Saturday, May 30, 2009

Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel reviewed

Still catching up on some reviews, so bear with me. Though this should be the last one for today.

The CFBA featured this book in April. If you want to see the info on the author and the book, go here.

Elisha's Bones reminded me of an Indiana Jones type story. Jack Hawthorne, a full-time professor of archaeology when the book opens, used to enjoy working on digs . . . until his brother was killed—murdered—while working an archeological site in Egypt. Jack is comfortable in his new role and isn't exactly thrilled when he's recruited to find Elisha's bones for a dying man who has the means to finance such a search. With the help of a former girlfriend (which adds all kinds of complications to the search) and her brother, Jack travels the world in search of the bones. In the process he runs across other people who also are involved in this newest version of finding a needle in a haystack. Determining who are his enemies and who are his friends becomes a matter of life and death.

The author has done a good job of characterization and writes a plausible adventure story. While the plot dragged at times, in my opinion, and the hero and heroine sometimes tediously worked through their past issues, overall the read was quick, fast-paced, and interesting. If you enjoy reading about biblical archeology, you will enjoy this book, based on the one-time mention in scripture of a dead man's resurrection when he came into contact with Elisha's bones.

Field of Blood by Eric Wilson

Field of Blood (Book 1, Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy)
By Eric Wilson
Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2008


Judas hung himself in a place known as the Akeldama or Field of Blood.

But what if his death didn't end his betrayal?

What if his tainted blood seeped deep into the earth, into burial caves, causing a counterfeit resurrection of the dead?

Gina Lazarescu, a Romanian girl with a scarred past, has no idea she is being sought by the undead.

The Collectors, those released from the Akeldama, feed on souls and human blood. But there are also the Nistarim, those who rose from their graves in the shadow of the Nazarene's crucifixion—and they still walk among us, immortal, left to protect mankind.

Gina realizes her future will depend on her understanding of the past, yet how can she protect herself from Collectors who have already died once but still live?

The Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy takes readers on a riveting journey, as imaginative fiction melds with biblical and archaeological history.

Margie’s comments: I have to confess that Field of Blood is not a book I would normally read, mostly because of the vampires. In fact, it sat on my to be reviewed pile for several months before I finally read it. And the only reason I did was because I was asked to proofread the second book in this series, Haunt of Jackals. I was so drawn into the story and the characters, I found myself picking up Field of Blood just to get caught up with the backstory. So in essence I read both books at the same time.

The only other vampire book I’ve read is the classic Dracula by Bram Stoker. And Eric Wilson puts an entirely difference spin on his characterization of vampires, putting their lust and evil desires on a more spiritual plain. To me, Wilson’s depiction is more believable to me than Bram Stoker’s.

The premise of Field of Blood and the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy is a mixture of truth and fiction. But Eric Wilson’s melding of the two makes even the fiction plausible, given a healthy dose of suspension of belief on the reader’s part. Eric’s characters are real, well-rounded individuals. Even the less savory characters are believable in the context of the story. Lots of research, in-depth and on-site, has gone into this trilogy, giving even more credibility to the story line.

The writing is strong and descriptive. Not only do the characters come alive, but the varied settings do, too. A combination of legend and biblical truth, this first book of the trilogy contains a strong message of spiritual warfare on a much higher level than many of us want to think about. It is a book that demands an open mind to possibilities that might exist beyond our understanding of the spiritual world. Haunt of Jackals releases in July; the final book in the trilogy, Valley of Bones, releases in 2010.

A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman

From the Back Cover
Has she fallen in love with a man who cannot love her back? Elizabeth O'Connor has been like the little sister John Brady always wanted, sharing his love of literature and his thirst for God. But in the throes of the reckless Roaring Twenties, Lizzie has grown up. Suddenly she wants more from the man who has been her friend since she was a child. When this shy little bookworm blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving John, she discovers that his past won't let him return that love. But Lizzie refuses to give up—until his shocking secrets push her away. Can true love survive the betrayal and deceitful of a painful past . . . or will it be shattered like the fairy-tale dreams of a girl in love? Brimming with romance, longing, and redemption, A Passion Denied, will quicken your pulse and gladden your heart with a riveting story of the true power of love.

Julie Lessman is the author of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed and is the recipient of ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her family.

