Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"The Big Picture" Book Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Big Picture

(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)


Jenny B. Jones

Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series. The other books in the series are In Between and On The Loose. Though now an adult, she still relates to the trauma and drama of teen life. She is thrilled to see her writing dreams come true, as her previous claim to fame was singing the Star Spangled Banner at a mule-jumping championship. (The mules were greatly inspired.)

Jenny resides in Arkansas, where, as a teacher, she hangs out with teens on a regular basis.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.

School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch.

Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together.

But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.

You can read the first chapter HERE

"A heroine to love. Jones just gets better with every book, and The Big Picture is her best one yet."
~BARBARA WARREN, author of The Gathering Storm

"Such inspiration in a package of fun and faith!"
~EVA MARIE EVERSON, author of the Potluck Club series
My Review:
I really enjoyed this book by Jenny, and I am happy to say that even though this is book #3 in the Katie Parker series and I have not read the first 2... I didn't feel left out at all! Jenny does a great job keeping you in the loop as the book goes on so that it is not a necessity to have read the books in order, although after reading The Big Picture I would like to go back and read the first 2.
Katie is a fun heroine, one of my favorite types - her heart is in the right place, but she's human and has flaws (and they show, alot!). She is surrounded by quirky characters who support and love her and then the unthinkable happens... her messed up, druggie mom gets out of jail and wants Katie back. Katie struggles to leave behind her wants and needs and be a good daughter and tries to find God in the middle of such a mess. Such an original story and Jenny's writing style made it so fun too! I would highly recommend this book - especially for the teen set, so if you are looking for good reading for your teen - then check out this series!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Every Good & Perfect Gift" Review and Giveaway!

"Every Good & Perfect Gift" by Sharon K. Souza

I was thrilled to get to read this book, it is what I would categorize as women's fiction and is Sharon's debut novel. Based on this book I am anxious to see what she will accomplish for her 2nd novel. Every Good & Perfect Gift is a great book that draws on real life experiences and deals with some heavy issues such as infertility, illness, friendship and faith. Sharon manages to take these heavy issues and infuse them with humor and feeling. It is not a usual thing for me to find a book that grabs me from the first paragraph and doesn't let me go until the last page (as I'm bawling). This book does that, and its not a mystery or a suspense - usually I think of women's fiction as being a slowly developing work in character development and a continuously, unraveling plot line - Sharon's book breaks that mold in the manner of jumping right in with both feet. You will meet Gabby and DeeDee and follow their path with them as they show that true friendship breaks all conventional stereotypes and is truly a blessing from God.

I am giving away a copy of this book - leave a comment telling me about your best friend and with your email so I can reach you if you win - good luck!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Winter Haven Review and Book Giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Winter Haven

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Athol Dickson


Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler
(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.

The book link is:

This was a really interesting book, I wasn't sure what to think of it at first, but I was drawn into the mystery and intrigue surrounding Vera's brother and his disappearance and the fact that he showed up 13 years later dead and looking just like he did the day he left home. The book kept me guessing and I kept wondering if what I was thinking would turn out to be the case. I was partially right. Athol does a great job of giving you just enough information that you COULD figure it out, but disguising it in such a way that you probably won't :-) I recommend this book as a really good whodunit and so I will be giving away a copy of it... to enter leave a comment with your email and I'll do a random drawing to determine the winner!

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's April 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2008)


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)




Our story begins in a world totally like our own, yet completely different. What once happened here in our own history seems to be repeating itself thousands of years from now,
some time beyond the year 4000 AD.

But this time the future belongs to those who see opportunity before it becomes obvious. To the young, to the warriors, to the lovers. To those who can follow hidden clues and find a great
treasure that will unlock the mysteries of life and wealth.

Thirteen years have passed since the lush, colored forests were turned to desert by Teeleh, the enemy of Elyon and the vilest of all creatures. Evil now rules the land and shows itself as a painful, scaly disease that covers the flesh of the Horde, a people who live in the desert.

