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Friday, January 31, 2014

It Had To Be You

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.  She spent eight years as a missionary in Russia with her husband and four children before returning to Minnesota's north shore to wright full-time.
You can connect with Susan at her website found at as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Book Synopsis:
Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life.  Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career.  She dreams of making a name for herself as a reporter but is stuck writing obits - and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story.  If only someone would step up to mentor Owen...but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.
Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior - on and off the ice.  Now, at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped.  And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier.  But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles onto a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together...and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Listen to Susan (you will love her!) talk about getting caught up in her own story:

You can take a peak at a Q and A with Susan about It Had To Be You by visiting HERE.

My Thoughts:
I read my first Susan May Warren novel some time ago at the prompting of a friend at church.  She kept telling me, "You will LOVE her writing!"  Now being an avid reader, I was thinking, "Yeah.  Okay.  I'll check her out, but I read so many good authors who write Christian fiction already.  I'm not sure she can compare to some that I'm already really loyal to!"
So...I took a trip to Susan's website and took a look around.  Then I came across an opportunity to review Take A Chance On Me for Tyndale not too long after and thought it would be a good chance to read one of her books without wasting my know in case it wasn't really good.  Sorry...just keeping it real!
And I WAS BLOWN AWAY!  And hooked.  And Susan May Warren quickly rose to first place on my list of absolute favorite authors!
Susan's most recent book, It Had To Be You, is the second book in her series of The Christiansen Family which is a spin off of her Deep Haven Series.  Take A Chance On Me was the first book in the series.  As a committed book reviewer who reviews for numerous authors and publishers, I rarely actually spend money on books. I am usually swamped with complimentary copies of books to read and review.  I have to say that I will be purchasing all of the Deep Haven novels written by Susan and will be placing them on my keeper shelf right alongside these first two in The Christiansen Family series.
What you really want to know is why I love...her writing so much.  Susan writes Christian Fiction not christianese or overly preachy or forced sentimental and unrealistic stories.  Her characters are believable and their lives are sometimes messy.  Everything isn't all neat and tidy.
There were many times while reading It Had To Be You that I had chills or tears and many times I had both at the same time.  The tension and unfolding of Jace and Eden's relationship is beautiful.  Warren's characterization is rich and she expertly weaves each character's back story into the fabric of the ongoing plot.  It is a beautiful story of learning to let go and surrender.
But you don't just get Jace and Eden's story.  You get Sam and Maddy's and John Doe's and a bit of Owen's story.  And their stories will change you.  Susan's writing makes me think biblically about life and the role faith and trust in God should play.  Because her characters have real struggles and doubt, the transforming grace of God shines brightly in her novels.
Some shining quotes from the book:
"Yeah.  When live seems to go south, we feel like God doesn't love us.  But I keep going back to something my dad said to Owen.  Maybe we have to start redefining how we understand God's love.  And start hoping.  My dad says that hope is one part confidence in God's love for us and one part our delight in Jesus.  And when we start to hope, it changes us, sets us apart.  Makes me see life more clearly."
"He was one of the best hundred-meter sprinters," Olivia said.  But he never had a chance to be a champion.  Not until he lost everything he dreamed about.  She kissed his forehead the way she might have when he was a young boy.  "And then he became the champion God wanted him to be.  He finally stopped caring about winning - or losing - and learned to surrender."
And if that isn't enough to entice you, included in the book is the novella I Really Do Miss Your Smile which tells the story of John and and dad Christiansen.  From Ingrid's journal entry letter to Eden at the beginning of the book to the very last page, the transforming love and grace of God shines clearly.  You won't be the same after reading.

Be blessed and go order your copy of It Had To Be You today!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Tyndale for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Scraps of Evidence

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Scraps of Evidence
Abingdon Press (January 21, 2014)
Barbara Cameron

CBD, CBA, and ECPA bestselling author of 35 books (including new series upcoming for Abingdon Press in 2011/2012) including fiction and non-fiction books for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, and other publishers. 

I sold three films to HBO/Cinemax and am the first winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. 

My two novellas won the 2nd and 3rd place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest from the Faith, Love, and Hope chapter of RWA. Both were finalists for the novella category of the Carol Award of the American Christian Writers Award (ACFW). 

Barbara can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he’s been trying to get to know her better and he’d like to be seeing her during those few nights a week she spends with her quilting guild. Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home, and the woman acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan is attempting to communicate a message to them about Tess’s uncle. There’s a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together, or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him? 

