Monday, September 26, 2011

A Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Jaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do--in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they've drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits.

Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for--news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn't likely to become a reality.

Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home--and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?

My thoughts...

I absolutely LOVED this book! This is the second book by Suzanne I have read and believe me, I am not disappointed. She is a wonderful writer. What I really like about her writing is the way she tells the story and brings God into the picture and reveals His plans, she gets her message across in a wonderfully written story of a young couple in the midst of marital woes who become trapped in a snowstorm and end up spending Christmas with an Amish family. Both families touch each other's lives in an amazing way. The characters come alive and you get so attached to them.

Suzanne has an awesome gift for writing, you feel what she is describing. The hurt from a suspected affair, the fear of your child missing, the love for a pet, and the joy of celebrating Christ at Christmas.

This book is about an English couple and an Amish family but it's more about God working in the lives of these people. Truly a WONDERFUL book!

I give it 5 out of 5 stars and would love to rate it even higher!

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania , as well as to Ohio , a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found on-line at:

To celebrate the release of her first Christmas book, Suzanne Woods Fisher has teamed up with her publisher, Revell, to bring you the "Christmas in September" iPad Giveaway! The winner will be announced on 9/27 at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party! Details below. Tell your friends and join in the fun (9/7-9/27).

Oh and be sure to follow the blog tour here - many of the bloggers have copies of the book to giveaway!

Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack (valued at over $600):

A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
$25 gift certificate to iTunes
A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas

To enter, click here But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.

But, wait! There's more! The winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something *BIG* - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! Hope to see you there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Megan's Secrets by Mike Cope

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

Mike Cope

and the book:

Megan's Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me About Life

About The Author:

Mike Cope is an author, blogger, professor, minister and magazine editor. He has written four books, including What Would Jesus Do Today? and One Holy Hunger. He was a minister for many years at the Highland Church in Abilene and now works with Heartbeat Ministries. He and his wife, Diane, live in Abilene, Texas, and have two surviving children: Matt, a resident in internal medicine at Duke University, and Chris, a junior in high school.

Book Decsription:

Mike Cope's best teacher was his mentally disabled daughter—Megan. In her ten years of life, she taught her father secrets more profound than anything he'd learned in college or seminary. In his moving remembrance, Megan's Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me about Life, Cope shares those secrets in a way that will make readers laugh, cry and find new hope.

Megan was a beautiful pint-sized girl whose only spoken words were "I'm Megan!" Although a child of few words, the best scholars in the world could not teach what she did in her brief life. Her life exposed some of the insanities of the world and revealed some life-giving secrets such as:

We are often fascinated with things that are impressive from the outside but which may not be that important to God.
What really matters has to do with the heart: keeping promises, seeking justice in a brutal world, learning to see those in greatest need and living with courage, joy and unconditional love.
God uses our brokenness to His glory.

This unique inspirational book wraps these secrets and more into stories that will restore hope to those grieving. All readers who long to see modern-day examples of the "little ones" Jesus held on his lap and loved will be inspired and moved to exult in God's incredible wisdom. What Mike discovers is that life with Megan, who slept only three hours a night, was exhausting, challenging, and even disappointing but also filled with joy and truths.

Max Lucado, best-selling author and minister, says, "The world would look at Megan Cope and her brief little life and see limitations. Imperfections. Inabilities. Her dad, just like her heavenly Father, saw something else entirely. Joy. Big heart. Love. Wisdom. Raising a disabled daughter, and then saying goodbye after a brief ten years of life, Mike knows the struggles, triumphs, pain, everyday miracles. . . and the secrets. Secrets God shares with those who care for the least among us. In Megan's Secrets, my friend Mike shares the wisdom he learned from loving Megan."

My review:

What an inspiring and beautiful story! It will bring tears to your eyes and touch your heart in such a way that you will be aware of God even more in your life. Mike's daughter, Megan, touched many lives during her ten years on this earth and through her story she will touch many more. Oh, that we all could be like Megan and show others the love of God and just how much He cares for us.

