Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Day We Met ~ review

About the Book:
Sixteen-year-old Lenna James goes to church, attends youth group, and hangs out with the “church geeks” at school. At least, she did. Enticed by a chance with the boy she’s had a crush on for years, Lenna abandons her values and her lifelong friends to hang out with the popular crowd. What she gets in return couldn’t be further from her expectations.

Feeling used and alone and facing an unexpected pregnancy, Lenna struggles to regain control of her life, her parents’ trust, and the love of her best friend, Will. But when her pregnancy takes an unexpected turn, taking away what little control she thought she had, she must find the strength to make the most heart-wrenching decision of all. She feels lost no matter what she chooses. Will she finally choose to look up?

About the Author:
Dusti Bowling was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she attended Arizona State University. She holds degrees in both Psychology and Education. She has worked as a research assistant, project manager, preschool teacher, and elementary teacher. Besides writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, cooking, traveling, and homeschooling. She currently lives in North Bend, Washington with the love of her life and two beautiful daughters.

My Review:

As an Independent Book Reviewer, I find it a huge honor and privilege to read so many amazing books, as well as work with some awesome publishing companies. I receive numerous emails weekly offering me opportunities to read and review a vast array of genres, authors, and story lines. Some come from authors I have never worked with in the past, or maybe not heard of before. Honestly, I tend to stick with those I know and have worked with closely; however, there are times when I've stepped out of my comfort zone and found that book that speaks to me in a way I didn’t expect. Dusti Bowling, the author of "The Day We Met," certainly falls in this category. Here's why:

"The Day We Met" is a beautiful story of unconditional love, friendships, and powerful life lessons for young and old alike.

Lenna is a typical 16 year old. She has a great family, and a close group of friends. She and her friends are most definitely not in the "Popular" category, but rather, the "church geeks." Lenna attends church with her Mom and Dad and is involved in their youth group. As with many teens, Lenna goes to church because it is what her family does. She hasn't experienced what it means to have her "Own" relationship or walk with God.

Lenna has had a crush on a certain young man, Aidan, for what seems like, forever. Aidan is very good-looking and just happens to be the most popular guy in school, and sadly, has no idea who Lenna is. One day, Lenna is asked by one of the "popular" girls to attend one of "their" parties. Lenna is certain that Aidan will be there and in all of her thoughts, hopes, and even nervousness, preparing for this party, she never could've believed she would find herself in a bedroom, alone with the boy of her dreams, patting a place on the bed where he sat, and hearing the words, "come and sit down."

Lenna experiences all of her "firsts" with Aidan. She quickly learns, however, Aidan could care less what happened behind those closed bedroom doors. He returns to his life, his friends, and not acknowledging Lenna in anyway whatsoever. That is, until, he is given the news that she is pregnant with his child.

"The Day We Met" will take you on an emotional journey, sharing the thoughts, hurts, and fears experienced by Lenna, her parents, and those whom she calls "friend." Lenna is such a brave and courageous young woman who learns at such a young age, the lessons of how our choices can change our life in just a matter of moments. It is what we do with those lessons that make us who we are. Learning what it means to come to a place where we can either choose to walk with Christ and allow Him to bring goodness to what seems an impossible situation. I was moved to tears many times and truly appreciated the support system that the author gave Lenna in this story. Seeing the vulnerable side of her parents as they too walk through all the questions and concerns, as well as, lessons of their own, that this situation brings was just beautiful and so moving.

I live in a town that has a very high teen pregnancy rate. Sadly, I have seen too many times the devastation that comes to those who are like Aidan and his family when they deny responsibility. On the other hand, I have also seen the blessings that come to those who come face to face with the truth of their actions and choices. When we cling to Christ we can face any storm, any situation, no matter how difficult they may seem.

I would highly recommend this book to Boys and Girls alike ages 13/14 & up, Youth Pastors, and to Jr. High and Highschool teachers. They could not only read this book but might even be able to share it with someone who could truly benefit from reading Lenna's story.

Thank you Dusti Bowling for allowing me the privilege of reading and reviewing your book! "The Day We Met" is a definite 5 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥'s!!!