Margie’s comments: Julie Lessman is a master of her subject matter. With this third book in the Daughters of Boston series, she brings to life a cast of characters who are truly endearing and transparent. And she doesn’t shy away from the sexual tension in both courtship and marriage, but neither does she cross the line in erotica. The passion in her books is not only physical, something that may go a little further than you would expect in a Christian romance, but it also expands on spiritual, emotional, and even intellectual passions. While the main story line of A Passion Denied centers around Lizzie and John, the author expertly ties in the continued story lines of Lizzie’s parents and her two older sisters and their husbands. This book is the third in the series, but the rich characterizations and attention to historical detail allows it to stand alone. This book is well worth reading, even though it is longer than most books in its genre. If you like family sagas in any era, you will enjoy reading about the O’Conner family.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Rose House

WaterBrook Press (May 5, 2009)


Tina Ann Forkner


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. She grew up in Oklahoma and graduated with honors from CSU Sacramento before settling in Wyoming. She lives with her husband, their three bright children and their dog and stays busy serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. She is the author of Ruby Among Us, her debut novel, and Rose House, which recently released from Waterbrook Press/Random House.


A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Rose House, go HERE

Margie's comments: The story of the Rose House reached out and drew me into the lives of Lillian, Geena, Truman, Paige, Mark, Gracie, Kitty . . . The characters truly jump off the page, they are so real. The story is well written. A little romance, a little mystery, broken relationships, restored hope—all these and more weave through the story lines, drawing the characters together. Throughout the book, the author continually points to God's love and forgiveness on various levels. I highly recommend this book.

Verse of the Day

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. . . . Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:3–7 ESV)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Verse of the Day

What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me? (Psalm 116:12 NASB)

Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1–2 ESV)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jillian Dare: A Novel by Melanie M. Jeschke

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Jillian Dare: A Novel

Revell (May 1, 2009)


Melanie M. Jeschke


Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.


Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

Verse of the Day

"Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work . . . is finished." (1 Chronicles 28:20 NASB)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren (review)

A few weeks ago, I blogged on Susan's latest book, Nothing But Trouble. Today I am posting the delayed review. Not because it took me so long to finish it—it didn't. And not because I've been trying to find nice things to say about it. I'm not!! I even had the chance to tell Susie in person how much I like this first book in her new series. I'm already waiting for the next one to release!

But I was scheduled to do two blog tours for Nothing But Trouble, so I saved my review for this post.

As I said in my earlier post, I always know when I pick up one of Susie's books, I'm in for a great read. My first experience with her books was with one of her very first books for Barbour when I was asked to proofread it. And since then I've looked forward to each of her releases with anticipation.

P. J. Sugar is a delightful character, flawed and always in trouble, it seems. And not always trouble of her own making. She feels she can never quite measure up to her family's expectations, and whenever trouble arises, people start looking for her, blaming her before the facts come out. Under that cloud, P.J. leaves her hometown right after her high school graduation and doesn't ever plan to return. . . . Until her sister coaxes her back to babysit P.J.'s nephew while his mother is on her honeymoon.

From the moment she arrives in her hometown, trouble dogs her footsteps. Her nephew proves a challenge from her initial introduction, her sister's new in-laws (or would you call them out-laws?) present interesting opportunities for her people skills, and her best friend's husband is accused of murdering one of their former teachers. Mix in her old boyfriend, now a cop in charge of solving this murder and the pizza guy P.J. keeps running into and we have a perfect mix just bursting with trouble.

As P.J. works through her newest challenges, she also learns a lot about herself and her God. And she's surprised, and pleased, as she uncovers the truth about her past as well as seeing what God has planned for her future. When confronted with the real murderer, P.J. realizes who and what is most important to her and how much she is willing to give in order to protect those she loves.

I highly recommend this book, which is much more about life than solving a murder. (Though it ranks high on my murder mystery books as well.) If you'd like to receive a free copy of this book, leave a comment, and I'll have a drawing to pick the winner next Wednesday.

To follow the rest of the blog tour, go here.

