Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blog Tour | Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Mother of Pearl
by Kellie Coates Gilbert
Christian Fiction / Contemporary
Available September 2012
Abingdon Press
304 pages

About the Book
Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Mother of Pearl brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.

My Thoughts
The Graeber family seems to have it all together. Barrie is a high school counselor who is still in love with her husband and takes pride in her two children. When her broken-hearted daughter Pearl begins acting out, she's at a loss as to how to help. But when tragedy strikes their family, it seems that Barrie's "mama-bear" instincts may be the only thing to get her family through. But will she destroy what's left of her family and their standing in the community in the process?

Based on Kellie Coates Gilbert's debut offering, Mother of Pearl, I think we can expect great things from her in the future! The story is told in first-person from Barrie's perspective, so I was prepared for this to be a mother's story. However, Gilbert really told both Barrie's and Pearl's stories. Quite an accomplishment for a first-person narrative!

Mother of Pearl packs an emotional punch at every turn. She does a great job of expressing the feelings and emotions of Barrie as well as the other characters. Again, not an easy feat for a first-person story. The author's description of the emotion behind each action really helped me connect with Barrie—even when I was frustrated with Barrie and her actions/responses.

There were plenty of surprises as well. A few times I even muttered, "Well, I did not see THAT coming!" That's always a pleasant surprise—when I can't figure out exactly where the story is going. And Gilbert's legal experience definitely came through in the last third or so of the book. The courtroom scenes and trial play-by-play were really well written.

The religious elements were more understated than in many Christian books, but the Graeber family's faith journey was still an important aspect of the book. I do wish that there would have been a tighter conclusion to this part of the story.

Overall, I was really impressed with Mother of Pearl. Gilbert covers difficult topics with sensitivity and realism, and she paced everything perfectly. The emotional impact of this book will not soon be forgotten. I highly recommend! [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Abingdon Press and Glass Road PR in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
A former legal investigator and trial paralegal, Kellie Coates Gilbert writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure.  She is a Pacific Northwest native, and now calls Dallas home.

Kellie Coates Gilbert Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blog Tour | The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter

The Trouble with Cowboys
by Denise Hunter
A Big Sky Romance, Book 3
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available October 2, 2012
Thomas Nelson
304 pages

About the Book
Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in. Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.
Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.

The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

My Thoughts
The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter was just as delightful as I had hoped it would be. After reading the first two books in the series, I've been looking forward to this final visit to Moose Creek. Annie and Dylan each have some serious reservations about falling in love. Fiercely independent, they are determined to get through life on their own. Annie needs help with writing an advice column for the lovelorn, she realizes Dylan is her best shot for success. Dylan isn't inclined to help with the column, but he's willing to do anything if Annie will help him with his beloved horse.

This series has been a lot of fun to read! I've enjoyed every trip to Moose Creek, and this was no exception. Annie and Dylan were great leading characters! I found myself liking them right off the bat, but the struggles they faced and the flaws they dealt with made for a great story. At times, Annie's distaste for cowboys was a little over-done, but it didn't really affect my overall love for the book. I also liked how the characters from the previous books played important roles in this story too. And of course the dynamics between Annie and her sister made for a great "secondary" story line. Love all the family drama!

It wasn't long before I got completely wrapped up in this sweet, funny, romantic story and found myself reading WAY past my bedtime! If you haven't read Denise Hunter before, she's an author not to be missed!  [4.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Denise Hunter Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's About a Relationship

All month I've been sharing about Compassion International and the wonderful ministry that they have around the world. I'm not lying when I tell you that this is the best money that we spend each and every month. It's a non-negotiable line item in our personal budget, and we will sacrifice in other areas if money gets tight.

The assignment this week is to blog from the point of view of a sponsored child. Instead of blogging as though I were a sponsored child (which I kind of did last week - here & here), I thought I'd let you hear directly from our sponsored kids. These are excerpts from actual letters that we have received from Bob Gloria since we began sponsoring them. We have a notebook where we keep all of their letters, pictures, and any other correspondence about them that we receive from Compassion, so it was easy to find bits and pieces for this post. I had a great time re-reading their letters and seeing how much they've grown!

I greet you in the name of Jesus. How are you? I love you and I hope you are fine. I pray for you and your family often. Please pray for me as a try to study the Bible every day.

