Monday, October 29, 2012

"Man Up!" Blog Tour

Man Up!
 
by Jody Burkeen
 
The church is dying because of lukewarm Christian men. With the world infiltrating slowly through the church doors, Christian men are being swept away at an alarming rate.

Complacency, continual sin, and disobedience are tearing men away from God. Families, churches, and communities are suffering because so many Christian mena are “spiritual sissies.”

Jody Burkeen writes candidly about the seven areas in a Christian man’s life where he needs to Man Up!

Man Up! Becoming a Godly Man in an Ungodly World is a call to arms for lukewarm Christian men.

About the Author:

Jody Burkeen is the founder and president of MAN UP! Gods Way Ministries. This ministry was birthed out of a desire to change the way Christian men “do” Christianity.

Jody's self-described "Damascus Road Transformation" led him on a journey to search the Scripture to find what he had been missing his whole life, which was Jesus Christ. In this journey, the Word of God took over in a way he never expected. Searching for men in the church to help him in his walk, he found very little help. What he did find was men that needed the same kind of help he did.

Through MAN UP! Gods Way Ministry it is Jody’s hope that he can challenge men to live a separated life on fire for God.

Jody has been married for 21 wonderful years and has two beautiful children ages 8 and 11.



Author Interview:

Why another book for Christian men?
This is not your normal “let’s try to do better” Christian men’s book. This is more like the “you already know what to do, now start doing it” Christian men’s book. Christian men are inundated with the “how to”, I felt God was telling to write a book that would challenge them to just “do it”. Stop being spiritual sissies and Man up the way God intended them to. This is why our ministry uses Revelations 3:16 “So because you are lukewarm neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”. Christian men have become lazy, complacent, and disobedient to Gods words.

Who should read this book?

Any Christian man that is not living up to the potential God has for his life. The Christian life is not easy, but it’s harder without God and His Word. This book lays out 7 areas in a Christian man’s life where he need to apply certain disciplines to better his walk.

Have you always been a man that Man’ed Up in his walk?

By no means. Most of the book talks about the struggles I have had and how I worked on making myself disciplined to reading the scriptures, praying and applying what God was teaching me. Each day I do all I can to stay a man that God will be proud of.

Why do you discuss “7 areas in a Christian man’s life”?

As I look at my own life, the process I took and am still taking, involved 7 specific areas.


1. My personal relationship with Christ. With this in the forefront, the remaining 6 can be obtained with His help.
2. My marriage.
3. Being a father.
4. Church.
5. Work.
6. Accountability
7. Discipleship.

I believe that is you follow these step or 7 areas, you will become a godly man in this ungodly world.

How can we find out more about you and the book?

You can check out our website
www.manupgodsway.org . We are on Facebook www.facebook.com/manupgodsway and twitter @manupgodsway1. I also travel the country speaking to men’s groups, conferences and seminars. You can book me at info@manupgodsway.org . Send us an email and we can give you more details.

As part of this book tour, how can we find out where more free copies of Man Up! will be given away? Visit http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com.




My Husband's Take:

In our culture, men are often portrayed as incompetent fools incapable of running a household.  The sad thing is that many men in our society, while capable of running a household, often don’t.  And worse, this is often the case in the modern church.  Many Christian men are willing to let their wives lead their households, which usually translates into letting them lead the church.  Too many times I have seen women and children serving in the church, while the men take a back seat and stay at home. While everyone should be serving in the church, of course, men especially are not doing what they should.  Man Up attempts to explain to men how to rectify this situation.  Unfortunately, I feel that this book is a weak attempt to fix a very serious problem in our culture.

I must applaud the author for trying to tackle such an important matter as leadership in the home and at church, but he often isn't clear.  After being called a sissy multiple times per chapter (and sometimes multiple times per page), you get the idea that the author is trying to shame men into becoming what they should be.  For me, it would have been more effective to convince me using scripture instead of shame.