Paths addendum

What a wonderfully blessed time I had this morning with the Lord, soaking up His Word. I'm reading through the Bible chronologically this year, and today's reading covered Psalm 131, 138–139, 143–145. Whole passages spoke to me, and reminded me of the paths I wrote on yesterday. Then I opened A Gentle Spirit, a devotional book my brother and sister-in-law gave me for my birthday last year. And it expanded on the difference between happiness and joy that I touched on yesterday, as well. (I thought I'd share. *smile*)

"Happiness is usually caused by circumstances. When things are going great, we feel happy; when life is unpleasant, we are depressed. Supernatural joy, however, enables us to experience a deeper joy that is not so dependent on our circumstances. As we live by correct priorities, cultivating our relationship with Christ on a daily basis, we will begin to experience a quiet joy resulting from a sense of security that we belong to God, and He is indeed in control of our lives. When we focus on this security, we will be free to relax and trust Him in whatever situation we find ourselves. We will not always feel happy, but we will have a deeper sense of joy that we belong to Christ and that His plans for us are good. God's joy is supernatural. His joy is also refreshing."

(from A Gentle Spirit, Barbour Publishing 2000)

Verse of the Day

I . . . give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. (Psalm 138:2 ESV)

Monday, May 25, 2009


You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 ESV)

The last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about paths, specifically the path I’m following. Yesterday I read this excerpt from Progress of Another Pilgrim by Frances J. Roberts:

“The Lord GOD. . .revealeth his secret unto his servants.” Amos 3:7

I [God] have a special path for you. Search it out diligently. Met Me guide you in it. Follow not other sheep aimlessly as they roam through My pastures.
I have you on a path which is all your own. It is not My way for anybody else. It will become clear to you only be revelation from Me.
I call it the golden path. It is a sacred secret between us. Guard it and keep it, and treasure it in the secret places of your soul.

The thing that strikes me most is that when we follow the path God has for us, we find that He has tailored it to the way He has created us. It’s unique. It may not be fun at times, but we know that all He does, all He allows us to encounter in the path, all He provides for us to enable us to walk that path is the best way for us. Because God is good, just, and faithful, we can trust Him in this.

But we are flawed, and we limit what God wants to do, where He wants to take us, what He desires to accomplish through us. We tend to compare our path with the paths others are on. “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence” type mentality keeps us from seeing the blessings of our own unique path. Our eyes and hearts covet what seems to be the easier way our friends are on. We forget that God knows us better than we do ourselves.

When we choose to follow a path of our own making, we lose God’s peace. And the joy that comes from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ evaporates. Happiness is fleeting in any relationship because it is temporal. Joy and peace are eternal and fulfilling. Many times, when I experience the turmoil of depression, discouragement, or despair in my chosen path, I can know that I have made a decision to follow my own way instead of God’s. I may continue to choose to ignore God and pursue happiness and contentment in the world’s path, but until I surrender my will to His, I won’t find lasting peace and joy.

“He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” Job 23:10 ESV.

When Job said this he was going through the roughest trial of his life. He’d lost all of his wealth, his children, many of his servants, and his health. Yet in the midst of these trials, he knew he was on the path that God had chosen for him. And Job kept his eyes on the future prize of a purified life. In the end, Job gained a new perspective of God, and he was given even more blessing than he had before.

God’s best path for our life doesn’t come problem-free. In fact, in many ways it could be harder than choosing to follow the path of least resistance. But I have learned that even when pain, darkness, or roadblocks obscures my path, God never leaves me to face the obstacles alone. Even in the midst of turmoil that comes from the world, my flesh, and our enemy opposing my choice to follow God, I have peace and joy, knowing that God is ultimately leading me on the path that suits me best.

My constant prayer for my children, my husband, my family, my friends is that we would all choose to follow God’s unique path for each of us. But even as the path God desires to put us on is unique to each individual, so are the choices we make in choosing to follow our way or God’s way. Which will it be for you today? As for me, I have chosen.

And if following God’s way makes me look like a fool in the eyes of the world, so be it. His peace is more precious than approval or success in this world’s system, which is only temporal. God’s blessings are eternal. “But as for me. . .[I] will serve the Lord" Joshua 24:15.

Verse of the Day

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 ESV)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Deceptive Promises by Amber Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deceptive Promises

Barbour Publishing, Inc (2008)


Amber Miller


Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, live in Colorado and just had an incredibly beautiful daughter named Victoria.

I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.

I got involved with web design in 1997, when I was asked to take over running the official web site for the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That eventually led to a series of negotiations where I was offered the job of running world-renowned actress Jane Seymour's official fan site. That has branched into doing web sites for a variety of clients, including: authors J.M. Hochstetler, Trish Perry, Kathy Pride, Louise M. Gouge, Susan Page Davis, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson, actor William Shockley (the voice of AT&T and Toyota) and many others. With the help of a handful of other web site "technos," Eagle Designs was born! Feel free to visit and see our other clients.

