Sunday, June 30, 2013

PaigeTorn

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Torn
Think (May 1, 2013)
by
Erynn Mangum


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





A few things about her: So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!



ABOUT THE BOOK




Everyone knows they can count on Paige Alder. But between volunteering at church, putting in overtime at work, and helping her best friend plan an anniversary party, she's lucky to grab a cheese stick for dinner. Paige can't even remember the last time she had a few minutes to relax or dig into God's Word. Then she meets laid-back Tyler, an attractive, Jesus-loving guy. Will he be able to help Paige get her priorities on track?

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


Book Review

Do you have a problem saying No?   Meet Paige Alder.   This girl has never met the word.   Seriously, you need to look at her schedule.   You would think it was funny if it just... weren't.    I am not sure what Erynn Mangum meant when she wrote this book, but I know that it hit me right between the eyeballs.    Sometimes you just need to slow down and have someone to remind you that it is OK to say "no" and sometimes that comes in the form of a really great book like this one.   Grab this one and read it and be reminded why God told us to "BE STILL!"

Currently....

Listening... to an episode of "Perception" that my husband is watching.  I really don't think he is watching it either since he is scheduling his meetings for the week.  I guess we both need a little background noise while we are getting a little detail work done.   The only other sounds are the clothes tumbling in the dryer and the occasional meow of our cat when we don't pet her as often as she thinks we should.

Loving... that tomorrow morning I do not have to set an alarm.   I plan to get up and drink one two cups of coffee and just read a book in complete silence before the boys get up.  

Thinking... about the girls in my Sunday School class.   I adore them.   I never know what they are going to ask or say on Sunday mornings, but that is part of what I love about them and our class.   They keep me on my toes.   I wish they could see themselves the way I see them.   More than that I wish they could see themselves the way God see them.  

Wanting... to snap my fingers, blink my eyes, twitch my nose or whatever it takes to magically have my house all put back together.   Walls repaired and repainted.   New floors installed.   Doors replaced.    This is like the foundation repair project that will never end.    

Needing... a money tree.  




Friday, June 28, 2013

Best. Week. Ever. 2013

WinShape Camps for 2013 is in the books.    It is almost impossible to describe a week of WinShape without experiencing it.   It is an incredible camp hosted by Chick-Fil-A and offers the highest quality of events for kids in grades 1st through 6th.  

Here are some pictures from our week.  The first photo is the amazing WinShape staff: 23 young men and women who gave up their summer to travel to nine different communities to conduct these camps and share God's love with kids!  AWESOME!
















Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pieces of the Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pieces of the Heart
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
by
Bonnie S. Calhoun


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year,” President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference(GPCWC).

For the last six years she has taught workshops in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and creating Social Media promotions at both CCWC, and GPCWC, and in 2011 at the Montrose, Pa Christian Writers Conference. She also taught a Facebook workshop at the 2012 ACFW conference.

Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin in upstate area of New York with a dog and cat who think she’s wait-staff.

Her sites are: https://www.facebook.com/bonniescalhounsnarkandsuspense
https://www.facebook.com/bscalhoun

ABOUT THE BOOK

Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

If you would like to read teh first chapter of Pieces of the Heart, go HERE.

Book Review

I first saw a Pine Burr Quilt when I was a little girl at my friend's house.   It was mesmerizingly beautiful.    My friend told me all about how her grandmother made it for her.    My mind's eye thought of my friend and her grandmother as I read the story of Cordelia and her grandmother. 

My heart hurt when Cordelia faced the evil taunts of racism from childhood bullies.   The feelings of loss of some of the most important people in her life.  It was torn as it faced PTSD when her husband came back from the war.   I worried about her being hungry when she was dealing with food rations.  

"Pieces of the Heart" is not the only book in the Quilts of Love series, but it is the one you should not miss.   It is the one that will make you think and will make you rethink.   "Pieces of the Heart" is the best book of 2012.   It is a definite must read.   

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel
B&H Publishing Group (April 30, 2013)
by
Melody Carlson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.



ABOUT THE BOOK

With high hopes, Dorothy Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dot passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Dorothy, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Dorothy only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dot’s cats.

And if Dorothy thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dot's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

If you would liketo read the first chapter of Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, go HERE.

Book Review

Aunt Dot is Dorothy's favorite Aunt.   She didn't think twice about going back to her hometown when her aunt dies.  She is the most surprised person in the room when the will is read and Aunt Dot's home and all its contents are handed over to her.   However, all of this comes with strings which is why the book the called "Lock, Stock and Over A Barrel".   

