Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Unofficial "Celebrate Authors Day" - Or What I Learned at the OCW Conference

As a book blogger, I think I tend to take books for granted. I don't give myself a chance to catch up on my TBR (To Be Read) stack before I request another boatload of books to review. When I want a new story, it seems like one is at my fingertips with a click of the mouse or a trip to the mailroom. I admit - I love it! But at the same time, I think I've lost the wonder I used to have when I won books on blogs for the first time or when I got new books for my birthday and Christmas (or on a special trip to Borders - oh, how I miss that store!).

And with that lost wonder comes a lost appreciation for the hard work of authors. As a writer and aspiring novelist myself, I'm aware of the difficulties of sitting down and getting a whole book written...the fear of criticism and the editing process...the daunting to-do list (and knowledge of inevitable rejections) that has to be completed in order to get one's work out there. But as a book reviewer, I'm overwhelmed by the number of books out there just waiting to be read. That vast amount makes it seem like writing a book is a piece of cake - it must be if there are so many people who have been published!

But that's not how it is at all! The life of a novelist is hard work - emotionally and mentally. The general session and workshops I attended at the Winter One-Day Oregon Christian Writers Conference reminded me of just how much effort goes into a book - and just how much of a blessing authors and their stories are. I was also reminded of the joy in networking - of writers encouraging and helping one another.

What I Learned from Lauraine Snelling

Lauraine Snelling is so energetic and fun! It was a pleasure to hear her two general session talks, as well as her workshop talk on "Avoiding the Pratfalls and Pitfalls of Using Your Life in Your Writing." For those of you writers out there, here are some of her tips:

To Be Successful:
  1. Have a stick-to-it attitude
  2. Develop an alligator hide (for rejections - more to come on rejections in the next section!)


  • If God has called you to write, He has a purpose for it (published or not).
  • There's something wrong if the god we're portraying to the world is different than the true God who loves us.
  • Write real, and do it well!
  • "They can't eat you" - all the agents/editors can do is send your work back, so don't be afraid to get it out there.
  • Keep on writing!

"Avoiding Pratfalls and Pitfalls of Using Your Life in Your Writing":

  • Be prepared for the tears and pain of reliving events in your life.
  • Give yourself time to heal - so in the distance you can gain some objectivity. (Note God's timing.)
  • Consider making lists of events from your life, then identify what is going on, as well as the primary emotion, in those memories.
  • Remember that the character who has the biggest problem doesn't have to be the main character.
  • You shouldn't lock yourself into re-creating all the same details of an event you've experienced when you're incorporating it into your fiction.

The Big Principle:

  • Keep your butt in the chair long enough to get the writing done! =)

Those are some great tips! You can learn more about Lauraine Snelling and her work on her website.

What I Learned from Ann Shorey

Ann Shorey is super sweet! As you can see, she not only signed my book (which I've agreed to review for her - so be on the lookout for my review of The Dawn of a Dream sometime!), but she also agreed to have her picture taken with me (as did Lauraine). Sometimes an author's online presence or just the fact that they've been published through a well-known publishing company can make them seem larger-than-life, so it's wonderful to meet them in person and see that they're people just like you and me - people who have worked hard and persevered in order to share their stories with others. Definitely inspiring!

Ann's workshop covered the topic of dealing with rejections. Here are a few of her tips:
  • Before sending your work to an agent/publisher, be sure to check out their website and follow their guidelines. Sometimes the publisher you choose might not be the right one for you, so those rejections wouldn't be surprising.
  • Do not publicly criticize editors or agents who reject you. Christian publishing is a small world, and it's all about networking and building relationships. So don't shoot yourself in the foot and ruin future opportunities by neglecting to mind your manners!
  • Pay attention to the personalized rejections and be willing to possibly incorporate the corrections/changes suggested.
  • You don't send your work out, you don't get published! So persevere - but in the meantime, be willing to start another book, and another one, and another one, while you are waiting for responses.

You can learn more about Ann Shorey and her work on her website.

Overall, this conference was an awesome experience! It was great to meet these two authors, as well as interact with other writers and some friends who also attended.

Have any of you met some authors or attended a writers conference lately? Feel free to share some tips you've learned or some memories you've made!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Change in Plans!