Scripture is used in the book, but not always well.  Many times, simple platitudes are used instead, which is vague and not helpful.  If someone is struggling with leadership, telling them to be a leader isn’t going to help.  They need to know how to do so and why they should.   

When scripture was used, it was often confusing and sometimes just inappropriate.  The author would come close to the right point, and then stop.  An example is when he was discussing Ephesians 5. He referenced that many men read the verse about wives submitting to the husbands and skip the part about the husbands.  He says that when we as husbands love our wives as Christ loved the church, it will help our wives to submit to us.  This is an excellent point and one that should be made. 
 
However, he then says that when we don’t love our wives as Christ loved the church, our wives don’t have to submit to us.  This is just plain wrong.  The scripture doesn’t have a caveat in it.  Our wives are to submit regardless of whether we husbands are doing our part. (See 1 Peter 3:1-2) And, vice versa. We husbands are to love our wives as Christ loved the church whether our wives submit to us or not.  This is not a 50%-50% proposition.  It is a 100%-100% deal.

This is just one example of the author making a valid point and then stating it poorly or just flat out making it wrong.  It is a shame, because I know this author means well and has some very good points.  He is just does so in a vague way using platitudes and cliches instead of scripture and practical application.  I recommend that if you read this book, exercise caution and discernment. 

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on my blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and Christian Speaker Services. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Against the Tide" Review

Until recently, Lydia Pallas lived a life of chaos and turmoil. Her childhood was filled with tragedy and disappointment. But now Lydia finally has control over her life. With a wonderful home and a great job as a linguist for the U.S. Navy, Lydia settles in to a life of normalcy.

Until Alexander Banebridge (“Bane”) enters her life and turns it upside down.
When Bane asks her to translate a series of seemingly harmless documents, she reluctantly agrees. Lydia needs the money, but she soon realizes that she is in for more than she bargained for.

As the circumstances escalate, Lydia is drawn into a crusade with Bane against some of the most powerful people on the East Coast. And Lydia must draw on everything she knows – and strength she didn’t know she had – in order to save and protect those who are innocent.
Against the Tide continues the story of Bane, a criminal who turned to God, from Elizabeth Camden’s first novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill.

For me this book got off to somewhat of a rocky start. The beginning of this book was just heartbreaking, and it was hard for me to continue reading, but I did have hope that surely things would get better for Lydia. Also, something about the first half of the book felt drawn out to me. Once the characters and setting were set up, the story slowed down until a little over halfway through the book. But then it picked up and was exciting until the conclusion.
I really liked the setting of this book. We took a trip to Boston several years ago, and it is a fascinating city with history around every corner. It was interesting to see the city through the eyes of those in the 1890s, and the naval aspect added to the appeal as well.

I also really liked the two main characters in this novel. I was especially fascinated by Lydia’s job translating for the Department of the Navy, and I absolutely loved the witty banter between Lydia and Bane. The characters were written in such a way that even if I didn’t necessarily relate to them, I still felt as if I knew them very well. Lydia’s fastidiousness and Bane’s determination came through loud and clear and gave them dimension on many levels – almost to where they sometimes seemed to be a bit over-the-top. But, this made them more realistic as well. They weren’t perfect and both characters experienced significant growth over the course of the novel.
The main bad guy in this novel is also a carryover from the previous novel, and he was even more diabolical in this one. Again, I felt the character was kind of exaggerated to the point of disbelief, but it made for a great and suspenseful story.

One thing that I thought was presented well was the topic of drug addiction. This was especially true because of the time period. More and more was being learned about medicine and about the human body at this time, but there was still so much that was not known. Things that were seemingly innocuous at the time (putting opium in medications for children) were then found to be extremely harmful and addictive. It was interesting that a character had become addicted to opium without completely realizing it. It also showed the strength it takes for someone to admit that they have an addiction and to go through the necessary steps, both physical and spiritual, to overcome that addiction. I do wish the descriptions of the withdrawal weren’t quite so detailed, but it was definitely realistic.
Another theme that ran through the course of this novel was the predicament between obeying the law and “doing what is right.” The characters several times did things that were technically against the law, such as sneaking into a government building to search for proof of fraud, in order to fight against something they felt was morally wrong. They consistently lied and did other things that were contrary to God’s law, but they did these things in order to rescue children who had been kidnapped and to stop the sale of opium to unsuspecting people.

