Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CFBA Book Review: The Survivor

The Survivor: Families of Honor, Book Three

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Survivor
Avon Inspire; Original edition (August 30, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven.  Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado.  She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children.  When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.     

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page


One of today’s most beloved authors of inspirational Christian fiction, Shelley Shepard Gray completes her acclaimed Families of Honor series with The Survivor—a poignant and beautiful story of love and faith in a small Amish community. Delving once more into the lives of these devout and fascinating folk, as she did in her popular Sisters of the Heart and Seasons of Sugarcreek novels, Gray tells the story of a young Amish woman who has survived the ravages of cancer, but now longs for the love of the one man who can heal her lonely heart. Like Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Cindy Woodsmall, Shelley Shepard Gray introduces readers to characters they will never forget as she masterfully depicts a world of simple living, abiding faith, and honest emotions.

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of The Survivor, go HERE.


This was book 3 in the Families of Honor Series, I thought each book was as good as the other and they were all 3 stand alone stories, but of course it's always more fun to read them all!  This book didn't hold any real surprises and it was a pretty standard Amish read, but I still enjoyed it.  Following the characters from one book to the next makes them feel as family and I always enjoy following along with their stories!  This is a good lazy day read.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from CFBA


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to School with the Tea Collection!


Have you shopped the Tea Collection?  They have the cutest things!  Their children’s collection includes adorable jackets, sweaters, pants, knit tops, and scarves that are not only modern and wearable, but also are inspired by cultures around the world! And, best of all, Tea Collection has just added hundreds of new styles for the back to school season.

Here are some of my absolute favorites:

For girls, I love the Marimba dresses! The Marimba Mini Dress is inspired by the marimba musical instrument and was developed in southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. The dress is made of cotton jersey, machine washable and has unique and beautiful tones. For boys, the Diez Stripe Jacket is definitely a staple item for the back to school season. This stylish striped jacket is 100% cotton, machine washable and is inspired by Mexico’s declaration of freedom in 1810. I also love the collection of kid’s books. Going to School in India has captivating photographs and an engaging story tell the tales of real children going to school across this vibrant and exciting country. This book is a great way to get your special students excited about the upcoming school year. Best of all, proceeds from the book sales benefit the Global Fund for Children!

....and don't forget about yourself, they have mom clothing as well, head on over and do some school AND Christmas shopping!!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Blue Skies Tomorrow

Blue Skies Tomorrow: A Novel (Wings of Glory)

     When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings.  But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll.  Soon something is going to give.

     Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit.  His statesided job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life - and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear.  When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.

     But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them?  And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory Series.

I have loved this series and am sad to see it come to an end, this is a stand a lone story with a twist to the plot that made me feel anger down to the tips of my toes, but that was a good thing!  I enjoy the unexpected in a book, otherwise it can tend to lolly gag around, and this book was entertaining the entire way through.  Ray has to endure quite a bit to find his true self and to feel worthy and Helen has to endure a lot of pain before she can free herself of the demons in her past, together they make a strong and lovable couple.
If you have enjoyed the other books in this series I think you'll like this book as well.  If you haven't read any of them yet, what are you waiting for?!!!

“Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

* I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Expandable Vases!

Expandable Vases!!
I have just learned something new, have you seen the expandable vases?  These are so neat, perfect for gift giving or a small hostess gift, use an expandable vase and send home a bouquet of flowers from your garden with guests!  I have never seen these before, but when I mentioned these to my daughter she probably thought I was a dinosaur because of course, she's heard of them!

  • Vases are unbreakable and expandable
  • Choose from a variety of colors, patterns & shapes
  • Free shipping

Here's a link to get yourself $!0 credit to SaveMore, sign up, get your $!0 credit and buy your vases, 2 for $6 or 6 for $14!

I'm going to get myself some of these, they're just so crazy!  Have you tried them?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CFBA Book Review: Ransome's Quest

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Ransome’s Quest
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Kaye Dacus


Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers.