Today I was supposed to be attending the Woman to Woman Conference hosted at my school. I had a wonderful time last year when Robin Jones Gunn was the main speaker, and I'm sure the conference this year will be great, as well! The main speaker is Carolyn Custis James, and I loved her book, The Gospel of Ruth, as well as hearing her speak in chapel yesterday.

But I'm going to a different conference today... One of my professors is leading one of the workshops at the Oregon Christian Writers Winter One-Day Conference, and she's offering me the chance to go - so I'm taking it!

I'm excited to hopefully meet Lauraine Snelling and Ann Shorey, among others! I wonder if I'll be as starstruck as I was when I met Robin Jones Gunn? =) It will be so awesome to network with others and talk about writing with friends. And I'm bringing what I have so far on my current WIP, just in case I need it... ;)

I'm so thankful for this opportunity, and I look forward to letting you know how it goes soon!

Here's a peek at what I'll be doing today:

“What Is Real?”

Oregon Christian Writers Winter One-Day Conference

Red Lion Hotel, 3301 Market Street NE, Salem, OR 97301

Saturday, February 25, 2012~8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NLT

8:30–9:00 Registration, Continental Breakfast, Bookstore
9:00–9:30 Welcome and Introductions: President Mary HakeMusic: Julie HoyDevotions: Sam Hall
9:30–10:20 General Session I: Lauraine Snelling, “What Is Real in the Writer’s Life?”
10:20–10:50 Morning Break: Refreshments and time to visit the bookstore
10:50–11:40 General Session II: Lauraine Snelling, “What Is Real in the Writer’s Work?”
11:40–12:20 OCW Business Meeting: recognition of new members, report on members’ publishing accomplishments, and introduction of workshop teachers
12:30–1:35 Lunch served buffet style, $12: Grilled marinated chicken; mixed green salad; rice salad with curry, craisins and cucumbers; whole green beans with almonds; and a brownie (must be ordered by 2/18)
1:40–2:40 Workshops—Session 1 (Choose One)

A. “Avoiding Prats and Pitfalls”—Lauraine Snelling

B. “Songwriting—Keep It Original!”—Julie Hoy

C. “Is Your Clock Going Cuckoo?”—Charlotte Kardokus

D. “Writing for a Secular Audience”—Jodi Detrick
2:40–3:00 Break—Bookstore is open
3:00–4:00 Workshops—Session 2 (Choose One)

E. “Seven Ways to Power Past Rejection”—Ann Shorey

F. “Behind the Stacks”—Judy Gann

G. “A Poet’s Journey: From Passion to Publication”—Jennifer Anne Messing

H. “Blogging Bootcamp”—Angella Foret Diehl

All workshops are suitable for all writers—beginner to advanced.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Tour: Sweeter Than Birdsong

Here's a description of the book:

"Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.

In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.

Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.

A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future."

You can read an excerpt HERE.

My Rating


My Review

Just like in the first book of the "Saddler's Legacy" series, Fairer Than Morning, Elliott has written a complex and compelling story centered on the theme of freedom with Sweeter Than Birdsong. While some characters are trapped by fear and others are in literal bondage, this book explores the preciousness of hard-won freedom in all its grandeur.

Ben Hanby is a fine, generally self-assured young man who faces challenges head-on, whether they come in the form of physical flight (and fights) or in the form of assisting and wooing a bright but insecure young woman. But while he hardly seems lacking, he discovers that he, too, has things to learn on his journeys with Kate - lessons in patience, as well as gaining confidence in being the person he is called to be in God regardless of the opinions of others.

Kate Winter is an especially wonderful character to observe. She grows so much throughout the story! When she is first introduced, a trip to the podium to give a speech in front of her classmates seems too much of an adventure for her. But her adventures are just beginning, as her interactions with Ben and his family land her in some unlikely and challenging situations.

While Kate Winter's blossoming is sometimes a slow process, the story is told well and culminates into a thing of beauty. Sweeter Than Birdsong is historical fiction with heart and an underlying passion that beats a steady rhythm of growth throughout the novel.

