Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Random Question: Mona Hodgson

Mona Hodgson, author of Too Rich for a Bride, was gracious enough to answer a few of my Random Questions. Enjoy!

What was the inspiration behind Too Rich for a Bride?
Myself. Okay, Ida Sinclair isn't me. But, like me, Ida is the oldest of four daughters. And she is a businesswoman. As am I. However, she prefers to work with numbers while I choose to wield words.

What were some of your favorite books as a child?
Clip Clop by Nancy Hoag.

If you could eat dinner with any person (dead or alive – and Jesus isn't an option, I think we'd all like to eat dinner with Jesus!), who would you choose?
Harriett Beecher Stowe, a woman who wrote out of her passion, those things that riled and excited her.

My husband and I often talk about what concerts we can only dream of going to. What bands/artists make your list?
Nicole C. Mullens, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Josh Groban

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Televisions on in restaurants of any sort. Dining out is ideal for carrying on a conversation with limited distractions. Well, it used to be.

What verse or passage of Scripture would you consider to be your "life verse?"
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.'" Jeremiah 29:11 & 12, NIV

What are you working on now?
I'm writing Twice a Bride, Book Four in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

Learn more about Mona and her books on her website or connect with her on Facebook. To read the first chapters of Two Brides Too Many and Too Rich for a Bride and to watch the video trailers, go to her website, click on "Mona's Books," then on "Sneak Peak" or the book trailer

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

Ummm ... Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond is one of the best books I've read this year! Hope this teaser will entice you to check it out!

Please, Lord, let my Susannah be on this train. And give me some fancy talking so she'll stay. (p. 1)

"All right. Forget everybody and try to make friends with just one person: me. I don't like having my wife shy of me, especially when I've given her no reason." (p. 87)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride by Mona Hodgson

I'm super behind on several reviews so I'm working on getting caught up. I've read several great books lately and this is certainly one of them!

Too Rich for a Bride by Mona Hodgson is the follow-up novel to her Two Brides Too Many. Ida Sinclair joins her sisters in Cripple Creek, Colorado with aspirations of becoming a successful businesswoman. Thinking she has no time (or need) for men, she is surprised when two eligible bachelors begin vying for her attention.

Hodgson produces a great historical fiction. The town of Cripple Creek is interesting the men and women who live there are true characters. Mona writes each character in such a way that they seem to be real people. I also enjoyed that although this is the second novel in the series, it truly stands alone. I loved the characters of Kat and Nell and look forward to reading their story in Two Brides Too Many. My only complaint was that the romantic connections in this book seemed a bit forced. However, the rest of the book made up for it. This is a charming series and I look forward to the final installment.

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Random Question: Denise Hildreth Jones

As you could (hopefully) tell from my review, I absolutely loved The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones. Denise was kind enough to answer a few of my "random questions."

What was the inspiration behind The First Gardener?
This was just a story that came to me- kind of like my first book, Savannah from Savannah. Just a sweet gift. And I got Jeremiah's voice first. I knew he would be the story teller.

What were some of your favorite books as a child?
My favorite book when I was little was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I loved that book! And then it's follow-ups Fudge, Super-Fudge. In eighth grade I fell in love with Lord of the Flies. I'm just realizing that I liked books with boys as the central character. Maybe that's why I write a lot of men characters in my stories...Wow, you just made me think:)

If you were Miss America, what cause would you champion?
I would champion "world peace!" Isn't that what all Miss America's champion? Honestly, in this generation I would champion "How to have your kids at the dinner table without their phones!"

What are your "can't miss" TV shows?
Oh my, here we go "The Closer" for sure. I love southern women
"Survivor" - I've only missed one season.
Those are the two that I wouldn't want to miss for anything.

If you could choose only one color to paint your entire house, which color would you choose?
Cream- I love cream. Then it gives your artwork the ability to be the statement in your home.

What verse or passage of Scripture would you consider to be your "life verse?"
I love Hebrews 10:35. Do not throw away your confidence for it will be richly rewarded. If you persevere in doing the will of God you will receive all that he has promised. In a little while he will come. Though he tarry he will not tarry forever. And the righteous shall live by faith. But if you shrink back he will not be pleased. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but we are those who believe and are saved." Every time I read that it's like I get this new strength in the soul of me...

What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a non-fiction and fiction book of the same theme. My book Flying Solo: A Journey of Divorce, Healing and a Very Present God were the journals chronicling the first year after my divorce. And during that journey the most significant thing that I learned was what it means to reclaim a "shut-down" heart. So, I am working on a new non-fiction entitled Reclaiming Your Heart: A journey of laughter, living and loving and a fiction book with the same theme entitled Secrets over Sweet Tea.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to read more by Denise! And ... through August 27, Hurricanes in Paradise is free for all of you e-readers out there! (Ummm ... that's tomorrow ... so hurry!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blog Tour: In This Place by Kim L. Abernethy

We understand that you kept rather detailed journals as a young missionary woman in Liberia, West Africa. What prompted you to do that?