I want to thank you for the school fees you gave me. In our school, we are studying hard. I like to play dodge ball with my friends. I did well in school and was promoted. Please pray for me as I start a new school term.

My family is fine and doing well but my grandmother has now gone back to the village and now I live with my aunt. I am now 13 years old and next year I will be 14. I want to grow up and be a lawyer and also help the needy.

I call you my father and mother because you care for me so much. I love you all so much. Thank you for the letter you sent. I love it and it makes me happy as I read it. It also makes me happy that I have loving parents like you. I love you.

Love, Gloria

I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ who died for our sins. I hope you are doing fine as I am doing in Uganda.

I have two brothers and a sister. I am the second born. My father died a long time ago when I was a young kid and our mother raised us a single parent.

I was so glad to get your pictures. You looked so beautiful like a queen and as the gentleman who looked so handsome.

I want to start a business and be self-employed. I also want to build my own house after school. And even I would like to start a music school where we will teach young people how to play musical instruments. Pray for me that I may get opportunities to study these courses please. Pray for me that God will let me accomplish my dreams.

May God's love shine on you all the days of your life.

Love, Bob

A few years ago at Catalyst, they interviewed Jimmy who was sponsored as a child in Kenya and is now attending Moody Bible Institute so he can become a pastor and serve the people of Kenya. I love this video because it really gets to the heart of why sponsors are so important. It's not just about the $38/month. It's about a relationship! May we be the kind of sponsors to Bob and Gloria that Mark was to Jimmy! (Because we're friends, I'm going to tell you that you may want a tissue handy.)

At the beginning of the month, the goal was to find sponsors for 3,108 children. As of today, we still need 534 sponsors. We only have a few days left. Will you become a sponsor?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Click on over if you want to join in the fun!

What are you currently reading? So, I decided to accept the Fall Into Reading Challenge and pretty much haven't read since. Yikes! But, I'm trying to push through with Where the Trail Ends by Melanie Dobson.

What did you recently finish reading? I finished Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund on Saturday morning. A. Maze. Ing!!!
What do you think you'll read next? Who knows?! Quite possibly A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Will you pray?

 Last night, I was confronted with the sobering reality of the death of a family friend who was not a Christian. We are just devastated. Many of the Scriptures that are so comforting when faithful followers of Christ die are reminding me of the truth that we are saved only through faith in Christ. But I am also feeling a great sense of urgency for others in my life who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

Today I'm going to ask if we can do something a little different here. Would you join me in praying for those you know who are not followers of Christ? Those who don't have a life-changing, soul-saving relationship with Him?

I'm praying specifically for Mrs. B, P, and J.

Can I pray for someone you know? Leave their first name or initials in the comments and I will add them to my prayer list.

If you have never trusted in Christ for your salvation, I would love to pray for you or talk with you more. You can email me at iblog4books [at] gmail DOT com.

Photo Credit:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Denise Hunter’s “The Trouble with Cowboys” Facebook Party & Kindle Fire Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Trouble with Cowboys Denise is hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. She'll connect with readers and give away some amazing prizes - including a Kindle Fire! 

Save the Date for October 11th!

Grab your copy of Denise Hunter's latest book and join her for an Author Chat Party on October 11th at 8:00 PM EST (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)! Haven't read The Trouble with Cowboys yet? That's okay, don't let that stop you from coming to the party! (You may win a copy!)

During the evening she’ll be sharing the story behind the book, posting discussion questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways – books, gift certificates and – a Kindle Fire! She’ll also be giving you a sneak peek of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on the 11th … and bring your friends!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Into Reading 2012 | The List

Well, after two read-a-thons and Book Blogger Appreciation Week in the last few weeks, you'd think I'd be challenged and evented out. :) But when Crystal and Melanie started tweeting about another challenge, I was intrigued. After much thought and careful considering ... er, thinking about all the unread books on my shelves ... I decided it could be fun. Count me in for Fall Into Reading 2012!

Fall Into Reading 2012 is hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days and lasts from September 22-December 21 (which just so happens to be fall!). It's a pretty laid-back challenge. Just set a goal, make your list, and start reading!

My Goal: 45 books

The List: My list includes 60 books. Some are books that I've committed to read for blog tours or reviews. Some are ones that I want to read for fun and just haven't gotten around to them yet. It's hard for me to stick to a list, so I'm giving myself a few choices. And I know this is a ton of books! (I even trimmed it down a little!) There are just SO many great books that I want to read!!!

