Saturday, March 31, 2012

Special Delivery

by Kathi Macias


About the author:
Kathi is represented by
Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

The Blurb:
In book two of the “Freedom” series, readers find Mara fighting against her attraction to Bible college student Jonathan Flannery even while wrestling with risking her own precarious safety to become involved in the rescue of another girl who is pregnant and desperately wants to escape her captors and save her own life, as well as her child’s. Halfway around the world in a brothel in Thailand, a young girl is rescued with the promise of being reunited with her younger sister who was adopted by an interracial couple in the States, friends of Jonathan’s family. Meanwhile, Jefe—Mara’s uncle, who held her as a sex slave in his brothel in San Diego for years—seeks revenge for Mara’s testimony that put him behind bars for life. Will his underworld connections be successful in kidnapping and killing the girl who believes she has finally won her freedom?

Book Trailer:

Excerpt:
Prologue

It was good to be back in San Diego, though Mara made it a point to avoid going anywhere near the area where she’d once lived as a modern-day slave. The memories were too ugly, and she did everything possible to block them out. When the topic came up—which it did all to often these days as the general public became more aware of its prevalence—Mara immediately changed the subject or walked away. It was an evil best left for others to combat.

The early summer sun shone warm on her dark hair, cut short now in a modern style that complimented her dainty features and accentuated her large hazel eyes. Her good looks and trim figure often drew whistles and comments, but she ignored them all. Having a man in her life didn’t even rate at the bottom of her priority list.

Mara closed her eyes and let the mild breeze toss her hair and caress her skin. There was nothing she liked better than coming to the beach and finding a deserted spot to sit and listen to the waves rush in and break on the packed, wet sand. It was nearly impossible to find such a private place on the weekends, but this was midmorning on Monday, and the place wouldn’t start filling up until closer to lunchtime. By then she’d be at work.

She smiled at the thought of her new job. She was a waitress now, making enough in wages and tips to rent a room and meet her basic needs. Though she’d taken advantage of UI benefits, specifically designed to help people from other countries who had been victims of crime while in the Untied states, it had still taken her nearly two years to get all the necessary paperwork cleared so she could not only come to the States legally but do so as a US citizen. But she’d been persistent, determined to leaver her homeland of Mexico, with all its violence and corruption and poverty, behind. Even with all that had happened to her here in Southern California during her youth, she knew that America held more promise for her than the country of her birth. And besides, what did she have to hold her there? It was her parents who had sold her into slavery, and her own uncle, her Tio, who had stolen her innocence, held her captive, and served as her pimp until at last he was captured and sent to prison. So far as she was concerned, her family was dead to her. She had no desire ever to see any of them again.

Mara opened her eyes and watched a tanned, bathing suit clad couple stroll along the sand in front of her, the waves lapping at their bare feet. Arms wrapped around one another’s waists, they seemed oblivious to anything or anyone else, talking and laughing together as if they were the only human beings on earth. The thought skittered through Mara’s mind that she might have a relationship like that one day, but just as quickly she excised it from her realm of possibility. At barely twenty years old, she’d already had enough of the male population to last her for several lifetimes.

Affirming that thought with a quick nod of her head, she grabbed the towel she’d been sitting on and stood to her feet. She didn’t have a car yet, but it was only a ten-minute walk to the seafood cafĂ© where she was now employed.

Gainfully and respectable employed, she reminded herself. Tio used to tell me I’d never be anything but a prostitute, and that he’d kill me before he’d let me leave. But look at me now—free as a bird while he rots in prison. Maybe there really is a God after all.


What Others Say:
 By Judy K Burgi - This review is from: Special Delivery (Freedom) (Paperback)
Special Delivery picks up with some of the characters from "Deliver Me From Evil." We follow a young lady Mara who has the opportunity to start living a life free from her captors. Is she truly free? The author also brings our attention to Lawan just a slip of a girl at the tender age of 10. This girl suffers a lot of horror and pain at the hands of her captor. What will become of her? Then we have a 14 year old named Francesca who has been shown no mercy by the men who come and pay for her services. Will she ever be reunited with her family?

