Sunday, April 29, 2012

Q&A and Review: “Blue Moon Bay” by Lisa Wingate

Every Once in a Blue Moon Your Heart Waits at a Crossroads
Moses Lake, Texas, is the last place Heather Hampton, Seattle architect, ever wanted to go again. Yet a promotion hinges on the sale of the family farmland, and she’s determined to return home, signed contract in hand, the next day.

But the currents of Moses Lake take visitors on unexpected journeys. As Heather’s stay lengthens, she discovers a family steeped in secrets and an unexpected connection to the handsome local banker, Blaine Underhill, despite his opposition to her project. With each new revelation comes new questions.  She can’t help wonder if the family she has come to know again are crooks or crusaders.  Somehow Heather must find the truth before she loses everything her heart longs for.

Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of 16 books.  Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its fifteenth printing from Penguin Putnam.  Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, in mainstream fiction.  Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational southern fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read.  Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What’s new/What’s next in Lisa Wingate books?

A:  Blue Moon Bay is new on shelves and just received a STARRED REVIEW from Booklist.  I hope you’ll have fun in Moses Lake, Texas–a place with a little romance, a little mystery, and a whole lot of small-town charm!    
Q:  Any exciting contests going on right now?

A:  Always!  Sign up for the Lisa Wingate email newsletter and you’ll be entered in a monthly drawing for an autographed Lisa Wingate book!  Click here to sign up for the newsletter — No SPAM, we promise.  Just book news and holiday wishes a few times a year. 

Q: How can I keep up with you and your books?

A:  In this busy cyber age, there are so many ways to keep in touch!  You can find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, find my writer profile and videos on Ning, or sign up for my email newsletter.  Check out our Youtube channel for inspirational videos from the books.  Join me on www.SouthernBelleView on Mondays for my blog stories and articles, or email me by clicking the Contact Lisa button on the menu.  I love keeping in touch with readers.  The best part of writing is watching stories do what they are meant to do–bring people together.

Q: Where can I find a full list of Lisa Wingate books and sample book chapters?

A:  For a full list of the books, in order by series, and sample chapters click here.

Q: How long have you been writing and many Lisa Wingate books are there?

A:  I’ve been writing all my life.  The release of Blue Moon Bay marks book-baby number seventeen!  For a full list, go to my Bookshelf Page.  Below are a few of the more recent books.  Click on the book covers to read sample chapters.  You can also read sample chapters on my Bookshelf Page.

Q: Will you phone chat with my book club or visit my book club, church, or organization for a speaking engagement?

A:  I love to chat with real people (as opposed to the imaginary kind) anytime schedules permit.  For information on speaking engagements and phone chats, check my Speaking Info Page. 

My Review:

Though I’ve never lived in Texas, I have lived on farms near small towns.  Lisa Wingate’s Blue Moon Bay brings back the memories of slow, small-town life where everyone knows everyone’s business.

However, in Lisa’s book, Blue Moon Bay, everyone doesn’t know everyone’s business when it comes to the Hampton family’s questionable behaviors.  Heather Hampton, a Seattle architect, living in big city Seattle and fast times must adjust her hasty lifestyle when she returns to Moses Lake, TX, in order to get her mother’s signature for the sale of the home place for her firm’s contract project and return the next day.  However, her family deliberately won’t tell her anything.  She’s totally unable to gather them all in one place to hash out the situation.

Lisa caught my eye and my heart from the first page of her book, Blue Moon Bay.  I love her free-flowing style of writing, her in-depth characters, and the complicated and sometimes funny circumstances that Heather finds herself in as she travels to and arrives at Moses Lake, TX.  The novel is laid out as a story of family grief, secrets, and conniving that seem to be connected to the local banker, Blaine Underhill, Heather’s former high-school crush.  Her family’s apparent rejection of her and her presence at Moses Lake and their complicity in avoiding any communication with her is mind-boggling to her. She doesn’t know if what they are doing is conniving or crooked. Toss in a clandestine romance, an overt courting, and suspense and the story is complete.

I found the small-town TX story absolutely intriguing.  The “back-hills” family keeping the “high city roller” in the dark was done to perfection.  The suspense added to the story as well as Heather’s heart-breaking memories of her father’s death and her mother and brother’s flighty lifestyles.  Will Heather ever be able to overcome her unrest over her father’s death?  Will she be able to forgive her mother and brother for their flighty, irresponsible behaviors?  A great read!  Be sure to pick up a copy!

This book was provided by Noelle Buss of Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

FIRST Blog Tour: “Prayers for Prodigals” by James Banks

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:
Discovery House Publishers (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Susan Otis, Creative Resources, for sending me a review copy.***

An Ohio native (and demoralized fan of Cleveland sports teams), Mike attended seminary in Grand Rapids, where he has been stuck every since. He isn’t complaining, for West Michigan’s many churches and miles of fresh water coastline makes for a fine place to raise a family. He and his wife, Julie, have three young children, Avery, Landon and Alayna. Because of them, he has no hobbies.

When Mike isn’t playing catch or kck the can with his kids, he can be found teaching theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He also enjoys writing books, such as this one, that help Christians to treasure and apply the gospel to their lives. Nothing is more important, for we’re all going to die. And then live again!

Visit the author’s website.

Other parents may not understand what you’re up against with your prodigal son or daughter, but God understands. He knows what its like to have a world full of prodigals, and He waits for you to bring yours to Him through committed, passionate praying.

Parents can bless their child in no greater way than to pray for his or her salvation. Yet sometimes knowing what to pray can be difficult. Prayers for Prodigals will help you pray for your prodigal child while encouraging you and reminding you of the power of God to answer prayer. Ninety Scripture-based prayers cover emotional and practical challenges faced by parents of prodigals.

Use this book to partner with God, through prayer, to change your child’s eternal future by bringing your son or daughter into a vital relationship with Jesus. Nothing in this world or the next could possibly matter more.

Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Discovery House Publishers (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1572934522
ISBN-13: 978-1572934528

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER (Please click the cover below to LOOK INSIDE!):

My Review:
“Prodigal are not limited in gender, race, age, or color.  They do have one thing in common:  They have left home, and they are missed.” Ruth Bell Graham

In James Banks’ book, Prayers for Prodigals, he considers prodigals a blessing because they draw you to your knees in dependence on God, teach you patience, and show you your own sin and need of forgiveness.
The weekly meditations bring hope as you read of God’s intervention in the lives of other prodigals and their families.  God’s love and promises are written throughout the pages.  After the meditation, there are 90 days of prayers, three months’ worth, for prodigals and their families. The author encourages you to pray with others, where two or more agree and ask, and it will be done by the Father (according to His will).

Each of the days have a specific perspective as the parent of a prodigal.  The prayers are Scripturally based as well as personal.  In other words, praying God’s word back to Him on behalf of a son or daughter.   God understands the heart of a parent of a prodigal. After all, we are all prodigals to God, worldwide, until we come to Jesus.