  1. Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund
  2. A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman
  3. Love Thy Rival by Chad Gibbs
  4. Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson
  5. Where the Trail Ends by Melanie Dobson
  6. No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
  7. When a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason
  8. Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson
  9. All Things New by Lynn Austin
  10. Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
  11. Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport
  12. Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane
  13. Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan
  14. A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller
  15. The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury
  16. A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes
  17. Sofia’s Secret by Sharlene MacLaren
  18. The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann
  19. Travelers Rest by Ann Tatlock
  20. Heart of Lies by Jill Marie Landis
  21. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
  22. A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris
  23. The Deposit Slip by Todd M. Johnson
  24. Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin
  25. Love in Disguise by Carol Cox
  26. The Messenger by Siri Mitchell
  27. To Love and Cherish by Tracie Peterson & Judith McCoy Miller
  28. At Every Turn by Anne Mateer
  29. A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano
  30. A Texan’s Choice by Shelley Gray
  31. Relentless Pursuit by Kathy Herman
  32. Band of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke
  33. Her Surprise Sister by Marta Perry
  34. The Rancher’s Secret Wife by Brenda Minton
  35. Zero Visibility by Sharon Dunn
  36. Lakeside Family by Lisa Jordan
  37. Montana Dreams by Jillian Hart
  38. Submerged by Dani Pettrey
  39. A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
  40. The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann
  41. Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans
  42. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
  43. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  44. The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck
  45. The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden
  46. The Beginning by Karen Kingsbury
  47. Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
  48. Protection for Hire by Camy Tang
  49. Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth
  50. Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris
  51. Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker
  52. Gentlemen of Her Dreams by Jen Turano
  53. Surrender the Heart by M. L. Tyndall
  54. The Red Siren by M. L. Tyndall
  55. I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson
  56. 11th Hour by James Patterson
  57. What Doesn’t Kill You by Iris Johansen
  58. Sleep No More by Iris Johansen
  59. Night Watch by Linda Fairstein
  60. Backfire by Catherine Coulter
Books I've Added Since Beginning the Challenge
  1. Paper Angels by Jimmy Wayne
  2. A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King
  3. Lovelier than Daylight by Rosslyn Elliott
  4. Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot
  5. A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs
  6. Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blog Tour | A Hearbeat Away by Harry Kraus

This week, the
is introducing
A Heartbeat Away
Harry Kraus

About the Book
A Heartbeat Away
by Harry Kraus
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Suspense
Available September 2012
David C. Cook
384 pages

When a brilliant surgeon undergoes a heart transplant, her life transforms as she begins experiencing memories of a murder she never witnessed. The residents worship her. Nurses step out of her way. Her colleagues respect and sometimes even fear her. But surgeon Tori Taylor never expected to end up on this side of the operating table. Now she has a new heart. This life that was formerly controlled and predictable is now chaotic. Dr. Taylor had famously protected herself from love or commitment, but her walls are beginning to crumble. And strangest of all, memories surface that will take her on a journey out of the operating room and into a murder investigation. Where there once was a heart of stone, there is a heart of flesh. And there is no going back.

My Thoughts
After reading the blurb on the back cover of Harry Kraus’s latest release, I wasn’t sure what to think. I mean, the idea of a transplant recipient receiving memories from their donor? Weird! I wasn’t sure what to think or if I would even like the book. After reading it, though, I still think the idea of transplanted memories is bizarre, but Harry Kraus’s A Heartbeat Away was incredible!

The book was intriguing from the very start. A surgeon about to undergo a heart transplant, the nurses and hospital staff obviously holding grudges against her, and the running internal commentary of the main character was great! Kraus writes with such detail, and his surgical background gives us as readers a unique perspective on the medical aspects of the story.

While I didn’t fall in love with Tori right off the bat, I definitely came around by the end. I loved how her heart transplant not only affected her physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. Phin was a great character as well! And their chemistry was perfect. I loved that we got to see some of Phin’s struggle as well.

