Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunny - REVIEWED

About the Book:
An Ancient Island Holds an Ancient Secret . . .
Nick Hennessy, 
a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe--his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities. Nick has the credentials--and cover ID--to unearth the truth. And he knows just the researcher to help him...
Carey Mathers, fresh from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestigious Athens Institute for Antiquities--a dream come true, really, particularly when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.
Dimitri Rubinos, for whom the Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business. But his country's economic chaos isn't the only thing that has turned his world on its head...

My Thoughts:
What do I do now?”  (p. 303)

Talk about a loaded question!  At the point this question gets asked there are a LOT of people up to their eyeballs in difficult situations that need to know the answers  - and quickly!  Davis Bunn has written a  multi-layered story filled with enough complex plot twists that your head will spin with possibilities!  Nick is chasing the story of a lifetime at the same moment Carey finds out she’s chased her dream to a dead end, and the same moment Dimitri’s family heritage seems to be in a state of tragic demise.  I would never in a million years have figured out a way to make so many diverse paths intersect on such an exciting and spine-tingling adventure!

Davis Bunn does this and much, much more.  There are ancient artifacts, smugglers, corrupt government officials, monks, fishermen and a host of complex relationships that cover just as many diverse paths!  There is a faith element that is subtle, but powerful, and there is enough danger to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The characters that Bunn develops quickly embed themselves into your heart, and by the end of the story, you find yourself facing that same question but from an altogether different perspective!

This has truly been a pleasure to read, and I feel like I will see much more of these characters in the future!  The near future – I hope!  I am thrilled to recommend this book to everyone!

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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Farewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Day 14: It should have been the beginning . . .
All she needed were stamps and signatures. Marie and her translator stood in the government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan to complete the paperwork for her new literacy project. The women in her home town, the northern village of Shehktan, would learn to read.
But a spattering of gun shots exploded and an aid worker crumpled. Executed. On the streets of Kabul. Just blocks from the guesthouse. Sending shockwaves through the community.
The foreign personnel assessed their options and some, including Marie's closest friend, Carolyn, chose to leave the country. Marie and others faced the cost and elected to press forward. But the execution of the lone aid worker was just the beginning.
When she returned home to her Afghan friends in Shehktan to begin classes, she felt eyes watching her, piercing through her scarf as she walked the streets lined in mud brick walls.
And in the end . . .
It took only 14 days for her project, her Afghan home, her community-all of it-to evaporate in an eruption of dust, grief, and loss. Betrayed by someone she trusted. Caught in a feud she knew nothing about, and having loved people on both sides, Marie struggled for the answer: How could God be present here, working here, in the soul of Afghanistan?
My Thoughts:
Love in our community.  Sorrow in our loss.  Grace in our grief.  Hope in our words.  Comfort in our songs.  Companionship in our steps.  Love in our moments.  Protection in our storm.  Deliverance in our danger.”  (p. 354)

Marie wrote these words at the end of a very significant event as she served the people of Afghanistan.  Serving the Afghan people – setting up literacy groups for women in that country – Marie had seen life from a totally different perspective.  She had learned to live among the Afghan people and share her faith in real, tangible ways while showing respect for their belief system and their way of life.  Marie was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to many who had never been introduced to His mercy and grace.

What I appreciated most about this very amazing story is the tender, yet bold way Marie shared the gospel with the people she came in contact with.  You were able to witness God’s hand of salvation in their lives while Marie just faithfully loved and worked alongside these people.  This story is based upon real life events, and the reader is able to get a true sense of what life as a Christian aide worker looked like, smelled like, felt like….Kate McCord creates a very realistic experience as she builds on her own time in Afghanistan.

This story relays a very frightening look into a culture that is riddled with civil war and religious in-fighting.  The danger of being in the daily presence of such hatred and constant sensitivity to every single movement around you creates a very tense, very terrorizing sense of what daily life can be like in the cities of this country. 

Yet God’s presence is with Marie.  Every moment.  Through every trial.  Through the joy and the pain and the loss.  God's presence is real, and the reader feels the transformation in Marie’s heart and mind as she experiences His presence in the story. 
This is a POWERFUL BOOK!!!  God speaks through this story.  He challenges His children to love like Jesus.  To be the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and dying world.  What an amazing journey this has been for me!  I can’t recommend this book highly enough!!  Everyone needs to read this book!!  It is AMAZING!!

