Monday, November 28, 2011

FIRST WIld Card Tour: There's Just Something About A Boy

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:

Isaac Publishing, Inc. (September 23, 2011)
***Special thanks to Jenny Lee Sulpizio for sending me a review copy.***


Jenny Lee Sulpizio, M.S. is a wife, business owner, and mother of three residing in Boise, Idaho. She is an active member within her church and community, and enjoys tapping into her creative side whenever she gets the chance. There’s Just Something About a Boy is the second picture book released in a series that also includes Mommy Whispers, an ode to mothers and daughters everywhere.

Visit the author's website.


Peg Lozier is an award winning portrait painter and illustrator whose work is known for color, whimsy, and a sense of fun. Raised in Boulder, Colorado, she now lives with a plethora of pets in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit the illustrator's website.


There’s Just Something about a Boy is a children’s keepsake picture book celebrating the special bond between a mother and her newborn son as she anticipates the love, laughter, and unparalleled adventure that will surely come from raising a little boy.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.95
Paperback: 30 pages
Publisher: Isaac Publishing, Inc. (September 23, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609200365
ISBN-13: 978-1609200367

AND NOW...THE FIRST PAGES (click illustrations to enlarge):

Recalling the moment, that special day
Your tiny image took my breath away.
A precious baby with nothing to hide,
My sweet, little son nestled inside.
There’s just something about a boy…

I prepared your nursery
since around month five,
Waiting for the day
you’d finally arrive.
Stuffed animals, blankies,
your daddy’s first glove--
They sat in your room,
awaiting your love.
There’s just something
about a boy…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Georgie Gail's position as a telephone switchboard operator is enviable. Her employer, SWT&T, provides an income and a simple cottage for her. Her pleasant life includes independence, community and a lovely garden designed to attract birds. She's less than thrilled when SWT&T sends Luke Palmer to be the local troubleman. Not only will he be selling telephone subscriptions and repairing equipment, but he'll also be looking over her shoulder. Luke, however, is more than he seems. He's a Texas Ranger undercover in search of the notorious and well-supported outlaw, Frank Comer. Between dealing with Luke, fulfilling her job and denouncing the use of birds in women's hats, Georgie has her hands full. As Luke pursues the outlaw and his group, danger grows and Georgie and Luke realize that more than their jobs are on the line.

Having read several of Deeanne Gist's prior books, I had some expectations when I picked up Love on the Line. As always, Gist showed that she knows how to tell a story with plenty of romance and adventure! Though set in the past, Georgie struggles with issues that women of today still deal with. I appreciated Georgie's character growth from a mindset of 'I can do anything a man can do.' to 'Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, but when put together with another, both are important and complement each other.' Die-hard feminists might not be too happy with this mindset, but I subscribe to the idea of working in partnership rather than competition. I was completely okay with this book being less edgy than other books by Gist. There are less sexual overtones and not quite as many deep, dark issues as in Gist's prior books.

Overall, Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist is an entertaining read for inspirational romance audiences.

Click here to read an excerpt from Love on the Line.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers 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."

Monday, November 14, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Story of Your Life

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

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

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Matthew West is a recording artist whose singles have topped the charts and been named Billboard’s Most Played Christian Songs in 2004, 2009, and 2010. “The Motions” also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Song in 2010. His albums have sold more than 275,000 copies.

Visit the Matthew's website.

Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including When Wallflowers Dance.

Visit the author's website.


When Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West started writing his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life (Sparrow, 2010) he asked fans to submit personal experiences. More than 10,000 tales of hope, perseverance, and redemption poured in. With friend and author Angela Thomas, West presents some of these powerful stories paired with meaningful devotions they inspired.
Wendy gave birth to her daughter in jail. When all seemed hopeless, she found God and her life transformed into something beautiful.

Cory, a married youth pastor, had an affair and his life fell apart. With God’s mercy, he and his wife gathered the broken pieces and started again.

Sheila always struggled with severe insecurity. Now she lives confidently in the purpose God has for her.
This unforgettable devotional journey inspires readers to discover God as the author of their unique lives and to share the power of their story.

Also available this season—a companion DVD of the same title and an interactive standalone guide Experiencing the Story of Your Life, which allows readers to personalize and explore more deeply the messages of God’s hope and redemption in their stories.