Which brings up an interesting question - is it ever OK to break the law or even go against God’s law (i.e. lying, stealing) in order to do what’s ultimately right? I don’t claim to have the answer to this question because I don’t think it has a black and white answer. There are plenty of instances in history and even in the Bible when this has been the case. The people who worked for the Underground Railroad technically broke the law when they hid slaves and helped them escape to freedom. But they were showing Christ’s love to people who were unfairly in bondage. Rahab technically lied to the soldiers when she hid the spies before the destruction of Jericho. But she knew they were sent from the Lord and needed help, and she is even mentioned in Hebrews as having great faith.
Again, I don’t claim to have a firm answer to this question, but it is something to think about.

On the spiritual side of things, besides the excellent moral questions it brought up, I thought the novel was lacking. There were many times that God and salvation and the Bible (even New Testament references) were mentioned, but it was not completely clear to me where Christ fit into the picture. Christ is never mentioned by name. At least one of the characters claims to come to faith in God, but Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness of sins is never mentioned.

I will give Against the Tide … 3 ½ BookWorms.
 
 
 
 
 
Info about the book:
 
Title: Against the Tide
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication date: October 1, 2012
Genre: Historical fiction
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"At the Feet of Jesus" Blog Tour

At the Feet of Jesus
Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart
 
by Joanna Weaver
 
You were made for more than serving God; you were made to know Him.
Intimacy with God--to know Him and be known by Him. It is what our hearts desperately need, but somehow life conspires to keep us busy and distracted.

For anyone who struggles when it comes to daily devotions, At the Feet of Jesus extends an irresistible invitation to set aside your duties and find the amazing peace and incredible joy that come from time alone with Him. Drawn from Joanna Weaver's beloved Bethany trilogy, each reading in this 365-day devotional includes a Bible reading passage and reflection question. All-new material and "Going Deeper" sidebars are also woven throughout.

Discover for yourself the riches that come from spending a portion of each day alone with God. At the feet of Jesus--where true life begins!

Includes a unique One-Year Bible Reading Guide.

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/erC31
 
 
Meet Joanna:

Joanna Weaver is known the world over for her transparent and life-changing books, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World and Having a Mary Spirit. Joanna has appeared on a wide variety of nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts. She is also a highly sought after speaker and shares her message at intimate gatherings and several high profile events each year. But Joanna's greatest joy is found in being a wife and mother and her role as a pastor's wife.

Find out more about Joanna at http://www.joannaweaverbooks.com/.
 
 
My Take:


At the Feet of Jesus takes excerpts from Joanna Weaver's three books (see above) and turns them into a devotional for every day of the year. Each day's devotional has a corresponding set of verses from the Bible for further study. These short devotionals are really easy to read would be a great addition to regulary daily Bible reading and study.

There is also a Read-Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan in the back that is very easy to follow and has a great layout. Instead of reading straight through from cover to cover, you go back and forth between Old Testament and New Testament books, reading first one OT book through then reading a NT book through. This seems like a great way to read through the Bible, and I am looking forward to starting this plan at the first of next year.

Having not read Joanna Weaver's other books, this devotional book contained all new material for me. If you have read the other books, this might be a bit repetitive, but it might also be a fresh way to re-read those books. I have to admit that a few of the readings felt a little like I was missing something, and I attribute that to the fact that I haven't read the previous books in their entirety.

At the Feet of Jesus is a good reminder that we should be nurturing a Mary heart – one that sits at the feet of Jesus – every day of the year.

I will give At the Feet of Jesus … 4 BookWorms.

 






Read what other reviewers are saying here.