About The Author:

KATE MCCORD lived and worked in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. During her years in country, she worked as a humanitarian aid worker, delivering projects to benefit the people of Afghanistan. She also learned the local language and developed deep and lasting friendships with local Afghans. After a evacuating from her home in Afghanistan, Ms. McCord transitioned into a mentoring, training, consulting and coaching role to other workers serving in the region.Prior to moving to Afghanistan, Ms. McCord worked in the international corporate community as a business process and strategy consultant.Currently, Ms. McCord serves the Christ through writing, speaking, mentoring and conducting workshops and seminars. She is the author of In the Land of Blue Burqas published by Moody Publishers in 2011.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Luke 2 King James Version (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In the Company of Others by Jan Karon - reviewed

About the Book:
In this second installment in the series, Father Tim and Cynthia arrive in the west of Ireland, intent on researching his Kavanagh ancestry from the comfort of a charming fishing lodge. The charm, however, is broken entirely when Cynthia startles a burglar and sprains her already-injured ankle. Then a cherished and valuable painting is stolen from the lodge owners, and Cynthia’s pain pales in comparison to the wound at the center of this bitterly estranged Irish family.

In the Company of Others is a moving testament to the desperate struggle to hide the truth at any cost and the powerful need to confess. Of all her winning novels, Jan Karon says this “dark-haired child” is her favorite.

My Thoughts:

This is an absolute perfect book for me to indulge in while I'm enjoying time away from the office!  I'm a HUGE fan of Father Tim and Cynthia, and to "travel" with them to Ireland and enjoy their company as they meet new friends and discover fascinating things about themselves and their loved ones.....well it's just perfect!

Jan Karon creates another cast of characters as eclectic and warm, and beautifully flawed as all those I've come to love in Mitford!  I think I'll be at home with Cynthia and Tim no matter where they might roam!!

About the Author:

Jan Karon, born Janice Meredith Wilson in the foothills of North Carolina, was named after the title of a popular novel, Janice Meredith.
Jan wrote her first novel at the age of ten. “The manuscript was written on Blue Horse notebook paper, and was, for good reason, kept hidden from my sister. When she found it, she discovered the one curse word I had, with pounding heart, included in someone’s speech. For Pete’s sake, hadn’t Rhett Butler used that very same word and gotten away with it? After my grandmother’s exceedingly focused reproof, I’ve written books without cussin’ ever since.”
Several years ago, Karon left a successful career in advertising to move to the mountain village of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and write books. “I stepped out on faith to follow my lifelong dream of being an author,” she says. “I made real sacrifices and took big risks. But living, it seems to me, is largely about risk.”
Enthusiastic booksellers across the country have introduced readers of all ages to Karon’s heartwarming books. At Home in Mitford, Karon’s first book in the Mitford series, was nominated for an ABBY by the American Booksellers Association in 1996 and again in 1997. Bookstore owner, Shirley Sprinkle, says, “The Mitford Books have been our all-time fiction bestsellers since we went in business twenty-five years ago. We’ve sold 10,000 of Jan’s books and don’t see any end to the Mitford phenomenon.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall

About the Books:
The Hope of Refuge
Two very different women are pulled by their strongest desires. Deborah Mast joined the Amish church and longs to marry her fiancĂ©, but he is changing. Cara Moore is forced to look into a life that was meant to be hers. Will Ada’s House help them realize their hearts’ desires or will it force them to accept what life has done to each of them?
My Review HERE
The Bridge of Peace
Living out her passion for teaching, Lena Kauffman’s work is suddenly interrupted by a series of pranks and accidents targeted toward her and her students. When tragedy strikes her dear friend Grey Graber’s family on school property, the school board begins to blame her for the trouble. As grief and confusion take their toll on Grey and Lena’s friendship, they are both forced to face a new reality that may offer the peace and love they each long for.
My Review HERE
The Harvest of Grace
Fleeing a terrible mistake, Sylvia Fisher dedicates herself to saving the failing Blank farm. When prodigal son Aaron returns, he is surprised by this unusual farmhand who opposes all his plans. Will Aaron and Sylvia’s unflinching efforts toward opposite futures mask the bigger picture—a path to forgiveness, grace, and the promise of love?
This three-in-one collection includes the entirety of the best-selling Ada’s House trilogy, now at a new low price!
- See more at: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/hope-crossing-2/#sthash.LTPjBmni.dpuf