The suspense was intense at times and moved along at a great pace. Fast enough to give me a thrill, while allowing time for other story lines to get their due as well. At times there was so much going on that I wasn’t sure how it would all resolve, but Krauss brought it around to a conclusion at just the right time, and I was even surprised by part of the ending. :)

This was a great blend of suspense, romance, and so much more. I can’t believe I’ve not read Harry Kraus before now, but I will definitely be reading more of his work in the future! [4.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from David C. Cook and CFBA in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Harry Kraus, M.D. is a board-certified surgeon, medical missionary to East Africa, and accomplished writer of both non-fiction and fiction. Medical realism and gripping plotlines distinguish his writing, as he gets most of his ideas with a scalpel in hand. Dr. Kraus resides in Kenya with his wife Kris and the youngest of his three sons.

Harry Kraus Online
Website  |  Blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Joined Pinterest ... for a good cause!

I know, I know. I feel like I may be the last person in the world—well, at least the first world—to join Pinterest. I held off for the longest time because I was afraid it would just be one more huge time-waster in my life. But, I joined for a good cause. Promise!

Compassion is having a Pinterest contest this week. I decided I couldn't very well post about this contest and not participate in it. So I signed up for an account, created a board, pinned a few things, and here I am to share it with you. :)

I've told you plenty about Bob and Gloria, but I'm excited for you to "meet" them via Pinterest! If you're on Pinterest, would you please repin the "pin it!" photo to help spread the word?

You can find all the details about the contest here. It's really easy and a fun way to get the word out about Compassion—whether you are able to sponsor a child at this time or not. PLUS, several randomly selected sponsors will win gifts for their sponsored child or their child's family. Sounds pretty great to me!

And if you're wondering why I'm posting so much about Compassion this month, September is Compassion Blog Month! Our goal is to try to find sponsors for 3,108 children. So far 1,515 children now have sponsors ... just 1,593 more to go! You can find out more about child sponsorship here if you're interested. (You won't be sorry ... I promise!)

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Click on over if you want to join in the fun!

What are you currently reading? Well, since I just finished my last book, I'm not really reading anything. But as soon as I post this, I'm going to read a few pages of Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund. :)

What did you recently finish reading? Ahhh! I stayed up way too late last night finishing The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter. What a fun book!
What do you think you'll read next? I may circle back to the Nook next and read A Texan's Choice by Shelley Gray. Looking forward to the end of this series!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday | A Heartbeat Away

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading. Hop over for details or to link up!

"Maybe I'm weird but I can't walk away from this. I've got memories that I didn't choose. Maybe I'm supposed to do something about this ... I need to talk to the transplant coordinator. I'll explain that I think someone may be in trouble." (p. 69)

A Heartbeat Away
by Harry Kraus

Sounds pretty good, huh? It is! Check it out. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Family Literacy Read-A-Thon Wrap-Up

I'll be honest. By mid-week I wasn't sure how this whole read-a-thon was going to turn out. I was going so slow—in comparison to the last read-a-thon at least! Overall a great week. Looking forward to the next one. :)

My goal? To read 1000 pages
My final total? 1132 pages

If you didn't see my daily update post, here's what I read this week ...

I finished ...
- The Key on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson (108 pages)

I started and finished ...
- Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley (336 pages)
- A Heartbeat Away by Harry Kraus (384 pages)

I started and am still reading ...
- Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist (267 pages)
- Love Thy Rival by Chad Gibbs (25 pages)
- The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (12 pages)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blog Tour | With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

With Every Letter
by Sarah Sundin
Wings of the Nightingale series, Book 1
Christian Fiction / Historical / Romance
Available September 2012
432 pages

About the Book
They know everything about each other--except their real names. Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she's never met--even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence--he's been trying to escape his infamous name for years.

As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?

Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing--and true love.

My Thoughts
Mellie Blake joined the army to offer her skills as a nurse. Her unit of nurses will be deployed to North Africa as some of the first female flight nurses in the field. While in training, her supervisor has an idea of another way they can encourage the men at war—an anonymous letter-writing campaign. For the first time, Mellie feels like she can open up and truly be herself and puts her heart on the line. Lt. Tom McGilliver has secrets in his past that he would just as soon not remember. Exchanging anonymous letters with Mellie suits him just fine and a friendship develops that is unlike anything either has ever experienced. When they both arrive in Algeria, they must decide if they will risk their anonymous friendship for the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Or if their pasts will continue to determine their present.

