Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Book Winners... and current Giveaways!

I just drew the winners for 3 book giveaways and they are...

"The Warriors" by Mark Andrew Olson is - WindyCindy

"Healing Promises" by Amy Wallace is - Theresa N.

"Embrace Me" by Lisa Samson is - Lora L.

Congratulations to all 3 of you and please get me your addresses so I can get these books out to you, but if there is a delay it will be because my baby is due any minute now (I am 4 days overdue) and the birth will take precedence over going to the post office :-)

Don't forget to sign up for the 2 drawings going on now for "A Ruby Among Us" by Tina Ann Forkner and "A Voice In The Wind" by Francine Rivers - both are fantastic! June is a full month of book reviews so watch for more great books and giveaways to come and I will also be updating on the baby and what is happening here at our home!

"A Voice In The Wind" Book Review and Giveaway!

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and her book:

A Voice in the Wind

Tyndale House Publishers (March 1, 1998)(Re-released June 2008)


Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles and it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers-- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the Rita Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third Rita award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their four grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Visit her at her website.


The first chapter is really long, but a great set-up for the book and you can click on the WildCard logo at the top of the post to read it there, I decided to give you my review here instead. I had always wanted to read this series, but hadn't taken the time so when this one was offered to review I knew I wanted to do it. I am very glad I did. It is a long book, but I managed to read it in 2 days, I was working hard to make sure I was done in time to review it and I finished it about 20 minutes ago. I had to stop crying long enough to be able to see the computer screen though...

I have read some of Francine River's work before and have been impressed by how her writing has a way of pulling you into the world she creates. Some of the books I've read include "Redeeming Love", "A Scarlet Thread" and "And The Shofar Blew" - they are all unique, stand alone books that deal with very different issues and situations. "A Voice In The Wind" is a very different setting, situation and time period than any of those books though. Francine takes us into Rome as Jerusalem has been destroyed and shows us life through the eyes of Hadassah, a young Jewess / Christian slave girl whose family was killed during the destruction of the city. We follow the family she is eventually led to serve and the effect she has on them and the world around them in that time. We meet Atretes, a German warrior who is captured and sold into becoming a gladiator and we see how his life crosses with Hadassah as well. I was enthralled yet again by Francine's gift of storytelling and am looking forward to reading the next two books in this series. I won't say why I bawled through the end of the book, but I will say that this book was an eye opener into a time and place that we don't think about.

I will be doing a drawing for a copy of this newly released edition of "A Voice In The Wind" so leave a comment with an email address telling me why you would like to read Francine's book or what your favorite Francine River's book is and I will enter you in the drawing - good luck!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is baby here yet???

I wrapped up my spring season last week for my dance studio. We had our recitals the week before that and then had Bring A Friend classes last week. Now I have no more classes til I do summer workshops in July and August. This would be great, except that I am now 3 days past my due date for this baby and am starting to go stir crazy. As soon as classes were over I went into heavy nesting - I mean HEAVY NESTING!!! Just ask my family, I was like a crazed woman for 6 solid days taking on all kinds of cleaning projects that have been long overdue - oh and organizing, my goodness did I get into organizing. I've not really been able to nest for a long time because I haven't lived in my own home when I was at my due date for the last 10 years. And I think its hard to nest at someone else's house :-) My list of projects included, but was not limited too...

  1. Laundry Room (week long project, but the floor is completely clean of dirty clothes now and all summer clothes have been brought out and all winter clothes have been put away and that is no small task for 7 people!)
  2. Girl's Bedroom cleaned
  3. Boy's Bedroom cleaned
  4. Hallway cleaned (just getting the floor clean is a challenge so yay!)
  5. Dining Room cleaned and homeschool items organized
  6. Computer Room cleaned
  7. Computer Room Closet organized!!!!
  8. Hall Closet organized!!!!
  9. Pantry organized
  10. Our Bedroom completely cleaned, organized and rearranged to make room for the bassinet (2 day project - but now it doesn't even look like the same room!)
My kids dug in and helped out (with lots of prodding and cajoling) but my husband really blew me away with everything he did to help - he must really take that saying "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" seriously because he bent over backwards moving furniture, hanging things on the walls we haven't had hung since we moved in about 4 years ago (plaster walls are a real pain to try and hang pictures and shelves on, so we just didn't do it).

Now I'm just playing the waiting game until the baby gets here in the outside world. Until then I'll just keep reading and posting and now trying to maintain a clean house!

"Ruby Among Us" Book Review AND GIVEAWAY!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ruby Among Us

(WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)


Tina Ann Forkner


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.


Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
~Point of Grace~

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
~Jordin Sparks~, 2007 winner of American Idol

“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
~Ane Mulligan~, Novel Journey

“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
~Kristin Billerbeck~, author of The Trophy Wives Club

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

I had been looking forward to reading this book, I thought the cover was very compelling and while I know they say that you can't judge a book by its cover, in this case they are very wrong. "Ruby Among Us" was just as compelling in story and content as the cover led me to hope that it would be. It is a very interesting story of Lucy, her mother Ruby and her grandmother Kitty - Tina intertwines their lives from before Ruby or Lucy was born all the way up to the present and she does it so well that you are never lost as to who is being talked about or when it happened.
This is a beautiful story of love lost, love found and love experienced that is held together through forgiveness and redemption. For a fantastic summer read, get a copy of Tina's debut novel and you won't be disappointed...

I didn't think I had a copy to giveaway, but Tina contacted me and said I can - so please leave a comment (with a way to reach you!) to be entered in this drawing for a copy of "Ruby Among Us" - you will just love it! Just in case you don't win though this book is worth searching out - so check it out on Amazon at -

The book link is:

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Bringing Home The Prodigals" Book Review

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and his book:

Bringing Home the Prodigals

Authentic (April 1, 2008)


Rob Parsons, a lawyer by profession, has subsequently become a well known author and speaker on family issues. Drawing from his own experiences of family life, and often joined by his wife Dianne, he has addressed over 500,000 people in face to face events. In 1988, Rob launched Care for the Family, a registered charity motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support offered are available to everyone, of any faith or none.
Visit him at his website.