The powerful green waters, once precious to Elyon, have vanished from the earth except in seven small forests surrounding seven small lakes. Those few who have chosen to follow the ways of Elyon now live in these forests, bathing once daily in the powerful waters to cleanse their skin of the disease.

The number of their sworn enemy, the Horde, has grown in thirteen years and, fearing the green waters above all else, these desert dwellers have sworn to wipe all traces of the forests from
the earth.

Only the Forest Guard stands in their way. Ten thousand elite fighters against an army of nearly four hundred thousand Horde. But the Forest Guard is starting to crumble.


Day One

Qurong, general of the Horde, stood on the tall dune five miles west of the green forest, ignoring the fly that buzzed around his left eye.

His flesh was nearly white, covered with a paste that kept his skin from itching too badly. His long hair was pulled back and woven into dreadlocks, then tucked beneath the leather body armor
cinched tightly around his massive chest.

“Do you think they know?” the young major beside him asked.

Qurong’s milky white horse, chosen for its ability to blend with the desert, stamped and snorted.

The general spit to one side. “They know what we want them to know,” he said. “That we are gathering for war. And that we will march from the east in four days.”

“It seems risky,” the major said. His right cheek twitched, sending three flies to flight.
“Their forces are half what they once were. As long as they think we are coming from the east, we will smother them from the west.”

“The traitor insists that they are building their forces,” the major said.

“With young pups!” Qurong scoffed.

“The young can be crafty.”

“And I’m not? They know nothing about the traitor. This time we will kill them all.”

Qurong turned back to the valley behind him. The tents of his third division, the largest of all Horde armies, which numbered well over three hundred thousand of the most experienced warriors, stretched out nearly as far as he could see.

“We march in four days,” Qurong said. “We will slaughter them from the west.”
Can I say, "I loved this book!" I have not read any other Ted Dekker book except for "House" and that was co-written by Frank Peretti whom I have always loved (didn't love "House" though, it was okay, but really out there). So I wasn't sure if I'd be into "Chosen" at all or not. Surprisingly, I was blown away by how creative and engrossing it was and I could not put it down... literally from start to finish I was sucked into this parallel world that Ted created. All I could think as soon as I was done was, "When can I read the next one???"
It says that it is Juvenile Fiction on the back of the book, but seriously, it's kind of like the Hollywood Nobody books in that aspect - I must be a juvenile at heart then because I love it!
I suppose I should tell you why I love the book, just in case my recommendation alone is not enough...
Ted creates this completely alternate place which is totally real once you enter the book. His characters are strange, unique, strong and flawed. His settings are altogether believable and in depth (forests, deserts, lakes and evil stadiums). The premise is original and captivating - 4 youth are chosen as leaders to help save their people, but are given a secret mission not even known to by the man that chose them. Can they fulfill this mission and save the future at the possible risk of losing their own people... (dun, dun, DUNNNNNN!)
Join the legions reading "Chosen" and find out!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Soul To Keep Review

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Soul To Keep by Melanie Wells

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

My Soul To Keep

(Multnomah Books - February 5, 2008)


Melanie Wells


A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.


As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman

Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle

The book link is:

My Review:
Okay there are 2 things that I want to make very clear in my review of this book -

1) This is a fantastic suspense book, you don't know who did it or why but you are given clues and you try to follow Dylan as she tries to save her friend's son after he is kidnapped. It is really well written and an excellent read.

2) I was frustrated beyond belief through the entire book!!!! I have never been so confused while reading a book!!! Here is the issue... this is book #3 in the Dylan Foster series - it does not say that on the outside of the book (you know how some books in a series have numbers on them - not this one!) Some books I have read lately have been #2 or #3 in a series and it has not detracted from the book, the author works stuff in so that you never feel like you have missed out by not reading the other books first, in some cases you still want to go back and read them, but its not a detriment that you haven't. This book is not that way - I think I would have loved it if I had read the others first, but since I hadn't it just frustrated me.

