Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blog Tour: Full Disclosure (Review)

More than 10 years ago, a librarian friend put a novel in my reading "radar." Amid my exploration of a new genre - Christian romantic suspense fiction - she suggested I check out Danger In The Shadows, the prequel to the O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson.

I still remember sitting on my back porch, reading that book. It engrossed me. It "kept me up" with its suspense. In fact, it was the first novel in years to literally "scare me' awake. (The last being a Frank Peretti novel in Seminary).

That novel was the beginning of a love affair with Henderson's writing style.

I know, I know, Christian romantic suspense. It might sound like an oxymoron, but it's not. It's a writing style that a few authors have mastered. It's also a style that Henderson has not only conquered, but set the bar for everyone who would follow.

On Oct. 2, 2012 (10 02 12) - it's "Dee Day of sorts in the publishing world. Henderson's latest release, Full Disclosure, will hit the bookshelves. It's a novel that I've been anxiously awaiting, since I heard Henderson was writing again. I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy. I eagerly awaited it's arrival - and was not disappointed.

Full Disclosure follows the lives of Ann Silver and Paul Falcon. It also pulls in past characters from Henderson's previous works (in surprising ways).

The novel has two plots going throughout it's pages -  the developing friendship and ultimate romance between Silver and Falcon, along with the discovery and ultimate surprising arrests - surrounding a female assassin.

The book was an amazing read. It was not what I expected. I truly thought after reading (and truly dissecting) Henderson's previous works (the O'Malley Series, Uncommon Heroes Series, and her stand-alone books Kidnapped (published first as True Courage) and Before I Wake, I would be able to guess what would happen next.

Nope. Even though I've read a ton of her books, Henderson had new tricks and tips up her writing sleeve with this novel.

It was gripping, striking and amazingly full of intrigue. It's definitely a book that I couldn't put down - and one I'm going to read again and again.

I love how she crafted a "real life" aspect to Falcon and Silver's relationship. I also love how the book's ending truly left me surprised.

On the scale of one to five, I give this novel the rare and elusive FIVE. I truly believe you will not be disappointed if you pick up this book.

More About The Author
Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. She is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at www.deehenderson.com

Online Resources
Check out the book's website
Buy it on Amazon
Check out the book's reading group guide

Watch the book's video trailer!

Read An Excerpt Online
(Warning - you'll find yourself wanting more.....it's addicting!)
Full Disclosure

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishing, 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.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Toontastic (Review)

Recently - thanks to some really creative kidlets in my life, I discovered what is becoming one of my all-time favorite iPad apps - Toontastic.

Toontastic is a fun way kids (of all ages) can create their own cartoons. You can pick or create the setting, pick out or create your own characters, animate the characters (while laying down the voice over track for dialogue) and then add the background music.

Awesome. Simply Awesome.

Did I mention it's a free app? That makes it even sweeter!
(Click here for details in the iTunes store.)

The original download comes with a few built in "characters" - enough to get you started. Additional sets are available for a small charge. (You'll get a free set if you register your account with the online viewer - ToonTube - which will let you share your videos online with friends and family members.)

I plan to eventually get the "whole kit and kaboodle" aka the All Access Pass (everything currently available and all future downloads) for $9.99. It looks well worth the price.

Tried & True
I used the app in August as an "extra sprinkles" (on the cupcake of life) activity for students taking my tech and more session.

The first group of students were given the chance to pick their favorite Bible story and the characters we would need to tell it.

Each group, including the first, were then able to add at least one - if not two - scenes to the story.

It was fun, crazy and outrageous. The story of David and Goliath suddenly took place on the moon, with a knight (David), a dragon (Goliath) and an astronaut girl (King Saul).

The finished cartoon was then uploaded to toontube - the app's online sharing site. (The original "created by" credit read the Bible Bootcamp Kids - but when it uploaded, it defaulted to my "screen name.")

