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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Gift

Shelley Shepard Gray is a "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at

A special Christmas story about love and blessings in the next book in the Amish of Hart County series
The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous "accidents" that someone wants them gone.
Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it's not the Schwartz family's fault, but he can't help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can't stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.
Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna's father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She's fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt . . . or worse.
My Thoughts:
Shelley Shepard Gray never fails to give readers a delightful read.  This story has a good blend of sweet friendship turned romance and mystery/suspense.  She supplies a cast of characters that readers from all walks of life can identify with despite not being Amish.  And while I have shied away from reading Amish stories for some time now, Gray has drawn me back in.
You will enjoy The Amish of Hart County series.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions are my own.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Live SoulFull: A Music-Driven Study of How God Fulfills Your Deepest Needs/Giveaway

Scott Tabot is a Bible teacher who is passionate about seeing people transformed by the love and magnificence of God.  He has brought his conversational teaching style to chapel services, Bible classes, college groups, and missions work for over 15 years.  Scott holds an MA in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Ginger Tabot is a singer/songwriter and worship leader who writes and records music for local ministries and churches.  Her genuine love for Jesus encourages people to encounter God in Spirit and Truth.  

Scott and Ginger have been married for 18 years and live in Chandler, AZ with their three children.

Live SoulFULL is a music-driven, gospel-centered, interactive Bible study that’s all about how God fulfills your deepest needs. It’s a fun, yet challenging way to help you build a strong, confident faith in knowing God as the Giver and Filler of life.

Each song and corresponding chapter work together to walk you through the Bible’s answers to some of life’s biggest questions.

Recorded by award-winning Nashville musicians, the music ranges from up-tempo, roll-the-window-down grooves to passionate, heart-stirring ballads. As you listen, read, and learn, you will discover the fulfillment and joy that Jesus offers in the midst of everyday life.

You will be blessed by visiting

My Thoughts:
Live SoulFULL is much more than a book with some music to accompany it.  Live SoulFULL is an experience richly saturated in Scripture.  The Tabots have created a gospel-centered study that draws readers in through talentedly crafted music and engaging Bible Study and points unapologetically to Jesus as The One Who satisfies completely...Him plus nothing else.  The book offers 11 chapters or mini-Bible studies if you will and incorporates 13 songs.  Each study engages the student with God's Word and then challenges each to share...reach out to others with the good news of the gospel.  The book comes with a cd and digital download of the album.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book/cd.  All opinions are my own.



Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for Any Season

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life - both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers "Encouraging Words" to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of 13 books, including "Ordinary Graces," "Dwelling Places," "Live These Words," "Refresh!," "Quilts from Heaven" and "Role of a Lifetime." Whether co-directing the "reNEW - retreat for New England Writing," mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages.
Find out more about Lucinda at

Everyone loves to receive a gift.
And God has given us many, such as his grace-the gift we don't deserve and can never earn. Promises from the One who declares we are already loved, already accepted, already created in his image. The question becomes, will we truly receive that gift? Will the reality of it actually change the way we think and notice and reach out?
God's Word will stand forever, in any season of life. These truths prompt us to respond with compassion and courage.
Through inspiring devotions, Lucinda Secrest McDowell reveals biblical blessings that remind us that: God's promises give us strength, God's grace can be most evident at our weakest points, a proper response to our abundance of blessings is simply gratitude, and the "more" we are all looking for is the same abundant life that Jesus came to give us.
Would you like to receive these gifts of ordinary grace? Join Lucinda in focusing on one word a day through devotional readings and short benedictions for any and every season to explore the many facets of Grace, Strength, Gratitude, and Life.
My Thoughts:
Ordinary Graces by Lucinda Secrest McDowell is no "ordinary" devotional book.  Rather than just a few emotional stories that pull at our heartstrings and offer an unrealistic stretch to make a spiritual point, McDowell, on a daily two-page layout, offers hearty biblical nourishment for the soul.  The book is divided into four sections covering grace, strength, gratitude, and life with 30 daily devotions in each section.  At just short of 250 pages and small in size, Ordinary Graces offers readers 120 days of biblical encouragement that will pay dividends over the course of time.  This book will be a staple in my time alone with God.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions are my own.

