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3.01.2015

Steadfast Heart ~ Review

Steadfast Heart
Brides of Seattle 1
By Tracie Peterson

Steadfast Heart was and is Lenore Fulcher and Kolbein Booth's story.  Lenore is the only child of her parents.  They've raised her in a life of ease and luxury.  She's also expected to marry a man of means.  But the man who seemingly captured her heart with a look is a young lawyer - Kolbein Booth.

But Kolbein isn't looking for love, rather he is looking for his sister whom he believes may be at The Madison Bridal School.  But to his dismay he not only doesn't find Greta, he finds that no one has even heard of her.

But Abrianna Cunningham offers to help Kolbein in the search for his sister.  Much to the dismay of her guardian Mrs. Madison, owner of the school, and her friends Abrianna is well acquainted with many of the poor and homeless who call the streets of Seattle home.  But her knowledge is just what Kolbein needs.

Meanwhile a business man has come to the attention of those at the bridal school - Priam Welby.  Mr. Welby has determined that the building housing the bridal school is just what he needs for his import business.  And he is determined that no won't be the final answer.

I think the heart of this story is Abrianna Cunningham.  Abrianna is the ward of Mrs. Madison the owner of The Madison Bridal School.  Abrianna is a brillant and caring young woman who has a habit of talking unceasingly.  Abrianna also has a heart for the homeless and poor of Seattle much to the concern of those who know and love her.  And her friendship with Wade is one of her dearest, he is like a brother to her and he exasperates her to no end when he thwarts some of her endeavors. 

I for one hope that when the second book in this series comes out that there will be more from Abrianna.  Abrianna is the friend most people wish they could have.  She is both serious and hilarious with a single conversation.  And her heart's capacity for caring is an inspiration.  Truly a lovely young woman I'd like to visit with again.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Bethany House through their blogger program in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Despite her spoiled upbringing, twenty-year-old Lenore Fulcher isn't pretentious. She simply believes a marriage should be built on true love. Her father, however, thinks she's wasted enough time searching for the perfect husband. He wants to marry her off to one of his business partners--who is seventeen years her senior--an idea that is out of the question for Lenore.

Kolbein Booth, a young lawyer from Chicago, arrives in Seattle looking for his headstrong sister, who he believes may have answered an advertisement for mail-order brides. Sick with worry, he storms into the Madison Bridal School, demanding to see his sister, only to learn she isn't there. But Lenore Fulcher is, and something about her captures his attention.

Is this the man Lenore has been searching for? She may not have long to find out...

2.28.2015

The Trouble with Patience ~ Review

The Trouble with Patience
Virtues and Vices of the Old West 1
By Maggie Brendan

Nevada City, Montana Territory, is a town in flux with ranchers and miners making up the majority of the population.  And it is this town that Patience Cavanaugh recently moved to, taking over the boardinghouse she inherited from her grandmother.  She's dealing with a broken heart - the man she dreamed of marrying dead and with it her future.

She's determined to make the boardinghouse a success but she needs to fix it up a bit and someone to help her do it. But she'll do it herself if need be.

And then there is Marshal Jedediah Jones who needs a few lessons in civilized living starting with his manners towards a lady.  Jed wants nothing to do with this meddling woman, mucking everything up.  But Patience is a force to be reckoned with and when their paths keep crossing they just might start getting along.  Especially when Jed keeps coming to her aid.

And then there is Cody Martin who takes a room in Patience's boardinghouse.  Cody is a cowboy drifting through, looking for work and the man who wronged him.

Little do these three realize that their pasts are linked and something is about to reveal this link, changing what they thought they knew.  But healing from the past is possible with God, if only they allow Him to heal them.

Patience is an exasperating woman at times, highly opinionated and yet lacking a confidence in herself.  She is complimented frequently and always acts shocked or surprised, saying no one's ever complimented her before (evidently she doesn't listen or has a bad memory).

Overall it is a fairly enjoyable read and not one that will bog you down.  It is a week-end diversion if you have a week-end with no plans other than escaping between the covers of a book or two.

I was provided a copy of this book by Revell through their blogger program in exchange for my honest review.


About the Book:
Patience Cavanaugh has lost hope in romance. The man she yearned to marry is dead and her dreams are gone with him. Now she is consumed with restoring a dilapidated boardinghouse in order to support herself.

Despite Patience's desire for solitude, Jedediah Jones, the local marshal with a reputation for hanging criminals, becomes an ever-looming part of her life. It seems like such a simple arrangement: She needs someone with a strong back to help her fix up the boardinghouse. He needs a dependable source of food for himself and his prisoners. But as she gets to know this "hanging lawman," Patience finds there is far more to him than meets the eye--and it could destroy their tenuous relationship forever.