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity Blogging tour.*

About the Author

"Rosslyn Elliott is the award-winning author of Fairer than Morning, the first in the Saddler's Legacy series. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue writing fiction. Elliott lives in Albuquerque, where she homeschools her daughter and works in children's ministry.

For more about Rosslyn, visit her website: http://rosslynelliott.com"

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all of the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE.


In this second in the award-winning Saddler's Legacy series, Rosslyn Elliott has written a stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real historical people and events. With Ben Hanby, a genius composer, Kate Winter, one of the first female college graduates in America, and John Parker, an ex-slave who risked his life time and again to help fugitive slaves, Sweeter than Birdsong is full of real heroes to inspire us. "I hope readers will find a renewed sense of strength in their own lives," says Elliott, "knowing that change is possible, and our efforts matter. I want them to remember these unique, brave people in history who left us a shining example of what it means to live out one's beliefs with passion and commitment."

So to celebrate the music in all of us, Rosslyn and Thomas Nelson are hosting this "sweet giveaway".

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner's choice of color!)

  • Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott

  • Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 28th. Winner will be announced at Sweeter than Birdsong Author Chat Facebook Party on 2/28. Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, sharing a sneak peek of the next book in the series, hosting a trivia contest, and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, season 1 of DowntownAbbey, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Rosslyn.)

So grab your copy of Sweeter than Birdsong and join Rosslyn and friends on the evening of the 28th for an evening of fun.

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 28th!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: Words Spoken True

Here's a description of the book from Revell:

"One woman stands ready to defend her newspaper . . . even if it means losing out on love.

Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. With ink in her veins, she can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855.

When Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over a competing newspaper, the battle for readers gets fierce. After Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story--and the girl.

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold you in its grip until the very last page."

My Rating


My Review

Starting out as a sweet and interesting historical romance, Words Spoken True turns into more of an historical romantic suspense, from the political-clash-turned-street-fight to mysterious murders and obsessive suitors. This story about dueling journalists is intriguing and gripping!

From the moment they meet, Adriane Darcy and Blake Garrett are drawn to each other. But the fact that they write for competing newspapers - not to mention Adriane's supposedly necessary engagement to Stanley Jimson - ought to keep them apart in theory. Nothing seems to stop Blake Garrett, though!

Adriane is an admirable heroine who wants to do what's best for her father and his newspaper. She's confident, smart, and unswayed from her goals by society's opinions. Blake, on the other hand, is a bit harder to decipher. At times he seems almost too possessive of Adriane, as well as pushy and impatient. He enters the book with a flourish, but he doesn't quite hold my total regard - although he and Adriance certainly share some romantic moments!

Words Spoken True sparks some interesting discussion/thinking points concerning true love and the sharing (or concealing) of truth. It didn't win me over in every respect, but it held my attention and was an enjoyable read overall.

*With thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

“Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Check out the fun Words Spoken True Giveaway! Details HERE.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday for the Military: Meet Sandra Robbins

It's been a while since we've had a guest for the "Monday for the Military" feature, so it's my great pleasure to say that we do indeed have a guest this week - and none other than Sandra Robbins, one of the BB authors! (As a side note, I'm over at The Borrowed Book - A.K.A. the BB - today reviewing Windfall, a fantastic YA novel, and I'd love to have you stop in and say "hi!")

Now, let's give Sandra a warm welcome!

Amber: Thank you for joining us today! To start, could you share a little bit about yourself?

Sandra: Thank you for having me, Amber. I live in Tennessee with my husband in the small college town where I grew up, and we have four children and five grandchildren. I was a teacher and an elementary school principal in the Tennessee public schools for years and enjoyed working with children. In the back of my mind, though, I had always wanted to write a book.

In 2004 I started writing my first book which didn’t sell. However, I didn’t become discouraged. I kept trying to improve my writing by going to conferences and learning everything I could about the craft. I sold my first book, a cozy mystery, in 2006. Now I have ten published books with two more coming out this year and two next year. God has really blessed me, and I give Him the praise for guiding me on the path to publication.

Amber: Your latest Love Inspired Suspense release, Shattered Identity, is dedicated to men and women serving in the U.S. military. What inspired you to write this book, and how is it related to the military?