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

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed Cameron's story in Scraps of Evidence...a little mystery, a little romance and a story of faith. It just seemed to me that the story was rushed a bit.  The relationship between Tess and Logan just kinda happened overnight and was a little too predictable.  The story lacked a depth to it because of this.  You read more about Tess and Logan going to eat and drinking sweet tea than you do about their developing relationship which again seemed to just happen all of a sudden. 
While the plot was intriguing, Cameron played the villain up a bit too much and it was a bit too easy to figure out.  It just seemed to me there were parts of the story missing and the characters just lacked a depth to them.  Again...I enjoyed the story, their just seemed to be some gaps in the overall story. 
This is totally an editing issue, but the synopsis on the back of the book refers to the aunt by a different name.  

Happy Reading,

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Headmistress of Rosemere

About the author: Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Learn more about Sarah at:

About the book: Patience Creighton has dedicated herself to the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. But the return of the enigmatic master of the estate puts everything she loves at risk.

Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she invests herself in teaching at her father's school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to make the school successful.

Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin's edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of property --- including the land where Rosemere School is located --- but possesses little money to manage its upkeep. When debtors start calling, he is desperate to find a new source of income, even if it means sacrificing Rosemere.

When a fire threatens the school grounds, William must decide to what lengths he is willing to go to protect his birthright. And when Patience's brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience suddenly finds herself unsure of her calling. After a surprising truth about William's past is brought to light, both William and Patience will have to seek God's plans for their lives-and their hearts.

My Thoughts:
The Headmistress of Rosemere is the second book in Ladd's Whispers on The Moors series.  The first book in this series, The Heiress of Winterwood had me hooked!  This second book did not disappoint!!!  There is everything to love about The Headmistress of Rosemere from the beautiful cover to the amazing story within it's pages.
While I have typically in the past not been a huge fan of regency romance, Sarah Ladd has made me a believer and turned me into a huge fan of the genre.  Her description and characterization is so that the reader can feel as if they are a part of the story and not just an observer.  Ladd also eloquently captures the era and weaves a bit of mystery in a well balanced way.  The story moves smoothly; she draws you in and keeps you invested until the last page.  I loved how Ladd drew from the areas and mentions characters from the first book without "retelling" the first story.  

And you don't want to miss this chance to connect with Sarah:
Enter Today - 1/17 - 1/28!
Sarah Ladd The Headmistress of Rosemere

Blessings and Happy Reading,

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Praying for Boys: Asking God For The Things They Need Most

Brooke McGlothlin has encouraged thousands of moms toward a richer prayer life as co-founder of the popular online community for mothers of boys, the MOB Society (

Brooke has her B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Tech and her Masters in Counseling from Liberty University.  Before coming home to raise her boys, Brooke worked for 10 years as the Director of Clinical Services in local Pregnancy Care ministry.

Brooke contributes to The Better Mom blog as well as LifeWay's ParentLife blog.  Brooke loves homeschooling her two boys and finding God's beauty through photography.  She also serves on the Board of Directors for Blue Ridge Women's center, a local Pregnancy Care Ministry.
Brooke's life verse is Psalm 116:2..."Because He bends down to listen, I will praise Him as long as I have breath.

You can get better acquainted with Brooke at

What Are Your Biggest Concerns for Your Son?

Instead of trying harder to change your boy's behavior or worrying about his future, enjoy the peace that comes when you pray specific prayers for him straight from the Bible.

This books helps you target your prayers on what your son needs most - from patience and self-control to having a pure heart and making wise decisions.

Today you can start giving whatever concerns you have to God and learn how to fight for your son's heart in prayer, see how even quick prayers make a difference, understand boys' deepest struggles, no matter their age and rest in knowing that God is the only One who can change your son's heart.

Brooke writes with the patience and love of a true friend.  She shares transparently her journey of learning to pray and teaches us how to do to have this conversation with God that is made up of listening and believing as much or more so than it is talking.  The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, but Brooke leads her readers in how to fight for the hearts of our boys by battling for them in prayer faithfully.  She doesn't give a doctoral thesis on prayer; just a concise and very well thought out and biblical guide.