Though this book is for prodigals, I find that the prayers fit many situations because of the use of Scripture, including those in need of divine help, such as  husbands, wives, parents, siblings, and any loved ones.  With that in mind, this is a book that can be used daily for all circumstances with just a few changes of the wording.

The conclusion at the back of the book includes a story of young William who had no time for his mother’s Christian faith.  It’s a very touching example of a mother’s prayers fulfilled.  E.M. Bounds is quoted, “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.”

FIRST Wild Card Tour: “Need You Now” by Beth Wiseman

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; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***
When a personal crisis tested and strengthened her faith, award-winning journalist Beth Wiseman was advised by her agent to consider writing a Christian novel, particularly an Amish one. Encouraged by her agent’s urging, she began exploring the Amish lifestyle and soon developed a great appreciation for the more peaceful way of life. In 2008 Wiseman wrote her debut novel, Plain Perfect, featuring the Amish lifestyle within the context of a fictional love story. It was a bestseller, as have been all of the full-length novels and novellas she has written since.

While Need You Now is Wiseman’s first non-Amish novel, she is confident it will not be the last. She is already making plans to write a second contemporary novel in the near future. Like Need You Now, it will also be set in small-town Texas, a familiar background she thoroughly loves exploring and writing about.

Wiseman’s previous releases have held spots on the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller lists. In 2010, she received the INSPY Award for Amish Fiction (chosen by blog reviewers). In 2011, she received the Carol Award and was the Inspirational Readers Choice winner for her book Plain Paradise. Her novel Seek Me with All Your Heart was the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. In addition, Wiseman has been a Retailers Choice Finalist, a Booksellers Best Finalist and a National Readers Choice Finalist. Prior to becoming a novelist she received many honors for her work as a journalist, including a prestigious First Place News Writing Award from the Texas Press Association.

Today, she and her husband are empty nest parents of two grown sons, enjoying the country lifestyle and living happily with two dogs, two cats, two pot-bellied pigs, two chickens and a single pygmy goat in a small community in South Central Texas. Along with writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, traveling and watching good movies. Her favorite pastime, however, is spending time with friends and family.
Visit the author’s website.

We all count on the support of those around us when times are tough, but what do we do when those we depend on the most are suddenly gone? How do we cope when life has pulled the rug out from under us and left us with nothing and no one to hold on to? To whom can we turn when it seems no one, not even God, is there? These are the questions best-selling author Beth Wiseman addresses in her first contemporary novel, Need You Now (Thomas Nelson).

After the safety of one of their children is threatened, Need You Now’s main character, Darlene Henderson, and her husband Brad choose to move their family from Houston to the dot-in-the-road town of Round Top, Texas; moving into the old fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. Adjusting to the change is more difficult than any of them imagined, especially for the middle child, 15-year-old Grace, who becomes a cutter, using a dangerous and particularly self-damaging way of coping with stress.

The move also begins to take a toll on the couple’s marriage when Darlene decides to take a job outside the home in an effort to make new friends in the community. As the domestic tension rises, both begin to wonder if the same shared faith that has carried them through difficult times in the past will be strong enough to help them now.

To make matters worse, Darlene begins receiving inappropriate attention from the widowed father of the autistic young girl she is assigned to work with at the school for special needs children where she is employed. Unfortunately, this new attention comes just when she is most vulnerable. If there has ever been a time in her life when she needed God, it is now. But will she allow arising feelings of unworthiness to keep her from seeking Him?

In her first novel not set in an Amish community, Wiseman spins her well-honed characters and setting into a thought-provoking message that not only makes the reader ponder his or her own relationship with God, but also sheds light on the little-known disorders of using self-injury as a way of seeking relief and high-functioning autism. Need You Now is the perfect read for anyone who has ever questioned life and God’s will.

Product Details:
List Price: $ 15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548874
ISBN-13: 978-1595548870