Author Kathi Macias paints for us a picture of what human trafficking is like. She doesn't sugar coat it. We read about the horrors of it; the evilness of it; Satan working at his best.

I went through a gamut of emotions while reading this book. First you hope that this can't possibly be true but deep down you know that it is happening for real in our country as well as others. I felt angry, great sadness and even happiness when I finally saw some hope in the lives of some of these characters. This hope arrived through rescuers and interventions. There are people out there who truly care.

Thank you Kathi for bringing God into your books. We always have hope through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without that hope we have nothing.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in this Freedom Series called "The Deliverer."

I am honored Kathi that you sent me this book to read. You didn't ask for a review of it. I am reviewing it on my own because I want people to be aware of your books and the impact that they have made in my life. Blessings my friend!


My Take:
An Inspirational book with take home value.
By reading this book I learned more about human trafficking than I expected. The slave trade is sickening enough without the violence that goes along with it. The shortening of these precious lives. Stories like this series by Kathy Macias are written to bring awareness of the evilness of sin and how this world needs a Redeemer and people who care.

Purchase The Book At:
Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
Christianbook:
Or ask your local library to order the book in for you.

Book Contest: See our book contest rules on the sidebar.

 In the spirit of friendship, Kathi sent me a copy of Special Delivery. She didn’t ask for a review but I am giving one and I’m offering to pass it on to one blessed reader this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Saturday, when the review is posted through Friday. A new book review is posted each week which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We’d love to send one special person a copy of Special Delivery

Q4U How many Inspirational Fiction books have you read so far this year?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A NEW LINE OF MYSTERIES FOR YOUR E-READER

Susan Sleeman here. Do you have an e-reader or maybe an iPad? Then I'd like to tell you about a line of cozy mysteries that has recently released with most books retailing for only .99 for a limited time.

Spyglass Lane Mysteries
are published by a group of cozy mystery authors who have joined together to bring you a new cozy mystery every week. Currently, there are over 25 wonderful mysteries in this line.

Stop by the website to view all of the available books and while you're there, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter where we announce each new book that releases and our authors share behind the scenes stories about the books.
I'd also like to share a little bit about my Garden Gate Mystery Series that is releasing as part of this line. The first book, Nipped in the Bud has already released and book two, Read Between the Tines will release in February 23rd. Here's a little bit about both books.
NIPPED IN THE BUD
WHEN YOU FIND YOUR BOSS PUSHING UP DAISIES. . .
Life in full bloom, landscape designer, Paige Turner, scores her first landscaping contract to spruce up the park, her radio talk show shoots to number one, and her retail shop is simply blossoming. Yes, her life is a bed of roses. Until she finds the city manager served up on the blade of her favorite shovel mere hours after she’s threatened to have his head on a platter, then the thorns come out. And there is none thornier than the local police chief declaring Paige the one and only suspect and threatening to plow her under.
YOU’VE GOT TO FORMULATE A PLANT OF ATTACK . . .
Paige teams up with dashing attorney, Adam Hayes to weed through the list of suspects, and clear her soiled reputation. And along the way, discovers that Adam just may be the man of her dreams.
» Read an Excerpt          »Order It Now



READ BETWEEN THE TINES

IF YOUR LIFE IS A BED OF ROSES. . .
Recovered from her near death at the hand of a killer, landscape designer Paige Turner is certain her life will soon be a bed of roses. That is, until her employee, Daisy Rose Plante, finds a dead body, and the thorny police chief looks no further than Daisy for a suspect. Paige digs in and weeds through the list of potential killers, and before long, her sweet smelling rose of a life is soundly trampled.

YOU’LL HAVE TO SURVIVE THE THORNS. . .
Paige would be much happier working over-thyme on her budding relationship with handsome attorney, Adam Hayes, but it soon becomes clear she’ll be in a hoe lot of trouble with him if she continues digging for the killer. Does Paige risk all and try to unearth the killer? Or does she settle down in peaceful bliss with the man of her dreams?


SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.
Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit: Website, her Facebook page, or on Twitter

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Four Tips To Improve Your Listening Skills


Karen Jordan pic
Karen Jordan
Author, Speaker
By Karen Jordan
 “Are you listening to me?” Has someone ever asked you that question? Or maybe that thought pierced your heart and mind, as you felt the sting of someone else ignoring or rejecting you?
Consider these four ways to improve your listening skills.
  1. Resolve to be quick to listen. Many times, people who come to us for help, just need for us to listen. James 1:19 offers this advice, "Understand this … You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" (NLT).   
  2.  Decide to be available. Jesus gives us an example of a wise counselor who made Himself available to listen. “The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught” (Matt. 6:30).  
  3.  Desire a discerning heart. Not only does Jesus listen, He discerned the needs of others. When His disciples came to Him after their ministry tour, Jesus observes their need for solitude and rest: “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (ibid.).   
  4.  Choose to be quiet. Jesus also taught His disciples the importance of being quiet. In Matthew 11:15, Jesus asks his disciples, "Are you listening to me? Really listening? (MSG)  
At times our failure to listen before responding can provoke a negative, emotional response from our loved ones or friends, who may need our help. In fact, Proverbs 18:13 warns us, "Answering before listening is both stupid and rude" (MSG).
What can we offer others with our response, after we listen to their needs?
  • Grace, not criticism or judgment. Romans 2:4 reminds us, "Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" (NLT)
  • Companionship. We must encourage others to be dependent upon Jesus, not co-dependent upon us. Jesus promised His followers, "I'll be with you … day after day after day, right up to the end of this age" (Matt. 28:20 MSG). 
So, the next time someone comes to you for help, I hope you ask yourself this question first: “Are you listening … Really listening?” (Matt. 11:15)
Karen Jordan is best known for telling the stories that matter most. She has multiple writing credits and trains other writers as well. Contact her for speaking events, writing assignments, and interviews at kj@karenjordan.net or visit www.karenjordan.net.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blogging Elsewhere today

Hi, 


I’m hanging out at the WordServe Water Cooler today.


Catch my post at http://wordservewatercooler.com/








Until next time. . . Sharon A. Lavy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall


by Julie Klassen

About the author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com

The Blurb:
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. former suitors.

As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspiciouns 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 Fairbourn Hall takes readers inside the fascinating belowstairs world of a 19th-century English manor, where appearances can be deceiving.

Discussion Questions are included in the back of the book to facilitate book club conversations.

1. How would you like to have a servant (or servants) living in your basement, attic, or guest room? Would the help be worth the loss of privacy to you?

2. If you lived a few hundred years ago, do you think it more likely you’d employ servants or be a servant? Why? If a servant, what type of work would you do best?

3. Did anything surprise you about the life of servants in the early 1800's? How well do you think you would cope if you found yourself in service in Regency England tomorrow?

4. Why do you think the author chose the opening quotation “Judge not according to the appearance”? How might that relate to the story?

5. Does Margaret change during the course of the novel, and if so how?

6. Other than that of Nathaniel and Margaret, what relationship in the story
intrigued you the most? How so?

7. If you could choose one character from the book to have over for dinner, which would you choose? What did you like about him or her?

8. Which characters, if any, would you like to know more about? What would you like to see occur in their lives after the story’s end?

9. If this book were ever made into a movie, which actors could you see in the leading roles?

10. If you had to choose one, would you prefer to live in a large country manor like Fairbourne Hall, a charming cottage like Lime Tree Lodge, or a posh London town house?


What Others Say:
 By DianaFlow - Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The (Paperback)
In Maid of Fairbourne Hall, Julie Klassen sweeps us away to 19th century London, in a delightful tale reminiscent of the timeless classics of the beloved Jane Austen. It is a tale of the very wealthy, and their loyal servants, beautiful gowns and masquerade balls, deceit and unrequited love. Our heroine, self-centered Margaret Macy, who stands to inherit a fortune on her next birthday, is forced to leave her home by her money hungry stepfather and his conniving nephew. Not knowing exactly where she is going, Margaret finds herself hired as a servant at Fairbourne Hall, owned by none other than two of her past suitors...Nathaniel Upchurch and his brother, Lewis!

