Friday, March 30, 2012

{GlassRoad Blog Tour} River's Call, Inn at Shining Waters Series #2 by Melody Carlson

Book Description:  Anna Larson's daughter, Lauren, is confused, brokenhearted, and misguided. It's the turbulent 1960s and feeling alienated from her mother, Lauren chooses to stay with her paternal grandmother. However, repelled by the woman's manipulative and spiteful ways, Lauren returns to her mother, the river, and the Inn at Shining Waters.
There, Lauren begins to appreciate the person her mother is becoming - and she loves the river. However, her mother's romantic interest throws a wrench into the works and Lauren, jealous and angry, returns to her grandmother yet again.
But as time passes, and Lauren, now a mother to her own defiant teenager, faces a new crisis, one that puts the entire family at risk.
My Review: When I began reading River's Call by Melody Carlson I was captivated by the mother/daughter relationship of Anna and Lauren.  To be truthfully honest Lauren reeked of being a spoiled, bratty, I'm.in.my.own.world older teenager.  I realized that I truly disliked Lauren and thought wow!  this is great fiction because I "feel" such dislike for a made up character!
Anna is a kind and gentle mom...maybe that's why Lauren is such a brat.  Anyway, Anna seems to be able to lead Lauren through some fairly terrific battles and get Lauren to the "right" side os life.  Through no help of her mother-in-law!
This is one of those reads, though set in the 1960's, really pertains to a lot of teenagers and their parents struggles in today's life.  I think this book would be great as required reading for girls between the ages of 13-18.  
It was not only Lauren's life and perspective but also Anna's unselfish, sometimes bordering on too giving, that opens the reader's eyes to the life and struggles of the generations.
Even though this is a great read it was also quite sad.  My heart truly hurt for Sarah.  I thought of the quote by Andrew Bernstein when pondering this read, "Nothing is given to man on earth - struggle is built into the nature of life, and conflict is possible - the hero is the man who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen."
I didn't realize this was the second in the Inn at Shining Waters Series so I'm not sure I missed anything...this is also a great stand alone read, in my opinion.  But like any good reader I wish I had read the books in order so that I could "see" the whole family picture.
*This book was provided by Glass Road PR for review*
Inn at Shining River's Series

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN-13: 9781426712678

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

Book Description:  Married life hasn't always been bliss for Brad and Darlene, but their strong faith has carried them through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises. While working with special needs children at her new job, Darlene meets a little boy who steals her heart. His widowed father is paying more attention to her than is probably appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening for the first time in a long time.
My Review: Need You Know by Beth Wiseman is probably one of the best "growing old together" reads that I've ever had the pleasure to invest my time in reading.
As a married woman who has pretty much been a stay-at-home mom all her married life, Darlene, takes a  job working/teaching special needs kids....tension arises in the Henderson household because Darlene isn't always there to keep everything running and in tune...her daughter, Grace, is growing up too quickly and has needs. Darlene's husband, Brad, is use to depending on Darlene and is use to her picking up all the pieces.  And now Darlene feels that she is doing something useful!  And then Dave, Cara's widowed dad, seems to paying more and more attention to Darlene and well, it is nice that someone understands, sees Darlene's needs and sees her as a woman!
Even though Darlene and Brad have always relied on their faith to see them through the "rough times" Darlene knows that this is the time that she needs God's help the most.  Need You Now is one of those reads that deeply touches one's heart, simply because we all need God to help us and rescue us from ourselves!
*This book was provided for review by B&B Media Group, Inc*
Meet the Author: 
Beth is a Carol Award Winner, Inspirational Readers Choice Winner, INSPY Winner, and the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. All of her books have held spots on the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller list and the CBA (Christian Book Association) bestseller list. She grew up in Houston, Texas and now resides in a small town west of Houston with a population of around 300. She lives with her husband, two dogs, two cats, two pot bellied pigs, two chickens and a pygmy goat. Her two grown sons also live in Texas.
Beth has been writing in some capacity for most of her life. She's a former award-winning journalist with eleven honors, including 'First Place News Writing' for The Texas Press Association. However, writing love stories with a spiritual message is where her heart is.
When Beth isn't writing (which is seldom these days) she enjoys traveling, cooking, fishing, reading, or just settling in for a good movie. Her best times are spent with family and friends!
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595548874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548870

Read!

