Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Reading Plans

Looking for something to add to your Advent celebration? You might want to try refocusing on the true meaning of Christmas with one of YouVersion’s special Advent Reading Plans. You still have time to complete one of these topical or devotional plans between now and Christmas:
  1. Countdown to Christmas 29 days
    A fun Advent activity calendar to teach your whole family the significance of Christmas
  2. Christmas Begins with Christ 28 days
    Devotional focusing on the joy, peace, and hope surrounding Jesus’ birth
  3. Rediscovering the Christmas Season 25 days
    Scriptures and reflections that will help you center each day on Christ
  4. Carols: A Christmas Devotional 25 days
    Devotional revealing the biblical roots of classical Christmas songs
  5. The Christmas Story 5 days
    Biblical prophetic context and historical Gospel accounts of the Savior’s birth
Of course, YouVersion.com and the Bible App now have other Reading Plans—more than 200, in fact, including many in different languages.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blog Tour: Remembering You (Review)

When Remembering You arrived in the mail, I was ready to read something different - I was not disappointed.

This book, tells the tale of a young journalist who travels to Europe with her grandfather, a World War II vet, on what will probably be his last journey to a large piece of his young adult journey.

Remembering You is a mufti-layered story. Not only does it follow Ava's journey to find out more about herself - as a person, journalist and granddaughter, but also Jack's journey to put away the ghosts of the past.

This book was powerful. It put a new face on WWII and the living history that exists because of the brave men and women who took part in that effort.

It also helps explore the power behind family relationships that span the generations. During this trip, Jack and Ava not only find out information about themselves, but also discover new things within their relationship.

While this book does have a "romantic" twist - when Ava rediscovers a relationship Dennis, the grandson of her grandfather's best friend, the romantic nature is just one of the layers of the tale.

On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest - I give this book a solid four. It kept my interest and it gave me some "meat" to think about. It was also interesting, at how this book "opened" my eyes to a variety of WWII stories - which have crossed my path in the last month.While a novel, this book might also challenge you to sit down and talk to a family member to capture their role in history.

The Book's Back Story!
By Tricia Goyer
In the last ten years since I started interviewing veterans for my WWII novels, most have passed away. Some of them—realizing their days on earth were coming to an end—returned to Europe one last time with their family members to walk along paths they've never forgotten. Those trips inspired my most recent novel, Remembering You.

One of the most amazing experiences was when I received an email from a woman named Hana. She'd heard of my book and knew I'd interviewed some of the veterans. She asked if I'd interviewed any medics. Then she told me an amazing story. Hana was born on a cart just outside of Mauthausen. Her mother had survived being a prisoner of another camp and was transported to Mauthausen at the end of the war.

LeRoy "Pete" Petersohn
Hana was just three weeks old when the Americans arrived, and she was very ill. Because of the filthy conditions she got a skin infection and sores covered her body. No one expected her to live. Yet one of the medics saw the small baby and knew he had to do something. Even though it took most of the day, he lanced and cleaned all Hana's sores, saving her life. Over the years she'd wanted to find the medic, but didn't know where to start.

I was amazed by Hana's story and told her I knew one medic—maybe he remembered who that man was. I gave Hana the contact information and I soon heard the good news. My friend LeRoy “Pete” Petersohn was the medic who'd saved her life! The two were soon reunited! After all these years Hana was able to look into the eyes of the man who saved her and thanked him. After all these years Pete was able to meet the woman he saved. “Baby!” he called out when he met her.
LeRoy "Pete" Petersohn & Hana, reunited!

Remembering You is a work of fiction, but the experiences of the men are true. The experiences of the main character, Ava, are also true-to-life. I was busy with life when God pointed me to an amazing story, and to even more amazing men. I'm so thankful I took time to listen and care. I'm so thankful I allowed these men to share what … and who … they remembered most.

About the book:
From The Publisher
35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request.

But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.

As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own.

Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and
his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.

Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.

About The Author
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough.

She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Goyer's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005.

In addition to her novels, Goyer writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Goyer is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions.