The book contains stories shared by family and friends, such a blessing she was to everyone she met. Cope shares lessons his family learned after Megan's death reminding us that God chooses what the world considers the least in society.

I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From The GardenTo The City By John Dyer

Believers and unbelievers alike are saturated with technology, yet most give it little if any thought. Consumers buy and upgrade as fast as they can, largely unaware of technology's subtle yet powerful influence. In a world where technology changes almost daily, many are left to wonder: Should Christians embrace all that is happening? Are there some technologies that we need to avoid? Does the Bible give us any guidance on how to use digital tools and social media?

My thoughts...

Technology has rocketed the last several years, both for the good and not so good. It all comes down to how you use it. In this book Dyer has written
about the power of technology and whether it is liberating or corrupting users.

Texting, instant messenging, social websites, millions of users. These things are taking the place of seeing each other face to face. Our children are on the internet playing games instead of outdoors playing baseball or riding their bikes. If not kept in check hours will be spent online instead of socializing with friends and can be destructive for children as well as adults.

I found this book to be very informative, eye opening as well as one of those "make you stop and think" books and highly recommend it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

John Dyer (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) has been a web developer for more than ten years, building tools for Apple, Microsoft, Harley Davidson, the Department of Defense, and Dallas's NPR affiliate. He currently serves as the Director of Web Development for Dallas Theological Seminary and lives near Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Amber, and two children, Benjamin and Rebecca. You can find out more about his coding and writing at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vigilante by Robin Parrish

Nolan Gray is an elite soldier, skilled in all forms of combat. After years fighting on foreign battlefields, witnessing unspeakable evils and atrocities firsthand, a world-weary Nolan returns home to find it just as corrupt as the war zones. Everywhere he looks, there's pain and cruelty. Society is being destroyed by wicked men who don't care who they make suffer or destroy.

Nolan decides to do what no one else can, what no one has ever attempted. He will defend the helpless. He will tear down the wicked. He will wage a one-man war on the heart of man, and he won't stop until the world is the way it should be.

The wicked have had their day. Morality's time has come. In a culture starving for a hero, can one extraordinary man make things right?

My thoughts...

When I selected this book I had no idea it was a story about a superhero. I put it off til the last minute to read. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this to be a suspenseful, explosive, thriller that held my interest from the beginning!

Good entertainment yet thought provoking. Questions about justice arise and I thought Parrish answered it perfectly. There are numerous violence scenes throughout.

The book is about organized crime, corrupt police officers, families that are destroyed, the evil devour whatever they want, all hope is lost. Who will help? One man takes on the responsibility, a man with incredible faith and a desire to be an example of goodness and show love to the world. Nolan Gray is that man. He begins the fight to change the world.

I found it to be a compelling story and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hawaiian Sunrise To Sunset by Randall Ng

You might think that living in Hawaii and working with kids all day sounds like Paradise. But the reality of working as a middle school counselor, servicing kids in a low-income neighborhood, is very different.

Told as the story of a typical working day, Hawaiian Sunrise to Sunset gives an inspiring, eye-opening, and sobering view into the life of a man who has dedicated all his resources to making children's lives better. Randall Ng's students run the gamut from gifted to gang members; from at-risk to motivated; from safe in loving families to abused by parents and caregivers.

Randall knows that to make a difference in the lives of these kids, he has to go above and beyond the call of duty, and he has to think outside the box. Randall transcends the typical role of school counselor, as he visits students at home, confronts them and their parents with the truth, finds wildly creative solutions to problems with no easy answer, and steps in as a father figure to children who have never known a reliable and caring authority.

Surprising, shocking, fascinating, and ultimately deeply redemptive, this book shows you what tough love looks like, and what it can accomplish in the lives of children at risk.

My thoughts...

Ng shares his story of working with students in a low income neighborhood school. He faces many types of social issues such as teen pregnancy and gang violence with the students and does his best to help them work through their problems and situations. He does his best to keep the students on the right track when it seems everything around them is negative.

