Monday, January 31, 2011

Ohio Brides has Landed!!!

Ohio Brides is arriving in people's mailboxes and on Wal-Mart's shelves. Yes, I jumped up and down when I saw it coverout on the shelf half a mile from my house! In honor of it's arrival, I'll give away two copies: one to someone who comments here on the blog and one to someone who comments on Facebook. if more than twenty people comment each place, I'll give away a total of four copies.

I love this cover! And the stories inside.

Three Ohio women seek God's promises for peace on the 1940's home front. Josie is a new bride struggling with dreams unfulfilled. Evelyn serves with the WAVES, but feels unappreciated. Kat becomes a professional softball player amidst criticism. Can each of them find love in such times of trial?

The video shows an engima machine...Evelyn worked on the project the broke the code :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Classic Hollywood Reviews: You Were Never Lovelier

It's time for another Classic Hollywood Review, and thanks to my friend Stephanie who recommended this movie and loaned it to me.

You Were Never Lovelier stars Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. Frankly you could stop right there in my book and have a great movie. There's lots of singing and dancing as Fred's character (Bob) stumbles into wooing Maria (Rita's character). In Maria's family the daughters have to get married in order of birth. That's not a problem since the movie starts with the oldest daughter's wedding, except that Maria has no interest in the men around her. Instead, she's waiting for a prince that will never come -- at least that's what her younger sister's fear. In steps Papa with his grand solution, and the next thing you know Bob is wooing her only he's not but he really is.

It's a fun romantic romp that fits the 1940s perfectly. The dancing is elegant -- though I still chuckle when I see strangers dance so beautifully the moment they meet.  The other thing that made me chuckle is how un-South American looking the girls are - especially Rita. Just fun since the movie is supposed to take place in Argentina.

Over all this is a pleasant film that is worth the time -- especially if you're a Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth fan.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fatal Judgment Review

Y'all know I really enjoyed Irene Hannon's Heroes of Quantico series. So when I received Fatal Judgment from her publisher, it jumped to the top of my reading pile. And I inhaled the book like I expected. Unlike the Quantico series, this book focused on a Marshal -- with a cameo by some of the FBI agents from her prior series.

When I worked at a federal courthouse clerking for a judge, I interacted with U.S. Marshals on a daily business. When 9/11 happened a week after I started clerking, their job ramped up in intensity while new protocols were developed. As I read this novel which focuses on marshals trying to protect a federal judge from an assassin, it held the ring of truth and of an author who did tons of research to get the details right. I so appreciate that.

This book has the perfect blend of suspense and romance. A federal judge walks home to find her sister shot on the couch. While she's waiting to see if her sister will survive, she comes under the protection of a marshal with whom she has history. The two have to work together as the marshals and FBI work to find the killer. They keep hitting deadends and the tension ramps up on both fronts.

I don't want to give the story away, but if you love romance laced suspense, then this book is for you!

Product Description

U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward Liz haven't warmed in the five years since she lost her husband--and Jake's best friend--to possible suicide. How can Jake be expected to care for the coldhearted workaholic who drove his friend to despair?
As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, his feelings slowly start to change. When it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in mortal danger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Four Years Ago

Four Years Ago today was the day of our first miscarriage. So much has happened since then.

Grieving. Healing. More grieving. And seeing how God has used our tragedies for His glory. I am so grateful for that. I'm also grateful that this year the anniversary hasn't been paralyzing.

We have two children in heaven. Two children I will one day meet. Just this week the kids and I were talking about Baby Gabe and deciding the other baby's name is Baby Mickie (for Michael/Michelle).  I love that we can talk about them, and it's not some family secret.

When I took our Christmas tree down a week ago, two of the ornaments represent the babies. And thanks to a dear friend from church who is more creative than I am, I've started giving grieving moms a pair of hand-knit, precious booties...a way to let them know their baby is cherished and missed by others. Maybe they'll put them on their tree, or somewhere else where they can see and know their baby is special. Sometimes just knowing someone else cares and grieves with you is all you need.