My husband and I, along with our 2 1/2 year old daughter, Michelle, were absorbed deeply into the Liberian jungle (180 miles from the capital city Monrovia) at a time when communicating with the “outside” world was still an anomaly. In the mid 1980’s, our key communication source to our family in America was through ham radio operators and by that means, we usually talked to our families only once a month.

There was never enough time to tell them all the cultural things we were learning or share the cute things about their granddaughter, so I felt the need to supplement with journals. I would handwrite the journals as events happened, but then would use my Selectric II typewriter (during electricity time - you’ll understand that more if you read the book) to type out the journals and mail them off. My mother wisely put the journals into a large manila envelope and saved them. She and my father knew my hankering for writing and prayed that I would one day use those journals to write a book.

How (exactly) did you go about writing the book? Did you take your journal entries and just add more details?

I wrote the first couple of chapters almost six years ago. Between a busy college ministry and an active family, it was difficult for me to know how to carve out the time I needed to make the writing effective. Of course, I always tried to give myself a self-imposed deadline, but being new at the writing and knowing I was going to self-publish did not help my need for discipline so lacking in the early formation of this book. Two years ago, after constantly reaming myself out for not getting serious and lamenting to my husband and family that I needed to get this book done, they rallied around and helped me carve out more substantial amounts of time for serious writing.

Not having any template on how to write from detailed journals, I just decided to dig into the coffers of the journals, make notes about the stories I wanted to use, and then started writing. There were times I found that I could not improve on how I had said something in my journal so I gave myself permission to quote directly from the journal.

What helped you make the decision of which stories to include and which stories to leave out?

That was not an easy task. Taking the advice of several friends and other writers, I stopped the constant editing and analyzing of what I had already written and just wrote the story. It soon started to weave itself into somewhat of a continuum.

After I had completely written the story, I went back and read the entire book, critically, as through the eyes of those who might read it but not really know me very well. I prayed much that God would give me the grace to know when to “let go” of a story, especially when it seemed that it was completely self-serving. Grant it, I struggled with God over at least two particular stories that I really wanted to keep in there, but no matter how hard I tried, they did not fit the spirit of what the book had become.

Honestly, I do not believe that I could have written this book in as God-honoring of a way ten years ago. While I am no where near what I need to be in Christ, I do know that He has taken more of the ME out of the story and inserted much more of the HIM in it.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of this story?

In 1985 I, along with my husband, Jeff, followed a call from God to minister in the small West African country of Liberia. From learning how to effectively communicate with the Liberian workers in my jungle home to witnessing the painful death of a young woman in childbirth, I write candidly. I tell stories of every day happenings in the life of jungle living, but also plod through the painful: when one of my daughter’s fell from an 18-foot balcony and when my husband was exposed to Lassa fever. One of my favorite things to write about were the chronicles of my husband's adventures of being a bush pilot in the jungle of Liberia.

Inside this book you will find disbelief, tragedy, fear, anxiety, discontentment, and confusion, but there is also humor, delight, amazement, wonder, surrender, and a deep-seated joy as you watch how God - little by little - chipped away at the walls of pride, unbelief, stubbornness, and independence that had always held me captive to myself. You may find yourself in these stories.

What was your key inspirational force in writing and publishing your first book?

My three daughters were the primary inspirations. Our oldest, Michelle, was 2 1/2 when we first went to Liberia. Stefanie, our second, was born in the middle of the jungle after we had only been in Liberia for ten months. Third daughter Lauren was born during the tumultuous time after our first evacuation from our ministry & home in Liberia. I wanted them to have a written account of their parents’ missionary journey in West Africa and beyond. It is one thing to be a Missionary Kid and live the life in your “home away from home”, but as they are all now young women in their twenties, I wanted them to see God in a bigger way. To always have a reason to keep trusting Him - no matter what.

Another motivation for writing this book were young missionary couples (particularly the women) who may wonder what they can expect as they enter their field of service. Though the country and circumstances may be different, I want the book to be a cultural, spiritual, and practical guide to those who will come behind us.

The third reason was for those that have always been interested in the intrinsic details of foreign missionary lives. I offer this candid missionary memoir as a means to open the door to seeing us as human, exposing struggles and sharing victories.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Please visit my website.

For information where FREE copies of this book will be given away, please visit Christian Speaker Services.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services.

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones


I first discovered Denise Hildreth Jones several years ago when I purchased a three-in-one collection of fiction books on a sale rack at a Christian book store. The three books were by three new (ish) authors, and I absolutely loved every one of them. Since then I've read several other novels by Denise and have yet to be disappointed.


The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones is absolutely fantastic! I literally did not put the book down for the two days it took me to read it. Mackenzie and Gray London have a great life. With Gray serving as the governor of Tennessee, Mackenzie devotes her time to their five-year-old daughter and charity work. They are surrounded by wonderful family and friends - Mackenzie's mother, trusted friends, and a wise gardener. When tragedy strikes, they all must pull together in order to survive.