Celebrate the release of At the Feet of Jesus with Joanna Weaver by entering to win an iPad and RSVPing for the "True Life" Webcast Event on 11/8!


One blessed winner will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Year in Bethany Trilogy (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Having a Mary Spirit and Lazarus Awakening 
  • At the Feet of Jesus for YOU and Five of your friends.
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at the "True Life" Live Webcast Event on November 8th. Connect with author Joanna Weaver and her special guest for an evening of encouragement, laughter and a Q&A! There will also be gift certificates and books given away to participants.

So grab your copy of At the Feet of Jesus (or one of Joanna's other books) and join Joanna on evening of November 8th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 8th!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."






Monday, October 22, 2012

"A Farmer's Daughter" Cookbook Blog Tour


A Farmer's Daughter:
Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen
 
by Dawn Stoltzfus
 
Welcome to the warm and inviting kitchen of Dawn Stoltzfus, a young Mennonite wife and mother who was raised on a dairy farm where simple, wholesome food was a key ingredient of the good life.
 
In A Farmer's Daughter, she opens up her recipe box, wipes away the crumbs and wrinkles from the well-loved recipes and shares them with cooks and food-lovers everywhere. She offers us over two hundred delicious recipes that reflect the comfort foods she learned to cook from her mother, the same hearty and creative recipes she made and sold at The Farmer's Wife Market.
 
Along with the simple, wholesome recipes for starters, main dishes, sides and desserts, readers will find charming stories from Dawn's Mennonite upbringing, tips and tricks for easy meal planning and preparation, and ideas for serving with flair.

Anyone who loves to feed their loved ones hearty, wholesome meals will treasure this cookbook.
 
 
Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
 
 
 
About the Author: Dawn Stoltzfus is a wife, a mother of two sweet little boys and a lover of anything creative. She started and ran The Farmer's Wife Market until 2008 when she sold it in order to stay at home to raise her family. She loves to cook, for one or three hundred and sees cooking and entertaining as an opportunity to serve them out of love and joy rather than out of a sense of obligation. Her love for cooking was inspired by her mother and developed as she cooked for her family of six on their active, working dairy farm in Ohio.
 
 
My Take:
 
Although I am not a huge fan of cooking, I love getting new cookbooks. I like to be able to try new meals in order to make sure that my family doesn't get in a rut, especially at dinnertime.
 
I was drawn to this book because of its references to simple, wholesome recipes made with fresh ingredients. And this is exactly what I found in this cookbook.

I marked many, many recipes in this book to try. (I always go through the 'meal' part of the book marking recipes, and my husbad goes through the desserts!) Since receiving this book, we have tried three of the recipes – two dinnertime meals and one dessert. 

Our favorite recipe by far of the ones we tried was the Simple Chicken Cordon Bleu. It was so easy to prepare, and I didn’t have to make a special trip to the store to make it. This dish was basic but with a little added flair to make it a bit more special. My husband really liked it.

The other ‘meal’ recipe we tried was the Slow Cooker Lasagna, and it was good, too. (I think I would leave out the extra salt next time). The dessert we tried was the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. They were really good right from the oven, but by the next day, they had gotten a bit hard and crumbly, making them difficult to eat.

This is a nice cookbook that has some satisfying recipes, and we look forward to trying even more of them.

I am allowed to include one recipe from the book in my post, so I will choose the Simple Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Enjoy!
 
Simple Chicken Cordon Bleu
4          boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded
¼ lb.  Swiss cheese, sliced (I used provolone, since my hubby isn’t a fan of Swiss)
¼ lb. deli ham, sliced thin
1 can   mushroom soup  (or a serving of Cream of Celery, Chicken, or Mushroom soup, page 201)
½ cup milk
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 tsp.   paprika
2 Tbsp fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
¼ tsp. fresh cracked pepper
 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Layer chicken breast, cheese, and ham in order in a 9 x 13 pan.
Mix mushroom soup and milk together. Pour over top of the meat. Sprinkle with bread
crumbs, then sprinkle paprika, parsley, and pepper on top. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is done. Do not overbake. Serves 4.