So if you know someone who's lost a baby, pray about how you can come alongside them. It may just be as simple as a pair of baby booties.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CFBA: Digitalis

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Ronie Kendig

I LOVED this book. You can read my review here. Be sure to click on the link so you can read an excerpt and get hooked on Ronie's writing.


Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series began in July 2010 from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

This is the second book in the series.

Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

If you would like to read an excerpt of Digitalis, go HERE.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love & War Devotional: Review

In honor of our 15th anniversary this week, I wanted to introduce you to a devotional for couples by John & Stasi Eldredge. Taken from their book Love & War, the devotional is broken into eight weeks. Each day has a short (small page) devotional, then a prayer to read, and a scripture. The devotionals are short enough to add to even the busiest schedule. And they are thought provoking with the underlying question: do we care enough about our marriages to wage war to keep our love alive and strong? The devotions are the right length to make it very possible for a couple to squeeze in some together time and invest in their marriage.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Taking Time to Pause

Next week I'll return to the Classic Hollywood Reviews. Feel free to let me know what some of your favorites are through comments. I'm always looking for new movies to try. But as this month has blown by, I've been thinking about pausing. I know...those of you who know me are laughing hysterically. I am not a girl known for slowing down. But from time to time God builds a pause into my life.

I'm busy, but it's different. I'm homeschooling and caring for a newborn -- well, he's seven weeks old. I'm writing lots of proposals this month and then turning back to writing a novel and novella while waiting to hear on the other proposals. So even in this pause, I haven't really stopped. I'm just more tired. It's got me thinking.

Have you ever noticed how fast life races by? Even when we think we're at a standstill?

Ever wonder what you're missing as you rush to keep up with everything and everyone in your life? The rounds of job, housekeeping, kid transportation guru, etc.

When I spoke at a women's retreat last Friday, I talked about God requiring the Israelites to pick up stones for remembering when they crossed the Jordan River (See Joshua 4).  How He wanted to make sure they didn't blow by this miracle and forget it as they returned to the busyness and routine of their lives. I'm a big believer in journaling -- in part to help me remember the way God has moved. Otherwise, I'm afraid I will forget...and in the forgetting, I'll lose out on the faith-building ways God has intersected my life.

I don't want to miss Him when He's moving. And I don't want to forget the history of His goodness and moving in my life.

So how do you remember His acts in your life?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest Post: Care for Me

My ten year old daughter wrote a poem last night that shows a heart for adoption. She's asked me to share it with you -- and I'm delighted to do so. Here she is:

My hope for this poem is that your hearts will be touched. And as a result, that there will be fewer kids crying these words. And more people will step out and help. If you would like to share this with friends and family, you may. Abigail

Care for Me
    by Abigail Putman

Care for me.
Please care for me.
I need a loving father and mother.

Please care for me and call me your own.
Take me home.
Give me a home.
Please, Mommy, come and get me.

Oh, Daddy, I need someone
to teach me wrong from right.
Who will love me for who I am more than you?

I need you more than ever!
Come and get me before I'm 18.
They'll kick me out.
I'll need a home. I'll need food and a job.
But I really need you to lead me through.

Please come and care for me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Heaven is for Real

Curious about the book Heaven is for Real? The author Todd Burpo spoke at my parents' church yesterday. Listen to the stories. Read the book. Judge for yourself. I read the book in an afternoon. And my ten-year-old read it in two nights.

Heaven is for Real. Just like Christ is real. The chapter that meant the most to me is the first story that Sonya shares about their daughter.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review: Digitalis

Digitalis picks up tempo quickly and launches you into the world of an elite military team. But rather than being only action-driven, there's also a great, star-crossed romance. Cowboy had a strong supporting role in the first book, but comes to life as the kind of hero I adore. He's strong, passionate, and filled with angst. And he's met his match in Piper Blum, a woman with a hidden past. This series reminds me of Dee Henderson's books, but with even stronger suspense. I highly recommend this book for those who love romantic suspense set in a military setting. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!