Sandra: Shattered Identity is the second book in a romantic suspense series set on Ocracoke Island, the barrier island 25 miles off the coast of North Carolina. A few years ago my son, granddaughter, and I vacationed there, and I fell in love with the island. I knew I wanted to set a book there, so the idea for three books featuring a fictional island family was born.
Scott Michaels is the hero in Shattered Identity. He’s served in the military, and he’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with his guilt that he returned from combat when many of his friends didn’t. We’ve heard and read a lot in the last few years about this problem that affects many in the military, and I wanted to bring that to the attention of readers.
Another thing that inspired me to write this book was the experience a friend of mine had while serving in the military. When I heard him tell of his encounter with God on a dusty road in a faraway land, I knew that message had to reach more than just a small circle of friends. It is a story that reminds us that God sacrificed His son so that we may live in Him. That true story is one that Scott Michaels shares with his sister in Shattered Identity.

Amber: What do you admire most about the U.S. military?

Sandra: I thought a long time before I answered this question because I admire so much about the U.S. military. But I have always been humbled by the fact that the men and women who serve our country are willing to leave their families behind when they are deployed. I think about the missed holidays, the birthdays, family experiences like sharing the birth of a child or seeing that child takes its first step, or deaths. I have to admit every time I see a television report of a returning veteran reunited with his or her family I tear up. It touches my heart to think how much they have missed while they’ve been gone, but they did it out of loyalty to our country and its citizens.

Amber: That's certainly a humbling point, and a great reminder that military families sacrifice so much for our country, as well.

So, do you have any other military-themed books in the works?

Sandra: At this time I don’t. However, I did write a book a few years ago that is set during World War II. Although the hero and heroine both have been affected by the war, they fight against the injustice done to the Japanese Americans who have been placed in internment camps. The book focuses on the two camps in Arkansas that housed hundreds of American citizens behind barbed wire fences. This book has never sold, but maybe one day it will.

Amber: Sounds intriguing and moving!

How can we pray for you and other authors?

Sandra: I would have readers pray for my writing and that of other writers in the way that I pray for it. I ask God to give me His words and that they will be like the seeds of a dandelion that blow away in the wind. I don’t know where the words I write will land, but He does. My prayer is that they will find root in the fertile soil of a heart that needs to know God loves them.

Amber: That's a beautiful metaphor! It's a pleasure to host you here, Sandra, and to work with you on the BB team!

Readers, you can learn more about Sandra at Books by Sandra Robbins and The Borrowed Book (Thursdays). I'm sure Sandra would love it if you could leave an encouraging comment for her today!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Haunting Title

I recently started the book Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke, which so far promises to be a powerful Titanic-themed story. (Be looking for my review scheduled for March 8th!) In looking up more about this author, I discovered that she has already had two Civil War era novels published - William Henry is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires. While both sound like moving reads, it's the title of the latter book that really resonates with me...

The title combined with that cover are quite haunting. Would you agree? Nowadays books are definitely a package deal - from the title, to the cover, to the synopsis, to the endorsements, and to the story itself. I'm sure different readers pick up books for different reasons, and a title doesn't necessarily have to be the main or only selling point. But I think there's something gripping about a unique title like this - one that seems to foreshadow the heart of the story and hover around the edges of one's mind.

What do you think? Have you come across any book titles lately that have stuck with you or made you want to give the book a try?

And for those of you who are writers...do you find it easy or difficult to come up with titles?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Review of Sixty Acres and a Bride (CFBA)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sixty Acres and a Bride
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Regina Jennings


A Word from Regina:

See me laughing. That’s what I do when someone calls me an author. Yes, it’s always been my dream, but I still can’t keep from giggling over it.

Other things I am – a Christ-follower, a wife, a homeschooling mother of four, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and a voracious reader.

Getting reading time isn’t easy. Seems like my family does more than our share of traveling. My husband is an insurance adjuster (I know, save the hate mail) and travels with the catastrophe team often. That’s allowed us to see a lot of the United States. True many times it’s in the middle of a hurricane or blizzard, but after spending three weeks in a hotel room with six people, you’ll brave anything to get out and see the sights – no matter how damaged they might be.

We also serve on the Missions Team at an amazing church, so we break out the passports frequently. Highlights include singing at a leper colony in India, holding church inside a Mexican prison and showing the Jesus film to a tribe in Senegal who’d never heard the gospel.