 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishing/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Twice Promised" Blog Tour

Twice Promised
By Maggie Brendan
 
Two beautiful brides. One unsuspecting groom.
Three weeks to figure it all out.
 
Greta Olsen arrives in Central City, Colorado, as a mail-order bride, expecting to marry Jess Gifford, the man she’s come to know through his tender letters. But when she meets Cora Johnson, she discovers she’s not the only bride waiting at the train station for Jess.

Already shocked to find they must compete for Jess’s affection, the young women can hardly believe it when not Jess but his brother Zach picks them up from the station—and reveals that Jess knows nothing about any mail-order bride, let alone two. Will either bride make the match she hopes for?

Filled with surprises, misunderstandings, and tender romance, Twice Promised is the story of how two unlikely women become twice blessed.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group


About the author: Maggie Brendan is the author of the Heart of the West series and Deeply Devoted, which was a 2012 ICRA Award finalist. A member of the Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, and Georgia Romance Writers, Maggie lives in Georgia. Visit her at www.MaggieBrendan.com.



My Take:


After reading the first in this series, Deeply Devoted, I was interested to see where the tale of the second sister, Greta, would go. I have to admit that it was pretty abrupt to find that Greta's beau from the first book was not going to be in the picture in this novel. But it did lend itself to a bit of a twist to this story.

The part of the plot that incorporated having two mail-order brides (Greta and Cora) for one guy (Jess) was cute. It was also charming when the other brother (Zach) became involved, and it became a “which bride goes with which brother” scenario.

It seemed, though, that this quandary was solved a little over halfway through the book, and while it was satisfactory, the story after that got a bit outlandish. The misunderstandings that kept occurring after the supposed resolution were too drawn out. The adults who supposedly loved each other should have just talked to each other. Right then. Without waiting. (This is one of my pet peeves about misunderstandings in books).


Additionally, the characters in this novel fell in love way too quickly. I realize that this is sort of the case with mail-order bride stories, but the characters were “in love” after only knowing each other for a week! Because of this, their love felt fickle and their happily-ever-after seemed forced.

I actually think that I enjoyed Cora’s character in this book the best. She seemed the most sincere in her faith, and she had such a compassionate heart. It was hard to connect to the characters completely since the story comes from so many points of view.
I also think that the last chapter in the book was completely unnecessary and a tad too intimate for my taste. I got the point at the end of the previous chapter.

Twice Promised was a nice, lighthearted read that was predictable but cute. The story and the dialogue was not exactly realistic, but this novel could be a fun escape from reality – an adventure of two mail-order brides.

I will give Twice Promised … 3 BookWorms.














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

Friday, October 19, 2012

"You Don't Know Me" Blog Tour

You Don't Know Me
(A Deep Haven Novel)
 
by Susan May Warren
 
Sometimes the secrets we keep to protect ourselves can be our undoing.
 
 
To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.

Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

Link to buy the book:http://ow.ly/e6zml 

 
Meet Susan:

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist and a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

Find out more about Susan May at
http://www.susanmaywarren.com/.
 
 
My Take:

I have not read all of the Deep Haven novels by Susan May Warren, but I have now read three of them:  My Foolish Heart, The Shadow of Your Smile, and this one. Oh, and a novella that took place in Deep Haven - Hook, Line, & Sinker.

The premise of this novel drew me in immediately, much like the amnesia story in The Shadow of Your Smile. I was fascinated to see how a story of someone in Witness Protection would play out. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, too - getting to know the characters and falling back into the setting of Deep Haven, Minnesota - it was interesting and intriguing.

Towards the middle, however, I started to realize that this book was not going to focus on the "action" part of the book as much as the "emotions" part of the book. Now, I am not against exploring characters and their thoughts and feelings - sometimes this makes for a really good read - but other times I just get too bogged down in it. And also, because of the feeling-oriented plot, when that part of the story came to a head, everything just seemed to spin unrealistically out-of-control.

