Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stand By Me by Neta Jackson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***


As a child growing up on the campus of a Christian school where her parents taught, Neta Jackson began creating imaginary worlds at a young age. Loving horses but not having one, she wrote stories about them instead. By the time she reached high school, she had so honed both imagination and writing skills that when her English teacher submitted one of her stories to a Scholastic magazine writing contest, it won first place. With that first win, Jackson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she wanted to be a writer. She’s been writing ever since.

After marrying the love of her life, Dave Jackson, the couple chose to settle in the Chicago area where Neta had attended college. Throughout their marriage, the Jacksons have worked together as a team, writing a multitude of books together on topics ranging from medical ethics to stories of gang kids, sometimes sharing the task with other experts who have served as co-writers. Together, they have also penned forty historical fiction accounts of Christian heroes, called the Trailblazer Books, along with another five-volume series called Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes.

These days, both are busy penning their own works of adult fiction. Jackson began her individual effort in 2003 with the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, inspired by her real-life Bible study group, a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women who have played an important role in her life for over fifteen years. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country and the publication of a personal prayer journal for prayer group participants. In 2008, Where Do I Go?, her first book in the four-book House of Hope series, was published. The second book in the series, Who Do I Talk To?, won a Christy Award in 2010 for excellence in Christian fiction. Recently, the fourth book of the series, Who Is My Shelter?, was nominated for Best Inspirational Novel for 2011 by RT Book Reviews. Stand by Me is the first in Jackson’s new SouledOut Sisters series.

The Jacksons have been married 45 years and have raised two children plus a Cambodian foster daughter. They continue to live in urban Chicago where, together, they enjoy writing, gardening and spending time with their grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


How does God expect us to get along with those people who are always causing us pain? Are we supposed to keep helping those who repeatedly take advantage of us? Exactly what is the key to living in peace with difficult people? These are the questions award-winning author Neta Jackson addresses in her latest novel, Stand by Me (Thomas Nelson), the first book of her newest series, SouledOut Sisters.

Inspired by her own Bible study group, Jackson began several years ago to write about a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women in a collection of books known as the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel in 2003, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country. Jackson followed the Yada Yada novels with the four-book House of Hope series. Though the series is not dependent upon its predecessors for understanding, Jackson has used the individual lives of familiar characters to introduce some of the more complex issues prevalent in our modern society. By allowing her characters to lead the way, Jackson has shed light on issues like drug addiction, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and even the racial conflicts that can so easily arise within any culturally diverse group.

In her newest work, Stand by Me, Jackson introduces her readers to Kathryn Davis, a young college student who has left her prestigious Phoenix family behind to move to Chicago after dropping out of medical school against her father’s protests. Her newfound faith in Christ helps temper the realization that she has stepped out of her family’s good graces, but does little to alleviate the pain of their rejection.

When Kat discovers the dynamic multi-cultural membership at Souled Out Community Church, she longs to be part of it. But her unconventional behavior and brash eagerness have not helped her win favor with the church members. And, much to her dismay, Avis Douglass, the one woman in the church whom she most admires and would love to know better, is the one who is the most aloof.

Kat has no idea that, after being confronted by a number of serious problems all at once, Avis and her husband, Peter, are beginning to question God’s will for their lives. Having been recently estranged from her HIV positive daughter and being worried about her welfare, Avis would like nothing more than to quietly retreat into the recesses of her faith and find the answers she seeks. Her attempts to do so, however, are thwarted at every turn by the flamboyant Kat, who has apparently decided to foist herself on their lives whether they want her to or not.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548645
ISBN-13: 978-1595548641

My Personal Review:
Kathryn Davies, aka Kat, has just become a Christian and moved from Phoenix to Chicago to finish college. While her parents are disappointed she isn’t following their dreams for her, Kat feels she is exactly where God wants her to be. Se decides to stay in Chicago for a summer.
Avis Douglass, is a principal in one of Chicago’s top performing elementary schools, and a founding member of SouledOUt Community Church, where she is one of the worship leaders.
Avis’ worship style intrigues Kat, and when Kat and her friends move into Avis’ building, a whole new relationship is about to begin. Avis seems to have something against Kat’s zeal for living a radical life. She finds Kat’s ways strange and unnerving until she finally gets to know Kat. While Kat wants to learn more about Avis, she is still very strong in her own beliefs, not willing to relent until she finds she needs Avis and Avis needs her.
I really enjoyed this story. I had read two of Jackson’s Yada Yada books back in college, so I knew I liked her as an author, but I connected with this story in a more personal way than I had with the Yada Yada books. I loved the tension in the book between Avis and her friends and Kat and her friends. At the same time, while there was tention, there was the aspect that they needed each other too.
I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book from the B&B Media Group and First Wild Card Tours for the purpose of this review.