What a fun book this was to read.    It is the first book I have had the chance to really sit down and enjoy in a long time.   Of course, Melody Carlson writes books that are so easy to enjoy.   She writes in a style that just makes you say, "Oh that is so me!"   No matter who you are there always seems to be a character in the book that you identify with and that is what makes Carlson such a popular author.

In this book, most people will identify with Dorothy.   Who likes to step outside their comfort zone?   Likes to accept a challenge with no guarantees or promised endings?   Not many of us for sure.    You will find  yourself cheering for Dorothy, holding your breath that she makes the right choices and simply praying that she allows herself to see herself as her sweet Aunt Dot did.

I received this book free from CFBA and B & H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fear Has A Name

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fear Has a Name
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
by
Creston Mapes


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Creston has fond memories of his boyhood in Bath, Ohio, where he became enchanted with his future wife, way back in the fourth grade. His father, Bernie, owned and operated The Weathervane Furniture Shop in town. The whole family lived right upstairs in the century-old house known as "The Shop."

Creston studied journalism at Bowling Green State University, then began his writing career. During the past 30 years, he has worked as a reporter, corporate copywriter, creative director, freelance writer, and author.


ABOUT THE BOOK


From popular suspense author Creston Mapes comes another faith-building thriller, a tale that follows journalist Jack Crittendon as he fights to protect his family from a stalker's terrifying schemes, investigates a pastor's mysterious disappearance, and struggles to keep his faith amidst unthinkable fear.

With his family's safety on the line, Crittendon realizes there are secrets behind "Christian" walls--secrets with painful, deadly implications. He must find the faith to trust a God who allows inconceivable trials, and the courage to guard his family, with danger exploding at every turn.

Through it all--the sharp, character-driven writing for which Mapes is known--takes fans and new readers on an edge-of-your-seat journey that explores the harsh, far-reaching consequences of bullying and the Christian response to fear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fear Has a Name, go HERE.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Church vs Boy Scouts: A Sad Battle

When I think of the  Boy Scout organization I think of amazing young men like Stephen, Cade and Wil.   All three of these young men grew up in scouting and achieved the highest ranking that the Boy Scouts offers - Eagle Scout.   They each had to earn at least 21 merit badges and stay true to demonstrating what is called the "Scout Spirit" through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service, and leadership.   The final step to achieving Eagle is planning, organizing, leading, executing and managing an extensive project which benefits the community.  

All of those details have faded in the shadow of the current debate which is now prominent in our news.   The Boy Scouts have made the decision to allow gay members.   The Southern Baptist Convention issued a statement saying that homosexual conduct is contrary to a scout's oath to do his duty to God.   It  approved a non-binding resolution opposing the Boy Scout policy at its annual convention in Houston. The resolution requires no action by member churches but leaves them to decide individually whether to stop sponsoring scout troops.   

Since then I have seen article after article in the news about churches who are not allowing Boy Scouts to meet in their church.   

There is something sadly ironic about this decision to me.   A church is supposed to be a hospital.  A place to find help and healing.   Every Sunday our pews are filled with people who are sinners.   It is no secret that a lot of time people hide their hurting because they feel like they have to be "perfect" to be at church.

Do these decisions by churches to push out the Boy Scouts further reinforce this feeling?  Are we missing a prime opportunity to minister and show God's love?    

When I think about this decision and all it means, my heart thinks about all the young men and women we work with on Tuesday evenings.    Young adults struggling with homosexuality, drug addiction, alcoholism, rejection from their families, anger -- you name it.    So many of them are scared of the church and "Christians" because they have felt judged by them because they did not feel good enough. 

I love Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28...


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 

Our churches need to return to being a place where a weary and burdened world can come and get help.   Not a battle ground that tells them that we have drawn a line in the sand.   



Sunday, June 9, 2013

An Open Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Open Heart
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
by
Harry Kraus


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Their Messages—From Beyond the Grave—Might Destroy Him ...

They hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. And the messages Dr. Jace Rawlings’ open-heart surgery patients bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.

It thrusts Jace into a firestorm of controversy and danger. A maeltsrom blown by the darker winds of political intrigue and spiritual warfare. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But what he will find in that place where he grew up will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career . . . his life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of An Open Heart, go HERE.