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Today’s children are told never to keep secrets. But what if your life depends on it? What if you learn to lie so well that you start to forget who you really are? And if that happens, how will you find your true self again?
Odette Meyers was a Jewish child who survived WWII in France by hiding in plain sight. Many of the 84% of Jewish children saved in that country lived through the war in this way. Told in first person in free verse in Odette’s childhood voice, this historical novel “is a gentle introduction to a dark period.”
My Thoughts:
I’m an expert now at keeping secrets.
Did God punish me because I told a lie,
said that I was not Jewish?
I can’t stop being scared, though.”  (Odette – after moving to the French countryside)

Did you know that parents hid their children in the French countryside during WWII?  What a sacrifice was made to protect Jewish children from the Holocaust!  Maryann Macdonald captures the combination of innocence and sheer terror in the life story of Odette Meyers as she experiences France as a Jewish girl during WWII.  Odette had a very profound experience through poetry during her childhood, so Maryann honored that by choosing to write Odette’s story in an open verse format.  Although the intended audience  is children between the ages of 10-14, I think this book is significant for readers of all ages!

Not only do you learn facts about WWII from the viewpoint of a Jewish survivor, but you experience the juxtaposition of childlike innocence against the terror of a Nazi invasion and the Holocaust.  It is a beautifully written story that paints a vivid word picture of a family separated for years, and the experiences they had to endure in order to survive.

I was very moved by Odette’s story, and I pray the youth of today understand the price that was paid in order for them to live in freedom!!  Odette’s Secret has already earned multiple awards, and I think it will play a significant role in the education of many children.
About the Author:
Maryann Macdonald is the author of 25 books for children. Her latest is "Odette's Secrets," is published by Bloomsbury. A starred review in Kirkus states: "...this fictionalized history of a Jewish child surviving the Nazi occupation of France uses an elegant simplicity of language" and "...makes an ideal Holocaust introduction...."

Maryann's love of books and reading began when she was growing up in a family of ten outside Detroit. She lived in Europe for many years, where she discovered the touching story of Odette Meyers' childhood in her memoir, "Doors to Madame Marie." 

Maryann now lives in New York City, a great place for stumbling upon the unexpected.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Award-Winning Musician's Honor Chosen By Votes From Fans and Peers

NASHVILLE, Tenn.(December 16, 2014) -Legendary Gospel Music Hall of Famer and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy has been named the Greatest Christian Rock Guitarist of All Time by Classic Christian  
Rock Zone.
Keaggy topped the list of the 100 Greatest Christian Rock Guitarists of All Time in a recent survey conducted by the site. The results were determined by several percentage factors: 40% according to the results of the survey (over 24,000 votes were tallied), 30% according to the choice of a top peer group of Christian rock musicians, 20% according to the choice of Christian rock broadcasters and magazine publishers,
and 10% according to the choice of the site administrators.
Some of the Christian rock notables participating in the voting include: 
Rex Scott (X-Sinner)
"Many thanks to the voters first of all. There are so many great guitarists not just here in Nashville, but all over the world, who are not mentioned that should be up there in the high rankings," says Keaggy. "Polls and award shows make me nervous at times because truly gifted and hard working artists and guitarists often get overlooked. But I am humbled to even be on this list, and deeply appreciate your acknowledgement of my work over the years." 
Keaggy is currently working with long-time friend and executive producer Tommy Coomes (Love Song, Tommy Coomes Praise Band). Coomes has brought Keaggy together with hit songwriters, including Will McFarlane, Gordon Kennedy and others, to write songs for Keaggy's upcoming vocal album. The project is slated for a 2015 release.