Midwest Music Festival, Central Illinois

Kat Davies ducked into the billowing exhibition tent staked down in a large pasture in central Illinois like a grounded Goodyear blimp. She’d been at the Midwest Music Fest three days already—didn’t know it was a Christian festival until she got here—and needed a little respite from the music pulsing morning-till-night on the Jazz Stage, Gospel Stage, Alternative Stage, Rock Stage, Folk Stage, and a few more she’d forgotten.

Besides, she’d be heading back to Phoenix in two days, and sooner or later she needed to figure out how to tell her parents she’d  “given her heart to Jesus”  after the Resurrection Band concert last night. Maybe this tent had a quiet corner where she could think. Or pray. Not that she had a clue how to do that.

Kat had a good idea how they’d react. Her mother would f lutter and say something like, “Don’t  take it too seriously, Kathryn dear. Getting religion is just something everyone does for a year or two.” And her father? If he didn’t blow his stack at what he’d call “another one of your little distractions,” he’d give her a lecture about keeping her priorities straight: Finish pre-med at the University of Arizona. Go to medical school. Do her internship at a prestigious hospital. Follow in the Davies’ tradition. Make her family tree of prominent physicians proud.

Except . . . she’d walked out of her biochemistry class at UA one day and realized she didn’t want to become a doctor. She’d tutored ESL kids the summer after high school and realized she liked working with kids. (“Well, you can be a pediatrician like your Uncle Bernard, darling,” her mother had said.) And the student action group on the UA campus sponsoring workshops on “Living Green”  and “Sustainable Foods” had really gotten her blood pumping. (Another one of her “distractions,” accord- ing to her father.)

Was it too late to pursue something else? Her parents were already bragging to friends and co-workers that their Kathryn had received her letter of acceptance into medical school a few months ago. Feeling squeezed till she couldn’t breathe, she’d jumped at the chance to attend a music fest in Illinois with a carload of other students—friends of friends—just to get away from the pressure for a while.

What she hadn’t expected was to find so many teenagers and twenty-somethings excited about Jesus. Jesus! Not the go- to-church-at-Christmas-and-Easter  Jesus,  the only Jesus  she’d known growing up the daughter of a wealthy Phoenix physician and socialite mother. That Jesus, frankly, had a hard time com- peting with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

But these people talked about a Jesus who cared about poor people. A Jesus who created the world and told humans to take care of it. A Jesus who might not be blond and blue-eyed after all. A Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor”—and that neighbor might be black or brown or speak Spanish or Chinese. A Jesus who said, “All have sinned” and “You must be born again.” The Son of God, who’d died to take away the sins of the world.

That Jesus.

That’s the Jesus  she’d  asked to be Lord of her life, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. But she desper- ately longed for something—Someone—to help her figure out who she was and what she should do with her life. The guitar player in the band who’d challenged the arm-waving music fans last night to be Christ-followers had said, “Jesus came to give you life—life more abundantly! But first you must give your life to Him.”

That’s what she wanted. Abundant life! A life sold out to something she could believe in. To give herself to one hundred percent. So she’d prayed the sinner’s prayer with a woman in a denim skirt whose name she never learned, and a “peace like a river” f looded her spirit.

Last night, anyway.

But by the light of day, she was still heading in a direction—medical school—that she didn’t want to go.

Big fans circulated the air in the large tent, though mostly it just moved the stif ling July heat around. Thick, curly strands of her long, dark hair had slipped out of the clip on the back of her head and stuck in wet tendrils on her skin. Redoing the clip to get the damp hair off her neck and face, she wan- dered the aisles, idly picking up brochures about Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, and YWAM. Huh. What if she just dropped out of pre-med and did something like this Youth With A Mission thing. Far from Phoenix and the Davies Family Tradition. Go to Haiti or India or—

“Nice boots,” giggled a female voice nearby.

