’ character and loved others as Christ loved us.

This is a great family movie, because in addition to the realistic and much-needed faith message, there isn’t an attempt to make everything smooth and easy for the characters.  Broken lives, shattered homes, addiction – these are laid bare within the context of the movie, and the consequences become rather brutal.  The film has a strong redemptive message, as well as one that emphasizes the need for community and friendship.

I am eager to recommend this film to you and I am proud to have it in my movie collection!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin - REVEIEWED


Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015)

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war.

Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges---and dangers---await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and 
romantic story.

Purchase your copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
How many good things in her life had she missed due to fear?”  (p. 335)

Mary Stirling’s fear has a head on collision with faith and selfless bravery in Sarah Sundin’s latest novel, Through Waters Deep.  Working as a secretary in a Navy ship yard on the brink of the Second World War, Mary faces unexpected danger and an unexpected chance at romance!  Quite a combination when those two elements are intertwined with the imagination and writing of a skillful wordsmith!  If you enjoy the WWII era like I do, you will totally enjoy this novel!

Mary tends to bumble into a lot of her information even when she is purposefully trying to collect information for the FBI.  Sleuthing is not her strong suit, but the selfless way she pours herself into the task reveals a far greater strength than even she recognizes in herself.   Ensign Jim Avery begins to notice Mary’s strength and inner beauty, but not before both of them find themselves in imminent danger!

I wouldn’t have thought that saboteurs would be busy prior to a major World War, but in the context of this novel, the overall sensitivity and suspicion of one group of people toward another serves as the perfect catalyst for the mystery at hand!  The motives are also realistic for the time period, and the entire plot line is filled with realistic relationship struggles set against a backdrop of mystery and intrigue that is driven by fear.


Fear is something that Mary recognizes in herself, and it is brilliant to watch her character grow and change as she struggles to overcome the emotion that keeps her bound.  This is a finely written novel that begins the Waves of Freedom series! If you enjoy historical romances – this is the novel you have been searching for! 

About the Author:
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every LetterOn Distant ShoresIn Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Hope Grows - releasing on Blueray and DVD August 25th! - Review to come!

DVD arrives on Digital HD August 11 and on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand August 25 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Receiving 5 out of 5 Doves from The Dove Foundation, Where Hope Grows is an uplifting tale of an ex-baseball player who finds salvation when he befriends a grocery-store clerk who has Down syndrome. Theatrically released in 2015, and written and directed by Chris Dowling (Rock Slyde), the heartwarming film features touching performances from a stellar cast including Kristoffer Polaha (TV’s “Ringer,” TV’s “Life Unexpected”), Billy Zabka (The Karate Kid), Brooke Burns (Shallow Hal, TV’s “Baywatch”), Kerr Smith (TV’s “The Fosters,” TV’s “Dawson’s Creek”), Michael Grant (TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Alan Powell (The Song) with Danica McKellar (TV’s “The Wonder Years”) and introducing David DeSanctis as “Produce.”

Calvin Campbell (Polaha), a former pro baseball player with a self-destructive streak, has his faith in God restored when he meets Produce (DeSanctis), an inspirational man with Down syndrome. As their friendship develops, Calvin is reminded that hope grows in the most unlikely places.

The Where Hope Grows home entertainment bonus material includes deleted scenes, plus two featurettes that look at the casting of “Produce” and a discussion of the “R-word,” along with an audio commentary from writer/director Chris Dowling and actor David DeSanctis.  The Blu-ray and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.99 and $19.98, respectively.
Watch a clip
https://www.wetransfer.com/downloads/e69f1ace3e7029cbbc0b1039d8f121b720150817192225/aad424



Monday, August 17, 2015

Once Upon A Summertime by Melody Carlson - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Once Upon A Summertime 
by 
Melody Carlson

About the Book:  She's looking for her big break. She never imagined it would depend on a blast from her past.

Managing the Value Lodge in her hometown was not what Anna Gordon had in mind when she set out in the hospitality industry. But it's a safe choice for a young woman starting out her career.

Then, out of the blue, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career by moving to New York City. She applies for a management position at a stylish new hotel, The Rothsberg. But the city is full of surprises--not the least of which is discovering that Sean O'Neil, a once-upon-a-time crush, has applied for the very same position. 