A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.  ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Easy Zucchini Parmesan

With our zucchini beginning to pop out, I found this great recipe on Pinterest.  And it's delicious!  

Ingredients

    Zucchini, 1 cup, sliced Parmesan Cheese, grated, 1 tbsp I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Original Buttery Spray, 10 sprays Non-stick cooking spray


Directions

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then coat with some non-stick cooking spray. Place the zucchini slices out on the pan, then spritz with them with the butter spray. Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and then pop it in the oven. Broil for a few minutes - until the cheese starts to brown. Enjoy it while it's warm!

Make a larger batch for a delicious and healthy side dish for any meal! Your family will love it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

{Kregel Blog Tour} Simon and the Easter Miracle by Mary Joslin and Anna Luraschi

Book Description:  Together with sophisticated artwork, a picture book retelling of a traditional European tale, with the events and meaning of the first Easter at its heart
Both thought-provoking and engaging, this is the story of Simon of Cyrene —"a man coming in from the country," as the Gospels refer to him—who was ordered to carry Jesus' cross. Over the centuries, his story has been woven into Polish folklore; when Simon the farmer brings his wares to market, little does he expect how he will be involved in the events of that very special day, nor how his produce—of bread, eggs, and wine—will become important symbols of Jesus' passion and resurrection, remembered throughout the ages.

My Review: This is a traditional Easter story.  Simon is a farmer on his way to the market.  The story centers around the market place, the hub of the city.
As Simon is about to set up his place to sell his goods he is confronted by a solider.  The soldier wants him to immediately put his bags down and carry the cross.  
Simon does as he is commanded for who would go against a Roman soldier with a very sharp sword?  But after the day has worn on and Simon returns to his place he finds that all his bags have been overturned and everything is ruined.
But then an Easter miracle takes place for Simon!
This is a great story for kids!  My 11 year-old immediately read this story as soon as it arrived.  He loved it!  Not just the pictures but he loved the story.  He mentioned that God must have really loved Simon since Simon got to help Jesus, God's Son.  
The art work is colorful and each page stands out in its telling of Simon's story.  This is one of those books that makes a great addition to any child's Easter basket!
*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*
  • Reading level: Ages 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Lion UK (January 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745960588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745960586


Monday, March 26, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

*guest post by Michelle Massaro and April Gardner
Last week, COTT posted a "Flash Clash" in which readers had just 2 days to cast their votes between two 100-word excerpts. It was a fast one! But not so fast that voters didn't have time for their say.


To add to the tension, the winner took the clash by a margin of one vote. That’s right. ONE vote difference. Both excerpts were so good, readers were split almost exactly down the middle. I love clashes that are this close!

The winner of our Flash Clash First Hundred is…

Rebecca Carey Lyle’s Winds of Wyoming.
 CONGRATULATIONS, BECKY!!

Winds of Wyoming clashed against Tom Blubaugh’s Night of the Cossack. It was a pleasure getting to know both authors during this fun, super-speedy clash. We wish many blessings on their writing paths!

Here's what readers had to say about both books:

*Great excerpts...both caught my interest immediately!
*Wow - two really great flashes that sound like amazing stories! Love it!
*Keep writing and don't give up!
*Both excerpts were great, especially given the short time to convey what was happening in the story. Keep up the good work!

 
COTT is taking a spring break starting immediately. We will begin clashing again on April 2, 2012 when hostess Gail Pallotta brings us a brand new clash--Comparable Covers!

In the meantime, check out these other Splashdown Books…



Friday, March 23, 2012

Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Book Description:  At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
My Review:  Quiet  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain was such an eye opening read for me. 
I am an introvert...no it's not a bad word!  It simply means I like quiet and time to process my thoughts.  And yes!  I can talk too.
While reading Quiet I learned so much that I had misunderstood.  Not just about myself but about others, too.  For example, on page 226, "Is something wrong with me?....Probably the most common - and damaging - misunderstanding about personality type is that introverts are antisocial and extroverts are pre-social.  But as we've seen, neither formulations is correct; introverts and extroverts are differently social."  This statement gave me SUCH freedom.  
We, as people, are all created differently and uniquely.  One of my uncles is energized by people.  He loves to talk and talk to people he doesn't know.  He loves to be surrounded by people and is energized by their thoughts and talking.  On the other hand, my dad, his brother, loves to work in the garage building wonderful pieces of furniture or toys.  I love them both and they both have a special place in this world even though one is an extrovert and one is an introvert.
Reading this book was like drinking a tall refreshing glass cold lemonade.  Just the right amount of "sour" with the tingling, refreshing feel of "sweet."  
I loved the conclusion of this read...the "blueprint."  Ms. Cain tells us to put ourselves in the right lighting.  Some of us need Broadway lights and some need a lamplit desk.  
I was impressed with the insights of this read.  A great read for all...no matter if you're an introvert or an extrovert!
*This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah for review*
Meet the Author: 