Kat glanced up from the brochure. A cute brunette with a shaggy pixie cut grinned at her from behind a booth that said Find Your Calling at CCU! Kat self-consciously looked down at the Arizona-chic  cowboy boots peeking out beneath her designer jeans and f lushed. Ever since she’d arrived at the fes- tival, she felt as if she’d walked into a time-warp—girls in tank tops, peasant skirts, and pierced nostrils, guys wearing pony- tails, tattoos, shredded jeans, and T-shirts  proclaiming Jesus Freak. Kat had felt as conspicuous as a mink coat in a second- hand store.

“Thanks. I think.”

The young woman, dressed in khaki Capris and a feminine lemon-yellow tee, laughed. “This your first time to the Fest? Where’re you from?”

Kat felt strangely relieved to be talking to someone else who didn’t look like a throwback to the seventies. “Phoenix. First time.”

“Wow. You came a long way.”


“Detroit. But during the year I’m  a student at CCU in Chicago. I get a huge discount off my festival fee if I sit at this booth a couple hours a day during the Fest.” The girl grinned again and extended her hand across the stacks of informational literature. “I’m Brygitta Walczak.”

Kat shook her hand. “Kathryn Davies. But my friends call me Kat. With a K.”

“Like ‘kitty kat’ ? That’s cute. And . . . blue eyes with all that dark, curly hair? Bet the guys love that.”

Ignoring the remark, Kat glanced up at the banner above the booth. “What does CCU stand for?”

“Chicago Crista University. Usually we just call it Crista U. Located on the west side of Chicago. I’ll be a senior next year. Christian ed major.”

“Christian ed? What’s that?”

“You’re kidding.” Brygitta eyed her curiously. “Mm. You’re not kidding. Uh, are you a Christian?”

Kat allowed a wry smile. “For about twelve hours.”

The pixie-haired girl’s mouth dropped open, and then her amber eyes lit up. “That is so cool! Hey . . . want a Coke or something? I’ve got a cooler back here with some soft drinks. Wanna sit? I’d love some company.”

Brygitta dragged a folding chair from an unmanned booth nearby, and Kat found herself swapping life stories with her new friend. Unlike Kat, who had no siblings, Brygitta came from a large Polish family, had been raised in the Catholic church, “went Protestant” at a Youth for Christ rally in high school, planned to get a master’s degree at Crista U, and wanted to be a missionary overseas or a director of Christian education somewhere.

“Sorry I’m late, Bree,” said a male voice. “Uh-oh. Two gor- geous females. You’ve cloned yourself. I’m really in trouble now.”

Kat looked up. A young man about their same age grinned at them across the booth. He was maybe six feet, with short, sandy-brown hair combed forward over a nicely tanned face, wire-rim  sunglasses shading his eyes. No obvious tattoos or body piercings. Just cargo shorts and a T-shirt that said CCU Soccer.

Brygitta jumped up. “Oh, hi, Nick. This is Kat Davies. She’s from  the University of Arizona, first time at the Fest. Nick Taylor is my relief. He’s  a seminary student at Crista—well, headed that way, anyway.”

Nick slid off his shades and flashed a smile, hazel eyes teasing. “So, Miss Blue Eyes. Has Brygitta talked you into coming to CCU yet?”

Kat laughed and started to shake her head . . . and then stopped as her eyes caught the logo on the banner across the booth. Find Your Calling at CCU.

Transfer to Crista University? Why not?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Too Busy by Joanne Kraft

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (June 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to
Susan Otis/Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***


Joanne Kraft is a sought-after speaker who loves to encourage women. She has been published in Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, ParentLife, Kyria and P31 Woman magazine. A leader of Inspire Christian Writers, she serves as a marriage study group leader, and works as a 911 dispatcher in Sacramento County, California. Kraft is married and has four children.

Visit the author's website.