Kaye Dacus (KAY DAY-cuss) is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there. She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her blog and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.


The pirate El Salvador has haunted the waters of the Caribbean for almost ten years. When he snatched Charlotte Ransome, it was a case of mistaken identity. Now Charlotte's brother, whose reputation in battle is the stuff of legend, is searching for him with a dogged determination. But another rumor has reached El Salvador's ears: Julia Ransome has been kidnapped by the man feared by all other pirates--the pirate known only as Shaw. The violent and blood-thirsty savage from whom El Salvador was trying to protect her.

When word reaches William of Julia's disappearance, his heart is torn--he cannot abandon the search for his sister, yet he must also rescue Julia. Ned Cochrane offers a solution: Ned will continue the search for Charlotte while William goes after Julia. William's quest will lead him to a greater understanding of faith and love as he must accept help from sworn enemy and have faith that Julia's life is in God's hands.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ransome’s Quest, go HERE.

Pirates, love and revenge abound in this adventurous story!  I do believe that you don't need to read the first two books in the series, but after reading this book they are on my list just because this book was so much fun!

The story line kept me captivated from the first hit over the head at the very beginning of the book straight through to the end!  A fun end of the summer read if you like high seas adventure!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from CFBA


Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Amish Values for Your Family

Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life

About the Book:  (Back Cover)
When it comes to strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much we can learn from the Amish.  Just how do they establish such strong family bonds, such deeply held values, and such wonderful family traditions?  In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shares the secrets of Amish family life.  In this inspiring and practical book, you will meet real Amish families that are a lot like yours.  Through their stories you'll discover how to:

*Slow down
*Safeguard family time
*Raise children who stand strong in their faith
*Prioritize what's truly important

Amish values like community, forgiveness, simple livings, obedience, and more can be your family legacy - without selling your car or changing your wardrobe.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book, if you enjoy anything Amish you will want a copy of Amish Values for Your Family!  This book happens to be one of those you can read over and over and learn something new each time, it's a book to share with loved one and one to simply help you slow down your day.

There is a lot to take away from this book, each chapter is full of simple Amish wisdom, wisdom that the rest us of could learn from.  We don't have to be Amish to slow down and cherish life, but we can learn from them. 

The Amish work hard, and have a simple way of life, have you thought lately about what you could do to simplify your life?  I think that if I could get rid of some of the clutter in my life and stick to the important tasks, instead of getting side-tracked by things that don't matter it would greatly simply my life.

This is a book that I will leave out and read from time to time as a gentle reminder to myself of what I can do to make my life and the lives of those around me better.  Give the book a try, you'll be glad you did!

“Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Enter 8/15 - 8/31!

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of Amish Values for Your Family, her latest non-fiction release. "It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It’s a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful." -Mary Ann Kirkby

To celebrate the release of Amish Values for Your Family, Suzanne has teamed up her publisher Revell Books to giveaway a Kindle, and with Bill Coleman (the amazing photographer used on Suzanne’s book covers) to give away a signed Bill Coleman original.

One Grand Prize winner will receive an Amish Values Prize Package (valued at over $200) and includes:

* A brand new KINDLE
* A Signed Bill Coleman original
* Amish Values for Your Family (for KINDLE)

Click on one of the icons to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

But, wait there's more! Suzanne is running a Bill Coleman caption contest during the month of August on her blog. Title one of Bill’s gorgeous photos for a chance to win a print from Bill’s Amish Photo site and/or a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.


* I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Across the Wide River

Across the Wide River

ABOUT THE BOOK (back cover)
Lowry Rankin knows all too well the cost of freedom; after all,his family's red brick home is the first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Ohio River.

He's seen friends beaten for the color of their skin.  He's watched simple farmers make a difference.  He's even risked his own life transporting escaped slaves to the next "station".  But will Lowry be able to conquer his greatest fear when he's called to speak out?