Chapter One

Always Leave a Light On

Sometimes God ambushes us: it happened to me on March 14, 1998. I had been invited to speak at the National Exhibition Center in the UK to thousands of people who had gathered to pray for the return of their prodigals. I had prepared a message based on the timeless parable of the lost son, and it was folded securely in the inside pocket of my jacket. I believed I was ready to deliver God’s word.

I have been at many Christian events over the years, but I have never experienced the wave of emotion that filled the auditorium that day. The organizers had seated my wife, Dianne, and me on the platform, and as I gazed out at that vast audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories lay behind the prayers.

Somewhere, no doubt, was a woman whose husband had once led a church and been a faithful husband and father until the night he told her the four things that so many Christian men tell their wives when they leave them for another woman: “We were so young when we got married we hardly knew what we were doing— I doubt we ever really loved each other”; “In the long run this will be better for you”; “One day you’ll realize this is best for the kids,” and “I’ve prayed about this, and it’s OK with God.”

And somewhere there was a father who had told his tiny daughter Bible stories. She had picked one each night from the huge children’s Bible they kept on the shelf in her bedroom. They had said prayers together, and he had always been touched that, from her youngest days, she had prayed for others more than herself. But as he prayed in the auditorium that day, he thought of her later teenage years and the gradual disinterest in anything to do with God. A great sobbing convulsed his body as he remembered the night he found the drugs in her bedroom and, finally, the day she left, cursing both him and God.

These people had gathered, every one of them with a prodigal on their hearts: friends, brothers, husbands, wives, and sometimes in a strange reversal of the parable, mothers and fathers—but mostly children.

But that great arena did not hold only people praying. In the very front was a huge wooden cross. Its shadow seemed to reach over the whole crowd. During the day, people were invited to write the name of their prodigal on a small card, bring it to the front, and lay it at the foot of the cross. I watched them as they came: young people bringing the names of school friends, married couples holding hands as they laid down the names of children, friends walking together clutching cards, and often the elderly, shuffling forward and bending slowly as they lay the names of those they loved at the cross.

After an hour or so one of the organizers asked me if I would leave the platform and stand by the cross to pray with some of those who were coming forward. Of course I agreed and made my way to the floor of the arena and to the cross. That’s when God ambushed me. What occurred in the next two minutes changed my life forever and was the impetus that was to take the message of “Bringing Home the Prodigals” around the world.

When I reached the cross there were tens of thousands of names there. They were written on cards that were spilling off the little table at the foot of the cross and onto the floor. I picked up and read some of them: “Jack” “Milly” “Bring Charles home, Lord.” It seemed to me that the pain of the world lay at the foot of that cross. I thank God for what he has done in the lives of our two children, but at that time Dianne and I had heavy hearts for them, and I remember laying Katie’s name at the foot of the cross and Lloyd’s name next to hers. And then I started to cry. I could not stop.

As I wept, God laid a message about prodigals on my heart that I first preached later that day. It was not the neat, nicely wrapped-up one with all the answers—that was in my pocket. It was a message forged from brokenness and a sense of utter dependence on God. As I finished speaking that day, I remember thinking that one day I would put it into a book.

But life for all of us is busy and the book was never started. And then one day, as part of some routine tests, the doctors found a possible abnormality with one of my kidneys. They feared it was a tumor. I had about ten days to wait for the results of the tests that would determine what the problem was.

On one of those days I found myself ambling along a London street. It was a wonderful spring morning; on such days, London is at its best. The air was crisp, the sky blue, and behind me the sun shone off Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Chapel as I made my way past Churchill’s War Rooms and into St. James’ Park.

The park was almost deserted, and the pigeons, squirrels, and I looked at each other as if there was little else of interest. Never does life become as precious as when you think it may be suddenly shortened. I began to think about things that really mattered to me. The message of the prodigals came to my mind, and I knew I had to get that book written. I started it that week. A few days later the test results came and were favorable: I did not have a tumor—just an over-sized kidney that I’d probably had all my life. A few months later the book was written. But that was only the beginning.

One day the people who had invited me to preach at their day of prayer in the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham in the UK called to ask me to meet with them. They said God had told them to pass on to me the mantle of the burden for prodigals that they had carried for so many years. We began to visit the denominational leaders to see if the message resonated with them. Without exception—whether it was the Salvation Army, the Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury himself—the response was the same: “This is a God-given word for today. We support you in it.”

Over the following few years in auditoriums all across the United Kingdom, more than fifty thousand people have experienced a Bringing Home the Prodigals event. Even now in my mind’s eye, I can picture them listening to the message and bringing the names of their prodigals to the foot of the cross. We began to hear the most remarkable stories of prodigals coming back to God.

Since then we have been taking Bringing Home the Prodigals all over the world. I have watched people stream forward to lay the names of their prodigals at the cross in Costa Rica, Uganda, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and North America. This little book contains the heart of the message of Bringing Home the Prodigals I believe God has laid on my heart. I warn you now; it is a simple message. Most of us feel we know the parable so well that there is hardly anything new we could learn. Maybe this is true, but God wants to remind us of what we knew in our hearts all along—and somehow forgot.

I wrote part of the book in a small conference center on the Gower coast near Swansea, Wales. It is not far from where Dylan Thomas wrote “Under Milk Wood.” The building is set on a hill, and the view from my window was unspeakably beautiful, running across fields, then woods, and finally ending at the sea in the great sweep of the bay. One morning I took a break from writing and stood outside the house gazing into the distance at the breakers hitting the beach. After a few minutes I was joined by a priest. He had on the traditional long black cassock, had a flowing grey beard, and wore what my kids used to call “Jesus sandals.” He had been leading a discussion in one of the seminar rooms and said he had “just come out to get a little air whilst they ponder a couple of theological teasers I’ve set them.”

We began chatting and he asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was writing a book about prodigals, he told me a most moving story. Let me try to capture his words as I remember them:

In a village near here, is a large old house. An elderly lady lives there alone and every night, as darkness falls, she puts a light on in the attic. Her son left home twenty-five years ago, rather like the prodigal in the parable, but she has never given up the hope that one day he will come home. We all know the house well, and although the bulb must occasionally need replacing, none of us have ever seen that house without a light on. It is for her son.

