Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There's One in Every School!

In honor of Back to School, here's a great clip of Mark Lowry spoofing Amy Grant's song Every Heartbeat. Did you know someone like this when you were in school? (Or were you the one?!)


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CFBA - The Vigilante's Bride

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Vigilante's Bride
Bethany House (August 1, 2010)


Yvonne Harris

Yvonne Harris earned a BS in Education from the University of Hartford and has taught throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic. Unofficially retired from teaching, she teaches writing at Burlington County College in southern New Jersey, where she resides. She is a winner and three-time finalist for the Golden Heart, once for The Vigilante's Bride, which is her debut novel.

Montana Territory, 1884...Is Her Kidnapper the Only Man Who Can Keep Her Safe?

Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and abducting a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expected to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from his pa, but instead ended up rescuing a feisty copper-haired woman who was on her way to marry Sullivan's dangerous enemy. Emily McCarthy doesn't take kindly to her so-called rescue. Still, she's hoping Providence will turn her situation for good, especially when it seems Luke Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Luke has crossed a vicious man, a powerful rancher not used to losing, and Emily is the prize he's unwilling to sacrifice.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Vigilante's Bride, go HERE

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a whole 'nother world back in the early days of the West! The land may have been settled, but the same can't be said for some of the folks who did the settling! Danger, suspense, faith, and romance combine in this satisfying read.


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Monday, August 30, 2010

Choosing to SEE - A Special Book

Choosing to SEE
Mary Beth Chapman
with Ellen Vaughn
Revell Books
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1991-3
September, 2010/Hardback/288 pages/$21.99

From the beginning, Mary Beth Chapman's life was not how she planned. All she wanted was a calm, peaceful life of stability and control. Instead, God gave her an award-winning singer/songwriter husband, crazy schedules, and a houseful of creatively rambunctious children. Most difficult of all, God's plans for her also included tragedy.

In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life, both the happy chapters and the tragic ones. And as the story unfolds, she's been forced to wrestle with some of life's biggest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive hard times?

No matter where you find yourself in your own life story, you will treasure the way Mary Beth shows that even in the hard times, there is hope if you choose to SEE.

Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Together they began Show Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for the world's most vulnerable children by providing financial assistance to families wishing to adopt, as well as increasing awareness of the orphan crisis and funneling resources to orphans domestically and internationally. Mary Beth serves as president of Show Hope and is a speaker for Women of Faith 2010 with her husband. She is also coauthor with Steven of the Shaoey and Dot series of children's picture books. Mary Beth and Steven have six children: Emily, Caleb, Will Franklin, and adopted daughters Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy, and Maria Sue, who is now with Jesus. The Chapmans live in Tennessee. Visit her website

Ellen Vaughn is a bestselling author and inspirational speaker. Her recent books include It's All About Him with Denise Jackson (wife of Alan Jackson), which debuted at #1 on the New York Times nonfiction list. She is also coauthor with Chuck Colson of Being the Body. In addition to her nonfiction work, Vaughn is an award-winning novelist. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Lee.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I don't even know how to put into words how special this book is. I knew it would be, and yet it has even exceeded my expectations. Mary Beth Chapman has spilled her heart out onto the pages and given us a wee glimpse into her journey with God through the years, both before and since Maria's tragic death, although that is obviously a huge part of her story. As she says in chapter two,
What do I do with God? In the midst of such heartbreak, do I really believe that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose?

The answer to that question has come at a great cost. It has been agonizing to choose to see God at work through the tears of losing my daughter. I have, however, experienced the kindness, sweetness, faithfulness, and redemptive heart of God. I believe none of my tears have been wasted.

But I need to be clear. This book isn't just about the spring day when Steven and I lost our precious Maria Sue in a terrible accident. It's about a story . . . a story God is writing. All along the way, He has changed my story in ways I didn't like. I've had whole chapters added and deleted and strange plot twists that I never saw coming....What I've found is that it's in the most unlikely times and places of hurt and chaos that God gives us a profound sense of His presence and the real light of His hope in the dark places.

So this book isn't so much about me and Steven, as broken and crazy as we are. It's about God . . . and how He can comfort, carry, and change us on our journey, no matter how hard it is.
(Excerpted from pp 23-25)

This book will cause you to both mourn and rejoice: mourn over the unimaginable heartbreak experienced by the Chapman family beginning on May 21, 2008, and rejoice that God is still God and is bigger than their pain.
In the midst of it all, God really is with us and for us. I have found that even during those times when the path is darkest, He leaves little bits of evidence all along the way--bread crumbs of grace--that can give me what I need to take the next step. But I can only find them if I choose to SEE. (p. 26)

Don't miss this incredible book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, August 28, 2010

TSMSS - A Mighty Fortress is our God

Back in 1984 Steve Green released his first solo album after singing for a couple of years with The New Gaither Vocal Band. (They've obviously dropped the "new" since they've been around awhile!) I had the privilege of seeing him that year in concert at a relatively small church in Austin. He had (and still has) such a powerful voice, and when he sang A Mighty Fortress is our God, I thought the roof was going to lift off the building!