My final consensus -
I believe this would be a fantastic, well written, original series - if read in the proper order, #1, #2, #3. So consequently I am not giving this one away because if you are interested in it - please, please, please - start with #1! ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Discovering God's Will For Your Life Review

It'a April 15th, but this has nothing to do with taxes! It is time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and his book:

NavPress Publishing Group (March 26, 2008)


GORDON JACKSON is a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He has worked at Whitworth as a journalism professor and college administrator since 1983. Originally from South Africa, where he worked as a journalist, he is a frequent speaker for churches and other groups. Dr. Jackson has spoken to scores of church, Sunday school, educational, and civic groups on a wide range of topics. In the past few years, he has also served as a consultant for church groups and Christian educational institutions in Uganda, Lebanon and Egypt.

He is also the author of:

Destination Unknown
Never Scratch a Tiger with a Short Stick and Other Quotes for Leaders



Choosing Well: Living Out God’s Will

Most of the time in our attempt to follow Christ, we already know perfectly well what God’s will is and what He expects of us. It is to continue the work He’s already given us, precisely where we are, according to the guidelines for godly living we know from Scripture.

But there come moments when we face major decisions, crossroads in our journey where the signposts aren’t as legible or well-lit as we would like. We face hard choices. Should I attend this college or that one? Should I switch jobs? Am I truly being called to full-time ministry, or am I just bored with my current vocation? Is this the person God would have me marry? Should I move to a new city or stay put?

Some decisions we’ve anticipated for a long while, for example what to do upon graduating from college. Others are thrust upon us suddenly, perhaps an opportunity that comes out of the blue. Yet others can brew or stew slowly over time, such as a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration with our current job.

Situations like these ultimately demand some kind of decision. Assuming we seek to honor God in all areas of our lives—education, family life, career, ministry—we want to make a godly choice. But how? Clearly, guidance is a difficult area for Christians.

Scores of books on the topic have appeared over the past several decades demonstrating the ongoing quest for counsel on this issue. This book is intended to assist you in thinking through questions about guidance more incisively and, if you heed the shared wisdom handed down from two thousand years of our faith, to help you make wiser, more thoughtful, and more godly choices. The generalizations presented here are distilled from the wisdom of numerous thoughtful writers on this topic. In essence, the thoughts in this book are not new. The hope, however, is that their presentation and format will make these ideas more accessible and easier to understand and apply in your life. (A note on citations: For the most part, I’ve tried to avoid cluttering your reading by limiting the endnotes to some lesser-known authors for whom you may want to know the source.)

It’s plain that those who follow Christ could use ongoing help in this area. “In our quest for God’s guidance,” said J. I. Packer, British theologian and scholar, “we become our own worst enemies, and our mistakes attest to our nuttiness in this area.” This book is an attempt to head off some of those self-defeating tendencies and minimize the nuttiness. In doing so, this book differs from other writings on guidance in two ways. The first is its emphasis. This volume assumes what other authors carefully and painstakingly identify: the ample scriptural evidence that God guides those who genuinely seek His will and that He desires only the best for His children. So the assumption here is that you don’t need to be persuaded that God is both able and eager to guide us.

The second difference lies in this book’s approach. Most other books on this subject offer systematic, chapter-length expositions on the nature of guidance and its relationship to vital living as a Christian. By contrast, the approach here is far more hands-on, identifying practical problem areas, possible stumbling blocks, areas of confusion, and any other aspects of guidance that can lead to confusion and mistakes. What follows is a series of thoughts on topics about guidance. Each topic, summarized as a principle or key concept, serves as a stepping-stone through what often can be a mental and spiritual swamp for Christians seeking God’s will and direction.

All the topics are built around a foundational section called The Big Five—and Beyond. This is the assumption repeated by many writers that guidance is normally the product of five elements:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

It is typically the combination of these five ingredients that helps lead us toward sound, godly decisions.

Something else that holds together the sixty-two principles in this book is the understanding that guidance is a process that involves carefully thinking through and incorporating The Big Five, as well as other issues pertinent to your situation. Following this introduction is A Guidance Road Map—a set of common questions about guidance, along with the topics that are likely to help you most with each question. Please read The Big Five—and Beyond before dipping into other topics. Without the context it provides, the other sections will be less helpful.