With a keen eye for historical detail and a deft hand at romantic tension, Maggie Brendan invites you to a Montana gold rush boomtown, where vices and virtues are on full display and love is lying in wait.

Maggie Brendan is the bestselling author of the Heart of the West and The Blue Willow Brides series. Winner of the 2014 Book Buyers Best Award (OCC/RWA) for inspirational fiction and the 2013 Laurel Wreath Award, she was a finalist for the 2013 Published Maggie Award of Excellence and the 2013 Heart of Excellence Readers' Choice Award. To learn more, visit www.MaggieBrendan.com.

2.27.2015

The Iron Ring ~ Review

The Iron Ring 
Part I of the Saga of the Redeemed 
By Auston Habershaw

Tyvian Reldamar has just been betrayed and is about to be seized, forced to answer for his crimes.  But Tyvian isn't about to just give up.  But his escape from the authorities comes with a cost.

The cost - an iron ring that cannot be removed.  A ring that compels him to forego his usual deeds of evil.  But Tyvian isn't about to let a ring keep him from extracting revenge on the man who betrayed him.

Adding to his troubles Tyvian is being tracked by a Mage-Defender and Myreon Alafarr refuses to stop until she brings Tyvian to justice.

But Tyvian is determined that nothing will stop him, but he doesn't realize that his quest for revenge is about to lead him into even greater danger.  A warlord who was defeated years ago is making plans to reclaim that which he lost and Tyvian and those with him are entering the heart of danger.  A danger which may very well take them all.

Tyvian is a character of contrasts - intent on breaking the law and yet with moments of empathy for those around him.  Myreon is a woman on a mission and it will be interesting to see how her character evolves in the next book (which I look forward to reading).

The first part of the book sets the stage through world building and character introduction.  When we arrive at the meat of the story the action and excitement build leaving one in anticipation of book two which is due out in June 2015.

I was provided a 3 day loan of this book in exchange for my review and tour participation.

About the Book:
Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world's most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.

Title: The Iron Ring
Author: Auston Habershaw
Publisher: Harper Voyage Impulse
Pages: 192
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Format: Kindle
About the author:
Auston Habershaw is a science fiction and fantasy writer and author of The Saga of the Redeemed (part one to be released by Harper Voyager in February 2015). You can find links to his stuff through Amazon or Goodreads (see the links to your right!). He got second place in the Writers of the Future Contest in the first quarter of 2014 (Volume 31), so he presumably has some idea of what he’s doing (though not the *best* idea, obviously). He’s also an English professor, a pretty good storyteller, and a big time geek. This blog is for him to discuss and explore some of the crazy ideas that are usually kicking around in his head, throw out some of his homemade RPGs for people to use or see, advertise his budding writing career, and see just what this whole ‘blog’ thing is about. Enjoy!
For More Information

2.26.2015

Finding JESUS: Faith, Fact, Forgery

Finding JESUS: Faith, Fact, Forgery is a 6-part series premiering on CNN on Sunday, March 1, 2015.
I was given the opportunity to preview the first part which focuses on the Shroud of Turin.  The Shroud has an intriguing history - a history which may or may not have a place in the burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Is the Shroud indeed a proof of the existence and the death of Jesus or is it a forgery from the Middle Ages when relics of significance were in demand?  Is the Shroud proof of the brutality of the suffering Jesus underwent before and during the Crucifixion?

Can science answer these questions or will it prove inconclusive?  This is a powerful and compelling series premier as various experts, authorities, and scientists weigh in on the Shroud and the final moments of the life of Jesus.

Check it out and weigh in with your opinion for a chance at a copy of the companion book (US mailing addresses only) Finding Jesus by David Gidson (an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who specializes in covering the Catholic Church) and Michael McKinley which was released February 24, 2015.

View the series trailer here



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Small excerpt from the book's introduction:


Introduction

Who Is Jesus?

The question must be posed in the present tense because, for
believers, Jesus is God and he exists in the here and now every
bit as much as he ever did: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday,
today, and forever,” as the New Testament says. To be a Christian
is to have a relationship with a Jesus who is alive in heaven and
with us at every moment of every day.

Yet Jesus is also profoundly present for today’s agnostics and even
die- hard skeptics, who are engaged with Jesus of Nazareth, in their
own way, almost as devoutly as Christians are.

Just look at the reaction to any new artifact excavated from the
Holy Land, or every scrap of papyrus that emerges from the sands
of Egypt or the sometimes shadowy antiquities markets that oper-
ate throughout the West. Each is accompanied by astounding claims
and a wave of boldface headlines, and each prompts a new round
of global fascination with a man who died two thousand years ago,
crucified by the Romans on a dusty hill near Jerusalem.

