Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blog Tour: Blue Skies Tomorrow (Review)

The third time is a charm for Sarah Sundin, author of the "Wings of Glory" series. The books, which center around the Novak brothers and their experiences during World War II.

Like the two previous novels, Blue Skies Tomorrow, focuses on one brother (weaving a bit of the other two in the background) and his life story.

A dash of romance - in this case, with a young mother, left widowed by war - adds an extra dimension to the tale.

What was different about this book (spoiler alert) is how Sundin delved into some pretty serious topics of domestic violence, all within the context of what would have happened during the WWII era.

As a reader of the entire series, I've been captivated at times by Sundin's knowledge of this historical period. I think, though, that this book, though third in the series, caught my attention in a new way.

I can definitely recommend this series, and honestly, if you haven't read the other two, it could be taken as a stand-alone novel. She includes enough back story, to catch newbies up, and yet, enough new stuff to catch "veteran readers" up on the happenings of her past characters.

If you are a fan of World War II fiction, then take "Blue Skies Tomorrow" out for a spin. I think you'll find it's worth the read.

More From The Publisher
In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings. But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll. Soon something is going to give.

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit. His stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life--and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear. When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.

But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory series.


More About The Author
Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us.

Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sundin lives in California with her husband and three children

Online Resources
Visit Sarah's website
Like her on Facebook
Read an excerpt of Blue Skies Tomorrow
Find Blue Skies Tomorrow at Amazon.com
My review of A Distant Melody
My review of A Memory Between Us

It's A Contest
To celebrate the release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final installment of the Wings of Glory series, Sundin is giving one lucky winner A Vintage Kindle Prize Package!


One winner will receive:
* Kindle with Wi-Fi
* Handmade vintage apron for you and a friend (see a photo below)
* Blue Skies Tomorrow (for Kindle)
To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/10. Winner will be announced on 9/12 at Sarah Sundin's blog. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.


About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Blog Tour: Amish Values For Your Family (Review)

When I first picked up "Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life," it was at the end of a REALLY long week.

I thought, I'll just skim it, see what it's like, and read some cute stories.

I was wrong. I couldn't put it down. Reading this book was like taking a drink of icy cold water on a hot day. Refreshing and rejuvenating.

Once again, Suzanne Woods Fisher has crafted a non-fiction book that rings with authenticity.

Through personal interviews - with Amish family members and friends - she truly helps show different aspects of the Amish life and faith, and how it can apply to a 21st Century family.

Your family may not be ready to give up computers, tv's, and well, the "typical" American lifestyle, but it might be ready to embrace some of the simple - almost common sense - approaches held by the Amish when it comes to raising a family.

This book is worth the read - but a word of warning, you might find yourself rethinking some things in life.

On a side note: I had finished this review, and my parents came for a visit. Something on the book cover must have caught my dad's eye. He sat down and started reading.

A little while later, he said - so, where did you get this book? It's pretty good! He decided there's a lot in this book that everyone could benefit from. I have a feeling this book is not going to make it into my library, but rather, travel back to my parents' house.

From the Publisher
When it comes to strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much we can learn from the Amish. Just how do they establish such strong family bonds, such deeply held values, and such wonderful family traditions? In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shares the secrets of Amish family life. In this inspiring and practical book, you will meet real Amish families that are a lot like yours. Through their stories you'll discover how to
  • slow down
  • safeguard family time
  • raise children who stand strong in their faith
  • prioritize what's truly important
Amish values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy--without selling your car or changing your wardrobe.

About The Author 
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.

Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine.

Fisher is the host of an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom, and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.

Online Resources
Read an excerpt online of Amish Values
Become my friend on Facebook  Friend Suzanne Woods Fisher on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter  Follow Suzanne's Tweets on Twitter
Read my Blog  Read Suzanne Woods Fisher's Blog

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com. 

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blog Tour: Mugabe and the White African (Review)

To say this is a powerful book, is well, an understatement. To say that you'll read it, and put it down at times frustrated and angry at the powerful tales of injustice, well, is a huge description of Mugabe and the White African.

From the opening chapter, which describes Ben Freeth's first meeting with Mugabe - a chilling encounter - to the brutal descriptions of the evil men, women and children faced due to Mugabe's rule, this book paints a strong picture of evil.

It also highlights not only the stsituation that has been brewing in Zimbabwe for years, but also how evil can cross the lines of race, gender and more.