This is one of the most powerful and moving stories I have ever read. The writing style is unique - with the story told alternately by Mackenzie and Jeremiah (the gardener). Such distinct styles but equally well-done. Denise has an incredible ability to make readers feel every emotion of every character. (Grab a box of tissue!) The ups and downs are dramatic . . . but she writes with hope and passion. I think that's what moved me the most - the way the story pointed to hope in Christ more than just a quick happy ending.

I give The First Gardener 5 stars and a permanent place on my bookshelf. You have to read this book!

* Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth Jones (e-book) is free until August 27!

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House as part of the Summer Reading Program.

About the Book
Jeremiah Williams has been tending the gardens of the Tennessee governor’s mansion for over twenty-five years. And like most first families who have come and gone, this one has stolen his heart.

Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London, have struggled for ten years to have a child and are now enjoying a sweet season of life—anticipating the coming reelection and sending their precious daughter, Maddie, off to kindergarten—when a tragedy tears their world apart. As the entire state mourns, Mackenzie falls into a grief that threatens to swallow her whole.

Though his heart is also broken, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. As he uses the tools that have been placed in his hands, he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie’s heart, hoping to help her realize what it took him years to discover.

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

About the Author
Denise Hildreth Jones has spent the last six years writing fiction that has been hailed as both "smart and witty." Her ability to express the heart of the Southern voice has led to her being featured twice in Southern Living and receiving the accolades of readers and reviewers alike, but it is the simple joy of writing stories that keeps them coming. Her previous books include the Savannah series, Flies on the Butter, The Will of Wisteria, Hurricanes in Paradise, The First Gardener, and Flying Solo.

Denise makes her home in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, five bonus children, and two dogs. And on her days off, she will settle for a long walk or a good book and a Coca-Cola.

Visit Denise's website at www.denisehildrethjones.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Praying for Global Ministry Team

Each of these posts will also be posted on my personal blog with details specific to my own faith family. If you are keeping up with me on both sites, these posts will be fairly similar each day. If you don't attend my church, I encourage you to pray for the leadership of your church.

I haven't forgotten about posting these prayer requests for different ministry teams at Brook Hills ... I'm praying for the Global Disciple-Making. Will you pray for them with me?

  • Pray for diligence in investing in marriages, children, and other family relationships.
  • Pray for wisdom as this team develops partnerships around the world.
  • Pray for teams (short-term, mid-term, and long-term) who are serving around the world now and those that are preparing to go out soon.
  • Pray for God to raise up leaders in our faith family who will lead short-term teams and go out mid- and long-term.
  • Pray for wisdom to prioritize tasks as there is always more to do than time to do it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday's Freebies . . . one day late

I am super excited about this freebie! It's on my "read ASAP" list.

Denise Hildreth Jones is one of my favorite authors! More about her next week! Let me just say in advance, though . . . get this book!

Hurricanes in Paradise
by Denise Hildreth Jones
* Free for one more week!

When Riley Sinclair stepped into her new job as director of guest relations at a posh resort on Paradise Island, she felt the final pieces of her once-broken life coming together. But the waters become choppy when Riley discovers that some who come to the Atlantis Hotel are accompanied by paralyzing secrets and overwhelming fears. Riley and three guests are in desperate but unknowing need of each other, eventually forging unlikely yet powerful friendships. With a hurricane headed straight for the island, together they embark on a journey of laughter, heartache, and healing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Tour: Across the Wide River by Stephanie Reed


Across the Wide River is a great fictitious retelling of the Rankin family's life in Ohio helping slaves escape to freedom. Told from Lowry's perspective, this is a great story of how even the youngest can be used to do great things. Stephanie Reed weaves in details about the period that make the book more authentic. A few chapters turned a bit more "history lesson" and - while interesting - didn't seem to add much to Lowry's story. However, young teens will enjoy this book for the incredible story as well as for the historical lessons.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
The red brick home of Rev. John Rankin is a beacon--the first northern stop on the Underground Railroad. Across the Ohio River in Kentucky, every slave knows to look for it. They have heard that if they reach that house, they will never be captured. Across the Wide River tells the true story of the selfless sacrifices one Christian family made to help runaway slaves reach freedom.

About the Author
During her childhood, Stephanie Reed's family would often pass through Ripley, Ohio, on their way to her grandparents' home. The signs she read there about the Rankin house were what prompted her to write Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River. Stephanie is a Latchkey teacher. She worked for the Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library system for nine years. Stephanie, her husband, and two children live in Dublin, Ohio.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I have a random question ...

If you know me at all in real life (as opposed to blog life), you have probably heard me say, "I have a random question ..." and then proceed to ask you a question. Sometimes related to the conversation. Sometimes not.

I decided that it would be a good idea to bring my questions into blog world in the form of author interviews. With most of the books I receive, I also receive a list of suggested questions to ask the author in the event that I would like to interview him or her. Generally the questions are related to his or her current book, research that went into writing the book, etc. While these are generally great questions, mine will be a bit more ... random.