The sixty-two topics, and the principles on which they are based, are presented as generalizations. As such, they need to be seen as part of the broader whole. What’s more, these principles don’t have to be read in order. After reading The Big Five, feel free to browse through the book and pick and choose among the issues that most interest you. Or you can scan the alphabetical list of topics at the back of the book and find subjects of particular concern to you.

As you read the pages ahead, please be aware of the following assumptions that are woven through the array of principles:

 You take seriously your commitment to follow Christ and seek to live a God-pleasing life. In other words, you earnestly seek God’s will for your life, not His seal of approval for what you plan to do anyway.

 You take seriously the authority of Scripture and are willing to apply its guidelines to all areas of your life.

 You already are convinced that God is able and willing to guide you in all aspects of your walk with Him, and you accept that He will do so on His terms and with His timing.

 You take seriously your God-given ability to think through whatever guidance issues you face.

It’s important to note a truly astonishing fact: We claim as part of our faith not only that the Lord of the universe sent His Son to die for us and redeem us from our sins but also that His interest and love for us continue day by day. Like the most loving of parents, God Himself seeks to guide and direct every facet of our lives.

Two reality checks also need mentioning. The first is that living our lives in a God-directed manner is never easy. Living as we do with a sinful nature, it is extremely difficult to do what we know we should and to avoid what we know we shouldn’t do. Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). If living the day-by-day dimension of following Christ is difficult, it’s no easier when we face those extraordinary moments when tough choices must be made. Søren Kierkegaard, nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian, said, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But . . . it must be lived forwards.”

As we grapple with trying to understand God’s guidance in our lives, we often recognize His leading only as we look back. But we must make difficult choices while living life in forward mode. No book on guidance can completely answer anyone’s questions; we each need to answer those ourselves. The ideas outlined in this book are only tools, and they are worthless apart from your commitment to seeking God’s will and your willingness to struggle through issues.

The second reality worth noting concerns our limitations in understanding how God moves in our lives. It is the height of presumption to think that any book can prescribe how God may choose to reveal Himself to us. The only absolute we can be sure of in this regard is that God will not guide us in a way that is contrary to His nature.

A final thought on how God directs our lives: While those who follow Christ agree that God is keenly interested in our lives, they differ on the degree to which He has a “perfect plan” mapped out for each of us. Some contend that God has a carefully worked-out blueprint for our lives: His guidance helps us discover that perfect will, and His Holy Spirit helps us live it out. Other Christians see this approach as artificially narrow. God, they believe, is not boxed into some lockstep, foreordained approach to how our lives unfold. God’s grace, power, and imagination surely transcend whatever mistakes we make or sins we commit, which would presumably otherwise relegate us to a “second best” plan. Rather, God is always able to offer constant, uninhibited love and direction, regardless of how far we might have fallen from His standards in the past.

If the issue of a “perfect plan” is important to you, understand that the bias of this book is clearly toward the latter position. God’s boundless grace in dealing with us makes Him love us no less when we choose something other than His best at any given moment. Yes, God’s discipline may follow our poor choices. But for the Christian who is wholeheartedly seeking God’s will, He presents us with far more of a buffet table of legitimate options than some stiflingly healthy yet tasteless diet. A. W. Tozer, a well-known teacher and writer, said, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice—any choice will be the right one.”

That remark captures the spirit with which this book is written: that ours is a God of freedom whose guidance we can seek with confidence and enthusiasm. He’s a God of infinite love who enthusiastically champions our case and seeks our best. He is the architect wanting to help us build holy lives, lived to the full (see John 10:10). Yet we sometimes regard Him as the county planning officer who’s looking for every weakness in our plans, smugly catching yet another way we’ve fallen short of the building code. God is not a stickler; rather, He’s the architect who brings our possibilities to reality for our benefit and for His pleasure.

This book is an attempt to assist you as you invite God, the ultimate architect, to help you build your life in keeping with His overall design to make us holy persons. From the foundations to the finishing touches, He is eager to help at each step. The pages that follow are intended to help you build your own house of faith that shall last through eternity.