The theme of “leaving a light on” has become a recurring one in the letters and emails I have received from all over the world from those who wait for a prodigal’s return. Shortly after one of the Bringing Home the Prodigals events, a woman wrote to me. She told me that her daughter had walked out of their home when she was eighteen years old. She had turned her back not only on her mother and father, but on the God she had once loved. “My daughter didn’t get in touch, and we didn’t know whether she was alive or dead,” the woman wrote. She went on to tell me that every night, as she and her husband turned off the lights before they went to bed, she would always say to him, “Leave the porch light on.” And every Christmas, she would put a little Christmas tree in the front of the house, its lights shining, just as she used to when her daughter was at home.

After six years, her daughter suddenly came home—and not just to her mother and father, but to God. When she did, she told her mother a remarkable story: “Mom, I so often wanted to come home, but I was too ashamed. Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I would drive my car onto your street and just sit there. I used to gaze at the houses and every one of them was dark apart from our house: you always left a light on. And at Christmas I would do the same: just sit there in the darkness and look at the Christmas tree you had put outside—I knew it was for me.”

I have never been able to get that mother out of my mind. She seems to me to symbolize the hopes, fears, and prayers of millions across the world whose hearts are breaking for their prodigals. But this is not just a message for them; in fact Bringing Home the Prodigals is not just about praying for our prodigals to come home. It is about asking us to consider the characters of our local churches. Is it possible that by our attitudes, our concern with rules and regulations that are not on God’s heart, or by our ingrained spirit of the elder brother (or sister!) we have made it easy for some to leave? Perhaps we have kept them out of mind while they are gone and tragically made it harder for them to return. Could it be that inadvertently we have “created” prodigals?

This is a theme that should catch the imagination of all who care about evangelism. The truth is, most of us know ten people who may have never been to church whom we’d like to invite to an evangelistic service—but we all know a hundred prodigals. The numbers are enormous. When the prodigals come home we are going to have to pull down our old church buildings and use aircraft hangers. If you care about church growth, then care about this message. There is nothing as frustrating as seeing people come to Christ through the front door of the church and losing others in almost the same proportion out the door in the back.

All over the world I have cried with parents for their prodigals. There is no more fervent prayer in homes today than, “Father, bring our prodigal home.” I have concentrated in this book on those who have children, of whatever age, who are prodigals, but of course there are many kinds of prodigals—brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and friends. I hope with all my heart that for whomever you are concerned, you will find something here to encourage you and keep the flames of hope alight.

This book is not written principally to give advice, although I will share with you the lessons I have learned from many whose hearts have cried out to God for those they love. My hope is that it will be a book that will release us from false guilt, bring us hope, and above all, lead us to prayer. At the end of every chapter is a prayer and reflection; each one is written by someone who has cried for a prodigal and who has come to believe that, ultimately, God is our only hope. At the very end of the book we will each bring our prodigals to the cross of Christ.

And we should not pray just for our prodigals, but for ourselves as well. We can pray that we will catch the Father’s heart for the prodigals—the outrageous grace of the One who, even as we stumble down the long road home, runs to throw a robe on our back, put a ring on our finger, and put shoes on our feet. And if we do change, if we can catch something of that father-heart of God, then it may be that, in his great mercy, he will touch the lives of thousands of our prodigals—and bring them home.

I had been wanting to add some non-fiction books to the list of those that I review for those of use that really want some meat in addition to the appetizers and desserts that we like so much in our reading. I've done a couple already ("Between Two Worlds" and "Do Hard Things") but I am pleased to say that this book was an excellent addition to the list. This book is easy to read and full of true life stories, but it just gripped me and contrary to a lot of non-fiction books (where I usually have to digest in small portions as opposed to fiction that I will sometimes indulge in the entire book at one sitting) I had trouble putting this book down. It was wonderful - touching, sincere and with a deep feeling of being very personal to Rob and making it personal to us. The irony is that I don't really have any major prodigals in my life... my parents and in-laws are all saved as are my siblings and their spouses and even my children are all on the right path and loving Jesus right now. I know I am blessed in that aspect, but I also know that there are prodigals all around me and this book even helps to deal with that.

I was so excited about this book that I have already loaned it out so I do not have a copy to give away, but I would strongly suggest picking up a copy and you can do so at...

Friday, May 23, 2008

"House Of Dark Shadows" Book Review

It's May 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 (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

Comes a Horseman




“A house of which one knows every room isn't worth living in.”

—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


Thirty years ago

The walls of the house absorbed the woman’s screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater. Still, her lungs kept pushing out cries for help. Her attacker carried her over his shoulder. The stench of his sweat filled her nostrils. He paid no heed to her frantic writhing, or the pounding of her fists on his back, or even her fingernails, which dug furrows into his flesh. He simply lumbered, as steadily as a freight train, through the corridors of the big house.

She knew where they were heading, but not where she would end up. In this house, nothing was normal, nothing as it appeared. So while she knew in advance the turns her attacker would take, which hallways and doors he would traverse, their destination was as unknowable as a faraway galaxy. And that meant her taking would be untraceable. She would be unreachable to searchers. To would-be rescuers. To her family— and that realization terrified her more than being grabbed out of her bed. More than the flashes of imagined cruelty she would suffer away from the protection of the people who loved her. More than death.

But then she saw something more terrifying: her children, scrambling to catch up, to help. Their eyes were wide, streaming. They stumbled up the narrow staircase behind her attacker, seeming far below, rising to meet her. The thought of them following her into the chasm of her fate was more than she could stand.

“Go back,” she said, but by this time her throat was raw, her voice weak.

The man reached the landing and turned into another corridor.

Temporarily out of sight, her son yelled, “Mom!” His seven-year-old voice was almost lost in the shrillness of his panic. He appeared on the landing. His socked feet slipped on the hardwood floor and he went down. Behind him, his little sister stopped. She was frightened and confused, too young to do anything more than follow her brother. He clambered up and started to run again.