Amber's very first book, Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are Quills And Promises (July 2008) and this one, Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Liberty's Promise. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010.



Is deception fair in wartime Margret Scott must deal with this question as she finds herself attracte to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret cannot always tell where Samuel's loyalties lie.

"If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity." -Job 31:5-6

Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he often finds himself torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can a relationship built in uncertainty survive?

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

Verse of the Day

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:1–3 ESV)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CCWC Wrap Up

The Colorado Christian Writers Conference was last week at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. We had beautiful weather every day. So unusual for that, but we're very thankful. As Marlene Bagnull's assistant, I get to be in on the behind-the-scenes work much more than when I first starting attending this conference in 1997.

What a joy it is to serve on the staff. Getting to meet and serve so many authors, editors, and agents is always a highlight. I was blessed by the conferees who requested appointments with me, too. We have some really good writers coming up. One I spoke to had her devotional bought at the conference! How many times does that happen? (Never, for me. *smile* Unless you count devotional writing assignments.) I'm so pleased for my friend Anne Johnson.

The spiritual emphasis of the conference is one of the things I truly love about CCWC. God is so good to bring just the right people to participate in the general sessions. This year, I had a very small role reading scripture in a skit our Rediscovering the JOY of Creativity clinic presented in the general session on Friday evening.

Liz Babbs and Sue Cameron were the leaders of the clinic I attended. We got to "play" with many different mediums in a relaxed atmosphere, as well as being challenged spiritually to deepen our relationships with the Lord and with others. Before the conference, we were assigned a secret partner to pray for. Then we were to bring gifts for that person. It was so neat to see the gifts people brought for their partners that most of us didn't know who they were until we met the first time in the clinic. God truly was in the details there! He is soooo good!

And I wrote my very first poem. Never wanted to before, really, even though my grandmother, mother, and son did/do. In a free-writing session in the clinic time on Saturday, we were challenged to write something outside our genre. We were in the third floor meeting room in Mt. Ypsilon Lodge. The huge windows face Mt. Ypsilon, a snow-capped mountain rising far above treeline. And I wrote about the mountain and why I'm drawn to mountains in general. How this particular aspect of God's creation speaks to me, soothes me, centers me, and focuses my thoughts onto the Creator of this world.

After the conference was over on Saturday, I stayed on through Tuesday morning with the other six members of Marlene's staff. We had a worship service on Sunday then headed for Rocky Mountain National Park for a few hours. That afternoon we relaxed in our rooms, and Sunday evening we had an impromptu meeting, discussing the conference and how we can better help Marlene and each other. Monday was a cleanup day, and we accomplished quite a lot. Tuesday morning we sorted the boxes out, mailed/Fed-Exed/UPSed some; divided the storage items between Bill Moore and I (the resident Colorado staff), and spent time in prayer for the many commitments made in the closing session.

If you've never attended a conference, or you're looking for another conference that will meet your diverse needs, then I highly recommend checking out the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

Verse of the Day

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until this violent storm is past. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. (Psalm 57:1–2)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ulterior Motive

Bethany House (March 1, 2009)


Mark Andrew Olsen


MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. Two of his last books were the supernatural thriller The Watchers, and The Warriors.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


When an al-Qaeda email is intercepted, threatening an attack on America, it leads to the capture of the group's leader. Yet even under fierce interrogation, the terrorist clings to his jihadist beliefs and refuses to divulge any information. Desperate, the Army resorts to extreme measures--a controversial protocol designed to break a subject's resistance. But the attempt must be masked as an offer of clemency and rely on an outside party, someone who is unaware of the protocol's aims.

They find that someone in Greg Cahill, a disgraced soldier who now serves in a prison ministry. Lured by the chance to restore his reputation, Greg befriends a man the entire country despises. And the result proves combustible, the two men having to flee for their lives. With both in need of redemption, they set out to prevent a major catastrophe...

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

Margie's comments: I was at CCWC last week, took the book with me, but very little outside of conference work got done. So the review will be later.