Darlene’s chest tightened, and for a few seconds she couldn’t move. If ever there was a time to flee, it was now. She put a hand to her chest, held her breath, and eased backward, sliding one socked foot at a time across the wooden floor of her bed- room. She eyed the intruder, wondering why he wasn’t moving. Maybe he was dead.
Nearing the door, she stretched her arm behind her, searching for the knob. She turned it quickly, and at the click of the latch, her trespasser rushed toward her. In one movement, she jumped backward, across the threshold and into the den, slamming the door so hard the picture of the kids fell off the wall. She looked down at Chad, Ansley, and Grace staring up through broken glass, then hurried through the den to the kitchen. Her hand trembled as she unplugged her cell phone and pressed the button to call Brad. Please answer.
It was tax time, so every CPA at her husband’s office was working long hours, and for these last weeks before the April deadline, Brad was hard to reach. She knew she wouldn’t hear from him until after eight o’clock tonight. And she couldn’t go back in her bedroom. What would she have to live without until then? She looked down. For starters, a shirt. She was later than usual getting dressed this morning and had just pulled on her jeans when she’d noticed she wasn’t alone.
She let out a heavy sigh and rubbed her forehead. Brad answered on the sixth ring.
“Bradley . . .” She only called him by his full name when she needed his full attention.
“What is it, babe?”
She took a deep breath. “There is a snake in our bedroom. A big, black snake.” She paused as she put a hand to her chest. “In our bedroom.”
“How big?”
She’d expected a larger reaction. Maybe her husband didn’t hear her. “Big! Very big. Huge, Brad.”
He chuckled. “Honey, remember that little snake that got in your greenhouse when we lived on Charter Road in Houston? You said that snake was big too.” He chuckled again, and Darlene wanted to smack him through the phone. “It was a tiny little grass snake.”
“Brad, you’re going to have to trust me. This snake is huge, like five or six feet long.” A shiver ran down her spine. “Are you coming home or should I call 9-1-1?”
“What? You can’t call 9-1-1 about a snake.” His tone changed. “Darlene, don’t do that. Round Top is a small town, and we’ll be known as the city slickers who called in about a snake.”
“Then you need to come home and take care of this.” She lifted her chin and fought the tremble in her voice.
Deep breath on the other end of the line. “You know how crazy it is here. I can’t leave right now. It’s probably just a chicken snake, and they’re not poisonous.”
“Well, there are no chickens in our bedroom, so it doesn’t have any business in there.”
“Chad can probably get it out when he gets home from school. Maybe with a shovel or something, but tell him to be careful. Even though they’re not venomous, it’d probably still hurt to get bit.”
Darlene sighed. “Our girls are going to freak if they come home to find a snake in the house.”
“Maybe—” Darlene turned toward a sound in the entryway. “I’ll call you back. There’s someone at the door, and I’m standing here in my bra. I’ll call you back. Love you.” She clicked the phone off, then yelled toward the door. “Just a minute!”
After finding a T-shirt in Ansley’s room, she pulled it over her head as she crossed back through the den toward the front door. This was the first visitor she’d had in the two months since they’d moved from Houston. She peeked around the curtain before she opened the door, realizing that her old city habit would probably linger for a while. Out here in the country, there probably wasn’t much to worry about, but she was relieved to see it was a woman. A tall woman in a cowgirl hat. She pulled the door open.
“Your Longhorns are in my pasture.” The woman twisted her mouth to one side and folded her arms across her chest. “This is the second time they’ve busted the fence and wandered onto my property.”
Darlene thought this cowgirl could have walked straight off the set of any western movie. She was dressed in a long- sleeved denim shirt with her blue jeans tucked into brown boots. She was older than Darlene, possibly mid-forties, but she was gorgeous with huge brown eyes and blonde hair that hung in a ponytail to her waist.
“I’m so sorry.” Darlene shook her head. Brad should have never gotten those Longhorns. Neither she nor Brad knew a thing about cows, but Brad had said a move to the country should include some Longhorns. Although it didn’t make a lick of sense to her. She pushed the door wide. “I’m Darlene.”
The woman shifted her weight, but didn’t offer a greeting in return. Instead, she stared at Darlene’s chest. Darlene waited for the woman to lock eyes with her, and when she didn’t, Darlene finally looked down. Her cheeks warmed as she sighed. “Oh, this is my daughter’s shirt.” Don’t Bug Me! was scrolled across the white T-shirt in red, and beneath the writing was a hideous picture of a giant roach. Darlene couldn’t stand the shirt, but twelve-year-old Ansley loved it. “Do you want to come in?” She stepped back.
“No. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to round up your Longhorns and head them back to your pasture. I’ll temporarily repair the fence.” The woman turned to leave, and it was then that Darlene saw a horse tethered to the fence that divided their property. She stifled a smile. This woman really was a cowgirl.
“Know anything about snakes?” Darlene eased onto the front porch, sidestepping a board she knew was loose. The porch was next on their list of things to repair on her grand- parents’ old homestead.
“What?” The woman turned around as she held a hand underneath the rim of her hat, blocking the afternoon sun.
“I have a snake in my bedroom.” Darlene shrugged. “Just wondering if you had any—any experience with something like that?” She padded down two porch steps in her socks. “I’m not sure I got your name?”
“Layla.” She gave a quick wave before she turned to leave again. Darlene sighed. Clearly the woman wasn’t interested in being friends. Or helping with the snake. Darlene watched her walk to her horse and put a foot in the stirrup. Then she paused and twisted her body to face Darlene. “What kind of snake?”
Hopeful, Darlene edged down another step. “A big, black one.”
Layla put her foot back on the ground and walked across the grass toward the porch. Darlene couldn’t believe how graceful the tall blonde was, how out of sync her beauty was in comparison to what she was wearing.
“Only thing you really have to worry about around here are copperheads.” She tipped back the rim of her hat. “Was it a copperhead?”
At five foot two, Darlene felt instantly inferior to this tall, gorgeous, horse-riding, snake-slaying blonde. She wasn’t about to say that she couldn’t tell one snake from the other. “I don’t think so.”
“All I’ve got is a .22 with me.” Layla pointed back to her horse, and Darlene saw a long gun in a holster. “But a .22 will blow a hole through your floor,” Layla added. A surreal feeling washed over Darlene. She thought about their previous home in a Houston subdivision, and a woman with a gun on a horse wasn’t a sight they would’ve seen.
“Do you have a pellet gun?” She stopped in front of Darlene on the steps. Darlene was pretty sure that was all they had— Chad’s BB gun.
“Yeah, I think so.”
Five minutes later, Darlene pushed open the door to her bedroom and watched Layla enter the scene of the invasion. The bed was piled with clean clothes, but at least it was made up. The vacuum was in the middle of the room instead of in the closet under the stairs. It wasn’t the way she wanted a stranger to see her bedroom, but it could have been worse.
Layla got down on her knees and looked under the bed. From the threshold, Darlene did a mental scan of what was under there. Boxes of photos, a flowery hatbox that had belonged to her grandmother, an old, red suitcase stuffed with baby keepsakes from when the kids were young—and a lot of dust. “There he is.” Layla leaned her chest to the floor and positioned Chad’s BB gun. Darlene braced herself, then squeezed her eyes closed as two pops echoed underneath the bed. A minute later, Layla drug the snake out with the tip of the gun. “Just a chicken snake.”
Darlene stepped out of the room, giving Layla plenty of room to haul the snake out. Big, black, ugly. And now dead. Blood dripped all the way to the front door. Layla carried the snake to the fence and laid it across the timber, its yellow underside up.
“Belly up should bring rain.” Layla was quickly up on her horse. “Maybe tell your husband that I’m patching the fence up, but he really needs some new cross planks.”
“I will. And thank you so much for killing that snake. Do you and your husband want to come for dinner tonight? I’d like to do something for you.”
“I’m not married. And I can’t come to dinner tonight. Thanks, though.” She gave the horse a little kick in the flank, then eased through a gate that divided her acreage from Brad and Darlene’s. She closed it behind her from atop her horse and headed toward the large house on top of the sloping hillside. Coming from town, the spacious estate was fully visible from the road and her youngest daughter called it the “mansion on the hill.” The rest of the family took to calling it that too.
In comparison to their rundown farmhouse, Darlene sup- posed it was a mansion. Both homes were probably built in the late 1800s, but Layla’s was completely restored, at least on the outside, with fresh, yellow paint and white trim. A split-rail, cedar fence also surrounded the yard, and toward the back of the property, a bright red barn lit up the hayfield not far from a good-sized pond. A massive iron gate—that stayed closed most of the time—welcomed visitors down a long, winding drive- way. And there were lots of livestock—mostly Longhorns and horses. If the wind was blowing just right, sometimes Darlene could hear faint music coming from the house.
She was hoping maybe she could be friends with Layla, even though she wasn’t sure she had anything in common with her. Just the same, Darlene was going to pay her a visit. Maybe take her a basket of baked goodies, a thank-you for killing that snake.
Brad adjusted the phone against his ear and listened to Darlene’s details about her snake ordeal, then she ended the conversation the way she always did. “Who do you love?”
“You, baby.”
It was their thing. Nearly twenty years ago, at a bistro in Houston, Brad wanted to tell Darlene that he loved her—for the first time—and he was a nervous wreck, wondering if she felt the same way. He’d kept fumbling around, and the words just wouldn’t come. Maybe she’d seen it in his eyes, but she’d reached over, touched his hand, and smiled. Then in a soft whisper, she’d asked, “Who do you love?” His answer had rolled off his tongue with ease. “You, baby.” Then she’d told him that she loved him too, and the who-do-you-love question stuck. Darlene asked him all the time. He knew it wasn’t because she was insecure; it was just a fond recollection for both of them. That night at the bistro, Brad had known he was going to marry Darlene.
He flipped his phone shut and maneuvered through the Houston traffic toward home. He was glad that he wouldn’t have to deal with a snake when he got there, but he was amused at Darlene’s description of the tall, blonde cowgirl who shot it with Chad’s BB gun.
He had four tax returns to work on tonight after dinner. All these extra billable hours were bound to pay off. He needed the extra income if he was going to make all the renovations to the farm that he and Darlene had discussed. Brad wanted to give her the financial freedom to make their home everything she dreamed it could be. Cliff Hodges had been dangling the word partner in front of him for almost two years, and Brad was sure he was getting close to having his name on the door.