This sweetly romantic tale of dreams come true takes you through the storied streets of New York City--and into the depths of the human heart. 

My Thoughts:
I got the job.”  (p. 114)

Anna Gordon got a dream job in New York managing the housekeeping staff at a newly renovated hotel.  For once in her life, things seemed to be going in a direction that both fulfilled her and made her happy.  The fact that her childhood friend, Sean O’Neil is working with her – or, more accurately, that she will be working for him -  is an added bonus! 

Or is it?  What begins as a relationship with magical wings of serendipity and similar tastes becomes complicated by charming roommates and work related policy.  Anna finds herself balancing a series of awkward situations and even more awkward conversations.  At one point, her dream job ceases to look very dreamy at all.

Melody Carlson creates characters that are very realistic, and the romantic aspect builds naturally and believably.  I think one of my favorite scenes in the entire novel is the first full day Sean and Anna spend together in their new city home.  It was a totally enchanting day – even for me as the reader!  Now, I want to go to New York!  Once Upon a Summertime  is an enchanting and engaging book that revisits lots of “firsts” in life for Anna, as well as new beginnings.  This is the first in the Follow Your Heart series, and I am more than happy to recommend it to readers of all ages!

About the Author:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas BusThe Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another GirlAnything but NormalDouble Take, the Life at Kingston High series, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. She is the winner of aRomantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series andFinding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon.

For more information about Melody visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines - REVIEWED



About the Book:
Amber Haines is a woman haunted by God. Like Eve in the Garden, she craved the fruit that she thought would lead her to freedom. But the whispers of temptation led her instead down a path of isolation, dissatisfaction, and life-altering choices. In her most broken moment, Amber met God waiting for her in the fallout, freely offering her grace and life.

This is a story of the God who makes himself known in broken places.

My Thoughts:
The hollow is made for a Holy Spirit that satisfies, and any other thing will only dry the bones and hush the prayer.”  (p. 68)

Amber C. Haines book, Wild in the Hollow, is a unique blend of biography and spiritual insight.  It is a book that follow someone’s heart, in this case, the author, from a place of rote religion to a life filled with the abundance of God’s love and leadership through the Holy Spirit.  Haines’ story is not pretty.  It reminds me of some of the testimonies that I heard as a girl in church.  I would often think that such messed up life experiences made for a powerful testimony of God’s love and power. 

Haines has been through a lot of pain in her lifetime.  But in some way, we all have.  And we will continue to encounter pain and loss this side of heaven.  What I think the author is trying to point us toward is that God alone can fill the hollow inside us.  When we try to fill it with anything else, it becomes an idol that consumes us, then ,breaks us. 

Wild in the Hollow shares Amber Haines’ journey.   As believers, I think we will all recognize part of ourselves reflected back at us. She writes in a beautiful, poignant style that makes me want to weep at times.   This is a very moving book – raw in its honesty – beautiful in its lyrical style!

About the Author:
Amber C. Haines is a soulful writer and a blogger at TheRunaMuck.com. She is curator, with her husband, Seth, of Mother Letters and is a contributor with many acclaimed writers and bloggers at DaySpring's (in)courage. She has been involved as a coordinator with both BlissDom and !dea Camp Orphan Care and continues to build meaningful relationships with church leaders, lifestyle bloggers, authors, advocates, and poets. She lives in Arkansas.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Glory Days by Max Lucado - REVIEWED

About the Book:
God has a Promised Land for you to claim.

Maybe you're feeling a little stuck. Caught in a rut. You're fighting the same battles and facing the same temptations. You're wondering, is this as good as the Christian life gets?

There's good news. You were made for more. You were made for Glory Days.
In God's plan, in God's land, you win more often than you lose, forgive as quickly as you are offended, and give as abundantly as you receive. You may stumble, but you will not collapse. You may struggle, but you'll defy despair. You will enjoy abundant fruit and increasing faith.
With God's help you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be.
These days are Glory Days.
Your past is past,
your future is bright,
God's promises are true and
his Word is sure.
With God as your helper,
you will be all he wants you to be,
do all he wants you to do,
and receive all he wants you to receive.
These days are Glory Days.