I had grown up singing that hymn but had never paid much attention to the progression of the verses -- especially since Baptist churches generally sang the first, second, and fourth verse of the hymns! I have loved this hymn since I heard Steve sing it. I heard him sing it again in concert about ten years later, and he still raised the roof. The elements of his rendition -- incredible lyrics and music, a key change with each verse, and the a cappella voicing -- will lead you to worship!

More great songs are linked up at Amy's!


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Friday, August 27, 2010

Flashback Friday - Music, Music, Music!

What role did music play in your growing up years? What, if any, music do you associate with early childhood? What music style or songs were popular when you were in high school? How did you listen to music - on the radio, albums, etc. Did you have a stereo in your room? Did you attend concerts when you were a teenager? Did the music you liked cause conflict with your parents? What song or songs take you back to a certain place and time of your youth?

I don't even know where to start with this post! I love music and have loved it since my earliest memories of singing hymns at church. If you are a regular Saturday visitor to my blog, you know that hymns still resonate with me and speak to my heart like nothing else.

When I was little, we had an old record player. We had mostly 33 1/3 rpm records, but I remember my dad had about three 78 rpm records of a man singing hymns and other inspirational songs. When I was probably in about the 4th grade, we got a stereo - one of those old consoles that had a sliding door on top and one side held the records. That was so exciting! My parents had that until we moved my mom into assisted living a few years after my dad died.

I was a little bit nerdy as a child in the music I liked. I can't believe I am about to admit this on the world wide web, but I loved The Lawrence Welk Show when I was in elementary school. I was convinced I was going to grow up and marry Tom Netherton! I used to tape the show on my mom's little cassette player and play it multiple times during the next week. I would stand in the living room and hold a pretend microphone and imagine I was singing on stage.

In the early days of contemporary Christian music, groups such as Truth, Eternity, and the Heritage Singers just fascinated me. I thought it would be so cool to be in a group like that.

My parents were a more than a bit horrified at the rock music that was popular in the 1960's and beyond. When I was in third grade, my class did a little dance at the school's Fall Festival. There wasn't much dancing to it - I think they just kinda swayed back and forth. But I wasn't up there. Part of it was the dancing - my strongly legalistic Baptist parents weren't about to let me do that! But a lot of the reason was the raucous song that was being danced to: Sugar, Sugar by the Archies! That is almost elevator music by today's standards!

I don't even think they cared about the lyrics; I doubt they even listened to the song enough to even know what it said! In fact, when I was in high school and my best friend went with us on a vacation, we would laugh at my dad because he could only stand to have the car radio on the pop station for a little while; if a particularly fast song came on, he would switch it. . .to a country station! We always said "Those lyrics are a lot worse - and you can understand them!"

Some of the songs from my younger (elementary) years that stand out are a result of hearing my siblings play their little FM radio include Billy, Don't Be a Hero (anti-Vietnam War song), Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, and The Carpenters. We didn't get to buy popular albums, but one sister actually had a Glen Campbell LP, and she and I loved Long Black Limousine. The two summers that I spent a week with my brother and his wife we listened to their Simon & Garfunkel records a lot, and my favorite was The Sound of Silence

And of course, there was The Streak! ("Is that you, Ethel? What do you think you're doing?! You get your clothes on!. . .Say it isn't so, Ethel!") (If you "youngsters" watch that link, you'll get to see an actual record player with an automatic arm!) And the one that horrified 2nd Cup Lid to find out that I liked was Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band; it's a raunchy song, but I always loved the harmony!

When I was in high school, I listened to both contemporary Christian music and pop. Contemporary Christian music favorites of mine were the Imperials, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Evie Tornquist, and Amy Grant, who was just releasing her first record.

I have been sitting at my computer for more than two hours watching/listening to YouTube clips of songs that are now considered oldies that I loved in high school. It's funny how hearing a song can transport you right back to another time and place! The late 1970's had some wonderfully romantic music. . .and some songs that I realize now are so melancholic and depressing! Of course, I loved the BeeGees. Andy Gibb. David Gates & Bread. (Goodbye Girl and Lost Without Your Love. Olivia Newton-John. Abba. I loved the Commodores (Three Times a Lady and Still). And Babe\ by STYX. Dan Hill's Sometimes When We Touch. (I liked some sleazy songs! Maybe it's a good thing I didn't date a lot!) With a Little Luck by Paul McCartney's group Wings. Anne Murray's You Needed Me was a favorite. And I loved Kenny Rogers. And Dolly Parton's Here You Come Again takes me back to the angst of boyfriend ups and downs!