No telling how often or how many of these I'll post ... it really all depends on the authors. If you think of any fun questions that you would like me to ask, let me know!

Praying for Student Ministry Leaders

Each of these posts will also be posted on my personal blog with details specific to my own faith family. If you are keeping up with me on both sites, these posts will be fairly similar each day. If you don't attend my church, I encourage you to pray for the leadership of your church.

I fondly remember the years my middle school and high school years. Many of my best memories came out of time spent with my youth group, adults at church who poured into me, and doing all kinds of things at church.

Today I'm praying for the men and women who lead our student ministry at our church. These guys are fantastic . . . they have been such an encouragement me to me!
  • Pray for this team as they juggle the demands of investing in their families, serving students, and spending time with the Lord.
  • Pray for each person BY NAME. Lift up any specific requests that you know of for each family represented.
  • Pray for this team as they minister to students who are starting a new school year. Pray that the Lord will use the interactions between these students and the staff and volunteers will impact them for years to come.
  • Pray for volunteers with a passion to reach students to lead small groups and pour into these teenagers.
  • Pray for students to have courage and boldness when sharing the gospel with their friends.
  • Pray for wisdom in determining the best ways to lead students and their families.
The list of requests that I can immediately come up with seem to be longer than I intend . . . let's make sure we're taking time to pray for these guys rather than just talking about praying!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School


It's that time of year. The summer is coming to an end, school supplies are in abundance in the stores, and kids (and parents!) are gearing up for the first day of school.

We received these great little armbands at church last week to remind us to pray for a specific student in our church who will be starting back to school in the next week or so. I've been praying for Ryan all week.

As I've prayed for Ryan, I've been reminded of how tough school was at times. Whether you go to public school, homeschool, private school, Christian school, whatever, it's not easy to live a Christ-honoring life day-in and day-out. I'm praying for Ryan and all the other students in our church to represent Christ well and to grow in their relationships with the Lord this year.

DaySpring has a great collection of back to school items that will keep Christian principles at the forefront of their minds when in class or studying. The products are high quality and super stylish, so bless the students in your life with these fun items! Four designs are available and can be purchased online at DaySpring. I also saw them at my local Wal-Mart, which delighted me to no end!


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8, ESV

DaySpring is allowing me to give away a coupon code worth $20 (!!!) in the DaySpring store. What's better than that, right?!

Giveaway details ...

- Entries will be accepted through Friday, August 19 at 11:59 pm CST.
- The winner will be chosen at random.
- Once chosen, I will email the winner. The winner has 48 hours to respond. If I don't hear from you, I will choose a new winner.
- The prize is a coupon worth $20 off a $20 purchase. Shipping not included. Coupon expires September 30, 2011.

Mandatory entry ...
- Leave a comment on this post telling me what verse you will be praying for the students in your life this school year.
- Follow this blog. If you're already a follower, thanks!
- Make sure to leave your email address (disguised) so I know how to contact you.

Additional entries ...
- Like "i blog 4 books" on Facebook (1 entry).
- Promote this giveaway on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Leave a comment below so I'll know that you did it (1 entry).

I received a free product to review from (in)courage and DaySpring in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Pray for the Worship Staff

Each of these posts will also be posted on my personal blog with details specific to my own faith family. If you are keeping up with me on both sites, these posts will be fairly similar each day. If you don't attend my church, I encourage you to pray for the leadership of your church. 

Take some time today to pray for the worship staff at your church. You may not know all of them by name since many of them are behind-the-scenes people.

Will you join me in praying for them today?
  • Praise God for the men and women who lead your faith family in worship each week!
  • Praise God for the unique gifts and talents that each person on this team has.
  • Pray for endurance and extraordinary energy.
  • Pray for volunteers to serve from week to week.
  • Pray for grace in their interactions with each other.
  • Pray for unity.
  • Pray that God will protect the marriages and family relationships represented on this team.
  • Pray that each person on this team will make their relationship with the Lord top priority.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of listing out all the things to pray about. Let's get to it and pray!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Praying for Your Senior Pastor

Each of these posts will also be posted on my personal blog with details specific to my own faith family. If you are keeping up with me on both sites, these posts will be fairly similar each day. I encourage you to pray for the leadership of your church.

Today I am praying for our Senior Pastor. I admire and respect him greatly. I have learned a tremendous amount from his teaching over the past five years. Everything he has taught our faith family has honored God and exalted Christ and been based 100% on the Word of God

As the senior pastor, he has a responsibility for the care of our souls. While others certainly share int his responsibility, it is obvious that he feels the burden. Today, I'm lifting him before the Lord.
  • Pray for the Senior Pastor and his walk with Christ . . . that he will put this relationship over everything else.
  • Pray for his wife (by name!) . . . that she may be a great support and encouragement to him and for her relationship with the Lord.
  • Pray for their children (by name!) . . . that they will love Jesus and walk with Him.
  • Pray for wisdom as he leads the rest of the staff . . . especially in the midst of difficult situations.
  • Pray for his preparation time.
  • Pray for encouragement for him . . . that a community of believers stand alongside him and his family and walk with them through every aspect of their life.