But I don’t have to go far away for unusual. My family provides plenty of colorful material with their love for practical jokes, pithy observations and strong agricultural roots. Because of the family business, a significant chunk of my life has been spent at sale barns and auctions – often behind the scales where I weigh pigs. I like to think of myself as a “redneck bluestocking” but I brought an entire marketing team’s discussion to a screeching halt when I said those words, so you didn’t hear it from me.

When I have spare time I love to talk books and quirky characters (real and fictional).


With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixty Acres and a Bride, go HERE.




A fun and clever Ruth-esque story, Sixty Acres and a Bride is a treat! But while there are various connections between this story and the book of Ruth, I eventually came to realize that it isn't fair to directly parallel the two. These characters have their own personalities, their own back story, and their own goals that differ from the picture presented in the the book of Ruth. So if you're looking for the story of Ruth in Western clothing, you won't exactly find it here. But if you're looking for a sweet historical romance inspired by the book of Ruth, then eureka - you've found it!

Sixty Acres and a Bride is full of romance, drama, humor, and danger. Many of the characters certainly have their frustrating moments, and sometimes it's a wonder they take so long to discover the obvious. But the tension, though extended almost to the breaking point, is well-played, and it's sweet to see the hope and healing the main characters finally find. This is a story as bold and colorful as the lovely cover!

*With thanks to Bethany House through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

P.S. I'm currently taking a class on Ruth & Esther, and one of the books we recently read is called The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James. If you're interested in going deeper into the book of Ruth, I highly recommend it! I'm actually hopefully going to hear Carolyn speak at my school soon, which is exciting! =)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Tour: Beyond Molasses Creek

Here's a description of the book:

"Three lives are bound by a single book . . . and the cleansing waters of Molasses Creek.

Having traveled to the ends of the earth as a flight attendant, Ally Green has finally returned to the Lowcountry to bury her father as well as the past. But Vesey Washington is still living across the creek, and theirs is a complicated relationship—he was once her best friend . . . and also part of the reason she’s stayed away so long. When Ally discovers a message her father left behind asking her to quit running, it seems her past isn’t through with her yet.

As Ally’s wandering spirit wrestles with a deep longing to flee again, a young woman on the other side of the world escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A mysterious sketchbook leads Sunila Kunari to believe there’s more to her story than she’s ever been told, and she’s determined to follow the truth wherever it leads her.

A deep current intertwines the lives of these three souls, and a destiny of freedom, faith, and friendship awaits them all on the banks of Molasses Creek."

My Rating


My Review

Creative, bold, and moving, Beyond Molasses Creek is a unique read. Seitz expertly weaves powerful back story throughout the book, endearing the characters to the reader's heart. Some parts are quite painful, as the characters wrestle with tough and tragic issues during the course of their lives. But the story isn't without hope.

The authenticity of the emotions is marred, though, by a theme of duplicity. Love binds Ally, Vesey, and Sunila, as well as their family and friends, and in that love they are free to explore faith and doubt, which is a precious gift. But at times the characters choose to embrace and tell lies rather than seek the truth in love together - a reality that is difficult to get past in this story that is all about moving beyond the fears and sorrows of the past.

Beyond Molasses Creek is a difficult read - one that might not be best for readers who are looking for a cozy southern escape. But for those looking for a thought-provoking and challenging read, this book might be just what the doctor ordered.

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity Blog tour.*

About the Author

"Nicole Seitz is the author of several critically acclaimed novels - The Inheritance of Beauty, Saving Cicadas, A Hundred Years of Happiness, Trouble the Water, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, and also has a degree in Illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Her paintings are featured on the covers of her books. Visit her at @NicoleSeitz and www.nicoleseitz.com for more information."

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all of the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE.


Nicole is celebrating the release of Beyond Molasses Creek with a fabulous "Friendship" Facebook party! She'll be giving away a ton of great stuff (KINDLE TOUCH, some of her own beautiful artwork, a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies of the book for your small group/book club and a Live Skype Chat with Nicole), and more!

CLICK the button (below) to RSVP for the party - then join us on February 16th for a book chat, story sharing and prizes! Hope to see you there!