Sarah Sundin brings World War II alive in her latest novel With Every Letter. Mellie and Tom are unique characters—each with their own secrets and struggles. The way their relationship develops is so interesting. I wasn't sure what to think at first when I realized that the two wouldn't meet for quite a few pages, but Sundin did a beautiful job of building their friendship and weaving the pieces of their story together. She even threw in a few great surprises!

The other characters were interesting as well, and the author gave a lot of depth to each character. Many of the secondary characters also had struggles and grew during the course of the story as well, which was nice to see.

Sundin did a wonderful job researching the challenges of female flight nurses and the other aspects of WWII that were included. I felt like I was right there in the middle of things. I can't imagine the amount of time that must be devoted to research for a book like this!

Overall, this was such an amazing book! The message of forgiveness and redemption was so poignant and came through without being preachy. I absolutely cannot wait until the next book in this series!! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity and Revell Books in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Find out what other readers think here.

About the Author
Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Sarah Sundin Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

"With Every Letter" Giveaway & FB Party w/ Author Sarah Sundin!

Celebrate with Sarah by entering to win a eReader (winner's choice of Kindle Fire or Nook Color)!

See what folks are saying about With Every Letter!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire or Nook Color (winner’s choice)
  • Handmade With Every Letter First Aid Kit
  • With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 26th. Winner will be announced at the “With Every Letter” Author Chat Facebook Party on 9/27. Connect with Sarah, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of With Every Letter and join Sarah on the evening of the September 27th for a chance to connect with Sarah and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

Friday, September 14, 2012

BBAW Day 5: Best of BBAW

Share a highlight of this year’s BBAW. Whether it’s a blog you discovered or a book you’re going to read or a way you felt refreshed, this is the day to celebrate the week!

I've really enjoyed my first Book Blogger Appreciation Week! It's been a lot of fun to remember why I started this crazy hobby, share a couple of awesome books, and meet a few new friends! To be honest, I didn't get around to visit as many blogs as I would have liked, but there's always next year, right?!

My favorite part? Probably the interview swap! I loved discovering a new blog and meeting Lisa from Captivated Reader! She has a great book blog with some wonderful articles, features, and reviews of an eclectic mix of books. In fact, it was so much fun that I might do it from time to time here at i blog 4 books.

Looking forward to next year!

Before & After—Part 2

This week's blogging assignment for Compassion Blog Month is to write a letter to God. I decided to write two letters. Both are written from the perspective of a child in Uganda—one before she learned about Compassion and the other after being in the Compassion program for several years. Some of the details were inspired by the story of our first Compassion child, Gloria.

Dear God,
It’s me, Maria, again. I’m almost 13 now. Do you know that means I will be a teenager soon?! I was thinking about that letter that I wrote you when I was seven and had just come to this village. I was so scared then. A lot sure has happened in the last six years!

Probably the best thing that’s happened to me was getting in the Compassion program. I’m so glad they came to our village! I go to the project several times a week and I’ve made a lot of friends. The teachers tell us stories from the Bible. It’s where I learned about You.

Compassion has changed everything for my grandmother and me. We’re never hungry and the church put a well in with clean water.  And we don’t worry that the army is going to come and take me anymore.

Oh, and God, do you know my sponsors? They’re the best! They write me letters every month and tell me they’re praying for me. They pay for me to go to school and make sure that my grandmother has money to buy my school uniform. I didn’t do very well in school last term. I was afraid I would disappoint them, but they told me that they loved me and just wanted me to do my best. I’m going to work harder next term. They send me wonderful gifts too. I usually get a new dress for my birthday and there’s usually enough money for me to get some candy too.

God, it’s hard to believe that I didn’t even know them six years ago and now I love them so much. I feel like they are my American Mom and Dad. And I know they love me, too, because they take care of me. And they tell me they love me all the time.

God, thank you so much for Compassion! I’m especially glad that I’ve learned so much about You. It sure is nice to know that you’re real and that you care about me too.


Praise God for the way Compassion is changing the lives of children and families around the world! But many children around the world aren't so fortunate. They still struggle with hunger, fear, poverty, and loss. But Compassion's goal is to "release children from poverty in Jesus' name." With the help of men, women, children, families, and churches, they are doing just that—one child at a time—totaling over 1.1 million child sponsorships. The goal for Compassion's Blog Month is to find sponsors for an additional 3,108 children. So far, 837 children have new sponsors since the beginning of the month! Praise the Lord!