Amazing Promise!


I've completely lost track of which verse we're on . . . are we on verse 16?! Seriously?!

Our church has recently re-structured our worship services, and we've begun quoting this verse from Isaiah before our pastor preaches each week. I'm sure that I'll have this one memorized in no time, but I want to be intentional about doing it now rather than later. What an amazing promise!

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8, ESV

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Praying for Church Leadership

Being on staff at a church is hard.

I know. I did it for two-and-a-half years.

It's not that other jobs aren't hard . . . they are. But being on staff at a church can - at times - feel like you have a bullseye drawn on your back for spiritual attacks to rain down on you.

As was mentioned today at our church, there are a lot of things going on with the staff. Staff leaving. Health issues. Family issues. Gaps in leadership. So many needs.

I've been convicted over the past few days to really press in and pray for the staff at our church. For those of you who are part of the our faith family, I ask you to join me. For those of you who worship elsewhere, I strongly encourage you to lift up the staff at your own church.

Over the next few days I'm going to post a few specific ways that I'm praying for them. Feel free to comment with additional ways that we can pray! (Hop over to my other blog for additional specifics. Email me if you need an invite.)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:9-14, ESV

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday's Freebies

Only one freebie today. I actually read this book a long time ago and thought it was worth the time to read and pray through. I'd be interested to see what I thought now though ... I feel like I've learned and grown so much in the past 10 years! Maybe I'll re-read it soon. :)

Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health 
by Donald S. Whitney

Christians today are busier than ever before, doing the "spiritual" work they feel called to out of devotion for God. But are these earnest followers of Christ actually living their faith in a manner that is pleasing to Christ? Whitney (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life; How Can I Be Sure I'm a Christian?) effectively challenges this "busy hands, empty heart" epidemic. Whitney poses intensely introspective questions to aid Christians as they gauge their own level of spiritual health. Do they have a driving thirst for God, as well as behavior dictated by God's holy standards? How loving to others and sensitive to the Holy Spirit are they? Do they experience genuine grief over personal sin and a willingness to forgive repeat offenders? Whitney also discusses the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditating upon Scripture, taking communion and fellowship with others of like faith, showing readers how to transform these often automatic enterprises into faith-building activities. He advises Christians to spend more energy enjoying God and developing a Christlike nature, rather than accomplishing ever-accelerating goals. He notes that seekers must be acutely aware that following Christ is a lifetime commitment and that they should resist the temptation to seek "spiritual" shortcuts to intimacy with God. This timely text is full of gentle admonitions to unearth deeply entrenched habits and dig for the treasure found only in a carefully honed relationship with God.

All freebies can be found on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, ChristianBook.com, or wherever ebooks are sold. I don't know how long they'll be free so act quickly!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

Tonight's teaser is from 1105 Yakima Street by Debbie Macomber, which I finished early this morning.

"I told you she's a witch," Jolene said calmly. She stood and carried the bowls of salsa and sour cream to the kitchen counter. "If Rachel's decided she wants out of our lives, then I say we should let her go." She hummed softly to herself, evidently happy with this turn of events. (pg. 112)

Fun Blog Giveaway

Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl is hosting a fun giveaway to celebrate her 2 year blogging anniversary. Pop over and check it out. Tomorrow is the last day to enter!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wild Thing by Dandi Daly Mackall


Wild Thing by Dandi Daly Mackall is the first book in the young adult series Winnie, The Horse Gentler. It's a sweet story about a girl who loves horses. Her family is going through a difficult time, and her love of horses and new friends help her get through difficult times. Along the way Winnie must learn to trust God in all things.

What a great series for tweens! What girl doesn't love horses at one time or another?! The book gives great information about the different breeds of horses and weaves in particulars about caring for horses. I think many young girls will wish they could be Winnie! In addition to all the "horse talk," the author weaves in wonderful truths of God's faithfulness and love. I would definitely recommend to tweens!

About The Book
Twelve-year-old Winnie Willis has a way with horses. She can gentle the wildest mare, but other parts of her life don't always come as easily. Along with her dad and sister, Lizzy, Winnie is learning how to live without her mom, who was also a natural horse gentler. As Winnie teaches her horses about unconditional love and blind trust, God shows Winnie that he can be trusted too. Readers will be hooked on the series' vivid characters, whose quirky personalities fill Winnie's life with friendship and adventure.


In #1 Wild Thing, Winnie's fearful heart finally begins to trust God again as she tries to gentle the horse of her dreams, Wild Thing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blog Tour: Moving From Fear to Freedom

Has fear kept you awake at night? Has it hindered you from saying yes to a new opportunity? Has it caused you to make impulsive choices you later regretted? If so, you’re not alone! Fear is a big deal for many women. If left unchecked, it can prevent us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. So, what’s the answer? How can we move beyond fear into freedom?