"This novel captures the excitement of the period, its dangers and moral dilemmas.  There is romance and adventure.  And, essential to the traditions of the Rankin family, there is a witness to the role of God in mankind's affairs, both great and small. - James B. Powers, A Rankin family descendant

This was an interesting book to read, and as I read it I thought that it would be a good book to have my son read for History as part of our homeschooling.  The main character in the book is a young boy and he struggles with feelings of not being big enough, and even a bit of a lack of importance.  That all changes as he learns what his family is doing for run away slaves and when he is asked to help you begin to see a change in him.

You read of the suffering the slaves went through and you feel the pain, the book made me angry at times as I read of the slave master beating the slaves and how they treated them, but we all know this happened, it's just so far removed from my life, which is what made this a good read.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Kregel Publications


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chance to win $10,000!!!

From Thomas Nelson:

One of the highlights of our days in the Fiction department at Thomas Nelson? Receiving reader letters—either directly addressed to us or passed along from our talented authors. It’s critical to be reminded that at the end of our long days acquiring, editing, designing, selling, marketing, and publicizing books, those stories are reaching readers, striking nerves, changing lives. We want readers’ feedback. How stories have given you hope. Which authors’ series you can’t help from sharing with everyone you meet. We want to know what makes you stay up late in the night to finish a story, and conversely what turns you away.

We’re conducting a series of surveys—seeking answers from readers who love Christian fiction. Up for grabs is a free ebook for every respondent who completes the survery, as well as a $10,000 prize for one entrant. The responses we gather will help shape the future of the books we publish for years to come. As well as the data we’re collecting here, we’ll also seek more in-depth feedback from a panel we’ll develop over the next year. More details to come. The note below from one of authors gives a specific picture of how reader feedback shapes her work. In short, your opinion matters! We thank you for your time and appreciate your responding.

--Thomas Nelson Fiction

Dear Friends--

Your opinion matters. It really does. I love hearing from readers about what worked for them in a story and about what doesn’t work. Reader feedback changed the balance between romance and suspense in my novels. After the Rock Harbor trilogy, I wanted to write more suspense in my novels because that’s what I personally like. But readers really wanted more relationship and romance in the books so I moved back that direction to about the same mix of 50/50 that the Rock Harbor novels contained. I write for you even more than for myself.

I had no intention of setting a whole series of books at Bluebird, Texas. It was going to be only one book, but readers sent me requests in droves for more books. The fourth book in the Lonestar series, Lonestar Angel, will be out in October. The Rock Harbor novels were going to be complete at three. There are now five and I’m thinking about another one! All due to reader demand.

I’ve often asked for reader input on names and locations too. When I was struggling for a name for my hero in The Lightkeeper’s Ball, I turned to my readers. Harrison really fit my character, and my readers told me. Love that! When I was trying to decide on a location for the new Hope Beach series I’ve started, I asked readers. Their overwhelming response was for a series set in the Outer Banks so guess what I’m writing?!

That’s why we’re coming to you for answers. We want to give you what you really want! Don’t be afraid to let us know what you really think. We value your honesty and the time it will take to share with us. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Your friend,

Colleen Coble


Carmex Review and Giveaway!

As summer draws to an end I think it's time to do another giveaway! I know, summer's not over quite yet but it sure feels like it when you walk into a store and see all of the delicious fall clothing, it feel like it when the sun sinks lower in the day and it most definitely feels like it because our State Fair is just a week away and then school begins!
I received a great gift from Carmex, and I get to pass along the same gift to one of my lucky readers, but first, let me tell you about the product!

I received:
1 Carmex Lime Twist click stick
1 Carmex Vanilla click stick
1 Picnic blanket

I love love love the picnic blanket, it has a nice backing which keeps the blanket from getting wet if you're on damp ground and the top side has fun stripes on it, and the cloth is quite soft and comfy...I know, I napped on it while at the beach!  The picnic blanket rolls up nicely and when all is said and done you can carry it away with the nice little carry handle and then, you get to stick your Carmex  products into the handy zippered pocket which is attached to the blanket!

