Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review: Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

About the book:

She Escaped the Fire ... But Not the Effects of the Burn

Janeal feels trapped in her father's Gypsy culture. But everything changes one night when a brutal and powerful man named Salazar Sanso promises her the life she longs for if she will help recover a vast sum of money tied to her father.

When the plan implodes, Sanso and his men attack the gypsy settlement and burn it to the ground. During the blaze, Janeal is faced with a staggering choice.

The impact of that choice changes her forever.

Years later, the wonderful and terrible truth of what really happened that night begins to sear Janeal's soul. In a horrifying revelation, Janeal learns that nothing about her life since has been exactly what it seems. As truth rises from the ashes of her past, Janeal finds she must make a new life-or-death choice. But this time, escape is not an option.

My thoughts:

Having enjoyed the previous Dekker/Healy collaboration, Kiss, I had really high expectations of Burn. The premise behind Kiss was so interesting, and I just knew the Burn would be just as good. Well, it was good, but not great. There were a couple of instances that I found myself struggling to stay engaged in the story, which I think could've been helped by a better editing job.

In typical Dekker style, though, Burn had a high level of suspense, and there were times when I completely got thrown for a loop when the story took an unexpected turn. The bad guy was very bad indeed, and his fascination with Janeal was down right sinister. There were also some supporting characters that had some pretty deep secrets, and that was just enough to keep me turning the pages.

My biggest disappointment came with the lack of the Gospel that was presented in the story. This is probably the biggest thing that has bothered me lately with a lot of new Christian fiction, and the only thing I can attribute it to is that Christian publishers are trying to gain new readers that don't like a lot of preachiness in their books. Furthermore, this is the third book by Thomas Nelson that has been read in my family that had a very flimsy Christian message, and that really bothers me.

If you like a good clean suspense novel that's got a touch of romance and not very preachy, then, I would definitely recommend Burn. If the Dekker/Healy team ever joins forces for another book in the future, I'll probably read that book, too, but my expectations won't be quite as high.

4 Stars

Burn was published in January 2010 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cover Attraction: Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon

Title: Touching the Clouds
Author: Bonnie Leon
Release Date: 7/1/10
Publisher: Revell

About the book:

Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. She pilots a mail-delivery plane in the forbidding Alaskan wilderness, the lone woman in a male profession. But even that seems easy compared to finding true love. She likes a fellow pilot and would even consider marrying him--if it weren't for Paul, a mysterious man on her mail route with a gentle spirit and a past to hide. Can Kate break through the walls Paul has put up around his heart? And will her quest for adventure be her demise? Book 1 in the Alaskan Skies series, Touching the Clouds will draw readers in with raw emotion and suspense, all against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilds.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

  • Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

    Here are the rules:

    Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

It's been awhile since I participated in Teaser Tuesday, and today, I've got a great teaser to share with you. It's from the latest book by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy--Burn.

From page 226:

"During her visit to his hospital room, she had the upper hand of surprise and the secuirty of a guard within range of her voice. But now she was an injured bird knocked out of her nest to be stalked by a snake."

Guest Review: The Gospel According to Lost by Chris Seay

About the book:

An epic journey into the deepest mysteries of faith.

Lost is NOT just a television show. It has become larger than that—a massive story filled with mystery that has garnered over twenty million participants. Some might call them viewers, but one does not just watch Lost, one participates in it. It demands that you dialogue with the story, seeking theories and comparing yourself to characters. Lost breaks all the formulas for television, and in doing so has drawn together millions of people on a shared journey that explores life, faith, history, science, philosophy, hope, and the basic questions of what it means to be human. It is the seemingly infinite ideas, philosophies, and biblical metaphors that make this story so engaging.

Chris Seay's fascinating book explores each of these elements in a spinning analysis of faith and metaphor that will attract a multitude of readers who desire to go even deeper into the journey.

Guest review from my hubby: (Hubby doesn't often review books for me, but I love getting to feature him on my blog. *grin*)

I was recently given a copy of Chris Seay’s “The Gospel According to Lost” to review. I had never read or even heard of Chris Seay, but I was willing to give a fellow Christian Lostie a chance to see what he had to say. I wasn’t expecting any spoilers for the show, but was interested in what Seay had to say about Lost and Christianity. Unfortunately, everything that Seay said was nothing new. It was almost like some college papers I’ve read in the past where students try to make a short topic appear to be deep and insightful.

Seay’s writing style was very clumsy. He tries to joke around on one page, and then tries to sound very deep and insightful on the next. In my opinion, he failed at both. There were several things that were disturbing, the first one being that for a book that is supposed to contain the Gospel, Seay felt it was ok to curse. The curse words weren’t used very much at all, but just the inclusion of them really made me think that Seay is just about sounding hip and not concerned at all about the true presentation of the Gospel.