Before Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West wrote his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life, he asked fans to submit their faith stories. Thousands of powerful tales of hope and redemption poured in. Now West and author Angela Thomas share these amazing stories and the meaningful devotions they inspired.


At times reading The Story of Your Life was easy and sometimes it was not so easy.  The short excerpts from stories of people were touching. Many of the stories had to do with some sort of physical, emotional or spiritual brokenness.  Both Matthew West and Angela Thomas responded compassionately to the situations.   I appreciated that this book is sobering, encouraging and challenging. I recommend to any Christian looking who is looking for a non-fiction book to read.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943986
ISBN-13: 978-0736943987


Who is the Author
of Your Story?

From Lajos   …

I grew up in Communist Hungary and escaped in 1987 at age 21. I went to a refugee camp as an atheist who mocked Christians, and 18 months later I came out of it turning my life over to Christ. It was a trying, dramatic, and sometimes traumatic experience. But in the middle of what should have been my most hopeless days and nights, I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I was not alone and the peace that came along with it.

I went to Canada in 1988. Starting a new life in a new country as a 23-year-old was truly challenging. Without my newly found faith, I probably could not have done it. Now I am following Christ and serving Him by going on mission trips. I want the world to know there is a God, a God who is with us in our darkest moments.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers of rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-17).

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…(Hebrews 12:2 nasb).

Matthew Responds   …

Who is the author of your story? How did you get here? Do you see the world as nothing more than one big coincidence after another? Did the oceans just tell themselves they could go only so far? Did the sun just appear out of nowhere? What about all the billions of stars in the galaxies or the intricate design of a human life? Is there an answer for all these questions?

When your eyes see a majestic snowcapped mountain climbing a mile high in the Rockies, does the experience leave you awestruck and amazed? When you hold a newborn baby in your arms, are you filled with wonder as you touch the tiny hands and toes and ears? When you witness a great big world with billions of people moving in billions of directions, does your heart scream, “This can’t be mere coincidence! This could not be the work of human hands! There’s no way this all just happened!”

Even the English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle concluded, “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that ‘a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.’ ”

Sadly, more and more people are choosing the former way of thinking. In fact, many studies and polls report that atheism is on the rise both in America and around the world. This really should come as no surprise in a society that places so much emphasis on self-sufficiency. Nike prompted us, “Just Do It.” Burger King invited us, “Have It Your Way.” Apple Computers promised their products would give us “The Power to Be Your Best.”

In our world, all signs point to the notion that you and I are the ones who write the stories of our lives. And so people are choosing to believe there is nothing to believe in. Atheists believe there is no God. And to believe there is no God is to believe we are the authors of our own stories. Yet how can we be the authors of a story we never created? You were not the one who came up with the idea to create you. The decision of whether to believe in God is the foundation that every soul will build its story upon. The story of your life is being written every moment of every day, even as you read this right now. The question you must ask is, who is holding the pen?

In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren begins his very first chapter by establishing where we must first look if we are to find a story with true purpose.

You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.

Warren goes on to tell the story of Russian novelist, Andrei Bitov who had a similar experience to our story of Lajos.

Andrei…grew up under an atheistic Communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, “In my twenty-seventh year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God’s light.”

There it is. Without God life makes no sense. Without God our stories have no meaning, no purpose. We live, we die, and that’s it. Our stories end when we die. Oh, what a sad existence if this is true. I once wrote a lyric in a song called “The World Needs a Savior” that reads, “Atheists, there are no atheists when the plane’s going down and you’re crying out for one more chance.” I wrote that line thinking about the reality that when people face crisis, they reach out for help. When our nation, which fights for separation of church and state, fell victim to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, we came together to pray.

I remember something my mom often did when I was a kid and we were in the car. Anytime she was forced to slam on her brakes or swerve out of the way to avoid an accident, her knee-jerk reaction was to stretch her arm out across whoever was sitting in the front seat, either my brother or me, and shout a prayer: “Jesus, help us!” My mom is a praying woman. She always has been, both in times of triumph and times of crisis. She knows whom she can call upon. She knows the all-knowing and all-powerful God. She knows that God hears us when we call out to Him in a whisper of praise or a cry for help.