It was a fate inflicted on countless others deemed enemies of the
state. Yet Jesus was different. For believers, he rose from the tomb
on the third day, on that first Easter morning, bringing a message
of eternal life and galvanizing a small band of followers who would
go on to create a church and spread a faith that would reach every
corner of the globe. Those who dismiss such claims must contend
with the reality of Jesus’s afterlife in this world, with the historic
forces he unleashed, forces that remain undiminished even in
this supposedly secular age. It’s not surprising that the entry
on Jesus in the open- source encyclopedia Wikipedia is the fifth-
most- edited page among the more than thirty million articles on
the site.

Everyone seems to have a stake in who Jesus is, and in what we
should believe about him— but to prove their claims, they have to
know who Jesus was.

2.25.2015

Mist of Midnight ~ Review and 2 Giveaways

Mist of Midnight
Daughters of Hampshire
By Sandra Byrd

Mist of Midnight is truly vintage Gothic romance and one you won't want to put down!  A delightfully chilling book filled with intrigue and danger and a mystery woven throughout.

Rebecca Ravenshaw is the sole heir to her family's estate, or so she thought. Returning to England following the death of her parents Rebecca is shocked to learn that a young woman impersonating her has been installed in her home (as her!). Worse the young woman died in a suspicious manner and the estate has been turned over to a distant cousin, a Captain Whitfield.

With no one to verify her identity, Rebecca is unable to lay claim to her home or her inheritance.  Her knowledge of her parents work as missionaries in India is her only hope, but it could take months to validate her.

More puzzling is the identity of the young woman who took advantage of the Indian Mutiny from which Rebecca barely escaped and which claimed the lives of her parents.  How did this impostor know enough to fool those around her.  And even more troubling how did the young woman die? Was it natural causes or was it foul play as has been suggested and implied?  And what role did Captain Whitfield play in the entire situation?

Mist at Midnight is the perfect way to spend the waning hours of the night - mystery, betrayal, intrigue all wrapped in the possibility of romance.  Sandra Byrd has woven yet another masterful tale drawing upon historical fact, her ability to craft fiction and to create characters that have both depth and dimension.

I am excited to see what comes next in this series that has captured my attention with this first offering.  Fans of Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney will enjoy this Victorian era Gothic romance,
And fans of clean romance will enjoy this book with no need to blush.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Howard Books in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.

Synopsis
In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.


Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.


That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real impostor. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?


A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.




About the author:

Sandra Byrd is a best-selling author and has earned Library Journal's Best Books of the year pick twice, in 2011 for To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, and in 2012 for The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.  She's twice been a Christy Award finalist, for To Die For and for Let Them Eat Cake: A Novel. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published April 2013.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lace bookmark giveaway open to US Residents runs February 25th through March 4th! Winner must respond by March 7th with U.S. mailing address or an alternate winner will be chosen.

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Sandra is hosting an amazing giveaway including an Amazon Kindle Voyage, lace bookmarks, a copy of Mist of Midnight, among other fabulous items through March 31st.
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The Lazarus Game ~ Review

The Lazarus Game
By Stephen J. Valentine
The perfect game.
The key to immortality.
The ultimate price.

It all started with trying to impress Sidney Locke by capturing the Russian gangster who shot her father.  After all Carter Chance is a genius (which he's more than happy to tell you) and when Carter decides to do something it gets done (usually).

But what Carter and his friends saw that night was just the beginning. This was the first time they were aware of the Lazarus Game Shop.  A game shop that was about to have an unexpected impact on not only Carter's life but the lives of everyone in Merewether.

When Carter is offered the chance of a lifetime to work for Geoffrey Chaucer, owner of Lazarus Game Shop - he does what every 15 year old teenage guy would do - he uses the opportunity to try yet again to impress Sidney (his girlfriend, he hopes).  But there's just one problem - some Hobo Warrior with a big axe thingy! And Hobo Warrior (Carter's name for this guy) isn't afraid to use his axe thingy.

Can Carter determine the truth before it is too late?  Dealing with a family life that is barely there Carter is more than eager to help Chaucer bring about a new world and he knows he possess the skills and genius know-how to bring The Lazarus Game to the next level.

The Lazarus Game is told from Carter's point-of-view and his opinion of himself is anything but humble.  This book will appeal to both tween and teen boys and at just over 300 pages would be a perfect choice for a book report (free choice, science fiction, or thriller).  This is clean reading so parents and grandparents don't need to worry about what horrors lurk between the covers.

I was provided a copy of this book by Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review and tour participation.


About the book:An amazing new video game has the power to resurrect the brightest minds of the past and see what they’d create in the modern world. There’s just one catch—it requires another person’s soul. Carter Chance, who is a teenage genius, must find a way to stop his generation from exchanging their souls for a computer-generated fantasy. This action-packed thriller delves into the enticement and dangers of virtual reality.