Another disturbing part of the book is even though the book is called “The Gospel According to Lost,” the true Gospel is hardly mentioned. Part of the Gospel is mentioned, but it’s almost like Seay remembered “Oh yeah, I’ve got the Gospel in the title of my book. I’d better include it.” Instead, his book almost seemed like his own personal contest to see how many thinkers or philosophers he could quote in one book, such as Hemmingway, Oscar Wilde, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

The last part of the book that disturbed me was the author himself. He is very arrogant in some parts. In the chapter that is devoted to Kate, he asks “So how could educated people fixate on such a character?” I’m not sure if he’s saying only uneducated people should be attracted to Kate or if educated people that are attracted to Kate should be ashamed. As a Lost fan, Seay even gets parts of the show wrong. Again, in the Kate chapter, he says that “Locke, Ben, Hurly, and even young Walt are all praying that Kate will play Eve to their Adam.”

Seay arranges the book (very clumsily by the way) by devoting a chapter to certain key characters from the show. Each chapter briefly described that character’s story, life challenges, and then tried to connect them to the Bible. Any insight that Seay offered about the characters was obvious to anyone that watches the show. Each chapter stood alone with no overall theme and felt repetitive. All of Seay’s chapters were stretched and felt like he was struggling to make some kind of length requirement.

I found Seay as a poor writer trying desperately to be a cool, young fountain of knowledge. However, after reading through several pages, Seay fell flat in my eyes. I honestly did not learn anything from him, but was more frustrated by the way he presented is ideas, which were more or less just recaps of Lost with a few quotations from great thinkers and a light sprinkling of the Bible. I can’t honestly recommend this book to anyone. I feel that Lost has some great Bibical imagery and doesn’t need any assistance form Chris Seay.

1 Star

**Book was provided free for review through the Thomas Nelson Book Blogger Program.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

About the book:

With a vibrant, fresh style Suzanne Woods Fisher brings readers into the world of a young Amish woman torn between following the man she loves--or joining the community of faith that sustains her, even as she questions some of the decisions of her elders. Her choice begins a torrent of change for her and her family, including a marriage of convenience to silent Daniel Miller. Both bring broken hearts into their arrangement--and secrets that have been held too long. Filled with gentle romance, The Choice opens the world of the Amish--their strong communities, their simple life, and their willingness to put each other first. Combined with Fisher's exceptional gift for character development, this novel, the first in a series, is a welcome reminder that it is never too late to find your way back to God.

My thoughts:

This was a great new Amish story from a talented new author. Because there are so many Amish stories out right now that are so similar, I was really impressed that this one shared some different facets of the Amish world. One facet was the family business that centered around an apple orchard, and the difficulties that go along with the changing seasons. Next was the addition of the minor league baseball that, along with many other English activities, is frowned upon by the Amish community. Those two things may seem ordinary, but they really just made the story a little bit more interesting.

The only complaint I have about the book would be the first 100 or so pages just had way too much going on in them. Had I been in Carrie's shoes after dealing with 3 deaths, a marriage, and losing someone close that I loved, I think I would've suffered a mental breakdown. There's only so much that people can endure in real life, and it was just a little depressing seeing all these emotional events happening in rapid succession in a fictitious story. After those first 100 pages, though, the book actually started to get good, and it felt like the author had actually figured out the direction she wanted the story to go.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a great storyteller, and is someone to be on the lookout for in the future for more Amish fiction. I am anxious to read the next book in the series, and read more about the characters from Lancaster County that have been shared so far.

4 Stars

**This book was provided to me free to review by Baker Publishing Group. It is available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: Letters to Darcy by Tracy Ramos

About the book:

Letters to Darcy originated as a blog, written by a young woman from Texas named Tracy Ramos. The blog was comprised of a series of diary entries that Tracy wrote to her unborn daughter, Darcy, over the course of approximately nine months.

Early in her pregnancy, Tracy learned Darcy had a rare, terminal genetic condition known as Trisomy 18. Of people diagnosed with this disorder, about 95% die in utero, and for surviving infants who live to term, less than 10% survive their first year of life.

Tracy’s response to her unborn daughter Darcy is an incredible testament to the sanctity of human life. You will walk with Tracy and Darcy through each entry and see how lovingly mom Tracy cares for her unborn child. Through her simple, honest, and intensely personal entries, Tracy beautifully and convincingly answers the question: When does life begin?

About the author:

Tracy Ramos is a stay-at-home mother and home educator. Tracy lives in Magnolia, Texas, along with Jason, her husband of twenty years, and their six beautiful children. She gave birth to her tenth child, Brooklyn, in mid-November 2009. Darcy, her ninth child, has joined two other siblings in the presence of our Lord.

Tracy’s life and passion are her family. She loves spending time with them and enjoys playing games and sports, watching movies, working out, and riding her Kawasaki Ninja with her husband. She gets a rush from finding great shopping deals—even when she chooses not to buy. Tracy spends her free time reading, clipping coupons, and going on Facebook.

“I absolutely love my life. Thank you, Lord.”

My thoughts:

This story just about broke my heart. On one hand, it was such a beautiful story of a new life being created, but then, their world comes crashing down because of how everything will eventually turn out. Tracy's story is such a testimony to letting God take full control of her life and her circumstances, even though she struggles with it every single day of her pregnancy. Definitely have a full box of tissue when you read Darcy's short life story. It will bring tears of sadness and joy, but it will also fill you with hope and a renewed faith in God.