If they hadn’t been in such a rush to move from Houston, Brad was sure they could have held out and gotten more for their house. As it turned out, they’d barely broken even, and just getting the farmhouse in semi-livable shape had taken a chunk of their savings. Buying out Darlene’s brother for his share of the homestead had put a strain on their finances too, but it was worth it if Darlene was happy. She’d talked about restoring her grandparents’ farm for years. The original plan had been to fix the place up over time so they could use it as weekend getaway. But then they’d decided to make the move as soon as they could, even if the house wasn’t in tip top shape.
Forty-five minutes from his office, he’d cleared the bustle of the city, and the six lane freeway narrowed to two lanes on either side of a median filled with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. Nothing like spring in Texas to calm his mind after crunching numbers all day long, but leaving the office so late to head west put the setting sun directly in his face. He flipped his visor down, glad that the exit for Highway 36 was only a few miles. Once he turned, he’d get a break from the blinding rays. Then he’d pass through the little towns of Sealy and Bellville before winding down one-lane roads to the peaceful countryside of Round Top. It was a long commute, almost an hour and a half each way, but it was worth it when he pulled into his driveway. Small-town living was better for all of them. Especially Chad.
Brad could still recall the night Chad came stumbling into the house—drunk. His seventeen year old son had been running around with a rebellious group of friends in Houston. And sometimes Chad’s glassy eyes had suggested more than just alcohol abuse. He shook his head to clear the recollections, knowing he would continue to pray that his son would make better choices now that he had some distance from his old buddies.
Brad felt like a blessed man. He’d been married to his high school sweetheart for nearly twenty years, and he had three amazing children. He wanted to spend his life being the best husband and father he could be. There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t thank the Lord for the life he’d been given, and it was Brad’s job to take care of his family.
Darlene finished setting the table. She regretted that her mother couldn’t see her enjoying her grandmother’s dining room set. Darlene had been surprised to find the oak table and chairs still in the house when they’d moved in. The antiques had been dusty and in dire need of cleaning, but they were just as sturdy as ever. She could remember many meals with her parents and grandparents in this house, at this table.
She still missed her grandparents—and her parents. Dad had been gone almost six years, and two years had passed since her mother’s death. Her parents had started their family late in life, both of them in their late thirties when she was born, and
Dale was born two years after Darlene. She was glad her brother hadn’t wanted the farm. It had been a struggle to buy him out, but no regrets. Someday, they too would have a “mansion on the hill,” like Layla’s. She cast her eyes downward, frowning at the worn out wooden floors. She’d be glad when they could afford to cover the original planking with new hardwood.
Thinking of Layla brought a smile to her face as she mashed steaming potatoes in a pot on the stove. She couldn’t help but wonder what the tall blonde was doing all alone on that estate. Darlene had never even been on a horse or owned a pair of cowgirl boots. Several of her friends back in Houston sported a pair of high-dollar, pointy-toed boots, but they didn’t particularly appeal to Darlene. Her friend, Gina, had told her it was un-Texan not to own a pair of boots.
She missed Gina. They’d been friends since their daughters had started Girl Scouts together, but after Gina’s divorce, they’d drifted apart. Gina’s interests had changed from Girl Scout and PTO meetings to going out with new single friends.
She left the dining room and went back to the kitchen, glad that the aroma of dinner covered up the dingy old-house smell that lingered, despite her best efforts to conceal it with air fresheners.
“Mom! Mom!” Ansley burst into the kitchen with the kind of enthusiasm that could mean either celebration or disaster; with Ansley you never knew. At twelve, she was the youngest and the most dramatic in the family.
Darlene gave the potatoes a final stir before she turned to face her. “What is it, Ansley?”
“Guess what?” Ansley rocked back and forth from heel to toe, and Darlene could tell by the grin on her daughter’s face that the news was good. “I did it. Straight C’s and above!”
Darlene brought her hands to her chest and held her breath for a moment, smiling. When Ansley was in grade school, early testing indicated she was going to struggle, and Darlene and Brad knew she was a bit slower than other kids her age.
Not so thrilling was what Brad had promised Ansley if she received a report card without any failing grades. “Sweetie, that’s great. I’m so proud of you.” She hugged her daughter, knowing it was highly unlikely Ansley wouldn’t remember her father’s promise. Ansley eased out of the hug.
“I know they scare you, Mom, but having some chickens and roosters will be so much fun! We’ll be like real farmers, and every day after school, I’ll go get the eggs.” Ansley’s dark hair brushed against her straightened shoulders, and her big brown eyes twinkled. “Think how much money you’ll save on eggs!”
Darlene bit her bottom lip as she recalled the chickens her grandparents used to keep on this very same farm. And one very mean rooster. Eight dollars in savings per month was hardly going to be worth it, but a promise was a promise. She’d told Brad before they’d left Houston not to offer such a reward, but Darlene had put it out of her mind. At the time, it seemed a stretch for Ansley to hit the goal and make all C’s.
“Maybe just have laying chickens. You don’t need a rooster.” Darlene walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a tub of butter.
“Mom . . .”
Darlene set the butter on the table and raised a brow in time to see Ansley rolling her eyes.
“Even I know we can’t have baby chicks without a rooster.” Ansley folded her arms across her chest.
Darlene grinned. “I know you know that, but how many chickens are you hoping to have?” She recalled that on some of her visits to her grandparents’ house, if the wind blew just right, she could smell the chicken coop from the front yard, even though the pens were well over fifty yards away, back next to the barn. When they’d first moved in, Brad had fixed up the old coops as an incentive for Ansley to pull her grades up. Sitting on the porch swing with Brad late in the evenings had become a regular thing, and smelly chickens would be an unwelcome distraction.
“Not too many,” Ansley said as she pulled a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water.
One was too many in Darlene’s opinion, but it was a well- deserved reward. Darlene gave a lot of the credit to the school here. Much to her children’s horror, there were only 240 students in grades kindergarten through twelve in the Round Top/ Carmine School District, but Darlene felt like they were getting a better education and more one-on-one attention. Darlene had been on the verge of homeschooling Ansley before they left Houston, but Ansley threw such a fit that Darlene had dis- carded the idea.
Ansley chugged the water, then put the glass in the sink. “I can’t wait ’til Daddy gets home.”
Darlene smiled. Her youngest was always a breath of fresh air, full of energy, and the tomboy in the family.
She thought about the snake and realized Ansley probably wouldn’t have freaked out after all. She heard Brad’s car rolling up the gravel driveway, and moments later, the front screen door slammed and Ansley yelled, “Daddy! Guess what!”
An hour later, everyone was gathered at the dinner table, except Chad. After about ten minutes, he finally sauntered into the room, slid into his chair, and folded his hands for prayer.
“It’s your turn to offer the blessing, Chad.” Darlene bowed her head.
“Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings you’ve given us, for this food, the roof over our head, and Your love. And God . . .” Chad paused with a sigh. Darlene opened one eye and held her breath. More often than not, Chad’s prayers included appeals for something outside the realm of what should be requested at the dinner table. Like the time he’d asked for God to help his parents see their way to buying him a better car. Darlene closed her eye, let out her breath, and listened.
“Could you heal Mr. Blackstone’s cancer and bring him back to school? He’s a good guy.” Darlene’s insides warmed, but then Chad continued. “Our substitute stinks. Amen.”
“Chad!” Darlene sat taller, then cut her eyes at Brad, who shouldn’t be smiling.
“No, Mom. I mean, really. He stinks. He doesn’t smell good.” Chad scooped out a large spoonful of potatoes. “And he’s like a hundred or something.”
“Even more reason you shouldn’t speak badly about him. Respect your elders, remember?” Darlene passed the meatloaf to Chad, who was shoveling potatoes like he hadn’t eaten in a month of Sundays.
“Grace, how was your day?” Brad passed their older daughter a plate of rolls.
“It was okay.”
Grace rarely complained, but Darlene knew she wasn’t happy about the move from Houston. Mostly because of the boy she’d left behind.
Ansley turned her head to Darlene, grunted, then frowned. “Mom, why are you wearing my shirt?”
Darlene looked down at the big roach. “Oh, I had to borrow it earlier. I sort of couldn’t go in my room for a while.”
Darlene told the full-length version of the snake story that she’d shortened for Brad on the phone.
“I’ve seen that woman,” Chad said. “And she’s hot.”
“She’s old like Mom, Chad! That’s gross.” Ansley squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then shook her head.
Darlene took a bite of roll. At thirty-eight, when had she become old in her children’s eyes? “I believe Layla is several years older than me, Chad.”
Her son shrugged. “Whatever. She’s still—”
“Chad, that’s enough.” Brad looked in Chad’s direction, and Darlene was glad to see him step in since it seemed like she was the one who always disciplined the children. Brad, on the other hand—well, he promised chickens.
They were all quiet for a few moments before Chad spoke up again.
“Did you know Layla drives a tractor? I’ve seen her out in the pasture on the way to school.” He shook his head. “Seems weird for a woman.” He laughed as he looked to his left at Ansley. “Can you picture Mom out on a tractor plowing the fields?”
Ansley laughed. “No, I can’t.”
“Don’t underestimate your mom. You never know what she might do.” Brad reached for another roll as he winked at Darlene.
Darlene smiled. She found herself thinking, yet again, that this was a good move for them. They all needed this fresh start. None of the kids had been particularly happy at first, but they were coming around.
“Can I be excused?” Grace put her napkin in her lap and scooted her chair back.
Darlene knew meatloaf wasn’t Grace’s favorite. “Whose night is it to help with dishes?”
Grace and Ansley both pointed at Chad.
“Okay,” Darlene said to Grace. “You can be excused.”
Darlene watched Grace leave the table. Her middle child was tiny like Darlene, and she was the only one in the family who inherited Darlene’s blonde hair and blue eyes. And her features were as perfect as a porcelain doll’s, complete with a flawless ivory complexion. She looked like a little princess. Chad and Ansley had their father’s dark hair and eyes—and his height. Darlene loved her children equally, proud of them all, but sometimes it was hard not to favor Grace just a little bit, especially since they’d come so close to losing her as an infant. Grace had come into the world nine weeks’ premature, a surprise to everyone, including Darlene’s doctor, since Darlene had delivered Chad at full-term with no complications just two years earlier. Grace struggled those first few weeks with undeveloped lungs and severe jaundice, and twice they were told to prepare themselves for the worst. But their Grace was a fighter, and as her sixteenth birthday approached, Darlene silently thanked God for the millionth time for His grace.
There’d been issues and struggles with both Chad and Ansley from time to time—mostly with Chad. But Grace had never given them one bit of trouble.