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Small Space Organizing

With a few tricks up your sleeve, small can be the new big!! Hi my name is Loren and I am an Organizing addict! Ha :) Seriously though, It only took 45 years of living in clutter, until one day I just SNAPPED!! Living in Clutter is just soooo overwhelming. For me, I just had no peace and was constantly picking up here or cleaning over there. You get the idea :) Well, Whatever it was that snapped in me that day I am happy to say that I have been organizing ever since! In Kathryn Bechen's book "Small Space Organizing" you will find some really wonderful tips on organization. She truly has covered everything! From the bathroom to your back patio, she has thought of everything imaginable to create organized spaces. The Chapter I will go back and take it step by step is the Home Office Heaven. This has been an area that I have struggled with year after year! So I look so forward to applying Mrs. Bechen's wisdom and instruction to this area. My only complaint about this book is that I wish she had pictures of what the rooms looked like after they had been organized. She shares a list of items for each room to organize with and I would have loved to "see" them before I went to purchase anything! Otherwise, It truly is a great book! Thank you Donna and Revell, a Division of Baker Publishing Group Dwell Well in a Small Space A room-by-room ‘small space bible’ to maximize living in minimum space Whether you’re downsizing your home or just starting out, professional organizing and decorating author Kathryn Bechen will show you how to create a space where you can live well regardless of the size. Dedicated to helping small space dwellers thrive in their home for over 20 years, Bechen wants everyone to feel proud of their comfortable and welcoming living space regardless of the square footage. In Small Space Organizing: A Room-by-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space (Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8007-2028-5, 240 pages, January 2012, $12.99), Bechen compiles 20 years of real life organizational tips and tricks. This ‘small space bible’ will help anyone transform cramped space into a perfectly petite living space as Bechen goes room-by-room giving design and organizational advice as well as taking on the extremely small spaces of studio and basement apartments, loft and high-rise spaces and even tips for RV living. “A true home is really about the size of your heart, not about the size of your space,” says Bechen. She encourages readers to embrace living in a small space and assures them that even the most teeny-tiny space can be transformed into a welcoming environment to maximize the space – and more importantly, maximize living. Bechen tells clients to “always remember that it’s far more important to have a spirit of hospitality and friendship as the emphasis of your home, rather than neglecting to invite others to visit you there just because you lack large rooms or expensive furniture.” After reading Small Space Organizing readers will be able to: Create a non-traditional entryway space Find a creative space for a home office Craft a spa atmosphere in a teeny-tiny bathroom Design a nursery space to nurture a newborn Find storage space that’s hiding in their kitchen Downsize their living space successfully Small Space Organizing will help readers at every stage of life create an inviting home and maximize living. Everyone from the newlyweds struggling to fit all their wedding presents into a small apartment to empty-nesters with years-worth of sentimental possessions moving to a smaller home can benefit from Bechen’s expert advice. For the reluctant downsizer faced with the daunting task of moving into a smaller living space, Bechen offers encouragement and practical tips for the emotional process. “It’s normal to go through an array of emotions during your downsizing process,” says Bechen. “It helps to get through it by keeping your mind’s eye focused on the end results of a lovely new right-sized home, decorated in a style you love, in a neighborhood that’s just right for you at this new stage of your life.” Kathryn Bechen is an award-winning professional writer whose articles have appeared in popular national and regional magazines and newspapers. She specializes in lifestyle feature articles and has also published several organizing and decorating e-books. The lifestyle companies she founded, Organized with Ease and Kathryn Bechen Designs, have served clients worldwide. Bechen has organized and decorated 13 personal small space residences together with her husband Steve. They currently live in their favorite small space ever: a 1,200-square-foot high-rise apartment in beautiful San Diego, California. She blogs about timely lifestyle topics at Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books for everyday life.  For more information, visit ###

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Gospel Story Bible ~ Review

What a Wonderful Story Bible! In the Gospel Story Bible you will find 156 stories from Genesis to Revelation. The colors are sooo Vibrant and the pictures or maps that go with the specified story are remarkable! In our busy lives as parents or grandparents, sometimes, sitting down with our kids/grandkids can prove to be difficult at best. I believe The Gospel Story Bible will leave both the child and adult anxiously looking forward to the next story again and again! This is definitely one you will want to have in your home library! It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

Marty Machowski

Illustrated by: 

and the book:

New Growth Press (December 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***


Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for twenty-three years. Marty leads Promise Kingdom, the children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship. He is also the author of Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and the forthcoming Gospel Story Sunday school curriculum. He and his wife Lois and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Visit the author's Facebook Page.


 I have  never been the best at anything. This has given me the freedom to really enjoy alot of things; perfection is not on the line. So my drawing is not clean, my patchwork corners don’t really match up, and my cooking is always an adventure.  I was raised by a single mom who has an exhausting amount of creative energy.  My  brother and  I were taught how to create our own entertainment  and seek adventure in the everyday.
When I was in Jr High, both my parents remarried and let’s just say things have never been boring. A foster brother, two step sisters, and a half brother were added to the mix. I have aunts and uncles who have been beyond generous and helped raise me in many ways. I have been blessed to travel overseas and even live in Prague for six months. My dad and stepmom run a special needs home in Guatemala where I have spent time and really fallen in love with the culture. My brother and his wife run a shoe company out of Guatemala.  Everywhere I have been, even a dirt floor hut in the hills of Guatemala, there has been art: design and color. I believe as humans we are created in the image of The Creator, and so we all have some creative effort to put forth.
 I have a BFA in Illustration because after all the studio classes one takes to finish an Art Education  degree, I found what I really like to do is draw. I doodle. Alot.
 Presently, I am married with two little ones, living in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. I teach art part time at a sweet little christian school, grow tomatoes and beets, and sew or draw when I get the chance.
My first illustration project is coming out in the fall, 156 illustrated Bible stories in the “Gospel Story Bible” by Marty Machowski, published by New Growth Press.
Visit the illustrator's Website.