Author Grace Fox has partnered with Stonecroft Ministries to write a small group resource titled Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman-to-Woman Conversation. This resource addresses women’s common fears and gives biblical and practical strategies to move beyond them.

Fear seems to be an ever-present theme throughout the Bible. Describe the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear.

Healthy fear steers us toward wise decisions and actions. It promotes self-preservation. For example, we look both ways before crossing the street for fear of getting hit by a car. In contrast, unhealthy fear hinders our ability to fully embrace life because it consumes us with negative thinking and what-ifs. The effects can literally make us sick.

How does destructive fear stunt our emotional or spiritual growth?

Destructive fear—the fear of rejection, for instance—might keep us from admitting to someone that we’ve been physically or sexually abused. Without receiving the help we need to deal with those issues, we never experience freedom. Our struggles might seriously hamper our ability to truly love and receive love in a marital relationship. This is just one example among many of how our emotional growth is affected.

Spiritually, fear can cause us to say no to God-given dreams or assignments because we’re afraid of personal inadequacy or financial insecurity. If we never step out in faith, then we never experience God’s ability to equip and provide in amazing ways. Spiritual growth comes when we say yes to God and “do it afraid.”

You suggest we need to place our focus on God and not on fear. In practical terms, how do we do this?

Several strategies that I’ve found helpful…
  • Memorize Scripture promises and meditate on them throughout the day and as we fall asleep at night. We are transformed as our mind is renewed.
  • Fill our homes with praise and worship music.
  • Spend time in God’s word on a regular basis, not just when we’re in a panic. The more we do so, the more familiar we become with His promises and the better prepared we are to face frightening circumstances when they come.
  • Talk to the Lord throughout the day. Invite Him into the mundane. Practice His presence. The more we get to know Him, the more we’re able to trust Him in the face of fear.
Most of us feel inadequate at times. You suggest we cannot use our inadequacies as an excuse for not participating with God’s purposes. How do we get past this?

We get past our fear of inadequacy by admitting we have it. Then we need to retrain our thinking to focus on God’s adequacies rather than our inadequacies.
  • Tell God how we feel. "Help! I don't think I can do such-and-such."
  • Tell a trusted friend and ask her to pray for us.
  • Move forward. Do it afraid and expect God to equip us.
Describe this resource and how participants can receive the greatest benefit as they use it.

It’s a seven-week study filled with biblical teaching and personal anecdotes that can be used easily by either a small group of friends in a private home setting or a large women’s ministry. Each session begins by viewing a 25-30 minute teaching video. When the video ends, participants follow suggested Table Talk questions for about 15 minutes. Then they do the Bible study questions together. Each participant uses her own guide book so she can take notes and write answers. Facilitator’s notes are included. The study covers these topics:
  • an overview of fear
  • fear for our loved ones' well-being
  • fear of personal inadequacy
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of facing the ghosts of our past
  • fear of the storms of life
  • fear of the unknown future
Where can I buy this study?

It’s available through your local Christian book store, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, STL Distribution, Wine Press Books, and of course, on Grace’s website, where group discounts apply. Visit Grace’s website for more information about her other books and speaking ministry.

For more opportunities for a FREE copy of this DVD & Study Guide set of Moving from Fear to Freedom, please follow this CSS Virtual Book Tour on Twitter (@Christianspkrs) or on Facebook.

I was given a complimentary copy of this DVD & Study Guide set from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday's Freebies

There are a TON of good (or promising) freebies out this week. I believe all of these are currently free on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and ChristianBook.com. Happy reading!

Code Blue by Richard Mabry
In the first book of the Prescription for Trouble series, Code Blue means more to Dr. Cathy Sewell than the cardiac emergency she has to face. It describes her mental state as she finds that coming back to her hometown hasn t brought her the peace she so desperately needs. Instead, it s clear that someone there wants her gone...or dead.

Cathy returns to her hometown seeking healing after a broken relationship, but discovers that among her friends and acquaintances is someone who wants her out of town...or dead. Lawyer Will Kennedy, her high school sweetheart, offers help, but does it carry a price tag? Is hospital chief of staff Dr. Marcus Bell really on her side in her fight to get hospital privileges? Is Will s father, Pastor Matthew Kennedy, interested in advising her or just trying to get her back to the church she left years ago? When one of Cathy s prescriptions almost kills the town banker, it sets the stage for a malpractice suit that could end her time in town, if not her career. It s soon clear that this return home was a prescription for trouble.

Miss Match by Erynn Mangum
(Read my Erynn Mangum review here.)
Lauren Holbrook has found her life's calling: matchmaking for the romantically challenged. And with the eclectic cast of characters in her world, there's tons of potential to play "connect the friends." Inspired by the recent success of matching her sister and new husband, Lauren sets out to introduce Nick, her carefree singles' pastor, to Ruby, her neurotic coworker who plans every second of every day. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything. When Lauren's foolproof plan begins to unravel, she learns that a simple introduction between friends can bring about complicated results. And as she reconsiders her new role as Cupid (as well as her vow to stay single forever), will Lauren finally decide that God's plan is always good enough?

Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus
(Read my Kaye Dacus review here.)
The Ransome Trilogy from exciting new author Kaye Dacus combines the wit, romance, and social commentary of Jane Austen with the sea-faring adventure of Horatio Hornblower.

July 1814. The war with France has ended, and Captain William Ransome, known for never letting women aboard his ship, has returned to Portsmouth, England. Julia Witherington, considered an old-maid at 29, discovers that she must marry immediately to receive a large dowry. Julia knows that the only man she doesn’t want to marry is William Ransome. And the only man her father will approve of is…William Ransome.

When the couple strikes a financial deal to feign marriage for one year, the adventure begins. These stubborn people face humorous and hard situations that reveal what else they have in common—a growing affection for one another. This intriguing tale of faith and loyalty is a wonderful new offering for readers of all genres.

A Kiss of Adventure by Catherine Palmer
Desperate and on the run, Tillie Thornton finds herself in an uneasy partnership with Graeme McLeod, a daring adventurer who comes out of nowhere to thwart the plot of Tillie’s would-be kidnappers. Now these two must join forces against their common enemies, as well as the challenges of nature, as they embark on a quest that could bring them the answers they seek—or cost them everything.

The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris
(Read my review here.)
Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and kidnapping a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expects to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from him, but ends up with a feisty copper-haired orphan thrown over his shoulder who was on her way to marry Sullivan's bitter enemy. Emily McCarthy is an orphan out of options. Forced to marry because she was too old for her orphanage, she doesn't take kindly to her "rescue." Still she trusts God can turn any situation to good especially when it seems Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Sullivan's crossed a dangerous man unused to losing and Emily may just be the prize he's unwilling to sacrifice.

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson
(Read my review here.)
Sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledging community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival!

Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be. 

The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz
(Read my Laura Frantz review here.)
One woman searches for love--and herself--in a wild land. Lovely and high-spirited, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father's ties to the Shawnee Indians and her family's past, Lael comes of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement her father founded. As she faces the many trials of life on the frontier, Lael draws strength from the rugged land. But the arrival of a handsome doctor threatens her view of her world, her God, and herself. Can the power of grace and redemption break through in this tumultuous place? This epic novel gives you a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians, all through the courageous eyes of a determined young woman who would not be defeated. "The Frontiersman's Daughter takes readers along for quite a ride with high-spirited Lael as she searches for love during a time when the world is more savage than civilized, when medicine comes from roots, and when a woman alone needs to keep a gun within reach. Laura Frantz portrays the wild beauty of frontier life, along with its dangers and hardships, in vivid detail."--Ann H. Gabhart, author of The Outsider Laura Frantz is a former schoolteacher and social worker who credits her 100-year-old grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's ancestors followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in 1792 and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. Frantz currently lives in the misty woods of Port Angeles, Washington, with her husband and two sons.

Hostage in Havana by Noel Hynd
From bestselling author Noel Hynd comes this new series, The Cuban Trilogy, bursting with intrigue and set against the backdrop of Havana, an explosive capital city of faded charm, locked in the past and torn by political intrigue. U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca leaves her Manhattan home on an illegal mission to Cuba that could cost her everything. At stake? Her life ... and the solution to a decades-old mystery, the recovery of a large amount of cash, and the return of an expatriate American fugitive to the United States. After slipping into the country on a small boat, Alex makes her way to Havana. Accompanying her is the attractive but dangerous Paul Guarneri, a Cuban-born exile who lives in the gray areas of the law. Together, they plunge into intrigue and danger in a climate of political repression and organized crime. Without the support of the United States, Alex must navigate Cuban police, saboteurs, pro-Castro security forces, and a formidable network of those loyal to the American underworld. Bullets fly as allies become traitors and enemies become unexpected friends. Alex, recovering from the tragic loss of her fiance a year before, reexamines faith and new love while taking readers on a fast-paced adventure. If you enjoy thrillers such as those by John le Carre, David Baldacci, and Joel Rosenberg, you'll love this series.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Love Remains by Kaye Dacus


Love Remains by Kaye Dacus is a sweet romance. The book is part of a series in which grandmothers who are desperate for great-grandchildren begin plotting together to marry off their grandchildren. When Zarrah and Bobby run into each other in the singles ministry at their church after years apart, they must overcome past misunderstanding in order to move forward. Bobby's investigation into Zarrah's workplace throws another kink into the mix, adding another level of drama.

The book started off a little slow for me and there were times that I thought the plot dragged a bit. I think parts of the book could be eliminated in order to move the story along better. Overall, though, the story was very sweet and I liked the characters. Zarrah had some pretty big problems and it was great to see Bobby recognize issues that stemmed from her past and try to help her overcome them. I thought the grandmothers would play a bigger role in the book, but instead they played good supporting characters. I'll definitely check out others in the series and give them a second chance.