In fact Digitalis was so good, I went back and read Nightshade. For some reason I struggled to get into it the first time -- probably because of the struggling marriage romance. But after I finished Digitalis, I picked up Nightshade and inhaled it.  Nightshade follows the leader of the elite group, and shows his battles with post traumatic stress syndrome. His wife Sydney files for divorce after she becomes convinced he won't change -- and it's a divorce neither wants. Thoughout the book, I hoped they'd get back together, but there were no guarantees. In fact, at every turn, things jumped into the way, making that option impossible. Then Max's team is sent into a hostile jungle to free missionaries all while Sydney is tracking a military group that shows up as a shadow on the world stage. They've saved villages but nobody knows who they are.
Trust me. This is a series lovers of romantic suspense will want to read!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CFBA: Courting Miss Amsel

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Courting Miss Amsel
Bethany House (January 1, 2011)
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.


Edythe Amsel is delighted with her first teaching assignment: a one-room schoolhouse in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. Independent, headstrong, and a strong believer in a well-rounded education, Edythe is ready to open the world to the students in this tiny community. But is Walnut Hill ready for her?

Joel Townsend is thrilled to learn the town council hired a female teacher to replace the ruthless man who terrorized his nephews for the past two years. Having raised the boys on his own since their parents' untimely deaths, Joel believes they will benefit from a woman's influence. But he sure didn't bargain on a woman like Miss Amsel.

Within the first week, she has the entire town up in arms over her outlandish teaching methods, which include collecting leaves, catching bugs, making snow angels, and stringing ropes in strange patterns all over the schoolyard. Joel can't help but notice that she's also mighty pretty with her rosy lips, fashionable clothes, and fancy way of speaking.

When Edythe decides to take her pupils to hear Miss Susan Anthony speak on the women's suffrage amendment, the town's outcry reaches new heights. Even Joel isn't sure he can support her newfangled ideas any longer. And if he can't trust her to know how to teach the boys, how can he trust her with his heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Courting Miss Amsel, go HERE.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's Your Word for 2011?

Since it's the beginning of a new year, I've been asking God over the last several weeks what my word or theme for this year is. If you listen to K-LOVE, I'm sure you heard them talking about that last week, too.

I don't remember where I first ran into the idea, but I love asking God for a word or theme verse to ponder and incorporate into my life. This year I think my word is BELIEVE and the verse is Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget about what’s happened! Don’t keep going over old history. Be alert! Be present! I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out. Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road in the desert and rivers in the badlands.” (MSG)

This verse and really the chapter have spoken to me over the last few years. What's really standing out to me this year are the middle sentences: Be alert! Be present! Don't miss what I'm doing now. Ouch. How often am I somewhere else rather than in the moment? Whether that moment is teaching one of the kids long division, interacting with our toddler, or playing a game? Often my mind is working on multiple levels, and that's not always a good thing.

So what's your word for the year? Here are some people gave me last week...maybe they'll inspire you or resonate...

o   Rest   o   Hope   o   Prosper  o   Work  o   Change   o   Finish  o   Love
o   Seeing  o   Productivity  o   Love: I Cor 13  o   Balance  o   Empowerment
o   Trust       o   Sustain   o Center (prior year was gather)  o   expectation  o   listen
o   intention  o   relax  o   focus  o   give  o   transformed  o   nurse  o   harvest
o   wait  o   faith

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Love Food & Live Well Review

Just in time for New Year's Resolutions, here's a book that can help you gain a fresh perspective on food and health. This book is an easy read and loaded with great ideas. Most are also very easy to implement. She includes a section about fitness to go along with the nutrition information.

If you've struggled to understand how to balance the necessity of food with letting it rule you, this book could be a huge help in providing freedom.
More about the book:
You don’t have to hide it. You can love food right out in the open—and lose weight at the same time. With the latest release from Chantel Hobbs, Love Food and Live Well, you’ll know when to have carrot cake and when it’s time to just have a carrot.

Let life coach and fitness expert Chantel Hobbs show you how to lose pounds to reach the weight that is right for you and then maintain it while enjoying healthy, delicious food. Built into this amazing plan is knowing that you can count on the occasional splurge with absolutely no guilt.