Verse of the Day

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1–2)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beloved Counterfeit by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Counterfeit

Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 2009)


Kathleen Y'Barbo


KATHLEEN MILLER Y’BARBO is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and an award-winning novelist of Christian fiction whose first published work jumped onto the Christian Booksellers Association bestseller list in its first month of release. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.



Washed ashore on Fairweather Key, Ruby O’Shea and her three nieces─the offspring of the pirate Thomas Hawkins and Ruby’s late sister─have a chance for a new beginning as Ruby takes a job in a boardinghouse and the girls are passed off as her daughters. But will Ruby be able to confess all when she falls for Micah Tate, a widower, wrecker, and soon-to-be preacher?

Micah is determined to marry the young woman who has captured his heart despite knowing she has something to hide. But will he be able to remain true to his vows when his lady love’s shady past comes to light?

Captain Thomas Hawkins will go to any length to discover the whereabouts of his daughters. What will his determination cost the folks of Fairweather Key?

When Ruby finds herself bereft of her newfound love and protector, will she run away in an attempt to escape her present as she did her past? Will Micah’s love cover the multitude of Ruby’s sins, or will Ruby’s duplicity cost her everything?

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

Margie's Comments: Kathleen Y'Barbo's Fairweather Key series comes to a satisfying conclusion with Beloved Counterfeit. The characters are those we have come to know in the previous books, and getting a glimpse into life on a Florida Key in the 1830s is an added bonus for me. I know that when I pick up a Kathleen Y'Barbo book, I'm going to find a well-researched historical with unusual settings and wonderful characters. And Beloved Counterfeit is no different. Knowing that Ruby has a huge secret that could destroy the best thing that has ever happened to her outside of her salvation kept me reading. And nearly destroyed the man she loved when he discovers that secret. The theme of forgiveness and God's love is well portrayed through the characters. Even if you haven't read the previous books in this series, each book stands alone.

I highly recommend this series If you send me an e-mail at marjorie (dot) vawter at gmail (dot) com, I'll put your name in a "hat." Next weekend I'll have a family member draw a name from the pot, and I'll send the winner the book.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Taking Tuscany

David C. Cook (May 2009)


Renee Riva


Renee Riva writes humorous stories with a message, for both children and adults. Having been raised in a large Italian family with a great sense of humor, she has much to draw from for developing quirky characters.

She loves sharing her secrets for story starters at Young Author events, helping to spark the imagination of young minds. Renee and her husband live in Richland, Washington, with their three daughters, a dog, a cat, and until recently, her beloved hamster—may she rest in peace.


A. J. Degulio loved the idea of a visit to the Old Country... until her family decided to stay. It's 1972 and she's turning fourteen in a crumbling castle on a hill in Tuscany, wishing she were back in Idaho with her beloved dog, Sailor. In Italy, her blonde hair makes her stick out like a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate biscotti, and she's so lonely her best friend is a nun from the local convent.

The challenges of roots and relatives are nothing new to A. J., but she's going to need more than the famous Degulio sense of humor to survive. Can't anyone see that Italy isn't really home? It will take a catastrophe - and a few wise words from a friend - for A. J. to understand that sometimes the only thing you can change is your perspective.

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Verse of the Day

I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)

Friday, May 8, 2009

According to Their Deeds by Paul Robertson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

According to Their Deeds

Bethany House (March 1, 2009)


Paul Robertson


Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.


A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy

Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.

But that all changes when a former client—a man deeply connected in the Justice Department—is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he'd once sold, he quickly discovers he's bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers—even lives. Charles soon learns he isn't the only one who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife—and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?

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

Margie's comments: Between the Colorado Christian Writers Conference next week, and all my responsibilities related to that, and my regular work, I didn't start this book until the wee hours of this morning. I'm looking forward to learning about the rare book market (something that has always intrigued me) and to watching Charles work through the problems he's faced with as a result of his work. So far the story is low-key suspense, something I'd rather read in the middle of the night than a high-key suspense that gets my heart racing and I lose all hope of sleep. *smile* I'll come back with a full review later. (I did finish a couple of books this week. I will post those reviews next week.)

Verse of the Day

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:11 NASB)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How Firm a Foundation

Last night I dropped an open bottle of Tums, spilling them all over and under my night stand table. That meant I had to move all the books under the table in order to get to the Tums. *smile* When the books were out of the way, I discovered a sheet of paper with the words to this hymn on it. The song has been running through my head all night, and when I woke this morning, I read the words again.