The Big Five—and Beyond

Every quest for guidance should be shaped by scriptural guidelines, prayer, the advice of other Christians, the circumstances we face, and an overall sense that this course is what God wants.

It’s the big picture that counts. A recurring theme found in books on guidance is that you need to look at the big picture as a whole when making major decisions concerning God’s will. Far from basing our decision entirely on a chance remark made in last Sunday’s sermon or on an obscure verse in 2 Kings, God expects us to use all the vehicles He’s made available for our decision making. That’s why it’s important to consider each of The Big Five factors and see how they mesh together as we consider our decision. Again, these five factors are:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

Until you’ve got a thumbs-up on each of the five, you’re probably not ready to make a decision. If, for example, you’re seriously considering a career change, but your spouse or closest friends are advising you against it, you need to check your thinking. Or if you’ve been invited to go on a short-term mission trip and the first four points check out just fine, yet you’ve still got a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, once again it may be best to hold off on your decision and give it further thought.

If you were leaving later today for a trip abroad, you’d make sure you’d taken care of your passport, airline ticket, health insurance, luggage, and spending money. If you were heading for the airport and realized you’d left your passport at home, it’s unlikely you would keep going and say, “Well, four out of five isn’t bad.”

Similarly, you’re probably asking for trouble by heading into a decision without a check mark against each of The Big Five. Is it possible that the advice from your spouse or friends is wrong, or that you’re confusing a lack of inner peace about a decision with plain old nervousness? Of course. The point here isn’t that missing one of these five checkpoints means you shouldn’t go ahead; it simply means there’s a warning light on the dashboard and you’re well advised to take a second look at what’s happening. Or, to switch metaphors, if these five principles don’t line up neatly like lights on a runway, you need to question seriously whether you’re ready to come in for a landing.

Sometimes those landing lights don’t line up neatly, or one warning light keeps flickering on the dash—and yet a major decision still looms. Remember, guidance is seldom a simple, clear-cut process. The words of C. S. Lewis provide a helpful reminder of the many ways God can speak to us: “I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that he speaks only within, whereas in reality he speaks also through Scripture, the church, Christian friends, books, etc.”

Because working toward the decisions God would have us make can be complex and can lead to ambiguous answers, it’s necessary to dig deeper into our understanding of The Big Five. The separate entries of The Big Five are not of equal importance. The simple flowchart that follows shows that scriptural principles are the starting point. But they’re only the starting point. Each of these five principles merits careful attention. The next step is to examine any of the five elements that merits special attention in your situation. (These topics are addressed in the pages that follow.) Alternatively, you may want to turn directly to other individual topics that speak to your needs. The Guidance Road Map on page 17 will help you do that.

My Review:

I have not been able to read the entire book yet, but have been very impressed by what I have read so far. This book is for anyone that has ever said, "I just wish God would give me a sign, a billboard, something to tell me what decision to make!" This book will help you find that sign. I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to finishing it myself :-)

Here is the link:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

And The Winners Are......

Okay, here we go gang! Thanks to (where I punch in the numbers and it randomly tells me who won :-) The winners of the 4 book bundles are the following -

Book Bundle #1 goes to - gsus@...

Book Bundle #2 goes to - mnjesusfreak@...

Book Bundle #3 goes to - mama bear...

Book Bundle #4 goes to - kt_dug@...

I will need mailing addresses from all of you in order to get these mailed out - email me at by Tuesday night or I will pick a new winner for your Bundle. Congratulations!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Huge Contest is almost ready for a drawing, but...

Okay everyone check this out...

I was ready to do the drawing for the 4 book bundles and ran into a few glitches - see if you can help me out please! I want to be sure that everyone is registered for this that wants to be so I need some clarification - I have 2 people that I have not been able to contact that left a comment but not an email address so I can't verify that they are actually signed up with Feedblitz. So if you are either -

lsooy or Gin

could you please contact me at and let me know what your email is so I can get you entered - thanks!