Desperate not to be discovered, the beautiful, blonde Margaret, dons a brunette wig from one of her masquerade balls, and becomes a servant in every sense of the word...even lowering herself to emptying the disgusting chamber pots. Infatuated at one time with Lewis Upchurch, Margaret turned down his brother, Nathaniel's marriage proposal...much to her chagrine, for Nathaniel has turned into one swoonworthy male, and she finds Lewis to be very shallow and selfish.

Will Margaret be able to keep up the charade without being discovered, and what valuable lessons does she learn as a housemaid...of sacrifice, forgiveness, and loving those who are beneath her station in life? And who has a vendetta against the Upchurch family and why?...and seriously wounds one of the Upchurch brothers? Will he live?---especially with a traitor in the mansion determined to make that an impossibility? Will Nathaniel forgive Margaret's rejection of him years earlier, should he discover her identity, and will she ever be able return home to her mother and siblings again?

I love Julie Klassen's books, but in my opinion this is the best novel she has ever written! Interlaced with humor, suspense, and romance, this novel will have you laughing one moment and eyes brimming with tears the next. I loved her characters (though somewhat fanciful at times), and how our heroine evolves from being a selfish lady to a real LADY in every sense of the word! Julie's use of imagery is extraordinary, her storyline fascinating, her writing exquisite; what more can I say than you must read this book?!!

My Take:
I like a book that makes me stop and think.
Maid of Fairbourne Hall is the first book by Julie Klassen that I have read.  Once started I could not put it down. Turning off my light at 2:30 am. No wonder Julie Klassen has won two Christy awards and was a finalist in the Rita. Her characters are well rounded. Their goals and motivations are easy to understand and I found myself rooting for Margaret Macy to prevail.

I highly recommend this book.

Purchase The Book At:
Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
Christianbook:
Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: See our Book Contest rules on the sidebar.

I won the book The Maid of Fairbourne Hall from an ad in Family Fiction email newsletter. I enjoyed the book very much and I'll offer to pass it on to one blessed reader this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Saturday, when the review is posted through Friday. A new book review is posted each week which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We’d love to send one special person a copy of The Maid of Faribourn Hall

Q4U: Do you read fiction? If so what is your favorite genre?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March is International Ideas Month

Photo of Kathy
Kathy Carlton Willis
Marketing Coordinator
CLASS Christian Writers
Conference
Idea Starters
 
By Kathy Carlton Willis
 
Have you ever wondered where ideas originate? I love cooking up ideas, so it’s a natural fit for me to celebrate International Ideas Month in March.
 
I recently joined Pinterest—a social networking site for members to share virtual bulletin boards. You can pin images and ideas on your board to share a variety of interests. How brilliant! And it all started with an idea to save, share, and swap more ideas.
 
Have you ever asked God to give you an idea? As a writer, I designate time for brainstorming. During some of these think tanks, my thoughts surge so fast and furious, I call them brain tsunamis. Other times an idea hits when we least expect it—and we have to be ready to jot it down. I’ve had ideas strike at red lights, the bank drive-thru, waiting rooms, and during church. I’ve learned to capture the gist of the idea in my idea notebook because just as quickly as ideas appear in my mind, they can disappear. I hate it when that happens!
 
The best evidence of ideas is when I’m speaking to a group and I see faces light up. I can be fairly certain they’ve just experienced an “aha moment.” See why I celebrate ideas?
 
We can miss two important steps with ideas though. First, we have to make sure it’s a God idea if we want to be operating in His purpose and for His glory. How can you be certain it’s a God idea, not merely a good idea? I ask Him to show me a green light in the form of peace if my brainstorm is from Him and give me a red light in the form of doubt if it doesn’t fit with His direction for my life.
 
The final step to ideas that often gets overlooked is fulfillment. Some people have fun conceiving ideas, but have a harder time working the idea through—taking action steps to bring to completion what started as a brilliant concept. Ideas are only wishes until we act on them and see them accomplished. Can you think of those uncompleted projects that seem to hang out forever on your To Do List?
 