In light of the events of the past week or so with my eye, the upcoming week (CCWC), and an e-mail exchange with my brother last night, I wanted to share the words to this old hymn of the faith.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Verse of the Day

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1–3 ESV)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shame by Greg Garrett

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


David C. Cook (May 2009)


Greg Garrett


Greg Garrett has published newspaper and magazine features, short stories, personal and critical essays, reviews, encyclopedia articles, novels, a memoir, and books of nonfiction during his thirty-year writing career.

Author of the critically acclaimed novels Free Bird (chosen by Publishers Weekly and the Rocky Mountain News [Denver] as one of the best first novels of 2002) and Cycling, as well as the nonfiction books The Gospel Reloaded (with Chris Seay), Holy Superheroes!, the spiritual autobiography Crossing Myself, The Gospel According to Hollywood, and the forthcoming Stories from the Edge, Dr. Garrett is a past winner of the Pirate's Alley William Faulkner Prize for Fiction, and a regional CASE gold medalist for nonfiction.

He was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters in 2005 for his lifetime literary achievements. Professor of English at Baylor University, Dr. Garrett was named the Outstanding Baylor Faculty Member for 1994 by the Baylor Student Congress, and received the university administration's outstanding professor award in 1996. He received his Ph.D. in English from Oklahoma State University, and recently completed the M.Div. at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, where he lives, writes, and serves as a lay preacher at St. David's Episcopal Church.


It's hard to appreciate the life you have when you're wondering about the one you might have had.

John Tilden's glory days are far behind him, and now it seems like all he has is the monotony of everyday living. He certainly thought there'd be more to it than his ramshackle Oklahoma farm and a mundane job coaching basketball at his old high school. He questions his fatherhood skills too: His oldest son won't speak to him, his younger son wants to quit the basketball team, and now his daughter wants to go out on dates. He loves his wife, but the marriage has settled into complacency.

With John's twentieth high school reunion approaching, he has agreed to play in an exhibition game with the old championship team. And his ex-girlfriend's back in town, newly single. What might have been now seems closer than ever.

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

Verse of the Day

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100 NASB)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Blind" by Choice?

Lots to think about these days. With CCWC coming up next week, I'm once again very, very busy (as opposed to just busy *smile*). There's never a dull moment. Yet I am at peace with what God is doing, even though it seems as thought I'm encountering problems on every side. While the enemy is behind some of it, my own flesh is chiming in, urging me to run, that I don't deserve this, etc. However, the Lord keeps reminding me that He's always right beside me, guiding my steps, in total control . . . and not letting me run and hide as I would like.

This morning I was reading in Psalms. Psalm 23 once again jumped off the page and into my heart. Looking at the marginal notes on some of the familiar words, I gained a new insight as to what David meant when he penned this Psalm. (Those words are in brackets.)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside waters [of rest]. He restores my soul. He leads me in [right paths] for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of [deep darkness], I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1–4 ESV)

It seems I've been in that deep valley of darkness for a long time, both physically and spiritually. Spritually in the sense that the Lord has been teaching me to trust Him completely, even when I can't see the path ahead. Physically because of my deteriorating eyesight in my right eye.

Two years ago, soon after my mother went to be with the Lord, I experienced a migraine that settled in my right eye and last nearly four weeks. Finally I was diagnosed with glaucoma due to the drainage system in that eye having scar-tissued shut because of the prolonged pressure from the headache. I had surgery in June 2007 to correct that. Many doctor visits later and several vision tests later, the pressure is still excellent in both eyes. I'm so thankful to the Lord for that.

In the meantime, however, I had a cataract in that eye that started growing very fast as a result of the surgery. Since the surgery, I've had two glasses prescription changes (big ones) for the right eye. (Thank goodness, the left eye remains constant even though it now does most of the work!) The last time my glasses changed, they could only get it to 20/30.

For several months, I've noticed some odd things happening with the vision in the right eye, but dismissed it as the cataract continuing to grow. And that was part of it. In March I was due for my now-annual visual field test. After that, the doctor called and said she needed to do yet another test because of the results of the first one. So in early April I made the trek to her office, had the OCT scan, then waited to hear what was wrong. After asking me a lot of questions, then dilating my eyes and exposing them to all kinds of bright lights (*grin*), she told me that what I was experiencing was not vision loss from the cataract, but from something else she still couldn't see.