My Review:
After Chad gets into the wrong crowd in high school in Houston, Brad and Darlene Henderson make the decision to move the family to Round Top, TX, to her grandparents’ old homestead.  Life starts out with a bang on the first day with a visitor from the snake world, sending Darlene into frenzy.

Brad and Darlene’s marriage seems to have the normal ups and downs, but their deep love and faith have always kept them going.  All three children seem to be adjusting to the move on the outside, but brewing on the inside of Grace is another world–a world of cutting to cope with her feelings.

Darlene tries to make friends with Layla Jeger, her next-door rancher, but it’s a touch and go relationship on Layla’s end.  Seeking outside friendships, Darlene takes on her first job away from home at the Evans House, a special needs’ school.  As time progresses with her working outside the home, tensions in the home abound.  About two months later they find out about Grace’s cutting.

Beth Wiseman, in Need You Now, brings out the stormy issues of childhood emotional problems and their families and how they each cope with the individual issues.   The multiple points of view are great, as you see the same incident through the different character angles, which makes the story well-rounded and more real.  Her story hits close to home, as Beth draws you into the emotions and circumstances of the characters.  They could be your own family or the neighbor next door.

The development and descriptions of Grace’s cutting are well-developed and very informative.  This issue is prevalent in the teenage world, and Beth’s book helps and encourages parents to be on the lookout and to be willing to get good outside help.

The strain between Brad and Darlene’s relationship is palpable throughout the blame-game scenario and subsequent silence between the two.  This leaves Darlene vulnerable to another male’s perspective and understanding, which escalates into a sticky romantic relationship.

Beth interweaves the importance of praying and God’s intervention in response to those prayers in both the Henderson family and Layla’s life, even though it wasn’t necessarily a happily-ever-after as we define it.  I commend the author in how she dealt with the circumstances in difficult, real-world outcomes.
This novel was a fulfilling read, yet was filled with difficult scenarios that deeply touched my heart.  When an author can get you to grieve over fictional characters, she’s done an in-depth job of portraying real emotions in her characters!

Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy through FIRST Wild Card Tours.  No monetary compensation was provided in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

CSS Blog Tour, Interview and Review: “SPECIAL DELIVERY” by Kathi Macias

CSS Blog Tour – “SPECIAL DELIVERY” by Kathi Macias

Mara’s Fight for Freedom: In book two of the “Freedom” series, readers find Mara fighting against her attraction to Bible college student Jonathan Flannery even while wrestling with risking her own precarious safety to become involved in the rescue of another girl who is pregnant and desperately wants to escape her captors and save her own life, as well as her child’s.

Halfway around the world in a brothel in Thailand, a young girl is rescued with the promise of being reunited with her younger sister who was adopted by an interracial couple in the States, friends of Jonathan’s family. Meanwhile, Jefe—Mara’s uncle, who held her as a sex slave in his brothel in San Diego for years—seeks revenge for Mara’s testimony that put him behind bars for life.
Will his underworld connections be successful in kidnapping and killing the girl who believes she has finally won her freedom?

Watch the book trailer video … click on the graphic below

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.


Special Delivery is book two in the Freedom (human trafficking) series. For anyone who may not have read book one, Deliver Me From Evil, can you fill us in on the focus of the series in general, and Special Delivery in particular?