To see the entire list of 100 Greatest Christian Rock Guitarists of All Time, visit classicchristianrockzone.blogspot
About Classic Christian Rock Zone:
Classic Christian Rock Zone began in March 2011. It was created to remember pioneers of Christian rock from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The site also features current news on classic Christian rock artists who are still active musically..
"Classic Christian Rock Zone is a space for those who love this music, a space for those who have known Jesus through this music. Classic Christian Rock Zone is a space to remember the Christian rock artists from its origins to its heyday in the 80s and 90s." states Anthony Martinez, one of the administrators of the site. 
For more information, visit classicchristianrockzone.blogspot.com.
About Phil Keaggy:
One of the world's most beloved musicians, Keaggy's solo career has spanned 40+ years and has included more than 50 solo albums, both vocal and instrumental, as well as three releases with his band, Glass Harp.

Widely recognized for his phenomenal guitar playing as well as his vocal and songwriting prowess, he has received numerous accolades and awards for his music, including seven Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination. Keaggy was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2007, and was named one of the Top 10 best rock singers in Christian music history by GospelMusicChannel.com in 2009. In 2013, Keaggy received the prestigious ASCAP Golden Note Award in recognition of his outstanding career achievements. In addition, Rolling Stone has named him one of the "25 Most Underrated Guitarists," alongside Prince, The Beatles' George Harrison, Kurt Cobain, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham. 
An accomplished record producer and one of the most sought-after studio guitarists on the planet, Keaggy also continues to sell out concerts all over the United States with his ever-changing style, ranging from rock & roll to fully-orchestrated instrumental compositions.
For more information, visit philkeaggy.com. Follow Keaggy on Facebook (facebook.com/philkeaggy) or Twitter (@Phil_Keaggy).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A View from Maryann Macdonald's Window - The Christmas Cat

Maryann Macdonald is the author of 25 books for children.  She has created a delightful Christmas book based upon Leonardo da Vinci's La Madonna Del Gatto, or the Madonna of the Cat.

Da Vinci made many drawings of her in 1480 and 1481. In the drawings, the chubby child Jesus is depicted holding, stroking and playing with a cat.

A medieval legend tells about a litter of kittens born in the stable at Bethlehem the same night Jesus was born. If this were true, one of these kittens could have become a pet for Jesus. Born on the same night in the same place, what would their relationship have been like?

Maryann's love of books and reading began when she was growing up in a family of ten outside Detroit. She lived in Europe for many years.  Maryann now lives in New York City, a great place for stumbling upon the unexpected.