Just Too Busy is one mother’s story of getting off the merry-go-round of her family’s over-commitment. When everything their life seemed like a marathon race, Joanne Kraft and her husband decided to take a “radical sabbatical”—a year-long absence from any of their four children’s organized after-school activities. Memories made, new traditions started, lessons learned, and how their family’s legacy was enriched are shared, spiced with a liberal helping of light-hearted humor.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (June 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0834126095
ISBN-13: 978-0834126091

AND NOW...Click the LOOK INSIDE! Button to view the FIRST Chapter:

My Review:
Do you ever feel like our author did? She described her family’s crazy schedule by saying she was a “daytime zombie in a minivan, shuttling children back and forth from soccer practice to dance lessons and from Girls Scouts to baseball games.” Our culture expects us to stay busy. Kids are looked at as strange if they aren’t enrolled in sports, music/art, and every other activity that keeps them busy all day long. From after school activities to summer day camps, family time is being spent running around ferrying our kids to every place imaginable and eating on the run instead of enjoying family meals around the table together. This is where Joanne Kraft’s idea of a radical sabbatical comes into play. She and her family gave up every activity that that required them to run the kids around for one full year. Instead they had family time, and a specific day each month that was carved out for family field trips.
Kraft spends only 5 of the 20 chapters really talking about their radical sabbatical. The rest of the book is spent on how busy our society is, the dangers of busyness, and the value of saying no to busyness. I would have loved to see the ratios switched and read more about their adventure of a radical sabbatical. I would be curious as to how they filled their time, what new things they did, besides just the family field trips. Did they do anything as individuals, such as church youth activities. The concept of saying no to every extra activity was new and unique. I know of people who have only allowed their kids to do one activity at a time, but never have I heard of people cutting out all activities altogether. 
The idea of this book intrigued me, but it didn’t deliver like it could have. So I give this book 3.5 stars.
 I received this book free from First Wild Card Tours for the purpose of this review.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Simon And The Easter Miracle: A Traditional Tale For Easter

Simon And The Easter Miracle: A Traditional Tale For Easter
Written by Mary Joslin and Illustrated by Anna Luraschi
This story portrays Simon, the man who in the Bible is recorded to have helped Jesus carry His cross, as a farmer making his way to the market to sell wine, bread, and eggs. As Simon gets close to town, he sees a crowd of people calling out “Crucify him!” Then the officer (or Centurion) sees Simon and tells him to carry a man’s cross.
While the story is beautifully illustrated, it is a weak Easter story. Sure, it mentions God. But it fails to mention who was on the cross and why he was there. In fact, the man sentenced to die said only that his crime was “preaching a message of peace.” I found the book to be too politically correct, rather than a children’s book on the real story of Easter.
I give the illustrations 5 stars. But the text of the book only 2 stars.
I received this book free from Kregal for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates by Rob & Joanna Teigen

Your children are only young for a short period of time. As parents, you have the greatest influence on your children from the very youngest of ages. Why not maximize that impact by being there to make great memories with your children and teach them important lessons along the way.
Each date lists the things needed, many of which are things that are likely already in the house, or easy to find. Some do cost money and/or require going out somewhere such as getting ice cream, going bowling, or working at a food pantry/soup kitchen. Secondly, all the dates give you an idea of what to do, helpful ideas, and reminders to encourage your daughter during the activity. Then there is a section entitled, “Grow” in which you sit down with your daughter to talk about what you did, and share some godly wisdom with her. Some of the lessons are more serious than others, such as explaining why you have rules to protect her, while others are just a time to encourage your daughter and have some fun.
This is a great gift for any father who wants to connect with his daughter. Often times, its not the desire that is lacking, but the ideas. And this book gives dads 88 different ideas to do. Some of these will be treasured memories for dads and their daughters and may even become family traditions. While the book is meant for fathers and their daughters ages 6-12, I could easily see dad’s starting some activities at a much younger age and continuing long after they are out of the house.
I received this book free from Revel for the purpose of this review.

27 in 27

1. Find ways to celebrate the little things
2. Find an avenue to use the ASL I am learning (signing during worship, teaching others, etc) * look up worship songs in ASL
3. Pay off one of my student loans
4. Read through the bible chronologically
5. Read some things just for fun, without blogging about the books.
6. Paint things for my apt
7. Learn to play the piano
8. Pay off 4 bills
9. Have a fondue party
10. Do a photo challenge
11. Make 24 meals from pinterest (2 per month)
12. Make some crafts from pinterest
13. Help someone plans wedding
14. Put together my collection of favorite recipes
15. Keep a notebook of questions I have when reading the bible
16. prayer walk
17. Go on a road trip
18. learn a new game
19. Continue with Prepare - Enrich
20. do something fun with Jaime a few times
21. Cook with friends
22. Surprise someone with food
23. Plan a girls night out (at least every other month)
24. Paint ceramics somewhere ( maybe as a girls night out) 
25. Finish MPC ppt slides ( both versions)
26. Buy a car
27. Move out of my parents home