Ask God to lead the way. May He:
  • Inspire the idea.
  • Endorse it so you know it’s from Him.
  • Give you the resources to complete the idea.
  • Give you the discipline to stick to it when you’re tempted to quit.
 
Then praise God when you experience the reward of checking off the idea from your list and you can say, “It is finished!”
 
Never forget, God will complete us as one of His good ideas, too. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV).

Kathy Carlton Willis serves as publicist, author and coach at KCW Communications. She shines, whether she's shining the light on her clients, or reflecting God's light during her speaking engagements. See: www.kathycarltonwillis.com
 
Visit the CLASS website to learn more information about the 2012 Christian Writers Conference.
 
Come meet Kathy and the rest of the CLASS faculty there!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Walking Where Jesus Walked

Last month we took our second trip to Israel. 
 
I'd like to share few highlights as we walked the streets that Jesus walked
And explored the ruins of an old Roman structure.
Watched the Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee
And sailed in a ship like Jesus might have sailed.
A modern day disciple
St. Peters Fish 
Floating in the Dead Sea
The sycamore tree that  Zacchaeus climbed to better see Jesus
Happy Tourists
The wise men of the city.
Shopping for fabric in the old city of Jerusalem. 
Dome of the Rock
An Olive Press
The Garden Tomb
And the only reassurance we need. 

Until next time . . . Sharon A Lavy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Don't Die With the Story Still In You


Photo of Florence Littauer
Florence Littauer, Founder
CLASSEMINARS
 By Florence Littauer and Gerry Wakeland
 
I had just settled into my seat when I heard the pastor say, “I see that Florence Littauer is with us this morning.” I was scheduled to speak for the women of the church later that evening and had slipped into the sanctuary for the Sunday morning service. As I started to stand acknowledging the introduction I heard him continue, “Let’s have her share our children’s sermon.” I was stunned. I had never given a children’s sermon before.
 
As I made my way to the front of the church I asked the Lord for a scripture and Ephesians 4:29 popped into my mind. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (KJV)  I was running out of time. This would have to do.
 
I gathered the children around me and began to teach. I spoke to the children about how our words needed to be kind and loving, building up those around us. As I finished one little girl stood up, turned to the congregation and said, “What she means is, our words should be like a little silver box with a bow on top.” I knew this message was a keeper.
 
I have shared the story of this message of “Silver Boxes” hundreds of times with thousands of people reminding them of the weight of our words. Often following my presentation someone will come to me and remark, “The words I say to my husband, to my children, to others, are not very nice. I need to do some things differently.” This message has changed lives, saved marriages and encouraged many a wayward young person.
 
We all have a story to share, a message to impart. Often it is a story that can reach deep into a broken heart to offer hope. Sometimes a story will point a person in the right direction or redirect their thinking.
 
Writers and speakers need encouragement as well. They need to hear that they are on the right path and that their words matter. My “Silver Box” story ends with a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Don’t die with the music still in you.” We can change it slightly, and encourage you, “Don’t die with the story still in you.” Our stories can shape the future if we have the courage to share them.
 
Florence Littauer is the bestselling author of Silver Boxes, The Gift of Encouragement  and over 30 other books. An internationally recognized speaker, she is the founder of the CLASSEMINARS and resides in Henderson, NV.
 
Gerry Wakeland is the President of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., a ministry that trains Christian communicators. She loves encouraging men and women to share the message God has given them. The mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three active boys, Gerry lives in Albuquerque, NM.
 
Visit the CLASS website to learn more information about the 2012 Christian Writers Conference.
 
Come meet Gerry and the rest of the CLASS faculty there!
 

 
This article content is provided free of charge by the authors, sponsored by CLASSEMINARS. You are welcome to place either article on your site or in your publication as long as 1) it’s used in its entirety, 2) the full bio is also used, and 3) you previously request permission through KCW Communications at kathy@kathycarltonwillis.com. All other standard copyrights apply.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Song of My Heart

by Kim Vogel Sawyer


About the author:

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of nineteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren. She invites you to visit her Web site. www.kimvogelsawyer.com for more information.