A hand gripped his shoulder, jarring him back.

The boy’s father had something in his fist: the lamp from his nightstand! He past the boy in the hallway. His bare feet gave him traction.

Thank God, she thought.

He reached her in seconds. With the lamp raised over his head, he grabbed her wrist. He pulled, tried to anchor himself to the floor, to the carpeted runner now covering the wood planks. But the brute under her walked on, tugging him with them. The man yanked on her arm. Pain flared in her shoulder. He might as well have tried pulling her from a car as it sped passed.

She caught a glimpse of the bizarrely shaped light fixtures on the corridor walls—mostly carved faces with glowing eyes. The bulbs flickered in time with her racing heart. She could not remember any of the lights doing that before. It was as though the electrical current running through the wires was responding to a disruption in the way things were supposed to be, a glitch in reality.

“Henry,” she said, pleading, hopeful.

His grip tightened as he stumbled along behind them. He brought the lamp’s heavy base down on her assailant. If the man carrying her flinched, she did not feel it. If he grunted or yelled out, she did not hear it.

What he did was stop. He spun around so quickly, the woman’s husband lost his grip on her. And now facing the other direction, she lost sight of him. Being suddenly denied her husband’s visage felt like getting the wind knocked out of her. She realized he was face to face with the man who’d taken her, and that felt like watching him step off a cliff.

“Nooo!” she screamed, her voice finding some volume. “Henry!”

His hand gripped her ankle, then broke free. The man under her moved in a violent dance, jostling her wildly. He spun again and her head struck the wall.

The lights went out completely . . . . but no, not the lights . . . her consciousness. It came back to her slowly, like the warmth of fire on a blistery day.

She tasted blood. She’d bitten her tongue. She opened her eyes. Henry was crumpled on the floor, receding as she was carried away. The children stood over him, touching him, calling him. Her son’s eyes found hers again. Determination hardened his jaw, pushed away the fear . . . at least a measure of it. He stepped over his father’s legs, coming to her rescue. Henry raised his head, weary, stunned. He reached for the boy, but missed.

Over the huffing breath of the man, the soft patter of her son’s feet reached her ears. How she’d loved that sound, knowing it was bringing him to her. Now she wanted it to carry him away, away from this danger. Her husband called to him in a croaking, strained voice. The boy kept coming.

She spread her arms. Her left hand clutched at open air, but the right one touched a wall. She clawed at it. Her nails snagged the wallpaper. One nail peeled back from her finger and snapped off.

Her assailant turned again, into a room—one of the small antechambers, like a mud room before the real room. He strode straight toward the next threshold.

Her son reached the first door, catching it as it was closing.

“Mom!” Panic etched old-man lines into his young face. His eyes appeared as wide as his mouth. He banged his shoulder on the jamb, trying to hurry in.

“Stay!” she said. She showed him her palms in a “stop” gesture, hoping he would understand, hoping he would obey. She took in his face, as a diver takes in a deep breath before plunging into the depths. He was fully in the antechamber now, reaching for her with both arms, but her captor had already opened the second door and was stepping through. The door was swinging shut behind him.

The light they were stepping into was bright. It swept around her, through the opening, and made pinpoints of the boy’s irises. His blue eyes dazzled. His cheeks glistened with tears. He wore his favorite pajamas—little R2D2s and C3P0s all over them, becoming threadbare and too small for him.

“I—“ she started, meaning to say she loved him, but the brute bounded downward, driving his shoulder into her stomach. Air rushed from her, unformed by vocal chords, tongue, lips. Just air.

“Moooom!” her son screamed. Full of despair. Reaching. Almost to the door.

The door closed, separating her from her family forever.


I was looking forward to this book because I have read Robert's book "Comes A Horseman" and it was innovative and breathtaking. I wanted to see what his take on a "teen series" would be. Well, he does not disappoint! From the beginning he got my attention and never let it go... I was fortunate in that I had the 2nd book in the series sitting on my desk ready for me as soon as I put this one down. And believe me, as soon as I was finished with this one I picked up the next one and went to town on it. If this tells you anything at all - at the end of the book instead of saying "The End" these books say "NOT The End..."

One of the unique things about this book is that as I was reading it I kept thinking what a great movie this would be... who knows, just maybe??? I recommend clicking on the FIRST button at the top of the post to link to a place where you can read the whole first chapter, not just the prologue - and I certainly recommend these books. I am not giving a copy away right now - but be on the lookout - in the next month I will review BOTH of them in more detail and will have a drawing for BOTH books then - yay! So stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Broken Angel" Book Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Broken Angel

(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)


Sigmund Brouwer


Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.


Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

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

This book was rare and unique and boy does it make you think... from page 1 to the last page I kept turning frantically while my brain was trying to translate what was happening into terms that my little brain could grasp. Sigmund does a phenomenal job of making Caitlyn someone that you wanted to help (all the while showing us over and over that she didn't need my help!) and the cast of characters that were brought in around her, both to help and hinder her, were so real and intriguing. There is a point in the book that you are not sure who the good guys and the bad guys really are and then Sigmund has a way with pulling the mystery out and not really letting us know ALL the details til we are breathless at the end and flipping through the last few pages hoping that it turns out the way we want it to... Sigmund does not disappoint - though I am glad to hear that there is supposed to be a sequel because I would really like to see where Caitlyn goes from here.

I wish I could give a copy away, but the copy I received was an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) and I'm not supposed to give those away because it is not a final copy. So consequently, while I would highly recommend this book to someone that is looking for a break from the traditional romance or mystery, please visit your local Christian bookstore or or to pick up your copy of this unique book!

The book link is:

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Embrace Me" Book Review and Giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embrace Me

(Thomas Nelson March 4, 2008)


Lisa Samson


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…persons are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.


Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, has very few friends in this world and, it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

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

I have absolutely loved Lisa Samson's Hollywood Nobody series and have read her book The Church Ladies and thought it was good, so I was looking forward to delving into the world Lisa was creating in Embrace Me. Lisa did not disappoint. I do need to point out though that this book is odd in more ways than just the characters in it. Lisa makes a comment in the back of the book that refers to this as an exploration of Christ's body, His Church. I was glad I read that because it helped me see where she was going with this book as I was reading it. I definitely got drawn into the characters and what was going on, yet Lisa was going back and forth between 2 characters points of view and their time periods. It wasn't hard to follow though and then eventually we see them converge together and all these puzzle pieces start falling into place. Lisa brings it all together in some "A-HA!" moments and leaves you feeling satisfied, but thinking about where you fit in with the Body of Christ.

I found it to be a very interesting reading experience and will be giving away my copy of "Embrace Me" to a lucky reader. So leave a comment and tell me what part of the Body of Christ you think you are (there are no wrong answers...) and be sure to leave a way to contact you in case you win (email address is preferable)! Good luck!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Sincerely Mayla" Book Review

"Sincerely Mayla" by Virginia Smith

about a great book - this is one of those books that make you smile, laugh, cry and grimace all in the same page. Virginia has crafted some amazing characters, most importantly Mayla, who first appeared in her book "Just As I Am". Now I have not read that book, but boy do I want to now that I've read Sincerely Mayla. Most importantly though, you do not have to read them in order. This is a great stand alone book and totally worth the read. Virginia has a way of taking some really hard hitting issues (abortion and homosexuality being highlighted in this book) and bringing it home and making them issues that all of a sudden you feel prepared to deal with yourself because you saw how her characters dealt with them. I don't know if that makes sense, but boy is that how I feel. I plan on getting "Just As I Am" as soon as I can (like I need another book to read :-) Now here's a little blurb on this amazing book...

Will Mayla Strong's life ever resemble normal? Just as she settles into a great place with God, everything else falls apart. In the course of a single week she loses her job, wrecks any chance at a relationship with Pastor Paul, gets the cold shoulder from her friend Stuart, and learns that Lindsey--the teenage sister of her late friend Alex--needs a safe place to stay. What good is being a control freak if nobody will do what you tell them?

Taking advantage of her newfound "vacation time," Mayla flees to her grandmother's house in Florida. But one by one, problems follow . . . literally. In this touching sequel to Just As I Am, quirky Mayla Strong comes face to face with the responsibilities and joys of friends and family. As she tries to help her loved ones, Mayla begins to realize that God has all the answers--the trick is letting go long enough for Him to prove it.

About the Author
Virginia Smith is a writer of humorous novels, a speaker, a snow skier, a motorcycle enthusiast, and an avid scuba diver. Since leaving her twenty-year profession as a corporate director, she has written numerous books, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and Stuck in the Middle (Revell, February 2008). An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truth in Star Trek."

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Where Would Cows Hide" Book Review



D.C. Stewart grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and spent most of her childhood getting into trouble with her younger brother on their ranch. She began writing short stories in high school, and won a writing competition at a nearby college at age 17. After graduating, she attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in History, and also met her husband, Scott. She worked for a church in Maumelle, Arkansas as the Communications Coordinator for five years. After moving back to Oklahoma, she chose to stay home with their four year old twin boys, and six month old baby girl, and to pursue her dream of being a full-time writer. The Stewart’s live in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Where Would Cows Hide? is her first novel.

**How did you come up with your characters, Charlie and Brad?

A combination of what my brother and I were like as kids, the stories I heard about my husband and his twin when they were kids, and how I imagined my own twin sons acting when they reached eleven years old.

**Do you have experience living or working on a farm? Any funny stories related to that?

Everyone on both sides of my family are farmers, doing a combination of growing wheat and raising cattle. Our house was in town, but we spent most of our time, especially in the summer, on tractors, combines, wheat trucks, in pick-ups, and working cattle.

The only funny story I can think of about me is helping my dad, mom, and brother one morning feeding and counting the cows. The cattle all came into the lots except one, and my dad told me to hurry and open the gate to let her in before the other cows could get out. As I pulled the gate open and trotted backward, I tripped over a concrete block used to hold the gate in place, and got hung up in the chain. I was stuck at such a weird angle I couldn't get myself loose and all the cattle were rushing at me to get out. I was kicking and waving all over the place trying to keep them back, but my family thought I was panicking because I was stuck. They still give me grief over that one.

**Brad and Charlie have a quirky younger sister who sometimes drives them crazy. Do you relate?

I have a younger brother who used to drive me nuts all the time, but we were also the best playmates because we are so close in age. I have friends who were the "younger sister" and I remember them getting yelled at by their older siblings all the time.
**Brad and Charlie stay at their grandparents for an annual summer vacation. What's your favorite place to vacation and why?

Honestly, I don't really have a "favorite" place to vacation. We didn't have the opportunity to travel much when I was a kid, so ANY vacation is awesome to me. I love to travel, eat different foods, take in the scenery, watch the people. It's all new and exciting to me.

**As a writing mom, how do you juggle the demands of your kids and your career?

With great difficulty. I have a wonderful and supportive husband who gives me time in the evenings and on weekends to write. Usually if anything suffers between my writing and taking care of the kids, it's our house. I'm more of a relaxed housekeeper (fancy title for slob), and I only move on the housework if there are no clean clothes, we have to order out because there is no room to cook in the kitchen, and if I walk across the floors and they crunch.
I loved this book! I am an adult, reviewing a book meant for like 9-12 year olds and I found myself immersed in the storyline, wrapped up in the mystery and following Brad and Charlie as they try to figure out who is stealing their grandpa's cows. This would make a great read-aloud book with your kids because it would keep you as entertained as them! Grab a copy and enjoy!



Author D.C. Stewart is giving you a chance to win a copy of WHERE WOULD COWS HIDE?, and more! Here’s how to enter for a copy of WWCH and to enter the grand prize drawing:

1) leave a comment on this blog post (or on any of the blogs participating in the blog tour);

2) email the contest coordinator at with subject line “WWCH ENTRY”;

3) join D.C. Stewart’s ezine list by either sending a blank email to: or visiting and subscribing through the yahoogroups page.

Book winners and the GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be drawn on or before May 31st, 2008 and will be notified by email. Please make sure you leave a valid email address on applicable blog posts.