Will you take a few minutes and pray for sponsors for these waiting children? Ask God to turn their stories of hunger, fear, poverty, and loss into stories of hope, peace, and fullness in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Before & After — Part 1

This week's blogging assignment for Compassion Blog Month is to write a letter to God. I decided to write two letters. Both are written from the perspective of a child in Uganda—one before she learned about Compassion and the other after being in the Compassion program for several years. Some of the details were inspired by the story of our first Compassion child, Gloria.

Dear God,
I don’t know if you’re listening or even if you’re real, but I don’t know who else I can talk to. My name’s Maria and I’m seven. I just moved to a new village with my grandmother. She woke me up in the middle of the night and said we had to go. I didn’t get to say good-bye to my mom or my brothers and sisters. I didn’t even get to bring my dolly. She was my best friend in the whole world. I hope my sister will take care of her.

We walked all night and my feet hurt so bad I thought they would fall off. A few times, we heard people coming up behind us, and my grandmother dragged us into the bushes on the side of the road and told me to be really quiet. Why was my grandmother so scared of those men?

When the sun came up, she told me that we could rest for a few hours. I curled up on the ground under a tree and tried to sleep. She said she would stay awake to watch for the bad men. When I woke up, she told me we had to get moving again. I didn’t want to because I was so hungry and thirsty. My grandmother said we didn’t have any money for food but she found me water hole to drink from. The water was brown and tasted like dirt in my mouth, but my grandmother said to drink it anyway.

When we finally got to our new village, I was so tired. My grandmother said she knew a lady who would let us stay with her while she looks for work. The lady seems nice. She smiles a lot. And she shared her food with us.

I finally asked my grandmother why we had to leave home. She said the Lord’s Resistance Army was coming. She said they take boys and girls out of their beds at night and make them do bad things. She didn’t want them to take me so we ran. God, I’m scared. Will the army find me here? Will they take me from the lady’s house? I don’t want them to take me from my grandmother. I don’t want to do bad things.

I miss my mom and my brothers and sisters. I don’t know anybody here. I sure wish I had a friend here.

Uh-oh, I hear my grandmother calling me. I better go. God, it was nice talking to you. If you’re even there.


Many children around the world have similar stories. Stories of hunger, fear, poverty, and loss. But Compassion's goal is to "release children from poverty in Jesus' name." With the help of men, women, children, families, and churches, they are doing just that—one child at a time. The goal for Compassion's Blog Month is to find sponsors for 3,108 children. So far, 837 children have new sponsors! Praise the Lord!

Will you take a few minutes and pray for sponsors for these waiting children? Ask God to turn their stories of hunger, fear, poverty, and loss into stories of hope, peace, and fullness in Jesus Christ.

BBAW Day 4: Pimp Some Books!

One of the best parts about book blogging is the exposure to books and authors you might never have heard of before. Pimp the book you think needs more recognition on this day. 

Yes! I love sharing about books. Today, I'm featuring TWO books. They're different than a lot of the books that I read and review and highlight on here, but I'm so excited about them! So . . . here are two non-fiction (!) books that I would like to recommend to you!

Love Thy Rival
by Chad Gibbs
Available August 2012
Blue Moon Books
238 pages 

In his first book, the best-selling God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC, humorist Chad Gibbs explored his own struggles to balance faith in God with passion for pigskin. Now Gibbs is back asking how Christian fans can love their enemies, when we can't even love rival fans.

From the cross-country culture war of Lakers vs Celtics, to the cross-state hate-fest of Alabama vs Auburn, Gibbs spent one year attending the most intense rivalry games in sports (Yankees vs Red Sox, Duke vs Carolina, and many more), observing the darker side of fan culture, and pondering the problems rivalry games present to the Christian fan.

The result... Love Thy Rival, an enlightening, laugh-a-minute look at what sports? greatest rivalries teach us about one of Jesus' most difficult commands: Love your enemies.

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected
by Nik Ripken
Available January 1, 2013
B&H Books
384 pages

The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, "Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn't work in Somalia.

Nik recalls that, “God had always been so real to me, to Ruth, and to our boys. But was He enough, for the utter weariness of soul I experienced at that time, in that place, under those circumstances?” It is a question that many have asked and one that, if answered, can lead us to a whole new world of faith.