The Freedom series is a three-book fiction series built around the horrifying topic of human trafficking. People often ask me why I decided to write about such a dark topic. First, I explain that I’m not writing about a dark topic; I’m writing about the Light that shines in that darkness. And second, I believe the Church should be at the forefront of the modern-day abolition movement to set the captives (modern-day slaves) free. The three books in this series specifically follow the life of a young woman named Mara, who was sold into sexual slavery by her own parents in Mexico, and then smuggled across the border into San Diego by her uncle who then served as her pimp. A strong sub-plot throughout the series tells of two sisters in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Chanthra and Lawan, who are also trapped in a brothel. Finally, a teenage girl named Francesca, kidnapped in Juarez, Mexico, and forced into prostitution, is introduced in book two. Special Delivery picks up two years after book one, Deliver Me From Evil, ends, and continues with the stories of Mara and Lawan, as well as others carried over from book one. Mara hopes she is finally free to pursue her own life because she was rescued from the brothel and her testimony helped lock up her uncle for life. But the man has underground connections and is driven by revenge to reach out from behind bars and deliver the ultimate punishment to his niece.

This isn’t the first fiction series you’ve written on nationwide and even worldwide social issues, the one previous to this being the persecuted Church. What draws you to these difficult topics?

As a Christian, I believe I am compelled to use my God-given gifts to honor God in all I do—and that includes exposing the deeds of darkness, calling sinners to repentance, and taking a stand for righteousness by doing all I can to help rescue those who are suffering. I dare not turn my back on “the least of these.” I also believe that God placed this sort of burden on my heart even before I became a Christian at the age of 26. I’ve always been a champion of the underdog, a “soap-box” preacher, if you will. When I met Jesus, I simply redirected that passion toward His people, realizing I couldn’t effect real change in my own strength anyway.

With your obvious passion to right social and moral wrongs through the power of the Gospel, how did writing and speaking enter into that?

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a child—never wanted to do anything else. When I was a teenager I told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I was going to be a writer one day. What a blessing that God allowed me to fulfill that dream! After becoming a believer and growing in my faith, it was natural to take my passion to fight for others and incorporate it into my writing. Speaking, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. I was terrified of public speaking when I was young, and the day I received Christ I made a “bargain” with God, promising to do anything He asked of me—so long as it didn’t include public speaking. (Does God have a sense of humor or what???) Now, when I stand in front of audiences where I believe God has called me to speak (and actually find myself enjoying it!), I tell my listeners that if God has called them to do something and they feel it’s impossible, they can consider me their “visual aid” that NOTHING is impossible with God IF we will simply take that first step of obedience and let Him fulfill His purpose in and through us.

With the topics of the worldwide persecuted Church and human trafficking under your belt, what other issues are you dealing with in your writing?

My Christmas 2011 book, A Christmas Journey Home, dealt with the immigration/border problem, and my Christmas 2012 novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, will be about homelessness in America. The next issues-related fiction series I have on tap—which I am just starting to write, by the way—is called the “Patches of Courage” series and will begin releasing in late January 2013. Book one is The Moses Quilt, based on the life of Harriet Tubman, and will be followed by The Christmas Quilt and The Impossible Quilt. This series of books will highlight historical American women whose Christian faith enabled them to walk in great courage and make a difference in the lives of countless people.

Where can people find out about you and your books/speaking/appearances?

They can go directly to my website ( or or my Easy Writer blog: I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and various other social sites. Would love to hear from all of you!


This blog tour is hosted by:


My Review:

Special Delivery is the story of Mara, who is now free from sex slavery. It is the story of her life. Yet it’s more than just her life. It’s the suspense of revenge from Jefe. It’s the opportunity to help other girls get free. Will Mara find the grace to work through her personal issues and reach forth and help?

With Kathi’s incorporation of a tensive romantic relationship that intrigues both Jonathan and Mara, would Mara be able and willing to have a relationship that’s ‘normal’ with a husband? Would Jonathan be able to handle her brokenness?

Though this malady is worked feverishly in other countries, such as Lawan’s story and experiences, the United States is one of the biggest perpetrators of sex slavery. It’s an extension of what we have known as pimps and prostitutes, only in an uglier way, as it includes girls from ages five and up.

Kathi once again fleshes out the reality of sex trafficking and the devastation it brings upon the girls–mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You will see how the repugnant self-centered, self-serving mindsets of the perpetrators clash violently with those willing to give their lives to help girls trapped in this horrendous situation. That there are lost, sleazy men and women who will do the bidding of the perpetrators. Her characters dig deep under your skin, crying out for you to help. It’s personal, drawing you into the devastation with a cry for freedom and abolition.

You will find that Special Delivery is just as compelling as Deliver Me From Evil. Both books are meant to draw you into the battle and expose the debauchery of humankind, bringing justice to the perpetrators and freedom for the slaves. What is God calling you to do? Will you heed the call?

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services ( No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Conquering Your Goliaths” by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones


A Parable of the Five Stones

David gathered five smooth stones to meet and defeat Goliath. What did these stones represent and how can you use them to conquer Goliaths in your own personal quests? Ms. Virginia Bean will show you how.

Travel with her on her own personal journey. See what she does. Learn how she grows. Discover what she becomes.

“Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones” is for anyone desiring to travel beyond mediocrity, pain and fear. Learn of the great power within you, a power given to you from God, a power that must ultimately be unleashed to conquer the Goliaths in your own life. Come to an even deeper understanding of God and what he wants for you. Come…

When I was young I thought I had to sound like a great writer to be one. It was all so overwhelming; now I know I only need to sound like myself. My ideas come from two primary sources. My work might spark from the enlightening words of a friend, teacher or writing prompt. At other times, I am sitting in a very still space and the words I should write come to me like a powerful and glowing wind.

My favorite tool is the pen. Though computer keys get the words down quicker and easier, I like to put pen to paper, smell the ink, see the words as they are developed and renewed by new phrases or thoughts.

I enjoy traveling to wherever the character takes me. This often means even I am surprised and warmed at the outcome. In the end, when my writing is done, I like to watch the eyes of the reader whenever I can. Their reflective expression gives me the greatest glimpse into what my writing has become.


“I loved this book! Kathy has created a jewel in Conquering Your Goliaths ~ A Parable of the Five Stones. I felt like I was on the journey right along with Ms. Virginia Bean the whole time. As she received each of the five stones, I could personally relate them to my own life and circumstance. It is definitely a book to be read and re-read as the wisdom is profound and the story is captivating.” –Stacy Harmer, Emotional Healing and Life Coach – LiveWell Coaching

“You will learn the powerful lessons of the five stones of David and be able to activate them in your own life. Learning and striving to overcome our Goliaths through this powerful message will bring love and light and strength into your life. I have collected my own stones to help remind me of the power I have when I am close God and allow Him to be a part of everything I do.” –Stephanie Knowlden, Poet & Writer

“Inspiring Story! Not only are the principles of conquering trials laid out in this book, but they are done within a beautiful and inspiring story that we all can relate to. I found myself inter-relating it with my own life. I was able to glean many precious gems of knowledge from its pages. It was simple to implement these wonderful “stones” into my own life. A must read for anyone who wants to overcome anything!” –Tricia Leslie, Owner and Director Silhouette Ballroom Studios

My Review:

I consider Conquering Your Goliaths–A Parable of Five Stones, by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones, to be an allegorical story of the Christian life. The book was slow in getting me into the story, but once the stones started appearing, I wanted to keep reading. These spiritual truths are so vital to the Christian walk, and Kathryn puts the journey into a whole new perspective that is enlightening and yet very real to everyone’s life.