BONUS Interview!! :o)


Q & A with Tracy Ramos......

1. When you received Darcy’s diagnosis, did you ever feel as if you were being punished for something you had done?

The question of whether I had done something that would cause God to punish me in this way did cross my mind. Jason and I both wondered this. But I know, as evidenced by how God used this special child, that he was not using her to punish me. Of course, the Bible says that God does discipline, or train, His children to put them back on the right course, but that’s not the same as punishment. If the blessings that came with Darcy are punishment, I don’t know what punishment is.

2. Were you ever angry with God?

I’ve been asked that question a lot. In fact, many have advised me that it’s all right for me to be angry, even at God.

I’ve always considered myself a weak person. Before Darcy, I was confident that God would never give me more than I could handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). I rested on that verse and just “knew” that losing a child was something that would never happen to me. But it did happen to me, and here I am walking in the aftermath. But, no, I never became angry at God. I was angry at a lot of people, but not at God. It wasn’t because I was some super Christian with nothing but pure intentions. It was simply that I’ve never embraced that concept. God was and is the source of all the good things in my life. He has given me a wonderful husband and beautiful children. We have never been in need of anything. How could I be angry at Him because something didn‘t go my way, despite how grave it was? Get mad at him? God forbid! Are we not supposed to love God in the valleys as well as on the mountaintops? Doesn’t He bring rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous?

His ways are not our ways. So many beautiful things have come from Darcy’s life and death. Even though Darcy never said a word, her story helped stop abortions. Her life has caused many parents to love their children a little more, to worship God a little more, and in some cases, even to come back to Him. Darcy had more impact on people in her fifteen days with us than I have ever had in my lifetime. Her legacy will live on.

Was I ever angry at God? No. Who am I to question my Creator?

3. How did you hold on to your faith in God through the trials?

I don’t know how I got through. It would be easy to say that I wish I had slept through the entire thing and then woke up when it was over. But that’s not how I feel. My time with Darcy was the single most difficult series of days in my life. But I would not have gotten to know my little angel were it not for those days. I once heard that it is a beautiful experience that I would wish on no one. Been there, done that, and it’s so true.

I know one thing for sure: The Lord is the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). I had faith not because I had it in me to have faith. I had faith because He gave me just enough faith to go through this.

4. What more did you learn about your faith through your journey with Darcy?

I believe that the things I learned about my faith are only some of the blessings I mentioned above. The biggest lesson is that God will never leave us in our time of need. Another is that it relates to the second half of 1 Corinthians 10:13: that God will make a way for me to endure the testings, or trials, in my life. We should never underestimate the power of God or second-guess Him. He loves us and wants only the best for us. And even though we don’t understand how trials can be good for us, we must trust in God’s sovereignty. We need to have faith through the trials, and when we reach the other end, we can look back and see that He has been carrying us through them all.

A famous poem by Mary Stevenson, called “Footprints in the Sand,” expresses my sentiments more beautifully than I can.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene, I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

Other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,

when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,

“You promised me, Lord, that if I followed you,

You would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life

there have been only one set of footprints in the sand.

Why when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,

“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,

Is when I carried you.”

5. How did you find the daily strength to go on, knowing that your baby would probably not survive long after her birth?

In the beginning, my focus was on finding a cure or anything that could save her. Eventually, my focus turned to wanting to make the most of the time God would allow me to have with her. He gave me the strength and inspiration I needed to focus, not on Darcy’s dying, but on her living.

I wanted to make sure I had no regrets after she was gone, so I made a list that was based on advice I solicited from many people who had already walked this road before me. I made sure that we did as many of the items on the list as God would allow, so that Darcy’s life—however long it might be—would have meaning for me and for everyone else who knew her. We had to make a lifetime of memories in a very short time. We didn’t know how long Darcy would live, but we went through that list as if she were going to die before the next minute came. I believe that gave me the energy and drive that helped me bear what could otherwise have been a horrific two weeks. Jason made it his goal to see to it that every item on the list was accomplished. I believe it was his shining moment.

6. What did you and Jason need to do—in your relationship—in order to persevere through the pregnancy and then after Darcy was born?

Studies have revealed that there is a high rate of divorce for parents of deceased children. We were aware of that and vowed not be a statistic. Our relationship has been tested more through the pregnancy and Darcy’s life than at any other time in our twenty years of marriage. We still struggle, but we are persevering. I believe that our relationship will eventually become unbreakable because we have a righteous multitude who continue to pray for us and provide love and support. We used to think of ourselves as independent people who do not need to rely on others for help. We were determined to meet this challenge head-on. But during that time, God revealed the pride that was the source of our independent attitude, even toward each other. He showed us in practical ways by gathering His people around us in our time of need. I guess this is where the phrases “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” from our wedding vows come in.

7. In what ways has your experience with Darcy changed the person you are now?

God has made me much more compassionate toward those who experience similar trials, especially those who have kids with any kind of trisomy condition. Also, because I survived this heart-wrenching ordeal, I know that I can survive anything and can help others do the same. Last, I have a renewed commitment to help spread a new kind of “pro-choice” message: that we must choose to help those who cannot help themselves, especially our own unborn children.