I also thought it was distracting having the book come from six different points-of-view - Annalise's, Nathan's, Frank's, Helen's, Tucker's, and (for only one scene) Colleen's. I understand that this gives you a full view of what was going on, but it was just too much for me. I think this is what contributed to me not relating very well with the characters, especially with Annalise (I just kept getting so tired of her inner monologues and her immature actions).

The character I actually liked the best was poor Tucker. The Decker family's judgmental attitude toward this kid (who was pretty much on his own) made me so angry. They were supposed to be the "Christians," and yet they immediately wrote him off because he was "from the wrong side of the tracks." Now, I have a daughter, and I know that when her teenager years roll around, I will be concerned about who she hangs out with and who she dates. I might even be found to be extremely overprotective! But I also hope that I will be able to extend compassion to anyone who comes into her life, and I pray that I will be able reach out to the Tuckers in her life instead of writing them off.

Which leads to another thing that disappointed me about this book. This family was supposed to be a Christian family, but their lives were filled with deceit and secrets and bitterness and judgmental attitudes. They did not seem to look to the Bible to know how to live their lives. I know that no one is perfect and that those of us who have accepted Christ are sinners who have been saved by grace. However, in the lives of these characters, their faith didn't seem to be real, even at the end of the book. The name 'Jesus' was only mentioned once in the entire book. (I have a Kindle, so I can do a search...)

I realize that I am getting on my soapbox here and that perhaps I am expecting too much from a fiction novel, but I am increasingly becoming more and more frustrated with Christian fiction novels that leave Christ pretty much out of the picture.

All of that being said (sorry for my rant), I really liked the ending of the book. The Witness Protection part of this book at the beginning and at the end was great and the "action" ending (if not the spiritual ending) was very satisfying.

I may or may not continue with the Deep Haven novels. There are a lot of things I like about them, but I have enjoyed Ms. Warren's historical novels a lot more. So, I may just stick with them:  Baby, It's Cold Outside, Heiress, and Baroness .

I will give You Don't Know Me ... 3 BookWorms.











 
If you like novels that explore the character side more than an action side, then you might like You Don't Know Me. Don't just take my word for it. See what other reviewers are saying here.






Welcome to the campaign launch for Susan May Warren's latest offering in her beloved Deep Haven series, You Don't Know Me. Susan is celebrating with a $200 Weekend Getaway Giveaway and hosting a fun video Author Chat Party!

 

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one and “Get to Know” your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the ”You Don’t Know Me” Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/23. Connect with Susan for an evening of book chat, Deep Haven trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be info about Susan’s BookShout read-along and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of You Don’t Know Me and join Susan on the evening of the October 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."









Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Sons of Jude" Blog Tour

A new series of gritty, fast-paced thrillers

The body of a young woman is found in a dumpster in Chicago and detectives Andy Polanski and Frank Campello are charged with finding the killer. The two are polar opposites. Polanski is the son of a disgraced Chicago police officer and is fastidious about his reputation. He has also recently been transferred from another district having blown the whistle on some corrupt cops. Campello, however, takes a live-and-let-live approach to his life and job.

It soon becomes clear, as another young woman--a potential witness--is murdered, that a sex-trafficking operation in Chicago is preying on illegal aliens. As the ill-matched pair dig deeper, an influential alderman and his son are implicated. Then Polanski is framed for a narcotics offense, devastating the cases against the corrupt officers and the alderman. Only when Campello is challenged by a local minister, whom he meets when visiting Polanski, does he find the motivation to seek justice.

Read an excerpt here.


About the Author:

Brandt Dodson comes from a long line of police officers dating back more than seventy years on both sides of his family. In addition, he was employed with the Indianapolis office of the FBI. He has lived in Chicago and travels to the city annually.


My Take:

For a cop drama, this book was pretty good. The two main characters were Andy Polanski, a straight laced by-the-book kind of cop, and Frank Campello, who recently lost his partner and is not happy about Andy turning on his “brothers in blue”.  Andy is the Christian in this book and does what he does to honor Christ, but Frank is angry at Andy for being a traitor.  The two characters were well written and interesting to get to know.