Ordinary Graces Lucinda Secrest McDowell


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Murder in Disguise

With a PhD in English literature (Renaissance), Donn Taylor taught literature for 18 years at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired, he has published suspense novels, mysteries, and poetry. His historical novel Lightning on a Quiet Night was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Awards. He is a frequent speaker at writers' conferences. In a prior incarnation, he led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. He now lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.
Find out more about Donn at

Official verdict: Suicide.
But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.
While Press keeps asking questions, Mara's research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend's name.
But can Press and Mara's stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger...?
My Thoughts:
I really wanted to love this book, but I just did not.  I found Murder in Disguise hard to get into and it really didn't hold my attention.  With that said, I did enjoy the read primarily due to the author's sense of humor and the music playing in his head.  Taylor imposes the humor at appropriate places in the story and because of that I kept reading.  While not my favorite, I would read a book by Taylor again.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions stated are my own.
Happy Reading,

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses & Medications

Michael R. Emlet, MDiv, MD, practiced as a family physician for over ten years before becoming a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He is the author of the book "CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet," the minibooks "Asperger Syndrome;" "Chronic Pain;" "Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control;" and "Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges with Understanding and Strength," and many counseling articles.
Find out more about Michael at

OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder . . . these are no longer just technical terms and medical diagnoses, they are part of our common vocabulary and culture.
As Christians, we shouldn't isolate ourselves from this discussion or dismiss these important issues. But we also should be careful not to accept the entire secular psychiatric diagnostic and treatment enterprise without question. What we need is a balanced, biblically (and scientifically) informed approach that neither blindly accepts nor harshly dismisses psychiatric labels, diagnoses, and medicines that are prescribed to help those who are suffering.
As both a Biblical counselor and medical doctor, Michael R. Emlet, MD, gives readers a Christ-centered approach to psychiatry and guides both lay and professional helpers through the thicket of mental health labels and treatments with a biblical lens. In a clear and thoughtful way that puts the person experiencing mental health issues at the forefront, Emlet uses Scripture to show how the Bible engages in the discussion of psychiatric labels and the medications that are often recommended based on those labels. The first book in the "Helping the Helper" series, Descriptions and Prescriptions will give readers a biblical, gospel-formed perspective to help them understand and minister to those struggling with mental health issues.
You can visit HERE to see what others are saying about the book.
My Thoughts:
Before coming home to raise my children, I worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker.  I was extremely interested in reading this first installment in the Helping The Helper Series.  Descriptions and Prescriptions is a mere 98 pages in length; however, this resource geared toward pastors and lay leaders in the church is informative on both a technical and practical level.  Dr. Emlet provides the "science" perspective as well as a call for compassion and understanding for those who suffer among us with mental health issues.
I found the chapter, "Implications for Ministry" particularly helpful.  As a minister's wife and one who on occasion provides leadership in both children's and women's ministry, I was challenged and encouraged through the thoughts shared by Dr. Emlet in this portion of the book.
"We want to understand people so well and do such a careful job of re-interpreting their struggles through a biblical lens that a diagnostic label serves only as shorthand for their experience rather than the sum total of their experience.  We want to be watchful that the presence of a diagnosis doesn't give us tunnel vision that blinds us to other important aspects of the person's experience."
Short, but packed with a mountainous amount of information, Descriptions and Prescriptions is an invaluable resource that should be utilized as we reach out to love others as Jesus did.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions are my own.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Stray

My Thoughts:
My husband and I took our 12 and 8-year-old to see The Stray on opening night last week on Friday night.  We really enjoyed the movie.  The story is endearing and based on a true story.  My 12-year-old son even commented several times about how he enjoyed the kids that were portrayed in the story and how "cute" they were.  While it is obvious this was a lower budget movie, the story behind what you see on the screen is such an important one and was very well told.  Families can get off track and distracted from the most important by the good.  God uses all kinds of things to draw us back to Him and the most important things in life...even a stray!

You can win tickets for your family by visiting

Happy viewing,

The Pretender: A Blackguard In Disguise

Born and raised in South Dakota, Ta`Mara loves to write about the Great Plains and the beauty and people of Italia. While her husband and children manage their two pizza ristoranti, Ta`Mara works full time on The Caselli Family Series, and ministers to women. It is Ta`Mara s prayer that as the readers explore the truths in these volumes, they will come away with a new perspective on love, forgiveness, obedience, and God's plan for marriage
Find out more about Ta'Mara at
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Set in South Dakota in 1975, where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beer in a bar, and loaded guns were kept under the counter.
Frankie Valli sang "My Eyes Adored You," and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.
It's within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined-and had been for many years-yet they had no idea. 
From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart---and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride's deception.
My Thoughts:
Ta'Mara Hanscom is a new author to me. And she has certainly caught my attention with The Pretender!  There are four other books in the series and I will be reading them as well.  In this first book, readers are introduced to the Caselli and Hansen families through Noah and Tillie.  This cast of characters is absolutely intriguing.  There are so many secrets and family dynamics at play.  I got only a couple of pages in and was completely invested in the story.  And the ending!  Hanscom leaves readers hanging.  I especially like how Hanscom had the gospel woven throughout the story; not in a preachy way but as a natural part of the characters' interaction with one another.  And speaking of characters, Maggie might just be my favorite!
*I was given a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

The Pretender Ta'Mara Hanscom

Happy Reading Ya'll,