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

Lindsey Adams first visits the Kindred Spirit mailbox in Sunset Beach, NC as a teenager. She continues to go back each year and write a letter chronicling her year. She shares the good and the bad, the joys and the disappointments with the Kindred Spirit. 20 years after her first visit to the mailbox, Lindsey is there at the beach with he kids as a divorced woman. Lindsey finds herself face to face with her first love, Campbell Forrester who still lives at Sunset Beach. Will she be able to offer and accept forgiveness for all the hurts in her life? Will she be able to trust again?
The Mailbox is a book about second chances. We all need second chances to make amends for our mistakes. This book paints a beautiful picture of these second chances in the lives of Lindsey, Campbell and those around them. I very much enjoyed reading this book and would love reading it again. Go stick your toes in the sand, and enjoy this great book. When you finish reading, may you be inspired to write a letter to Kindred Spirit. What would your letter say?

I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book free from David C. Cook for the purpose of this review.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Illusion By Frank Peretti

From the back cover of the Advance Reader’s Edition:
Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life--or so everyone things. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discoveres a strange magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.
Hoping to discover an exciting new talent, Dave ventures into the coffee shop and is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this teenager who has never met him, doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.
They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protegee, but even 
Since I don’t want to give anything more away than the back cover gives the reader, that’s all the summary I will give. This book was amazing. I will rate it as one of the best books that I have ever read. The story had a depth to it that I never expected and a complexity that kept me turning the page wondering how it all fit together. For the first half of the book, I was wondering how all the pieces fit together. Then as Peretti started brining the pieces together, I wondered how they would all work out. I raced through the last 100 pages still trying to figure the story out, and until it ended, I still wasn’t sure what was going to happen and how. This is only the second Peretti book that I have read, the first being Tilly (c 2003) and now I am curious about his other books.
I give this book a resounding 5 stars! This will most definitely be on my list of top books of 2012!
I received an Advance Reader’s Edition free from Handlebar Marketing for the purpose of this review.

Giveaway Announcement:
Handlebar Marketing gave me a second copy for a giveaway. Again, I choose to reward one of my followers with the giveaway copy. Congratulations to one of my newer followers, Dennis for winning this great book!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lillies In Moonlight by Alison Pittman

Lilly Margolis is a door to door saleswoman selling Lillies in Moonlight, a body creme by Dalliance Cosmetics. But she is having a hard time even selling one jar. That is, until she gets to the Burnside’s home where she meets Betty Ruth, a very rich widow who buys everything Lilly has on her. Just days later, she finds herself at the same house after going to a party and falling over the wall into the backyard of the Burnside’s home. There she stays as a guest while recovering from her fall, and gets to know the family. Betty Ruth has dementia and leads a lonely life until Lilly comes along, and Betty Ruth’s son, Cullen, a former baseball player who went to fight in the Great War before coming home disfigured. As Lilly gets to know the family and they get to know her, all of their lives change.
This is a fun story that had some unexpected turns and a satisfying ending. Lillies in Moonlight is the first book by Alison Pittman that I have read and I look forward to reading more of her books.
I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received the book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.

More Beauty Less Beast by Debora M. Coty

About the book:

With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses heart needs of women struggling to tame that out-of-control inner beast that unexpectedly pounces, roaring and shredding, as it threatens to destroy the divinely beautiful princess hidden within. In More Beauty, Less Beast, women will find simple, practical techniques for embracing the true beauty rightfully theirs as cherished daughters of the King. Whether jaded by emotional wounds, unrealistic standards, or lack of confidence, this laugh-out-loud, girlfriend-to-girlfriend encouragement will help women transform their destructive inner beast into the exquisite beauty they were always meant to be.

My Review:
Society has its own standard of beauty, which is the complete opposite of God’s standard of beauty. This book challenged me, made me think, and made me laugh. Coty is able to take a serious and sometimes uncomfortable subject and bring some light heartedness to it. I started reading this book while I was in the doctor’s office and I had to laugh out loud when I started chapter 2, and the author was talking one of her own doctor’s appointments.