Where was the inspiration for the Christmas Cat born?  Was the idea birthed from Leonardo De Vinci’s drawings?
On a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, I saw the da Vinci drawing and began to wonder:  What would it have been like if the child Jesus had a pet cat?  How might they have met?  What would their relationship have been like?  These questions set my mind to composing a story that became The Christmas Cat.
The idea of a cat soothing a baby is more than plausible! Why did you feel like you could present it as a believable scenario?  What research did you do? Or is this totally from your imagination?
I had a cat once who liked to cuddle with my daughter Alison and purr…maybe Spats liked her warmth and the coziness of being with a soft baby.  Or maybe it was the smell of milk!   
But I did do research.  I learned that cats were scarce in religious art before the plague.  They were thought to be Satanic.  But when cats went after rodents (the principal carriers of the Bubonic plague), people began to see their "good" side and they began appearing in religious art. 
I also reread the Gospel accounts of Jesus' childhood to see how I could fit a cat into what we know about his early life.  Then my sister told me how her cat, not wanting her to go away,  hid in her suitcase when she was packing for a trip.  How sweet, I thought.  And I adapted this story to accompany the one about the flight into Egypt.
How was the illustrator chosen for this book?
The publisher always chooses the illustrator, and my editor at Dial looked for a long time before finding Amy Bates.  But I think the wait was well worth it, since Ms. Bates did such a great job.  Her illustrations seem to me to mimic Leonardo's free hand, but in a child-friendly way. 
Why do you think this picture book idea will appeal to parents of small children?  Is it your hope that the book will open a door for parents to introduce their children to the truth of Christ’s birth?
I've been told by many parents that The Christmas Cat has been a hit with small children.  It sold out in just a few weeks last Christmas.  Maybe that's because children love babies.  And animals.  One of the top-selling Fischer-Price toys is the nativity set.  Kids love to arrange and rearrange the figures of people and animals, and tell the nativity story in their own way.  I've tried adding a cat to the existing creche, and it's a natural.  After all, who's to say there wasn't a cat in the stable at Bethlehem? 
What sets The Christmas Cat apart from other Christmas picture books? 
 Sadly, more and more Christmas picture books are secular:  Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, and endless commercial tie-ins.  It would be nice to see more children's books about the origin of the holiday.  Last year, when The Christmas Cat was selected for the Barnes and Noble Christmas table nationwide, it was one of two or three "religious" titles for the picture book age group.  This year, I haven't seen any on that display.
Do you have memories of a pet – cat or otherwise – that you could draw from as you created this picture book? 
My husband and I lived in England for many years, where we were foster parents for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  We fostered many cats, and ended up adopting a few ourselves, so I've had lots of experience with cats and kittens, as well as other pets.  What I find so great about pets is that they keep a household lively and make people laugh.
What drew you to writing for children?  When did you realize that you were gifted in this particular genre? 
I've spent most of my life around children, since I grew up in a family of ten, had kids myself, and now have grandchildren.  As a consequence, I think I've come to know a little about children and how they think, what they enjoy.  I started writing at a very early age, about 10, and published my first story in a teenage literary magazine when I was 16.  But it wasn't until my own oldest daughter was a toddler that I decided to try my hand and writing and publishing a book for children.  I got lucky and sold one that first year.
Where do you look for ideas for you books? Or has the world become your well of endless ideas? 
Yes, I look for ideas everywhere, ideas that intrigue me.  Enduring enthusiasm is the key, since you have to believe in your book for a long time before it becomes a reality, sometimes years.  My first book was rejected 15 times, then stayed in print for 15 years!
Can you briefly describe the publication process of a picture book and how that differs from a chapter book – other than the subject matter and word length of course! 
A picture book typically takes longer to produce than a chapter book because of the illustration angle.  My experience is that from the time it takes between selling a picture book manuscript and when the book actually comes out is usually about two years, or longer. 
Do you have another writing project in the works already?
Can you share a sneak peek behind the scenes?  I am always working on a new book, but until the first draft is finished, I don't like to talk about it much.  It seems to take some of the energy out of the storytelling impulse to talk about it before it becomes a reality.  But I will say it takes place in New York City, where I live.  My recent middle-grade novel, Odette's Secrets, takes place in Paris and was written while I was living there with my husband a few years ago.  I find it helps to be surrounded with my setting.  If anyone is interested, they can read about my other books on www.maryannmacdonald.com
What closing words of encouragement would you like to share with your readers? 

If you feel you have a story within you that wants to come out, spend a little time writing about it as often as you can.  Every day for fifteen minutes is better than a full day every two weeks.  Your imagination will go to work on it during your non-writing time, and will help to fill in the blanks.  If you're interested in writing for children, join the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators.  They hold meetings nationwide and give encouragement and practical help to newbies.  And read a lot in your genre.  Happy Reading!  Happy Writing!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Need You Now: A Story of Hope by Plumb - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from the author's website)
NEED YOU NOW: A Story of Hope is the deeply personal, incredibly honest, and hugely encouraging new book by recording artist, songwriter, and performer PLUMB aka Tiffany Lee. Equal parts revealing memoir and inspirational literature, each chapter reveals a day in the life of a rock star, inviting you into Plumb's personal journey of embracing her life's passion of music and her very real, all-encompassing love for her family and community. Both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, Need You Now is the story of beautiful and embarrassing moments on stage, the joys and trials of motherhood and unbridled forgiveness. It is the story of soul mates, best friends and a marriage redeemed. And more than anything, Need You Now is the story of Jesus' love, fresh starts and the relentless message that no matter who you are or what you have done...there is always HOPE. 