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Andy and Frank grow.  As a reader, you know that Andy is doing what he is doing for Christ.  You know he is doing the right thing and you end up pulling for him.  At the same time, the author gives a very compelling view of the other officers involved in the story.  They just see someone who betrayed their own; something which is just not done, no matter if you thought your were doing the right thing or not.  You know that Andy is a good detective and want him to succeed, but you also feel for the other detectives who just can’t trust him.  An author being able to pull off both sides of a very polarizing subject and make the reader feel sympathy for both sides is something you don’t see often, and I was very impressed.

However, the book was mainly told from Frank’s perspective, which sometimes made Andy come across as a na├»ve sap who is hiding behind his Bible and doesn’t care what that means to his family, friends, and coworkers.  Now, I do agree that Christians should live their lives based on what Christ did for us and should not compromise.  But Andy sometimes came across as just barreling through life not caring about the consequences of his actions and not explaining to people why he was doing what he was doing.  Of course you should stand up for what you believe in, but sometimes there is a compassionate balance at play as well.

The only other problem I had with this story was that the murder mystery ended up being a bit too convoluted.  The characters (good and bad) each had back story which somehow ended up being tied into the main story.  This probably wouldn’t have been a problem if we could have learned about their back stories in a previous book instead of snippets throughout this one.  By the end of the book, I was just glad that the murder part was over.  I wanted to focus on the characters again.

 I really enjoyed the way the author showed the growth of the relationship between the two main characters.  I finished the book wanting to know more about the two and where their friendship and partnership is going to go.  And, as far as murder mysteries go, though this one was complicated, it was still good.  I enjoyed this book despite a few issues.
 
I will give Sons of Jude ... 3 ½ BookWorms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications and Monarch Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
 
 

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Deeply Devoted" Review

When Catharine Olsen ventures to Wyoming in 1887 to become a mail-order bride, she brings along more than her future husband, Peter Andersen, ever bargained for:  two sisters and a past that still haunts her.

Wanting a new start in the booming town of Cheyenne, Catharine puts all of herself into becoming the wife of a wheat farmer while still remaining devoted to her sisters, who have no one else in the world to care for them. Peter is patient with his new bride and committed to supporting this new family of his, odd though it may be.

When Peter’s mother, Clara, begins to interfere in the marriage, Catharine is afraid that her secrets will lead them into ruin. Will Peter and Catharine be able to remain devoted to each other, or will mistrust and past fears win out?

Deeply Devoted is the first in a new series, “The Blue Willow Brides,” by Maggie Brendan.

I’m a sucker for novels about mail-order brides, most likely because the book that really made me fall in love with Christian fiction was Janette Oke’s A Bride for Donnigan, which is still one of my favorites. So when I discovered that Deeply Devoted was also a mail-order bride tale, I was excited to start reading it.

One thing that I really liked about this particular mail-order bride story was that the two characters had corresponded with each other (how many letters could have crossed the Atlantic in six months time in 1887, I do not know…) prior to their face-to-face meeting. While I know that many people who found their mates this way knew virtually nothing about the other before they married, I still liked the fact that Peter and Catharine weren’t necessarily going into this relationship totally blind. There are things that come out later that reveal that they were not totally truthful in this correspondence, but that’s another part of the story.

I also enjoyed the fact that Catharine and her sisters were from Holland. Being Dutch lent another element to the story that was interesting, since not only was Catharine getting used to being a mail-order bride, she was also adjusting to life in America and in Wyoming.

As for the characters, I’m not sure I completely connected with either Catharine or Peter. This is probably because I was a bit frustrated with them for not coming clean about everything in the beginning. I also thought that they were very childish at times. I kept wanting Peter to just stand up and be a man. Insert a prickly mother-in-law into the mix (Praise the Lord that I don’t have one of those!), and my irritation grew. Especially when that mother-in-law acted like a lovesick teenager throughout the novel.