And here are some of the people (I'll only post partial email addresses) that signed up for Feedblitz that didn't leave a comment, so I'm not sure if you want to be entered or not - if you do please come by and leave a comment on the contest post so you don't get left out - thanks!


I'll do the drawing Saturday night to give you time to get this notification through Feedblitz and get a comment posted if you choose to and then I'll do my random drawing - good luck everyone!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Announcing a NEW CONTEST!!!


Between March 19th and April 10th you can be entered to win 1 of 4 different sets of books! All you have to do is enter your e-mail address in the Feedblitz slot to join up and receive an email every time I post a new blog entry. Now you will never miss another book giveaway, author interview or witty entry on Cornhusker Academy! Once you have subscribed to Feedblitz come back and post a comment on this post and I will enter your name in the drawing. I will check the names entered here against the names of those registered for Feedblitz - so be honest :-)

Now here are the great book bundles you can win...

Bundle #1)
  • Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
  • Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh
  • Return To Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

Bundle #2)
  • Sushi For One by Camy Tang
  • The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker

Bundle #3) Historical Heartsong Presents:

  • Remember Me by Kimberly Comeaux
  • Michaela's Choice by Lisa Harris
  • Escape To Sanctuary by M.J. Conner
  • Making Amends by Janet Lee Barton
  • Sooner Or Later by Vickie McDonough

Bundle #4) Contemporary Heartsong Presents:
  • Love Worth Keeping by Joyce Livingston
  • Lakeside by Mary Davis
  • Through The Fire by Christine Lynxwiler
  • The Island by Mary Davis
  • Miss Menace by Nancy Lavo

Good luck to everyone and I'll draw names on April 10th for the winners - contest is open to anyone that subscribes (or is already subscribed to Feedblitz of Cornhusker Academy) and living in the USA (since they are book bundles it will be too expensive to ship out of country - sorry!)

"Trouble The Water" Book Review and Giveaway!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Trouble the Water

Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)


Nicole Seitz


Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children. Nicole is also an avid blogger, you can leave her a comment on her blog.

Seitz's writing style recalls that of Southern authors like Kaye Gibbons, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Sue Monk Kidd, and this new novel, which the publisher compares to Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, surely joins the ranks of strong fiction that highlights the complicated relationships between women. Highly recommended, especially for Southern libraries.


In the South Carolina Sea Islands lush setting, Nicole Seitz's second novel Trouble the Water is a poignant novel about two middle-aged sisters' journey to self-discovery.

One is seeking to recreate her life yet again and learns to truly live from a group of Gullah nannies she meets on the island. The other thinks she's got it all together until her sister's imminent death from cancer causes her to re-examine her own life and seek the healing and rebirth her troubled sister managed to find on St. Anne's Island.

Strong female protagonists are forced to deal with suicide, wife abuse, cancer, and grief in a realistic way that will ring true for anyone who has ever suffered great loss.

"This is another thing I know for a fact: a woman can't be an island, not really. No, it's the touching we do in other people's lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves--shiny new cars and jobs and money--they don't mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It's the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world."

"...a special sisterhood of island women whose wisdom and courage linger in the mind long after the book is closed."
-NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author SUSAN WIGGS

The book link is:

My Review:
Okay, I have to be honest with this book - I liked it. I don't think it's for everyone though. I almost always pass on the books I review to my mother-in-law when I am done (she lives with us, so then we discuss them after she reads them). This book I did not pass on even though I ended up liking it. Here's why...

1) There are some characters in the book that speak the Gullah dialect - which is as hard to read as it probably is to listen to. Nicole does a great (and very realistic) job with it, but it doesn't make it any easier to read. I knew my mother-in-law would have a hard time with this - that is reason #1.

2) There are 3 different people's points of view in this book and it randomly switches back and forth (it does give you a heading everytime it changes though so that's good). This is complicated though by the fact that it also randomly switches back and forth from July to December with those 3 different points of view. Here again there are headings to notify you, but it is still a little confusing. This was reason #2 for not passing it on to my mother-in-law, I knew the time changing would drive her batty.

With those two things said - let me now explain why I liked this book...