And, of course, the negative thing about the experience is that there will always be a Darcy-shaped hole in my heart, a hole that will never be filled in this life.

8. How has your experience changed your family and your life together?

It has brought us closer, and we value one another more. We now truly believe that life is a vapor and that any one of us can suddenly be taken up to heaven. Although the kids occasionally forget this and fight, the fights don’t last as long as they used to.

This is part of the silver lining in such a hard experience. Grief has a strange but powerful way of forcing us to confront the sins in our lives. And even though we have to go through more rough roads while we’re grieving, we also know that it’s the best way to deal with those sins in a lasting way.

9. What advice would you give to families going through this kind of experience—whether or not they know God?

Of course, I am not a psychologist. But because I have gone through it, I feel I have something to say about the matter. But I would give advice only if I were asked for it. The hurt of losing a child is so deep that the last thing people want is unsolicited advice. The reality is, I would much rather have my child here with me, alive and well. However, if someone asked, these are things I might tell them.

First, I would tell them that they will need to prepare for a long, hard road ahead. During the delivery, a nurse told Jason that we were about the face the deepest sorrow in our lives. She was right. In a way, this helped us brace ourselves and expect the worst. Knowing it was coming helped us deal with it better than we would have if we have not known what to expect. And, the proof is in the pudding. God does see you through, and joy does come in the morning.

Second, I would urge them to rely on one another and never forsake one another, just as God has never forsaken us. The death of a child can do irreparable damage to a marriage. Satan uses situations such as this one to split families. Husband and wives must work extra hard to keep it together both during and long after the death of their child. Do not lay guilt on the other person or blame him or her for the disease. Instead, be understanding with one another. Each person has a different way of dealing with the grief and stress. Realize that everyone in the family—not just the mother—is grieving. The grieving period will pass, but you need give family members as much time as they need.

Following that, I would encourage them to trust that the Creator has their little one in His care and that their precious child will soon be in His arms. If they want to see their child again someday, they must believe in God’s Son, Jesus. My advice would not change just because someone else doesn’t believe the way I do. I know that God’s Word always bears fruit, so I would rely on the Holy Spirit to direct what I say and to reveal His message to the hearts of those I speak with.

During Darcy’s time with us, we realized that her story is more than a message about life on earth. It is, in a more important way, a story of eternal life with our Creator. Jason called Darcy our “little evangelist.” I think we’ll see the truth of that statement once the book is released. The story of Darcy is a story of God’s grace, mercy, and loving-kindness. It was when we were in the deepest despair that we really got to know God. Our hope is that when people share our sorrow as they read about Darcy, they will come face-to-face with the Savior.

Having said all that, I would like to offer two pieces of unsolicited advice to those who desire to comfort grieving families: First, it is better to offer nonverbal support, such as giving hugs or simply sitting quietly and listening. A sweet lady at our church did that for me. Whenever she saw me, she just leaned over and gave me a long hug without saying a word. I will never forget those hugs. Second, and this is in line with the first statement, do not feel compelled to say something and end up being insensitive (for example, “at least you have other children”).

10. What were some of the supportive things that friends and family did or said that were most helpful in dealing with the pregnancy and adjusting to life after Darcy was born?

Our Family

We came together and supported one another. There was no bickering or whining. The focal point was Darcy. It was the one thing we shared. We assured one another that her condition was not a result of anything we did. We said, “I love you” a lot.


Where do I begin? Every day for several weeks, we enjoyed meals that church friends had lovingly created. Our deacon family coordinated activities during Darcy’s birth. During the delivery, several women were there to coach me. Those who had medical backgrounds were available to us 24–7. Those who knew photography took literally hundreds of pictures of Darcy and the family. Church families spent the night to help us care for Darcy. Our pastors and deacon constantly checked on us and made sure we were in need of nothing. They brought a church service to our home (one of the items on Darcy’s List was to go to church.) The list is endless, but the experience would not have been the same without the support of our church family. Our little church became a picture of how the body of Christ should act.


Friends (neighbors, doctors and nurses, and other acquaintances) were very understanding. Knowing that hundreds of these people were available to us at a drop of a hat was so reassuring.

Total Strangers

The comments posted on Darcy’s Web site from people all over the world were a source of inspiration to us. Finding out about lives saved, families reunited, and people finding their way back to God gave us a clear sense that Darcy’s life had purpose. We took comfort and strength in those numbers: Approximately four thousand people a day followed Darcy’s story!


Prayer kept us connected to God. That connection stayed strong, due in large part to the thousands of petitions people brought to the only One who could help.


It may be difficult to open the Bible in times of such intense pain, but there is so much comfort to be had in knowing what the Lord has to say about times like these. The verses I have stated above have been my inspiration.


I played several specific songs constantly during our time with Darcy. Now when I hear those songs every now and then, my thoughts return to the sweet moments I had with my little girl in my arms, her smell, her softness, her purity.