I was always misunderstanding things I heard. No confused lyrics pop into my mind right now, but when I was in high school, I thought "Hall & Oates" was "Haulin' Oats" -- and I couldn't figure out why they were on the pop station instead of country!

And lest you think I have an indelible memory, remembering one song leads to another, plus I found this website!

Oh, and I do remember in Journalism we loved to tease the editor with Randy Newman's Short People! I think she was 4' 10". I was a whole foot taller than she was!

One thing I did notice while listening to these old songs. . .it is easy to feel the heaviness of the emotion. My heart and mind are much happier listening to a great Christian song!

When I was in college, I pretty much stuck with Christian music - it was really exploding with new talent. Twila Paris, Sandi Patty, Michael W. Smith, Petra, DeGarmo & Key, Harvest, Steve Archer, First Call, Larnelle Harris, Wayne Watson, Steve Green, Gaither Vocal Band (when it was called The New Gaither Vocal Band!). . .the list goes on and on! And one of the first things I bought when I graduated from college and got a job was a stereo! It was great - had both a record player and a cassette player! Kids today with their iPods don't even realize how good they have it!

I gotta stop. Here's a song I always loved from Amy Grant's very first album, released in 1977. Look how young she and Michael W. Smith (at the piano) are!

Share your music memories and link up here!


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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Flashback Friday Prompt

What role did music play in your growing up years? What, if any, music do you associate with early childhood? What music style or songs were popular when you were in high school? How did you listen to music - on the radio, albums, etc. Did you have a stereo in your room? Did you attend concerts when you were a teenager? Did the music you liked cause conflict with your parents? What song or songs take you back to a certain place and time of your youth?

Post your answers on your blog tomorrow, including YouTube clips or lyrics as you desire, and then come back here to link up!


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FIRST The Devil in Pew Number Seven

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:

The Devil in Pew Number Seven

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)

***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Rebecca Nichols Alonzo
Becky Alonzo never felt safe as a child. Although she lived next door to the church her father pastored, the devil lived across the street. This tormented man terrorized her family with rifle shots and ten bombings. When these violent acts didn't scare them away, he went even further. During dinner one evening, seven-year-old Becky and her younger brother watched as their parents were gunned down. Today Becky speaks about betrayal and the power of forgiveness. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and has been involved in ministry, including a church plant, youth outreach, and missions, for thirteen years. She and her husband, along with their two children, live in Franklin, Tennessee.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326599
ISBN-13: 978-1414326597


This book is simultaneously heart-wrenching and inspiring. Having experienced a couple of burglaries of our home when I was around seven which scarred me for years, I can't imagine what it must have been like for Becky to experience the things that happened to her family at such a young age. But oh, the unwavering faith and commitment that her parents demonstrated and that they taught their young children! This is a beautiful story of forgiveness. Forgiveness at great cost. Forgiveness when the perpetrator hasn't asked for it. Forgiveness that Christ commands his followers to exhibit. This memoir also points to God's goodness and sovereignty, even when circumstances don't make sense.
. . .God is still God even when things don't make sense. God hasn't made a mistake yet, so He can be trusted even when my circumstances suggest otherwise. He is the Potter; I am the clay. God is still good even when life is hard. (p. 255)

Don't miss this incredible book!


Walking, Crawling, Dead or Alive

I ran.

My bare feet pounding the pavement were burning from the sunbaked asphalt. Each contact between flesh and blacktop provoked bursts of pain as if I were stepping on broken glass. The deserted country road, stretching into the horizon, felt as if it were conspiring against me. No matter how hard I pushed myself, the safe place I was desperate to reach eluded me.

Still, I ran.

Had a thousand angry hornets been in pursuit, I couldn’t have run any faster. Daddy’s instructions had been simple: I had to be a big girl, run down the street as fast as my legs could carry me, and get help. There was nothing complicated about his request. Except for the fact that I’d have to abandon my hiding place under the kitchen table and risk being seen by the armed madman who had barricaded himself with two hostages in my bedroom down the hall. I knew, however, that ignoring Daddy’s plea was out of the question.

And so I ran.

Even though Daddy struggled to appear brave, the anguish in his eyes spoke volumes. Splotches of blood stained his shirt just below his right shoulder. The inky redness was as real as the fear gnawing at the edges of my heart. I wanted to be a big girl for the sake of my daddy. I really did. But the fear and chaos now clouding the air squeezed my lungs until my breathing burned within my chest.