Sometimes it’s easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles and conflicting priorities. For many Christians, God often becomes little more than an afterthought after days absorbed and depleted by the busyness of life. But the truth is that he is the hero of every story—including the mundane, ordinary ones we experience on a regular basis. That is why Marty Machowski beckons families to take time out from the daily grind to be transformed by the message of the Good News in his latest release, The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments (New Growth Press, November 2011).

Based on the ESV Bible, this uniquely illustrated Bible storybook uses 156 stories to present God’s plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation. This easy-to-read storybook written for children from preschool to high school introduces readers to many captivating people, places and events from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. At the same time, Machowski skillfully connects the individual stories to the overall gospel narrative of how God redeemed a broken world through sending his son Jesus to save his people. Each story ends by connecting to Jesus and his gospel of grace. By sharing these Bible stories with each other, young and old will learn together the life-changing habit of recognizing the presence and workings of Christ in every moment of their day.

“The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to change the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read,” says Machowski. “That’s what makes The Gospel Story Bible ideal as a storybook for a preschooler, a devotional for a grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer or an introduction for the new one. Parents and children will learn together to read the whole Bible as one story, with one hero—Jesus Christ.”

Vibrant illustrations by A. E. Macha, child-friendly discussion questions and Scripture references accompany each story to help lead families in exploring the Bible. Parents and teachers will be delighted to discover how easily even a young child can understand the original text of a story that he or she has already come to love. A companion to the family devotional Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and the soon-to-be-released Gospel Story Sunday school curriculum (February 2012), The Gospel Story Bible is also a great resource for churches, Sunday school classes, home-schoolers and Christian schools who want to teach their children to apply the gospel to every situation and make Jesus the most important part of their everyday lives.

Product Details:
  • List Price: $29.99
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: New Growth Press (December 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936768127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936768127

AND NOW...Some Sample Pages (click images to see them larger):

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Live Reflectively ~ Review

The Fresh Life series was created for women who crave a profound experience of God’s Word without an overwhelming time commitment. Bible teachers Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose challenge readers to dig deep into Scripture by using a directed study method that only requires twenty minutes a day. With a fresh approach to studying Scripture that gives newcomers as well as seasoned students deep insight into God’s Word, the latest two additions in the series explore the life of Moses and the riches in the book of Ephesians. Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses (Heitzig) is an engaging Bible study on the life of Moses. He was saved from death on the Nile and raised as an Egyptian prince. He met his wife at a Midianite well, witnessed the birth of a nation as the Red Sea parted and watched water gush from a rock with one touch of his rod. He died overlooking the Jordan River. Through viewing the water moments of Moses’ life, readers will be encouraged to consider the moments in their own lives that shape who they are and who they are becoming.
About the Authors: Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. She and her husband founded Calvary Church of Albuquerque—one of the fastest-growing churches worldwide. She is the author of Holy Moments: Recognizing God’s Fingerprints on Your Life and also contributed to the best-selling New Women’s Devotional Bible. Heitzig serves as Executive Director of She Ministries of Albuquerque, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. She and her husband Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Penny Rose is the award-winning author of numerous books. Penny thrives on teaching at conferences and retreats nationwide. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, Kerry, a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque. My thoughts: I have enjoyed both of these studies ~ Live Abundantly and Live Reflectively ~ so much! I love that you can do these books on your own or create your own group or even start a study with a group @ your church. Each day shares these: Lift Up - prayer Look at - Gods Word Learn about - New insight Live out _ Application Listen to - quotes from other believers Whether you choose just one of these or both of these studies, you will love them! They offer Wisdom and will encourage you in your spiritual journey! Thank you Audra with B&B Media Group for allowing me this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Accidental Bride ~ review