Some of my kiddos who attended the Bibleboot Camp are still talking about making the cartoon.

(Click on the black box to make the video start.)

I love this app because it give students a chance to create - through visual images and spoken word. It also shows them how to create a story - from beginning to end - using storytelling styles. (A pdf on the site for parents/teachers helps people working with students explore ways to use app.)

Here's a quick overview
Step 1 - Create A New Cartoon.

Step 2 - Create the setting and pick your characters.

Step 3 - Create the scenes - it defaults to five scenes.

Step 4 - Animate & Create Each Scene - This is where you add the dialogue.

Step 5 - Decide the music that you'll use for the scene - setting the "mood."

Step 6 - Finish and Enjoy (& Upload if you desire)

I really love this app. It's creative, fun and enjoyable. I love how it engages students in a new way.

This app is definitely a four out of five app.

If I have one complaint - is that this program won't work on an iPod/iPhone. I really want to use it as an add-on for Tween Time, but I don't have access to many iPads. (The smaller electronics would be easier to come by.)

All in all, it's a great app - that could be used both at home, and in a classroom setting.

Note: As a children's pastor (and freelance journalist) I often get samples of things for revive - however this review was not influenced by anything free (just in case the FTC cares).
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blog Tour: With Every Letter (Review)

What happens when life imitates a movie? That's the question Sarah Sundin must have been asking herself as she set the plot line for the first book in her newest series "Wings of A Nightingale."

In With Every Letter, Sundin builds a relationship with Lt. Mellie Blake and Lt. MacGilliver by mimicking the Jimmy Steward movie, "Shop Around The Corner," by developing an anonymous "morale-building" pen-pal effort between soldiers and nurses.

For Tom, the chance to write the letter, gives him a way to escape into anonymity and develop a friend without the burden of his infamous family history.

Millie, on the other hand, feels trapped in a quagmire of shyness. She believes she's unable to escape her painful childhood and develop a friend. She is coerced into joining the letter writing campaign by a overzealous and slightly romantic supervisor.

Through a flurry of letters, the pair begin building an amazing friendship - but it falters (and almost ends) when their postings put them both in Algeria. Can they move beyond the anonymous names of "Annie" and "Ernest" and actually meet?

Both need to move past the fear of potential rejection, in order to find out if their friendship - and potential love - can move beyond the pages of their letters.

In the first book of her latest series, Sundin taps into the world of flight nurses in a unique and interesting way.  I found the idea behind this book to be intriguing - especially the pen pal idea. (I never saw the Jimmy Steward movie, but I did see "You Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks - which is also loosely based upon that movie.)

Not only Sundlin's book explore a piece of history that is interesting - the use of flight nurses in World War II, but it reminds us of a bygone time with the letter-writing exchange and how people used to cherish the written word.

This is the second series I've had a chance to read by Sundin. You can tell (it's listed in her bio) that her novels are inspired by her great-uncle who was a pilot during WWII. Both series focus around nurses and pilots - in different ways.

I picked up this novel after a long week, and I'll be honest, only because I had agreed to read it. Boy, am I glad I finally let myself relax long enough to check it out.

I found a novel that was well written (duh, already knew that from her previous books), well researched (yep, she continues to have quality, historical research embedded in her novels) and a storyline that I truly enjoyed.

Sundin's writing style is friendly, soothing and well, just fun. I felt like I could identify with both Millie and Tom - in a variety of ways. The characters seemed real - and I found myself wanting to keep reading to find out what happened. In other words, I quit feeling tired, and simply enjoyed losing myself in a quality novel.

On the scale of one to five, I give this novel a four - and recommend it. If you enjoy reading World War II based novels - or novels about nurses - I think you'll really like this book. You'll probably also find yourself wondering what comes next (the other two books in the series).

About The Author
Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award.

Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Online Resources
Visit Sarah Sundin's website:  http://www.sarahsundin.com/
Like Sarah Sundin on Facebok: https://www.facebook.com/SarahSundinAuthor
Buy It At Amazon: http://ow.ly/dyzz0
Follow the blog tour here: http://litfusegroup.com/

My reviews of her past books:
A Distant Melody  (Book 1 - Wings of Glory)
A Memory Between Us (Book 2 - Wings of Glory)
Blue Skies Tomorrow (Book 3- Wings of Glory)

It's A Contest
”With Every Letter” eReader Giveaway and 9/27 Facebook Party!

Celebrate with Sarah by entering to win a eReader (winner's choice of Kindle Fire or Nook Color)!

See what folks are saying about With Every Letter!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire or Nook Color (winner’s choice)
  • Handmade With Every Letter First Aid Kit
  • With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 26. Winner will be announced at the “With Every Letter” Author Chat Facebook Party on 9/27.

Connect with Sarah, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of With Every Letter and join Sarah on the evening of the September 27 for a chance to connect with Sarah and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today.
Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER
and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27!

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.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend Thoughts: Prayers beyond Party

I'm late to the party, but this prayer came across my "world" after the DNC Convention in North Carolina.

I was really impressed by the words spoken by Jena Lee Nardella, executive director of Blood: Water Mission during the evening benediction prayer.

Nardella started the ministry - which focus on combating the HIV/AIDS and water crisis in Africa - at 22 with Jars of Clay, a Christian music group I LOVE.

While I wasn't familiar with Blood: Water Mission before I listened to Nardella's prayer, hearing the eloquence of her words sent me to the group's website: http://www.bloodwatermission.com/ to learn more!

What really struck me, is that while Nardella was praying at the DNC convention, she prayed for BOTH candidates and their families. Her prayer was not partisan, it was CHRISTIAN.

To me, Nardella represents someone who is not only "talking" about her faith, but she's "doing something" to help others. Her prayer was an amazing reminder of how we need to embody the text of Matthew 25:35-40., regardless of our political party or platform.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV)

I think the prayer says it all.
It's a prayer I'm thinking about today - as I type this post.
May God bless us, during the time leading up to the election.
May he make the words of ALL of our mouths be pleasing to him.
May we take care of those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
May we see ourselves not as "Republican" or "Democrats" but as Americans.
May we shine light into darkness, and hope where it seems hopeless.

Thank you Jena, for an amazing prayer.
May God bless your ministry in rural Africa.

I've embedded the video below - and also printed the text (as I found it online) for the prayer.

(If the link above doesn't work, click here)

Nardella's prayer
God, I stand before you and ask that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto You. 

I pray for our President, Barack Obama. May he know your presence, O God, as he continues to serve as a leader of this nation, as a husband to Michelle and as a father to his daughters. Help him to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.

I pray as well for Governor Mitt Romney. May he know your presence, O God as he continues to serve as a leader, as a husband to Ann and as a father to his sons and their families. Help him to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.

I pray for our country in the next nine weeks leading up to this election for those of us here and for our fellow citizens who met last week. May we make our children proud of how we conduct ourselves. 

We know our human tendancies toward finger pointing and friliousness. Our better selves want this race to be honest and edifying rather than fabricated and self-serving.

Give us, O Lord, humility to listen to our sisters and brothers across the political spectrum because your Kingdom is not divided into red states and blue states. 

Equip us with moral imagination to have real discourse. 

Knit us, O God, as one country even as we wrestle over the complexity of how we ought to live and govern. 

Give us gratitude for our right to dissent and disagree for we know we are bound up in one another and have been given the tremendous opportunity to extend humanity and grace when others voice their deeply held convictions even when they differ from our own.

And give us wisdom, God, to discover honest solutions for we know it will take all of us to care for the widow and the orphan, the sick and the lonely, the down-trodden and the unemployed, the prisoner and the homeless, the stranger and the enemy, the thirsty and the powerless.