About the author:
Stephen J. Valentine received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Utah State University. He is Senior Program Manager for Family Search International, responsible for the online publication of billions of historical records. Stephen loves history, hiking, cooking, reading, and traveling, especially to Disneyland. Stephen resides in Utah with his beautiful wife, talented children, brilliant Schnauzer, and massive J.R.R. Tolkien collection.

2.24.2015

Veggie Tales - Noah's Ark ~ Review and DVD Giveaway

Veggie Tales
Noah's Ark

The last year has seen many offerings of Noah's Ark in both book and movie format. Well, Veggie Tales has joined this list with this, their newest DVD offering.

Bob (a tomato), Larry (a cucumber), and Roger (an elephant) introduce us to Larry's imaging of what Noah, his family, and the Ark were like.  With a variety of songs the story is told.

Shem (one of Noah's sons) is the main character in this version and he's not the happiest veggie on the boat (make that Ark).  He's just gotten married and is looking forward to a life with his new wife when literally there is an Ark in his life.  We see Shem go from arguing with Noah just what God's will is to having absolute faith in God's will and His timing.

The people are portrayed by the Veggies while the animals are animals and the elephants
and zebras are absolutely adorable!  And then there is Mr. and Mrs. Hamster who have a
bit of a separation thanks to some of Shem's earlier impatience before he learned that God
has a time for everything.

There is a little side video in the midst of Noah's featuring a Silly-Song "My Golden Egg".
Think Indiana Jones meets an Easter egg hunt and you'll have an idea of what it's all about.

I was provided a review copy of this DVD in exchange for my honest review.


"Noah and his family along with a zoo full of animals take an adventure aboard an orange slice ark. After 40 days and nights of rain, everyone’s faith has been tested, and they’re ready to jump ship. Will they chart a new course, or will they remember to trust God’s promises? Grab your umbrellas and find out in this Veggie Tales re-telling of the beloved Bible story!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In NOAH'S ARK, Brady, the multi-Emmy® award-winning host of one of TV’s most famous game shows, Let’s Make a Deal, and star of Whose Line Is It Anyway, brings to life Noah’s son Shem, who first questions, then learns to embrace, his father’s direction from God. Christian singer, actress and radio host Jaci Velasquez co-stars as Shem’s wife, Sadie.

“Saying ‘yes’ to VeggieTales was a no-brainer – my daughter’s a fan and I love the music and messages,” says Brady, who performs seven original songs in NOAH’S ARK. “The best part is, Bob and Larry are down to earth and they never let the ‘I’m a global Veggie superstar’ thing go to their heads.”

Adds Velasquez: “Every parent searches for entertainment that’s both wholesome and imparts valuable life lessons, and with Noah’s Ark, VeggieTales serves up a delicious dish on both counts. The story, the music and the visuals are perfect for the entire family.”

In NOAH’S ARK, Shem and Sadie return home from their honeymoon to find that Noah (played by Pa Grape) has begun, at God’s direction, to work on a massive ark, which his wife Naamah (played by Madame Blueberry) and sons Ham (played by Larry) and Japheth (played by Bob) are helping construct before the start of 40 days and 40 nights of rain.

But Shem doesn’t understand Noah’s unshakable faith in God, particularly when animals start arriving two-by-two – while the rain is nowhere to be seen. When the deluge does come, Shem begins to understand Noah’s determination to preserve humanity’s future … and the importance of trusting in God.

NOAH’S ARK also features a brand-new “Silly Songs With Larry” segment, in which Larry dons a safari outfit as he goes on a quest for a gigantic, golden egg.

Less than three weeks after the DVD and digital download release of NOAH’S ARK, the VeggieTales excitement continues when five all-new episodes of VeggieTales In The House, the hit animated series, debut exclusively on Netflix – bringing the total of VeggieTales In the House episodes to 15 as the series continues its first season.

To learn more about NOAH’S ARK, and to pre-order the DVD, visit the official VeggieTales website at http://www.veggietales.com, or call the toll-free VeggieTales Hotline at (844) 2-VEGGIE (U.S. callers only).

Carrots meet cubits as VeggieTales builds an ark filled with fun, adventure and important lessons about trusting God in NOAH’S ARK, its first Bible-themed production in more than four years. Starring Wayne Brady and Jaci Velasquez, along with Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato and a whole crew of Veggies, NOAH’S ARK will be available March 3 on DVD and digital download.



Enter for a chance to win a copy of this DVD
Open to US mailing addresses only.
Runs February 25th through March 3rd!
Winner will be contacted and have until March 6th at noon
to reply or an alternate winner will be chosen. 

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