On her weekly radio show, Living Inspired, she shares stories of inspiration and encouragement. Goyer and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

For more about Goyer and her other books visit www.triciagoyer.com

Online Resources
Read more about this book - and an online excerpt here!
Buy Remembering You online
Follow the blog tour here!

Past Reviews of Goyer's Work!
Tricia Goyer
Songbird Under a German Moon (Review)
All Things Hidden (Review)
Sunflower Serenade (Review)
Blue Like Play Dough (Review)
Beside Still Waters (Review)
Along Wooded Paths (Review)

Tricia Goyer and Kristen Jane Anderson
Life, In Spite of Me (Review & Interview with Tricia Goyer)

Tricia Goyer and Ocienna Fleiss
Love Finds You In Lonesome Prairie (Review & Interview)
Love Finds You In Victory Heights (Review & Interview)

Tricia Goyer & Robin Gunn
Praying for Your Future Husband (Interview)

Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey
The Swiss Courier - (Review & Interview)

It's A Contest!
Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!
Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Goyer will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with her via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Goyer will host an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com. So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Goyer on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

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.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Tour: Remembering Christmas (Review)

It's been said that the holidays can be the best of times for many, yet be the worst of times for some - facing pain, loss and more.

In Remembering Christmas, Dan Walsh explores how life changed for a family as the result of one Christmas.

Through flashbacks (from present time to the 80s), Walsh tells a tale that reminds people about the value and importance of family relationships.

Remembering Christmas is not a traditional "Christmas" tale, yet is is a delightful story that is full of Christmas spirit and love.

If you are looking for a simple, yet warm story to read, then check out Remembering Christmas. The story will help brighten your spirits and put you in a jolly mood.

More About The Book
From The Publisher
Can one Christmas change a life forever?

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls begging him to come home after his stepfather has an aneurysm, Rick is more than a little reluctant. What was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and dealing with the homeless guy who keeps hanging around the store. The one bright spot is the lovely and intriguing young woman who works at his side each day.

As Christmas nears, Rick's old life beckons, the hurts from his past loom large, and the decisions he makes will determine more than just where he spends Christmas Eve.


More About The Author
Dan Walsh is the award-winning author of The Unfinished Gift, The Homecoming, The Deepest Waters, and Remembering Christmas.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Walsh served as a pastor for 25 years. He lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Online Resources
Buy it at Amazon.com
Find it at Barnes & Noble
Read an excerpt online

Additional reviews of Walsh's Books
The Unfinished Gift (Review & Interview)
The Homecoming (Review & Interview) 
The Deepest Waters (Review)

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, November 19, 2011

Blog Tour: The Christmas Shoppe (Review)

It's beginning to look a lot like .... Christmas! If reading Christmas novellas, then Melody Carson's newest offering, The Christmas Shoppe, will fill you heart with the holiday spirit.

Set in the fictional town of Parrish Springs, The Christmas Shoppe tells the story of a town full of people who are suffering from a "lack" of Christmas spirit.

When a stranger - Matilda Honeycutt - moves in to open her Christmas Shoppe, life changes for the good for the people of Parrish Springs.

Through her small, charming book, Carson explores a different tale for Christmas. A story that encourages people to confront the pain of the past, in order to move into the joy of the future.

On a scale of one to five, this book is a solid and cheery three. It's a tale that has the quality of a warm, cozy cup of hot tea - just perfect for an evening read in front of a roaring fireplace.

More About The Book
From The Publisher
The small town of Parrish Springs is not quite ready for Matilda Honeycutt.

A strange older woman with scraggly gray hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda is certainly not the most likely person to buy the old Barton Building on the town's quaint main street. When it becomes apparent that her new shop doesn't fit the expectations of Parrish Springs residents, a brouhaha erupts. After all, Christmas is approaching, and the last thing the town needs is a junky shop run by someone who looks and acts like a gypsy. But as townsfolk venture into the strange store, they discover that old memories can bring new life and healing.


More About The Author
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million.

She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie.

She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, Double Take, The Jerk Magnet, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. Carson was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books in 2010 and 2011. She and her husband live in central Oregon.