My best intentions to get help were neutralized, at least at first. I remained hunkered down, unable to move, surrounded by the wooden legs of six kitchen chairs. I had no illusions that a flimsy 6 x 4 foot table would keep me safe, yet I was reluctant to leave what little protection it afforded me.

In that space of indecision, I wondered how I might open the storm door without drawing attention to myself. One squeak from those crusty hinges was sure to announce my departure plans. Closing the door without a bang against the frame was equally important. The stealth of a burglar was needed, only I wasn’t the bad guy.

Making no more sound than a leaf falling from a tree, I inched my way out from under the table. I stood and then scanned the room, left to right. I felt watched, although I had no way of knowing for sure whether or not hostile eyes were studying my movements. I inhaled the distinct yet unfamiliar smell of sulfur lingering in the air, a calling card left behind from the repeated blasts of a gun.

I willed myself to move.

My bare feet padded across the linoleum floor.

I was our family’s lifeline, our only connection to the outside world. While I hadn’t asked to be put in that position, I knew Daddy was depending on me. More than that, Daddy needed me to be strong. To act. To do what he was powerless to do. I could see that my daddy, a strong ex–Navy man, was incapable of the simplest movement. The man whom I loved more than life itself, whose massive arms daily swept me off my feet while swallowing me with an unmatched tenderness, couldn’t raise an arm to shoo a fly.

To see him so helpless frightened me.

Yes, Daddy was depending on me.

Conflicted at the sight of such vulnerability, I didn’t want to look at my daddy. Yet my love for him galvanized my resolve. I reached for the storm-door handle. Slow and steady, as if disarming a bomb, and allowing myself quick glances backward to monitor the threat level of a sudden ambush, I opened the storm door and stepped outside. With equal care, I nestled the metal door against its frame.

I had to run.

I shot out from under the carport, down the driveway, and turned right where concrete and asphalt met. The unthinkable events of the last five minutes replayed themselves like an endless-loop video in my mind. My eyes stung, painted with hot tears at the memory. Regardless of their age, no one should have to witness what I had just experienced in that house—let alone a seven-year-old girl. The fresh images of what had transpired moments ago mocked me with the fact that my worst fears had just come true.

I had to keep running.

Although I couldn’t see any activity through the curtains framing my bedroom window, that didn’t mean the gunman wasn’t keeping a sharp eye on the street. I hesitated, but only for a moment more. What might happen gave way to what had happened. I had to get help. Now, almost frantic to reach my destination, I redoubled my efforts.

I ran on.

To get help for Momma and Daddy. To escape the gunman. To get away from all the threatening letters, the sniper gunshots, the menacing midnight phone calls, the home invasions—and the devil who seemed to be behind so many of them.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.


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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Surrender the Heart - Giveaway!

UPDATE: Sunday, 8/29 at 10:10 pm

Many apologies for being slow to announce a winner. I had it in my head that it ended tonight, not last night!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-08-30 03:08:03 UTC

Congrats to Rita! Email me your address, Rita, and I'll send the book your way!

* * * * *

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Surrender the Heart
Barbour Publishing (August 1, 2010)


M. L. Tyndall

M. L. (MaryLu) Tyndall grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

She had written stories her whole life, but never had the confidence to try and get any of them published. But as God began to change her heart, He also showed her that writing had been His wonderful plan for her all along!

For the sake of her ailing mother, Marianne Denton becomes engaged to Noah Brennin---a merchantman she despises. But as the War of 1812 escalates, Jonah's ship is captured by the British, and the ill-matched couple learns vital information that could aid America's cause.

Relive the rich history of the War of 1812 through the eyes of Marianne Denton and Noah Brenin, who both long to please their families but neither one wishes to marry the other. Noah is determined to get his cargo to England before war breaks out, and Marianne is equally determined to have a wedding so that her inheritance can be unlocked and her destitute family saved. When their stubborn games get them captured by a British warship, can they escape and bring liberty to their country—and growing love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Surrender the Heart, go HERE.

No one can write about adventure on the high seas like MaryLu Tyndall! I know that any book of hers that I pick up will hold me spellbound from the first page to the final punctuation mark. Surrender the Heart is no exception. There is plenty of intrigue, a bit of danger, and a dash of romance in this captivating tale. This is the first in a series, and I can't wait to see what's next on MaryLu's agenda.

I was so excited about this book that I forgot I would be receiving a review copy, and I bought my own. So one of you will receive the brand-new, unread book that the publisher sent me. Just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm Saturday (8/28) and I will draw a winner. US Residents only, please. Be sure to leave an email address if you don't have a blog so I can contact you if you win.