Hi, I'm Susan Cain, author of the forthcoming book, "QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" (Crown Publishers in the U.S., Viking/Penguin in the U.K., Jan. 2012).
Before I became a writer, I practiced corporate law for seven years, representing clients like Goldman Sachs and General Electric. Then I started a negotiation consultancy, training all kinds of people, from hedge fund managers to TV producers to college students negotiating their first salaries. My clients have included Merrill Lynch, Shearman & Sterling, One Hundred Women in Hedge Funds, and many more. I went to Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
From this you might guess that I'm a hardcore, wonderfully self-confident, pound-the-table kind of person, when in fact I'm just the opposite. I prefer listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings. I like to think before I speak (softly). I've never given a speech without being terrified first. And somehow I know that everything I've ever accomplished, in love and in work, I owe to these traits, annoying though they may sometimes be. I've explored this paradox in my book.
I live on the banks of the Hudson River in an 1822 captain's cottage with my beloved husband and sons. My favorite activities are reading, writing, lounging around caf├ęs, and doing the mambo with my family. I use a lot of old-fashioned expressions. A few times a year, I try to like cooking. I'm insatiably curious about human nature. I'm a proud member of the Invisible Institute, a small authors group whose members include Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times bestselling authors, and some of the most inspiring human beings in New York City.

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307352145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307352149
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NIV Boys Bible by Zonderkidz

Book Description:  The NIV Boys Bible was created especially for boys ages 9 to 12 and helps them grow into the young men God wants them to be. Fun in-text features help boys dig deep into the Word and learn about amazing people, facts, and stories of the Bible.


My Review:  We've been looking for a Bible for our twelve year old son.  He wants a Bible that doesn't have "baby pictures" or any cutesy stuff.  So, when we saw this Bible, the NIV Bible for Boys, we were impressed.  The hard back cover makes it durable for young men who may be a little careless in how they hold a soft back Bible and the cover has the "tough" look ... a metal locker look.
My son liked the "What's the Big Deal" squares that have short encouraging words of faith that go with the scripture...for example on page 465, I Chronicles 1:6, recaps what was read and why it is a big deal.  He also liked the "grossology" small squares that give a "gross" fact about a verse that was read. Again, we were reading in I Chronicles.  So the "grossology" was I Chronicles 10:10 about the Philistine's splitting on Saul's dead body.  I found these "grossologies" quite interesting...facts that we might not have thought about otherwise.
We,also, liked the read through the Bible schedule in the very back and the My Notes pages to write about God's Word.  
Again, there is so much to read in this Bible that you truly need to check it out for yourself.
This Bible is especially great for boys who are 9-12 years old.  
*This Bible was provided for review by B&B Media Group Inc.*

Book & Bible Cover Size: Medium
Page Count: 1504
Paper Edge Description: Plain
Size: 5.9 wide x 8.8 high x 1.7 deep in. | 150 wide x 223 high x deep 43 mm
Weight: 2.145 lb | 972 gms
Available: March 2012
World excluding United Kingdom & Europe (NIV Bible)
Publisher: Zonderkidz

NIV faiThGirLz! Bible by Zonderkidz

Book Description:  Packed with exciting features that help tween girls better understand themselves and Scripture, the Faithgirlz Bible teaches girls that the Bible is real, relevant, and, best of all, that the story of God and his people is also their story. With in-text features written by tween expert Nancy Rue, the Faithgirlz Bible uses the bestselling New International Version (NIV).