How does faith survive, let alone flourish in a place like the Middle East? How can Good truly overcome such evil? How do you maintain hope when all is darkness around you? How can we say “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” when it may not be visibly true in that place at that time? How does anyone live an abundant, victorious Christian life in our world’s toughest places? Can Christianity even work outside of Western, dressed-up, ordered nations? If so, how?

The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BBAW Day 3: What Book Blogging Means To Me

What does book blogging mean to you?

Well, that's a pretty vague prompt isn't it? Let's see if I can be concise and not wax on for pages. It IS bedtime after all. :)

Book blogging is . . .

- a way to talk about books without boring people to death
- an opportunity for me to be creative
- a chance to e-meet new friends
- a great way to find out about new books
- so much fun!

Yep, book blogging is all of these things and more. Bottom line? I'm glad I discovered this little hobby that led me to a great community of new friends!

Jody Hedlund Is Sharing Secrets!

Jody Hedlund is celebrating the release of her latest book, Unending Devotion, with a blog tour throughout the month of September. She's confessing some fun secrets, and I have the honor of hosting her on i blog 4 books today!

Secret #7: Where I do most of my writing. 
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I have a board on Pinterest with all my dream writing spots. The reason I have the board is so that I can drool and dream a little bit. Because I currently don't have much of an office to speak of.

At one point I had a small office upstairs. But because my growing kids needed more bedroom space, I moved my desk into my bedroom to a tiny spot near the closet.

Fortunately, I can lock the door to the bedroom when I need uninterrupted time to work. Unfortunately, my older kids all have learned how to pick the lock.

I'm not all that crushed that I don't have a fancy writing space. Because I must confess my office is NOT where I do most of my work.

My real writing spot is *drum roll* the kitchen table. Yes, I spend 80% of my time working at my kitchen table and the other 20% in my office.

The long, white table sits smack-dab in the middle of the downstairs living area at the hub of all the
activity. From my spot on the picnic-table style bench, I can see out into the backyard to the swing set, the trampoline, and the thick woods beyond. From where I sit, I can keep tabs on all three doors into the house, the stairways, and the bathroom.

I can also see who's getting into the refrigerator and snack cabinet (which is also very crucial!).

In other words, my post at the kitchen table helps me keep track of all five of my kids and our pets.
Because the truth is, at this stage in my life, as a busy mom of young children, I can't closet myself away. I want and need to be available to my kids.

But I have real work, deadlines, and demands that require my attention as well. And while I covet quiet, uninterrupted work time, I've also come to realize over the years that I can't wait for perfect conditions before I start to work. I have to turn on Pandora, put on my headphones, and just do the best I can.

Some days, I get interrupted hundreds of times in the span of an hour or two. But I keep going the best I can, working through the distractions. Because I know that one day all too soon, I'll be able to have my upstairs office again.

I only have my children living in my home for a short span of my life. But I'll have my writing forever.

For now, I'll take the interruptions and count my blessings.

What about you? Work-at-home moms, how do you balance kid-time and work-time? And what about kids and snacking?! My kids love to snack and I'd love some healthy snack ideas. Any suggestions?

Publisher's Weekly calls Unending Devotion "A meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."

To celebrate the release of Unending Devotion, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Enter via the Rafflecopter below to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. The last day to enter the giveaway is Tuesday, September 18.

For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she'll be next in her "Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund" blog tour.

Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she's hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.

Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBAW Day 2: Interview Swap w/ Lisa @ Captivated Reader

Well, it's Day 2 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and that means it's Interview Swap day! What a fun idea, right?! Well, today I'm hosting Lisa at Captivated Reader for an interview, and she's hosting me on her blog. Be sure to stop by, check out her blog, and say hi! Let's dive right in!

i blog 4 books: Lisa, I'm so excited about today's interview swap! Tell me a little about your blog.

Captivated Reader: My book blog is called Captivated Reader, because I have been captivated by books and reading ever since I can remember. I started Captivated Reader on January 1st of this year and have been making posts daily ever since.

The following is the brief description of what Captivated Reader is all about:

My blog is about the books I'm reading, the independent bookstores I visit, the author and book events I attend, and any bookish related things I come across in the months to come!

ib4b: How did you get started as a book blogger?

CR: Starting a "blog" had simply been an idea that I had been toying around with for a couple of years. I didn't want to start a blog until I had enough time to devote to creating and maintaining one. Plus, believe it or not, I didn't know what I wanted to blog about, which may sound odd considering that I've been a life long, avid reader and book reader!