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First Day of School and the Random Dozen

Yesterday was the first day of school for my kids. For my boy, it's his last "first day" since he's a senior. Sigh. Monday I took them for our traditional IHOP back-to-school breakfast, and I realized that next year it will just be me and my girl. This year is going to be full of too many "lasts." I pulled out the picture of him standing in his kindergarten classroom and juxtaposed it with the picture of him and my girl that I took this morning. How can twelve years pass so quickly? My girl is a sophomore, and I can already see her last days barreling toward me. Hasn't somebody invented a Pause button for life yet?

1. What is your favorite Mexican dish?

Seriously?! Asking a Texan to pick a favorite Mexican dish is like saying which child is your favorite. Let's see, I love chicken flautas, cheese enchilada suizas (cheese enchiladas with a creamy sour cream sauce on top), tacos, queso and chips, fajitas, nachos, flaquitos. . .

I don't especially like tamales or burritos.

2. When you were a kid, did you get started on your homework right away after school, or did you procrastinate?

I generally did it pretty quickly. I procrastinated on projects until 7th grade when I was up past midnight finishing one. (That was extremely late for our house.) That cured me.

3. What is your favorite store for home furnishings?

Don't really have one; I'm not much of a decorator. I'll take whichever one has the best quality for the lowest price.

4. When you were young, did you like school lunches?

Well, I only got to buy lunch at school once a year for my birthday. I liked the idea of buying lunch, but I was underwhelmed by the reality.

5. Is religion a crutch?

Religion? Yes, especially when folks rely on "religion" to avoid an encounter with God.

Christianity? Yes - because we're all crippled without Christ.

6. In your region, what is the "big" (most popular in the community or state) high school sport?

Lid, you need to come visit Texas. Football is the national sport of Texas.

7. Do you consider yourself rich?

Not particularly. Except for blessings and family. And the fact I live in Texas! Of course, all of us are rich compared to poverty-engulfed third world countries. But comparing to others of my age and education around here, no.

8. Which of these would you have the best chance for success in administering:
B) Heimlich Maneuver
C) Changing a flat tire

This one's a no-brainer. CPR and the Heimlich - I can do both.

9. Which dance would you prefer to learn & why:
A) Salsa
B) Hip Hop
C) Waltz
D) Swing

I think waltzing is beautiful, graceful, and romantic!

10. What's the worst news you've ever delivered to someone?

Calling my missionary sister and telling her our dad had died. (It was very sudden.)

11. Name something you learned in college that had nothing to do with classes or academics.

I learned that I HATE anything called Shepherd's Pie.

12. New variation on an old question: If there's a song in your head that just won't get out, what is your favorite (or most repeated) line in that song?

Today, since it was the first day of school, while I was fixing dinner, the old School Days, School Days was driving me much. It was like I was in a never-ending loop with the lines, "You were my queen in calico, I was your bashful barefoot beau, You wrote on my slate, 'I love you so' when we were a couple of kids." Usually, though, a song will get in my head if I just hear part of it or only know part of it. So it keeps looping through incessantly trying to get resolved.

Serve yourself a helping of random over at 2nd Cup of Coffee


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Seventeen and Homeless

Melody Carlson
ISBN: 978-1600069482
August, 2010/208 pages/$14.99

With absent parents, overdue rent, and no one to turn to, Adele is forced into the hard, cold world of homelessness. While striving to maintain the pretense of a “normal” life, Adele attempts to finish high school, all the while concealing her secret. But is she strong enough to keep up the act?

Forgotten will propel teen readers into a world where promises are broken, life is not fair, and challenges seem unbearable, while still offering assurance that solid faith, loyal friends, and a persistent spirit will prevail.

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from preschool teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eleven years, she has published more than 150 books for children, teens, and adults, with sales close to three million and many titles appearing on best sellers lists.

Several of her books have been finalists and winners of various writing awards, including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently, she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.

Carlson’s passion for writing has been greatly focused on teens. Informed and aware of the challenges and struggles teens face today, she writes young adult novels that she hopes will change lives. Her popular series Diary of a Teenage Girl (Multnomah) has sold more than 300,000 copies. Her TrueColors series (Nav Press) focuses on hard-hitting issues such as suicide, addiction, and cutting. Her series The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor explores the paranormal from a godly perspective. And her latest series, The Carter House Girls , offers readers a cleaned-up alternative to the popular Gossip Girl books.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Visit her website to learn more.