It is a great story of redemption from the past, sisterhood, friendship, believing in someone that maybe doesn't deserve it and so much more. Trouble the Water has many underlying themes and even brings an awareness to a rare strain of a disease that many women may not be familiar with. I cried through the last few chapters of the book (so if you need to clear out your tear ducts, this is totally the book for you!) but still finished it feeling satisfied. I do recommend this book - as long as you are aware going in that you have to work around those 2 factors I discussed before. If you would like the chance to read this book (grab a box of kleenex!) then post a comment here with your e-mail address and I will enter you in the drawing. Good luck!

The New Book Winners Are...

A Soldier's Family by Cheryl Wyatt goes to ...


For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor goes to ...

Carolynn W.!

Betrayed by J.M. Windle goes to ...

Lora Lease!

Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker goes to ...


Congrats and don't forget that the drawing for the 4 book bundles is tonight! Good luck...

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Amber Morn" by Brandilyn Collins Review

Monday, April 07, 2008

Amber Morn by Brandilyn Collins

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Amber Morn

(Zondervan Publishing Company - April 2008)


Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline

“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences.

Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Website
to read the first chapters of all her books.


The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”

A few early reviews of Amber Morn:

“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal

“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews

“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” –

“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” --

“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis

“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer

The book link is:

Okay, for anyone that has never read Brandilyn Collin's books - this is a great book to start with. That may sound odd since it is #4 in the series, but I had not read all of the other 3 books (and I read the first one, Violet Dawn, back when it first came out so it has been awhile!). Amber Morn is the perfect end to the series because she takes all the people that had been the supporting characters in her other books and turns this one into an ensemble piece with everyone participating. It is an incredibly unique book and I just loved it! It made me want to go back and read the other 3 books, but they weren't necessary in order to enjoy this one. Oh, and in typical Brandilyn style, there is a twist that takes your breath away toward the end. Her tagline isn't "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..." for nothing!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ryann Watters and the King's Sword...

Time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The special feature author is:

and his book:

Ryan Watters and the King's Sword
Creation House (May 2008)

Illustrated by: Corey Wolfe


Eric J. Reinhold is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The former Naval officer writes extensively for a variety of national financial publications in his position as a Certified Financial Planner® and President of Academy Wealth Management. His passion for writing a youth fantasy novel was fueled by nightly impromptu storytelling to his children and actively serving in the middle and high school programs at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida.

Visit him at his website.


Angel’s Visitation

It first appeared as a gentle glow, almost like a child’s night-light. Heavy shadows filled the room as the boy lay face up, covers tucked neatly under his arms. A slight smile on his face hinted that he was in the midst of a pleasant dream.

Ryann Watters, who had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, rolled lazily onto his side, his blond hair matted into the pillow, unaware of the glow as it began to intensify. Shadows searched for hiding places throughout the room as the glow transformed from a pale yellow hue to brilliant white.

Ryann’s eyelids fluttered briefly and then flickered at the glare reflecting off his pale blue bedroom walls. Drowsily, he turned toward the light expecting to see one of his parents coming in to check on him. “What’s going on?” his voice cracked as he reached up to rub the crusty sleep from his eyes.


Under a pale half-moon, Drake Dunfellow’s house looked just like any other. A closer inspection, however, would reveal its failing condition. Water oaks lining the side of the curved driveway hunched over haggardly, like old men struggling on canes. The lawn, which should have been a lively green for early spring, was withered and sandy. A few patches of grass were sprinkled here and there. Rust lines streaked down the one jagged peak atop the tin-roof house. The flimsy clapboard sides were outlined by fading white trim speckled with dried paint curls. Hanging baskets containing a variety of plants and weeds all struggling to stay alive shared the crowded front porch with two mildew-covered rocking chairs. Inside, magazines and newspaper clippings both old and new were carelessly strewn about. Encrusted dishes from the previous day’s meals battled each other for space in the bulging kitchen sink. In the garage, away from the usual living areas, was a boy’s room. Dull paneling outlined the bedroom, while equally dreary brown linoleum covered the floor. The bedroom must have been an afterthought because not much consideration had been given to the details. A bookcase cut from rough planks sat atop an old garage sale dresser.