In rural Africa I am witness to thousands of HIV positive mothers, fathers and children who are alive today because Democrats and Republicans put justice and mercy above partisanship. Help us to keep that perspective even as we debate one another.

God, I thank you for the saving grace of Jesus and for the saints who have humbly gone before us.

I thank you for the words of St. Francis of Assisi whose prayer my husband and I carry with us both in our home in East Nashville and in our work across rural Africa. 

As we enter this election season, I pray St. Francis' words for us all:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 21, 2012

An Interactive Lord's Prayer Lesson

Earlier this fall, I was challenged with coming up with a Bible study for the elementary-aged students who attend St. James' after school program.

I wanted to do something that a) held their attention and b) didn't mean that I was standing in front of them lecturing.

In reality, I wanted a hands-on lesson that would intrigue my own "mexican jumping bean' brain. (Anyone who knows me know that I kinda ping between ideas and things.)

So, with challenge in mind, along with the knowledge the students had been asked to memorize the Lord's Prayer during an earlier lesson, left me searching for a creative idea.

I wanted something that would not only hold the kiddos attention, but also maybe "wow" them.

I guess it was a success, because the kiddos seemed to respond to the idea. In fact this one even told me "Miss Kaylea, you are one of the craziest people at church" as he showed me his bracelet (the blury thing in his hands).

Hum... I'm going to take crazy as "innovative" and stick with that!

So, here's my lesson, along with links to the original idea. Enjoy!

An Interactive Lord's Prayer.
I found an idea I could modify on www.childrensministry.com, originally created by Martha Turman Elberton, of Georgia. View the original source here.

The original idea made a ribbon bookmark. That was cool - but I wasn't sure:
a) how this would work for the multi ages I would have in the lesson time - (kindergarten through fifth grade) and

b) how third through fifth grade boys would react to a "craft" with ribbon. (Ribbon seems girly).

So I decided to modify it - and make bracelets. Wristbands are still popular among my students AND a previous activity with third and fourth graders making prayer bands (a project at Bible Bootcamp) told me that boys would at least make it without complaint. (We used different colors of beads to remind them of ways to pray.)

So here is the activity - with modification. I've edited the original text to match the way our church (United Methodist) recites the Lord's Prayer. The original idea used "debts' instead of 'trespasses".

Lord's Prayer Band

For each person/student:
18 to 20 inches of a thin twine (it needs to be able
to feed through the bead without effort).

One bead of each color: Blue, White, Purple, Green,
Yellow, Red, Orange and Gold.

You'll also want a Bible
(either paper, or on your iPad
- my new way to incorporate technology into my lessons
to interest the older students....not just because I'm a tech geek.

Note: I couldn't find a large bag of gold beads (yes, this was a night before idea), so I bought two different versions of the yellow - light yellow, and dark yellow. Obviously, if you have time to search/order the beads - you can be more specific!

Also, I made the string longer than most needed, because I wanted them to be able to tie knots on either side of beads AND have plenty of room to tie it their wrists. I also knew I needed to make it a "one size fits all" craft, since I would have a variety of "wrist sizes" due to the age differences.

A Helpful Tip: I divided all the supplies into dixie cups, for a way to "presort" the items AND provide a simple way to pass out the supplies to a large number of children. 
Large group = short attention span. Passing out the beads in large bags would have been too confusing and taken WAY too long.  The cups simplified the process. 

I used cups because it was easier for me to use cups for the pre-sorting process, rather than sandwich bags (my original plan) - because I could line the cups up on my desk and quickly drop the beads in each one in an "assembly line" format.

Basic instructions. This lesson is based on Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-13. I started by reading the Bible passage and talking about what Jesus was doing at the time (how he used it to teach the disciples how to pray). Then we passed out the cups of twine and beads and walked the students through the different pieces of the prayer, showing them how each bead represented a different portion. 