Brooke covers prayers for our boys in each of the following categories:

  • Heart Change
  • Obedience
  • Overcoming Fears
  • Integrity
  • Wisdom
  • Pride
  • Honor
  • Purity
  • A Servant's Heart
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Anger
  • Forgiveness
  • Salvation
Each section contains a short "teaching" section addressing that particular chapter's topic followed by a section of prayers directly from Scripture to pray in regards to the chapter's subject matter.  Then Brooke offers a section for reflection or discussion with a group.  These questions are thoughtful focus points that help the reader to go deeper in understanding and application...more than a "how to" and more of a "why this is important".  The questions provided really are helpful in fleshing out the reality of prayer over the particular area being covered in that chapter.

The book also includes helpful guides in leading a "21 Days of Prayer for Your Sons" initiative as well as guides on leading a Church or Community Study and Leading an Online Study.

In the conclusion to the book Brooke shares this:
"Why do I pray?  It's not because I have all the answers; it's because I don't.  Prayer is the desperate cry of a mama whose life has taught her she has so little control...Prayer is the coming to the end of ourselves, letting go, and placing our hope in the God Who can. Like Samson's parents, who believed in the Lord 'who works wonders', a lifestyle of prayer consists of putting none of my hope in what I can do, but all of my hope in what God has already done."
I can not recommend  Praying For Boys highly enough!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of this review.

Joining you as we pray for our boys!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014



You can learn more about Mike Weaver of the group Big Daddy Weave by visiting his bio page on the group's website at

Big Daddy Weave formed when its members were students at the University of Mobile.  They stepped into the spotlight in 2002 with the release of their second album One and Only, which debuted in SoundScan's Christian Top 5 and saw the group nominated as Dove Awards New Artist of the Year.  Their 2010 album Christ Is Come won a Dove Award for Christmas Album of the Year, and they recently released their first greatest hits compilation, The Ultimate Collection.  Their song Redeemed, spent 12 weeks at the top of the Christian radio charts and has impacted hundreds of thousands with the message of God's redemption.

What has caused this song to resonate so powerfully in the hearts and minds of those who hear it?  The transforming power of the gospel...that the Almighty, Holy God seeks to redeem a people for His glory...a people broken by sin and unable to save themselves.  That message is clearly and simply portrayed in the song Redeemed and now in the devotional book by the same name.

Redeemed is a 30 day devotional that focuses on redemption, grace, and the healing power of Christ's love.  Each of the 30 "chapters" or devotions opens with a focal Scripture followed by a short (usually spanning one page) devotional encouragement.  Each day's reading also includes:
More Promises From God's Word:  Scripture passages that coincide with the devotional thought.
More Great Ideas:  Quotes from Christian leaders from the past and present.
A Timely Tip:  Point of Application
Your Own Thoughts About...Another chance to apply the truths from Scripture to the reader's personal life and circumstances through journaling.

I particularly appreciated the primary focus on God's Word in this devotional.  The devotional thoughts are short and the quotes are helpful in applying biblical truths to life circumstances.  So many devotional books are heavy on "story" and light on direct application of Scripture...God's primary way of revealing Himself to us.

If you know someone who struggles with a right view of their identity in Christ and has believed the lies of the enemy, this would be an excellent devotional to get into their hands.

*Thanks to Leeanna Case with Worthy Publishing for the complimentary copy of the book given for the purpose of this review.

Many Blessings,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Carolina Gold

About the author: A former journalist, free-lance writer and college professor, Dorothy Love explores the intersection of history and human relationships to create novels that speak to the hearts of women everywhere. She is the author of the acclaimed Hickory Ridge novels set in her native state of Tennessee.

After earning a masters degree and Ph.D, she authored dozens of magazine articles before breaking into book publishing with a number of award-winning novels for preteens and young adults. The Hickory Ridge series marked her adult fiction debut. Currently she is working on several stand-alone historical novels set in the South.

When she isn't busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.

To keep up with Dorothy Love,, become a fan on Facebook(Dorothy Love Books) or follow her on Twitter(@writerDorothy). 

About the book: The war is over, but her struggle is just beginning.
Charlotte Fraser returns to her late father's once-flourishing rice plantation on the Waccamaw River, determined to continue growing the special kind of rice known as Carolina Gold. But Fairhaven Plantation is in ruins, the bondsmen are free, and money is scarce.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly accepts a position as tutor to the young daughters of Nicholas Betancourt, heir to the neighboring Willowood Plantation. Then Nick's quest to prove his ownership of Willowood sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that reveals an old family mystery---and threatens all that she holds dear.
Inspired by the life of a 19th century woman rice planter,Carolina Gold continues Dorothy Love's winning tradition of weaving together mystery, romance, and rich historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman's struggle to restore her ruined world.