My Thoughts:
His power alone sustains me.  His power alone gives me hope.”  (Tiffany Lee – Plumb)

Plumb – a singer – now an author – transparently shares her story in her book, Need You Now: a story of hope.  Before I read this book, all I knew about Plumb was the fact that some of her songs played on my local radio station – songs that I enjoy.  To read her story has made her very real to me.  I feel like I just sat down and shared life story over a cup of coffee.  This story is an intimate look into Plumb’s life to date – from childhood and singing in church with her dad to her recently resurrected marriage.  She is who she is…and I honestly feel like I would have the same experience with her face to face as I did reading her book.  I was encouraged to look for hope, the hope the is found in Christ alone.

Plumb has a real – feet on the ground – faith.  She has walked through trials in both her career and her personal life that has led her to the place of complete surrender and commitment to Christ alone.  Out of that place she has found a resurrected life in every way imaginable.  She is a testament to God’s faithfulness, His goodness, His holiness, His mercy and grace. 

I won’t give away anything of her journey, but I will say this:  Her story intersected with my life at a point where I needed renewed hope.  And I found that hope, just as she did, in Christ alone.  I’m thankful that she has shared her story.  God will place this story into the lives of those that need to hear the encouragement she offers.  At the end of the book readers will find many helpful resources that will help them on their own life journey. 

Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your heart!

About the Author:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Discipleship by J. Heinrich Arnold - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Sometimes sensitive, sometimes provocative, but always encouraging, Arnold guides readers toward leading Christlike lives amid the stress and strain of modern life. Perhaps the hardest thing about following Christ is translating our good intentions into deeds. Christ calls us, and we yearn to answer him, but time and again we lose resolve. Is discipleship really possible today? Many of the selections in this book offer answers to specific needs or problems. Others grapple with broader themes such as world suffering, salvation, and the coming of the kingdom of God. All of them pulsate with conviction and compassion, giving fresh hope to those who and themselves lonely or disheartened in the daily search to follow Christ.

My Thoughts:
The only way to become free from darkness is to turn to the light, confess our sin, and come to the cross.” (p. 203)

Discipleship is like a concentrated taste of common sense, drenched in the Holy Spirit.  Arnold’s thoughts, from letters, journals, sermons – a variety of sources – are recorded by topic.  The broader topics, The Disciple, The Church, and The Kingdom of God are divided into very specific topics ranging from repentance and purity to forgiveness and baptism.  There are never any overly long passages to consider.  Sometimes it is just a sentence or two, or maybe a paragraph or two, but each word is laden with purpose and meaning!  I may not have agreed to be a part of the movement he led during his lifetime, but this was a man dedicated to bringing others to the Saving knowledge of Christ!! He knew where life began! 

God blessed this man with clear thinking, common sense and a boldness we are sorely lacking in the 21st Century.  I am happy to recommend this to everyone!  Read the Scripture passages.  Meditate on his thoughts. You will be both challenged and encouraged!

About the Author:
Johann Heinrich Arnold (also known as Heini and Heinrich) is best known for his books, which have helped thousands to follow Christ in their daily lives, and for his pastoral care as elder of the Bruderhof community movement.
When Heinrich Arnold was seven, his parents Eberhard and Emmy Arnold and their five children left a bourgeois life in Berlin for a dilapidated villa in the German village of Sannerz, where they founded the Bruderhof, a Christian community based on Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.
As a young man, Heinrich Arnold refused to serve in Hitler's armed forces and was forced to flee Germany. He studied agriculture in Zurich, Switzerland, and in 1936 married Annemarie Waechter, a kindergarten teacher and fellow Bruderhof member.
In 1938 Heinrich and Annemarie Arnold moved to England, where Heinrich managed the Bruderhof community’s farm, which by then had been expelled from Nazi Germany. In 1941 the Bruderhof community was forced to emigrate to South America. In 1954, however, Heinrich Arnold and his family moved to the fledgling Woodcrest Bruderhof in Rifton, New York, the first of many Bruderhof communities in North America. From 1962 until his death, Heinrich Arnold served as elder and pastor of the growing Bruderhof movement, guiding its communities through times of turmoil and crisis, and pointing again and again to Jesus Christ.
But those who knew best him remember Heinrich Arnold as a down-to-earth man who loved life and would warmly welcome any troubled person in for a cup of coffee and a chat.