The writing could've been better but overall it's an interesting story of Ng's 30 years as a middle school counselor. He received the 2005 Hawaii State Teacher'a Association's "Friend of Youth" award and an award from the Hawaii State Senate for his counseling department's effore to promote a safe, healthy, and drug free lifestyle in 2002.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars. I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hell is Real (But I Hate To Admit It) by Brian Jones

Does hell matter? Pastor Brian Jones wants readers to know the truth.

Jones believes that the reason most Christians don’t tell their friends about Jesus has nothing to do with not knowing how—it’s because they don’t think they need to. As Jones writes, the first four years he was a pastor, he didn’t believe in hell himself. Today, he shares his story of discovering the truth that hell exists—and why many Christians are afraid to believe in it.

Hell Is Real motivates Christians who have grown complacent in their view of hell. Drawing on the teachings of Jesus, Jones leads readers into a head-on collision with apocalyptic urgency—the all-consuming, inspiring conviction that will overcome readers when they realize that hell is real and they can help save people from going there.

My thoughts...

Jones answers four questions about hell and whether it is real. There are lots of scriptures to prove it is a real place. A place you do not want to go nor do you want anyone else to. He tells his story of how he didn't believe in hell until four years after becoming a Pastor. For me, this was a surprising fact. Christianity is based on Jesus' dying on the cross to become sin for us and to reconcile us to the Father so that we do not spend eternity in hell.

Jones uses the last chapters with ways to share and not to share your faith. The advice he gives is practical. Christians should be telling the lost about hell and how to avoid it. This book doesn't give graphic descriptions but he does get his point across. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hurt No More by Kelly Ann Evers

In Hurt No More! A Journey of Healing from Abuse, Kelly Ann Evers reaches out to abused and battered women with her own compelling and inspirational story.

After escaping from her abusive husband, she was unable to enjoy her new found freedom because of the emotional, physical, and spiritual scars left from years of domestic violence that kept her feeling hopeless, defeated, and depressed.

Determined to set herself free from her suffering, she found the courage to search for true happiness and a meaningful life. It was through the Word of God and prayer that she finally attained deep healing from the abuse--and so much more! Today she can honestly say that she lives a beautiful life!

With love and wisdom, and through personal experience, Kelly helps readers discover the power of prayer that heals the deepest pain of abuse. With 1 out of every 3 women in our nation experiencing abuse, women are looking for answers to healing. Her desire is for you not to give up or settle for anything less than God’s perfect purpose for you.

“Hurt No More!” gives you the desire to put one foot in front of the other – trusting God with all your concerns – and teaches you how to tap into His strength by soaring above life’s tests and trials through prayer and the Word of God.

My thoughts...

Evers has written a wonderful book about healing from abuse. She experienced physical abuse in her marriage and writes of the emotional pain she endured as well as physical. Upon leaving her husband for good her story of healing begins. It didn't happen overnight, took much prayer, and help from many, especially God, for Kelly to heal. The hardest part was forgiveness. It can be done and she is proof.

The book contains prayers, affirmations, scripture, and more. What I thought was especially helpful was the chapter on recognizing different types of abuse. Many don't recognize the signs and this should help friends and family of those being abused as well as the victims themselves.

There are numerous resources listed at the end of the book and a checklist of items to pack when leaving an abuser. Lots of great information.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher through Crazy Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Heaven Revealed by Paul Enns

There are so many questions in life... but few are as universal as: "What is the afterlife like?"

For those who have put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ here on earth--Heaven awaits. Addressing questions as basic as What will we do there? and What is it like?, theologian Dr. Paul Enns dives deep into the Scriptures while reflecting on the very personal nature of what is to come. Heaven Revealed is concurrently a helpful, easy-to-read guidebook for Christians as well as an encouragement for those of us who are left here on earth after our loved ones who are Christians pass away.

Follow along as Dr. Enns succinctly leads you through what the Bible has to say about Heaven.