Moonlight pressing through the dust-covered metal blinds tried to provide a sense of peacefulness. Instead it revealed bristly red hair atop a young boy’s head poking out from beneath a mushy feather pillow. His heavy breathing provided the only movement in the quiet room. Tiny droplets of perspiration lined his brow as he began jerking about under the thin cotton sheets.

Starting at the edge of the window, the blackness spread downward, transforming all traces of light to an oily dinginess. Drake was slowly surrounded and remained the only thing not saturated in the darkness. Bolting upright to a stiff-seated attention, Drake’s bloodshot eyes darted back and forth. He stared into the black nothingness shuddering and aware that the only thing visible in the room was his bed.

“Who . . . who’s there?” Drake cried out, puzzled by the hollow sound that didn’t seem to travel beyond the edge of his mattress. Beads of sweat trickled down his neck, connecting his numerous freckled dots. He strained, slightly tilting his head, ears perked. There was no reply.

Click on the FIRST button on the left side of my blog to finish reading the rest of the chapter.

I can't wait to finish reading the rest of the this book and I will write a review after I do!

You can go to : for the book.

When Zeffie Got A Clue by Peggy Darty Review

Friday, April 04, 2008

When Zeffie Got a Clue by Peggy Darty

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

When Zeffie Got a Clue

WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)


Peggy Darty


Peggy Darty is the award-winning author of twenty-seven books, including two other cozy mysteries set in Summer Breeze, Florida: When the Sandpiper Calls and When Bobbie Sang the Blues. She has worked in film, researched for CBS, and led writing workshops around the country. Darty and her husband call Alabama home but spend a great deal of time in Colorado, Montana, and on Florida’s Emerald Coast.


It’s an ordinary afternoon in Summer Breeze, Florida, when a young, wide-eyed girl steps into I Saw It First, the trash-to-treasure shop Christy Castleman and her Aunt Bobbie have opened. Clutching a jewelry box, Zeffie Adams tells Christy she needs money to pay her grandmother’s medical bills, prompting Christy to offer this curious visitor more than the jewelry box is worth–or so she thinks.

But complicated questions form when Christy rips out the box’s lining and uncovers a clue to a cold case murder mystery from eight years ago. Despite warnings from her family and handsome boyfriend Dan Brockman, Christy decides to do a little detective work of her own. After all, the infamous murder happened close to her grandmother’s farm. How risky could it be to take the jewelry box back to the Strickland plantation and ask around about it?

Soon Christy finds there is more to the small box than someone wants her to know. A jewelry theft. A mansion murder. Dangerous family secrets buried in history. Can Christy convince others to let go of the past before it’s too late?

The book link is:

My Review:
I loved this book! Christy Castleman is a great heroine that you will just be enchanted by, but she's not perfect (I just don't like perfect heroines!). I have not read the other two books in this series "When The Sandpiper Calls" and "When Bobbie Sang The Blues", but it did not detract from this book at all - and I read a book this week that is part 3 in a series and I didn't know it and it seriously detracted the entire way through the book - so it was refreshing to be able to come in on this 3rd book and just enjoy it! Peggy has a great writing style and you will love the community she has set up in Summer Breeze, Florida - so stop by and enjoy!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What is up with computers in Arizona?!?!?

I am here in Arizona right now and am having incredible difficulties downloading and posting the things I'm supposed to be posting... so I'll give you some teasers and then post in full when I get home this weekend -

Ryann Watters and the King's Sword by Eric Reinhold looks fantastic, I only got it a couple days before I left on this trip but the kids were enthralled by it and can't wait to read it!

The other book I need to get posted about is "When Zeffie Got A Clue" by Peggy Darty. I did get to read this one and absolutely loved it! It is book 3 in a series, but was easy to follow without having read the other 2, but now I can't wait to get and read those to delve further into the characters lives. I will write more about this one as well, because I would definitely recommend getting this fantastic cozy mystery!