As for the Lime and Vanilla click sticks, I love them both, especially since they have an SPF of 15...I have a tendency to burn my lips.  The lime is not too strong and has a nice little kick to it, the Vanilla has a very soft flavor.  I think of the Lime as a summer flavor and the Vanilla more fall/wintery!  The Carmex keeps my lips nice and soft, kept them from getting burned at the beach and all in all I really love the entire set that I received for review!

How would you like to win your own Picnic Blanket, Lime Twist Click Stick and Vanilla Click Stick?

Well....if you do, here's what you need to do: (USA only)

Leave a comment telling me your absolute flavor of Carmex...and as always leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Extra entries in case you REALLY want to win!
+2 follow my blog publicly via GFC
+1 follow me on Facebook link on sidebar
+1 follow me on Twitter link on sidebar

I'm in a short and simple kind of mood so we'll leave it at that!  GOOD LUCK!  The giveaway will end on Thursday, August 25th at midnight in honor of the opening of the MN State Fair!!!!  Give me a shout if you'll be there!!  The winner will be chosen via and will have 48 hrs. to respond to my email or a new winner will be chosen.

  *I received these products in exchange for review from the Carmex Blog Squad, my opinion regarding the products are my own, I was not compensated in any other way for this honest review.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CFBA: Book Review: Dancing on Glass

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dancing on Glass
B&H Books (August 1, 2011)
Pamela Ewen


Until recently retiring to write full time, Pamela Binnings Ewen was a partner in the Houston office of the international law firm of BakerBotts, L.L.P., specializing in corporate finance. She now lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, James Lott.

She has served on the Board of Directors of Inprint, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting the literary arts in Houston, Texas, as well as the Advisory Board for The New Orleans Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans; Pamela is a co-founder of the Northshore Literary Society in the Greater New Orleans area. She is also a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

Pamela’s first novel, Walk Back The Cat (Broadman & Holman. May, 2006) is the story of an embittered and powerful clergyman who learns an ancient secret, confronting him with truth and a choice that may destroy him.

She is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed non-fiction book Faith On Trial, published by Broadman & Holman in 1999, currently in its third printing.

Although it was written for non-lawyers, Faith On Trial was also chosen as a text for a course on law and religion at Yale Law School in the Spring of 2000, along with The Case For Christ by Lee Stroble. Continuing the apologetics begun in Faith On Trial, Pamela also appears with Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, Darrell Bock, Lee Stroble, and others in the film Jesus: Fact or Fiction, a Campus Crusade for Christ production.

Pamela is the latest writer to emerge from a Louisiana family recognized for its statistically improbable number of successful authors. A cousin, James Lee Burke, who won the Edgar Award, wrote about the common ancestral grandfathers in his Civil War novel White Dove At Morning.

Among other writers in the family are Andre Dubus (Best Picture Oscar nomination for The Bedroom; his son, Andre Dubus III, author of The House of Sand and Fog, a Best Picture Oscar nomination and an Oprah pick; Elizabeth Nell Dubus (the Cajun trilogy); and Alafair Burke, just starting out with the well received Samantha Kincaid mystery series.


In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama's rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer's unraveling world, can grace survive Ama's fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dancing on Glass, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

This is a good book, while I was reading it I wanted to reach out and warn Amalise about Philip.  From the get go I could just tell that he was not on the up and up and with each page turned I felt as though I was helping the horror along by not being able to tell Amalise to get away from Philip and get away fast!

Philip is one of those characters that you just know are bad, you may not be able to pinpoint the why, but deep down you just know something is not quite right.  While reading this book you ask yourself, why....why does Amalise like him so?  As Philip's web draws her tighter and tighter in, the book becomes almost painful to read, but the story line is a good lesson as well as a reminder that people aren't always what they seem and sometimes it can be quite difficult to remove yourself from certain situations.  Give this book a try if you like intrigue!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from the CFBA, I was not compensated in any other way for my honest thoughts or opinion.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: The First Gardener

The First Gardener

ABOUT THE BOOK(back cover)
Jeremiah Williams has been tending those gardens for over twenty-five years.  And like most first families who have come and gone, this one has stolen his heart.

Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London, are enjoying a sweet season of life when a tragedy tears their world apart.  As the entire state mourns Mackenzie falls into a grief that threatens to swallow her whole.

Though his heart is also broken, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers.  It's about tending hearts as well.  So he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie's heart, hoping to show her what it took him decades to discover.

A Southern tale of loss, love, and livingThe First Gardener reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all.

If this book doesn't move you to tears, I don't think anything will.  This is a sad Southern tale about a tragic loss and deep grief.  Some people are able to work through their grief and move on while others seem to go deeper and deeper into their grief and seem unreachable which can become quite upsetting to those of us wanting to help.  Moving on is a natural instinct for those of us not grieving, but sometimes, as this book shows us, it can be very hard to do so.

This book isn't all sad and tearful, a few characters add a bit of a bright light in the darkness of despair.  Eugenia is humorous and Jeremiah would take the pain from Mackenzie if only he could.

Keep a box of Kleenex handy if you're going to read this story about life, death, and healing.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Tyndale House Publishing


Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Review: Repairing Rainbows

Repairing Rainbows: A True Story of Family, Tragedy, and Choices 
Repairing Rainbows: A True Story of Family, Tragedy and Choices
Lynda Fishman
978-0-9866074-0-0/304 pages/$18/Memoir/PB
Publication Date: June 15, 2010
© Lynda Weinberg Fishman

ABOUT THE BOOK (back cover)
At thirteen years old Lynda's life comes to a disastrous halt when her mother and two younger sisters are killed in a plane crash.  Her father, overcome by despair, simply continues to exist, in a state devoid of hope.  After burying a wife and two young children at the age of 44, the overwhelming responsibility of raising a daughter alone completely immobilizes him.

Teetering on that tender brink between childhood and adolescence, Lynda faces the responsibility of a father in a complete state of shock, a house to take care of and hundreds of decisions about how to proceed with their shattered lives.

In Repairing Rainbows she candidly describes the agonizing memories, deafening silence and endless hardships that are the fallout of incredible loss.  As we follow her through marriage, motherhood and her own spiritual journey, Lynda reveals her complex feelings of hope, anger, pity and determination.  Most importantly, she learns the crucial difference between truly living and the existence that is so often mistaken for being alive. 

A true story, written by a woman whose normal and abundant life hides a terrible past, Repairing Rainbows is loaded with lessons that will undoubtedly touch the hearts of its readers.

Lynda Fishman writes a memoir that is sure to break your heart and bring tears to your eyes.  Keep your handkerchief handy while reading this story.

I can't imagine the pain that Lynda suffered.  As she writes about her loneliness and the silence in the house after the death's of her mom and sisters your heart splits in two and you want to reach into the book and hold her hand.  Lynda is an amazing woman and the strength that she has is incredible, she has struggled and come out on top with a beautiful family, but I'm sure her memories will haunt her forever.

Lynda's book is sure to remind you that you never really know if you will 'come back' and you really don't know when your good-bye is going to be forever.   A must read that could change your life.

For more information or to purchase this book visit HERE

For an excerpt go HERE

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Tribute Books, I was not compensated in any other way for my honest thoughts and/or opinions.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: The Colonel's Lady

Colonel's Lady, The: A Novel

About the Book: (back cover)
Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort.  Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.

Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort.  As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo.  Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is-and what he's done?

Immerse yourself in this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness set in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.

My Thoughts:
This was another enjoyable read.  Roxanna has some serious determination and I loved how she could stand up against the best of them even though she was a genteel woman!  She was not afraid of much at all.  There is a mystery lurking in this book which makes it more interesting and keeps you on your toes as you try to figure out who the traitor(s) is/are.  While Colonel McLinn could have been quite easy to like given his temper, the author made him very likeable and it was fun reading how even the most tough can be softened.

Chalk this one up for a fun end of summer read.

“Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, I was not compensated in any other way for my honest thoughts or opinions.