Hard at times to read, Mugabe and the White African also shows the resilience of both blacks and whites living in Zimbabwe, but also shows how some were not only willing to stand up for something that was right, but they were also willing to put their very possessions, farms and businesses, and even their lives on the line.

I wish this book had a happy ending, but unfortunately, life does not always end that way. However, does paint a picture of integrity, faith and determination.

The book, Mugabe and the White African, might just open your eyes to a situation that cries out for justice. You probably won't look at the international news coming from Africa the same again.

More About Mugabe and the White African
Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell. Like that of many white farmers, his family's land was "reclaimed" for redistribution by Mugabe's government.

But Ben's family fought back. Appealing to international law, they instigated a suit against Mugabe's government in the SADC, the Southern African equivalent of NATO. The case was deferred time and again while Mugabe's men pulled strings. But after Freeth and his parents-in-law were abducted and beaten within inches of death in 2008, the SADC deemed any further delay to be an obstruction of justice. The case was heard, and was successful on all counts.

But the story doesn't end there. In 2009 the family farm was burned to the ground. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over--this book is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances.

About The Author
Ben Freeth, MBE, is a British-born Zimbabwean farmer. He has lived in Zimbabwe most of his life and is raising his three young children there, together with his wife Laura. Freeth's story has already been the subject of an award-winning documentary which won Best Documentary 2009 (British Independent Film Awards), was nominated for the BAFTA Outstanding Debut Film 2010, and shortlisted for an Oscar in 2010.

Online Resources
Buy Mugabe and the White African at Amazon.com
Read an Excerpt of Mugabe and the White African
Read more about this book here

Watch A Trailer for the Documentary


The PBS debut of Mugabe and the White African, the award-winning documentary of the same name, was on July 26. Watch now at PBS:

Follow the book tour here!

It's A Giveway
Kregel Publications is sponsoring a $50 Amazon.com giveaway open to blog readers. To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Mugabe and the White African or share about it on Facebook!

If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (info@litfusegroup.com). Easy.

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea.
TWEET THIS:  Mugabe and the White African – one family’s stand for justice in the face of evil! @litfuse http://ow.ly/61JDW RT 4 a chance at $50

FACEBOOK THIS: Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell about one family’s stand for justice in the face of evil. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over—Mugabe and the White African is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances. http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13422041

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Blog Tour: The Colonel's Lady (Review)

Can love survive the secrets kept buried within a tormented heart?

Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.

Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is--and what he's done?


What I Thought
This book kept my attention from start to finish. Through the eyes of Roxanna Rowan, Laura Frantz takes the reader back into the frontiers land of Kentucky, to see what life was like at a military fort and more.

Frantz also explores the secrets that her main characters carry - their personal hurts - and how those secrets continue to deeply impact their lives.

I thought the sub plot - McLinn's struggle with his twin brother - helped provide a strong twist to the plot, and truly drove the novel.

A bit deeper than a "beach" novel, The Colonel's Lady will be a good book to curl up with, in front of a fire. It's historical depth will make a reader think, long after they finish the last page.

About The Author 
Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late eighteenth century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. Frantz is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter and Courting Morrow Little and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Online Resources
Read an excerpt from The Colonel's Lady
Buy The Colonel's Lady at Amazon
Read my previous review of Laura Frantz's Courting Morrow Little
Read more about Laura Frantz at her blog
Watch a book trailer about the book


About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com. 

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Blog Tour: Don't Check Your Brains At The Door (Review)

What's the best defense for faith? For Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, the answer is simply, knowledge.

In a updated and revised edition of their book, "Don't Check Your Brains At The Door," the pair strive to provide faith-based answers to a variety of questions.

They also hope (per a press release by their publisher, Thomas Nelson) to "challenge young readers to test gospel truths found in the Bbile so they can learn to give an answer for their faith as they mature into thinking adults."

"We receive all kinds of messages, myths and misconceptions in the course of our lives," Hostetler said. "One of those messages is the idea that following Jesus requires us to check our brains at the door - that reason and faith are incompatible. And that mistaken idea leads to others.

"That's why this book exists to help a young man or woman weigh the evidence and lay a firm foundation for a strong faith in Christ."

So, What I Thought
This book is easy to read. Each "question" is literally tackled in less than four pages - which includes a section called "brain food" or Bible verses readers can look up for further study.

It's written in a conversational style that I think will appeal to teens and youth leaders, alike. The topics are relevant (focusing on everything questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, Life and Christianity). It's definitely hits questions students have asked me - or I asked myself in the past.