My Review:  In America we have a gigantic shelf of Bibles of choose from.  Within this gigantic shelf it can be quite hard to pick a Bible that your child will truly read.  Some Bibles for kids have such small print that the kids will never read this Bible, simply because they can't see the words...or a Bible that has way too many pictures and extras so that the child never really gets God's message just a bunch of extra stuff. 
When I saw this Bible, faiTheGirLz Bible in NIV, I truly liked it.  I love the cover and the fact that it is hard back.  The bright pink with cute flowers on the cover makes it a nice looking and ready for a girl to read.
This is also a great Bible because of the short devotionals throughout the books of the Bible...for example, on page 859, the devotional "Dream Girl" puts everyday life compared to Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, into perspective for a girl.  
Then on page 942 at the bottom of the page is a "Is There a Little Ezekiel in You?"  These boxes have a question or two with a statement of faith and the verse reference.
There is so much in this Bible that will involve the girl reading it.  I like the "oh, i get it!" boxes and the "Bring it on!" circles too!  There is also a Bible reading schedule at the back and pages for a girl to write Notes about what she is reading or learning.
This Bible is probably best for girls ages 9-12 but I'll be honest as a grown woman I simply love this Bible too.  
God's Word is beautiful and this Bible makes it a pleasure to read His words!
*This Bible was provided for review by B&B Media Group Inc.*

Book & Bible Cover Size: Medium
Page Count: 1504
Size: 5.9 wide x 8.8 high x 1.6 deep in. | 150 wide x 223 high x deep 40 mm
Weight: 2.165 lb | 981 gms
Available: March 2012
World excluding United Kingdom & Europe
Publisher: Zonderkidz

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

{Tyndale House Publishers Blog Tour} The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer and Book Giveaway

Book Description:  Plea bargains may grease the rails of justice, but for Jamie Brock, prosecuting criminals is not about cutting deals. In her three years as assistant DA, she’s never plea-bargained a case and vows she never will. But when a powerful defense attorney is indicted for murder and devises a way to bring the entire justice system to a screeching halt, Jamie finds herself at a crossroads. One by one, prisoners begin rejecting deals. Prosecutors are overwhelmed, and felons start walking free on technicalities. To break the logjam and convict her nemesis, Jamie must violate every principle that has guided her young career. But she has little choice. To convict the devil, sometimes you have to cut a deal with one of his demons. 

My Review:  The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer can only be described as INCREDIBLE! 
Wow!  From the first page until the end of the book the reader is captured by the legal system. First, of all I had to look up the definition of plea bargain.  Sure, we hear this term all the time but what does it really mean?  
The definition of a plea bargain is "a negotiation in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutor agrees to drop a more serious charge" truly sums up the gist of this read!
The story begins with Caleb Tate in a serious 911 panic.  He seems truly concerned about his wife's state of being.  And then the reader begins Chapter 1.  Well, more comes out about Caleb Tate and his trophy wife.
This is where the story just takes off!  Enter, Jamie Brook, one feisty and determined lawyer who is determined, through the legal system, to cut out the evil in the land.  A modern day Lois Lane!  One can't help but like and root for Jamie.  With a dying father and a mother who's gone onto her heavenly reward Jamie only wants justice served to Caleb Tate.
But as the read continues, there are more twists and turns in this suspenseful read than a Arkansas mountain road on a snowy night!
Learning about the legal system and  the not.so.good people who claim to be on the right of the law was fascinating.
Just when the reader thinks s/he has figured this mystery out...boom!  another twist!
An absolutely wonderful read!  *But one word of warning...don't begin this book unless you have time to finish it.  I simply lost track of time as I entered into Jamie's life.  So, for three solid hours my heart pounded and my feet raced along with Jamie.  Such a grand adventure we had!

*This book was provided for review by Tyndale Publishing*
Meet the Author:
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at www.randysinger.net.
GIVEAWAY!
*Tyndale Publishing is kindly offering ONE reader The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer {winner will be mailed a certificate for this book}.
***Simply leave a comment stating why you'd like to read this book along with your email address.
Winner will be announced on April 2, 2012


Title: The Last Plea Bargain
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Pub Date: March 01, 2012
ISBN: 9781414333212

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Downfall {An Intervention Novel} by Terri Blackstock