You may find out more about this book at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cover Attraction: A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Title: A Tailor-Made Bride
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Release Date: 6/1/10
Publisher: Bethany House

About the book:

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind -- shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau -- leading to uproarious consequences for the whole town -- will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bridegrooms by Allison Pittman

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Bridegrooms by Allison Pittman scheduled to release in April 2010.

About the book:

It Only Takes an Instant for Love to Strike.
Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family on a hot summer night in Ohio when a mother of four vanishes. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grows up overnight and raises her three younger sisters while her father loses himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.
Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland’s fledgling amateur orchestra; her evenings with Garrison Walker, her devoted, if passionless, beau.
Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.
Suddenly, the subdued house is filled with visitors, from a flirtatious, would-be sports writer to the Bridegrooms’ handsome star hitter to the guilt-ridden ballplayer who should have caught the stray shot. The medical case brings Dr. Allenhouse a frustration and helplessness he hasn’t felt since his wife’s disappearance. Vada’s sisters are giddy at the bevy of possible suitors. And Vada’s life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.

I've got a New Car!!! :o)

Woohoo!!! I've been so excited the past few days, and about to bounce off the walls. I've finally gotten a new car! :o) YAY!! It's a 2010 Toyota Corolla, and I love it. It's got way more space than you'd think--the trunk is huge, it's got 3 glove boxes, 8+ cup holders (can't seat more than 5...still not sure why there's so many cup holders), great head and leg room, and nooks and crannies everywhere.

Wow....I am so blessed. :o)

Here's some pics for ya of my new car. We stopped by my in-laws house after we left the dealership, and my mother-in-law just had to get the camera out. :o) The top two pics are of the new car, and the bottom two are of my old car while it was being hauled onto the tow truck. I hate that we had to go through having an accident in order to get a new car because we've been planning to get one for some time, but I'm happy just the same. *grin*

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review: A Shattered Life, An Amazing God by Madeline A. Spencer

About the book:

Divorce broke his heart, abuse crushed his spirit, and betrayal shattered his life.

Before he was five years old, Cody experienced physical, verbal and sexual abuse. He would witness his mother's sexual immorality and drug abuse, and then she would be removed from his life. Her choices would adversely affect his young life and would send him into a pattern of fear, hopelessness, rebellion, and rage that would take him into a world of darkness he could not escape. His behavior was easily interpreted as malicious and devious, but those were just symptoms of a wounded spirit, a crushed heart, and a lonely little boy who desperately longed to be loved, but was terrified to be loved.

God's love would be poured out on Cody in an attempt to reach behind the wall that had been built around his broken heart. Years of destructive tendencies, despair, and fear would be ever so slowly penetrated, and a young man would begin to appear. Come walk through a five-year attempt to change a heart and redeem a soul. Step into a spiritual battle for a life.

In a world that trivializes God, come experience His presence as He equips a family to put on the full armor of God and to step into life the way God meant it to be. Learn how to reach out in love and grace while proclaiming the truth of the Living God.

Madeline Spencer was born in Syracuse, New York. As a teacher she has seen that children have been discarded in a narcissistic world. Reaching out in love to the lost young people she encounters in her community has become her role. She presently resides in Rochester, MI with her husband, Alan, and her daughter, Kelley.

My thoughts:

I very rarely read non-fiction, but when I do, I tend to gravitate toward stories that look like they're going to be stranger than fiction. From the description, I thought this would be a great book to see how God can really work in people's lives, and things can end up better than expected. Oh, how I was so very disappointed.

The author and her family open their home to this very troubled, confused young boy, Cody, which is more than a lot of people would do, and they welcome him into their home after his grandparents have thrown him out of theirs. And believe me, it's quite evident why they tossed him out. He does not care about anyone but himself, and only cares about getting his way all the time. The time he spent with the author and her family was nothing but a string of second chances that never seemed to end.

I couldn't even finish this book because after 200+ pages, nothing different ever seemed to happen. It was always the same thing over and over again--Cody messes up, Cody apologizes, Cody wants to do this, but can't and then throws a temper tantrum, Cody gets in a homosexual relationship, etc. Now, I don't have any experience in dealing with individuals that have this many problems, but after a long enough time of seeing a continual pattern....well, common sense has to take over at some point. They never seek out any type of professional help, even after it's disclosed at some point that Cody has members in his family that have bipolar disorder.

There was one incident that, in my opinion, caused this woman to lose all credibility. She repeated several times how she felt led to be the Good Samaritan to Cody, even though he continued to use and take advantage of her and her family. That's great and all, but she's an adult and he's a child, so she needs to make sure that she's making the right decisions along the way if she's going to go down this road. Well, there was a part of the story where the author and her husband and daughter go on a trip, and they ask Cody to stay at their house and watch the cats for them (Cody did not live with them at the time). The family gets into an airport that's about an hour or so from their house, and they're next flight to their home town is delayed for more than 4 hours. So, they call Cody and ask them if he can make the one-hour drive to the airport to pick them up. The problem here is that just a little more than a month prior to this, Cody had his licensed suspended for six months. The author and her husband had already been through some court appearances with Cody, and dealt with the costs that went along with them which were not cheap. So, knowing that, WHY in the world would this woman ask this boy to get into HER vehicle and take a one hour trip to pick them up because they don't want to wait at the airport when he'll be driving there on a suspended license????? Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously?? If he had had an accident or gotten pulled over on the way there, get the picture. Thankfully, nothing happened and everyone made it home safe and sound, but still, that's not smart decision-making at all.