For more information about Carson visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.

Online Resources
Buy it at Amazon.com
Find it at Barnes & Noble
Read an excerpt online

Additional reviews of Carson's Books
Anything But Normal (Review)
Christmas At Harrington's (Review)
The Christmas Dog (Review & Interview)
Always, A Teen Devo (Review)
Double Take (Review)
Never Been Kissed (Review)

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.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog Tour: The House of Hope (Review)

What would you do if you had wealth, a substantial job, a comfortable life as an ex-pat working in China and well, everything you could want in life?

What would you do if the still, quiet voice of God whispered in your heart that there was something more for you to do?

Could you walk away from the security of your job to take care of the "least of these" in a foreign country?

For Robin and Joyce Hill, the answer is a resounding yes.

Together, along with their children, the Hills have worked to bring one simple word to orphaned children in China - hope.

Along the way, their journey has led them to cross paths with many people - including Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman - and help hundreds of children.

In The House of Hope, journalist Elisabeth Gifford, tells their tale, and helps people understand just what it took for the Hills to accept the calling that God has placed upon their lives.

This book, written at times simply in a mater-of-fact style, takes the readers through a straight forward account of how the Hills responded to God, built and lost their first dream, and then, gained more than they could imagine.

Along the way, readers are invited to read the stories of several children who not only found the medical help they needed through the Hills' care, but also found their forever homes through adoption.

Because I read Mary Beth Chapman's memoir, I was familiar with how Maria's Big House of Love was established. What I didn't know, is role the Hills' had in its formation. Gifford's book brought new life - and understanding - into that story and more.

Jesus challenges Christians to take care of the "least" of these - specifically widows and orphans. Joyce and Robin Hill took up that challenge, and because of their hard work and dedication, countless children have been treated with love, respect and more.

On a scale of one to five, this book is a six. I simply couldn't put it down.

If you have a heart for children, are interested in adoption issues, or just simply want to see how people are doing amazing things in another country, then pick up The House of Hope. It just might challenge you to do something in your own backyard.

More About The Book
From the Publisher:
One couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children
Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here: http://www.hopefosterhome.com.

"I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
--Steven Curtis Chapman

"I had the privilege of going to China and witnessing the work that God is doing through Robin and Joyce Hill. They are wonderful servants of God who lovingly care for the 'least of these.' I hope that many will read this book and consider their example."
--Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love

Take Note:
100% of the proceeds of the book go to support the work of
Hope Foster Homes (please visit their site to learn more)
- buy a book for yourself and everyone you know.
This book is a gift that gives a gift.

More About The Author
Elisabeth Gifford is a journalist who has written for the London Times and the Independent Newspapers.

She lives in Kingston, England, and teaches children with dyslexia.

Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

Online Resources
Buy the book at Amazon
See What Others Think: Follow The Blog Tour
Learn More About The Hope Foster Homes

It's A Contest/Giveaway!
The publisher is sponsoring a $50 "GET / GIVE" GIVEAWAY: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate for themselves AND $50 will be given in the winner's name to Hope Foster Home.

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #HFH) about The House of Hope or share about it on Facebook!

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

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea:

TWEET THIS:  Couple gives all to rescue babies in China! 100% proceeds go to #HopeFosterHome http://ow.ly/7qR3e RT 4 $50 to @amazon & $50 to #HFH

(must use hashtage #HFH to be entered)

FACEBOOK THIS: The House of Hope: One couple abandons a comfortable life to rescue abandoned children. Robin and Joyce Hill have helped over 1300 Chinese orphans with severe medical problems. Purchase a copy for everyone you know - the book is a gift that gives a gift. 100% proceeds to help support the work at Hope Foster Home! Learn more here: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13438821 Share this for a chance to get a $50 Amazon.com GC and $50 in your name to Hope Foster Home! Details: http://ow.ly/7qR3e.

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, November 9, 2011

Blog Tour: Deeply Devoted (Review)

Catherine has a secret. The baggage she carries as she and her sisters travel "across the pond" to America is as heavy as the luggage she actually brings.