Book Description:  Despite Emily Covington’s sobriety, she can’t escape her past. Her years of active drug addiction have made her the scapegoat for everything, including a murder. Now she has to identify the real killer to clear her name and protect her family. From the explosive first pages, Terri Blackstock rockets the suspense level to new heights in Downfall, the third book in the bestselling, award-winning Intervention Series.
My Review: Downfall by Terri Blackstock is one of those reads that one should not begin when one is going to get up early the next day to teach!  
When I received Downfall in the mail I immediately opened it up to the first page...well...I just kept reading and reading (so thankful supper was over and cleaned up}!
Ironically, our family had just watched Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Strangers On A Train, the weekend before I received my book.  If you've seen Strangers On A Train then the whole idea of Downfall makes perfect sense.
I loved the way Terri Blackstock incorporated the movie into her novel.  
A girl, Emily, who has overcome drug abuse.  A brother, Lance, who struggles to be all he can be!  A mother, Barbara, who longs for His peace and the love of a good man.  A good man and detective/cop, Kent, who loves Barbara.  The mystery of two dead dead women.  And Emily is at the top of the guilty list!
Emily, who has a shady past with drug use, seems to be the fall guy for a crazy guy's scheme. 
Now, Lance her, brother is a protector of the innocents.  Lance reminds me of Sir Lancelot out of the King Arthur series.  Lance has a heart as big as Texas!
Emily's mom, Barbara, reacts in a way I think most moms of ex-drug users would react...with fear that her child is on drugs again!
Once again Terri Blackstock has written an excellent novel with a few twists and turns that leaves the reader with a sense of how.did.I.miss.that!
After reading Downfall I realized that this is the last book in the Intervention Series.  I didn't read the previous two books and this book made perfect sense to me; however, there are references to Lance's scars and how he received them, so reading the books in order would most definitely benefit the reader!  
Want to read a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat?  Well, here it is!  Go read!
*This book was provided by Zondervan for review*

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031033148X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310331483

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

Guest blogger: Jennifer Slattery



Sometimes Clash of the Titles highlights great talent. Other times we get to "discover it." This is exactly what happened with our speculative fiction unpub'bed clash.

Join me in welcoming Chawna Schroeder to the COTT family!

There's nothing like discovering great talent before it goes to print! And I have a feeling we're going to see our latest COTT champion's books on bookshelves very soon. When we do, we can all say, "We saw her on COTT first!" And this clash--a battle for best speculative fiction unpub'bed--was even more exciting because the winner has been invited to submit a full proposal to Asraea Press for immediate review!

Her winning excerpt was pulled from the pages of Metamorphosis, a gripping tale of a Beast and her master:

Once upon a time there lived a Beast…
Not in a shining castle, but among a pack of dogs.

For as long as Beast can remember she has lived among her master’s dogs. With them she sleeps. With them she eats. With them she fights and struggles to survive. But through hunger and cold, she dreams of one day becoming Master’s favorite, earning bones with meat and a place beside the fire.

Then strangers attack. Her pack scatters. Fire eats the village. And Beast knows: Master is no more.

Alone and unprotected, Beast tries to defend herself against slavers scavenging for any leftovers. But she is only one, and they are strong.

Tracked by men, sold as a monster, is Beast only prey to be hunted…
…or something more?

A few comments from readers:

"I enjoyed both excerpts! I am curious about the world created in A, but B really got me in the gut."

"Great job! Keep writing!"

"God has given you a gift. Your TRUE fans will always be there for you!! Never give up and follow your dreams!!! I am sending up a prayer for you and your family!!!"
Join us March 19-23 for a fun Flash Clash!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beckon COME.AND LIVE FOREVER By Tom Pawlik

Book  Description:  Some things weren’t meant to be discovered. Three people are each drawn to the small town of Beckon, Wyoming. A young anthropologist researches a Native American legend and makes a terrifying discovery. An ex-cop investigating her cousin’s disappearance finds herself in grave peril. And an aging businessman is lured by the promise of a miracle. One by one they discover the town’s ghastly secret. The only question is . . . will any of them make it out alive?