Don't you just love it when you pick up a book and begin reading and before you put it down you realize you are several chapters into the book? That is the sign of a book you are going to LOVE ♥ That is how The Accidental Bride was for me. I found myself reading this EVERYWHERE - brushing my teeth, making dinner, in my car as I wait for my Son after school, and even blow drying my hair!! heehee. Shay is one stubborn woman! She has experienced heartache and the last thing she wants is to be in a relationship. That is, until, her first love returns home. Travis McCoy is Shay's high school sweetheart and was engaged to be married to Shay. On the day of their "to be" wedding, Travis leaves Shay @ the courthouse and never returns. Well, he did, it just happened to be 14 years later! Miss Lucy, a dear friend to both Travis & Shay, arranged for these two to participate in a mock wedding. Emotions are high, Anger is still apparent, and most of all the HURT that has, at times, consumed them, is obvious to them both. I loved the Accidental Bride! The small town charm with such a sense of family is truly refreshing to read. The only complaint I would have is the pride and flat out stubbornness that Shay exhibits. She did recognize some of those issues but not necessarily where she needed to most! All in all, this is a story of seeking God and allowing HIM to help you walk through some tough issues, to extend forgiveness, and to never give up! The Accidental Bride is an excellent novel and one I would recommend to all!!
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

 Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to  Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group –  for sending me a review copy.***


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!

Visit the author's website.


Shay Brandenberger has built her entire life on the shifting sands of what others think. Constantly seeking the approval of others, she has struggled through a rocky childhood, a failed marriage and single parenthood. Now it looks like she’s losing the ranch that has been in her family for three generations, a surefire way to mark her as a failure in the eyes of the community. When Travis McCoy, the high school sweetheart who very publicly broke her heart fifteen years before, returns to Moose Creek, she is less than pleased. Not only does his re-appearance dredge up a deluge of painful memories, it also reminds everyone in town that it was he who left her, not the other way around. To make matters worse, Shay and Travis are unwittingly paired to play bride and groom in the annual Founder’s Day wedding re-enactment where, much to her chagrin, she discovers he still has the power to take her breath away. 

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595548025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548023


The bell above the diner’s door jingled and—despite her most valiant effort—Shay Brandenberger’s eyes darted toward the entry. An unfamiliar couple entered—tourists. She could tell by their khaki Eddie Bauer vests and spanking-new hiking boots. Look out, Yellowstone.

When her heart rate returned to normal, she checked her watch and took a sip of coffee. Five minutes till she met Miss Lucy at the Doll House, forty till she met John Oakley at the bank. What if he said no? What would they do then?

“Mom . . . Earth to Mom . . .” Olivia waved her hand too close to Shay’s face, her brown eyes widening.

“Sorry, hon.” The one bright moment of her Saturday was breakfast with her daughter, and she couldn’t enjoy it for the dread. “What were you saying?”

Olivia set her fork on her pancake-sticky plate and heaved a sigh worthy of her twelve-year-old self. “Never mind.” She bounced across the vinyl bench, her thick brown ponytail swinging. “I’m going to meet Maddy.”

“Right back here at noon,” Shay called, but Olivia was out the door with the flick of her hand.

The diner buzzed with idle chatter. Silverware clattered and scraped, and the savory smell of bacon and fried eggs unsettled her stomach. She took a sip of the strong brew from the fat rim of her mug.

The bell jingled again. I will not look. I will not look. I will not—

The server appeared at her booth, a new girl, and gathered Olivia’s dishes. “On the house today.”

Shay set down her mug, bristling. “Why?”

The woman shrugged. “Boss’s orders,” she said, then made off with the dirty dishes.

From the rectangular kitchen window, Mabel Franklin gave Shay a pointed look.

So Shay had helped the couple with their foal the week before. It was the neighborly thing to do.

Fine. She gave a reluctant smile and a wave. She pulled her wallet from her purse, counted out the tip, and dragged herself from the booth, remembering her daughter’s bouncy exit. Lately her thirty-two years pressed down on her body like a two-ton boulder.

She opened the diner’s door and peeked both ways before exiting the Tin Roof and turning toward the Doll House. She was only checking sidewalk traffic, not hiding. Nope, she wasn’t hiding from anyone. The boardwalks were busy on Saturdays. That was why she hadn’t come to town for two weeks. Why their pantry was emptier than a water trough at high noon.

She hurried three shops down and slipped into the cool, welcoming air of Miss Lucy’s shop.

“ ’Morning, Miss Lucy.”

“ ’Morning, dear.” The elderly woman, in the middle of helping a customer, called over her rounded shoulder, “It’s in the back.” Miss Lucy’s brown eyes were big as buckeyes behind her thick glasses, and her white curls glowed under the spotlights.

“Okeydoke.” Shay forced her feet toward the storeroom.

A musty smell assaulted her as she entered the back room and flipped on the overhead fluorescents. She scanned the boxes of doll parts and skeins of yarn until she found what she was looking for. She approached the box, lifted the lid, and parted the tissue.

The wedding gown had been carefully folded and tucked away. Shay ran her fingers over the delicate lace and pearls. Must’ve been crisp white in its day, but time had cast a long shadow over it. Time had a way of doing that.

Her fingers lingered on the thin fabric. She remembered another time, another dress. A simple white one that hung on her young shoulders, just skimmed the cement of the courthouse steps. The ache that squeezed her heart had faded with time, but it was there all the same. Would it ever go away?