In grief, we all need hope--hope for our loved ones who are now gone, and hope for ourselves as eternity looms closer. Heaven should be something to look forward to, not something to be confused about.

My thoughts...

After losing his wife of 45 years, Enns began to think more and more about Heaven. He searched the scriptures and wrote "Heaven Revealed". I can't say I believe everything he wrote is correct, I feel it's more his opinion but what he wrote is heartwarming and inspiring. Scripture doesn't tell us much about what Heaven is like, we won't know until we get there.

The book is easy to read, full of scripture, and would be good for group discussion. Enns asks many of the same questions most people do after losing a loved one, he put in personal experiences to help with understanding.

I think the book will instill hope and comfort to readers. I give it 4 out out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A Place To Belong by Lisa Troyer

Looking for “a place to belong”? Find it in a community of women fostering relationships through authenticity, affirmation and accountability—find it in the Circle of Friends.

Your outlook will never be the same as you explore the ministry potential of a dynamic group of “women helping women,” and catch their vision to be women committed to Jesus Christ, obediently seeking God’s will, and fulfilling their life mission as Christ-followers.

My thoughts...

Lisa has endured some very painful experiences in her life, from being sexually abused by a teacher to losing a child through miscarriage. She has come through them with the help of Jesus and has established "A Circle of Friends" ministries as a result. Here women learn the concepts of Acceptance, Authenticity, Affirmation, Accountability, and Action.

Lisa says that first we must accept the fact that God sees and cares about us. We are valuable to Him. Next we must be authentic, be ourselves. Trust God and trust one other person that you can be real with. Don't pretend everything is ok. Every one of us has problems of some sort.

Being truthful with others will cause them to be truthful (real) with you. They will respect you for who you are. Then, be accountable. Find an accountability partner who will point you in the right direction... toward God and His Word.

Finally, step into action. God has a plan for your life and to fulfill it you must get started.

There are questions to reflect on throughout the book and a discussion guide for small groups at the end. Lisa has included a Bible reading guide, goal setting tips, recommended reading and much more!

"A Place To Belong" is a great guide for ministry. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You can find out more about Lisa's ministry at The website includes a blog and daily inspirational readings. Visit the author's website at

Getting Back Up When Life Knocks You Down by Jeremy Kingsley

This uplifting book meets people when they are down, helping them to transform their lives. In each chapter the author explores a response to a crisis and shows how working through crises can lead to strength, peace, forgiveness, and hope.
Kingsley offers snapshots of different people and their responses to difficult situations, including his own tough times and how he has overcome. This faith-based book will appeal to a wide range of readers, both Christians and non-Christians.

My thoughts...

This is a self help book, it has encouraging words that attempts to lift you up when you're down. There are some good things in it but I didn't particularly enjoy it. It's simple steps to get one back on their feet are just that...simple. It isn't easy getting up when you're down and for me it would take more than what this book offers to help me get up again. His advice needs more depth. There is too much repetition in the book and not enough Biblical content.

I feel that Kingsley points readers more to self than to God. True healing comes from above and we should focus more on the truths in His Word. God uses our pain to teach us and help us grow.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars. I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

While There Is Still Time by Terrell Dunnum

God always sends messengers to warn his people before a special event. He sent Noah before the flood. He sent angels before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He send John the Baptist before the arrival of Jesus Christ.

In the same way God spoke to Noah and John the Baptist, he has spoken to Terrell Dunnum. Terrell had released the Lord’s messages into a book of poetry that will bring hope and healing to all who read it.

While There is Still Time is filled with poetry that is enjoyable both for its messages and its unique rhythms and rhymes. The poetry in While There is Still Time will touch all people, whether saved or unsaved. The lost will be drawn back to God, the weak in faith will be strengthened, and all readers will find encouragement and inspiration.

My thoughts...

This is a small book with 74 pages and is divided into sections. The first section is titled I AM which contains six poems. On the page opposite each poem there is a space for reflections. I really like this about the book as I like to write notes as I read and reflect.