 The Blurb:
Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family.

When her stepfather is injured and can't work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity to use her God-given singing talent--though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job.

Thad McKane comes to Goldtree at the request of the town council. The town has been plagued by bootlegging operations, and Thad believes he can find the culprit. After he earns enough money doing sheriff work, he wants to use it to pay for his training to become a minister.

Thad is immediately attracted to the beautiful singer who performs in Asa Baxter's unusual opera house, but when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he begins to wonder if she's far less innocent than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes he's come to investigate, is there any hope the love blossoming between them will survive?

Excerpt:
DALTON, INDIANA
Mid-May 1895

   Sadie Wagner let out a squeal of delight. A tufted titmouse shot from the budding bush nearby with an indignant flutter of gray-fathered wings. On an ordinary afternoon, Sadie would regret frightening away a bird that offered such an enchanting melody, but today she was too excited to pause for regret. Gathering her tattered calico skirt in one hand, she clutched the letter from her cousin Sid in the other and dashed for the house.
   Bursting through the door, left open to allow in the sweet breath of spring, she cried, “Mama! Mama!”
   Her younger sister, Effie, turned from the dry sink, a dripping cloth in her hand. Her brown eyes widened in concern. “What is it, Sadie?”
   Sadie waved the letter. “Good news! Come!” Catching Effie’s wet hand, she tugged her sister through the doorway to Mama and Papa’s small bedroom.
     Their feet beat a staccato rhythm on the pine floorboards, matching the rapid tempo of Sadie’s pulse. She released Effie and fell on her knees beside Papa’s bed. As always, the sight of his drawn, pain-riddled face raised an ache in the center of her chest. But surely the opportunity presented in the letter would ease some of Papa’s burden.


What Others Say:
 By Katie McCurdy "Legacy of a Writer" (U.S.A.) -This review is from: Song of My Heart

“While I have several of Kim Vogel Sawyer's books in various levels on my to-be-read pile, her newest release, Song of My Heart, is the first one I've read. And it was great--the characters, the story plot, the writing style...it all pulled me deep into the story.

Sadie Wagner came across as a very sweet tempered, gentle, loving girl. Within the first chapter, I was intrigued with her, springing easily to the next chapter to see what would happen to Sadie as she began her new job away from home. And, of course, Thad McKane made the perfect hero to complete this story as the reluctant Sheriff. Can't help but like him!

Song of My Heart weaves in a very intricate and unique plot--complete with underhand dealings, blackmail, illegal liquor, and guilty consciences. And the way Sadie was coerced into wearing the revealing gown and singing those bawdy songs...I was holding my breath for Sadie!

I really liked Sawyer's writing style. It drew me in, putting me right into the little town of Goldtree. And her characters--wow, how much fun they all were. Melva and Shelva were a hoot!

Sometimes, when authors jump between a bunch of character point-of-views, it can get confusing. But Sawyer pulls it off no problem in Song of My Heart! I know for a fact that I'm more eager to open her other books in my to-be-read pile. And definitely keeping an eye out for her future books!”

My Take: 
I like a book that makes me stop and think. Kim Sawyer paints a picture of how a person’s desire to do right, carried to the extreme can send us in the wrong direction. Sadie Wagner wants to sing. And the singing gig gives her money to send home to help her family. How can using her God given talent turn out to be so wrong? Or is it?

Purchase The Book At:
Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
Christianbook:
Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: 
This week we are giving away a copy of Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Song Of My Heart.

Book Contest weeks are from Saturday, when the review is posted through Friday. A new book review is posted each week which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Each comment posted throughout the week counts as another chance to win Song Of My Heart. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

Song of My Heart is Historical Romance. What is your favorite genre when you want to relax with a good book?