Shaking her head, Shay turned back to the task at hand. The gown seemed too pretty, too fragile to disturb.

Oh well. She’d promised.

She pulled it out and draped it over the box, then shimmied from her jeans. When she was down to the bare necessities, she stepped carefully into the gown. She eased it over her narrow hips and slid her arms into the long sleeves. The neckline was modest, the gathered skirt fuller than anything she ever wore. Here in the air-conditioning it was fine, but she would swelter next Saturday.

Leaving the button-up back gaping, she hitched the skirt to the top of her cowboy boots and entered the store.

Miss Lucy was ushering the customer out the door. When she turned, she stopped, her old-lady shoes squeaking on the linoleum. “Land sakes.”

Shay took two steps forward and dropped the skirt. It fell to the floor with a whoosh.

“Fits like a glove,” Miss Lucy said. “And with some low heels it’ll be the perfect length.”

Shay didn’t even own heels. “My boots’ll have to do. Button the back?”

Miss Lucy waddled forward, turned Shay toward a small wall mirror flecked with time, and began working the tiny pearl buttons.

Shay’s breath caught at her image. She forced its release, then frowned. Wedding gowns were bad luck. She’d sworn she’d never wear another. If someone had told her yesterday she’d be wearing this thing today, she’d have said they were one straw short of a bale.

Miss Lucy moved up to the buttons between her shoulders, and Shay lifted her hair. The dress did fit, clinging to her torso like it was made for her, wouldn’t you know. Even the color complemented her olive skin.

Still, there was that whole bad luck thing.

And what would everyone think of Shay Brandenberger wearing this valuable piece of Moose Creek heritage? A white wedding gown, no less. If she didn’t have the approval of her closest friends and neighbors, what did she have? Not much, to her thinking.

She wanted to cut and run. Wanted to shimmy right out of the dress, tuck it into that box in the storeroom, slip back into her Levi’s and plaid button-up, and go back to her ranch where she could hole up for the next six months.

She checked the time and wished Miss Lucy had nimbler fingers. Of all days to do this, a Saturday, when everyone with two legs was in town. And she still had that infernal meeting with John Oakley.

Please, God, I can’t lose our home . . .

“I’m obliged to you, dear. I completely forgot Jessie was going out of town.”

“No problem.”

“Baloney. You’d rather be knee-deep in cow dung.” The woman’s marionette lines at the sides of her mouth deepened.

“It’s one hour of my life.” A pittance, after all Miss Lucy had done for her.

Miss Lucy finished buttoning, and Shay dropped her hair and smoothed the delicate lace at the cuffs.

“Well, bless you for being willing. God is smiling down on you today for your kindness.”

Shay doubted God really cared one way or another. It was her neighbors she worried about.

“Beautiful, just beautiful. You’ll be the talk of the town on Founders Day.”

“No doubt.” Everyone in Moose Creek would be thinking about the last time she’d worn a wedding gown. And the time before that.

Especially the time before that.

Third time’s a charm, Shay thought, the corner of her lip turning up.

“Stop fretting,” Miss Lucy said, squeezing her shoulders. “You look quite fetching, like the gown was made for you. I won’t have to make a single alteration. Why, it fits you better than it ever did Jessie—don’t you tell her I said so.”

Shay tilted her head. Maybe Miss Lucy was right. The dress did make the most of her figure. And she had as much right to wear it as anyone. Maybe more—she was born and raised here, after all. It was just a silly old reenactment anyway. No one cared who the bride and groom were.

The bell jingled as the door opened behind her. She glanced in the mirror, over her shoulder, where a hulking silhouette filled the shop’s doorway. There was something familiar in the set of the man’s broad shoulders, in the slow way he reached up and removed his hat.

The sight of him constricted her rib cage, squeezed the air from her lungs as if she were wearing a corset. But she wasn’t wearing a corset. She was wearing a wedding gown. Just as she had been the last time she’d set eyes on Travis McCoy.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Cherry Blossom Capers ~ Review

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

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

Today's Wild Card authors are:

Featured Author:

Authors of the other novellas in the Cherry Blossom Capers are:

and the book:

Barbour Books (January 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Gina Conroy for sending me a review copy.***


Gina Conroy:

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she's leaning on the Lord to show her the way.  She is the founder of Writer...Interrupted  where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God's timing is perfect, even if she doesn't agree with it! ;) She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity and twitter she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter

Visit the author's website.

Since the time I could read Nancy Drew, I have wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 I attended a book signing at my local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, is history. There I met Colleen Coble. With prompting from my husband, I shared my dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, I've been writing books.
My eleventh novel released in April 2011, and I have also written one non-fiction title (the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law). Look for three more titles in spring 2012.
In addition to writing, I am an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women's ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, my husband and my kids. I graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School. 
Visit the author's website.

Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of four novels and six novellas for Barbour Publishing. In 2009, Lynette was voted one of the favorite new authors by Heartsong Presents book club readers. Her historical romance, All That Glitters, was a finalist in ACFW's 2010 Carol Awards. When Lynette's not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and chasing down news stories for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born in Massachusetts, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip.
You can find Lynette at her Facebook author page
Visit the author's website.

FRANCES DEVINE is first a Christian, second a Mom, grandmother and great grandmother. After that, the most important thing in her life is books. Like most authors, she can’t remember a time when she didn’t love to read. And right from the beginning, she was crazy about mysteries. When she was in her sixties, she decided it would be fun to write them and the Miss Aggie series was born. She has also written two historical romance series and several novellas. Frances grew up in Texas and still loves her home state, but when she moved to Missouri in 1984, she fell in love with the changing seasons, the trees and hills. The Misadventures of Miss Aggie series is set in the Missouri Ozarks. Frances loves to hear from her readers at She also welcomes comments on her blog .

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Collection Summary, releasing January 2012

Four townhouse neighbors encounter romance and mystery near our nation’s capital. In State Secrets, White House assistant chef Tara Whitley and FBI agent Jack Courtland stop a plot to sabotage a State dinner—and find love still hidden in their hearts. In Dying for Love, attorneys and opponents Ciara Turner and Daniel Evans uncover love while searching for justice. In Buried Deception, archaeologist Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter dig up love while uncovering a forged artifact.  In Coffee, Tea and Danger, amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martini find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.

Featured Novella: Buried Deception by Gina Conroy

Mount Vernon archaeology intern and widow Samantha Steele wants to provide for her children without assistance from anyone. Security guard and ex-cop Nick Porter is haunted by his past and keeps his heart guarded. But when they discover an artifact at Mount Vernon is a fake, Nick and Samantha need to work together, set aside their stubbornness, and rely on each other or the results could be deadly. Will Samantha relinquish her control to a man she hardly knows? Can Nick learn to trust again? And will they both allow God to excavate their hearts so they can find new love?

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616266465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616266462