Whom do you call out to in times of crisis? Lajos was once convinced God did not exist. But in the middle of his loneliest, most desperate hour, this “atheist who mocked Christians” cried out to Jesus. “I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I was not alone and the peace that came along with it,” he said as the undeniable presence of our Creator turned this atheist into a believer. Lajos handed over the pen right then and there, choosing to make God the author of his story.

Maybe you are thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. I believe in God. I’m no atheist.” Well, let me leave you with this one question. Who is really holding the pen? It is possible to believe in God, go to church, tithe, and do all the things Christians do without fully submitting the story of your life to the true “author and finisher” of our faith. It is a daily struggle to determine who holds the pen, but surrendering our stories to the One who “holds all things together” is the only true way for the stories of our lives to be filled with meaning and purpose.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Krista Mueller experienced a difficult childhood and opted to suppress her feelings of loss and abandonment for a happier life far away from her distant mother. While Krista financially provides first-class nursing home treatment for her mother, she sees no reason to revisit her mother or the past. When her ex-boyfriend, Dane McConnell, convinces Krista to temporarily return to her dying mother's bedside, Krista is less than thrilled to be near her mother or her first love. Both evoke feelings long buried and Krista realizes she can no longer run from her past. She's not willing to entertain the idea of loving either her mother or Dane, but as the days progress and secrets are revealed, she finds herself drawn to both of them like never before.

When I picked up Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren, I expected a purely fictional book. I was pleasantly surprised to find a good deal of romance interlaced with the fiction story. The authentic characters and compelling situations caught my attention from the start. I appreciated the author's compassionate treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Though I've never had to deal with it on a personal level, I know it is a difficult condition for all involved. The themes about second chances and the beauty of true healing are also worth noting. I recommend this book to fans of Christian romance or Christian fiction.

Click here to visit the blog tour and read the first chapter of Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of FIRST Wild Card Tours. 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."

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Mercy Come Morning

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:

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (August 16, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***


LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.

Visit the author's website.


There are no second chances. Or are there?

Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.

Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.

“A timeless tale, to be kept every day in the heart as a reminder
that forgiveness is a gift to self.”
—PATRICIA HICKMAN, author of The Pirate Queen

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (August 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307730107
ISBN-13: 978-0307730107


“She’s dying, Krista.”

I took a long, slow breath. “She died a long time ago, Dane.”

He paused, and I could picture him formulating his next words, something that would move me. Why was my relationship with my mother so important to him? I mean, other than the fact that she was a patient in his care. “There’s still time, Kristabelle.”

I sighed. Dane knew that his old nickname for me always got to me. “For what? For long, deep conversations?” I winced at the harsh slice of sarcasm in my tone.

“You never know,” he said quietly. “An aide found something you should see.”


“Come. I’ll keep it here in my office until you arrive. Consider it a Christmas present.”

“It’s December ninth.”

“Okay, consider it an early present.”

It was typical of him to hold out a mysterious hook like that. “I don’t know, Dane. The school term isn’t over yet. It’s a hard time to get someone to cover for me.” It wasn’t the whole truth. I had an assistant professor who could handle things on her own. And I could get back for finals. Maybe. Unless Dane wasn’t overstating the facts.

“Krista. She’s dying. Her doctor tells me she has a few weeks, tops. Tell your department chair. He’ll let you go. This is the end.” I stared out my cottage window to the old pines that covered my yard in shadows. The end. The end had always seemed so far away. Too far away. In some ways I wanted an end to my relationship with my mother, the mother who had never loved me as I longed to be loved. When she started disappearing, with her went so many
of my hopes for what could have been. The road to this place had been long and lonely. Except for Dane. He had always been there, had always waited. I owed it to him to show. “I’ll be there on Saturday.”

“I’ll be here. Come and find me.”

“Okay. I teach a Saturday morning class. I can get out of here after lunch and down there by five or six.”

“I’ll make you dinner.”

“Dane, I—”

“Dinner. At seven.”

I slowly let my mouth close and paused. I was in no mood to argue with him now. “I’ll meet you at Cimarron,” I said.
“Great. It will be good to see you, Kristabelle.” I closed my eyes, imagining him in his office at Cimarron Care Center. Brushing his too-long hair out of his eyes as he looked through his own window.