The idea of doing a book blog didn't come about until last November around Thanksgiving time. It was then that I decided to begin a book blog on January 1, 2012. I spent the last few weeks of 2011 coming up with a name for my blog, defining how often I would blog, and topics to discuss, etc. My blog is a work in progress, but so far, I've met my blogging goals and having fun along the way. :-)

ib4b: What’s your favorite aspect of book blogging?

CR: Connecting with other readers and book enthusiasts. It's fun, exciting and rewarding to read comments from those who post comments to my blog.

ib4b: What were some of your favorite books as a child?

CR: Babar books were my all time favorite books hands down as a toddler. I had the stories memorized and could virtually recite them word for word while my mom was reading them to me!

I had other favorite books growing up. I remember The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla being one of the first books I read for pleasure in elementary school. I loved the book so much that I read it more than once. The story has a mystery element in it for kids. Perhaps this book was the start of my life long love of mystery novels.

I also loved reading Ultra-Violet Catastrophe!: Or, The Unexpected Walk with Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle by Margaret Mahy. This was a fun book to read as a child and the illustrations are fabulous too!

ib4b: Who encouraged your love for reading when you were younger?

CR: My mom was the most influential person in starting my love of reading and learning as a youngster. She read to me nightly at bedtime. It was my favorite part of bedtime and I usually never wanted it to end!

Many thanks to my loving mother for my love of reading.

The interesting thing to note here is that my mom is not an avid book reader herself, yet she was my biggest influence in becoming the avid reader that I am today.

ib4b: What are some of your favorites now: genres, books, authors?

CR: Favorite authors in no specific order of preference: Jerry Spinelli, John Steinbeck, Margaret Atwood, Geraldine Brooks, Mikhail Bulgakov, Agatha Christie, Diana Gabaldon and Maya Angelou.

Earlier this year, I listed my top ten favorite books of all time on my blog and they are as follows:
  1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  2. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  3. The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  4. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingolver
  8. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  9. Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice by Mark Plotkin, Ph.D.
  10. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin
I don't have a favorite genre.

ib4b: What was the last must-read book that you read and would recommend?

CR: Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart. It's a work of nonfiction. It's filled with excellent illustrations of bugs as well as captivating/riveting information about various bugs found around the world.

What did I like most about Wicked Bugs? It's written for the layperson. I liked the content layout of Wicked Bugs as only a few pages are devoted to each bug and these pages are packed full of interesting information. Who knew the subject of bugs would be so interesting?

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. In fact, I wasn't sure I'd like it all as bugs creep me out big time... Especially ones that transmit diseases like ticks and mosquitoes. But this book came highly recommended and I'm glad I made the leap and read it.

Check out the following YouTube video about Wicked Bugs from the author herself.

ib4b: And, because my husband suggested this question and the responses are always interesting … write your memoir in six words or less.

CR: Can't describe myself in six words.

(Geez, what does that say about me when I can't describe myself in six words or less lol!?! Number 8 was the most difficult one for me to answer.)

ib4b: Lisa, thanks so much for stopping by. This was fun!

CR: Thank you so much for hosting me this year! I had a blast!! Best wishes to you in your continued success as a blogger.

Literacy Week Read-A-Thon Updates

I'll post daily updates for the Literacy Week Read-A-Thon here! If you haven't joined us yet, feel free to jump in now. There's still plenty of time to read!

Come join us at the The Challenge Factory group for a Literacy Week Read-a-Thon. We hope you will invite your friends and family to join us and help us promote literacy.

Date: September 10-16, 2012
My Goal: 1000 pages


The Key on the Quilt  - 108 pages (completed!)

Shattered Silence - 35 pages

Total: 143 pages

Shattered Silence - 65 pages

Total: 208 pages

Shattered Silence - 28 pages

A Heartbeat Away - 23 pages

The Insanity of God - 12 pages

Total: 271 pages

A Heartbeat Away - 165 pages

Total: 436 pages

A Heartbeat Away - 196 pages (completed!)

Shattered Silence - 17 pages

Total: 649 pages

Shattered Silence - 191 pages

Love Thy Rival - 25 pages

Total: 865 pages

Deep in the Heart of Trouble - 267 pages

Total: 1132 pages
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