My Thoughts:
“In Canaan you do not fight for victory.  You fight from victory.”  (p.20)

Max Lucaco’s latest book challenges believers to know and believe what God’s Word tells us! We ARE redeemed, and Holy Spirit power dwells within us!  We need to stop thinking we are fighting to win, but realize we are fighting from a place of VICTORY!  Yes, our lives will be filled with trials as we walk through this world – we’re not home yet.  But while we are here in this life, we can live and love and make an eternal difference in the world around us!

Using Joshua’s life as a guide, Lucado give one example after another from God’s Word that sets a challenge before believers – to walk in the promises of God – to enjoy Glory Days as we walk through our life journey.  This is a book filled with life examples of people who have had this paradigm shift take place in their hearts and lives.  It makes all the difference!!

I am thrilled to know that this message has come through many avenues and poured into my life!!  The church I attend has an entire curriculum based around the principles presented in this book.  I’ve heard messages from several pulpits that echo this message!  Folks, it is time to believe what God ‘s Word says and walk in it!

Lucado teaches from God’s Word throughout this book.  It is a magnificent teaching tool filled with challenges and encouragement!  I am happy to recommend it to you!!


About the Author:
More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ties That Bind Premieres Wednesday, August 12th! 9pm EST - My Review of the Premiere

About the series:
Allison McLean (Kelli Williams) is a tough and experienced police detective in suburban Seattle. Like most working women, her hands are already full, balancing a demanding and dangerous job and a family — husband Matt (Jonathan Scarfe), and teenagers Jeff (Mitchell Kummen) and Rachel (Natasha Calis). But when she and her partner, Devin (Dion Johnstone), must arrest her brother, Tim (Luke Perry), for aggravated assault, her world drastically changes as Tim is convicted and sent to prison leaving his two teenagers Cameron (Rhys Matthew Bond) and Mariah (Matreya Scarrwener) teetering on the brink of foster care.
Having done the right thing as an officer of the law, Allison now feels compelled to do the right thing as a sister and aunt; she brings Tim’s two very unhappy teens into her home. Squeezing four teenagers under one roof proves to be an additional test of Allison’s strength and patience. It won’t be easy for her husband, her children or Tim’s kids either.
In addition to investigating local crimes, the UP Original Series “Ties That Bind” will also focus on the joys and struggles of the teens as they adjust to their new home, their new high school, make new friends and experience love, romance, anger and jealousy.
My Thoughts:
I’m fine,” and “It won’t be easy but it will be right,” are signature lines for Detective Allison McLean in UP tv’s new series, Ties That Bind.   I understand the havoc that is wrecked on families because of addiction after the time I spent volunteering at a local rehab center.  The main character in this series, Allison, sees it from both sides – as a police detective and as a family member taking in her brother’s two teen children.  It is NOT pretty!

This is a realistic look into the challenges faced by families in the 21st century.  It’s not so fictionalized as you might think!  The premiere promises to be both emotionally rewarding and very difficult.  The characters of Cameron and Moriah – the children of a mother in rehab and a father sent to jail for aggravated assault – are realistically portrayed and virtually ooze anger and rebellion.  Rachel and Jeff – the McLean children – are also realistic in their response to the unwelcome invasion of these disruptive and rebellious kids.

Allison and her husband Matt are also realistically displayed in their desire to do the right thing – but at what cost?  Their marriage takes a hit in this first episode, and I’m sure it's one of many to come.  The writers of this series don’t paint a rosy picture.  They delve head-first into the challenges of stepping up to be there for your family….and the cost that is involved in all areas of life!  Allison and Matt have a strong marriage that has already weathered storms, and by first appearances, have the strength to survive the latest challenge.

I think this will be a thought-provoking and challenging series that will offer many opportunities for honest discussions within families facing similar circumstances as well as for those impacted peripherally by similar family dynamics. 
It’s a great start to a series that promises many twists and turns as well as a means for growth and maturity to take place.  I am happy to recommend this to viewers! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hope Harbor
Revell (July 7, 2015)
by
Irene Hannon


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut!

Since then, she has written more than 45 romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels. She is a seven-time finalist and three-time winner of the RITA award—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and a member of Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, three HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice award, a Retailers Choice award, two Booksellers’ Best awards and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as a top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011. In addition, she is a two-time Christy award finalist.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing. A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

Fan favorite Irene Hannon brings a whole new cast of characters to life in a charming Oregon seaside village. Emotional and heartwarming, this story invites readers to come home to Hope Harbor, where love and hope bloom--and hearts heal.