The story of salvation is told through the wine-press of the Old Testament. It’s subtle, but the message is there. If you miss it, go back and re-read it. It’s precious in its explanation. It’s the necessary component to the messages of the five stones.

Kathryn uses David as the prime example in her story. He slew Goliath with a stone, but he had to learn the principles behind the five stones before he become successful in his walk with God. We subsequently become acquainted with the stones given by God–listening, trust, optimism, tenacity, and constancy–that are all in relation to God, His word, prayer, standing strong, and telling others.

Throughout the story we find that Ms. Virginia Bean becomes fearful, makes mistakes, gets angry at God, and even wants to give up at times. Ms. Bean’s reactions were real as our own reactions at times. It made the story realistic in that way. In Ms. Bean’s meetings with God, she finds the solutions to overcome. It’s a process that lasts a lifetime, though hopefully we all grow in time if we faint not. I felt the use of stones for each of the five areas of growth brought out the child-like faith necessary to follow the Lord.

I’m a little disappointed with ending, as life doesn’t always end up the way it does here. But the main point is trusting God whatever way it turns out. I’m glad this book came into my life at just this time, as it will help me through the difficult areas I am currently dealing with. Lessons to walk out to grow spiritually. Trusting God.

At the back of Kathryn’s book is A Spiritual Guide where God is talking to us personally on the five lessons. It’s detailed and personal, and helps us remember what we learned in the book. It will be a book I read more than one time, as a reminder of how to walk out these lessons in my own personal life.

This e-book was provided by the author, Kathryn Elizabeth Jones, in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Deep Cover” by Sandra Orchard (Undercover Cops Series)


Book 1 of Undercover Cops Romantic Suspense Series

Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick-he never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he’s back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny’s uncle. The man’s crimes led to Rick’s partner’s death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack-dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment.and risking both their lives?

From a young age, I dreamed of being a writer, even as I majored in math at university. When the children were young, I took a writing course and wrote numerous reviews and articles for our homeschooling newsletter, but never pursued publication beyond that. Then following my mom’s death, I discovered Christian fiction. Seeing characters battle the same questions, yearnings and frustrations I battled, and triumph over them through God’s grace, restored my hope and rekindled my passion for writing.

So when my husband (out of desperation because of the books piling up around our house) suggested I write my own stories, little did he know where that off-handed remark would lead …

Six years and many much-revised novels later, my dreams have come true! The journey has been wonderful. I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented authors and aspiring writers who have enriched my stories and my life with their insights, suggestions, humor, and prayers. Oh, yes, and chocolate!

My husband and children continue to be my most enthusiastic encouragers. My youngest daughter Jennifer, a freelance writer and aspiring novelist herself, provides an understanding ear when writer’s block sets in, or rejections pile up. My eldest daughter, Christine, designs my web pages. She and my son Paul have even joined me at writers’ conferences. Best of all, they cheerfully help with household chores so that I have more time to write! I feel truly blessed to have a husband and children so supportive of my dreams.

Click here to read Chapter One

My Review:

Rick Gray, aka Duke Black, is an undercover cop trying to bring down the man responsible for his partner’s fiery death. Little does he know that he will run into his old girlfriend in the process.

Ginny Bryson is the niece of Emile Laud, the man Duke is trying to catch and bring to justice, and Rick’s old girlfriend that he left fifteen months ago because he thought he needed to protect her. Little did he know the pain he caused when he walked out of her life so abruptly.

In Deep Cover, by Sandra Orchard, we are thrust into the dangers and mysteries of the undercover world of a cop and tossed into the middle of the love/hate relationship between Rick and Ginny. Despite all of Rick’s efforts to protect Ginny, she becomes caught up in the schemes of her uncle and is under suspicion of the police department.

Sandra’s story definitely intrigues you throughout the numerous plots, twists and dangers in the investigation. About the time you think you have the perpetrator identified, she tosses in another twist that throws you off-kilter. From the first page to the last, the action and suspense is palpable. Since I love the world of undercover cops, I was thoroughly engrossed in the details and circumstances.

Adding the romantic tension between Ginny and Rick was a fabulous way to not only expand the depth of the story, it brought out the true feelings and apprehensions of a touch-and-go romance. Does Rick’s involvement with Ginny blind him from seeing the necessary evidence in proper perspective? Sandra handles this aspect with the sensitivity of undercover operatives.

I enjoyed the characters of Ginny and Rick. Their relationship was so sensitive and yet abruptly harsh. Their faith is put to the test. Lori, Ginny’s sister, will capture your heart.

For a good romance-inspired suspense, be sure to pick up Sandra’s book!

This book was provided by the author, Sandra Orchard, in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.

For more on Deep Cover go to this site:

“NIV Boys Bible (Special Version)” by Zonderkidz

NIV Boys BIBLE to Help Boys Dig Deep Into God’s Word!

Getting into a routine of reading the Bible can be challenging for anyone, but trying to keep the attention of pre-teen boys is especially difficult. So now there is a Bible especially developed for them. The NIV Boys Bible is designed with boys ages 9 to 12 in mind. Fun in-text features help boys dig deep into the Word and learn about amazing people, facts and stories of the Bible. The NIV Boys Bible will help boys grow into the young men God wants them to be. It will appeal to boys and cause them to desire to spend time in the Word with its unique features such as:

* Book Introductions–Who, What, When, Where. and Why?

* Words to Live By–Hundreds of highlighted verses worth memorizing

* What’s the Big Deal?–Need-to-know biblical stories and people

* Check It Out–Interesting and fun facts about Bible times and characters

* Grossology–Gross and gory stuff they never knew was in the Bible

* Makin’ It Real–Help for applying Bible stories to their everyday lives

This Bible includes the full text of the New International Version, the most popular Bible translation in the world, and 12 color tip-in pages introducing content that shows boys how they can grow to be like Jesus. Each book of the Bible has activities that make God’s Word more relevant than ever. It is jam-packed with customized content and artwork that really makes the Bible stand out.

Product Details: List Price: $27.99/Reading level: Ages 9 and up/Hardcover: 1504 pages/Publisher: Zonderkidz; Special edition (March 6, 2012)/Language: English/ISBN-10: 0310723086/ISBN-13: 978-0310723080


My Review:

This masculine, tire-tread cover in black and gray makes this Bible appealing to young boys. The inside pages are written in navy blue with rusty orange highlights to catch their attention and make the Bible more exciting to read.