"Do Hard Things" Book Review

It's May 15th, 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 their book:

Multnomah Books (April 15, 2008)


I had to move my review for this book to the top of the post because of how awesome this book is. I was absorbed by this book when I started it and was blown away by it when I was done reading it. I told our church's youth pastor about it and made mention that as wonderful as it is geared towards teens, I think this is the kind of book that every Christian should read to encourage all of us living for God to rebel against low expectations. There is actually a nationwide conference tour that Alex and Brett are doing and they will be in Denver, Co (4 hours from us) on May 31st. I wish I could go - but I will have a newborn baby by then and it might be a bit much. But this is a book that I would strongly suggest getting your hands on, for you and everyone you know :-)


Alex and Brett Harris founded in August 2005 and today at age 19 are the most popular Christian teen writers on the Web. The twins are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine, serve as the main speakers for the Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured in WORLD magazine, Breakaway, The Old Schoolhouse, and the New York Daily News. Sons of homeschool pioneer Gregg Harris and younger brothers of best-selling author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Alex and Brett live near Portland, Oregon.


A different kind of teen book

Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last.

Well, we do.

This is a different kind of teen book. Check online or walk through your local bookstore. You’ll find plenty of books written by fortysomethings who, like, totally understand what it’s like being a teenager. You’ll find a lot of cheap throwaway
books for teens because young people today aren’t supposed to care about books or see any reason to keep them around. And you’ll find a wide selection of books where you never have to read anything twice—because the message is dumbed-down. Like, just for you.

What you’re holding in your hands right now is a challenging book for teens by teens who believe our generation is ready for a change. Ready for something that doesn’t promise a whole new life if you’ll just buy the right pair of jeans or use the right kind of deodorant. We believe our generation is ready to rethink what teens are capable of doing and becoming. And we’ve noticed that once wrong ideas are debunked
and cleared away, our generation is quick to choose a better way, even if it’s also more difficult.

We’re nineteen-year-old twin brothers, born and raised in Oregon, taught at home by our parents, and striving to follow Christ as best we can. We’ve made more than our share of mistakes. And although we don’t think “average teenagers” exist, there is nothing all that extraordinary about us personally.

Still, we’ve had some extraordinary experiences. At age sixteen, we interned at the Alabama Supreme Court. At seventeen, we served as grass-roots directors for four statewide political campaigns. At eighteen, we authored the most popular Christian teen blog on the web. We’ve been able to speak to thousands of teens and their parents at conferences in the United States and internationally and to reach millions
online. But if our teen years have been different than most, it’s not because we’re somehow better than other teens, but because we’ve been motivated by a simple but very big idea. It’s an idea you’re going to encounter for yourself in the pages

We’ve seen this idea transform “average” teenagers into world-changers able to accomplish incredible things. And they started by simply being willing to break the mold of what society thinks teens are capable of.

So even though the story starts with us, this book really isn’t about us, and we would never want it to be. It’s about something God is doing in the hearts and minds of our generation. It’s about an idea. It’s about rebelling against low expectations. It’s about a movement that is changing the attitudes and actions of teens around the world. And we want you to be part of it.

This book invites you to explore some radical questions:

• Is it possible that even though teens today have more freedom than any other generation in history, we’re actually missing out on some of the best years of our

• Is it possible that what our culture says about the purpose and potential of the teen years is a lie and that we are its victims?

• Is it possible that our teen years give us a once-in-alifetime opportunity for huge accomplishments—as individuals and as a generation?

• And finally, what would our lives look like if we set out on a different path entirely—a path that required more effort but promised a lot more reward?

We describe that alternative path with three simple words: “do hard things.”

If you’re like most people, your first reaction to the phrase “do hard things” runs along the lines of, “Hard? Uh-oh. Guys, I just remembered that I’m supposed to be somewhere else. Like, right now.”

We understand this reaction. It reminds us of a story we like to tell about a group of monks. Yep, monks.

On the outskirts of a small town in Germany is the imaginary abbey of Dundelhoff. This small stone monastery is home to a particularly strict sect of Dundress monks, who have each vowed to live a life of continual self-denial and discomfort.

Instead of wearing comfy T-shirts and well-worn jeans like most people, these monks wear either itchy shirts made from goat hair or cold chain mail worn directly over bare skin. Instead of soft mattresses, pillows, and warm blankets, they sleep on the cold stone floors of the abbey. You might have read somewhere that monks are fabulous cooks? Well, not these monks. They eat colorless, tasteless sludge—once a day. They only drink lukewarm water.

We could go on, but you get the picture. No matter what decision they face, Dundress monks always choose the more difficult option, the one that provides the least physical comfort, holds the least appeal, offers the least fun. Why? Because they believe that the more miserable they are, the holier they are; and the holier they are, the happier God is.

So these miserable monks must be poster boys for “do hard things.” Right?


We’re not plotting to make your life miserable. We’re not recommending that you do any and every difficult thing. For example, we’re not telling you to rob a bank, jump off a cliff, climb Half Dome with your bare hands, or stand on your head for twenty-four hours straight. We are not telling you to do pointless (or stupid) hard things just because they’re hard. And if you’re a Christian, we’re certainly not telling you that if you work harder or make yourself uncomfortable on purpose, God will love you more. He will never—could never—love you any more than He does right now.

So that’s what we’re not doing. What we are doing is challenging you to grab hold of a more exciting option for your teen years than the one portrayed as normal in society today. This option has somehow gotten lost in our culture, and most people don’t even know it. In the pages ahead, you’re going to meet young people just like you who have rediscovered this better way—a way to reach higher, dream bigger, grow
stronger, love and honor God, live with more joy—and quit wasting their lives.

In Do Hard Things, we not only say there is a better way to do the teen years, we show you how we and thousands of other teens are doing it right now and how you can as well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Healing Promises" Book Review and Giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Healing Promises

(Multnomah Publishers - April 15, 2008)


Amy Wallace


Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.


Facing a new threat.

When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear.

Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire.