My Thoughts:

Life wasn’t the only thing full of surprises.  Hope Harbor was overflowing with them.”  (p. 252)

Michael’s thought were brimming with a myriad of thoughts at this point in Irene Hannon’s latest novel, Hope Harbor.  Between Charlie’s fish tacos and the Campbell family cranberry bread recipe, I don’t think I’ve read a more perfectly balanced modern-day, everyday reality, romance combination quite like this one!  Tracy and Michael are both reeling from serious loss, Anna has basically rolled over on twenty years of her life, and the pastors overseeing the Helping Hands ministry are overwhelmed.  Add in a few crisis’ along the way, and Hope Harbor is brimming with miraculous opportunities!

I’ve always thought if we would just stop and listen to God’s nudges in life, we would all discover some miraculous possibilities of our own!  I love how Irene Hannon taps into this daily aspect of our faith walk and literally brings miracles to life through every day interaction between broken, hurting hearts and overwhelmed lives.  Hannon is listening to God’s voice in her own writing career to be able to craft a story that brings such realistic hope to believers through the lives of her characters!


I tend to always equate Irene Hannon with suspense and mystery, but Hope Harbor is a brilliant reminder that this very talented author is quite flexible in many areas of fiction!  If you want to read a novel that will infuse hope into your heart, look no further than Hope Harbor!  This is a novel I am happy to recommend!!!

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trial Run by Thomas Locke - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Dr. Gabriella Speciale has assembled an international team of elite scientists with one goal in mind--to create and control out-of-body experiences that transcend the limits of time and space. Reese Clawson's mind-bending experiments aim to explode the boundaries of human consciousness--and annihilate the opposition in the process.

When a terrifying discovery and a string of failed tests threaten to dismantle both programs, the key to survival may reside in the mind of a gifted grad student whose unsettling dreams have thrust him into the center of a dangerous battle for control.

As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.

My Thoughts:
You have purpose now.  You were chosen for this project because you have trained yourselves not to fear death.  You understand what most people in the world spend their entire lives running away from.” (p. 130)

Reese Clawson’s words are filled with promise….or are they?  She has entered a race against time to discover scientific theory that is mind-bending!  In reality and in theory. Her team is one of two teams that are discovering a realm that exists somewhere in time that allows the mind to receive information from the future that can be used in the present. I know, it sounds far-fetched, but it has something to do with quantum physics and a molecule inside the DNA helix…

That does not matter.  What matters is that you will come to know characters that will touch your heart.  You will see them struggle, grow, change….make impossibly difficult choices….risk their lives for one another…this is an amazing, complex and gut-wrenching story to read.  It is the beginning of The Fault Lines series.  I’m not going to tell you that I fully understood all of the concepts presented in the book, (well, not without the help of my college-aged son)  but I can tell you without hesitation that this is a FIRST CLASS thriller you DO NOT want to miss!


I HIGHLY recommend this book!!  It is really amazing!  And you will lose sleep trying to read it all in one go!! J

About the Author:
Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, the award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies. His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. Davis divides his time between Oxford and Florida and holds a lifelong passion for speculative stories. As Thomas Locke, Davis is also the author of Emissary. Learn more at www.tlocke.com.

Friday, August 7, 2015

DOVE AWARD WINNER CHERI KEAGGY RELEASES NO LONGER MY OWN TODAY




NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 7, 2015) - Psalm 91 Records has announced the release of Dove Award-winning recording artist Cheri Keaggy's latest album,No Longer My Own, to retail today, Friday, August 7.  The project, which is distributed by Elevate Entertainment, is the singer/songwriter's ninth full-length CD to date.

"I gave a copy of No Longer My Own to my Dad," muses Keaggy. "After he had a chance to give it a good listen, he called me. Through broken-up tears, he said, 'You wouldn't have been able to write these songs if you hadn't gone through the things you've been through.' He went on to say, 'This is your best one yet.' It touched me that it moved him so deeply."

Keaggy believes this project might be her most bold recording to date. "I have often  referred to my last album, So I Can Tell, as my beauty-from-ashes project or my bleeding heart album," she confesses. "But, the Lord heals. And this album feels a little more broad. Brokenness humbles you and makes you more sensitive to the world around you and, perhaps, even more in tune with the Father's heart. It was a stretch, both spiritually and emotionally, and I stretched myself vocally too, going for notes I might have been too timid to reach before."