Using personal inventories, original recipes, and simple eating plans, plus new exercises for strength training and aerobic fitness, Hobbs will inspire you to live well in every area of life. Her positive and highly motivating approach is changing the way dieters look at food and will inspire you to pursue a life of lasting health in body, mind, and spirit.

Hobbs isn’t like other fitness and nutritional experts. She doesn’t just have the knowledge of what to eat. She’s experienced the heartache of feeling unworthy. In her book she says, “We’ll look at the deal the world has been selling us all of our lives—the message that we’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, and just basically that we’re not enough.” Hobbs doesn’t just offer expert advice. She offers hope.

She exposes the lies that trap dieters in self-defeating habits and shows them how to break free from destructive attitudes toward food. You will no longer need to hate food or be limited to eating boring, bland, unsatisfying meals. You can learn to live with freedom.

Chantel Hobbs is a life coach, marathon runner, personal trainer, wife, and mother of four. Her amazing story of losing two hundred pounds and keeping the weight off has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, Life Today with James Robison, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family Radio—and in People and First magazines. Hobbs hosts a weekly radio show and is the on-air fitness expert on the WAY-FM radio network. She is also a regular guest on the KLOVE radio network. Hobbs is a frequent speaker to women’s groups and makes personal appearances at fitness conventions. The developer of The One-Day Way Learning System and the author of four books, including Never Say Diet and The One-Day Way, Chantel lives with her family in south Florida.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Dial M for Murder

For Christmas I bought a TCM collection that contains four suspense movies. The other night I watched Dial M for Murder, an Alfred Hitchcock flick I'd never seen, but very much enjoyed.

An ex-tennis pro executes a plot to kill his wife. When things go horribly wrong, he shifts to plan B. The plot is brilliant, as the husband plots the perfect murder. I love that the boyfriend is a crime novelist, who tries to weave a tale of how the husband could have plotted the murder.

Grace Kelly plays the wife while Ray Milland plays the husband. I haven't seen him in anything else, but very much liked his screen presence. All in all this is a great movie when you want something that has twists and not a hint of romance. It's definitely one I'll watch again.

If you've seen Dial M for Murder, what did you think?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Gatehouse

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Girl in the Gatehouse
Julie Klassen

I loved this book! We got back from Christmas and several books waited for me. As soon as I saw this one from Julie Klassen, I picked it up, knowing I wouldn't be disappointed. I was right! The author does an amazing job transporting you back to the Regency period. And with the Girl in the Gatehouse she tackles tough issues regarding love and marriage from that time period -- and in the process made me think about some of our cultural strictures.

The plot is complex with secrets keeping people apart and threatening to collide. When they do, the fallout is immense and healing. And Mariah Aubrey is the kind of haunting heroine that pulled me through the story. I wanted to know how her story would end and hated to reach the last page.

Even if you don't think of yourself as a Jane Austen/regency fan, I urge you to try Julie Klassen's books. You may find yourself hooked...just like I did.


Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret.

Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made.

When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Girl in the Gatehouse, go HERE


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.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Book of Days Review

Book of Days is a page-turner from James Rubart. With some authors it's hard to sustain the success of a first novel. But with this book, the author has exceeded the skill he showed with his debut release.

Cameron Vaux's losing his mind. Each day it feels like his memories are slipping farther and farther away. In a desperate effort to restore them and avoid the end his father faced, he makes a desperate bid to find the Book of Days, a mysterious volume that both his father and his wife made him promise to find before they died. The search takes him to a small town in Oregon that is filled with secrets and hidden agendas. If his plight weren't so desperate, it would be easy to give up but he can't.

He is helped on his search by his reluctant friend Ann Bannister, who has her own reasons for being in town. And her presence adds a touch of romance to the book.

The plot hurtles through twists just like a rock climber who's slipped in their climb. The result is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and couldn't put down. One aspect that I loved the most is that I did not identify the person behind the suspense thread. In many books lately, I've been able to do that, so it was a welcome relief to have a book that surprised me at the end. This book is perfect for those who like suspense with a twist. This time that twist is what if people thought the book of days really on earth?


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