Monday, March 5, 2012

National Sleep Awareness Week, March 5-11, 2012

Close To God
 By Dr. Charles. W. Page
 
What do you do when you feel that gentle nudge from your child in the middle of the night asking to cuddle up with you in your bed? This probably goes against the opinions of most sleep gurus but my wife and I allow them to climb in and rest with us. We want our children to feel free to come to us day or night—waking or sleeping—for comfort, reassurance and guidance. Nurturing a relationship of trust and openness with our children is worth the loss of a little shut-eye.
 
Whoever said, “those who sleep like a baby usually doesn’t have one,” spoke from experience. It’s sometimes scary to see how our dozing toddler practices his midnight tackling drills right in the middle of my back. Tebow beware—linebacker Charlie Page is coming through the ranks. Charlie always seems to glue himself to us instead of spreading out in our king-sized bed. When I move to get a little freedom, Charlie follows—almost like a magnet. My own sleep-shadow! It seems as though children have an innate need to have someone close in the wee hours of the morning.
 
Has it ever occurred to you that the worries, regrets and fears that you may experience as you fall asleep may be a reminder to curl up to your Heavenly Father? As God’s children, we can take refuge in a heavenly Father that invites us to be close to Him as we lie down to rest. Your “Daddy” is not inconvenienced or bothered by your midnight crisis of faith. The Lord who watches over you never slumbers—He awaits you with open arms. Remember that you are as close to God as you chose to be. “Come near to God and He will come near to you” James 4:8.
 
What are the barriers that separate you from intimacy with God tonight? Wherever you are, whatever your need—it all begins with worship. David gives us some pointers in the Sixty-Third Psalm as he runs for his life from his son Absalom.
 
“On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night, because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 63:6-7.
 
  • Remember Godthink of some times in your past that God has showed up in a big way for you.
  • Think of GodRecall His attributes and His character—His unfailing love towards you—how it is even better than life itself (Psalms 63:3).
  • Understand that God is your helpsurrender control and allow God to do for you in the nighttime hours what you cannot do for yourself. Appreciate the truth that God has your back covered as you rest.
  • Sing. Yes sing to the One who gives songs in the night (Job 35:10). Maybe it’s the rawness of a song of sorrow and pain. Or perhaps it’s one of joy and gladness. One rendering would suggest that we sing “for’ (or to obtain) joy. Have you ever considered that making a melody? Nevertheless, sing in the solitude of the night watches.
  • Experience His presence—Being under the shadow of God’s wings reminds us of shekinah glory that one could experience only by being in the most holy place in the temple. Being so close to the ark that the actual wings of the cherubim would cast a shadow over you would require some major life adjustments! This reminds us that God is holy and must be approached with a humble and contrite attitude. But also this picture of the “shadow of your wings” reminds us of how a baby bird seeks shelter, security and comfort under the wings of its mother. We’re encouraged to crawl into the Father’s open arms. As you lay down to sleep, remember that your Heavenly Father desires you to snuggle up close. Surrender your sleep into His arms.
 
Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. Learn more at:www.surrenderedsleep.com/.
Photo of Dr. Page
Charles W. Page, MD
author/speaker

Saturday, March 3, 2012

An Amish Family Reunion

by Mary Ellis


About the author:
Mary Ellis grew up close to an Amish settlement where she loved their peaceful agrarian lifestyle and strong sense of Christian community. She and her husband now live by the largest population of Amish in the country where they take weekend trips to research her books. Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. All three in her Miller Family series made the Christian bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards and Award of Merit for the Holt Medallion. Her current release is An Amish Family Reunion, book four of the Miller Family series.

Visit her website, blogsite and facebook page:

The Blurb:
During a rumschpringe visit to Niagara Falls, Phoebe Miller meets Eli Riehl, a young man who charms her—and everyone else—with his exceptional storytelling ability. When Phoebe sketches scenes to illustrate one of his tales, Eli encourages her incredible talent, and together they embark on a lofty and unlikely business venture for two young Amish people—writing and illustrating a children’s book.

Eli’s kindness and appeal extend beyond his knack for words to reach inside Phoebe’s heart. But he is an only son with five sisters, and when his father suffers a heart attack, Eli gives up his writing to assume responsibility on the farm. Though willing to abandon his dream of becoming an author, he won’t give up his beloved Phoebe.