My Review:  I'm not a fan of sci-fi or out of this world space adventures but my curiosity was piqued as I read the description of this read.  So, I thought why not have a change of pace and read something out of my "normal genres?"  
I love the cover of this book...that was another selling point for me...but as I began reading this story I thought this isn't weird as at all.  In fact. this story begins like a mystery.  A son, a missing dad, a friend, and a mystery to solve.
There's just something about Jack that makes the reader feel at home...a likable guy, with a good head on his shoulders and kind.
Then there's Jack's best friend, Rudy, a true blue kind.of.friend.  
So, off Jack and Rudy head to find Jack's missing father.  Jack and Rudy meet Ben, an Indian of sorts, who knows the lay of the land and the caves.  Ben helps Jack and Rudy find their way.
Now about chapter 14, page 115, the reader feels like he has stepped into the Twilight Zone.  Ben And Jack are trying to find their way out of the caves and come in contact with the N'watu tribe...underground cave dwellers.  This is where the action really begins and where the story starts coming together.
Then other people begin coming...Elina, Javier, George, Dwight, and Miriam, to name a few.  Jack can't quite figure it all out but there is something strange happening....
I loved this read and found the ending..."Welcome to Beckon.  You're not here by chance." almost ironic considering the whole of the story.  
A great read!
*This book was provided for review by Tyndale*
Meet the Author:
Tom Pawlik is the Christy Award-winning author of Vanish, which also won first place in the 2006 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. The sequel, Valley of the Shadow, was a Christy Award finalist. Tom has a BA in communication and works in the marketing field. He has also been active in Christian teaching, youth work, and music for over 20 years. In addition to writing fiction, Tom is an accomplished songwriter and musician who writes and records at his home studio. He and his wife, Colette, live in Ohio with their five children.






Binding:
Softcover
ISBN:
978-1-4143-3873-6
List Price:
$12.99
Release Date:
April 2012
Page Count:
416

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt; Illustrated by Diana Magnuson

The True Princess
Book Description:  
A Parable in the truest sense, this story teaches children the meaning of Jesus' words, "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant". The concept of royalty pervades the Bible, and this book offers an opportunity for parents and teachers to teach children about being royalty in God's family. Full-color illustrations.

My Review:  This is one of my most favorite children's books!  The illustrator, Diana Magnuson, has portrayed the princess and the area with excellent exactness of the time period.  But it's the message of the story by Angela Elwell Hunt that really hits home.  I've read this story many times to both boys and girls in children's church classes and they all seem to enjoy the lesson.  The True Princess comes straight from the heart.  The story is all about learning to live as the King wants us to and not as selfish beings.  The princess learns to bake, clean up and to laugh at her self.  This is a wonderful story with a great lesson for children and adults alike. 
 It seems to be out of print now.  But if you can find this book is available on  Amazon so be sure to purchase it.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Purchase hardback copy Here!

  • Reading level: Ages 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Charismakids (October 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591856337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591856337

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Weight Watchers Blueberry Dump Cake

Another great recipe from Pinterest!  This time a WW dessert. One can have their cobbler and not feel bad about it! 
Weight Watchers Blueberry Dump Cake 
Makes 12 servings
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups pineapples, crushed
2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1/2-1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup butter
1 package yellow lemon cake mix
Preparation
1. Pour the pineapple and berries into a 13×9-inch pan.
2. “Dump” the cake mix (sprinkle) over the berries and pineapple. Melt the stick of butter.
3. Pour over the cake mix.
4. Sprinkle the nuts over the top.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 50 minutes, depending on oven, until bubbly.
WW POINTS per serving: 7
Nutritional information per serving: 311 calories, 16g fat, 1.7g fiber

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Perfect Square (A Shipshewana Amish Mystery) by Vannetta Chapman

Book Description: There's more to the quaint northern Indiana town of Shipshewana than handcrafted quilts, Amish-made furniture, immaculate farms and close-knit families. When a dead girl is found floating in a local pond, murder is also afoot. And Reuben Fisher is in jail as the suspect! Reuben refuses to divulge any information, even to clear himself of a crime Deborah is certain he didn't commit. So, with her English friend, Callie---fellow sleuth and owner of Daisy's Quilt Shop---Deborah sets out to uncover the truth. But the mystery deepens when an elderly man seeks Callie's help in finding his long-lost daughter, missing since the days of the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes. An old man who has lost his past. A young man who may lose his future. Once again Deborah and Callie find themselves trying to piece together a crazy quilt of lives and events---one that can bring unexpected touches of God's grace and resolve the tragedy that has shaken this quiet Amish community.