“Buried Deception” of Cherry Blossom Capers 

Alex, come back!” Samantha Steele’s heart jolted, and she darted after her seven-year-old son. The little renegade ignored her pleas and ran full-throttle toward the dig site behind the slave quarters at Mount Vernon Estates. She glanced at Callie, her nine-year-old, who huffed after her. Why’d her sitter get sick the first day of her archaeology internship?
      Samantha pursued Alex through the upper garden toward the archaeology pit where tourists gathered. Her chest tightened. Squatting in the dirt, her boss seemed oblivious to the runaway locomotive about to cause a train wreck.
      Samantha prayed that her first encounter with her boss wouldn’t be her last, but two years earlier, God didn’t intervene.
      Why would He now?
      “Watch out!” Her warning came late as Alex crashed into a dark-headed man in a navy uniform. God’s answer to prayer wasn’t a surprise. The God she knew remained distant, often
turning up the heat when all she wanted was to escape the fire.
Something thumped against Nick Porter’s hip. His drink blew its top, spilling Coke on his security uniform as he dropped his sack. His double cheeseburger and fries tumbled out. “Hey,
watch it!”
      The kid who’d plowed into him jumped back.
      Two weeks on the job and he’d made a mess of things.
      A petite brunette in khaki shorts scurried to his mangled meal. She stuffed it back in the sack, hunching as she offered it. “So sorry.”
      Nick’s stomach growled. Just what he wanted. A side of dirt with his burger.
      She nudged the freckle-faced kid forward.
      The boy resisted. Nick’s frown softened. So much like—
      She sighed. “My son is sorry, Officer.”
      “It’s Nick Porter, and I’m just security.” Security. He hated the sound of it.
      “What happened to the Mount Vernon police?”
      “One of many cutbacks.”
      She wrote on a business card and handed it to him. Samantha Steele.
      “Send me the dry-cleaning bill.”
      “Don’t worry about it.”
      The blond girl waved her brochure. “This says there’s no food allowed except in the designated eating areas.”
      “This one yours, too?” He pointed to the cherub-faced girl. “Charming kids, Mrs. Steele.” He couldn’t hide his sarcasm, the one emotion that remained.
      “It’s Ms. Steele. My husband died two years ago.”
      Nick spotted Samantha’s naked ring finger. Stupid. As a cop, he never missed a detail. “Sorry.” He paused. “I lost my wife, too.” Why was he confessing to a stranger?
      Her eyes sympathized as if she understood his pain.
      The kid dug into his pocket. “Here.” Tiny fingers tickled Nick’s palm as the boy released the coins. “I’m really sorry, mister.” The boy’s hazel eyes pierced Nick’s soul.
      Nick fought the stirring as memories surfaced. A heaviness descended as they walked away. He should’ve thanked the kid, or at least refused his money. If he could rewind the last few moments, he would. But God didn’t give second chances.
      If He did, they certainly weren’t free.
Gripping Alex’s hand, Samantha plodded toward the mansion to catch the tour before her orientation. She inhaled the magnolia breeze, her nerves calming. Something about that security guard unsettled her. Sure, he had Cary Grant looks, but minus the cleft chin and charm he was nothing to swoon over. Besides, she wouldn’t play anyone’s leading lady again. Oh boy.
Classic-movie night with her town house neighbors at Cherry Blossom Estates was getting to her.
      The three of them followed the tour into the large mint-green dining room. Samantha admired the intricate white agricultural moldings and crystal dinnerware as the African-
American docent dressed in period attire shared the history.
      Alex looked up. “This ceiling is huge.”
      “They’re double the size of ceilings at the time.” Samantha studied the detailed carving. “Washington was a great innovator.”
      “They had elevators?” Alex whipped his head around. “Can I ride?”
      Callie rolled her eyes. “An innovator, not elevator.”
      “May I have your attention?” The guide adjusted her head scarf. “Please don’t touch anything.” Her plump figure squeezed through the crowd.
      “When my younguns misbehave, I take a switch to them.” The woman’s words grew thick as biscuit gravy. “Can’t have them disrespecting the president now, could I?”
      Samantha withdrew from the woman. But Alex pointed to her name tag. Althea Washington. “Are you related to George Washington?”
      “She can’t be related; she’s a slave, bozo.” Callie elbowed Alex.
      Samantha’s face flushed. “She’s only playing a slave.”
      “Next time I sees Masta Washington, I’ll introduce you so you can ask him yourself.” Althea returned to the front. “We’ll pass through the little parlor with the harpsichord President Washington bought for his stepdaughter, Nelly Custis.” Her Southern accent morphed to normal. She glared at Alex. “Please, keep your hands to yourself.”
      Something seemed off about Ms. Washington’s role playing. “Stay close and act civilized.” Wouldn’t want to upset her if she had some screws loose underneath that head scarf.
      Walking through the little parlor, Samantha squeezed Alex’s hand. Once inside the central passage, her grip relaxed. Marveling at the beautiful mahogany-grained walls, she imagined Washington entertaining guests with doors open as a summer breeze cooled the house.
      Callie walked into the front parlor. Samantha followed, her arms swinging, carefree and—empty. Alex?
      When did she let go? She spun. Surveyed the entryway. No Alex.
      “Where’s your brother?”
      Callie shrugged.
      “Stay with the group.” Samantha hurried across the hall into the small dining room. Footsteps echoed. She peeked out, her heart beating a warning.
      Just her luck Nick Porter’d be patrolling the mansion while Alex went AWOL.
      Samantha waited until Nick disappeared; then she jogged up the staircase and surveyed the second floor. The sign on the first door said Closed for RenovationsShe checked the
other rooms. All empty.
      A door slammed. She turned. Alex scurried from the first room.
      “Alex!” she whispered, following him downstairs and through the bedchamber. The study door closed. She raced in and gasped.
      Perched on Washington’s chair, Alex reached toward the terrestrial globe.
      “Stop!” She reached for him, holding her breath as if a tiny wind would send him falling onto the antique.
      He froze.
      She lowered her voice. “I’m not mad.” Yet. “Climb down.”
      Alex eyed the globe, then jumped off and shuffled toward her like Sylvester with a mouthful of Tweety.
      Heat exploded inside her. “Do I need to buy a leash?”
      For the past two years she’d dealt with Alex’s unpredictable behavior. She understood he missed his father, so she’d been patient. “Let’s find Callie.”
      Swinging around for the door, she slammed into a human wall. Her purse fell. Nick Porter retrieved it as she scrambled after her lipstick.
      “Ma’am, you shouldn’t be in here.” He reached to help her up. Their eyes met. “You?”
      “Sorry, we’re leaving.” But before Samantha grabbed Alex’s hand, he raced toward the presidential chair.
      “Don’t!” Nick ran to him.
      The globe went whirling.
      Samantha gasped as the globe’s stand wobbled, her world teetering on the edge of destruction. She fought to breathe as she reached for the antique. It was too late. Like dominoes the globe toppled, knocking against the table by the window, which sent the brass telescope on top catapulting to the ground.
Nick snatched the telescope pieces from Samantha’s hands. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to see the antique was beyond repair.
      He set the globe upright, examining it and the table that broke the globe’s fall. No scratches or nicks. Now he got his miracle?
      “Sorry, Mommy. Are they still gonna let you work here?”
      Nick stared at Samantha. “What’d he say?”
      “I—I’m doing an archaeology internship. This summer.”
      This wasn’t the last he’d see of her and Captain Chaos? “I’ll have to report this.”
      “Wait. Maybe it can be fixed.”
      As the kid crawled under the desk, remnants of Nick’s paternal heart wanted to comfort the boy. “You’d better come out.” Had he remembered to soften his tone?
      The kid scooted from under the desk. Samantha stroked his hair. “I’ll make everything okay.” She took the eyepiece and barrel from him, tried to fit them together.
      “What am I thinking? This isn’t a flea market item I can fix with glue. It’s Washington’s original brass telescope. It survived over two hundred years and millions of tourists, but it couldn’t survive my son.” Tears welled.
      Nick shifted his weight, wishing she’d dam that river. He wasn’t heartless; he just never knew how to handle women’s emotions. “I’m calling this in now.”
      “Isn’t there something we can do?” Her eyes locked on his like a deer caught in his headlights. He rushed to close the doors on either end of the room. He was insane to risk his job to help this stranger, no matter how much she needed rescuing.
      There was something about her. . .needing him. Voices echoed outside the door. “Stay here.”
      “My daughter—I need to get her.”
      “She’ll be fine.” Nick stepped out. “Room’s closed.” He shut the door.
      “Did you see Callie?”
      “She’s fine.” His gut knotted. “She won’t try a stunt like young Knievel here or turn George’s bed into a trampoline, right?”
      Color pinched Samantha’s cheeks. “Callie would never—just because Alex is curious and clumsy doesn’t make me a terrible mom.”
      “I never said that.”
      “You didn’t have to.” She crossed her arms.
      He shook his head. “We’ll stay put until the tour is finished. Then you’ll find Callie, and we’ll figure this out together.” Together? He definitely needed his head examined. “They have
insurance. I’m sure they’ll understand when we explain.” He took the eyepiece and barrel from her.
      Samantha gripped Nick’s arm. “There has to be another way.”
      An unexpected longing panged. He couldn’t abandon her now.
      With a sigh, he worked the eyepiece into the barrel and sighted toward the Potomac. What? He looked again, his pulse accelerating. A hearty laugh erupted.
      “My life’s falling apart, and you’re laughing?” Samantha’s nostrils flared.
      “It’s not what you think.”
      “Then what’s so funny?”
      “The telescope is a fake.”