This book is a heartbreaking story that is probably more realistic than any of us would like to admit. Teens will have much to think about as they read about Adele's efforts to cope with her mother's desertion while at the same time holding onto her new (so-called) friends. While there was much to like about this book, the ending was rushed; the faith element was not clearly explained and loose ends were not resolved. When Adele is at the end of her resources and seeks help from a pastor she met at the local shelter, I wasn't sure whether and when she turned her life over to God. While it gave me the sense that Melody Carlson reached her word count limit and abruptly ended it, the overall story was good. Melody Carlson has her finger on the pulse of today's teens and the challenges so many of them face. As with so many of her books, I'm passing this one on to my girl!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, August 23, 2010


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bethany House (August 1, 2010)


Nancy Moser

Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty inspirational novels. Her genres include contemporary stories including John 3:16 and Time Lottery, and historical novels of real women-of-history including Just Jane(Jane Austen) and Washington's Lady (Martha Washington). Her newest historical novel is Masquerade. Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Sister Circle Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Find out more at

www.nancymoser.com and www.sistercircles.com.


They risk it all for adventure and romance, but find that love only flourishes in truth...

1886, New York City: Charlotte Gleason, a rich heiress from England, escapes a family crisis by traveling to America in order to marry the even wealthier Conrad Tremaine.

She soon decides that an arranged marriage is not for her and persuades her maid, Dora, to take her place. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. What begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl wanting adventure becomes a test of survival amid poverty beyond Charlotte's blackest nightmares.

As for Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She lives a fairy tale complete with gowns, jewels, and lavish mansions--yet is tormented by guilt from the possibility of discovery and the presence of another love that will not die. Is this what her heart truly longs for?

Will their masquerade be discovered? Will one of them have second thoughts? There is no guarantee the switch will work. It's a risk. It's the chance of a lifetime.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Masquerade, go HERE.

View the book trailer:


Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!

I discovered Nancy Moser when I read Washington's Lady and Just Jane and she quickly became a must-read author for me. She is an expert at writing historical fiction - incredibly researched and including many factual places, events, and people. Masquerade is another wonderful novel. When Charlotte made the desperate and bold move to switch identities with Dora, she discovered that her genteel upbringing has rendered her ill-prepared for the harsh realities of life beyond the proverbial "silver spoon in the mouth." She learns much about society, others, and most importantly, herself. Nancy Moser has created an intriguing cast of characters, including plenty of female drama. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


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Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22, 1995

My girl turns 15 today. On the day she was born, just 12 days before my boy's second birthday, I couldn't fathom what it would be like to have teenagers. I don't know where the time has flown, but I wish it would slow down!

To say that my girl lives life with gusto is somewhat of an understatement. Whether it is piano lessons or viola lessons, youth leadership team or worship band keyboardist, volunteering in the church nursery or going on a mission trip to Guatemala, reading a book or singing along with a TobyMac cd. . . .everything she does is infused with joy and zest for life, God, friends, and family.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! I am so proud of the young woman you are blossoming into!


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Saturday, August 21, 2010

TSMSS - Creation Calls

I heard this song and saw this video for the first time at the end of our church service last Sunday and was absolutely captivated by it. I intended to find out who and what it was, but before I could, author Angela Hunt posted it on her blog! I have since discovered that Brian Doerksen has written a number of familiar worship songs, including Come, Now is the Time to Worship and Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing). If this one doesn't resonate with you, I don't know what would!

For since the creation of the world
God's invisible qualities—His eternal power
and divine nature—have been clearly seen,
being understood from what has been made,
so that men are without excuse.

Romans 1:24

Brian Doerksen

I have felt the wind blow,
Whispering Your name
I have seen Your tears fall,
When I watch the rain.

How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!
A singing bird, a mighty tree,
The vast expanse of open sea.

(Musical interlude)

Gazing at a bird in flight,
Soaring through the air.
Lying down beneath the stars,
I feel Your presence there.

I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thund'ring breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
'Neath endless blue horizons' frame.

Listening to a river run,
Watering the earth.
Fragrance of a rose in bloom,
A newborn's cry at birth.

How could I say there is no God?
When all around creation calls!!
A singing bird, a mighty tree,
The vast expanse of open sea.

I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thund'ring breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
'Neath endless blue horizons' frame

I believe
I believe
I believe


I believe
I believe
I believe just like a child

(Choir I believe..)

I believe

You'll find more great songs at Amy's!


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Friday, August 20, 2010

Flashback Friday - More School Memories

Before today's flashback, I'm sure you haven't been able to sleep, anticipating my scanning and posting the picture of me as a Candystriper, so here it is:

Continuing with the back-to-school theme. . . .
What type of extra-curricular school activities did you participate in during your school days? Clubs? Spelling bees or other contests? Cheerleader or drill team? Sports? Journalism? Choir or theater? Were there any memorable events related to those? Did you receive any awards? Were football games a big deal at your school? Did you usually attend - and was it with a group or as a date? What was Homecoming like?