Added bonus. You could make each knot represent the "Alpha" and "Omega" and talk about how one of the names of Jesus is the "Alpha" and "Omega" or the beginning and the end.
The twine I found just happened to have the texture of something you might find on a fishing boat - so I wove that into the narrative of my lesson. (Jesus used this prayer to help teach the disciples ... former fishermen.... how to pray.)

Note: I typed up the information about how each color related to the prayer on a small, business card sized card, and gave it to each student. In theory, they made it home with this information, so they could explain it - or use it to memorize the prayer.

Explain To The Students
Start by having the students make a knot some distance from one end of the twine. They will use it as a "stopper" for the beads. (In theory, the knots keep the beads together.

*Blue is the color of fathers.
Say, "Our father who art in heaven" as you hold the blue bead.

*White represents holiness.
Say, "Hallowed be Thy name" as you add the white bead to the blue.

*Purple is a majestic color. Say,
"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done" as you add purple to white.

*Green is the color of the Earth.
Say, "On earth as it is in heaven" as you add green to purple.

*Yellow reminds us of wheat.
Say, "Give us this day our daily bread" as you add yellow to green.

*Red reminds us of Jesus' blood. By trusting in Jesus, we're forgiven.
Say, "And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us"
as you add red to yellow.

*Orange is the color for the darkness of evil and temptation.
Say, "And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil" as you add orange to red.

*And gold reminds us of God's heavenly kingdom where he reigns forever.
Say: "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever. Amen." as you add gold to orange.

Finish by adding a second knot (the knots "sandwich" the beads like bread.)

Have the students put the bracelet on,
and look at each bead as you recite the prayer.

The original post had some talking points,
you can use to continue the conversation
with your students, including:
What does God want us to pray about?
What attitude does God want us to have as we pray?
What do we learn about God from this prayer?

I'll be honest, I didn't do the questions
- by the time we got 50+ students through the prayer
as we made the braclets, their attention was spent.

How The "Take Home Card" Looked:
Blue - The Color of Fathers
“Our Father, who art in heaven”

White - Is The Color of Holiness
“Hallowed be Thy Name”

Purple - Is a Majestic Color
“Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done”

Green - Color of the Earth
“On Earth, as it is in heaven”

Yellow - Reminds Us Of Wheat
“Give us this day, our daily bread”

Red - Reminds us of Jesus’ blood
“And forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Orange - Represents Darkness & Evil
“and lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil.”

Gold - Reminds Us Of God’s heavenly
kingdom where he reigns forever.
“For thine  is the kingdom, 
and the power, and the glory forever, amen.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thinking Out Loud

I found this quote on Pinterest tonight, on a teen friend's board
It's apparently taken from a quote, Elizabeth Edwards wrote in one of her books.

I found the full quote on ABC News tonight......

"In a book excerpt, Elizabeth Edwards wrote of what she hopes her three children will someday tell their own children."

"When they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way -- and it surely has not -- she adjusted her sails."

This is a quote I want to remember this week. I thought Elizabeth Edwards embodied class, grace and dignity. If I be half of the woman she was during her life, it would be an amazing thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pinterest: Rolo Stuffed Snickerdoodles

What happens when you mix yummy cinnamon dough (aka snickerdoodle cookies), with the yummy caramel/chocolate candy known as Rolos?

You get an easy, yummy and fun cookie!

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it became another "adventures in cooking" experiment for a weekend adventure with my friend Laura.

The original pin - and what we tried - used store bought cookie dough. But I could see making these with a favorite homemade recipe.

The concept is quite simple. Purchase snickerdoodle cookie dough and Rolos.

Step 1) Take the snickerdoodle cookie dough and flatten it out. Then you wrap the dough around a Rolo (pst.... don't forget to unwrap the foil..lol)

Step 2) Bake at 325 degrees for the time on the package (or recipe). Pst... you might have to do it a wee bit longer, to make sure the dough is cooked.

Doesn't Laura make a great cookie model?

Step 3) Remove from the cookie sheet and cool.