I received a free copy of this book from Barbour Books and NetGalley in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Nashville native Bobby Patterson has just returned home after many years away to take a position with the Tennessee Criminal Investigations Unit. His new job: lead a task force investigating potential real estate fraud connected with the Middle Tennessee Historic Preservation Commission. Zarah Mitchell, who’s worked at the Commission for more than a decade, is about to face a piece of history that could ruin the life she’s built in Nashville: Bobby Patterson—her first love and the reason her father kicked her out fourteen years ago. When Bobby realizes Zarah is part of his investigation, he is tempted to use his grandmother’s not-so-subtle setups as a way to learn if Zarah is involved in the fraud. Zarah, at her grandmother’s suggestion, tries to put the pain from the past aside to see if any love remains between her and Bobby. But when she learns he’s been investigating her, will she be be able to forgive him a second time?

About the Author
Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog Tour: River's Song by Melody Carlson

 
About the Book
Sometimes when we look back, we are able to see ahead.

Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life.

For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law.

By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing—a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

About the Author

Melody Carlson published her first book in 1995 and she has been writing prolifically ever since. To date, Melody has published over 200 books, making her one of the top 20 most prolific authors of all time. With total sales of over 1.4 million her award-winning books include: Homeward, Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon; Limelight; the Diary of a Teenage Girl series; the True Colors series; and the Charter House Girls series.

In her professional life, Melody has worn many hats: from pre-school teacher to political activist to senior editor. Currently, she writes full-time, and freelances from her home. She has two grown sons and lives in Sisters, Oregon with her husband, Chris, and Bailey, her chocolate lab. They enjoy skiing, hiking, and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


What Others Are Saying
“Melody Carlson painted a serene and unforgettable sense of place that came alive with shimmering waters, one woman’s dream, life-changing wisdom, and characters I care about … I’m seriously hooked on the series!" -- Kathy Herman, author of Secrets of Roux River Bayou Series and the Sophie Trace Trilogy

"Melody Carlson's River's Song eased through me gently layer by layer, deeper and deeper. This story of re-awakening or renewal appears deceptively simple but wields great emotional power. I look forward to book 2 in The Inn at Shining Rivers series." Lyn Cote, Author of Her Abundant Joy


"In River’s Song, Melody Carlson beautifully tells a generational story of a family living alongside the banks of Oregon’s Siuslaw River. Told with sensitivity and insight the story includes a Native American thread, deals with issues of abuse, and weaves an ending full of redemption and grace. I can’t wait to read the next novel in the series!" Leslie Gould, Beyond the Blue and co-author of The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny, with Mindy Starns Clark

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

I absolutely L-O-V-E Irene Hannon. I think this is the fourth of her books that I've read this year! Check her out if you haven't already. This is from Fatal Judgment.

For several minutes, forehead pressed against the cool glass, Liz regarded the spot that held the physical remains of her family. Now she had no one left to bury. No one left to love. (pg. 132)

So, so, so good! Hurrying to finish reading it!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Scripture Memory


Nothing was really coming to me for my next Scripture memory verse, so I decided to see what other Siestas are memorizing this month. The first one I saw seemed like a great one to put to memory. It's a familiar verse which makes it even better!

But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

A couple of words immediately pop out: grace, power, sufficient. What a great verse!

Changes!

As of this month I’ve been blogging on this site and reviewing books for a year-and-a-half! It’s a bit crazy to think that something that started as a money-saver for me has turned into a hobby that I truly enjoy! In light of my halfaversary (you know, halfway between anniversaries!), I’ve decided to revamp the blog a bit. You’ll notice some of these changes immediately and some will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks.

A lot of the blogs that I follow regularly have some really great regular features. So … I’m going to try to post some regular features. You've already seen a couple of Teaser Tuesdays, but be looking for Game Changers, Random Questions, and Freebies. And of course there will still be reviews ... that's what the site is for afterall!

I'll also be hosting a fantastic (if I do say so myself) Halfaversary Giveaway (the biggest one yet!) and attempting a Halfaversary Rummage Sale later this month.
    The other big change that you may notice is that I’m pulling some of the personal stuff off of this blog. This has been something that I’ve wrestled with since I started. Due to the nature of Hubs' job and my desire to be a bit more open in my blogging, I need a more private place to do that. So … I will continue to blog personally on a different site (Aqua Submarine). If I know you in real life, I’d love for you to follow me over there. Just let me know and I will send you an invite. If I don’t know you in real life (only in blog life), I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings and that you will continue to follow me here. :) I will still post some reflections, Scripture memory, and some other random things, but this new blog will allow me the freedom to open up a bit more.

    Oh … and one last thing (I promise!). iblog4books now has it’s very own Facebook page. Check it out when you have some time!
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