The main "extra" that I remember from elementary school was the huge deal in sixth grade of being a safety patrol. The boys usually did the flags to stop the cars and the girls escorted the kindergarten kids to the car line and then stood at various places around the school to be sure no one ran. We got to wear the orange safety patrol thing that went around your waist and up over one shoulder. It was the coolest thing, and quite a status symbol, because not everyone got to do it!

When I was in school in Houston ISD, ninth grade was part of junior high. So instead of being a "lowly" freshman, a ninth grader was top of the heap! I remember doing UIL math contests. We'd get to the school about 7:00 am on a Saturday, ride a bus to a school way across town, and spend the morning taking a math test! I remember my Algebra teacher, Mrs. Downs, was great. I stayed several times after school to get her help until Algebra "clicked." One "snapshot" memory I have of that is standing at the chalkboard finding the square root of a big number. (I couldn't do that now if my life depended on it! Thank goodness for calculators!) Anyway, at one of the math contests I got the highest score in our school - and it was something like #26 out of several hundred who took it. At our "graduation" that spring, Mrs. Downs announced my name for the Math Award. I remember being absolutely stunned and so excited. There were others who did better week to week in Algebra than I did, and her encouragement was so. . .encouraging!

And I needed a teacher to encourage me, for I had a couple of disheartening experiences earlier in the year, and one incident was eye-opening and heartbreaking for my 14-year-old self. I was in Journalism on the school paper. In the fall we had a contest selling ads for the paper. Whoever sold the most ads (dollar amount) would receive $15 at our party just before Thanksgiving at the teacher's house. (Can you imagine today sending your child to a teacher's house for a party?!) Selling ads was really outside of my introverted comfort zone, but I gave it everything I had.

Let me insert here that the junior high I attended was full of polar opposites. A large percentage of the kids were non-achievers. (We had a security guard at the school, and that was the early-mid 1970s!) Then there were about 30 of us who were in the accelerated (back then, it was called Major Works!) classes together. About half of us were regular middle-class kids, and the other half were the "popular rich kids," who I considered the Beautiful and Charmed people.

So back to the ad contest. Our party was on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, and the teacher told us we had to turn in our ads before school was out that day. She stressed it and repeated it over and over; no one was to come to the party with an additional ad. So I turned mine in, and at the end of the day she told me that I had the most. I was thrilled. Fifteen dollars was a HUGE amount of money to me. My folks didn't give us allowances, so having money of my own was a rare treat.

Tuesday night came and we had the party. At the appropriate time, the teacher announced the winner. . . .and it wasn't me. (Proper grammar would be "It wasn't I" but I didn't care about grammar at that point!) One of the popular rich girls won. Because she brought an ad to the party that put her over the top. And the teacher accepted it. I was devastated. I thought that if the teacher was going to go back on her word that she could have at least split it between us. Not only was it a heartbreaking moment, it demonstrated to my impressionable mind that money trumps integrity for some people. Even today, almost 35 years later, nothing makes me more frustrated than catering to the beautiful people.

After we moved to the other side of Houston, I was on the newspaper staff at my high school my junior and senior years. That was a blast. Our youth minister's wife was our teacher and one of my best friends was the head photographer. I loved going into the darkroom with him and watching him develop the pictures. (And that was ALL we did; he was like a brother!) I was the Copy Editor, which meant I got to proof everyone's stories. I was ruthless! At the end of the year, when we did the fun "Flak Awards", I got the Lizzie Borden award for chopping the stories. I also got to do a few interviews, and one of the neatest experiences was getting to interview the ABC anchor Howard K Smith when he came to speak in Houston.

I did go to most of the football games when I was in high school. This is Texas, after all! My favorite Homecoming was my senior year, when my BFF and I were dating brothers - I've mentioned before that with all the teenage angst of breaking up and getting back together, we were usually on opposite "on/off" status! But my senior year the four of us had a double date for Homecoming. The guys bought us mums - back then you ordered a real mum from a florist; you didn't make them yourself like folks do now. We didn't go to the dance - just dinner and the football game, and we had a great time!

Those are more than enough of my extracurricular memories! Link up here so we can enjoy yours!

(Update Friday morning - Mr. Linky is working. It may say "you're first" but if you click on it you'll see the links of folks who have participated. Don't know why the button itself isn't updating.)


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flashback Friday Prompt

Continuing with the back-to-school theme. . . .
What type of extra-curricular school activities did you participate in during your school days? Clubs? Spelling bees or other contests? Cheerleader or drill team? Sports? Journalism? Choir or theater? Were there any memorable events related to those? Did you receive any awards? Were football games a big deal at your school? Did you usually attend - and was it with a group or as a date? What was Homecoming like?