I loved the chapter about the "Father Christmas Myth" about God (a vending machine God), because it put into writing an answer I've struggled to form, even in the past year - as to how to encourage prayer (for both myself and others) focusing on God's will, rather than expecting God to deliver the goods like a vending machine.

What made me laugh though, in his revised edition - the first one came out in 1991 - is that some of the same illustrations remain. Ok, let's face it, how many teens in today's world know who Belinda Carlisle is, let alone that she had a hit song called "Heaven is a Place on Earth," in 1988. (Ok, with the resurgence of "all things new," they might just know about this song because it's "retro.")

In all, laughing aside at a few of the illustrations, this is a book that I would feel comfortable passing along to a young teen (or even an older elementary student), to encourage them to "see what the Bible says" about a specific issue. I guarantee, it will  at least prompt a further discussion about the topic, which I believe is Hostetler and McDowell's objective.

More About The Authors
Josh McDowell wrote the international best-selling apologetics references Evidence That Demands a Verdict and over 120 other books. He travels and speaks with Campus Crusade for Christ.

 You can read more about him, and his ministry at: http://www.josh.org

Bob Hostetler is an award-winning and best-selling writer, editor, pastor, and speaker.

His books include Don't Check Your Brains at the Door and The Bone Box.

You can read more about him on his website: www.bobhostetler.com/ or follow his prayer blog at http://bobhostetler.blogspot.com/

Online Resources
Buy "Don't Check Your Brains At The Door" at Amazon.
Follow the Blog Tour to See What Others Think!

Share This on Twitter
Win a KINDLE from @bobhoss @josh_mcdowell Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door Giveaway. FB Party 8/18. http://ow.ly/5UEi8 #litfuse

Share This on Facebook
Enter to win a KINDLE in the Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door KINDLE Giveaway! Find out who won during the Facebook Party on August 18th! All the details here: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13418040

It's A Contest
To celebrate the release of their new book, Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler have teamed up with their publisher,Thomas Nelson, to give away a brand new KINDLE!

Don't Check Your Brains At the Door answers many of the faith-related questions Christian youth face. It challenges young readers to test gospel truths found in the Bible so they can learn to give an answer for their faith as they mature into thinking adults. A great resource for teens and college-age. Read the reviews here.


One "brainy" winner will receive a Kindle prize package worth over $150.00:
  • A Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Ink Screen
  • Don't Check Your Brains At the Door by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler (for KINDLE)
A perfect back-to-school prize package! To enter just click one of the icons below. Hurry! The giveaway ends Thursday, Aug. 18. Winner will be announced on the evening of the 18 during the Don't Check Your Brains At the Door Facebook Party! The authors will be chatting with guests, answering questions on "knowing what you believe and why" (it’s okay if you haven’t read the book – who knows, you might WIN a copy!), testing your trivia skills, and giving away tons of great stuff! (Gift certificates, books, and more!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Bring your friends and join the fun on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 5 PM PST (6 PM MDT, 7 PM CDT, & 8 PM EDT).

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blog Tour: Perfectly Invisible (Review)

Life after high school is so close . . . and yet so very far away.

It's Daisy Crispin's final semester of high school, and she plans to make it count. Her long-awaited freedom is mere months away, and her big plans for college loom in the future. Everything is under control.

Or is it?

Her boyfriend is treating her like she's invisible, and her best friend is making her sell bad costume jewelry in the school quad--and hanging out with her boyfriend. To top it off, Daisy's major humiliation of the year will be remembered in the yearbook for all eternity. It's enough to make her wonder if maybe being invisible isn't so bad after all.

Can Daisy get her life back on track? Or is she stuck in this town forever?

What I Thought
I like Kristin Billerbeck's writing style. It's light, fun and appealing to young women.

I think lots of people, regardless of their age, will relate to Daisy's life-trials (especially being remembered in the yearbook for your biggest "humiliation."

What I like about Billerbeck's writing is that I can hand this book to a youth in my "circle of influence" and then maybe have a "so what do you think" or "what would you do" conversation - and it's easy and breazy, because we're "just talking about a book."

If you are looking for something safe and fun, with a faith-basis, to pass along to a teen reader, then I highly recommend this book. But be forewarned. You might be tempted to read it first!

About The Author
Kristin Billerbeck is the bestselling, award-winning author of several novels, including What a Girl Wants and Perfectly Dateless.

A Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year, Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California. You can read more about her at: http://www.kristinbillerbeck.com/

Online Resources
Read an online excerpt at Revell here!
Buy it at Amazon here!

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visitwww.RevellBooks.com. 

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.
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