So back I went last Friday for yet another visual field test. Knowing the doctor does surgery on Mondays, I didn't expect her to call me with the results until at least today. She called yesterday on her lunch break. The vision in the right eye is even less than two months ago. She'd talked to the nuero-ophthalmologist (the one who finally diagnosed my problem two years ago), and they agreed that I need to get an MRI of the eye orbits. They are looking for a vascular leak near or on the optic nerve or a tumor (usually benign, I'm told).

Okay. I'm still mostly calm . . . until I called the number the nurse gave me to set up the appointment. "How about Saturday at 5:15 p.m.?" I paused, then "THIS Saturday?" "Yes." Umm . . . okay. The doctor must have put a rush on this. Roger will be home this weekend. Good timing. Psalm 23 popped into my mind. Not by accident were those verses in my devotional time this morning.

In this ongoing answer to my prayer for full surrender to the Lord and learning to trust Him completely, this is yet another step. The Lord is my shepherd. He is leading me in the right path for me. . . . This is all in His perfect plan for me. If others are challenged to follow the Lord completely as a result of these trials, then it will be worth it all.

I know I'm growing. It's not what I would necessarily consider good, but I'm reminded over and over that God's way is soooo much better than the pleasure and ease the world presents to me and my flesh longs to pursue. I have a choice of which direction to follow.

I'm reminded of Psalm 73, where the psalmist is looking at the people around him who have no desire to follow God. Their lives look prosperous and problem-free compared to his. And he wonders why they seem to prosper in spite of their self-centeredness and greed. Until he looked back on God, went into the house of the Lord, and focused on His Word. Then he saw that their end was destruction, and the allure lost its appeal. He looked at the long-term effects and made his choice to follow God.

This past weekend, I was challenged by a message from my pastor about Lot, who made conscious choices without considering the long-term effects of those choices. Because his servants and flocks were in conflict with Abraham's, they separated. Lot's choice was toward Sodom. The allure of prosperity and pleasure, though he knew it wasn't of God, drew him closer. Soon we see Lot living in Sodom. And later we see him of Sodom, a part of the governing council. When the angels warned him of impending judgment on the city, he knew they spoke truth. James tells us he had a righteous soul. He knew God, was His child. Yet he continually put the promise of prosperity and temporal pleasure before God, and purposely ignored the vexation in his soul because of it. He didn't want to appear different to his peers, so he decided he knew what was best for him and his family. But when he went to warn his sons-in-law of the coming judgment, they laughed at him. His wife turned into a pillar of salt; his daughters got him drunk and committed incest. All because he put pleasure and ease before obeying what he knew to be right.

Even in the middle of trial, I have a choice of the direction I am to follow. I choose to follow God, to surrender to His guiding hand, because I know He knows me better than I know myself. I'm not perfect, and sometimes the allure of the world, the escapes it offers from pain (mental, emotional, physical), is very tempting. I don't want to appear "different," even though as a child of God I am. I want others to like me, to accept me.

Right now, these eye problems are just another test of the choice I have made to follow God fully. And Psalm 23 is my reminder that He doesn't leave me alone to face these challenges alone. He is so good!

Verse of the Day

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the [instruction] of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1–3 ESV)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Nothing But Trouble

Tyndale House Publishers (May 1, 2009)


Susan May Warren


Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot, the north shore of Minnesota, is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award-winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full-time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.


PJ Sugar knows three things for sure:

1) After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the trail of disaster that's become her life, she needs a fresh start.

2) The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister's wedding is Boone—her former flame and the reason she left town.

3) Her best friend's husband absolutely did not commit the first murder Kellogg, Minnesota, has seen in more than a decade.

What PJ doesn't know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she'll uncover much more than she bargained for—a deadly conspiracy, a knack for investigation, and maybe, just maybe, that fresh start she's been longing for.

It's not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but it feels that way when she returns to her home town, looking for a fresh start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend's husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective investigating the murder—who also happens to be PJ's former flame—is convinced it's an open-and-shut case, PJ's not so sure. She begins digging for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never seems to get it right

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nothing But Trouble, go HERE

Review is coming! I love Susie's books. And this one started off with a bang. :) Not disappointed; looking forward to finishing it soon.

Verse of the Day

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)