You can go HERE to see what others are saying about the book.

My Thoughts:
I have come to really like Dorothy Love's writing.  This is my second book by her to read, the first being Every Perfect Gift.  Love fluently writes a story with all the pieces to make it great:  a little bit of mystery, amazing historical detail, vivid descriptions, expert characterization.  While the romance portion of Carolina Gold was somewhat predictable, Love writes with such attention to her characters, history and description, that the predictability in the romance did not take away from the validity of the story.
I particularly identified with Charlotte...I absolutely loved her!  I appreciate how Dorothy made her so transparent.  She struggles with her faith and the energy to do the right thing at times in the story, but Dorothy shows the joy and strength in leaning on God for guidance and the change He can bring about in our hearts and minds.
I've also come to know Dorothy a bit through following her on Facebook.  She has been a joy to connect would not be disappointed by doing the same.  

Don't Miss This:
Enter Today - 1/4 - 1/14!
Dorothy Love Carolina Gold

Thank You Litfuse for getting me the complimentary copy for the purpose of review and participation in the blog tour.

Happy Reading,

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Painted Table/Giveaway

About the author: Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

Learn more about Suzanne at:

About the book: A beautiful heirloom ingrained with family memory has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget---a childhood disrupted by her mother's mental illness. 
Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother's obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint, and heavy with unsettling memories.

After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. But as an adult with a family of her own, Saffee must confront her mother's torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is an epic portrait of inherited memory, proclivity, and guilt. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact---like a family member---can bear the marks of one's entire past . . . as well as intimations of one's redemption.

To see what others are saying about The Painted Table, visit HERE.

My Thoughts:
Every once in a while a book comes along that touches you emotionally in the deepest places of the heart...The Painted Table was one such story!  Having worked in the mental health field for over ten years, I am all too familiar with the pain and heartache of family members watching and being affected by the mental and emotional illness of a loved one.  Suzanne Field captures the family dynamics of living with someone who suffers from a mental illness vividly through Saffee's story.
Field expertly tells the story through the eyes of mother and daughter which adds such a depth to the story.  There were many times that I read through tears in my eyes and a felt pain in my chest.
Field also captures the transformation and redemption, the restoration if you will, that only an encounter with God's grace and mercy can bring about in a life surrendered to Him.
Some of my favorite quotes (and there were many!):
"Your mother ain't happy unless she's mad about somethin'.  Your life will be different...Again recollections bring a clarifying moment.  Saffee considers that there are times in life when she will have to make things different, make things better.  It will not just happen with a touch of some celestial wand.  Change might involve struggle, might take time."
"Grace reads: 'Your wife'...that's Mommy Benji, she informs him...'shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house.  Your children'...Grace expansively gestures toward her brothers...'And that's us' olive plants around your table.  Psalm 128" 
 This is one of those books YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS!

And you won't want to miss this amazing opportunity to connect with Suzanne Field:
Enter Today - 1/2 - 1/18!
Suzanne Field Thomas Nelson The Painted Table

Happy Reading,

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tempest's Course

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Tempest's Course
Abingdon Press (December 17, 2013)
Lynette Sowell

Lynette Sowell is an award-winning novelist. Her most recent novel, Tempest’s Course, is part of the Quilts of Love line from Abingdon Press. When Lynette’s not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and chasing down news stories for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but makes her home in Coppress Cove, Texas, with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained.
Lynette can be reached through the Contact link on her Blog.
Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal city of New Bedford to restore a 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt. But there is one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House, a former whaling captain's home, where the quilt is stored. There she meets Army veteran Tom Pereira, the caretaker of Gray House, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky Massachusetts coastline. Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she and Tom grow closer. And as she reads stories in a daily journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns the secrets of the quilt and Mary's own sad tale of regret. Then Tom learns secrets of his own family's past, and both Tom and Kelly learn they are tied to Gray House in ways they never imagined. 
If you would like to read the first chapter of Tempest's Course, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
The Quilts of Love series has been such a joy to read!  Every time I think the books can't possibly get any better an author really surprises me...Lynette Sowell has done just that!  Sowell has written a book with rich characterization.  The transformation the main characters go through is simply a joy to read.  The description places the reader right in the middle of the story.  Tempest's Course had taken it's place as one of my favorites in this amazing series.  
I'm only sorry that I have not discovered Sowell's writing before now...I'll be sure to look for more material from her in the future!

Happy New Year and Happy Reading,