Simple? Yep. Yummy? You betcha! Laura took some to her office and they gave them two thumbs up and wanted more!

Stuffed Snickerdoodles
1 batch store-bought or homemade snickerdoodle dough
2 rolls of Rolo’s (16 candies)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Flatten 1 tablespoon dough and wrap around Rolo candy. Roll into ball and set on cookie sheet.

Source: View the original pin here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pinterest: Cake Batter Cookies

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Laura and I tried yet another "Pinterest experiment" - and tried making Cake Batter Cookies.

The recipe I found on Pinterest reminded me of cookies my friend Cydni made while we were in Seminary.

That recipe just took Cool Whip, a cake mix, an egg and powdered sugar. (I'll save it for another post). But I can say this.....

Yum. Those were favorites in the doom.

So when I saw this recipe, I decided it was too good to pass up on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

It's a pretty simple concoction. It just called for a cake mix, eggs, butter and vanilla.

Step 1) Cream the butter, eggs and vanilla together.

Step 2) Add the cake mix.

Step 3) Mix until everything is blended well.

This recipe called for putting the batter in the fridge until chilled - so you could roll it out and make cut out cookies.

Laura and I decided to make cookie balls using the cookie scoop. So that let us make "uniform" sugar style cookies.

Step 4) We finished the cookies by icing them and topping them with sprinkles. The cookies kind of turned out like the "icebox" iced sugar cookies you can purchase at the "big box store." We used a container of store-bought icing and the enclosed sprinkles.

The original post had several other variations for cake mix cookies - including one with a red velvet twist - that I want to try.

Cake Mix Cookies
1 Box Cake Mix (we used Funfetti)
2 Eggs
1 stick of Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla

Mix ingredients together.
Chill batter for two hours.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface.
Cut with cookie cutters as desired.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, on a lightly greased or lined cookie sheet.
Cool and then decorate as desired.

Source: View the original post here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 17, 2012

Praying In Color

Earlier this year, I was introduced to Praying In Color by Sybil MacBeth at a children's ministry conference.

It's a really cool way to create a visual prayer.
(You can read my original post here: http://www.myscrappylife.com

Anyway, today, I sat in a waiting room, waiting for news about a friend.

Waiting is not my spiritual gift.

I have a hard time focusing. Being quiet. Just being present.

I ended up using a new app on my iPad - Sketchbook Express

It gave me a way to do an e-version of Praying of Color.

Here are the prayers I made, while my friend was in her heart procedure. I've "edited" her name out of a couple, for privacy reasons.

I'll be honest. I'm not an artist. But I found this was an amazing way to be in continual prayer for my friend.

I kinda imagined the healing prayers of friends surrounding my friend's heart as I sketched this.

I did this one in black and white. I think subconsciously, I was drawing the doctors working on her heart - finding the problems and zapping them.

No, those aren't feet - I was thinking about God holding my friend's heart in his hands, kind of like a shepherd holds a baby sheep. I think this one is my favorite one.

I kinda thought of God's healing rain, pouring down on her during surgery.

One last prayer. The doctor came in to give us a report as I finished this one.

I think this app has opened up another form of prayer - because it's one I can do anywhere, as long as the iPad is charged.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blog Tour: Love's Reckoning (Review)

Eden is trapped. 

She wants to follow her dreams - and the ideas of a better life, serving God and children. But her father has other plans. One of his daughters will marry his apprentice.

She struggles with this decision. What is her destiny - to fall in love, or to serve God. How does she move past the choices handed to her (some by virtue of family history, others by the actions of others)?

A mix of post-Revolutionary history provides the setting for Laura Frantz's newest work - Love's Reckoning, and the first book in the Ballantyne Legacy. I'll be honest. This book surprised me.

This is the third book I've read, written by Frantz. In her earlier books, I said they weren't necessarily on my "re-read" pile, but were enough to keep me reading her new releases.

This book may land on my "read again" pile. It definitely merits a second read - as a way to unpack some of the nuances found within the dialogue.