I enjoyed reading this book. The chapters are very short and the book as a whole is a quick read. I give this book 4 stars. I received this book free from Litfuse for the purpose of this review.
About Debora Coty: 

Debora Coty is an occupational therapist, a piano teacher, and a freelance writer. She's also involved in the children's ministry at her church and is an avid tennis player. Debora began writing to fill the void when her last child left for college, and it has since become a passion. Debora has a real knack for getting across sound biblical concepts with a refreshing lightheartedness as attested in her monthly newspaper column entitled "Grace Notes: God's Grace for Everyday Living." 

Visit for more about Debora and her books. 

Enter Today and Save the Date-3/22!

Using Biblical advice and her trademark humor, Debora Coty urges women to conquer guilt and re-institute hope in More Beauty, Less Beast. Celebrate with Debora by entering to win a $150 Visa Cash Card!
One "beautiful" winner will receive:
  • A $150 Visa Cash Card (Treat yourself to a spa day or weekend get-away!)
  • A Debora Coty Library (More Beauty, Less Beast, Too Blessed Too Be Stressed and Everyday Hope)
  • Chocolate (Every good things begins with chocolate!)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/22/12. Winner will be announced at Debora's "Divine Beauty" Facebook Party on  3/22. Debora will be hosting an evening of chat, fun beauty trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Debora via Skype.)

So grab your copy of More Beauty, Less Beast and join Debora and friends on the evening of March 22nd for an evening of fun.

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 22nd!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller

From the back cover:
Her heart seeks sanctuary in the deep woods. But will trouble find her even here?
The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway’s Georgia home, conflict still rages. To protect herself and her younger brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a north woods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he’s hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.
With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the rowdy shanty boys to the warm cookstove and mouth-watering apple pie, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting you to a time of danger and romance.
My Review:
This is another book that I really enjoyed reading. Having worked in camps, I know how much food is needed to feed a large group. But what it takes to do it with a cookstove used more than 100 years ago is beyond me. However, Katie Calloway’s character shows a determination to survive and thrive that was much more common in those living on the frontier or in the west than it is today. This is a book that I really enjoyed reading and would love to share with others.
I give this book 5 stars.
I received this book from Serena Miller for the purpose of this review.

The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

From the back cover:
To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.
As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?
Brimming with romance and danger, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall takes readers inside the fascinating belowstairs world of a 19th-century English manor, where appearances can be deceiving.
My Review:
This is my first book by Julie Klassen that I have read (I do have two of her other books on my kindle waiting to be read). I loved how it was not the typical Regency England book. It did not focus on the upper class, although they were certainly part of the story, but it focused on the lives of the servants within the house. It was a very well written book that really captured my attention. I read the whole book in less than 24 hours (even reading it when i was supposed to be doing a few other things....) I loved Margaret Macy’s determinedness to succeed in her new life as well as the secrecy and irony of her new life.

I give this book 5 stars, and with the popularity of shows like Downton Abbey, this book should be very popular.

I received this book free from Bethany House for the purpose of this review.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Miracle For Jen by Linda Barrick

About the book:
On the night of November 5, 2006, the Barrick family was driving home from church when their van was struck by a drunk driver. Fifteen-year-old Jen suffered multiple skull fractures and severe brain trauma and was not expected to survive the night. But against all odds, she did. As she lingered in a coma, doctors warned that if Jen ever woke up, she would be cursing and screaming in confusion due to her brain injuries. Instead, after five weeks she opened her eyes and began praying and praising God. Jen didn’t remember her middle name, recognize her parents, or recall that she had a little brother—but she remembered Jesus and every word to every praise song and scripture she had hidden in her heart before the accident. As any loving mother would, Jen’s mother Linda wanted God to heal Jen—make her like she was before. Normal. But a loving God had something else in mind—instead of making her normal, God is making Jennifer—and the whole Barrick family—extraordinary, miraculous. Miracle for Jen is the remarkable true story of a family who overcame tragedy and learned to trust God’s plans for their lives in a whole new way.
My review:
This is one book that I was so happy to get. I was a student at Liberty University at the time of the Barrick’s car accident. I was one of those thousands of students praying for this precious family. Later, I was a teacher’s assistant in classes in which Jen was a guest speaker. There story is truly a miracle, in so many ways. While Jen was the most severely injured, all 4 members of the family were injured that night, and were taken to 4 different hospitals. Their physical recovery was not easy. But they have allowed God to use them, and their story. The miracle of this story is not just that this family survived this horrific accident, but that they have allowed God to use it, and them to glorify Him.
While I had a special connection to this book being a Liberty University student, I think others will still be inspired and encouraged by this story of the Barrick family.
I give this book 5 stars!
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of this review.
For more information about the book and the Barrick family’s story:

I was given a certificate for a giveaway copy of this book. Because it is such a special book, I choose to not do a traditional giveaway but to reward one of my followers with it. So the winner is Jen.

 These two pictures of Jen Barrick with Joni Eareckson Tada are used with permission from the Barrick Family.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Off The Record by Elizabeth White

Judge Laurel Kincade is running for chief justic of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Journalist Cole McGaughan is a religion reporter with the New York Daily Journal received a call from an old friend asking for McGaughan has been asked to help dig up dirt on the race. Judge Kincade had a seemingly impeccable reputation. Is that really her, or is it just a facade? But the questions don’t stop there. With Cole’s own history with Laurel, will he be able to help keep her secret at the risk of loosing his job, or will revealing he truth set them both free.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a look at a life I had not considered. To run for a position means that one’s whole life is under scrutiny, even one’s personal life. Every decision, every moment of life can be called into question. It is not just about having your resume under scrutiny. And in choosing to run, you are choosing to let your life become an open book and be judged, whether you like it or not. Nothing is hidden from the public’s eye. White’s book was a clear look at this life, while providing a satisfying story that I loved reading.
I received this book free from Zondervan for the purpose of this review.

Three Hearts movie

Movie Description

Graduating college senior, Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of evangelist Billy Graham, takes on an internship at Samaritan’s Purse working with the Children’s Heart Project. This project is dedicated to saving the lives of children by providing medical procedures that aren’t available in many countries. Cissie is charged with supervising the arrival and surgeries of three Mongolian children suffering from fatal congenital heart defects.
But the task is not easy and filled with unexpected challenges. Cissie balances responsibilities as a newly married wife to a professional football player and her tasks with the internship. Meanwhile the Children’s Heart team turns to a Texas family who travels to Mongolia for the adventure of a lifetime to help bring the children to San Antonio for their surgeries. In Texas, two host families make sacrifices to care for these children and their mothers, while a team of doctors and nurses volunteer their time only to stare directly into the face of life and death. How far would you go to save a life?
It’s a fight for survival, a fight of faith, and a fight for a new life for these three hearts.
Bonus Features include: trailer, deleted scenes, and video clips about the Children’s Heart Project.

My Review:
A Samaritan’s Purse ® presentation with Cissie Graham Lynch and the Children’s Heart Project.
Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of Billy Graham, and daughter of Franklin Graham  shares her life-changing internship with Children’s Heart Project, an arm of Samaritan’s Purse, which is most know for their Operation Christmas Child. Cissie shares the journey of bringing three Mongolian children back to America to Texas for life changing surgeries to correct deadly congenital heart defects. While one family travels to Mongolia to help bring the children and their mothers to the states, two other families host the children while they wait for their surgery and recover afterwards. Te extras include deleted scenes, clips about the Children’s Heart Project, and a 5 part miniseries on the Children’s Heart Project in Kurdistan.
I knew about Samaritan’s Purse through their Operation Christmas Child, but I had no clue about any of their other ministries. This video is an in depth look at a ministry I had never heard about before. The Children’s Heart Project examines and then provides operations in America for children who could not have these life saving operations in their own countries. In the miniseries on Kurdistan, American doctors are training the Kurdistanese doctors how to do some of the easier procedures in their own hospitals. I greatly enjoyed watching the video. These children stole my heart. I look forward to sharing this DVD with those who are familar with Samaritan’s Purse through Operation Christmas Child and those interested in medical missions. The lives of these children in the video as well as others who have received these life changing surgeries will forever be changed because of the Children’s Heart Project, both physically and spiritually.

I received this DVD from Booksneeze for the purpose of this review.