The content features are relevant to how boys think (grossology) and yet get to the heart of Biblical issues for their own lives. Headings introduce the topics discussed in each chapter, which helps them recall what they just read. I would like to have seen a section that helps boys learn how to tell the Bible story in their own words, preparing them to be effective leaders and teachers.

I especially love all the different features listed below, as they prompt a more active role on the part of the boys to grow stronger in the Lord and be a doer of His Word!

The features included are:

* Book Introductions–Who, What, When, Where. and Why?

* Words to Live By–Hundreds of highlighted verses worth memorizing

* What’s the Big Deal?–Need-to-know biblical stories and people

* Check It Out–Interesting and fun facts about Bible times and characters

* Grossology–Gross and gory stuff they never knew was in the Bible

* Makin’ It Real–Help for applying Bible stories to their everyday lives

At the end of the Bible are the following features:

  • Table of weights and measures
  • The ABCs of becoming a Christian
  • Through the Bible in a year Bible plan
  • Promises from the Bible
  • Perspectives from the Bible
  • Several pages for personal notes

The NIV Boys Bible has been written for tween boys between the ages of 9-12. As a parent, I would love a Bible like this to challenge my son(s) to grow stronger in the Lord and be a doer of His Word!

A great gift just in time for Easter!

Special thanks to Diane Morrow of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy. No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Faithgirlz! Bible ‘Revised Edition’ ” from Zonderkidz with Contributor Nancy Rue

A Bible That Helps a Girl Know She’s Unique and Special!

Nancy Rue has worked as a public school teacher, church youth director, theater workshop developer and camp director. She has written more than eighty books for young people, including the beloved Faithgirlz! Sophie series, The Skin You’re In and Everybody Tells Me to Be Myself but I Don’t Know Who I Am. Nancy lives with her husband and two dogs in Lebanon, TN.
About Faithgirlz!: Faithgirlz! is a collection of books, Bibles and resources designed to provide transformational Christian experiences for tween girls. Faithgirlz! encourages honest tween-girl empowerment by providing engaging, relevant, high-quality offerings, helping tween girls understand their world, learn biblical teachings, become closer to God and grow into godly teenagers. Faithgirlz! offers excellent content and contributions from leading Christian tween writers and spokespeople including Nancy Rue, Melody Carlson, Kristi Holl, Naomi Kinsman and more. Faithgirlz! is also supported with a website (, Facebook page and mother and daughter live events across the country.


Every girl wants to know she’s totally unique and special, and contributor Nancy Rue helps them do just that in the revised edition of the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible. As a leading tween expert, Rue teaches girls that the Bible is real and relevant and, best of all, that the story of God and His people is also their story. Girls can now grow closer to God as they discover the journey of a lifetime, in their language, for their world.

The new Faithgirlz! Bible was developed especially for girls ages 9 to 12. Everything in it is written with a tween girl’s experience in mind, and it features the most popular Bible translation in the world, the New International Version. The features explain hard-to-understand things in the Bible and guide girls to put the Scripture to work in their own lives. The Faithgirlz! Bible focuses on sharing faith with friends and gives real ways for girls to do that.

Each book of the Bible has activities that make God’s Word more relevant than ever. And, of course, because it was developed for Faithgirlz! readers, they can expect to find it jam-packed with customized content and artwork that really makes the Bible stand out. Girls will love the cool design, the interactive features and the feeling of knowing that God’s Word is there for them whenever they need it. Some of the features included are:

  • Book Introductions—Girls will read the who, when, where and what of each book of the Bible.
  • Dream Girl—Girls will use their imaginations to put themselves in the story.
  • Bring it on!–Quizzes to really get to know yourself.
  • Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?—Girls will see for themselves what they have in common with people of the Bible.
  • What Happens Next?–Creating a list of events to tell the story in your own words.
  • Words to Live By—Girls will discover great Bible verses for memorizing.
  • Oh, I Get It!—Girls will find answers to Bible questions they’ve wondered about.

At the end of the Bible is a list of the following:

  • How to Begin a Relationship with Jesus
  • A Yearly reading guide (I’d use a pencil so you can use it every year.)
  • A List of Promises From the Bible
  • Perspectives From the Bible–”What the Bible says about”
  • Several pages for personal notes

Nancy Rue says, “I hope the Faithgirlz! Bible will help girls grow a friendship with the Bible, their own relationship. It asks questions, asks them to think and challenges them to apply what they’re learning. That’s how they’ll find a deep, personal relationship with God, rather than just by following rules or saying what they’ve been told without really thinking about it. Rules are important, of course, but they only make sense when they really believe the message of the Scriptures. That’s what this Bible is about.” The Faithgirlz! Bible is the perfect Bible to support girls in their journey into the “beauty of believing.”

The main edition of the Faithgirlz! Bible is hardcover, but it is also available in two Italian Duo-Tone designs. For better portability, there is also an NIV Faithgirlz! Backpack Bible. This compact edition does not include the in-text features that the full-size edition has, but it does have twelve full-color pages of Faithgirlz! fun, the words of Christ in red and a ribbon marker. An ebook version is also planned for electronic use.

Product Details: List Price: $27.99/Reading level: Ages 9 and up/Hardcover: 1504 pages/Publisher: Zonderkidz; Rev Spl edition (March 6, 2012)/Language: English/ISBN-10: 0310722365/ISBN-13: 978-0310722366


My Review:

The deep pink with contrasting flowers gives this Bible a feminine look, and is eye-catching and frilly—just the Bible a young girl would love to have! The contrasting light pink, purple, white, and black emboldens the title.

The red violet and purple writing inside are colors most girls would love. It’s attractive and attention-getting, especially when contrasted with the different features interspersed throughout. All these designs help to catch the eyes and minds of young girls, with the goal to challenge them to read and apply the Word of God to their lives.

I especially love all the different features listed below, as they prompt a more active role on the part of the girls to grow stronger in the Lord and be a doer of His Word!

Here are the features included:

  • Book Introductions–Girls will read the who, when, where, and what of each book of the Bible.
  • Dream Girl–Girls will use their imaginations to put themselves in the story.
  • Bring it on!–Quizzes to really get to know yourself.
  • Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?–Girls will see for themselves what they have in common with people of the Bible.
  • What Happens Next?–Creating a list of events to tell the story in your own words.
  • Words to Live By–Girls will discover great Bible verses for memorizing.
  • Oh, I Get It!–Girls will find answers to Bible questions they’ve wondered about.

At the end of the Bible is a list of the following:

  • How to Begin a Relationship with Jesus
  • A Yearly reading guide (I’d use a pencil so you can use it every year.)
  • A List of Promises From the Bible
  • Perspectives From the Bible–”What the Bible says about”
  • Several pages for personal notes

The Faithgirlz! Bible has been written for tweens between the ages of 9-12. As a parent, I would love a Bible like this to challenge my daughter(s) to grow stronger in the Lord and be a doer of His Word!

A great gift just in time for Easter!

Special thanks to Diane Morrow of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy. No monetary compensation was exchanged.