I finally skipped to the end to see if anything different ever happened, namely if Cody EVER got his life back on track, but it doesn't appear to have happened yet. The author gives a brief summary dated August 2009, which was nothing more than a recap of the whole 356 pages before it. My question is why did the author go through all the steps of writing a book and getting it published if there was no change in Cody's behavior by the end of the story? All I can gather is that she thinks this book will help to make some sort of difference in Cody's life. I would've preferred to read this if Cody had made some sort of life change, given his life to God, or something other than the same monotony that exists through the entire book. As a whole, it's more depressing and stressful than it is uplifting.

1 Star

**This book was provided to me from the author for review through my contact with Bostick Communications.

I'm About to Have Some Fun!

This week, I was offered the coolest opportunity since I've been blogging. Now, I love reviewing books, and helping authors spread the words about their great books, but this is gonna be something altogether new for me entirely.

In just a few days, I'll be doing my first product review. YAY!!!! :o) I'll be getting the chance to review 3 different products from the website and website which carries items from a stool to silverware. Both are a part of which is huge, I tell ya. If you can't find something on there you like, well, need to get out more. :o) . Now, I've left out one other important piece of information. I have an addiction to Food Network, and especially a few certain celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Pat & Gina Neely, and Paula Deen. And now, I'm about to get to review some of Paula Deen's products from the website! Hooray!! :o)

Now, one of these products is a book...a cookbook, actually, and I just know it's gonna be FULL of great information to help people like me out in the kitchen. Now, I'm not a bad cook, at least according to my husband, but every girl needs tips and tricks to make her food taste just a little bit better....especially when we're talking about Southern food. :o)

Then, to go along with the cookbook, I'll also be reviewing 2 of Paula Deen's pieces of stoneware, this one and this one. I can already smell the great food that's about to come out of my kitchen thanks to CSN Stores and Paula Deen.

Oh, wait....there's MORE! I'll be hosting a giveaway for some Paula Deen goodies, too! One of them is a copy of the cookbook that I'll be reviewing plus one other surprise. :o) So, be watching in the next few weeks because we're gonna be having ALL kinds of fun over here!

**A HUGE THANK YOU to CSN Stores for this awesome opportunity! :o)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Walker's Wedding by Lori Copeland

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Walker's Wedding by Lori Copeland set to release in June 2010.

About the book:

Bestselling author Lori Copeland (Outlaw's Bride and A Kiss for Cade) weaves together elements of another classic Western romance with themes of redemption, forgiveness, and second chances.

Abandoned by his fiance hours before their wedding, Walker McKay is determined to never let a woman near his heart again, but he needs an heir to inherit his ranch after he is gone. Courting someone new is out of the question, so he'll have to find a wife another way.

Wealthy heiress Sara Livingston wants to be married, but her suitors are deemed unsuitable by her unreasonable father. When the opportunity to fill the bill for a mail-order bride comes her way, she grabs onto it with both hands.

Will Sara's deception and Walker's wounded heart keep them from finding what they are looking for? Or are they truly meant for one another?

Formerly titled Marrying Walker McKay, rewritten for the inspirational market.

**I'm really looking forward to this one!! Since I just read book one, Outlaw's Bride (here's my review), and am about to read book two, A Kiss for Cade, it's only natural that I want to read the last book, too. :o) And isn't the cover gorgeous?!?!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review: Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland

About the book:
Bestselling author Lori Copeland weaves together elements of a wonderful, classic Western romance with themes of forgiveness and grace.

Falsely convicted of bank robbery, drifter Johnny McAllister is sent to a rehabilitation program in the home of a California judge. When he goes to Judge McMann’s home, his aim is to be a model prisoner, hoping to be released early and return to his life's mission: to kill the man who wiped out his family 15 years before. He’s planned for everything…except his encounter with Ragan, the beautiful and kind housekeeper, and with the generous folks of Barren Flats. But can Johnny let go of his anger and embrace a new life? One that would include Ragan as his bride?

This tender story reveals how even the hard law of the land doesn’t stand a chance when God’s mercy and true love come to reside in a heart.

Formerly titled The Bride of Johnny McAllister, rewritten for the inspirational market.

My thoughts:

This was a sweet western-style romance that I really enjoyed. All of the characters were very engaging, likable people, although Johnny could be a little stubborn and mule-headed at times. The romance developed between Johnny and Ragan very naturally, and there were a few mildly steamy moments that made me blush a little. :o)

This book was originally written as a mainstream romance that was rewritten as Christian fiction, and I thought Lori did a great job revising it. The Christian elements did not seem to be written in as an afterthought, but instead, blended very well into the whole story.