Through a variety of twists and turns, Maggie Brendan brings to life the story of a prairie mail order bride.

Without pulling any punches, she describes a life - a choice that many women made duirng this time period - to marry a man only known to them by mailed letters.

Through several trials, and a lot of effort, Catherine and Peter not only learn how to live together - as a married couple - but also function as a married unit.

They also learn how to deal with the past, so they can move into a new future together. The story highlights how we cannot be weighed down by our past - or let our choices be dictated by secrets.

On a scale of one to five, this book is a solid three. It's a good read - I'm wondering where Brendan will take the series (I assume books two and three will focus on Cahterine's sisters).

More About The Book
From The Publisher
She is staking her future on a man she's never met. Can she learn to love him?

When Catharine Olsen leaves Holland for Wyoming as a mail-order bride, she brings some extra baggage with her: two sisters, her mother's set of Blue Willow china, and a tragic past. As she steps off the train, Peter Andersen is glad to see that she is everything her letters showed her to be. But he is a bit perturbed by her unexpected companions. How will he support them all? And what other secrets might Catharine be keeping from him?

Filled with sweet romance and vivid characters, Deeply Devoted highlights a clash of cultures as a highborn European and a simple wheat farmer learn to love one another and trust God with the past--and the future.

More About The Author
Maggie Brendan is the author of No Place for a Lady, The Jewel of His Heart, and A Love of Her Own. A member of American Christian Writers and the American Fiction Writers Association, Maggie lives in Georgia.

Online Resources
Buy it at Amazon.com
Find it at Barnes & Noble
Read an excerpt online

Additional reviews of Brendan's books
The Jewel of His Heart (Review)
A Love Of Her Own (Review) 

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.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blog Tour: I Am In Here (Review)

Powerful is one word you can use to describe the book "I Am In Here," by Elizabeth M. Bonker and Virginia G. Breen.

The story - told through the Elizabeth's poetry and Virginia's memories, highlight the strength and determination of both mother and daughter.

Elizabeth's words, told through her poetry and brief descriptions of the works, truly highlight her determination to break through the chains of silence brought on by autism.

Through her memories and in telling Elizabeth's story, Virginia captures what a parent will do to help her child succeed - even if the world thinks differently.

In Hollywood, this book would end with Elizabeth being able to speak verbally. While that's not the case here, what is the case is that both Elizabeth and her mother continue to work for the day that she can become new.

This story is filled with hope, faith and more. It's definitely a book I plan to pass along to a few parents in my ministry who are also part of the journey known as autism.

More About The Book
From The Publisher
Me
I sometimes fear
That people cannot understand
That I hear.
And I know
That they don't believe I go
To every extreme
To try to express
My need to talk.
If only they could walk
In my shoes
They would share my news:
I am in here.
And trying to speak every day
In some kind of way.

Though she cannot speak, Elizabeth Bonker writes poetry that shines a light on the hidden inner world of autism and the world around us. I Am in Here is the spiritual journey of a mother and daughter who refuse to give up hope, who celebrate their victories, and who keep moving forward despite the obstacles.

Elizabeth's poetry and her mother's stirring storytelling combine in this inspirational book to proclaim that there is always a reason to take the next step--with hope.

More About The Authors

 Elizabeth M. Bonker is a thirteen-year-old young lady with autism who cannot yet speak, but who writes deeply revealing poetry, which was featured on PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. She excels in mainstream public school with an educational aide.

Virginia G. Breen is the mother of three beautiful children, two of whom are profoundly affected by autism. Besides working to heal her children, Virginia is a venture capitalist investing in high-tech companies, and she sits on both corporate and nonprofit boards.

Previously she studied computer science at Harvard, business at Columbia, and eastern philosophies in Singapore. She now studies relentlessly at the School of Autism.

Online Resources
Buy it at Amazon.com
Find it at Barnes & Noble
Read an excerpt online

Note: Ginnie Breen, co-author of I Am in Here  is scheduled to appear on “The Today Show” on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to discuss her book. As with all national TV, this is still subject to change due to breaking news.

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.  
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