Save the Date! 2/16!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Psalm 121

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

~ Psalm 121 ~

(Pictures taken on the Corban University campus on a walk with my dear friend, Hannah.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cover Candy

Confession: I love book covers! That doesn't mean that a beautiful book cover makes up for a not-so-good story, or that a rather unattractive book cover can't house a great story. But covers can really catch the reader's eye, and it's nice to look at the bright colors or the lovely image as the book sits on a desk or on the shelf. Book covers are a part of the package deal, and as a reader I myself admit to being swayed by the appearance of covers. (I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but there are people who do a great job at creating beautiful art to surround a story, and I think their work is valuable, too!)

All that to say, I have some great cover candy to share with you today! Perhaps you've already seen these - perhaps not. But let's take a moment to appreciate the lovely treats, and maybe in the process I can introduce you to the authors and their books!

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (October 2012)

I loved Heartless and Veiled Rose, and I've already pre-ordered Moonblood, which releases in April! Not only are the covers gorgeous and intriguing, but Anne is a talented author who writes fascinating and powerful fantasy!

Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang (July 2012)

I love how different this book sounds! An interesting premise, and such a sweet, inviting cover!

The Phantom Island Series
(Windchaser, Windfall, and Watercrossing)

Windchaser and Windfall are already available, and Watercrossing is coming soon! These are YA books, and the covers look so fanciful with beautiful colors! (I'm a big fan of purple, and I love blue, too!) Be looking for my reviews of the first two books over at The Borrowed Book in the coming weeks!

Thoughts, anyone? Do these covers catch your eye? What others cover candy have you seen out there recently?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: Summer of Promise

Here's a description of the book from the author's website:

"Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont with her sweetheart, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. The endless prairie seems monotonous, but when her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day.

When circumstances--and perhaps a bit of matchmaking--put Abigail and Ethan together, there's certainly attraction. But Abigail is planning to marry another man and return to life in Vermont as soon as she is finished attending to her sister. And Ethan loves his life in the Army and the wilds of Wyoming. When summer ends, will Abigail go back East? Or will she fall in love with this rugged land herself?"

My Rating


My Review

With a sprinkling of suspense and a dash of romantic tension, Summer of Promise is an enjoyable read. The story flows at a steady pace and includes some fun elements ranging from peril to a puppy. However, the peril isn't very terrifying, and the puppy's role is a bit overstated for my taste.

The stagecoach situation stands out in the summary, hinting that the book begins with a bang and takes off running. However, the unstated promise isn't quite fulfilled in my mind, as the occupants of the stagecoach have very little time to actually fear anything, and there are relatively few moments of excitement throughout the book. There are certainly some interesting twists, and the setting itself in that specific time period is rather unique. But it seemed at times like the characters were trying too hard without really winning me over.

That being said, this is a good story with a sweet writing style. I wasn't completely satisfied with how everything was done in the book, but it does include some tender romance and some good examples of healing and finding beauty in unexpected places.

*With thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

“Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Welcome, February!

I love new beginnings! A new month means that I get to flip to the next picture on the calendar, and I get to use a different number in writing dates on homework assignments or checks. Looking ahead, a new month stretches enticingly before me with events and holidays and little memorable moments, like the ones L.M. Montgomery might have loved:

"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

But I admit that my eagerness in entering a new month or a new year shouldn't replace or dominate my eagerness for a new day and a new moment. I mess up, and if I look at things only in the macro, I'll miss God's grace in the micro. That is, I don't want my sins or my mistakes to "taint" the new month to the point that I feel as if I have to wait for a new week or a new month to roll along and bring a new start - while in the meantime I think, "I've already wasted this day, so it can't hurt to continue making poor choices until I can press reset on a new cycle."

Each moment is a gift, and yet I don't act like it. I want to be thankful for the new moments as well as the new months - for God's overwhelming, overcoming grace that helps me say, "Through Him I can start again right now." It's a constant struggle, but I think that in that struggle there is a lot to learn about humility and trusting in God, if we turn to Him with open hearts.

As Philippians 3:12-14 says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

So I say, "Welcome, February!" But, through God's never-failing grace may I also say, "Welcome, every moment of my life that God has given me!"