Overall, this was a very good book with a good message, some humor, and a nice dose of romance. I'm very eager to read the next book in the series which I know Lori rewrote for the Christian fiction market as well.

4 Stars

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review: The Face by Angela Hunt

About the book:

Orphaned and severely deformed, from her earliest moments Sarah Sims has been kept hidden away in a secret CIA facility—until an unexpected discovery gives her an opportunity to make a life for herself at last.

Now Sarah has an ally, a long-lost aunt who has discovered her true identity. Aided by this brave psychologist, twenty-year-old Sarah must find the courage to confront the forces that have confined her for so long. And the strength to be reborn into a world she has never known.

My thoughts:

I've never been disappointed when reading Angela Hunt. There's just something about her books that sucks me in every single time. I love that she's a versatile author, not sticking to one genre, but really goes outside of the box....which translates to some great books. The Face was different from anything else I've ever read by her. The story has this "top-secret" feel to it because a lot of it deals with the CIA, and definitely has a flare of "if you don't need to know, you're not gonna know."

The storyline gets a little emotional at times as I couldn't help but feel sorry for Sarah and the experiences that she's missed out on. Sarah has been living in such a secluded place because of her deformity that she's only ever met about 10 people in her entire life, and she's never had the thrill of tasting a McDonald's hamburger. When her aunt Renee finally finds her and begins to offer a whole new life, it all sounds a little to good to be true.

On a completely different note....I'm accustomed to reading nothing but Christian fiction by Angela, and I was a little surprised to see that this book was published by a mainstream publisher. Because of that, The Face really has almost no Christian references, except the occasional mention of going to church. But it does have a very clean storyline with no profanity and no sex, which I am accustomed to seeing in mainstream fiction.

All in all, The Face is definitely a 5-Star read. It's got all the aspects I love in a contemporary novel--some suspense, some emotional tugging on my heart, and some real-life true information. Oh, and it's also got a great I didn't see coming at all. :o)

Friday, January 8, 2010

CFBA Tour: Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida

Summerside Press (November 1, 2009)


Sandra D. Bricker


For more than a decade, Author Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While writing in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant
and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

One of Sandie's passions revolves around the rights of animals. She's been involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue for several years now; in fact, a portion of the proceeds of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will go to help the non-profit group with their expenses. And Lost Angels paid her back in a big way: They brought a free-spirited Collie named Sophie into her life after the loss of her 15-year companion Caleb.

It was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer.

In Sandie's words: "I guess most people would see my career as a publicist as a sort of dream job. But giving it up turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me!" she declares. "Not only was I given the gift of getting to know my mother as an adult woman before she passed away, but I was also afforded the blessing of being able to focus completely on my dream of a writing career. I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost, so it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch their new Love Finds You line."


Lawyer Cassie Constantine has no plans to stay in Florida. She's here just long enough to sell her late husbands vacation house, a tacky bungalow she's always despised then she'll hightail it back to her gracious Boston brownstone.

But the place needs more work than Cassie bargained for. What's more, her widow status is like a target on her back and the elderly matchmakers around town manage to sidetrack her mission at every turn.

Holiday is a landmine of golf tournaments, ballroom dancing competitions, shuffleboard and day trips. But the biggest obstacle of all? Richard Dillon, the stuffed shirt she's paired with on the dance floor.

Cassie had always considered herself uptight but Richard won't take a walk on the beach without his socks and shoes! There's one little problem he makes her heart beat faster than the rhythm of the quickstep. Can Cassie and Richard let loose long enough to have a little fun?

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, go HERE.

Watch the trailer:

Book Review: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

About the book:

Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

My thoughts:

Having never read Jane Austen, and not knowing anything about governesses beyond watching The Sound of Music, The Silent Governess was both thrilling and captivating, and definitely hard to put down. It was also my first experience with Regency Romance. Needless to say, I've found a new addiction.

I could visualize the entire book unfolding like a movie in my mind. Each scene was written with such breathtaking detail, and made me want to take my next vacation in England. Not only was the scenery described wonderfully, but I felt like I could smell the countryside after it rained, as well as all the delectable goodies that came from Mrs. Moore's kitchen.

In general, it wasn't hard to be swept into the story, but with characters like Edward and Olivia, I'd be amazed to find someone that didn't like the story. Edward's just discovered a secret into his family's past that affects him greatly, and what's worse is Olivia overhears it. She is then offered a position of employment at his estate, and is instructed not to speak to anyone there except for him. Personally, not being able to speak would be enough to drive me crazy, but Olivia looks for other ways to communicate. With this one hurdle that Olivia has to overcome, I thought the author did an excellent job of describing how Olivia used other methods to communicate. Writing something down on a pad of paper may take longer for a person that can't speak, but conveying that through a story in just the right way definitely takes talent.

Even though Edward and Olivia were the two main characters of the story, I couldn't help but be caught up with some of the other characters' stories that eventually wove themselves in with the main story. Croome is portrayed as a woolly-booger of a man, but inside, has a soft heart, and Olivia's mother, Dorothea, is surrounded by a cloud of mystery because no one seems to know if she is dead or alive.