As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

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

This book was a pleasant surprise to me - it was deeper than I expected it to be on many levels. It has great romance and characters, some mystery and deals with some deep issues as well. It is book #2 in the series but stands alone very well. I just know that I can go back and read book #1 and get to know some of the characters more. I really enjoyed this book and most importantly it got me thinking about alot of important things in life. As far as I am concerned, any book that is enjoyable AND can make me stop and think is a book worth reading. Amy's style is refreshing and intriguing. Just so you can check it out yourself - leave a comment with email information and I will draw for a winner of this book soon. Good luck...

Friday, May 9, 2008

And The Winners Are...

I drew 3 winners for 3 great books and the winners are...

"Trouble The Water" by Nicole Seitz... Carole

"Winter Haven" by Athol Dickinson... Anna

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

Congratulations to all 3 of you and please be sure to email your snail mail addresses right away so I can get these out to you!

For everyone else... don't forget to enter to win Mark Andrew Olson's book "The Warriors"! And look for more upcoming book giveaways!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"The Warriors" book Review and Giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Warriors

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Mark Andrew Olsen


MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. His last novel was the supernatural thriller The Watchers.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


A failed recon mission deep in the tunnels of Afghanistan has provoked a demonic onslaught that had been brewing for centuries. The mission's sole survivor is reformed black ops assassin Dylan Hatfield, and he once again teams up with Abby Sherman, now at the helm of the Watchers, an ancient spiritual force. Uncovering and preventing a secret wave of death whispered across cyberspace and threatening to be unleash against civilization will require another level of spiritual power and expertise--the Warriors.

Journeying across the Alps of Europe through the multilayered history of warfare in the unseen world, Dylan and Abby uncover an age-old stone engraving that rouses the church's Warriors to action, placing them dead center in one of the fiercest spiritual battles of their time!

And once again they are reminded: This is all part of a vast and perpetual war, a war beyond all human conflicts, one that has engulfed heaven and earth since before the dawn of history....

Abby Sherman is headed back to Israel, where a Watcher, the Sentinel of Jerusalem, lies dying. In her last breaths the old woman tells Abby of an ancient document prophesying humanity's full-scale entry into the ongoing conflict between armies of heaven and fallen angels.

Dylan Hatfield has decided to answer a summons from his old boss and join a secret operation, its mission to reconnoiter the Afghani tunnel complex from which Osama bin Laden escaped in 2001. What he discovers sears his very soul and likely will end his life.

Abby learns of the peril facing Dylan, and she sends out a call for intercession on his behalf. Her frantic email message sets in motion a series of harrowing events, propelling the two on a new mission and quest--one where the stakes are the lives of millions!

The Warriors is packed with high-octane action, featuring exotic international locales, with characters in a clash against spiritual "principalities and powers" with eternal consequences, The Warriors is a story that will enthrall, enlighten, and engage its readers.

If that piques your interest, you can read the first chapter HERE

"Olsen, one of the better writers in this subgenre, delivers powerful, action-packed plots that delve into mystical paranormal worlds."
~Library Journal, Feb. 2008

"Olsen delivers an entertaining thriller likely to be enjoyed especially by fans of the spiritual warfare genre."

My Review:

This is a great book - mystery, some suspense, great characterization and a superbly unique storyline. It's Book #2, but I've never read Book #1 and I still loved this one. Mark does a fantastic job of taking us on a trip all over the country, including some other worldly places, and keeps us hooked from start to finish. This book deals with spiritual warfare in a great way and I would definitely recommend it! If you would like a chance to win it, go ahead and leave a comment with your email address and I'll do a drawing for one lucky winner. If you do not leave an email, you will not be included in the drawing, but I will still love you :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Meghan Rose" Book Reviews

BLAM! (Brilliant Little Adventure-Making) Blog Tour

Do you yearn for a Christian based fiction book geared for younger elementary children?

If so, then check out the Meghan Rose series!

This new series from Standard Publishing introduces Meghan Rose, the bounciest first-grader in the world! Young readers will share Meghan’s adventures, laugh, and learn important life lessons. Each title also includes a bonus section with discussion starters and fun activity ideas.

I am excited to welcome author Lori Z. Scott, joining us today to talk about the newest releases in her Meghan Rose series—Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret.

Since 2000, Lori has published over fifty short stories, devotions, puzzles, poems, and articles for children, teens, and adults in publications such as Focus on Your Child, MOMSense Magazine, Spirit Led Writer, Pockets, and Devozine. She is the author of Busy Moms’ Devotions to Go and four Meghan Rose titles. In addition, Lori has contributed to over a dozen books including Real Moms, Cup of Comfort Book of Prayers, and 2007 Eppie Award winner InfiniteSpace, Infinite God.

A graduate of Wheaton College, Lori has worked with children for over twenty years, both as a teacher in the classroom and as a volunteer for local churches, museums, and schools. When she’s not busy driving her two children to various church, sporting, and artistic activities, she moonlights as a speaker for women’s groups and schools.

Lori, welcome. Thanks for taking time to be with us today.

My pleasure.

You often introduce yourself as first a mother, then a teacher, and finally a writer. Why is that?

I feel like being a mother is my highest calling in life. And that means I’m a caregiver, nurse, tutor, cheerleader, counselor, transportation expert, and nutritionist. Doing all those mommy things is a bit like filling a jar jam-packed with marbles. I pursue my own interests in the empty spaces around those marbles because being a mommy trumps all.

I call myself a teacher second because working with kids has been such a huge part of my life. Just as God gifts different people for different tasks, I feel like God has given me a special ability to understand and work with children. Or maybe I’m just not ready to give up playing and comics yet.

I call myself a writer last because I often feel like writing too much fun—and pays too little—to be a real job. But then again, writing is another interest in my life I have felt called to pursue. God blessed me there too. When I decided to start writing, my first submission won second place in a science fiction writing contest. My second submission won MOPS International story writing contest.

I guess what I want moms to realize is, it’s okay to put the mommy part of our lives first and to trust that God will still bless, fulfill, and lead us in other areas as well.

Why would parents like your series?

A good question—one that I have to answer from my own experience. When my daughter was in first grade, her teacher started reading the Junie B. Jones books in class. Since Meghan liked them, I picked up a few copies.