Book Trailer:


Excerpt:
Winesburg, Ohio

   You would think that a person might be able to enjoy some peace and quiet on a Sunday afternoon. After all, it was the Sabbath—a day of rest. Yet Phoebe Miller found herself hiding behind a tree to escape from her family. There were just so many of them. Living next door to Aunt Julia and Uncle Simon guaranteed plenty of drop-in visits, impromptu potluck suppers, and more unsolicited advice than any seventeen-year-old girl needed. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her family, because she certainly did. She simply needed more alone time that most people.
   Holding her breath, Phoebe stood stock-still until Uncle Simon headed into the barn in search of her father and Aunt Julia entered the house looking for her mamm. Hannah wasn’t her mother by blood but she had earned the title during the past twelve years of bandaging scraped, helping with math homework, and remaining near while Phoebe suffered with the flu on long winter nights. She couldn’t remember her birth mother anymore. She had ben only five when an impatient driver in a fast-moving truck decided to pass on a blind curve. It didn’t hurt much anymore. She had Hannah, her daed, and her little brother to love. They were all she needed. . .except, perhaps, for a little personal solitude.


What Others Say:
 By SingleCrochet - This review is from: An Amish Family Reunion

"I read An Amish Family Reunion all the way through the very day it came in the mail. Mary Ellis is a gifted storyteller and her writing just gets better and better. I love the characters in this book. Not having read all of the Miller Family Series, I was meeting some of these people for the first time. But that was not a problem, this book is capable of standing on its own. What I love best about these characters is how real they are. Mary does not glorify the Amish way of life, but neither does she demonize it in any way. She merely writes the people as they are - real human beings like everyone else. They just happen to be Amish. And Mary Ellis obviously knows a lot about their culture. The humor in this story is spectacular. I found myself laughing with nearly every page turn. The author's dry, witty sense of humor shines brilliantly through her characters.

But An Amish Family Reunion is not just about characters. The plot is also fascinating. When a chapter ended with a cliff-hanger and the next chapter changed to a different subplot, I thought I'd have to rush through--skimming--to get back to the cliff-hanger. But I'd find myself so engrossed in that next chapter that I didn't think about the poor girl hanging from the precipice until her point of view started again.

Another positive (and I have nothing but positive to say about this story) is the high quality writing. As a writer myself, I am often distracted by poor or careless writing styles. I reached the end of this story without once critiquing the writing techniques. In my book, that spells success for an author.”

By Jo Huddleston -This review is from: An Amish Family Reunion

“Mary Ellis is well equipped to write Amish novels with memorable characters and this one is no exception. From reading Amish novels I've learned of their simple, but protective life. Among the Amish, their strict rules must be obeyed and it is usually the father of the family that comes across as rather harsh when enforcing those rules. Phoebe Miller's father is such a man and protests when she asks permission to go on a bus trip to Niagara Falls so she can find new things besides farm animals that she can draw. Phoebe's mother convinces the father to allow Phoebe the trip as it will be all Amish young people. On that trip she meets Eli and her sheltered life will never be the same.”

My Take:
Since I was born and bred in the Anabaptist community I didn’t read this book to learn about people and cultures that are different than me. So why do I read Mary Ellis’s books?

It’s because she is a gifted story teller and the stories seem true to life.

I like a book with a multi-thread plot so I enjoyed following Julia Miller and her worries about her married children. We never really want to let them go. We want to keep giving them advice. And sometimes they don’t appreciate it. So I wanted to see how everything worked out in the different family relationships.

Purchase The Book At:
Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
Christianbook:
Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: 
Mary, bless her heart, sent me a reviewers copy of An Amish Family Reunion. I’m offering my copy to another blessed reader this week.

Book Contest weeks are from Saturday, when the review is posted through Friday. A new book review is posted each week which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Each comment throughout the week will give you another chance to win An Amish Family Reunion. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

Q4U: Have you ever read Amish Fiction? When you read for pleasure, what is your favorite genre?