With all that said, I feel that I am falling far short of really telling how much I enjoyed this book. When I turned the final page, I was literally speechless. I can't believe I haven't read Ms. Klassen's other two books--surely they're both as incredible as this one! Now, please excuse me while I go pick up one of those to read next....

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Christian Historical Fiction Challenge

New Challenge Alert..... :o)

I have a hard time turning down any challenge that I feasibly think I can accomplish, and this one was a no-brainer. Margeret from Creative Madness is hosting a new challenge for 2010 for Christian Historical Fiction. Here are the rules:

1. The goal is to read and promote Christian Historical Fiction by reading at least 24 titles. That is two per month, but anyone who wants to commit to more or less is welcome to join in on the fun. Anyone can join. You do not need a blog to participate. I have started a CHF Ning to promote discussions as well.

2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, and other formats are all allowed. As long as the book can by purchased it counts.

3. Feel free to list a proposed lists of TBR (to-be-reads) but you can also list them as you go.

4. Duplicates from other reading challenges can also count.

5. Challenge begins January 3rd through December 31st. Books started before count. *wink*

From past experience, I'm not going to post a list of books that I intend to read because I never manage to follow them. This post will be the central location where I will keep track of the books I've read for this challenge. Can't wait to get started!

1. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen--1/8/10
2. A Sinister Silence by Jane Peart--1/9/10
3. Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland--1/10/10
4. Michal by Jill Eileen Smith--1/21/10
5. A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover--1/31/10

6. A Kiss for Cade by Lori Copeland--2/11/10
7. Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith--2/20/2010
8. Fit to Be Tied by Robin Lee Hatcher--3/2/2010
9. Wind by Calvin Miler--3/16/2010
10. Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson--3/19/2010
11. The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake-3/22/2010
12. Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis--3/24/2010
13. Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson--4/2/2010
14. The Bride Backfire by Kelly Eileen Hake--4/8/2010
15. The Desires of Her Heart by Lyn Cote--4/15/2010
16. Her Inheritance Forever by Lyn Cote--4/22/2010
17. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers--4/24/2010
18. No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan--4/28/2010
19. Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy--5/1/2010
20. Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy--5/3/2010
21. Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy--5/8/2010
22. Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot--5/10/2010
23. A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills--5/13/2010
24. Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell--5/16/2010

CFRB Blog Tour: The Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux by Clifford Leigh

This month, CFRB presents The Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux by Clifford Leigh.

About the Book:

"I was not certain if the whole world I had fallen into was upside-down and I was right-side-up, or vice versa."

Young Corey's secret life began the day his father refused him a cup of coffee. It drew him, again and again, to the coiling dragon on his father's green Chinese box and to the Carnival Surprise of the ice-cream man, Mr. Good. But he had no idea his desires would propel him with a whoosh into the strange, dark closet...or a headlong, terrifying fall and the adventure of a lifetime. It was a strange day...but nothing like the night Corian Griffin met the Electrolux.

Fantasy. Adventure. Surprise. A tale of growing up and growing wise.

About the Author:

Clifford Leigh is an author and illustrator, has had numerous gallery exhibitions in SoHo, and, as “Chief Idea Person” to Pop Artist Mark Kostabi, his work is exhibited in major galleries and museums worldwide. His continuing collaboration with Kostabi most recently produced an illustrated Book of Genesis and pieces for Pope Benedict XVI.

Cliff is also a designer for Evergreene Achitectural Arts, the world’s largest art and historical restoration firm. His design work can be seen in notable buildings such as The Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, St. Peter’s Church, San Francisco, the Miami City Hall, Grey Towers Historic Preservation, the Allen County Courthouse, and the Meridien Grand Opera House.

Cliff lives in New York with his wife and three sons. The Wordsmith, The Kid, and The Electrolux was entirely written and illustrated during his daily three-hour train commute. He is currently working on its sequel, Islandship River.

Visit the author's website and the WKE Blog.

Purchase The Wordsmith, the Kid, and the Electrolux at Amazon, Amazon Kindle, or Barnes and Noble.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

CFBA Tour: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Silent Governess

Bethany House; Original edition (January 1, 2010)


Julie Klassen


Julie says: My background is in advertising and marketing, but I am blessed with a dream job—working as an editor of Christian fiction. I have been writing since childhood, but Lady of Milkweed Manor was my first novel. It was a finalist for a Christy Award and won second place in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards. My second novel, The Apothecary's Daughter, was a finalist in the ACFW Book of the Year awards. I am currently writing one novel a year.

I graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends.

My husband and I have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.


Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of The Silent Governess, go HERE. You can also sign up as a Follower when you get to that page, and get announcements of the first chapters for all the great books we tour!

My thoughts so far:

I'm not far enough into the book to give a full opinion, but I can already tell that it's gonna be fabulous!. The vocabulary in the book is so rich and descriptive that I feel like I can just reach out and touch everything. This is my first experience, too, with Julie Klassen and so far, I have not been disappointed. More thoughts to come when I finish the book!