“It will be good to see you, too, Dane. Good-bye.”

He hung up then without another word, and it left me feeling slightly bereft. I hung on to the telephone receiver as if I could catch one more word, one more breath, one more connection with the man who had stolen my heart at sixteen.

Dane McConnell remained on my mind as I wrapped up things at the college, prepped my assistant, Alissa, to handle my history classes for the following week, and then drove the scenic route down to Taos from Colorado Springs, about a five-hour trip. My old Honda Prelude hugged the roads along the magnificent San Luis Valley. The valley’s shoulders were still covered in late spring snow, her belly carpeted in a rich, verdant green. It was here that in 1862 Maggie O’Neil single-handedly led a wagon train to settle a town in western Colorado, and nearby Cecilia Gaines went so
crazy one winter they named a waterway in her honor—“Woman Hollering Creek.”

I drove too fast but liked the way the speed made my scalp tingle when I rounded a corner and dipped, sending my stomach flying. Dane had never driven too fast. He was methodical in everything he did, quietly moving ever forward. He had done much in his years since grad school, establishing Cimarron and making it a national think tank for those involved in gerontology. After high school we had essentially ceased communication for years before Cimarron came about. Then when Mother finally got to the point in her descent into Alzheimer’s that she needed fulltime institutionalized care, I gave him a call. I hadn’t been able to find a facility that I was satisfied with for more than a year, when a college friend had shown me the magazine article on the opening of Cimarron and its patron saint, Dane McConnell.

“Good looking and nice to old people,” she had moaned. “Why can’t I meet a guy like that?”

“I know him,” I said, staring at the black-and-white photograph.

“Get out.”

“I do. Or did. We used to be…together.”

“What happened?” she asked, her eyes dripping disbelief.

“I’m not sure.”

I still wasn’t sure. Things between us had simply faded over the years. But when I saw him again, it all seemed to come back. Or at least a part of what we had once had. There always seemed to be a submerged wall between us, something we couldn’t quite bridge or blast through. So we had simply gone swimming toward different shores.

Mother’s care had brought us back together over the last five years. With the congestive heart failure that was taking her body, I supposed the link between us would finally be severed. I would retreat to Colorado, and he would remain in our beloved Taos, the place of our youth, of our beginnings, of our hearts. And any lingering dream of living happily ever after with Dane McConnell could be buried forever with my unhappy memories of Mother.

I loosened my hands on the wheel, realizing that I was gripping

it so hard my knuckles were white. I glanced in the rearview mirror, knowing that my reverie was distracting me from paying attention to the road. It was just that Dane was a hard man to get over. His unique ancestry had gifted him with the looks of a Scottish Highlander and the sultry, earthy ways of the Taos Indians. A curious, inspiring mix that left him with both a leader’s stance and a wise man’s knowing eyes. Grounded but visionary. A driving force, yet empathetic at the same time. His employees loved working for him. Women routinely fell in love with him.

I didn’t know why I could never get my act together so we could finally fall in love and stay in love. He’d certainly done his part. For some reason I’d always sensed that Dane was waiting for me, of all people. Why messed-up, confused me? Yet there he was. I’d found my reluctance easy to blame on my mother. She didn’t love me as a mother should, yada-yada, but I’d had enough time with my counselor to know that there are reasons beyond her. Reasons that circle back to myself.

I’d always felt as if I was chasing after parental love, but the longer I chased it, the further it receded from my reach. It left a hole in my heart that I was hard-pressed to fill. God had come close to doing the job. Close. But there was still something there, another blockade I had yet to blast away. I would probably be working on my “issues” my whole life. But as my friend Michaela says, “Everyone’s got issues.” Supposedly I need to embrace them. I just want them to go away.

“Yeah,” I muttered. Dane McConnell was better off without me. Who needed a woman still foundering in her past?

I had to focus on Mother. If this was indeed the end, I needed to wrap things up with her. Find closure. Some measure of peace. Even if she couldn’t say the words I longed to hear.

I love you, Krista.

Why was it that she had never been able to force those four words from her lips?

Excerpted from Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.