My Thoughts: What a treat this read was! There are four awesome Novellas within these pages! It's perfect if you want to just relax a little bit and read just one of the stories or take your time and read all four! Even though the characters lives intertwine with one another the stories are all different from one another. If you like suspense and romance, then you will LOVE these 4 novellas! Happy Reading :)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Live Abundantly Review

Don't you just love the beginning of a New Year!!?? A Fresh Start... what better way to begin a New Year than with a New Study....Live Abundantly is a Study in the Book of Ephesians. In 20 minutes-a-day, you can do this on your own, or if you want you could start a group. I have enjoyed the Lift up, Look at, Live Out, and Listen to portion of each day! If you are looking to start a new study this is an excellent choice! They also have a study on the life of Moses. I will be sharing my thoughts for this book next week!
Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians (Heitzig and Rose) challenges readers to dig deep into the book of Ephesians to find the spiritual treasure God has for them. The book of Ephesians is God’s “last will and testament” that bequeaths his spiritual treasures to His beloved children. Covering topics such as living in God’s will and receiving peace no matter the circumstances, it reveals the magnitude of every Christian’s inheritance—a gift “exceedingly abundantly above” what you could ever ask for. The Fresh Life series teaches readers to: · Lift up...a prayer · Look at…God’s Word (answering questions concerning what the passage says) · Learn about…what the passage means (sidebars define words and profice background information) · Live out…what they have learned (personalizing the text and learning how it can impact their daily life) · Listen to…quotes from well-known figures to build on the truths uncovered in Scripture Readers will develop a deeper intimacy with the Lord and walk away feeling inspired to move forward in their walks of faith. Live Abundantly and Live Reflectively continue the rich biblical tradition of the Fresh Life series. They offer wisdom that will leave readers encouraged in their present situations and hopeful for the spiritual journey ahead. About The Authors:
Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. She and her husband founded Calvary Church of Albuquerque—one of the fastest-growing churches worldwide. She is the author of Holy Moments: Recognizing God’s Fingerprints on Your Life and also contributed to the best-selling New Women’s Devotional Bible. Heitzig serves as Executive Director of She Ministries of Albuquerque, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. She and her husband Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Penny Rose is the award-winning author of numerous books. Penny thrives on teaching at conferences and retreats nationwide. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, Kerry, a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque. Thankyou Audra Jennings and B&B Media for allowing me this complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review