Post your flashback tomorrow on your blog and come back to link up here!


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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Crimson Cipher

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Crimson Cipher
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)


Susan Page Davis


From Susan: I've always loved reading, history, and horses. These things come together in several of my historical books. My young adult novel, Sarah's Long Ride, also spotlights horses and the rugged sport of endurance riding, as does the contemporary romance Trail to Justice. I took a vocational course in horseshoeing after earning a bachelor's degree in history. I don't shoe horses anymore, but the experience has come in handy in writing my books.

Another longtime hobby of mine is genealogy, which has led me down many fascinating paths. I'm proud to be a DAR member! Some of Jim's and my quirkier ancestors have inspired fictional characters.

For many years I worked for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel as a freelancer, covering local government, school board meetings, business news, fires, auto accidents, and other local events, including a murder trial. I've also written many profiles and features for the newspaper and its special sections. This experience was a great help in developing fictional characters and writing realistic scenes. I also published nonfiction articles in several magazines and had several short stories appear in Woman's World, Grit, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

My husband, Jim, and I moved to his birth state, Oregon, for a while after we were married, but decided to move back to Maine and be near my family. We're so glad we did. It allowed our six children to grow up feeling close to their cousins and grandparents, and some of Jim's family have even moved to Maine!

Our children are all home-schooled. The two youngest are still learning at home. Jim recently retired from his vocation as an editor at a daily newspaper, and we’ve moved from Maine to Kentucky.


A female Navy cryptographer seeks to save lives...and uncover her father’s killers.

In 1915, German sympathizers escalated acts of sabotage in the United States to keep the nation from joining in the war. With enemies lurking at every turn, whom can Emma trust? Is romance the true motive behind her tow suitors advances? Or could one-or both of them-have traitorous intentions in mind?

Following the mysterious murder of Emma Shuster’s father, Lt. John Patterson invites Emma to become a Navy cryptographer because of the expertise she gained in helping her father develop a cipher system.

Emma races to discover the nefarious plans of her country's foes and unmask their leader before others are killed. She finds new strength in her faith as she strives to outwit her adversary, known only as Kobold - German for goblin.

And yet, her greatest challenge may be deciphering the cryptic messages her heart sends whenever she encounters a certain navy lieutenant... Can Emma and John find love in the midst of turmoil as America plunges toward war?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Crimson Cipher, go HERE.

I've recently begun to really enjoy fiction set in World War I and II days, and this is another good one, set in 1915. It made my brain hurt, though, to imagine being a cryptographer and trying to unscramble the complex codes of the enemy, especially those in a different language! Danger and intrigue combined with romance and friendship in a time of international tension make this a fascinating read.


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Random Dozen

1. What is your favorite fair/carnival food?

Hot, fresh Kettle Corn. Or the corn dogs at the State Fair of Texas (which I haven't been to since college!).

2. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?


3. What is your favorite gift to receive?

I have no idea. Jewelry. Gift cards. Books. I'll take anything. Except a pet!

4. When was the last time you tried something new?

Last week at dinner with some friends I had some crawfish etouffee. (Hmm, Blogger isn't from the south - it put a squiggly red line under the word etouffee!)

5. What is your favorite and least favorite book genre?
Memoir, Mystery, Political Intrigue, Romance, Humor, Historical Fiction, Historical nonfiction, Chick Lit, Self-Help, Other

Favorite - probably Historical Fiction, although I like a lot of the ones listed. I'm not a fan of Historical Nonfiction or most Political Intrigue novels.

6.Silver or Gold?

White Gold. And I love jewelry that combines white and yellow gold.

7. What makes you sigh?

Sigh with delight? A massage. Summer fruit. A hug.
A not-so-good sigh? Current events/headlines.

8. If you didn't know how old you are, how old would you claim you are?


9. Would you break a law to save a loved one? To protect a loved one?

Don't mess with my kids!

10. If you had to teach something, what would it be?

English, especially grammar.

11. You're having lunch with 3 people whom you respect and admire. They begin to criticize a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. What do you do?

It depends on how well I know them. I hate conflict, so I'll probably just be quiet and not participate in the conversation, especially if I'm not comfortable with the 3 or if they are in some authority over me. If I have a good rapport with them, however, I think - and hope! - I would say something to turn the conversation around or defend her.

12. Which of the 5 Love Languages is your prominent means of experiencing love?
Quality Time
Physical Touch
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation

Words of Affirmation, followed pretty closely by Physical Touch.

Not sure what yours is? Take the test here!

Join us over at 2nd Cup of Coffee to visit other bloggers or to link up your answers!


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