As far as the poems themselves, there are a few that I liked. However, many sound as though they were written by a child. I feel the writer's attempt to rhyme botched the poems. For example..."I am warmer than milk and sweeter than honey, With words of love as gentle as a little baby bunny". I didn't find that poem to be prophetic at all.

Other poems were very nice, glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ. All were pretty much scriptural based. It bears repeating, if the writer had not rhymed each line I think the poetry would have been much more inspiring. I give 3 stars out of 5.

I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review.

About the author
Terrell Dunnum is the founder of Total Freedom Ministries, Inc., an organization that provides mentoring and biblical counseling to youth and families in crisis. He holds a master’s degree in Christian counseling from American Bible College and Seminary. While There is Still Time is Mr. Dunnum’s first poetry book.
At the age of 12 he began to teach Sunday school and help his mother prepare for her missionary license. Terrell’s unique message is one that has inspired, educated, and challenged individuals of all ages in making life changing choices.

At the age of 18, Terrell Dunnum’s mother died from an aneurism and a year later his father died from a coronary heart failure. Finding it difficult to continue with life and questioning God about the traumatic events left Terrell in a confused and depressed state. Terrell graduated from High School and continue through college receiving a bachelors degree in education through the help and encouragement of his older sibling,

Terrell says,” it was not easy, but I had to let go of the past, and learn to trust God in ways that my intellectual mind could not understand.” Through prayer and fasting, Terrell began to witness the miraculous effects of forgiveness and faith. Terrell later received his master’s degree in Christian Counseling from the American Bible College and Seminary.

Terrell Dunnum now encourages others as a motivational speaker. He has a gift to touch the hearts and minds of individuals struggling with identity crisis and relational barriers. He has helped thousands of young men and women find true meaning and purpose in life

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lovely Blog Award

What a wonderful surprise to be awarded a lovely blog award, thanks to Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl. Thank you Crystal!

There are two simple rules, but required in order to accept the award.

Rule #1 - Share 7 facts about yourself
Rule #2 - Award 15 other blogs!

So here are 7 random things about me...

1. "Criminal Minds" is my favorite show.
2. Love to travel.
3. I'm a pen freak (nurses usually are).
4. I think morning is the best time of day.
5. Like to play in the snow.
6. Drink a lot of tea.
7. Peaches and Kitty are my cats.

Now to award 15 other bloggers. In no particular order I'm awarding:

1. A Book Lover
2. WV Stitcher
3. Writing for Christ
4. Trinity Rose's Garden
5. To Read or Not To Read
6. Thoughts From A Compulsive Reader
7. The Parchment Girl
8. Tammy's Book Parlor
9. Shoopette's Book Reviews
10. Quiet Quilter's Blog
11. Moments
12. Journey Through The TBR Pile
13. A Path Of Joy
14. Black and Gold Girl's Book Spot
15. Careless in the Care of God

The blogs I've listed are lovely so please visit!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril.

After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

My thoughts...

This is the first book I've read by Sarah Sundin and it definitely will not be the last! I found this to be such a wonderful, touching story. The characters are believable, each going through hardships due to the war.

The main character, Helen, a war widow, is hiding a secret and it's destroying her inside. She meets Ray and he brings out the secret bit by bit trying to help her heal. He falls in love with her but after one horrible evening when painful memories invade her, she throws him out telling him he is a coward and is never to come back. Crushed, Ray decides to leave his position as supply clerk and fly fighter jets. Helen is horrified when news of his death in a crash reaches her.

What these two people go through is absolutely terrible. Helen learns to trust God and rely on Him for strength. She makes plans to take her son and leave the town she loves but something happens that stops her in her tracks.

Sundin has done a magnificient job of keeping this story interesting, I didn't want to stop reading once I started. I believe you will fall in love with the characters and feel their pain as well as their joy. I give Blue Skies Tomorrow 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II.

Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. Visit with Sarah online at