I found the storyline surprising - there were a few twists and turns, that well, kept me guessing the until thee end..

This was more than a boy meets girl and falls in love story. Through her words, Frantz has crafted a story that shows how the "legacy" of choices (good and bad) can literally shape a family - and impact generations of individuals.

While the book isn't all "rainbows and ponies" (aka - it's not all happy at times), it is a good, solid historical novel. I think fans of period fiction will find it a good read.

On a scale of one to five, I give it a solid four. Frantz is a skilled author. The book ends on a note that definitely left me wanting more.  

More About The Book
(From The Publisher)

On a bitter December day in 1784, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of blacksmith Liege Lee in York County, Pennsylvania. 

Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship quickly and move west. But because he is a fast worker and a superb craftsman, Liege endeavors to keep him in York by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master's beautiful daughters.

Eden is as gentle and fresh as Elspeth is high-spirited and cunning. But are they truly who they appear to be? In a house laced with secrets, each sister seeks to secure her future. Which one will claim Silas's heart--and will he agree to Liege's arrangement?

In this sweeping family saga, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

More About The Author
Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Online Resources
Read and excerpt here.
Find it on Amazon
My review of Courting Morrow Little
My review of The Colonel's Lady

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.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

August photos in review

it took a little bit of work tonight, but I caught up my Project 365 - and noted the photos for August.

It's amazing to see the similar themes pop up, from week to week.....guess it just shows/reminds me of things that make me tick.


What photos did you capture in August?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blog Tour: Dying To Read (Review)

The tagline and the initial description for "Dying To Read" caught my eye.

"All she wanted was a paycheck. What she got was a murder."

I thought. Cool. It's a book that might be a "clean" Stephanie Plumb-like novel.

A fun to read, novel about a young woman who decides to work for her uncle as a PI.

While I like Stephanie Plumb's premise (a female bounty hunter), I wanted a, ok cleaner version to recommend to some of the younger (teen) readers who cross my path.

I thought Dying to Read, the new series by Lorena McCourtney might do the trick.

I was slightly disappointed.

Here's what I like: McCourtney is a good writer - in that she can craft a story that has an interesting premise. I mean, a book club full of mystery readers and a dead body, on the surface again, it caught my attention.

Unfortunately, it didn't keep my attention.

To use a fishing analogy, I was "hooked" on the bait (description and premise), but the novel failed to "reel" me in. (I just didn't stay interested - in fact I didn't finish it.)

Without realizing it at the start, this is the second novel I've read by McCourtney. I stumbled across one of her earlier works - the first book in the Ivy Malone series. Another good series, that also failed to "hook" me into a) wanting to finish the book and b) leave me wanting more.

I hate giving less than "glowing" reviews, but in an effort to keep things honest. Here's what I think.

If you are looking for a fun (albeit slow paced), light and easy to read novel, then McCourtney's writing style just might trip your trigger. If you are wanting something more "Stephanie Plumb-like" you can probably find it elsewhere. (In fact, the PJ Sugar novels by Susan May Warren come to mind.)

On my scale of one to five, I give this novel a two. Not my favorite read, but one that I could pass along to fellow  mystery readers without qualms - to at least give a try.

More About The Book

All she wanted was a paycheck. What she got was a murder.

Cate Kinkaid's life is . . . well, frankly it's floundering. Her social life, her career, her haircut--they're all a mess. Unemployed, she jumps at the chance to work for her PI uncle, even though she has no experience and no instincts. After all, she is just dabbling in the world of private investigating until she can find a "real" job.

All she has to do for her first assignment is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? But when she reaches the dark Victorian house, she runs into an hungry horde of gray-haired mystery readers and a dead body. This routine PI job is turning out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?

More About The Author
Lorena McCourtney is the award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded. She resides in Oregon.

Online Resources
Buy it at Amazon
Check out the online excerpt
Download the reading group guide

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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