While the story in this novel was interesting, if predictable, I thought the writing style was a little distracting. I never got bored with the story or bogged down with details, but the prose was not always smooth. There were several times where the sentences felt awkward, and I had to go back and reread them to get the point of what was going on. I also thought that there were a lot of superfluous exclamation points!

The spiritual side of the story brought on mixed feelings for me as well. I loved that Catharine and Peter often prayed and looked to the Bible for their guidance and hope, but they also seemed to rely on feelings quite frequently. This is the second Christian fiction book I have read this month that has mentioned dreams as a source of direction from God, and I just think that is a slippery slope to be on.

I also feel that I have to mention the physical side of this book. While I believe that physical intimacy between a man and woman in marriage is a beautiful, God-honoring thing, I just appreciate a novel much more when it implies this relationship rather than focuses on it. There were so many mentions of them being in bed and their physical characteristics that it was really distracting. They seemed to be more in love with each other’s bodies and how they made each other feel rather than being in love with the other person. There are no explicit descriptions, but there is talk of making love and of silhouettes underneath nightgowns. Again, I do not think sex in marriage is something that people should avoid talking about if done in the right context. I just thought the physical situations often overshadowed the rest of the story.

The story in Deeply Devoted captured my attention; I just wish the execution of that story had been a bit better.

 
I will give Deeply Devoted ... 2 ½ BookWorms.

 
 
 
 



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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"The Money-Smart Family System" Review

Book Description

Is it possible to raise financially responsible kids of any age in a society filled with consumerism and entitlement?

New York Times best-selling authors Steve and Annette Economides raised their five kids while spending 77 percent less than the USDA predicted. And the money they did spend was also used to train their children to become financially independent. The MoneySmart Family System will show you how to teach your children to manage money and have a good attitude while they’re learning to earn, budget, and spend wisely.

Learn how to:

*Get the kids out the door for school with less stress.
*End the battle over clothing—forever
*Teach your children to be grateful and generous.
*Inspire your kids to help with chores as a member of a winning team.
*Prepare your kids for their first paying job.
*Help your kids pay for their own auto insurance, and even pay cash for their own cars. *Employ strategies for debt-free college educations.
*Truly help your adult children when they want to move back home.
*Be prepared to deal with your adult children when they ask for bailouts.


With clear steps for children of every age, The MoneySmart Family System proves that it’s never too early, too late, or too hard to start learning financial responsibility.


About the Authors

Steve and Annette Economides are hailed as “America’s Cheapest Family.” With their amazing tools for saving money and personal story of living debt free, they are showing families everywhere how to live the American dream without debt. They have five children.
 
Find out more about the Economides at http://www.americascheapestfamily.com/.
 
 
 
My Take:
 
After starting Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace" class back in August, my husband and I kind of got on a huge saving money kick. Of course, that is not a bad thing at all, and over the last two months, we have been doing very well budgeting, saving more money, and getting rid of our debt.
 
Since we were on that saving kick, I started requesting books to review that were about finances - which led me to The MoneySmart Family System.
 
Overall, this book gave some good suggestions when it comes to teaching your kids how to handle money. This is the third book I have read on the subject, and I don't think it really had too much more to say on the subject than the other books did. However, the point system that this family uses is unique and may be just the thing for your family.
 
Although it sometimes read like a commercial (Buy our stuff! Buy our stuff! (at our website)), there are still tons of tips in this book on how to save our money and how to teach kids to be responsible with their money. I liked the examples of the age-appropriate chores and the suggested amount of money for each. Handling money well takes discipline, and this message comes through loud and clear in The MoneySmart Family System.
 
In this book, Steve and Annette Economides (is that really their last name?!) present some interesting views and ideas on teaching your kids about how to become financially independent, starting at any age.
 
We probably won't put this entire system into place for our family, but there are still many things that we will be taking from the book.
 
I will give The MoneySmart Family System ... 3 BookWorms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through their BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."