Well, I enjoyed the humor in those books, but had to edit out some of the grammar slips, name calling and attitudes. I thought there had to be an alternative choice—a book that was just as funny, but also had a good take-away value. I scoured the Christian bookstores. I couldn’t find any fiction for that age group, only devotional books and Bible stories.

When I asked about it, bookstore owners often commented that they wished they could offer such a book. In fact, they’d had numerous parents come to the store, all asking the same thing: Do you have a fiction book my young child will enjoy reading? And, like them, I walked away empty handed.

So I wrote the book I couldn’t find—a book for my daughter AND for all those other mothers just like me. I put in everything she wanted—an interesting story filled with giggles and characters worth rooting for—and everything I wanted—good moral values (but with nothing preachy about the story at all). And because I don’t believe I’m alone in those desires, I’m convinced other parents (AND THEIR KIDS!!!) will like the series too.

Why did you include discussion questions and activities at the end of each book?

That’s the teacher part of me flaring up big time! LOL. But seriously, how many times have you as a mother read a book and thought, “There’s a good lesson in here” but didn’t know how to draw your child into a discussion about it? I remember reading Where the Red Fern Grows with my daughter and wanting to talk about the tender topic of death that book touches on. Since I didn’t know where to start, I couldn’t fully take advantage of that teachable moment. (Instead we both just cried all the way through the last few chapters.)

That’s why I included questions for parents or teachers to use after they read the story, so they can capitalize on the book’s underlying message. (Although I hope people laugh through the last few chapters of Meghan Rose instead of cry!)

And the activities are all for the kids. They love extending the story experience by creating their own volcanoes or whatever. I also put a ton of other ideas for parents and kids on my website under the BLAM (Brilliant Little Activities to Make) link.

So each book has an underlying message? Tell us about that.

As I mentioned, I wanted the stories to do more than entertain. I wanted them to have takeaway value. Each book’s message is very subtle but still evident throughout the book. While Meghan Rose on Stage! talks about discovering your talents, it’s ultimately about friendship. Meghan Rose Has Ants in Her Pants explores the idea of patience—a difficult area for most kids to deal with. The newest two books—Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret—address inner beauty and kind words. But again, none of it is preachy. It’s heavy on the humor and very, VERY light on the lesson…yet neither quality is lost on the child.

Are the books just for girls?

Not at all! One mother of two boys emailed me about how much her sons enjoyed reading them with her. She said they could hardly read for laughing so hard—they were all HOWLING!! The youngest one loved it so much he started sleeping with the first book under his pillow at night.
In fact, the comment I hear most from people who read the books is, “I laughed out loud.” The second comment I hear most often is about how much kids (and parents) like the discussion questions and activities. How can all that just be for girls?

Where do you get the inspiration for the humorous parts of the books?

Most of that comes from my upbringing. My dad was always coming up with puns and jokes. He made them up on the spot, and they were hilarious! I can’t tell you how many hours we spent laughing around the dinner table. I think dad influenced all my sisters. In fact, one of my sisters was part of an improvisational comedy team. (She’s also a pastor’s wife—it’s a fun combination.)
I also grew up on a steady diet of comic books. Peanuts and Garfield were my favorites, and later Calvin and Hobbes. And we’d also watch comedy on television, especially The Carol Brunette Show.

That said, some of my inspiration just comes from everyday life. My kids crack me up. They both have a great sense of humor.

The main character in the Meghan Rose series shares your daughter’s name. Why is that?

She was the foundational basis for the character. When I started the series, I needed someone likable, outrageous, clever, spunky, and sensitive all rolled into one. Well, that’s my Meghan. And since I originally wrote the books just for her, I simply used her name. You’ll also see the names of other people I’ve met, although the character they’re named for is totally fiction. Mrs. Arnold, for example, was the name of Meghan’s real first grade teacher. But she’s not like the Mrs. Arnold in the book.

Are any of the characters like you?

I think maybe there’s a little bit of me in all of them. Certainly a lot of me is reflected in the teacher, Mrs. Arnold. Then Ryan shows the jokester side of me, Kayla has the goofy side, Lynette has the rule-following, show-off side, and Meghan’s Mom has the practical side. The Meghan character herself is about 80 percent of the “real” Meghan, 10 percent of me and my creative musings, and 10 percent total fiction.

Can you share one idea for mothers to help their children be more creative?

Sure. Hmmm. Hard to pick one. I guess one great idea is to encourage your children to be involved with artistic endeavors. That can include a whole variety of options, like drawing, painting, or making things out of shoe boxes. Children can listen to or dance to music. Or make their own music. They can dress up and put on a show for family or friends, or memorize a silly poem. And it should be fun, not work.

Where can readers learn more about you and the Meghan Rose books?

They can visit my web site. My award-winning illustrator, Stacy Curtis, designed it. It offers jokes, puzzles, and activities for kids and great ideas for teacher and parents (on Mrs. Arnold’s BLAM page). It also introduces the books and characters, provides links to book reviews, and gives ordering information. I posted a retold fairy tale reader’s theater that gives visitors a good feel for the style of humor found in the books in my Little Red Riding Hood reader's theater.
You can also purchase a copy of Meghan Rose on Stage!, Meghan Rose Has Ants in Her Pants, Meghan Rose All Dressed Up, andMeghan Rose Has a Secret by clicking on the titles here.

That sounds great. Well, thank you for your time!

Thank you for letting me visit with you.

I was able to review both "Meghan Rose on Stage!" and "Meghan Rose Has A Secret" and just loved them! My 11 year old daughter read them too and thought they were wonderful... she asked if we could get the other ones. It was so refreshing to have fun kids books to read that had such wonderful messages (you know things like, honoring your parents, the things you think will affect how you act, friends are more important than fame... those kind of good life lessons). There was no bathroom humor either which was nice (referencing the Captain Underwear books of course).
I am eager to get the other books and have the set - I found 2 of them on for $3.99 / each and all 4 of them on http//www. for $4.99 / each. These books would be a great birthday present for your kids or grandkids too!