Donning the producer's hat, Keaggy employed the talents of some of Nashville's top musicians, skillfully steering the project's instrumentation and her own trademark velvety vocals toward the pop and gospel genres. The result is a cohesive collection of Christ-focused songs that exude a sense of deep felt conviction and, ultimately, surrender.

No Longer My Own seeks to embolden fellow sojourners of the faith to live more fearlessly for Christ. Perhaps that sentiment is best expressed in the album's title cut, a song inspired by the "Covenant Prayer" popularized by John Wesley. Listeners can look forward to such vertically oriented songs of celebration as "Lucky To Be Breathing Your Air," prayerful petitions like "Jesus, One and Only," poignant ballads like "You Go Before," and the powerful anthem, "Overcome," a response to recent news reports of believers facing persecution, even unto death, and the increase of moral decay in our nation. 

She also enlists her uncle, Grammy nominee and Dove Award winner Phil Keaggy, who contributes a jubilant ukulele track in the lighthearted Scripture song, "Whatever is True (Phil. 4:8)." Composing new music and melody to the hymn "He Giveth More Grace" in her newly named "The Giving Song," she includes a hint of the church classic, "I Surrender All." She offers an invitation to abide in "I Love Your Company," a sentiment that echoes every parent's wish to see their child content and at rest in blessed communion. 

"My prayer is that all-too-busy believers will rediscover the simple joy of being with Jesus, sitting with Him, delighting in Him," says Keaggy. "After an incredible season of pouring out, I knew I had to guard that, to remember my First Love. And it has humbled me, in a good way."

Perhaps the most poignant and achingly honest song on the project is Keaggy's newly penned, "Be My Sabbath," which serves as a desperate cry for God's restorative power and refueling. She wrote the song after experiencing the sheer elation of reaching her goal on the Kickstarter campaign that funded the CD, and the unanticipated physical and spiritual burnout that followed. 

"One definition of 'burn-out' is 'to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted, especially from overwork or over use.' I'm not entirely sure what constitutes burnout," Keaggy muses. "But I think I reached that point sometime around the Christmas holidays. The hectic pace of life, work, and ministry simply caught up with me, and the usual things I did to find renewal wouldn't work. I was stuck."

All the traveling, pouring out, promoting, administering, and bill paying had taken their toll. Keaggy, who has often said, 'When you come to the end of yourself, you come to the beginning of Jesus,' had finally reached her end. "I woke up one morning and scribbled out a whole page of words and feelings with no concern for order or rhyme."

And realized a song was brewing. 

"I don't mind being broken as long as I get a good song out of it," she quips. "It might contain the most angst-ridden lyrics I've written to date, but it's real, it's authentic, and it points to God, my Source, my Sabbath."

Keaggy employed the innovative Kickstarter crowd-source business model to fund the project, joining such high profile Christian recording artists as Shaun Groves, John Schlitt, Five Iron Frenzy and Thousand Foot Krutch, who also used the outside-the-box service to fund recent projects. Keaggy is no stranger to the business model, having successfully employed Kickstarter to raise nearly $25,000 to fund her 2012 release, So I Can Tell

While Keaggy admits to being both humbled and excited by the number of doors that opened for ministry through concerts, church services, women's events, TV appearances, interviews, and radio airplay as a direct result of So I Can Tell, she insists the story is far from over. With a quiver full of new songs burning in her soul, Keaggy prays No Longer My Own will inspire and embolden fellow saints to live more fearlessly for Christ.


About Cheri Keaggy:
Cheri Keaggy began her career as a worship leader at a small church in Southern California before recording her debut album on Sparrow Records, Child of the Father, in 1994. Honored with a Dove Award nomination for New Artist of the Year, Keaggy has gone on to record eight additional albums, resulting in nine No. 1 songs, three Dove Award nominations and a Dove Award win. After more than two decades in music, her ministry has expanded to include speaking engagements as well. Her latest project, No Longer My Own is now available from Psalm 91 Records and Elevate Entertainment.

For more information about Keaggy and No Longer My Own, visit cherikeaggy.com. Like Keaggy on Facebook (facebook.com/CheriKeaggy) or follow her on Twitter (@cherikeaggy).