My Review:  Having read Falling To Pieces the first book in this series, I was expectantly waiting for A Perfect Square to be released.  So when I received my copy I immediately dove into another mystery with Callie, Deborah and Esther.
I loved the mystery in Falling To Pieces and getting to know the three besties and Max but in A Perfect Square the reader quickly recognizes that Mrs. Chapman has "grown" in her development of a grand story.  A Perfect Square can be a stand alone read but I was so glad I read Falling To Pieces first....getting to know the "ins and outs" of Callie's life in this small community and understanding her friendships makes for a simply divine read!
In this cozy Amish mystery it seems that Deborah is the one to get into the mix of the mayhem!  I truly enjoyed this second Amish mystery and am {im}patiently waiting for the third read!  
Love good reads with a twist?  Then don't miss this grand-tastic cozy Amish mystery!
*Zondervan Publishing*
Meet the Author:
Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her first novel, A Simple Amish Christmas, quickly became a bestseller. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.
For more information, visit her at
webpage -- www.VannettaChapman.com
blog -- http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com
facebook -- www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks, and
pinterest -- http://pinterest.com/vannettachapman

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310330440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310330448

Monday, March 12, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

*guest post by COTT Sr. Editor, April W Gardner


This week, it was my privilege to spend a few extra minutes with author Gail. Gail is one of the blog alliance correspondents at Clash of the Titles.

Her husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with someone’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. Working as an editor and freelance writer, Gail published a couple hundred articles. While some of them are in anthologies, two ended up in museums. In 2004, the American Christian Writers Association named Gail a regional writer of the year. She recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. When she isn’t writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God’s love. She and Rick live in Georgia. Just a couple hours north of me, actually! We’re practically neighbors. :-)

Every COTT staff member is a professed child of God. Gail, can you tell us about your relationship with Christ?
I can’t remember when I didn’t love Jesus. My father’s father was a minister, so I grew up listening to Bible verses and references to Jesus. But my mother played a huge part in helping me establish a relationship with Christ. At bedtime she said prayers with me and told me stories from the Bible. First, she taught me “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” but even then I had a copy of “The Lord’s Prayer” hanging on the wall above the headboard of my bed. She taught it to me a few lines at a time. We soon started saying it instead of “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” She also told me about the Crucifixion in her own words, explaining how much Jesus had to love me to die for me. She taught me to talk to Jesus, to say the things I was thankful for, to praise Him, and ask for things I needed. I did the same with my daughter. I’m so grateful for the many blessings Jesus has given me and that He’s always there for me. I don’t always get the answers I want to my prayers, but I get the answers I need to fulfill God’s plan for my life. Whenever I’ve needed a miracle, Jesus has supplied one. There are several hymns that touch on how I feel about my relationship with Christ. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and “He Leadeth Me” are two. My daughter recently gave me a CD, Elvis, An Evening Prayer. The first song on it, “His Hand in Mine,” conveys how I feel about my relationship with Christ. It’s an old gospel song written by Mossie Lister. It’s on YouTube. The URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulTtL_YaC-w

Beautiful testimony! A mother’s faith is essential in a child’s life, and you’re proof of that!
None of us are perfect though, so what’s the craziest thing you did as a teenager? 
Gail Pallotta
I grew up at the foothills of the mountains. At a reunion a few years ago, many of us told our beloved biology teacher how much she meant to us. She replied, “Well, I had to teach biology. There was no one else in town that could.” Teachers were scarce. We had a very old algebra teacher. He couldn’t stay awake during class. Nope. He took the roll and told us to turn to the next chapter and work the problems. Then he pushed back his seat and propped his feet on the trash can. We’d give him about ten minutes, and he was out like a light. His classroom was in the basement with a window level to the ground. In the spring as soon as he started snoring, we went out the window, got in my friend’s convertible (she had the only car) and went to the lake.

No way! That’s so funny!! How long were you gone? What is something else people would be surprised to know about you? 
At age twenty-two when I graduated from college, I packed my clothes in a medium-sized suitcase and moved to a large city with eighty dollars in my pocket. Had no car, no job, and nowhere to live. 
Wow! You can’t leave us hanging, lol! How did that work out for you?

On a slightly more serious note, what is the nearest book to where you’re sitting? 
I love to read anything, non-fiction, fiction, any genre, Christian and many secular. But the book closest to me, probably because I also write as well as read, is Essentials of English.

I’d imagine that covers grammar? Forms of writing? Sounds like a must-have for every writer! What are three things you can’t live without?   
Faith, family, fun

Three very important f’s! Makes me wonder though, when I say the word “fun,” what’s the first thing to pop into your mind?

What is the message you most want to convey to readers with your writing? God loves you. Accept His love and let the greatness of it overcome the imperfections of this world. 

That brings to mind. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." NAS (©1995)
Anything else you’d like to add? 
I was honored when asked to be part of the Clash of the Titles Staff. I love helping to promote Christian books and writers.
And we love having you!!
***
Get to know Gail better by visiting her website or her blog.